Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Cheat Days

Everyone loves a cheat day! It's the day of the weak that the fat kid inside all of us gets to come out and gorge with the excuse, "Oh, it's okay, It's my cheat day!" as you shove another doughnut in your already full mouth.

It's a day to go hog-wild, eat and drink what you want, of all you have been deprived of all week long. 

While I am all for indulgence, I think cheat days are dumb. Yeah, I said it! What!?

I know plenty of diets and people who live for their cheat day. I get it, one day to let loose (well kinda) and eat that which you have been avoiding the remainder of the week. But really all you get is 1 day! One day!? Does no else see this as a major design flaw to massive overconsumption?

If it works for you, great, keep at it, everyone is different. But if you are enticed by a cheat day diet plan, I say don't go there. I think it is ridiculous to restrict a whole week's diet and then indulge on one day. Most people I know who are unsuccessful with cheat day diets are those who eat everything and anything in sight on their cheat day. While I can't say I'm surprised, if you are have wicked cravings all week long and then you get one day, you are gonna eat the whole bag of chips, the whole tub of ice cream, the entire bottle of wine and then some.

Cheat day diets are not addressing the core problem that any fad diet has, which is restrict, restrict until goal weight then gorge, and likely gain more weight than before. Your relationship with food and your weight can't be that up and down; or that indulgent and then super restrictive. 

What you eat and the diet you choose to follow should be centered around balance. We should aim for balance in all aspects of our lives, especially around food. 

If we only get this one life, are you really going to be satisfied on your death bed because you ate salad every day and were your goal weight your entire life, probably not. That's not what's going to matter at that point. What will matter are the memories with your loved ones around a Thanksgiving dinner table, or enjoying cake as you watched your 1 year grandchild rub frosting in their hair, or the night you got pissant drunk on your girls night out. So what if you were never your goal weight (don't even get me started on scales!!) So what if you are perpetually 5-10 pounds around your "goal weight". At the end of it all, what will matter is if you were happy, if you loved and felt loved, were fulfilled on a soul level and were balanced!

It is actually FAR worse to swing from super "good" to super "bad". To go from a strict vegan diet to I-eat-everything-in-sight cookie monster diet throughout your life. You screw up your metabolism, your cells get all confused and if anything, your body freaks out and holds onto more fat because it is so unsure the next time it is going to get a proper meal. Your immune system, heart, brain and metabolism are all compromised when you eat on a constant pendulum of restrict-gorge.

So rather than aim for a goal weight or to fit into a tight dress for a special event, think long term, think about balance throughout the rest of your life, not just the next few months.

If you are having a craving look at it. Observe it. Question it. But without judgement! That is the hard part for most of us. Think of your craving as if you were an unbiased, third party observer. Ask yourself why you think you might be having a craving for chocolate–you need intimacy in your life? Carbs–you've been sleep deprived for 2 months? Caffeine–maybe a regular workout routine is in order? Alcohol–lets consider your stress levels. Cravings are not bad, they are a clue! Often that clue points to something in your life that is missing in love, relationships, career, movement, or spirituality.

Again balance is key; in your personal needs in life and your food needs. If you can identify a craving as associated with a key aspect in your life, that is huge! To make that connection mentally and emotionally is groundbreaking for many. And if you know fulfilling that craving in a small way will help because at that moment you can physically fulfill that need, then I say, indulge (in moderation).

But that leads me to my last point, it's not about deprivation. Have a glass of wine with dinner out with friends. Enjoy a piece of birthday cake. Eat a bowl of chips. But balance it out. Have balanced meals more often than not. Eat real, whole foods and lots and lots of veggies. Drink green juice. Exercise daily. Find love in your life. Build relationships that are meaningful. Try to like your job more days than you don't, and if you can't, get a new one. Find a way to connect with yourself, nature and your "god" on a regular basis. All these are crucial to leading a balanced life where cheat days shouldn't be the day you look forward to each week.

Live this life, now. Do what you need to find balance and joy, even if that means having a piece of chocolate from time to time (just make sure it is the best damn chocolate you can afford, seriously, quality makes a huge, huge difference!).

Monday, May 2, 2016

To Supplement or To Not Supplement

Dietary supplements are debated. Do? Don't do? Necessary? Not necessary?

I think everyone is different and everyone has unique needs. Rather than base your dietary supplement decisions on articles or blog posts, experiment for yourself. Curious about adding a supplement to your daily regimen, then try it out for a few weeks. Most natural vitamins and supplements will only do good, however, if you are on some prescription medications check with your doctor first before experimenting with dietary supplements, there are some supplements that don't mix well with medications.

I am a firm believer in dietary supplements. I take a handful of supplements daily. Even though I eat a very veggie heavy, balanced diet, of almost all organic produce, I feel supplements make a significant impact in my overall wellbeing and general feeling of good health. I also load up when I am feeling run down or a possible cold coming on, often kicking it in the butt before I become a gooey mess.

The argument is that if you are eating well and enough of a balanced diet then you should not need to supplement with dietary vitamins, minerals and supplements. I disagree. Food is just not as nutrient rich as it once was. With such a large population to feed and depleting the natural resources of the soil, unfortunately veggies don't have the same vitamin and mineral profile they once did. Again this is where buying organic and/or growing your own veggies is greatly beneficial; more nutrients. Even if you are an avid juicer like myself, still, you are probably not reaching your daily needs for most essential vitamins and minerals. (Check out https://www.reviews.com/juicer/ for a helpful juicer review.)

Yes, foods nowadays are fortified with vitamins and minerals. However, if it is fortified, it means a few things: 1) it is likely highly processed 2) it likely is coming out of a container of some kind 3) the naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, etc. were probably stripped out during the preservation process 4) foods consumed as close to as how they come from the earth don't need to be fortified. Fortification sounds like a good thing, but it's not. Your vitamins and minerals occurring in your foods shouldn't require a label, just a glorious color–green, yellow, orange, purple, red–eat your colors = lots of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, supplemental goodness.

