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My Top Picks for Packaged Foods

My Top Picks for Packaged Foods

I recommend filling your cart with whole and fresh foods. Still, we all know it’s difficult to avoid packaged foods at the grocery store – they make our lives easier! Check out my top picks for packaged foods which includes items I feel good about and bring home on a regular basisMy list will help you make better choices during your next grocery run. Plus, I offer 2 rules to guide you in choosing the right foods for you and your family.

My rules…

Rule #1: Focus on foods that contain only a handful of ingredients. The fewer the better.

Rule #2: Buy foods with only recognizable ingredients. This will keep you and your family from eating foods that are loaded with preservatives, sweeteners and trans fats.

My list…

1. Brown Rice Crackers (by Edward & Sons).

Gluten Free Crackers

These crackers have two simple ingredients – brown rice and sesame seeds. That’s all you need when you’re craving something crunchy to go with your hummus or some cheese.

Gluten-Free Crackers

Gluten-Free Crackers

2. Larabars

Larabar

Not all bars are created equally! Just say “NO” to bars with added sweeteners and a long list of ingredients! Larabar offers nearly 20 bars, many of which have only 3 ingredients and use dates – not sugar – to sweeten.

3. Brown Rice Pasta (Organic varieties offered by Lundberg and Trader Joe’s)

GF Brown Rice Pasta

Whether you’re gluten-free or not, brown rice pasta is delicious. Plus, it’s now available in most stores and is a far better option than the pasta you grew up eating (i.e., Enriched Wheat Pasta). Look for a pasta that contains nothing beyond brown rice and water. There’s no need for other ingredients, pure and simple. If you’re at Trader Joe’s, they offer an organic option which in my opinion is the best brown rice pasta on the market.

4. Frozen Fruit

sugar free fruit

I always have frozen fruit on hand for smoothies. You can also defrost it for morning oatmeal or to top off your waffles in place of syrup. But be sure to check the package  before placing it in your cart – oftentimes companies sneak in sugar, so choose a brand that only gives you fruit – that’s all you need! Choose organic when you can to free your body of toxins from pesticides.

5.  Raw Nuts

Raw Almonds

Nuts are a delicious and filling snack, plus are loaded with beneficial fats. I always have a bag or two on hand.  Look for packaged nuts that contain nothing more than the nuts themselves – you’ll notice that oils, salt, sweeteners or preservatives are often added, but need not be there. 

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3 Easy Habits for Better Health

3 Easy Habits for Better Health

When it comes to our health, forming new habits is key. Yet in the daily grind of work and family, committing to new healthy behaviors can be tough. These 3 habits are EASY and won’t bog you down with extra to-do’s in your busy life.

Habit #1: Chew your food

Did you know that digestion begins in your mouth? Chewing activates enzymes in your saliva, starting the food break-down process that is key to proper nutrient absorption and digestion. Try chewing each mouthful of food more slowly. To help, make sure you aren’t distracted at meal time. Also – finish each mouthful of food before you take your next bite.

Habit #2: Be open to new foods

Do you find yourself bringing home the same foods from the grocery store every week? The less open you are to trying new foods, the less likely you are to give your body a range of healthy foods!  Why not try something new food this week? Trade in the romaine for spinach…or tilapia for salmon.  There’s a world of foods waiting out there for you, so have fun and treat each meal as an adventure. As you bring home new choices, you’ll gain confidence to try even more new foods as time goes on.

Habit #3: Go with your gut

Achieving your ideal wellness is not about restrictions or calorie-counting. It’s about LISTENING TO YOUR BODY and that includes your GUT. If you eat a food and it repeatedly causes you an upset stomach, your body is trying to tell you something! (Consider yourself lucky to have received the message!). Maybe you are intolerant of that particular food, or perhaps your diet lacks foods that are good for your gut.

Get the support you need to keep yourself accountable for healthy habits. 

 

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Why does my health matter?

 

When it comes to your wellness, ask yourself this question:

 “Why does my health matter?” 

