Think About Your Food Today…

Mindful Eating

“Contemplating our food for a few seconds before eating, and eating in mindfulness, can bring us much happiness” Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindless eating can lead to poor food choices, often foods high in sugar and fat and allow us to become disconnected with what we are eating and how it makes us feel. If we just take time before we eat our meals and become mindful of what we are putting in our bodies we can really start to make that mind/body connection. The intent here is to slow down, enjoy the taste, digest and metabolize all those wonderful nutrients you are eating. Learning what this feels like and practicing it in your everyday life is so important.

I challenge you today, and every other day, to be mindful of the foods you are eating and how it makes you feel. Keeping a daily journal can be a very helpful exercise in making this an everyday habit.

Cheers to Mindful, Healthy Living!

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Antioxidants = Pigments of Color

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Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect and repair our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Experts believe that damage to our cells play a huge part in a number of chronic diseases, including cancer, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), arthritis, and many more. Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables can play a major role in fighting off this damage to our cells and keeping our immune system strong.

As my journey continues through The Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I continue to see the incredible value that fruits and vegetables have on one’s health and wellness. To put it simply – incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet as much as you can, as often as you can – it’s a no brainer. The health benefits are irreplaceable.

Generally speaking, the more colorful the fruit or vegetable is, the more antioxidants it contains. A few of the major antioxidants are beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. Below you will find a list of specific fruits and vegetables that contain these powerful antioxidants.

Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon

Vitamin C: Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes

Vitamin E: Broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds

food anxietyFeeling anxious about something? Instead of reaching for those chips or cookies try going for a walk, maybe hit the gym with some friends or even just do some yoga stretches to relax the body and the mind. Exercising will release endorphins which are natural occurring chemicals in the brain that release a “feel good” feeling, typically known for reducing anxiety and stress. Re-evaluate the situation before turning to food. Be mindful.❤

Food for Thought – Primary vs. Secondary Foods

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A lot of what we have been learning at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition has been very eye opening and educational for me.  This being said, everything I have learned thus far has been incredibly exciting but one of the most powerful concepts that has stuck with me and I feel is a very important concept to share is the difference between Primary and Secondary Foods.

What are Primary and Secondary Foods? 

Primary foods become what surrounds us and makes us who we are; specifically, our relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality.  When one of these is out of whack or just plain stinky at the time, it can throw our entire emotional well being off, ultimately disrupting our plans to maintain a healthy, well balanced lifestyle.

Secondary foods become the food we eat on our plates that nourish our body.  When our primary foods are balanced, the secondary foods become, well, secondary and we don’t eat because we are stressed, bored or just sad, we eat because our body requires the nourishment.  This makes perfect sense to me knowing the effects that my primary foods can have on my health and well-being and eventually my secondary foods. 

For example, from 2010-2011, I went through a period of time where I felt that my life was misplaced. I was in a long distance relationship debating for over a year whether or not to move and change my career and leave my family and friends.  I also had a job that was extremely stressful and taxing. It was an incredibly overwhelming and exhausting time for me.  I ate fast food once a day, went out with my friends on the weekends overindulging on adult beverages, half assed my workouts because I didn’t have the motivation to get a good sweat going and ultimately felt incredibly defeated at the end of the day. 

It was a never ending cycle, until one day I woke up.  I decided to do something for myself and change my life for the better.  I had no idea the happiness it would bring to me at the time but I decided to take a chance as I knew something needed to change.  I made the decision to pick up and move closer to my boyfriend.  I found a job that was a positive move in my career, I found happiness and contentment living in the same city with the person I loved and knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I continued to develop and grow my relationships with my family and friends despite the distance and I worked on creating a healthy balance between everything I know now as “primary foods”.  I can happily say that I finally feel that I am on the right path to a happier and healthier me.  INN has taught me so much over the past several months, one being that primary foods certainly make a difference!

