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Skin tags are a sign of insulin resistance.

Insulin Grows “Funny Things”

“First you grow up, then you grow out, then you grow funny things!” That’s what my sister said to me when I observed an odd bump on her skin below her chin. She pretended to be a toad, and we all laughed. Now, I am haunted. If only we had recognized the weight gain and the skin tags as signs of insulin resistance.

I wish we had known that what heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases have in common is insulin resistance. What hope it would have given us to understand that insulin resistance can be reversed. My sister might have taken a second look at her diet. She might have made changes before the doctor found leukemia. She might have lived past 65.

It’s easy to think that diet choices don’t make a big difference in our health. One Pepsi, or one more cookie don’t matter that much. So, one pop becomes a pattern and one cookie becomes a chronic splurge. The frog is swimming in the proverbial pot and the water is hot. He is getting cooked, but he doesn’t even know it.

You cannot eat modern foods and avoid modern disease!

The first step back to better health is awareness. Please wake up to the fact that insulin resistance is the most common disorder worldwide. Roughly half of the adults in the United States are insulin resistant! You are most likely insulin resistant if you have two or more of these symptoms:

  • a waist that bulges over your belt a little
  • difficulty losing weight
  • rising triglyceride levels
  • a high blood pressure reading
  • inability to free yourself from sugar cravings
  • chronic tiredness, especially after meals
  • facial hair or gestational diabetes (female) or low testosterone (male)

Why do these symptoms matter?

According to Dr. Ronald Rosedale, a forerunner in insulin research, insulin initiates the aging process. The higher your insulin, the more susceptible you are to diseases of aging. Your quality of life is at stake. You become a candidate for migraines, early Alzheimer’s, stroke, dementia, fatty liver disease, and even osteo arthritis. The symptoms of fatigue and weight gain are only markers for serious health issues.

How can you reverse insulin resistance?

To prevent or to reverse insulin resistance, you must avoid repeated spikes of insulin throughout the day. What triggers a rush of insulin? Rising blood sugars.

So, ask yourself what increases your blood sugars. If you answered food and stress, you’re right, but let’s qualify which foods cause blood sugars to rise.

Carbs get a bad rap, but not all carbohydrates are villains. If a carbohydrate converts to glucose more slowly, it will have less impact on blood glucose levels. Therefore, eat fibrous, nutrient dense options moderated with fat or protein – such as asparagus with butter. Avoid “quick” carbs, such as white flour and white sugar products. Certainly, don’t drink your calories. Beverages are one of the top causes of high insulin. Eat whole foods, as close to nature as possible. Real food rarely comes with a bar code.

Be proactive about managing your stress, too. Did you know that just one anxiety-causing incident can raise blood sugars 200-300 mg/dl? Gary Scheiner, author of Think Like a Pancreas, details how this happened to him not only with a flat tire on his way to work, but also with a thriller movie. So, take the time to decompress. I detail 50 ways you can do this in just a minute or two in my Stress Hacks course.

Be conscientious about sufficient sleep and regular exercise as well.  Weight training and interval training are both effective ways to improve insulin sensitivity.

5-Star Breakfast with protein, fat, fiber, and antioxidants.

Do You Eat a 5-Star Breakfast?

You stay in luxury hotels, pick dentists and restaurants according to their reviews, and buy name-brand clothing. Your coffee is imported and your boots are made in America. But is your first meal of the day on par? Take this true/false quiz to find out if you eat a 5-star breakfast.

What I eat is as important as when I eat.

Breakfast isn’t just about preventing the embarrassing growls and gurgles during your team meeting. Breakfast sets your metabolism for the day and provides nutrients to keep your thinking sharp through every stressful encounter. If you grab only a muffin, cereal, or coffee, you will tank before 10 a.m. The rest of the day, you’ll be on a roller coaster. You’ll stuff quick carbs into your mouth to retrieve some energy, then hit a wall as those carbs burn out like tinder. It would almost be better to skip breakfast than to have sugar-spiking waffles and syrup. It is vital to break your fast with whole, unprocessed food.

My breakfast includes ample fiber, natural fat, amino acids and antioxidants.