 

It’s an important question to ask yourself. Without the answer, you’re likely to get stuck in your quest to be healthier. Why? Because action is driven by purpose, so healthy changes will only become habits if you know why they matter. And if we only make better choices based on insignificant reasons – like getting into a pair of jeans or impressing an ex – we’ll continue to make choices based on others, instead of what’s really important.

If you’re not sure why your health matters, see if any of these statements make sense for your life:

“If I ate more green vegetables, I would have more energy to play outside with my kids.”
“Drinking less caffeine each day would leave me less anxious and more productive at my job.”
“If I could eliminate my symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, I would enjoy dates with my husband more.”
“Making healthy decisions now would mean more time with my kids in the future.”
“If I brought home healthier foods for my family, I would be setting my children up for a lifetime of healthy eating habits”

Your health matters because your LIFE matters. A healthy you means so much more than losing weight or looking good in your bathing suit. When you are healthy, life is simply better.

Now ask yourself the question again. “Why does my health matter?”  

Next Step – write down your answer and revisit it daily. You can even carry it with your to remind yourself to make better choices each day. What could this do for you? Perhaps it will mean less sugar-filled coffee and more water… a big green salad instead of a plate of fries…less couch time and more activity…the opportunities are endless!

Want to know why your health matters? Contact me to schedule an introductory health coaching session. We’ll explore this question and identify your goals for a healthier you.

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Back away from the sugar!

Back away from the sugar!

Follow my tips for decreasing sugar and other sweeteners from your diet.

Let’s face it – sugar (and sweeteners) is all around us. It’s in our morning lattes, peanut butter, dried fruits, and it even shows up in pasta sauce! That’s right — pasta sauce! Seems unnecessary doesn’t it? It’s normal to crave sweet foods, but according to Dr. Mark Hyman, the average American consumes approximately 150 pounds of sugar and high fructose corn syrup each year! That’s WAY TOO MUCH!!! Clearly, we could all benefit from less of it in our diets. Let me get you started with some ideas for satisfying your sweet cravings with healthier whole foods, and tips for avoiding sugar and sweeteners in common packaged foods.

TIP #1 — EAT FRUIT INSTEAD OF SUGAR-FILLED ENERGY BARS AND BAKED GOODS: This is an easy way to give your body something sweet, naturally. Added bonus – fruit contains fiber.

TIP #2 — REPLACE ONE SUGAR-FILLED FOOD EACH DAY WITH ONE OF THESE NATURALLY SWEET VEGETABLES: These foods are sweet when cooked and are great as side dishes at any meal. They’re great on salads too!

Carrots
Sweet potatoes and yams
Beets
Winter squash
Corn
Sweet onions

TIP #3: TRY AN ALTERNATIVE TO SOFT DRINKS: There’s nothing REAL about a soft drink. Our body’s do not appreciate our consumption of them, and we should all strive to rid them from our routines. It can be hard though! Start out by simply adding one sparkling juice spritzer to your daily routine. Fill your glass with 3/4 sparkling water and 1/4 100% fruit juice.  This is a refreshing thirst-quencher that still has some sweetness and carbonation. After a few weeks, try to replace one of your soft drinks with the spritzer and go from there. Another option – pick up a 12-pack of Lacroix Water on your next grocery store trip.

TIP #4 — READ LABELS: Next time you’re at the grocery store, take a little time to read the ingredient labels.  You’ll notice quickly that a lot of the foods you put in your cart each week have ingredients that simply don’t need be there – often sweeteners like sugar and high fructose corn syrup.  With each discovery of sugar, ask yourself – do I really need this food?  If you answer “yes” then take steps to find an alternative without sugar. There are plenty of options. For example:

Peanut Butter These brands offer natural peanut butter with NO ADDED SUGAR:  Joseph’s, Santa Cruz Organic and Smucker’s.
If you shop at Whole Foods – many of their stores have make-your-own nut butter stations, which will allow you to make pure peanut butter that contains nothing but NUTS!

Dried Fruit: Be sure to check the labels of dried fruits like raisins. Many have added sugar to make them taste less sour and to keep the fruit from sticking together. If shopping for dried cranberries, look for varieties that are apple-juice sweetened vs. sugar-sweetened.

