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Let’s Talk Sweet Cravings

October 11, 2019

Craving sweets every now and then is something quite common among most of us. However, there are times where our sweet cravings come non-stop and may seem quite uncontrollable. And to be quite frank, it can be darn frustrating! Especially when you feel you’ve been doing so well when it comes to healthy eating.

On my previous post Tired of Stress Eating? I talked about why we tend to stress eat so much and what we can do to bring mindfulness into an act that can feel quite mindless. And this is a great strategy that I personally use that works! But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t experience sweet cravings anymore. That’s what I want to focus with you on this post.

Why we crave sweets / sugar?

Whenever we eat something sweet (typically with tons of sugar), some interesting reactions happen in our bodies. Sugar triggers the release of the feel good, happy hormones like dopamine and serotonin. And boy do we love that feeling! I mean who doesn’t like to experience delicious moments of happiness? You know when you are having the time of your life and you wish that moment would never end? Well our bodies experience this when we eat sugary foods.

Naturally, when the mood boost sugar-high goes away, it leaves us wanting more. That’s why sugar can feel so addicting. Because it makes us crave and desire that feeling again and again. We learn at a very young age that we can drown our sorrows in sugar. Because it works (in a way). Even if just for a quick instant. Having a lousy day? Have a slice of brownie. In a bad relationship? Eat a cookie. Unhappy with your job? Ice cream to the rescue.

As much as I love romantic comedies, they are the masters of preaching this. The girl gets her heart broken. Typically this happens in the beginning of the movie or towards the end. She walks home at night, slowly and in tears. That catchy, sad and yet romantic song goes on. She arrives home and dives into the chocolate or ice cream. It’s just her, the spoon, and the ice cream pint. I bet dozens of movies just came to your mind. Right?

We are conditioned to seek comfort and pleasure in sugar. But this is not the only reason you might be finding it particularly challenging to tame your wildly sweet cravings. How you’re eating on your day-to-day may be playing a role here as well.

A little biology

Let’s first dive into a little biology. I promise that we’ll come back full circle here. Carbs in general (especially refined and processed) break down in your body quite easily and quickly into sugar or glucose. Your body uses glucose as a main source of energy. But whatever is not needed immediately, will be stored in the liver and muscles to be used for energy as needed.

Whenever you have meals that are carb or starch heavy like pasta, sandwiches, or pizza, you end up with blood glucose spikes. This throws off your body completely and triggers tons of reactions. Remember, the goal is to remove the glucose from the blood and either use it for energy or store away for later. So starch-dominant meals, will unload tons of glucose at once. Your body will work super hard to deal with it and what was once a spike will shortly after be followed by a glucose drop.

Your body likes consistency. Any radical changes triggers it because it’s designed to survive. So it doesn’t like being surprised in any shape or form. And glucose spikes and drops are just the worst. It makes things unpredictable for your body. With the spike, it tells your body that you have an abundance of food and energy coming in. But with the drop, it triggers survival mode. You’re running out of fuel and something must be done.

THIS right here, is what is responsible for your sweet and starchy food cravings. Because the best way to get immediate glucose is by eating starchy and sweet foods. So therefore, that’s what you crave when you’re just coming out of a glucose spike-drop roller-coaster. And many of us are experiencing this multiple times per day, every day!

How to eat to avoid cravings

Eating to avoid the spike-drop glucose roller-coaster is all about balance! It’s about making sure you include meal components that slow down the breakdown of food into glucose. These components are protein, fat, and fiber. Including them in every meal you have (big or small), will avoid your body going through instability. It’s a game changer when it comes to strategies to avoid daily sugar cravings. This also is a great way to make sure you have consistent energy in your day. No more carb comma after lunch. You can read more about how to incorporate this balance into your meals in The Secret to Healthy Eating.

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Tired of Stress Eating?

September 27, 2019

Stress eating is one of the biggest obstacles that many of us face when it comes to healthy eating. It can be extremely frustrating to feel like just one little episode of stress eating, puts all of our healthy eating efforts to waste. All that kale and broccoli eating, for nothing. Gone out the window. So there’s only one thing left to do. Throw healthy eating out the window too! I mean we’ve been down this road so many times before.

“I’ve failed yet again”.