You know the importance of real, nutrient-dense foods when you’re fixing a family dinner. Why should breakfast be any different? In fact, start your day with the nutrients you need for your active life, rather than fueling just before bed. Include vegetables and fruits, meat, nuts and seeds, and whole grain in your 5-star breakfast. At a loss for what to eat besides donuts? Try leftovers, or check out traditional recipes from other cultures.

I avoid anything artificial at all costs.

If you put premium gasoline in your vehicle, why do you put artificial foods, trans-fats, colors and preservatives into your menu? You cannot eat modern foods and avoid modern diseases. If you want pristine health, you must consume pristine foods. A bowl of neon-colored ground corn and partially hydrogenated oil floating in cocoa-flavored milk product with high fructose corn syrup just does not compare to blueberries, coconut, almonds, and buckwheat with an egg sunny side up.

Smoothies and oatmeal are dessert.

Yes, you put fruit and leafy greens in your smoothies. Certainly, you grab oats because they are high fiber. But have you considered that these constitute an all-carbohydrate meal, not moderated with a balance of fats and proteins? Therefore, they cause a blood sugar surge. Further, smoothies often contain several fruits, not just one, contributing to a greater blood sugar burden. When you blend them, you absorb them even more quickly. To top it off, you may sweeten your oats with various forms of sugar and fruit. While I don’t think you need to forego carbs, they don’t constitute a balanced meal!

I am free of cravings, hunger, brain fog, energy slumps, and irritability for four hours after eating.

When you feel “hangry,” experience mood swings, or run out of steam, your body is telling you it needs more nutrients. Use these cues to evaluate your meal. Did you eat a 5-star breakfast or was it only 2 stars? You can make gradual improvements by listening to your body’s signals.

How did you score?

Give yourself a star for each one of the statements you marked true. If there’s room for improvement, remember you are on a meal continuum, not a meal plan. Know that you are worth that 5-star breakfast!

Do you need some ideas on how to implement changes to your morning meal? Contact me for mentoring.

 

 

5 Slow-Carb Side Dishes to Love

Trying to ditch potatoes because they spike your blood sugars? Staying away from breads because they aren’t low carb? Not to fear! These amazing slow-absorbing, insulin-stabilizing dishes will have you so crazy about the sides, you’ll almost forget the entree!

Red Lentils and Tomato – best with beef

1 c. red lentils, washed and drained

2 c. bone broth

2 Tb. coconut oil or red palm oil

1 tsp. brown mustard seed

1/2 tsp. cumin seed

1 onion, chopped

1″ ginger root, grated

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 c. tomato paste

1/2 tsp. salt or more to taste

In a small saucepan, combine the lentils and broth. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat, cover, and cook until lentils are soft and only a little liquid remains, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the oil over medium heat. Add the seeds. When they sizzle and change color (10-20 seconds), stir in the onion. Saute until onion becomes translucent, 2-3 minutes, then add in the garlic and tomato paste. Reduce heat to low and cook gently to marry the flavors while the lentils finish cooking. Combine the cooked lentils with the tomato mixture. Add salt to taste.

Gluten-Free “Dumplings” – excellent with stews

1 lb. cassava root, yucca root, or African white yam

2 green plantains

1 1/2 Tb. butter or coconut oil

salt to taste

Pare the root vegetable and the plantains. Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes, or until fork-tender. Drain thoroughly and cool slightly. Place in a high-power blender or food processor. Add the butter or coconut oil and salt. Process until smooth and lump free. Take spoonfuls at a time to form balls.

Note: over-ripe plantains will cause your dough to be sticky. If this happens, add a little cassava or arrowroot starch to the dough. If your plantains are too under-ripe, the dough will be mealy and will not hold together. Add a little coconut milk to the dough in this case. Aim to use plantains that are mostly green but just beginning to turn yellow.

 

French Lentils with Capers – complimentary to fish

1 c. green lentils

4 c. bone broth

2 leeks, thinly sliced (white part only)

1/4 c. butter

1 Tb. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. dried tarragon

4 oz. capers

Salt to taste

Put the lentils to simmer in a saucepan with broth over medium heat for about 40 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender. Meanwhile, saute the leeks in butter. Add the leeks, lemon juice, tarragon, capers, and salt to the cooked lentils and cook 5 more minutes to marry flavors.