Fruit Drinks: Juice should be just that – JUICE. There’s no need for added sweeteners. Look for 100% juice. Better yet…buy a juicer and make your own.

Yogurt: Yogurt contains strains of healthy bacteria that are great for your gut, so don’t let the benefits be ruined by added sugar. Opt for PLAIN yogurt (non-flavored) and add some fresh fruit and a dab of raw honey to it. Stonyfield Organic offers a few sugar-free Plain Yogurts, and their Yobaby Simply Plain is also sugar-free and great for kids.

Pasta Sauce – It’s hard to find a pasta sauce that doesn’t contain sugar. Be diligent and remember that it’s an unnecessary ingredient.Two brands I enjoy are  Monte Bene and Rao’s

Want to detox from sugar or other unhealthy foods? Get started with an introductory health coaching session with me. Contact me today to schedule!

(Photo by Chance Agrella and obtained from Freerangestock.com)

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Avoid holiday weight gain with these five simple tips

Avoid holiday weight gain with these five simple tips

Peppermint lattes, cookie exchanges, office holiday parties …let’s face it – the holidays are filled with bad for you food temptations and at any moment we can find ourselves sabotaging our healthy weight by giving in. With the holidays season well underway, take a moment NOW to prioritize your health so that you’ll feel great in the new year. You can start by following these 5 easy tips:

Tip #1 — Crowd Out: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — crowd out all foods on your plate with green vegetables. Rather than depriving yourself of the treats, just make less room for them by filling three-fourths of your plate with the good stuff.

Tip #2 — Workout while on Christmas vacation: That’s right…it’s VACATION, which means YOU HAVE THE TIME. Take advantage of the time off (and the house full of relatives who can watch the kids) and take some time FOR YOU.

Tip # 3 — Get ahead of the guilt. We generally expect to feel bad about ourselves after the holiday season. We eat and drink like there is no tomorrow, and then comes January 1st and we feel lousy. How about avoiding the guilt this year? Write down 2-3 healthy habits you’ll stick to from now through the December 31st and make the holidays about feeling happy and healthy (and not guilty!)

Tip #4 — Stick to your routine. Unless you’re at a holiday party, it should be business as usual. Don’t use the entire holiday season as an excuse to engage in bad habits like eating 6 holiday cookies after dinner or drinking holiday cocktails on a weeknight.

Tip #5 — Reconsider the holiday espresso drinks. You know the drinks I’m talking about – they come in every variety -from pumpkin spice to gingerbread to peppermint – and they certainly taste good. But given all of the holiday treats that will come your way this season, why not just stick to a small black coffee or tea on the way to the office? Your body will thank you when it’s NOT crashing from the morning sugar surge.

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My top healthy holiday tip

It’s easy to enter the holiday season with the anticipation that you will overeat or give into the temptations of holiday treats. This can leave you feeling down on yourself before the holidays even begin.

But why not face the holidays a little differently this year? Don’t focus on what you won’t do right…instead commit to just one healthy habit this year — CROWDING OUT.

What is crowding out?  Consider it YOUR NEW STRATEGY for making sure you feed your body the good foods it needs this season, even when you over do it on the holiday goodies. It goes like this: COVER your plate with whole foods – fresh greens, vegetables, fruits, etc. –  at every meal. This will ensure that the majority of what you put in your body is good for you. Then if you happen to add a holiday cookie or two, you’ll still know at least the most of what you put in your mouth was good for you.

Grabbing lunch at the nearby food court with coworkers? Opt for the salad bar and fill your to-go-container with 80% greens and other fresh vegetables (think COLOR!).  Making a smoothie at breakfast? Add two LARGE handful of greens to the blender. Grocery shopping for dinner? Opt for TWO vegetable sides instead of starchy options like white rice or mashed potatoes.

Give it shot and see how you feel! My guess is that crowding out will empower you to eat more of the good and leave you feeling less guilty about the extra treats you sneak this holiday season.

 

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