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Stamina Snacks

Can’t get through the day without eating every 2-3 hours? Need a pick-me-up between meals? Optimally, the digestive system should rest for 4-5 hours between eating. The drive to fuel frequently in order to keep energy up can be a red flag for blood sugar dysregulation and may indicate an imbalance of macronutrients.

Nevertheless, there are those times when having compact, shelf-stable food in a purse or backpack, can save you from shakiness, irritability, faintness, or an emerging headache. If you’re going to reach for something, make sure it’s nutrient dense, with a proportionate ratio of carbs, fats, and proteins. Grabbing a snack bar or candy bar with something like 36 grams of carbohydrate will only aggravate the energy bursts followed by bouts of weariness.

These stamina snacks offer you some wholesome, real food nutrition, with plenty of minerals, vitamins, fiber, protein, Omega 3’s, and antioxidants. They contain selenium for the thyroid, zinc for immunity, copper for the genitals, calcium and magnesium for healthy muscle contraction, Vitamin E to scavenge free radicals, and a host of B vitamins to support detoxification. Plus they make up quick as a wink!

Ingredients

1 c. chia seeds

1 c. sesame seeds

1 c. pumpkin seeds

1 c. sunflower seeds

1/2 c. sliced almonds

1/4 c. honey, warmed

2 c. water

2 Tb. dry rub seasoning (or use 1 tsp. each of sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and chili powder plus 1/2 tsp. each pepper and cumin)

Method

  • Combine everything in a large mixing bowl. Let stand 5 minutes (while chia seeds absorb water and create a “slurry”).
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Spray paper with cooking spray.
  • Divide the mixture between the two trays. Place another sprayed parchment (sprayed side down) on top of each tray.
  • Pressing on the top parchment with your hands, spread and smooth the mixture until it evenly fills the tray.
  • Bake for 25 minutes. Carefully flip the sheet of cracker mixture over, remove the top parchment, and bake another 25 minutes.
  • If not crisped and brown, bake 5-10 minutes more. Cut with a pizza cutter.

Is Intermittent Fasting Right For You?

You are what you eat…no, when you eat…er, how you eat! With so much eating advice out there, what is the best approach?

There are as many right answers as there are individuals. There is no one-size-fits-all diet. We’re all unique, right down to our physiology. What plan you should adopt depends on your goals and your body’s needs. That’s why having a nutritional therapist as an advocate can be a blessing.

You might want to try Intermittent Fasting if you’re a sugar burner.

The science, in a nutshell, goes like this: If insulin is high, you are going to store fat, not burn it. Insulin rises after a meal. It rises dramatically after a high-carb meal. Your body switches into sugar-burning mode when insulin rises, using the abundant glucose on hand to fuel all of your cells, and saving your adipose tissue for a rainy day when food might be scarce.

When you eat frequently and abundantly, or have a diet that contains a lot of refined carbohydrates, the body stays in sugar-burning mode, and that rainy day never comes. The body takes the “convenient” and established path, and doesn’t easily transition to fat-burning mode.

You might be a sugar burner if:

  • you feel “snacky” between meals or crave sweets.
  • you become sleepy after meals, shaky or jittery before meals, or have an overall sense of fatigue.
  • your brain is muddled, foggy, spacey or sluggish.
  • you “bonk” during a work-out.
  • you feel irritable when you don’t eat.

Why does Intermittent Fasting work?

It’s like giving your body repeated drills in fat burning. Without insulin surges to keep the fat in storage, fatty acids are more accessible to the body. During your periods of going without food for 16 hours of more, your body runs low on glucose and then engages in a process called gluconeogenesis, where it converts fats to glucose. The goal is to fast frequently enough that you train your body to prefer fat-burning mode.

Are there alternatives to Intermittent Fasting?

There are several approaches that work well to lower insulin, including exercising, eating meals farther apart, using a low-carbohydrate diet, and eating smaller amounts of nutrient-dense food for the same caloric intake. Combining approaches may be an answer for you. Eating Rhythms is a combined system of eating nutrient dense food at roughly 5 hour intervals.