The first thing I want to say to you is that you have not failed. Let go of those thoughts of shame and guilt. They will get you nowhere. In fact, chances are stress eating BECOMES a reason why you stress eat even more. And that defeats the purpose of what we are trying to accomplish here: to give your body the right tools (nutrients) for it to properly function and thrive!

Your Relationship With Food

Food not only provides our bodies with nutrients. Eating is also a pleasurable and comforting experience. Childhood memories are tied to certain foods. Past experiences can create attachments to other types of foods. For example, if you created wonderful family memories around going out for ice cream, chances are you’ve created a special relationship of sorts with ice cream. You might turn to it during tough and stressful times to try to relive those precious moments you’ve shared with your family. Even if it’s happening in an unconscious way. The same way that you can create wonderful memories around certain foods, you can also develop aversion to others with negative experiences. For example, if white chocolate gave you food poisoning for 2 full days, chances are you’ll stay away from it. For ever! And if you’re thinking this was an awfully specific example, well that’s because that might have happened to me. 😉

We don’t only have a special connection and relationship with certain foods because of memories attached to them. There are some foods that by nature give you immediate satisfaction. Like in the case of foods that are high in sugar and fat. Now, I’m not here to hate on sugar and much less fat. You cannot deny however, that your stress eating episodes revolve around foods really high in sugar like cookies, ice cream, and cake. Or they’ll be fatty and heavily processed, like potato chips, fries, and pizza. Let’s just say that you will very rarely catch anyone stress eating with broccoli.

Why We Stress Eat?

This brings us to the reason why you have such a hard time controlling stress eating. You see, this is the way that you’ve found to cope with your day. Or not cope with it. It might sound simple and obvious on the surface. But think about it and let’s dig deep. We are under stress from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed.

It starts with the harsh sound of the alarm clock, then having your breakfast on the go because you realized you’re already late. Let’s not forget dealing with our ridiculous commute. Traffic, pollution, horns honking, people cutting you off, super slow drivers. You get to work or class already pissed and annoyed. Then you have your typical work or school stress. Pointless or stressful tasks, annoying coworkers or classmates, deadlines, meetings. You do this for 8 hours straight and back to the traffic you go. Same B.S. all the way back home. You make it home just in time to watch one episode on Netflix of some show and get ready to start everything again tomorrow.

Insane, right?

Notice how you’re on autopilot. How you are just surviving through this routine. You haven’t had a single moment to actually process any moment of your day. No wonder you feel so out of control at night. So lost. In need of some sort of comfort. That right there, is why you can’t help but go for that cookie.

The Key To Help You With Stress Eating

Understanding and properly processing your day is key. We may not have much control over our routine at the moment. But there’s one thing that you have full control over. And that’s yourself and becoming aware and connected with your emotions.

So this is what I propose. Set 3 different times for you to check-in with yourself. Once in the middle of the morning, once in the afternoon, and the third time in the evening. During these little check-in moments, pay attention to your body. Are you holding tension anywhere? Especially on the back, neck, and head. These areas can really be telling when it comes to detecting our stress levels. Next, take a couple of deep breaths and check-in with your thoughts or inner conversation. What’s happening in that beautiful mind of yours? Are you angry at someone? Is something bugging you? If so, why?

Believe me, this will make ALL the difference for you. You won’t come back home wired and like a ticking bomb about to go off. You will be aware of your emotions and connected with your mind and body. You’ll be able to tame the wild stress eating beast that comes out especially at night to haunt you.

What If It Happens Again?

I can’t promise you that you’ll never stress eat again. Because it will happen. We are human, we have tons of beautiful emotions, and we’re not perfect. But what’s important to remember is to understand yourself. Be aware of your personal boundaries and your stressors. Learn to cope with them in a way that doesn’t revolve around seeking comfort from foods. Because that doesn’t make what you’re going through better. It masks and covers it up with an instant moment of pleasure followed by much guilt. Peel back those layers my dear friends. Get to the bottom of why you’re stress eating. It might be challenging at first because we are not used to checking in with ourselves. But once you get into this habit, you’ll unlock greatness within you.

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The Secret to Healthy Eating

September 24, 2019

Food freedom has been my jam for quite a few years now. I am all for breaking up with the diet and just finding peace when it comes to food and your body. I don’t think that anybody should be counting calories or be on any other diet, trendy or not. That is what I preach and what I work on myself every single day.