So with that understanding of doing your best to eat really nutrient dense, colorful veggies and fruits, with a few superfoods sprinkled in, you will be well on your way to getting more goodness than most.

I have read many articles and books on this topic, because it is of interest to me, and like I mentioned above, I am always willing to try a new supplement and see how it affects me. Here is a list of supplements everyone should be taking daily. While it is still debated, there is increasing evidence that everyone needs, and is severely deficient in this areas, so if nothing else, try adding this supplements to your diet for a month and see how they make you feel. It's a good rule of thumb to add one supplement/vitamin at a time. This will give you a clear representation of if the supplement is working for you or not.

10-20billion CFU probiotic (preferably the refrigerated kind)

  • Probiotics and gut health are a hot topic right now, as it should be. The living microbiome we all have in our guts are our immune system hub. If they are not happy you are not happy. The slew of angry microbiome symptoms is long and wide. If you have ANY digestive issues, and even if you don't, add probiotics to your daily life. If you have brain fog, lethargy, general meg-ness, add probiotics to your life. They will make a noticeable difference. Promise! You can get probiotics from fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut and kimchee, but why not do both and take a high CFU capsule everyday too. Your mind, gut and butt will thank you.
Vitamin D3
  • Almost everyone, seriously everyone, is Vitamin D deficient. Even the recommended USDA 1,000-2,000 IUD/day is probably too low for most, especially in the winter, especially if you live a colder, darker climate. Vitamin D deficiencies can manifest in depression, lethargy, anxiety, the list keeps going. I would say start with the upper recommended dose of 2,000 IUD/day and experiment from there. I have read some even suggest upwards of 10,000 (!) IUD/day. Do what works for you, but make sure you have a VitD supplement in your daily life regardless of where you live, also make sure it is gel capsule, which is better absorbed.
A daily multi-vitamin 
  • You want something that is well rounded and has a high percentage of your daily recommended intake for vitamins and minerals. I personally like the Solaray brand for many of my supplement needs.
Omega 3s
  • Again a huge laking here for most people of these healthy fats. Good fats make your hair shiny, skin clearer, helps lubricate everything from joints to, brain synapses to bowel movements. Most diets are skewed in ratio of Omega 6s to Omega 3s. Omega 3s are the good fats and are naturally occurring in cold water fish, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds and so much more. Either take a supplement and, better yet, take a supplement and add these awesome superfoods to your daily diet too (I love to throw all my O3s in my mornings smoothie)
Dietary Fiber
  • It is recommended that we need 25g-38g (women vs men) of fiber everyday. You know what, most of us aren't getting that with the things we eat. So double up here. Eat lots of veggies, fruits, gluten free whole grains that all have naturally occurring fiber AND take a supplemental dietary fiber. Your bowel movements will never be the same.
  • Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory. It is a spice commonly used in Indian cuisine. It gives curries that bright yellow-orange color. Turmeric is nature's ibuprofen. I have noticed a huge different in my general inflammation and body achy-ness, especially after a strenuous workout by adding turmeric to my daily supplement list.

If nothing else, add these bad boys into your daily regimen and notice the difference in how you feel.

Another tip, which may sound odd, but I swear...Listen. To. Your. Body. I only take supplements when I resonate with them. I know, I know, that sounds wonky, but it is true. I will hold the supplement in my hand before I take it. And I tune into my body. If I have a general icky feeling or no feeling at all, I won't take the supplement. I take this as my body's way of telling me I don't need it. Sometimes if you take the same supplements everyday you can hit a point where you have sufficient levels, it's okay to back off. Listen to your body. Hold your supplement in your hand, tune in and your body will let you know if you need it or not. You don't have to be super rigid about your daily supplement and vitamin intake, trust your intuition, don't be afraid to experiment with your body and see what is working for you and what isn't.

That leads into one last point, when adding new supplements, vitamins and minerals into your life, first do your research, figure out why you want to take something, what are the benefits, what are the side effects, could you be getting that from food? But know, sometimes you will get digestive upset when adding a new supplement to your life. This is normal and should clear up pretty quickly. With added fiber you may get gassy. Some supplements may give you the runs. Others may make you feel woozy when not taken with food. Don't exceed the recommended dosage on the container and it is always a good rule to take your supplements with food (expect probiotics, take those on an empty stomach, like first thing in the morning, to let them work their full magic). If your digestive upset doesn't clear up in a few days, stop taking the supplement. This is where introducing new supplements one at a time will help you easily identify the culprit of the upset. I tried taking a resveratrol supplement for a while and I would immediately get diarrhea. I have allergic reactions to drinking red wine, I thought, I will get the benefits from the capsule, nope, the diarrhea was immediate. So I stopped taking them. You can try to find a different brand, or maybe if you tune in, your body will tell you, "Nah, I don't really need that." So listen.

Here are the other supplements I use in my daily life, in case you are curious. If you are curious as to why I take these, you can contact me alixhealthcoach@gmail.com or visit eatbelivewell.com for more info:

Magnesium Glycenate - an essential mineral many are deficient in
Quercetin - nature's antihistamine, great for allergy sufferers
Vitamin D - a must if you live in the Northeast
Turmeric - anti-inflammatory
Probiotics - happy gut

Superfoods. Sprinkle them on your salad. Add them to a smoothie. They are awesome! You need these in your life:
Chia seeds
Flax seeds
Hemp seeds
Flax oil
Liquid minerals
Bee pollen
Freeze dried organic greens or JuicePlus
Potato starch - natural resistant starch