Under Eating Rhythms, you have a no-carb breakfast (such as avocado and egg), then refrain from snacking until lunch, when you have a healthy protein with some complex carbohydrates (perhaps a steak salad with oil and vinegar dressing). Don’t eat anything more until dinner, when you again have protein and unrefined carbs, along with healthy fat (maybe fish, cooked vegetables, and butter). Then you do not eat again until breakfast, going a full 12 hours or more with no food overnight.

How do you know it is working?

You will know you are succeeding at controlling your insulin levels and becoming a fat-burner not just by your waistline, but by the way you feel satiated after a meal, have sustained energy throughout the day, think clearly and maintain focus, don’t need to snack between meals, no longer crave sweets, have plenty of stamina for your work-out, and experience level moods.

Busy Brain?

You might feel that your mind is following a million threads as you flit between tasks without strong focus. Perhaps you toss and turn for hours before falling asleep, or stir after just a few hours of slumber and lie there exhausted but wide awake. Some call it monkey brain. Your legs twitch, you fidget and feel jittery. You’re wired but tired.

If you’ve tried yoga and meditation, but you’re still wound up, you might be interested to know that Busy Brain can be a result of physiological deficits, not just poor discipline.

Phosphatidylserine Relieves Busy Brain

Phosphatidylserine, abbreviated PS, is part amino acid and part fatty acid. It’s a substance used to build the membranes of all the cells in your body. It is especially important in brain function. Because it enhances glucose metabolism and orchestrates cortisol balance, it is your friend for stronger focus, better sleep, and downregulating impulsivity.

While your body can make PS, you depend largely on food to get the raw materials for its manufacture. If you don’t get enough Omega 3 in your diet, you will be compromised in creating this phospholipid that uses fatty acids for its structure. Additionally, the process of assembling PS requires lots of B vitamins. With all the stress you are faced with, and the sugar you eat to keep going when you’re ready to bonk during the day, your stores of B vitamins have been robbed already. If your gut health is compromised, the probiotics that create B vitamins in your digestive tract are likely diminished, leaving you even less able to furnish these critical vitamins.

Eat Fish and Sauerkraut

Supplementing with PS is a temporary solution. While it may address symptoms, it doesn’t really fix the root deficiencies. Of course, it’s imperative that you get a handle on your stress and bust your sugar habit so that the nutrients you need aren’t diverted to these unnecessary distractions. But there are some modifications you can make to your diet, too. The easiest way to get more Omega 3 into your diet is to eat fatty fish (salmon, herring, and halibut) and fish products several times per week, including the traditional remedy, cod liver oil.

Boosting B vitamins the traditional way involves eating probiotic foods. After all, which is more efficient in the long run: having a vitamin factory inside of you, or continually buying that B Stress Complex from now until you reside in an assisted living center?

Sauerkraut is one of the easiest fermented vegetables to make. Here’s a basic recipe:

Basic Kraut Ingredients

1 head of cabbage

1-2 Tb. Unrefined salt

1-2 cups optional ingredients: apples, carrots, beets

1-2 tsp. optional flavorings: crushed garlic, cumin seed, caraway seed, cilantro, red pepper flakes

Basic Kraut Instructions

Finely chop or grate the cabbage (and other optional ingredients) into a large stainless, glass, or plastic bowl. Sprinkle with salt and any additional flavorings. Toss well. Let rest at room temperature until juices are drawn from cabbage, about an hour. Stir vigorously, tamping the cabbage and releasing more juices..

Press firmly into a quart jar, until the cabbage is 2 inches from the top and covered with liquid. Pour any additional liquid from the bowl into the jar to finish filling the jar. It is important that the cabbage remain covered with juices during the fermenting process. Put the lid on, but not too tightly. You want gases to escape. Leave at room temperature for two weeks. Now tighten the lid and transfer to the refrigerator. Enjoy a portion every day. Stores 6 months.

 

Something bugging your hormones?

Did you ever think that your low thyroid, plummeting libido, insulin resistance and estrogen dominance could be related to an overgrowth of “gut bugs”? It might seem like a stretch, but let’s follow the train back to the station.