 

Savory Bananas in Coconut Milk – beautiful with teriyaki chicken

3-4 green bananas or 2-3 green plantains, unpeeled

1 onion, chopped

2 Tb. coconut oil

up to 8 oz. coconut milk

salt to taste

Put the bananas or plantains in a saucepan covered with water and bring to a boil. Simmer until the skins split and the fruit is soft, 15-20 minutes. Drain and cool. Meanwhile, caramelize the onion by cooking in oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Peel and slice the fruit and return to the saucepan along with the onions. Add just enough coconut milk to cover them. Simmer until the milk thickens slightly, 3-5 minutes. Salt and serve.

 

Green Apple Curry – exceptional with pork chops

2 Tb. coconut oil

1 tsp. brown mustard seeds

2 bay leaves

1-2 Tb. curry powder or 1/2-1 Tb. curry paste

3-4 large green apples, cubed2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tb. palm sugar or 1 Tb. brown sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. bone broth

1/2 c. coconut milk

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and bay leaves and sizzle for about 20 seconds. Then mix in the curry, apples, sugar, and salt, tossing to evenly cost the apples. Saute 5-10 minutes, until apples start to soften. Add broth and coconut milk. Continue cooking about 10 minutes more, until apples are quite soft and sauce is thickened.

Eat Probiotics When Cravings Strike!

Have you ever eaten something sour when your body cried out for sweets? It seems counter-intuitive, but the probiotics in a cultured food can alter your cravings in the long run by improving your gut health.

In this video, you can see how easy and inexpensive it is to create your own probiotic foods from your garden.

You can find recipes for culturing your vegetables online at Cultures for Health. If you are purchasing naturally fermented foods, look for phrases such as “contains live cultures” or “never heat-treated” on the label.

Other benefits of probiotic foods, aside from helping with cravings, are that they:

  • Bolster your immune system and help fight infection.
  • Strengthen your gut and help relieve conditions such as bloat, indigestion and IBS.
  • Make your food more digestible and help your absorb your nutrients better.
  • Manufacture B vitamins, which you are likely to have a deficiency of if your are under chronic stress or sugar overload.
  • Are an economical way to boost your health.

Did You Want to Be Sick, Tired, Fat, and Depressed?

There is a deadly epidemic in America, and odds are that either you or your buddy has it. It is making you fat and sick, but there’s a 90% likelihood that you don’t have any idea it’s there.

I’m talking about insulin resistance, a totally reversible condition that is the single most important phenomenon leading to premature aging, heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer. In its early stages, it triggers weight gain, inflammation and oxidative stress, high blood pressure, abnormal blood lipids, anxiety, and depression.

How Do You Know You Have It?

Key indicators of insulin resistance are:

  • difficulty losing weight
  • belly fat
  • fatigue
  • hunger
  • carb cravings
  • hormone issues
  • irritability when you don’t eat
  • difficulty with memory or concentration
  • water retention
  • facial hair if you are female, erectile dysfunction if you are male

If too many of these symptoms are familiar, you will want to ask your doctor for a fasting insulin blood test. If your results are double digits, you are on the path to diabesity – those metabolic issues that create diabetes and obesity, along with other chronic diseases mentioned.

In Case You Don’t Want to Be Sick, Tired, Fat and Depressed

The good news is that insulin resistance is reversible! But you need to be dedicated to all five pillars of diet and lifestyle:

  1. Choose good food. There are no if’s, but’s, or and’s about it. Sugar is out if you’re serious about getting your body’s metabolism back to healthy. Refined foods and products made with flour get the boot, too. Fill your plate half full with vegetables. The other half of your plate should be divided between good quality, lean protein and slow-burning, high fiber carbohydrates, such as berries, black or red rice, quinoa, green plantains, or cassava root. Use natural, unprocessed fats for cooking and dressing your meals. Foods that don’t require labels are best!
  2. Get plenty of sleep. Even one night of poor sleep can increase insulin resistance. You are much more prone to overeat and to have sugar cravings when you are tired, so getting 8 hours of shut-eye per night has to be a priority.
  3. Take appropriate supplements. As much as I support properly-prepared, nutrient-dense, whole food, your body may be so out of balance that it cannot heal itself without the assistance of some high-grade nutrients. It is common for individuals with insulin resistance to be deficient in vitamin D, Omega 3’s, chromium, B vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. But taking supplements is only part of the story; absorbing them is the rest. For that reason, it is critical to work with a practitioner to make sure you are getting what your body needs.
  4. Get moving. Aside from diet, exercise is probably the single best medication for insulin resistance. Start with walking for 30 minutes a day. Add in 10 minutes of HIIT (high intensity interval training) and resistance training with weights or bands as you are able. Spending hours is not important. What matters is that you work vigorously, getting your heart rate up to 70-80% of its maximum.
  5. Take time to relax! In the face of chronic stress, insulin output increases, driving insulin resistance even higher and creating even greater inflammation in your body. Passive downtime watching movies or surfing the internet is not enough. You must actively connect your body and brain to each other and to the present, through sensory stimulation, through breathing, and through mindfulness and gratitude activities. If you need some help, check out my stress hacks that can be performed in two minutes or less, anywhere, anytime!