Having said that, as a nutritionist, I can also not tell you that what you eat, won’t have a direct impact on your body and your health. Food is information. Every single thing that we eat, will provide us with either nourishment or it can trigger reactions in our bodies. Reactions like inflammation for example.

Knowing your why helps you find the sweet balance between embracing food freedom and healthy eating. Ask yourself whether your eating and lifestyle changes are coming from a place of love for your body or because you are unhappy with how you look. If it’s the latter, you have to start with working on this part before anything else. The body and self love part. Being in peace with yourself will help you make the right decisions when it comes to your body. Not out of fear, but out of love. And not to sound cliche and all, but love does conquer all. It’s the strongest force and drive within us.

Now, back to why we can’t only embrace food freedom and kick healthy eating to the curb. We get all of the nutrients that our bodies need not only to survive but also thrive, from foods. Think about that for a second. We NEED these nutrients for our survival. No multivitamin or shake will ever be able to replace it. Food is not about the calories. In fact, that is something so minuscule in the grand scheme of things. So from this moment on, you are officially released from ever having to count calories.

Tell me the truth, how freeing do you feel right now?

You might now be wondering if calories are not important, then what should you be paying attention to? And here’s a good place to start.

Make sure every meal you have, whether big or small, has the main components: a healthy source of protein, healthy source of fat, fiber, and a nutrient booster.

Protein: Your mind might go straight to building muscles when we talk about protein. But it does so much more for the body. Protein helps with supporting strong bones, healthy/shiny hair, glowing skin, strong nails, your immune system, and it even plays a role in helping you stay full for longer. Just to name a few. Some nutritious foods that can up your protein intake for the day include: eggs, almonds, cashews, peanuts, soy, peas, chickpeas, beans, lentils, fish, and dairy (or dairy alternatives). You can learn more about Protein here.

Fat: The time to fear fat is finally coming to an end! Granted, not all fats are created equal. But healthy fats like the famous omega-3, are important for the brain and nervous system, they also play an important part in heart and hormone heath and support healthy joints. A few nutritious ways to incorporate the wonderful benefits of healthy sources of fat include: fish, walnuts, eggs, peanuts, avocado, olive oil, and seeds in general like flax, hemp, chia, and pumpkin.

Fiber: Fiber is commonly used as a strategy for those wanting to shed a few pounds. This is because it helps you stay fuller for longer. But it’s not the only reason I love fiber so much. It’s important for heart health, blood sugar management, and to help you stay regular while eliminating toxins from your body. Fruits and vegetables in general are great sources of fiber, along with beans, legumes, seeds, and whole grains.

Nutrient Booster: This includes fruits and vegetables. The reason you should make them a priority in every meal is because it’s where you’ll be getting all the good stuff, like vitamins, minerals, and tons of antioxidants.

This my dear friends, is what healthy eating is all about. Finding the sweet spot between food freedom and balanced nutritious meals. Without dieting. Just showing your body tons of love. Like you would do when you want to treat yourself to a spa day. I mean I’ve never heard anyone be unhappy about going to a spa.

-Ughh, I HAVE to go get a massage – said nobody.

So why do we see healthy eating that way? Why are we forcing ourselves to follow someone else’s idea of a diet? They don’t know what’s best for you. They don’t know your routine and lifestyle. They have no clue that you hate kale. But yet, here we are forcing ourselves to “eat healthy” while hating life.

But by keeping these 4 components in mind, you’ll be refreshingly adding flexibility when it comes to your meals. And dare I say even enjoy healthy eating without feeling guilty or deprived. For once! And it’s about time, too. The secret to healthy eating is basically understanding the role that each one of the food components play in your body, while incorporating good sources in every meal you have. And whenever you feel like having just pizza, that’s OK too. You enjoy that moment and come back home, to your baseline after.

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Getting Back on the “Diet”

August 22, 2019

We are officially wrapping up summer vacation season and for many that means one thing: GETTING BACK ON THE DIET.

This time of the year can be very triggering for many. It can come swimming in guilt over what happened during your vacation. All the things you ate with the added bonus of not hitting the gym. Heck, perhaps you even gained a little weight. Don’t you hate that?

And now you are here thinking already on the many ways you can try getting back on track. You may be even contemplating (and googling) the latest weight-loss wonders: Keto and Intermittent Fasting.