Hormone Trouble Means Blood Sugar Instability

Hormones, of course, aren’t limited to testosterone and estrogen. You have hormones to stimulate or curb appetite, rev up or slow down metabolism, spark or curtail growth, ignite or dampen stress, and even wake you up or put you to sleep. Many of these hormones are fat-soluble. But even those that aren’t still need essential fatty acids for their construction. So a low-fat diet means trouble for hormones. The truth is that in almost every instance of hormone imbalance, the body is burning sugars not fats. Let me put that another way: if your hormones are bonkers, so are your blood sugars! When there’s a deficiency of essential fatty acids, there’s usually a surplus of sugars.

Blood Sugar Imbalance Can Indicate High Cortisol Levels

Sure, you could be eating too many carbs (dietary cause), or not digesting and absorbing the natural fats that you do eat (physiological cause). But in today’s world, there’s often a chemical cause of high blood sugars: stress! That’s right, your stress  hormone, cortisol, raises blood sugars! It was designed that way to give you the energy to fight or flee in an emergency. So, chances are that if your hormones are cock-eyed, you also have a fair amount of stress in your life driving blood sugars up on a consistent basis.

Not All Stress is Emotional

In the world of nutritional therapy, anything that throws your body out of kilter is a stress because it requires energy to re-establish equilibrium, or homeostasis – meaning stability of the body. Very common triggers in your gut for increased physiological stress and cortisol output are:

  • food sensitivities.
  • toxins.
  • an overgrowth of yeast, bacteria, or parasites, or in other words, gut bugs.

Because the American diet is low on pre-biotic and probiotic foods, and because most of us have had several rounds of anti-biotics that kill beneficial microbes as well as the disease organism they’re targeting, and because we have so many emotional triggers that shut down blood flow and oxygen to the digestive system, it is almost universal to have a gut full of opportunistic pathogens, draining your energy and causing your body to respond in alarm as it tries to maintain homeostasis.

Treat the Cause

Suppose you have leptin resistance, meaning your cells don’t respond to the hormone to eat less and burn more. You could try to address the leptin sensitivity itself. But as long as your cortisol output is still high, any treatment you adopt is going to be short-lived. And if cortisol is high because your gut bugs are out of control, the only lasting solution is to address the bugs themselves.

It is wise to work with a nutritional therapist, who can follow clues to determine what is contributing to your blood sugar imbalance. A Nutritional Therapy Practitioner can test supplements against your body to find out which ones work and which ones don’t, so you avoid wasting money on treatments that aren’t helpful. Just remember that the hormone issue is really the tip of the iceberg. For true healing, you have to investigate underlying causes.

These Ginger Cookies are a Snap!

Who doesn’t love a good cookie? Especially one that is fragrant, warm, and chewy! This gingersnap takes advantage of the earthy spices we seem to crave during autumn. Made without refined sugar and rich in natural fats with a touch of protein, these cookies pair well with fall fruits, such as apples and pears.  Make ’em and bake ’em in under 30 minutes. (You will need a food processor for mixing.)

Gingersnaps

Ingredients

2 c. raw walnuts or pecans

1 c. dried dates (pitted) or figs

1/4 c. molasses

4 Tb. arrowroot or tapioca starch

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. cloves

1/4 tsp. salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Process nuts and dates until they form a smooth paste. Add remaining ingredients and pulse to combine. Form 1″ balls. Place on a greased, sprayed, or parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten with the palm of your hand. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes about 18.

Thanks, Snickers!

My Ex has brilliantly described you! “When you’re hungry, you’re not you!” You’re…

 

 careless

confused

crazy

a troublemaker

dramatic

sleepy

befuddled

a klutz

sarcastic

snarky

a knucklehead

a hot mess


Mars got one thing right: that correlation between mood and hunger. It’s real and it’s a trap! The worse you feel, the more you feed the addiction and the deeper you go into blood sugar dysregulation. Your highs get higher and your lows get lower. Like physiological manic-depression, pretty soon you’re hypoglycemic and insulin resistant!

