Choice. Something we were given and are repeatedly given every single day. Choice. From the most valuable moment in our lives to our most fundamental needs as human beings, we are impacted by the choices we make. When we open our eyes as the sun begins to greet us, we have the choice to turn off that alarm clock to begin our day or hit snooze to rest just a little bit longer. We have the choice to start our mornings off by integrating movement, whether it’s yoga, running or weight lifting. Or we can choose to save our fitness regimen for an open slot later in the day. We have the choice to grab a donut (or two) and rush out of the door or we can choose to reach for the piece of fruit and protein bar as we take on the day. We have the choice to be angry and anxious as we wait impatiently in traffic or we can choose to simply accept where we are at in that moment and realize that the traffic is out of our control. We have the choice to ignore the pain we feel, or we can choose to start overcoming the pain through healing. The point I’m trying to convey is a simple one. Choices, whether they seem major or not, influence our lifestyle, our habits, and our next choice following the last. The choices that seem mundane and minuscule are typically the choices that will become habitual and affect us long term. For example, if I chose to eat one donut every morning starting today, the likelihood of just one (sugary) decision would begin to wreak havoc on other areas of my life as time goes on. My cravings for sugar would increase, causing me to want and/or eat more sugary commodities during the day, which would cause my blood sugar to increase, eventually leading to insulin resistance, and ultimately leading me to develop type 2 diabetes.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “This chick really thinks that if I eat one donut a day I will develop type 2 diabetes?” To which I respond by saying, “No! Well, kind of.” I firmly believe that our choices, especially health related decisions, are influential on our overall wellbeing, which determines the quality of life we will be living. “But what if I make the wrong choice!?” you may ask. The greatest realization when it comes to the choices we make, is that we always have the choice to choose again and choose differently. Sometimes we don’t always have a clear indication of which choice is the right one; however, each day in every moment is a new opportunity to learn from the past choice and make a better decision moving forward. Being mindful about making healthy decisions or even just choosing the healthier option for what is available to you in that moment, is a simple way to begin creating healthy habits and self-discipline that end up being a beneficence to our health, wellbeing, and overall experience. Here are a few tips that can help you begin making healthful, impactful, and mindful choices:
1. Choose to prepare your belongings the night before, so you can wake up the next morning without feeling rushed and anxious, but rather content and energized which can lead to more mindful choices as the day progresses. That 5-10 minutes the night before can often turn into 15-20 minutes of spur of the moment decisions when rushed.
2. Choose to ingest a tall glass of refreshing water first thing in the morning to rehydrate your body after it worked so hard to heal you as you slept.
3. Choose to make the healthier decision when it comes to that moment where you don’t have time to eat lunch, but you know you need to eat something, and your face-to-face with a vending machine, and you only have $1.50.
4. Choose to avoid taking things personal, but rather, maintain composure and a sense of peace knowing that you don’t have to be affected by outside negativity. This change isn’t just mental. Your body will literally produce less stress hormones and more happy neurotransmitters by this changed thought process.
5. Choose to prioritize your health so you don’t have to sacrifice your time later in life dealing with the consequences of what initially seemed to be harmless choices that turned habitual. Bad choices in the present tend to lead to exponential increases in time, money, and effort to undo later.
6. Choose to give yourself permission to take care of what you need. That might mean saying “No” to plans with friends and saying “Yes” to plans with you and yourself (or vice versa).
7. Choose to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Growing pains typically precede major life changing experiences.
8. Choose to move often. Try new forms of exercise to challenge yourself and tune into how your body begins to feel the more you take care of it through frequent movement. Maybe it’s lifting weights, running, tai chi, yoga, sports, walking, or chasing your two -year-old around the park.
9. Choose to be grateful for at least three (preferably more) different things each day. Gratefulness leads to mindfulness and mindful choices benefit your health, ultimately leading to a quality life for you and those around you, and help you prepare for the next opportunity to choose again.
When you first discover that you or a loved one are intolerant or sensitive to gluten and have anti gliadin antibodies by an immune response it can be quite daunting giving up so many favorite foods. However, with many great alternative options out in the market place it need not be a scary transition into the gluten free world.