I get it! Feeling unhappy with your body and like you’re failing “healthy eating” can take a toll on you. It’s stressful, frustrating, and completely demotivating. I mean DIETING IS EXHAUSTING. Thinking of having to part with your favorite foods and start restricting yourself. Yet again.

BUT, before even thinking on getting back on track, I want you to do 2 things. And it has nothing to do with starting a detox or reset.

1) Let go of that guilt. Not to be cliche and all, but whatever happened in your vacation, let it stay there. Take with you only the good. The wonderful time you had. The beautiful memories you made with your loved ones. That’s it. Stop wasting your time feeling guilty over what you ate.

2) When getting back on track, come from a place of love and NOT punishment. Eat healthy because your body just feels amazing when it’s properly nourished. Move because it gives you energy and strengthens your body. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve gone on diets because I was feeling unhappy with the way I looked. And I can tell you that that strategy never worked out very well for me. But once you start making your decisions out of love for yourself and your body, everything starts to flow naturally. It becomes easier. It’s like deciding to get a massage or have a spa day every day. You’re excited to go and not dreading it or anticipating suffering.

Getting back on track is not about starting the diet again. It’s about getting back into your groove. Your routine. The one that makes you feel good. That helps your body reach its fullest potential. You won’t have the energy and stamina to follow your life’s purpose if you don’t take care of you first. And that’s what healthy eating is all about.

What we have to remember is that our bodies are changing every single day. It’s up to us to love it in every size, shape, and form. It’s also up to us to take care of it. With amazing nutrients, mindful movement, rest, and tons of self-care!

No more dieting and restrictions. Promise?

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If You’re Eating Out Of A Package, Make Sure To Do This

April 16, 2019

What the secret sauce to eating healthy?

This is something that I get asked a lot. My reply typically consists on first, understanding what works for your body and lifestyle. And a close second, making most of your meals fresh and home cooked.

But I also know that life happens. We don’t always have the time to cook and we don’t have to be perfect. We just have to make the best decision available at the moment. Even if it comes in a package. Here’s the thing, you can actually find healthier alternatives just by knowing what to look for in a food label. And that’s what I want to focus on in this post. I want to empower you to make the best decisions when eating something that comes in a package. Learning what to look for in the food label.

First thing’s first, here’s why I could give less about calories when I check a food label.

Calories are the sum of the energy provided from carbs, protein, and fat. One gram of carbs and protein will give you 4 calories, while one gram of fat will give you 9 calories. With me so far? So if you only look at calories, a lollipop might seem like a better alternative than eating an avocado. And by now we know that that’s really not the case. Lollipops will have less calories because it’s mainly sugar (carbs), flavoring, and coloring. An avocado on the other hand, is rich protein, carbs, and fat (loving some healthy fats!). See what I mean?

So if I rarely pay attention to calories, what do I look for in the food label?

The first thing your eyes should land on is the list of ingredients. Here is where you can really learn what was added to your food and what you are putting into your body.

When you are checking out the list of ingredients, pay attention to the following:

1.Can you understand the ingredients or does it sound like a science experiment?

2.Which ingredients come first? The ingredients appear in order of highest amount present in product to the least. For example, if the list of ingredients of a snack bar starts with oats, you know that that’s the ingredient found in highest quantity.

3.How long is the list? For this Nutrinut, I like to keep my list of ingredients on the shorter end and sans additives.

4.Are there any artificial or natural flavor and coloring? If so, that’s also something you want to be mindful about.

Those are my main tips for what to look for in the list of ingredients. Although this is where my focus is mainly, I also check a few other things like the amount of sugar that is in the product as well as if it’s a good source of fiber. We can definitely talk more about fiber and gut health on another post. For now, just remember that it’s really important to have enough fiber in the day not only to stay regular but also to maintain your gut flora happy! We now know that keeping a healthy gut flora is linked to many other benefits in the body including mood, brain, inflammation, and even weight!

And just another thing, claims like “all natural” may make us feel like we are making the best choices. But that’s not always the case. Here’s a little fun fact. There’s not much of an official definition or regulation over the term “natural”. So it could very well be just another marketing strategy to make us feel like it’s a healthy choice.

Also, when making decisions don’t only focus on: gluten free, vegan, organic, keto, paleo. This doesn’t mean that the food in that package will be healthy and good for you.

Use what I shared to empower yourself to make the right decisions for your body. Which ingredients you are OK with having inside of your body and will help you thrive in your day-to-day?

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