Together, we can upset the odds. Let’s take your 50% chance of having insulin resistance down to zero!

How Much Sugar Is Too Much?

A little indulgence now and then isn’t a bad thing, is it? After all, moderation is a virtue. What’s the harm in having a treat occasionally? Well, that depends on your definition of moderation.

What is Moderation?

To one person, having only 32 ounces of pop per day might sound reasonable, if they’re cutting back from consuming a 6-pack. To another person, having a dessert after dinner might seem excessive if they rarely finish any meal with a treat.

Historically, our use of sugar has climbed almost exponentially from around a few pounds per person annually 200 years ago to nearly 200 pounds per person per year today! So is moderation eating only 100 pounds in a year – a quarter of a pound per day – instead of the  half a pound we’re consuming daily? It seemed excessive  to the rest of the world when the lords and ladies of upper society were putting sugar in their tea at a rate of less than 10 pounds per year during the height of the British Empire.

No, moderation is not the answer to knowing how much sugar to eat because it is such a relative term. Perhaps it would be better to determine your use of sweeteners by whether they are damaging to your health.

Is Sugar Causing Symptoms?

There are times, I’m sure, when you know you’ve had too much sugar, because you feel wired and can’t sleep, or you have a stomach ache, or your acne flares up. But what about those symptoms you can’t see? What if the damage to your body goes undetected for 20 or 30 years? Over-consumption of sweets contributes to the following conditions that take years – sometimes decades – to manifest:

  • Food cravings, addictions, and then, sadly, intolerances.
  • Advanced Glycation End Products, often called AGE’s, which are sticky, cross-linked proteins that create brittle tissues when they are used in the formation of skin, eyes, arteries, and other body parts.
  • Insulin Resistance, an insidious disease that has been implicated in the development of obesity, heart disease, cancer, mineral deficiencies, autoimmunities, hypothyroidism, and other chronic illnesses. You can read more about Insulin Resistance here.

But if you’re eating so much now that it might be causing disease to manifest down the road, you can’t really know in the present.  Therefore, symptoms are not a good gauge of sugar consumption, either!

What If You Just Cut Back a Little?

If you suspect that your sweet tooth has grown too large, you could curtail it a bit. That’s no guarantee that the damage to your body will stop, though. Sugar acts like a drug. How much of an addictive substance can you use without affecting your physiology? There’s also the insulin resistance problem: If a mother has insulin resistance during her pregnancy, she can pass it on to her child, and if that child is female, her eggs are predisposed to insulin resistance, too! So does your cutting back a little reverse the impact of generations?

If you simply didn’t ever eat refined sugar or artificial sweeteners, you obviously wouldn’t need to ask whether you were getting too much. But would you miss it? Well, if a person never takes up gambling, smoking, or drinking, does he feel deprived of addictive behaviors? Of course not! So it is with sweets. Living life without them can be fully satisfying. But you can’t know what it’s actually like unless you do it.

The Real Question

Instead of asking, “How much sugar is too much?” isn’t it better to ask, “How little can I eat?” I challenge you to find out how good life can feel without added sugar.

Open Letter To My Grandson

Dear Grandson,

The other day, you asked me, “Why don’t you believe in eating sugar?”

I told you that I used to be a sugar addict once, but now that I’m on the other side of it, I can see that it simply is not worth it. Yet somehow, that answer isn’t enough. How do I tell you the unseen impact of sugar on your body and your unborn children that does NOT show up for 20 or 30 years?