Today's recipe I found at Ohsheglows.com and I am excited to share this delicious alternative to a standard tortilla, savory pancake or simple wrap that tastes amazing with any topping you choose to add to it. If you love that earthy flavor of chickpeas this recipe will not only satisfy your taste buds. It’s texture is a delight, it packs a nice protein punch, and contains fiber for a hearty breakfast or lunch. We recently served this recipe to a group of kids and parents at a free local event and it was a huge hit.
Due to its spongy consistency it can also easily replace egg omelets (for those of us that are allergic or vegan) and can be topped with ingredients such as avocado, homemade salsa, or grilled veggies to name a few. I have indulged in these delights for lunch more than a few times and each time garnish with different flavors. What’s also great about this recipe is how quick and easy it is to make and if you wanted to make a bigger batch to have for another meal you can refrigerate the batter for the next day.
This pancake is made with chickpea flour, aka garbanzo bean flour or besan, and can be purchased at most local health food stores. Locally, Organic Roots is your best bet. Brands like Bobs Red Mill are available, or you also have the option to scoop out your own amount from a bulk bin. It is also available to purchase from Amazon, Thrive market online or from a local Indian foods market.
I would not recommend using a stainless-steel skillet for cooking as the pancake might stick, however I tested on my go to cast iron griddle and it turned out beautifully. Non-stick skillets, as practical as they seem, are not recommended due to the toxins in Teflon that can leach into food.
For beautiful pics and step by step instructions on how to make these pancakes, you can click here.
Do you suffer from weight loss resistance, insomnia, anxiety, depression, fatigue, headaches, infertility, or skin problems? If any of these symptoms describe you; you likely have some degree of hormone imbalance.
What are hormones?
Hormones are your body’s messengers that provide the necessary signals for optimal cellular and organ function. Hormones affect many different processes such as metabolism, growth, development, and mood and reproduction.
Endocrine glands are a special group of organs that are responsible for the production of hormones.
Let’s discuss the hypothalamus and pituitary. The hypothalamus is a part of the brain that plays a role in hormone production. Some of the hormones produced here are responsible for body temperature regulation, sleep, hunger, thirst, libido, and mood. This area of the brain also controls the pituitary gland, which stimulates hormones for the thyroid and adrenal glands.
How is your diet impacting hormones?
You have over 70 trillion cells in your body. Each cell is made up of lipid bi-layer that contains saturated fat and cholesterol. If your diet is lacking some of these healthy fats, the production of hormones and your cells ability to communicate will become negatively impacted.
Another large contributor to poor hormone production and communication is exposure to toxins. Exposure to toxins can come from our food supply, but also anything that comes in contact with our skin or that we breathe in. There are toxins that can mimic hormones themselves, which are extremely problematic. The body tries to utilize these fake substances as building blocks for hormone creation and it causes a toxic cell. This can then lead to cellular inflammation or mutation of more toxic cells.
One hormone that is notable is leptin. Toxins attach themselves to fat cells and continue to elevate the hormone leptin. Leptin is the hormone that tells your brain to burn fat for energy. Toxins can burn out leptin receptors in the brain leading to leptin resistance. As a result, you gain weight, and can become weight loss resistant. This is when diet and exercise stop working they way they used to for you.
What about Gut Health?
Gut bacteria also work with hormone signaling and our immune system. 75%-80% of our immune system resides in our gut, so our overall health really does stem from the gut. Many of us have had our healthy bacteria destroyed by overuse of antibiotics, prescription medications, exposure to toxins, etc. Using a good quality probiotic, eating foods that are high in healthy bugs such as fermented foods, sauerkraut and even raw, fermented dairy products like kefir can help build your defense system.
There are some basic things that you can do to boost your body’s ability to create, balance and “hear” your hormones. The good news is there are steps you can begin right away, to decrease cellular inflammation and increase hormone communication.
Steps to Begin!
Written by: Kimberly Andrulis RD, FDN-P
There are some things that get so culturally ingrained into our minds that we tend to accept them as we have been told over and over again. However, seldom do we question or check to see if some of these things are actually true. We tend to think that things can only be as we have structured them to be in our mind as logical. It takes some new information for us to really wrap our heads around another possibility and even then it may take decades for full acceptance. One great historical example of this was the realization that the world was round. In hindsight, we chuckle at the thought of people having this idea, but they created a logical explanation based around what they knew. They knew that they couldn’t see forever so they figured there must be a cliff somewhere out there. Can you imagine how hard it would have been to convince people of this fact at that time?!?! In 30 years people will likely think the same of us with our views on many nutrition topics. The world of human nutrition has more cases like this than we can count. We know relatively little compared to the amount of unknown. Our understanding of cholesterol numbers are one specific example that I’m going to explain today.