The Mars campaign, by the way, very accurately describes the tell-tale signs of hypoglycemia. But giving a hypoglycemic a sugar rush is like giving an alcoholic another drink just to avoid the eventual hang-over. Sooner or later, it’s gonna hit!

That’s why suggesting the candy bar as a practical solution is downright dangerous!

So I divorced Snickers. Ok, I admit, it was adoring and lustful love for years. But Snickers failed me. Now I’ve walked away. I’m never going back. I’m not sorry. I’ve never felt better!

Yes, I am sweet-talking you – er, rather sweet lecturing you. Your food has more impact on your well being that you realize. You could be diabetic and not even know it. Estimates are that one-third of our population is already pre-diabetic. Ninety percent of the pre-diabetics have no idea their health is at a crisis point.

And the solution is so easy! It takes no medications, no doctor visits, no surgery, no office procedures. It’s as simple as avoiding refined sugar and carbohydrates and eating a balanced diet. Here are some simple guidelines for you:

  1. For every handful of carbohydrate that you eat, grab a thumb-size portion of natural fat, and eat a palm-size portion of protein.
  2. Remember that fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds and sweeteners are all carbohydrates. Carbohydrate goes far beyond bread, pasta, chips, and crackers.
  3. Avoid processed, man-made fats, including soy, canola, cottonseed, and corn oils. Stick to the traditional fats that have been used for centuries.
  4. Be picky about your protein. Avoid products treated with anti-biotics, growth hormones, and steroids. As much as possible, eat food that has been raised on its natural diet, not a commercialized product.
  5. Consume more vegetables! Yes, they are carbohydrate, but they are so low in calories, high in fiber, rich in minerals and full of vitamins, that you can have an almost unlimited amount.

 

Is Your Palate Balanced?

 

Your miraculous body has a built-in detector for the nutrients it needs. Your tongue is a sensitive instrument for discerning the variety of foods that each cell demands. By tuning in to the signals your tongue picks up,  you can satisfy your need for a wide array of nutrients.

From the time you were a tiny baby, you have been attuned to sweetness. When the tongue senses a sweet taste, the mind feels comforted and calm, no doubt associated in the infant brain with warm milk, parental contact, and sleep. Nature provided sweet receptors on the tongue for growth and to prevent tissues from drying out. Sweet foods are “builders” that add flesh. It is not bad to enjoy sweet unless the sensory input is unmitigated by other flavors. When a sweet palate over-rides the taste for other important foods, your moist mucus becomes a ready breeding ground for infection. Then sluggishness and weight gain set in.

The counterbalance to sweet is bitter. You may not appreciate the bite of bitter foods if you were not raised on them. But bitterness helps reduce stored weight, is tonic to the liver, stimulates the removal of toxins and waste through the production of bile, and supports digestion. In fact, literally hundreds of points in the gut are turned on when the tongue tastes bitterness, as if that organ were a gong, signalling the body that it’s time to secrete all the digestive fluids.

Most bitters are herbs and include dark leaves such as dandelion, arugula, watercress, and parsley. Some notable exceptions are extra dark chocolate, juniper berry, and caraway seed. When bitter herbs are served at the beginning of a meal, as salad, or at the end of a meal, as tea, they assure timely movement of the food through the large and small intestines.

Like bitter, the perception of sour is most useful to digestion. It, too, stimulates the stomach and liver. Additionally it can relieve gas and increase metabolism. Some of the most beneficial sour foods are the ferments – that class of foods with multiplied digestive enzyme capacity due to its probiotic activity. A true ferment has live cultures, and does NOT include heat-processed canned products, such as sauerkraut and pickles, but it does include fresh krauts, and cultured dairy products such as yogurt and kefir. Take care that these are not artificially sweetened, over-riding the positive effect of sourness.

The purpose of saltiness is to alert your body to mineral content, especially the necessary electrolytes, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium. chloride, and phosphate. A little salt can stimulate the appetite, but over-used, leads to excessive water retention in your body. Instead of indulging in processed snack foods, like chips or pretzels, you can satisfy your cravings for the salty taste by sprinkling a dash of fish sauce or soy sauce on your food, using smoked meats, brining your meat before cooking, or putting a pinch of sea salt in your water.