It’s not about the sugar. It’s about the insulin your body makes every time you eat sweeteners and refined carbohydrates. Insulin is stealthily changing your life – without you even feeling it!

How could you know that insulin makes you anxious? Yes, one of the strongest stimulants of the sympathetic nervous system – the part of your body responsible for putting you into flight-or-flight – is a high level of insulin.

Oh, insulin is definitely needed. While your liver is converting stored fuel to glucose to make sure you never run out of energy, a trickle of insulin circulates to carry that glucose to the cells that use it. But for the first time in the history of mankind, insulin is flooding the body in waves higher than ever before. But since it doesn’t show, how could you know that more than half the population is already insulin resistant, meaning that their cells have “quit listening” to this important messenger.

How could you know that cells which won’t admit insulin’s glucose cargo can’t admit minerals either –  the very minerals that build bones, relax muscles, trigger chemical reactions, and support organ function.

How could you know that high insulin causes cell proliferation? That means it causes cells to multiply abnormally fast. So, it feeds cancer.

How could you know that insulin-instigated cell proliferation creates plaque by causing the cells in your arteries to multiply rapidly? Or that excess insulin causes the blood to clot too readily? Then It changes certain white blood cells, called macrophages, into foam cells – the kind that fill the fatty deposits in your arteries. Step by step, high insulin is giving you heart disease, clogging your arteries, then squeezing them shut.

How could you know that too high insulin keeps your body from making the hormones you need to be a mature young man? That’s because DHEA is needed to produce testosterone, but if there’s too much insulin, a condition called insulin resistance develops. The greater the insulin resistance, the lower your DHEA levels.

How could you know that high insulin will slow down your body’s processes – the rate at which you burn your fuel, warm yourself, grow, and eliminate waste? That’s because your liver is responsible for converting the inactive thyroid hormone into active thyroid hormone. But when the liver becomes insulin resistant, it doesn’t “hear” the instructions from the brain very well, so you become deficient in thyroid hormone.

How could you know that too much insulin causes you to lose important minerals – calcium and magnesium – through your urine? That sets you up for brittle bones, more anxiety, and heart pains called angina.

How could you know that when insulin has been high for a very long time, and insulin resistance has set in, the glucose left in your blood stream makes all the proteins sticky? If those proteins happen to be needed for nerve cells, your nerves won’t function well and you will lose feeling. If those proteins are needed for the collagen that forms muscles, bones, tendons, and skin, these tissues will be weak.

How could you know that chronically high insulin levels reduce your life span through a complex web of processes? One of these is by increasing inflammation in your body. That kind of inflammation is like having a sprained ankle inside your organs all the time.

Finally, how could you know that if you are insulin resistant, your child is many times more likely to be insulin resistant from birth – and if that child is a girl, even her eggs have a higher chance of being insulin resistant?

No, my boy, sugar is not worth it! I don’t believe in eating sugar – and that goes for all modern forms of sweeteners, including high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. We didn’t have them or need them a thousand years ago. Why now?

I don’t want you to lose your life without knowing your foe. If you believe in eating sugar, then at least know the unseen processes it triggers.

With much love and hope for your future,

Your adoring grandparent.

Build a Balanced Meal

It’s smart to add more fruits and vegetables to your diet and skip the processed food. But can you eat too many plant-based foods? On the other hand, can you eat too much protein or fat? Balance is crucial to avoid metabolic disorders, hormone disruption, blood sugar disruption, and disease.

How Many Vegetables is Enough?

Americans don’t get nearly the quantity of vegetables they should, so more than likely, you’re going to be adding, not subtracting! Aim to fill half your plate with vegetables – both raw and cooked. Raw vegetables will have more vitamins and enzymes, but cooked vegetables will be more digestible and their minerals will be more bio-available. Don’t count starchy ones, like corn, peas, and potatoes. They come under carbohydrates. But do prepare an array of colors – oranges, yellow, purple, red, and green. Pick a variety of vegetables that represent different parts of the plant, such as these:

  • Shoots and stalks:sprouts, asparagus, celery
  • Leaves: lettuces, chard, spinach, beet greens, mustard leaf
  • Buds and flowers: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, artichoke
  • Fruits:green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, squashes, eggplant
  • Roots: turnips, beets, rutabaga, parsnips, onions, garlic, carrots

Can I Get Sufficient Protein on a Vegan Diet?