When most of us think of cholesterol, we automatically think of the clogging of arteries which leads to cardiovascular disease (heart attacks). The mental picture of seeing lard or hardened fat lends weight to this idea that eating these things causes buildup in the body but that’s far from what actually happens. When your blood vessels become inflamed/damaged due to free radicals in your blood, (usually caused by inflammatory foods or toxic particles) your immune system sends out a signal to attend to this damage. This immune response sends cholesterol to patch up the hole in your arteries. Then, just like any other serious wound, you are left with some scar tissue. It is this scar tissue that “clogs” arteries and over time can cause a heart attack. In the mainstream medical field, cholesterol is condemned as enemy #1 in the fight against cardiovascular disease. Did anyone catch the problem with this? We’re metaphorically blaming the messenger, or in this case, the medic! Cholesterol is actually coming to heal and protect you from imminent danger. This is like having to amputate a leg because you have diabetes then blaming the doctor for weight gain because you couldn’t exercise enough! The problem wasn’t the doctor or the amputation. The problem was the ability to regulate blood sugar appropriately in the first place. In this case, with cholesterol, we should be asking ourselves, what can be done to reduce the inflammation in the arteries?
Knowing this about cholesterol, doesn’t however discount the value that we receive in getting our cholesterol levels checked. While cholesterol doesn’t directly cause heart disease, it still plays a role, and if certain cholesterol numbers become too high they are more likely to degrade and crash before being used to heal one to the arteries. Many of you know HDL as our “good cholesterol” and LDL as our “bad cholesterol”. This is somewhat true, but not quite. First off, the cholesterol itself is the same in both cases. HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) are the carriers for cholesterol along with triglycerides (fats), fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), and other cofactors. Secondly, your HDL count is derived from your LDL. Confused? Your body actually packages up all those nutrients in an LDL particle to be distributed where needed throughout the body. The LDL actually becomes an HDL because the previously fat laden lipoprotein becomes more dense as it’s contents are distributed to tissues. Hence, low density and high density. The lipoprotein carrier is the same, but the contents inside have changed. The lipoprotein then returns to the liver to be repackaged and performs the whole process again before being decommissioned. Here’s the catch, if that LDL is originally packed with unstable fats (processed, high omega 6 oils) or a lack of stable (saturated, monounsaturated, and omega 3) fats and travels in a highly inflammatory bloodstream, such as those with a lot of sugar or other free radicals, it never gets the chance to make it back to the liver. When this happens, the LDL fails to distribute it’s goods and becomes oxidized in the blood. This is what I mean when I say degrade and crash. When this particle becomes oxidized it’s like a boat in the middle of the ocean being hit by a missile. The boat (LDL particle) is a sitting duck for missiles (sugar, toxins, free radicals, etc.) and everyone on board (cholesterol, fats, vitamins) are left floating around in the ocean (the blood). You can also have problems in this cycle if your liver is overloaded, but I'll save that issue for another time.
Science has proven that cholesterol is NOT the bad guy. Mainstream medicine, however, still hasn't changed practices and procedures for prescribing medication and giving nutritional advice.
So really, it’s not that cholesterol is the bad guy here. It’s the fact that we’ve got LDL particles being destroyed in a dangerous environment. The first thing way we help this number is by reducing the number of free radicals and toxins that we take in through our diet and lifestyle. Do you know what the number 1 source of free radicals is in the human diet? Here’s the sad part. The food/ingredient we were all told to consume to replace high cholesterol foods: low-saturated fat and cholesterol vegetable oils. We’ve all been told to eat margarine instead of butter. Nearly all packaged foods are made with or contain soybean, cottonseed, canola, grapeseed, or other vegetable oils just so they can say low cholesterol. These oils, even the ones that say no trans-fat, are the biggest reason why we have our insides literally on fire. They’re unstable, degrade easily, and combined with uncontrolled blood sugar, are destroying our health.
