All Posts tagged #wellness

Let’s all agree that French fries aren’t vegetables

Let’s all agree that French fries aren’t vegetables

Google Facts _Fast FoodGoogle tweeted the “Google Fact” below this past weekend and it certainly grabbed my attention. As delicious as French fries can taste, never have I associated them  with the category  “vegetable”. This fact left me sad and confused!

Google Fast Food - French Fries

When I think of vegetables, I think of foods that nourish our bodies and exhibit the beautiful colors of nature. You can just tell by looking at them that they are GOOD for you! They also require little to no preparation before eating.

French fries, on the other hand, are a significantly modified version of potatoes that require added oil, a fryer and other unnecessary ingredients, so to classify them as a “vegetable” is BEYOND a stretch. And let’s face it, there is nothing beautiful or colorful about French fries, which is a not-so-subtle hint to us all that there’s nothing healthy about them either!

And yet, according to the USDA, french fries are indeed classified as such in this country, including in our nation’s public schools where they are deemed equivalent to 1/4 cup of vegetable.  You can see for yourself on this USDA Foods Fact Sheet for Schools & Nutrition Institutions.

This all reminded me of a great video featuring Michael Pollan. He talks about the difference between “real food” and what he calls “edible food like substances.”  I highly recommend you check it out for a little healthy-eating inspiration. His message is simple and is a nice reminder that healthy eating doesn’t have to be complicated. Enjoy!

Michael Pollan

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Gluten-free & lovin’ It! Why my life is better (and yours will be too) without gluten

Gluten-free & lovin’ It! Why my life is better (and yours will be too) without gluten

As a health coach, I help clients get rid of gluten. But we never talk about it as a “sacrifice” or “giving something up.” So please repeat after me:

“It’s not about what I can’t eat.  It’s about what I can eat! And my options are endless!”

I know…sounds cheesy, right? But go ahead, say it out loud (you know you want to!). Then check out this list of naturally gluten-free foods, which proves that your options on a gluten-free diet really are endless. (And note that my list doesn’t even begin to cover all the foods in the world that are naturally gluten-free!)

If you’re reading this, you or a family member probably is gluten-free or at least considering it. And if you’re like most GF people, it’s because you’re looking to improve your health.

You’re not alone! The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness says 21 million Americans have gluten-related disorders. Or, if you’re one of the lucky ones, you don’t have a medical condition, but still find the diet appealing because you’ve gotten wind of how great it’s made others feel. Just recently, the New York Times published the article “Gluten-Free Eating Appears to Be Here to Stay” which features a top New York chef who has even embraced it in his Italian restaurant.

But back to “sacrifice.” You know from your own experience that going gluten-free sounds like giving up something you really, really love to eat. That’s how it made me feel in the beginning. And it’s true, at first, a life without gluten seems like a tremendous loss. For starters, who doesn’t love baguettes and homemade pasta?!

But who enjoys feeling sick?! If, like me, you’ve struggled with issues like irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia or eczema, or even received a definitive diagnosis of Celiac Disease, you’re the first to trade those awful symptoms for your beloved bread or beer.

I remember the day I was talking with my healthcare practitioner, glumly listing all the stuff I couldn’t eat, and he said to me, “Why not look at it from a different point of view? Focus on what you can eat.” From that day on, I did exactly as he advised, and my relationship with food changed forever.

Before, I was an unhealthy vegetarian eating a diet full of processed foods, fake meats, and gluten-containing grains. On that great day I began to open myself up to a world of variety and flavor! Today I’m a fearless eater and I’m more open to trying new foods than I ever imagined I could be. My food life is simply grand, and it all started when I committed to a gluten-free diet and adopted my personal mantra, “It’s about what I can eat!”

What made adopting this mantra possible? A commitment to what really matters – my health. Not only did I have to reprogram my attitude toward food, but also ask myself the question “Why does my health matter?” and now I want you to do the same.

Your answer to this question will be a personal one, and undoubtedly linked to what matters to you in your own life. This could be your children, your spouse, your pet, your work…again, it’s personal. And when you have figured it out, you’ll find it much easier to prioritize your health, which includes a gluten-free diet.

Having trouble making the connection? Think about your life with gluten and without gluten. The former works against your health, while the latter works in favor. And when you don’t have your health, you can’t live your life to the fullest.

For example – going gluten-free helped me regain energy and healthy digestion, and diminished my joint pain. But for me personally, these health benefits meant so much more – I literally gained my life back. I could go to work without the fear of falling asleep at my desk or in a meeting (gluten made me extremely tired). I could enjoy dinner with friends and family and not worry that my stomach would become upset (I suffered from severe IBS for nearly 15 years).

Best of all, my husband and I began enjoying the outdoors with vacations out west. Before going gluten-free, I had agonizing knee pain and a lack of energy, which limited my interest in an active lifestyle. Today, outdoor activities like biking, hiking (and even surfing!) are mainstays in all of our travels. Last year alone we traveled to Hawaii, Nevada and Arizona.

My clients have also experienced positive life changes after adopting their new mantras. Take my client Kate, for instance. Going gluten-free meant relief from excruciating eczema that she’d been suffering from for years. Once off the gluten, not only did her skin begin to improve, but she also started down a path of paying attention to the foods she put into her body with the goal of eating for her health. Today she is at her ideal weight, frequently working out and a member of a soccer league. To her, a Celiac diagnosis and a gluten-free diet helped her create the active and healthy lifestyle she’d always dreamed about.