Protein is tricky. It musn’t be too much or too little, but must be just right – like the porridge in Goldilock’s story. An excess of protein can cause gout and kidney disease. But because protein is what provides the building blocks for your body, if you don’t have enough, you have trouble making hemoglobin (blood cells), hormones (including thyroid), antibodies (to fight disease) and enzymes (the catalysts for every process from digesting to growing.) Even detoxification requires protein.

So try to make 25% of your calories, or at least 1/4 of your plate, protein. Women ought to target 20 grams per meal as a minimum and men would be well-served with at least 30 grams per meal. Those who don’t eat animal products should make a conscientious effort to add up their protein. Yes, quinoa is a high-protein “grain”. But it’s still 4/5 carbohydrate (32 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams protein). The same is true for most legumes. While they contain protein, they are around 75% carbohydrate. One of the best plant proteins would be spirulina, at 2 grams carbohydrate and 4 grams protein per tablespoon. Tofu also rates high in protein – but the processed soy is another story completely!

What is Carb-Loading?

While there are essential fatty acids that the body cannot make and essential amino acids that can only be derived from proteins in the diet, there are no essential carbohydrates. But being carb-free isn’t the answer either, as grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables all have vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that the body thrives on. The key is to focus on eating carbohydrates in their whole form, as close to nature as possible. Avoid refined sugar, white flour, and other processed forms of carbohydrate. Afterall, real foods don’t come with a label!

If more than 50% of your calories are coming from carbohydrate, you are robbing your body of its need for proteins and fats. I believe that most individuals do very well with no more than 1/4 of their plate coming from starchy carbs: whole grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables. So don’t load up, here!

But Go Easy on the Fat, Right?

Not exactly. Fat is the primary fuel source for your marathoning heart, and the very substance of your brain cells. If you don’t have enough fat, there isn’t a single cell in your body that won’t suffer as it tries to build the membrane around itself that lets nutrients in and siphons wastes out. While carbohydrates provide quick energy, fats provide sustained energy. Be sure to include both saturated and unsaturated types in your diet. But avoid hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated and trans-fats at all costs! Be wary of processed oils that may already be oxidized and rancid. It’s best to stick with unrefined and cold-pressed varieties, especially with those oils that are liquid at room temperature.

A general rule of thumb is to eat a couple of teaspoons of fat for every fist-ful of carbohydrate and palm-ful of protein.

You can learn more about balancing your macronutrients in this class.

5 Way to CUT Your Sugar Cravings!

It isn’t that you’re ignorant of sugar’s impact on your body! It isn’t that your willpower is lacking. It’s that your cravings are bigger than you! There are physiological changes in your body that create eating emergencies. To overcome these effects, you have to work from the inside out, re-programming your body’s sugar responses.

1. Prepare for Craving Crises

When blood sugars drop, you will eat almost anything in sight, and since sugar is readily available and quick, you’re going to grab those convenience store snacks that are so damaging to your health. So plan ahead. Keep an Emergency Kit in your pack, purse or car that includes sugar-stabilizing fats and proteins and slow-burning carbs, such as:

  • jerky
  • nuts and seeds
  • smoked or canned fish
  • snack-pack olives
  • nut butter packets
  • whole grain crackers
  • For short term: hard-boiled eggs, whole fruits, hummus, fresh vegetables (cherry tomatoes, peppers, pea pods, etc.)

2. Hydrate Well!

Sometimes you mistake thirst for hunger. Sometimes you stoke your cravings by feeding your thirst with sweetened beverages or diuretic caffeinated drinks. Beware that for every ounce of soda, energy drink, or coffee that you consume, your body needs TWO ounces of plain water to replenish itself. That is on top of the 70-80 ounces of water a 150-pound person needs daily for normal function. If you are not drinking water regularly, your body cannot digest properly, and that fuels cravings even more by throwing your microbiome (gut bugs) off.

If you don’t like the taste of water straight, add fruit chunks and herbs to it, such as rosemary and peaches, berries and basil, or cucumber and mint.