I challenge you to take this time to reflect on your primary foods and see what areas you can improve on.  Your health and happiness will naturally fall into place.  The nutrition aspect is a work in progress but as a Health Coach in training, I am confident myself or another Health Coach you feel comfortable with will guide you and teach you the fundamentals of nutrition that work best for your body, creating a healthier, happier YOU!  

Here are a few ways to reflect and work on balancing out your primary foods:

1)      Allow yourself to evaluate your relationships.  Is there an area that needs attention, perhaps a friendship that needs repair?

2)      Is your job stressful and leaving you feeling anxious when you try to sleep at night?  It may be time to re-evaluate and see if there is another option for you within the same field/company.  Talk to your manager and communicate how you are feeling. It may just be as simple as getting up from your desk and taking a few 10 minute walks throughout the day to relax. 

3)      Have you been out of the “work-out” routine for so long and can’t seem to be inspired to get back in it?  Start slow, do a few things here and there to get your heart rate elevated.  Keep a log of your activity each day and document how you feel.  Read fitness blogs, magazines, talk to other fitness gurus in your office – get inspired!

4)      Spirituality – this is always a touchy subject for me as I feel that this topic is very personal.  Keep on doing what you’re doing and consider exploring if you feel so inclined. 🙂 

Cheers to Mindful, Healthy Living!!

Dietary Theories in a Nutshell

dietaryThere are over 100 dietary theories out there to complement each and every one of you; however, the most important part of any diet is to understand that no one diet will work for everyone. The food that I eat and that works for me may be considered another one’s poison and vice versa. You need to find what works for you. Whether it’s Paleo, Aruvedya, Atkins, Gluten Free, Blood Type, 90/10, etc, it needs to be unique to you and your body!

Being educated on these dietary theories has really helped in understanding what will work best for me and my lifestyle. It is a work in progress but the best thing about it is that I get to experiment with new foods and more importantly learn how to listen to my body. Listening to my bodies’ needs and responses has been a pivotal change in my life. Overloading myself with carbs/processed food/junk often times leaves me feeling bloated, sick and unhappy with my food choices. This may happen frequently with many of us and although it’s not an easy transition to incorporating better eating habits, it can be a very rewarding change.

The diet that seems to work for me and fits my schedule the majority of the time is the 90/10 diet, which means you eat clean 90% of the time and whatever you want the rest of the time, leaving room for those certain cravings you just can’t resist. Clean Eating means consuming whole, natural, unprocessed foods. Below are a few simple guidelines for Clean Eating success.
1. Eat small frequent meals 5-6 times per day to level blood sugar and prevent hunger
2. Include fruits, vegetables, lean protein, complex carbohydrates and heart healthy fats in your daily consumption
3. Avoid processed and/or refined foods (sugar, baked goods, candies, white flour, white rice, etc)
4. Avoid high saturated and trans fats
5. Avoid sodas, high calorie juices and other drinks that give your body no nutritional value and lots of unnecessary (unwanted) calories
6. Avoid high calorie, non nutritious foods (i.e. junk food)
7. Drink at least 8 cups of water per day

If eating this way is a new concept, it may take some practice and commitment to eating clean. For me, it has been a gradual process over the last few years and it is still a work in progress, however, the improvements such as weight loss, improved energy, and overall happiness and wellness has been life changing.

The best thing about it is that there are so many satisfying ways to make “clean” food taste good. Whether it’s using herbs, spices, or homemade marinades, there are ways to satisfy your taste buds. Even sweets…which I will make sure I blog about and provide you with some healthy sweet treat recipes, which I know can be a downfall for many of us, including myself!

Now, all this being said and as I mentioned earlier in this posting, this way of eating may not work for all of you and that’s ok but it’s a great place to start and figure out what works best for you specifically. If you are interested in any particular dietary theories, please email me at lacey.maiman@gmail.com and I will be happy to provide you with the details including pros and cons of the diet itself in a helpful way that is easy to understand.