A little-known but vital flavor is umami, which loosely interpreted means “meaty.” Your brilliant tongue discerns this flavor to help you identify protein foods – those rich in amino acids. Your pre-disposition for craving these building blocks of the body can lead you to indulge in man-made products that contain MSG, but no substantial protein component, such as condensed soups and soup mixes, or the myriad of potato chip varieties on the market.  Traditional societies gratified their protein detector with bone broth, crayfish, and fish sauce added to recipes.

Two other flavors of note are pungent (or spicy) and astringent, which tend to balance each other, the first warming the body, and the latter cooling it. Your tongue notices spicy foods to allure you to substances that will increase circulation, and trigger sweating for cleansing purposes. Pungent foods include peppers, horseradish, and wasabi.

When too much moisture exists from excessive sweet intake, the tongue can notify you of astringent foods that have drying properties. Some of the most notable astringent foods are cranberry, green apple, and pomegranate.

If your palate is unnaturally conditioned toward only sweet and salty, you may be lacking vital nutrients to keep your body balanced. Try experimenting with new foods that have strange and exciting flavors. Challenge yourself to include 4 or 5  of these 7 tastes in each meal. Ethnic food is an excellent way to broaden your palate, as most societies have a deep food culture that intuitively incorporates the full spectrum of flavors.

 

Are You Getting Full Value?

Eating is a little like giving to your favorite charity. If it’s a well-managed organization, your donation can potentially help thousands of individuals. But if a top-heavy administration is usurping funds, you may be greatly dismayed to find that only 10 or 20% of your contribution actually reaches those in need. Likewise, you may be consuming a healthy diet of balanced macronutrients (carbs, fats, and proteins), but if your digestive system is being mis-managed, your food may literally get flushed away without every reaching the cells it was intended to serve.

POOR DIGESTION CAN CAUSE YOU TO BE A SUGAR BURNER

Sugar burners are those that have fluctuating energy levels, don’t feel satiated after a meal, feel a need to snack, experience cravings, and often hit a wall during endurance activities. Many of my clients who have been sugar burners for a long time often display signs of hypoglycemia and insulin resistance simultaneously. It’s not a fun way to live, feeling tired and hungry all the time, gaining weight, and being controlled by cravings.

Some of these clients eat clean. They are careful to eat their vegetables, avoid sugar and refined carbs, add natural fats to their cooking, and select healthy portions of proteins. What then is going on? It may be digestive dysfunction. Protein digestion requires a highly acidic stomach to trigger the release of pepsin, the chief enzyme used in the breakdown of protein molecules. But…

STRESS SHUTS DOWN DIGESTION

Your body has to prioritize its energy demands. If the decision is between running from danger or making stomach acid, fleeing obviously trumps. Cortisol, the hormone your body makes when there is any kind of perceived threat, physical or emotional, sends the signal that energy may be needed to make a dash. So when cortisol output increases, your brain turns down all digestive functions, including production of stomach acid, to conserve energy for a quick get-away.

Thus, if stress is a chronic factor in your life, your stomach acidity may be underpar. That means vlauable proteins may literall be just passing through. Because carbohydrate is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, the result is too often a surge of glucose into the bloodtream. Insulin, a dutiful worker, scurries to whisk all that sugar out of the bloodstream, resulting in a dramatic drop in blood sugars. Hypoglycemic symptoms manifest. Repeat that over and over, and your cells become insulin resistant. That is how your donation of good clean food gets wasted by poorly managed digestion.

YOU NEED TO GET PARA-SYMPATHETIC

That means getting out of your head, getting out of the future, getting out of fear and worry, and just being present. The parasympathetic state is one of sensing, connecting, and being. It is not task-focused or deadline-oriented. Here are are some way to do that at meal time so your food contribution reaches your needy cells:

  • Breathe deeply before eating. Shallow breath always accompanies stress.
  • Visualize where your food originated, the care given to bring it to you, and all the energy it has the potential to impart to you. Appreciation does not co-exist with stress.
  • Laugh with friends and family while you eat. Connecting with loved ones switches us into the parasympathetic state.
  • Engage you senses: notice colors and shapes, smell, touch, savor. Get out of your mind; make eating a full-body experience.
  • Chew thoroughly. You can gulp on the run, but chewing slowly and completely requires a deliberate awareness.