3. Make Your Meals Like a 3-Legged Stool

Everyone knows that a three-legged stool cannot balance on two legs. Neither can your diet. Don’t go to extremes by eliminating one of the three macro-nutrients: carbs, fats, or proteins. Try to make sure that you eat balanced ratios of each calorically. Although body types and demands differ by lifestyle and genetics, a good rule of thumb is to eat a palmful of protein and a thumb-size portion of natural fat for every cupped handful of carbohydrate. Also eat these foods in their whole forms, as close to nature as possible. Avoid man-made, refined, processed products as much as possible. Source locally and organically where you can. Look for pastured, wild-caught, and free-range.

4. Don’t Feed the Bears!

You can’t get away with just a little sugar and expect that your cravings won’t be triggered. It’s an all-or-nothing deal. Just like an alcoholic who can’t even walk into a bar, you have to STOP eating sugar completely if you’re going to break the addiction. The soda, candy bars, and pastries are obvious foods containing sugar, but watch food labels for sneaky places where sugar might be hiding. About 3/4 of all packaged foods contain added sugar, including some brands of chips. Labels might say dextrose, fructose, sucrose, malt syrup, rice syrup, and barley malt, among other tricky names for added sweeteners.

5. Actively De-Stress

Among my clients, one of their top causes of cravings is stress. But it doesn’t work to passively watch TV or surf the internet to find relief. You have to engage your senses, your thoughts, your breath, and your vagus nerve! If you need some ideas on how to hack your stress, you can check out my online course!

If you need a reminder about why you’re doing this to keep yourself on track, post this infographic on your mirror, your refrigerator, or your cubicle:

5 Ways to Save Yourself from Stress

Are you sinking under a sea of “overwhelm”? Did you know that you can physiologically change your state from “Fight, Flight, or Freeze” to “Rest and Digest” with an act as simple as pressing against your palm, or remembering a child’s face?

Stress produces measurable changes in your body, such as a faster pulse, dilated eyes, shallower breathing, and the need to urinate. But there are five simple ways to interrupt these changes and re-establish physical calmness.

Change Your Mind About Stress

You may not be able to change your circumstances, but you can change your mind about how you respond to circumstances. You can choose at this very moment to acknowledge your existence, your support network, and those amenities of life that you are grateful for, such as sight, or shelter, or safety. Deciding to focus on the present sweeps you away from regrets over the past and ruminations about the future. Stress is cerebral, because it’s what you think about your circumstances. It’s a choice! In my Instant Stress Hacks course, I show you 10 different ways to change your thought process.

Just Breathe!

Under stress, you take shallow, rapid breaths. By conscientiously and deliberately slowing and deepening your breathing, you can literally take yourself out of sympathetic state, popularly known as Fight or Flight.It’s easy to practice breathing exercises that train your body to inhale from the diaphragm, and to exhale for a longer time than you inhale. Most breathing exercises only take a moment or two. In my new course, I give you 10 different exercises, so you can find the one most suited to you, individually.

Take Some Pressure Off

The ancient art of acupuncture purports to relieve stress by unblocking the flow of energy along certain pathways in the body called energy meridians. Whether or not that is true, simply putting pressure along those points can certainly stimulate circulation and lymph flow, relieve muscle tension, release endorphins, and improve cell-to-cell communication. I can show you where to press to get the most relief.

Come to Your Senses

As mentioned, stress is cerebral. It’s hyper-focused and tunnel-visioned. If you can bridge between your thoughts and your senses, you re-connect to the moment. You  become aware of what you are smelling, tasting, hearing, seeing, and feeling this minute, and you pulled away from whatever is worrying you. It’s as if you exit the future or the past and re-enter your body. Can you think of 10 ways to sense your surroundings better? I’m happy to share my hacks with you!

Get Some Nerve

The vagus nerve is the instrument by which the thoughts in the mind are converted to physical changes in the body. It is this nerve that signals the heart to beat faster so that muscles can be fueled for a fight. It is this nerve that diverts blood from digestion to the extremities for that escape. It can lose its tone, especially if you stay in sympathetic mode too much But it can be exercised! You can practice techniques to restore vagal tone. For you, I have compiled my favorite ways to strengthen the vagus nerve.

Stress can kill! It is linked to the six leading causes of death. Take yours under control now!