The second thing we want to do is raise our HDL cholesterol because it’s a safer place to be as we stated earlier. HDL particles actually receive cholesterol from LDL particles when they meet in the liver. So having extremely low LDL cholesterol can actually inhibit your body’s ability to have sufficient amounts of cholesterol in HDL particles. We can help this process in a couple ways. First, we need to make sure our liver in functioning correctly because it’s the liver’s job to help repackage and carry out this process. Second, we need to make sure we are taking in sufficient amounts of good quality fats. The quality and quantity of the fats you consume can make a huge difference in the strength of the LDL and HDL particles in fighting against oxidation and efficiently completing the lipid cycle of distribution. For a copy of my best and worst fats to cook with and consume, subscribe below.
Most importantly, with cholesterol numbers, we need to take into account each person’s situation as an individual. This is because cholesterol numbers are just numbers unless you really have a good idea about the full picture. Forget cholesterol numbers, this is an important point on understanding how to help heal people from any condition. This is also where many general practitioners in the medical field will fail to truly heal people. Understanding the full scope of a person’s lifestyle and diet is just as important as identifying the condition itself. To truly fix the problem, you have to identify the possible causes and eliminate those causes. Nutrition and health is not as easy as a+b=c. It’s calculus, not algebra. If certain conditions are met, a+b=c but if other conditions are met, a+d(b-x)/a lot of other characters I can't type in word =c.
I hope this sheds some light on a topic that is often misunderstood in our health. Please feel free to ask any questions you have here or on the Facebook page as this topic is certainly deeper than I've covered here.
Shanahan, Catherine, and Luke Shanahan. Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food. Lawai, HI: Big Box, 2009. Print.
Bowman, Barbara A. Present Knowledge in Nutrition. Washington, DC: ILSI Pr., 2006. Print.
Taubes, Gary. Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease. New York: Knopf, 2007. Print.
What diet plan is best? What do you think of the ____ diet? What kind of diet do you eat? This is probably the most common question I get before people actually work with me. Little do most people know how loaded these questions really are. Have you ever counted the number of diet books in a Barnes and Noble? I would roughly guess around 200 and that’s just the most popular sellers. Without a doubt, each one of those books has numerous first-hand accounts about how that diet changed their life. Accounts from people who have tried every other diet out there and this one was the only one that worked. Every. Single. One. How can that be possible? I don’t know if this is a product of the information age or if it has always been like this, but we want everything straight. No grey area. No option. We want true or false. Right or wrong. Unfortunately, life just isn’t that way. Neither is nutrition.
The truth is that different foods, in different amounts, and at different times are right for different people. In fact this goes for exercise and to some extent lifestyle habits as well. Why is this so hard for all of us to admit? I think partly because we inherently think if something works for us, then it should work for others as well. Think critically about it though. Even if you know very little about nutrition, would you assume that a marathon runner needs the same diet as a business executive? Of course not. Different vehicles need different types of fuel. Now forget about the surface for a second. Assume two people have the same job, height, weight, body fat percentage, and daily demands. Two people who look the same on the outside, are biochemically diverse. We have different genetic makeups, hormone patterns, blood types, nutritional stores, and neurotransmitter levels among countless other internal components. Although we cannot see it, we know it’s true. How in the world then, can there be just one perfect diet?!
This is why I practice functional nutrition. I've found that some of the most commonly accepted “healthy foods” are not right for certain people at certain points in their life. I've seen one person in particular who found through functional nutrition that almonds, eggs, apples, broccoli, honey, and olive oil among other things, were not healthy foods for him. Most of those are generally accepted as healthy foods wouldn't you agree? Not for him, at least not at that point in his life. Those foods actually did more bad for him than good. Functional nutrition isn’t a specific diet. It’s a YOU diet.
Now, I will say that there are many overlaps in what is good for different people just as there are great parts of most any fad diet. However, we are dynamic creatures. Even within one person, different foods, amounts, and timing are ideal at different points in your life. Even at just 26 years of age currently, my diet is and has to be different than it was 10 years ago.
To answer the first question about which diet is best, here is my answer:
You have to run lab tests to find out. You have to know what your hormone pathways look like, how your liver is functioning, and how your digestive system is functioning. You have to know your neurotransmitter levels are and if you have any pathogens. To create the perfect diet, you have to find out what foods your body is sensitive/intolerant/allergic to and if you have any nutrient deficiencies.
If you’re interested in finding the YOU diet, contact me about these. Here is another little bit for you though. Adherence is paramount. The best diet is useless if it’s not one that you can execute. The best diet is one you can stick to and adapt to for the rest of your life.