 

 

Fall Fare: Oven Roasted Dinners

Comforting, quick, and complete, this one-pan meal allows you to help the kids with homework or run a batch of laundry while its enticing aromas fill the kitchen. You’ll find this hearty meal warm and satisfying on crisp nights. With hardly any planning, the whole family gets balanced nutrition. Mix and match ingredients to adapt to your budget and availability.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pork, beef, poultry, fish, or vegan alternative (such as tempeh)
  • 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, ghee, tallow, pastured lard, or virgin red palm oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Several cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chopped root vegetables: carrots, potatoes, rutabaga, beets, turnips, parsnips, etc.
  • 4 cups non-starchy cut vegetables: green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, bell pepper, celery, etc.
  • 1 teaspoon each: paprika, chili powder, thyme, oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons vinegar, any flavor

Instructions

Cube the meat and toss with cooking fat and cut vegetables in a roaster pan. Season with herbs, spices, salt and peper. Roast in a pre-heated 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through.  When meat is cooked and vegetables are tender, remove from oven and sprinkle with vinegar. Serves 4 generously.

Like this recipe? Find more in our Balanced Bowl Cookbook

Why Sugar Makes You Anxious

Sugar is a thief. It steals your nutrients, your energy, and your health. And it makes you anxious.

Here are just 3 of the many ways eating too many sweetened foods can upset your mental health:

It robs you of magnesium. It takes 28 molecules of magnesium to metabolize one molecule of sugar! Since magnesium is needed for relaxation, this puts your ability to calm yourself in jeopardy.

It upsets the balance of microbes in your gut. When pathogens outnumber probiotics, the nerve signals from the gut to the brain are ones of distress. Did you know that for every message the brain sends to the G.I. tract, the gut sends 6 signals back? And since pathogens feed on simple sugars, whereas probiotics eat complex carbs, it’s easy to get an overgrowth of harmful yeast or bacteria if you are loading up on sweets. These, in turn, send messages to your brain that something is not right.

It starts an adrenaline cycle. Not having a balanced plate and eating carb-heavy means your blood sugars are going to swing drastically up and down. When they drop, your brain becomes alarmed, for it must have constant fuel to direct your body’s activities. It recruits cortisol and adrenaline to increase blood sugars. These stress hormones increase your heart rate, quicken your breathing, and tighten your muscles. You become a walking candidate for an anxiety attack as soon as the next stressor comes along.

The solution to reducing anxiety starts with reducing the foods that spike an insuin release in your body.

Swap your refined carbs (pop, pasta, bread, chips, cookies, pastries, cake, tortillas, juices, condiments and sauces) for smart carbs (properly prepared whole grains and legumes, abundant vegetables, and whole fruits).

Second, watch food labels. Sugar is ubiquitous. It’s in so-called health foods like yogurt, protein bars, and even some flavored waters. Your intake of carbs in terms of grams should not be much higher than your intake of protein, so if an energy bar touting 8 grams of protein is 32 grams of carbohydrate, with 14 grams of sugar, it’s not a good choice. Learn to make foods from scratch. For example, spaghetti sauce can be quickly stirred together from tomato paste, bone broth, fresh garlic, and a few spices, avoiding the high fructose corn syrup often included in the canned version of this product.

Next, make sure you are getting adequate amounts of protein and healthy fat. Women should get a minimum of 50 grams of protein per day. Men need closer to 70 grams. Natural fats – everything from nuts and seeds to butter and coconut oil – help slow the absorption of carbohydrate into your blood stream, and give you a slow-burning fuel to maintain energy and stave off cravings throughout the day.

While sugar may give you a rush when your feel blue, in the long run you will be more optimistic and peaceful if you skip this sweet saboteur.

 

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