What I’m getting at here is that going gluten-free can literally give someone his or her life back. It did for me and it has done the same for many of my clients. And for someone with Celiac Disease or a non-Celiac gluten-sensitivity, there is so much to gain with a gluten-free lifestyle.

So, if you’ve convinced yourself that a gluten-free lifestyle is too hard, or not worth the pain, or something to feel bad about, think again. Take a deep breath and ask yourself, “Why does my health matter?” This will lead you down a more positive path, and empower you to embrace a gluten-free lifestyle. What’s more, you’ll be taking control of your health and in turn, your life.

Enjoy your gluten-free life – it’s going to be AMAZING!

 Need support going or staying gluten-free? Check out my Gluten-Free Coaching program.

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Teach your kids to eat healthy foods, part 2

Teach your kids to eat healthy foods, part 2

Last month I joined forces with Karen Orlich, CEO of k.o. kidz, a green-living and organic lifestyle company, to compile some of the best tips (mom and kid tested!) to help you empower your kids to engage in healthy eating. Our tips included “encourage and reinforce” and “hosting ‘Lazy Suzan’ dinners”  This month we’re at it again with even more tips!

Tip # 3: Have some fun at the grocery store with Grocery Store Games!

Getting our kids to eat healthy foods can feel like a chore, and so can grocery shopping! Yet it’s important we do both, so why not combine the two and make your next trip to the market both fun for the kids and an outing you can feel good about as a parent?

Yes, we know, it’s not always easy to keep your child calm in a crowded grocery store. But then again, it’s important to not disengage them from the process completely…kids need to learn about food!

So, rather than placing your child in the cart and handing him/her a box of cookies to snack on while you hurry through the store, think about the grocery store as a learning environment full of COLORS, PLANTS and READING materials! (It’s also a great place to learn manners when interacting with store employees!) It’s with this point of view you can challenge your child to engage in foods and learn about what’s healthy and what’s not. Try these games out the next time you’re at the store:

Search for the Colors of the Rainbow: Bring a picture of a rainbow to the store and ask your child to find fruits or vegetables for two or three (or all!) colors of the rainbow. With this game, teach your children that a healthy diet is a colorful diet. The more colors, the better!Organic Produce

Count the Ingredients: As Michael Pollan reminds us, when we shop for packaged foods, it’s important to choose options with minimal ingredients (he suggests 5 ingredients or less). For kids who can count or are learning, ask them to count the ingredient labels on food packages. If there are more than 5, ask them to put it back and then explain why. (As your kids learn  to read, you can also challenge them to search for unhealthy ingredients like “sugar”, “high fructose corn syrup” or “trans fat”).

Tip #4: Make the ‘Common’ Foods Healthy

This is a great way to transition your kids to healthier eating.  It’s helpful (and fun!) to include them in the food preparation while also teaching them what ‘healthy’ really means.

Gluten Free PizzaPersonal Pizzas: Pizzas can be made from 100% whole wheat (always check the label for ‘whole’ wheat) sandwich rounds or tortillas (for a gluten-free version, check out Amy’s GF sandwich rounds or use 100% corn tortillas) with grilled onions, peppers, tomatoes, etc.  Or, simply bake (we use our toaster oven) the veggies on the bread with tomato sauce.  Olive oil with fresh basil and/or oregano is a delicious alternative to tomato sauce and herbs can be cut from a plant grown in your kitchen or garden.

Hot Dogs: The all American classic!  Unfortunately, traditional hot dogs are loaded with sodium and fat.  Try Applegate Organic Turkey hot dogs, rated #1 turkey dog by Health magazine.  Avoid the salt and high fructose corn syrup, store-bought versions and have the kid help make homemade ketchup (and relish!) with these easy, 15 minute or less recipes from Wellness Mama and Eating Well.

Macaroni & Cheese: The ultimate comfort food for all ages.  Have you looked at the chemical additives and preservatives in that powdered cheese pack?  We know – you’re busy and don’t have time to make your own cheese sauce.  Au contraire!

Start with GF organic brown rice pasta (for gluten-free version) or whole wheat macaroni (yes, your kids will eat it!). Grab a block of fresh organic cheese, cut into thin slices, and add to cooked, drained, warm macaroni (or any small pasta noodle) in pot.  Add light coating of olive oil and mix well with pasta.  Broccoli (or other veggies) can also be added to the pasta for flavor and an added health kick.  We stand the broccoli up to make ‘trees’ and ‘stumps’ in the macaroni ‘field’.  It’s ok to let kids play with their food once in a while if it helps get them to eat it, right?!

Dessert: Every kid wants DESSERT!  So choose tasty alternatives like:

Greek yogurt (double the protein of regular) with fresh fruit, applesauce, baked apple with cinnamon and raisins (core apple, fill with cinnamon and raisins, add 2-3 tablespoons of water to microwave-safe bowl, and ‘bake’ in the microwave until soft), or fruit smoothies (easy to mix in veggies and the kids won’t even know it).  Try one of these recipes from delish.comGF Dessert

We also discovered several websites with recipes for homemade fruit and nut bars (similar to Larabars, which are great GF treat!)  These are a great substitute for brownies and cookies!  An extensive recipe list can be found here.  Delicious and nutritious!  Yum!!

Do you have any tips to share? Like these suggestions? Would love to hear from you! Send me a tweet or post to my Facebook page!

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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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