Posts

 

The sun is out and it’s time to think about getting out and enjoying the beautiful outdoors! In this post, we’re focusing on hiking and backpacking! Whether you’re a brand new hiker or seasoned backpacker, a little preparation can make your time on the trail easier and more enjoyable. We’ll kick off this series with a focus on endurance. To start, begin training at whichever level is currently a challenge for you.

 

Level 1: Beginners

 

hiking and backpacking

 

If you haven’t been walking in a while, that’s the place to start! Begin by walking at a moderate pace for 5-10 minutes as a warm up, then pick up the pace to a quick, comfortable clip. Go for short walks, gradually working up to at least 20-30 minutes. Begin with 2-3 days per week and increase to a goal of 4-5 days weekly as you become more fit. When that becomes easier, move on to level 2.

Side note: This is also a great time to train your feet – wear the shoes you plan to hike in! Word to the wise, don’t remove your calluses. They are your friends!

 



 

Level 2: Current Walkers

 

endurance for beginners

 

 

If you already walk regularly or if walking is a piece of cake, it’s time to up the ante a little. Literally – go up! Add incline into your walks to work different muscles and to add a cardiovascular challenge. You can do this by adding hills or stairs into outdoor walks, increasing the incline on your treadmill, or walking up stairs. If you have a flight of stairs in your house or in your community, walking up and down them can help build up the muscle groups you’ll need for safe hiking.

Stair mills or stair stepping machines can also work well here, but do not neglect the importance of training yourself to go downhill. Most often, the majority of soreness we experience after hiking is from walking down, not up! Incorporate more ascents and descents into your training and you’ll find your time on the trail much easier. Again, I recommend wearing your hiking shoes. Sometimes inclines help you find friction points that weren’t there on flat ground! This can help you prevent disastrous blisters on the trail.

When you become trained for inclines, move on to level 3.

 

Level 3: Seasoned Hikers

fitness for hiking

 

If you’ve hiked or backpacked regularly in the past, or if you’ve worked up to training on hills or stairs, it’s time to add an additional challenge by carrying weight. Even if you are only planning to hike, not to backpack, training with weight can help your muscles and endurance grow stronger to make long-distance hikes easier.

If you are planning to hike with no pack (or a very light pack), you may choose to train with ankle and wrist weights, since they will prevent adding stress to your spine and make regular hiking easier; however, a backpack will also serve this purpose. For you backpackers, it’s time to get your pack out. Add some weight – dumbbells, soup cans, books, rocks – and go for your training walk. Continue to include the inclines from level 2!

Optional: If you are planning a long-distance backpacking or day-hiking trip, gradually extend the length of your training sessions. You don’t necessarily need to train for as long as you may be backpacking, but the farther you go, the fitter you’ll be!

Stay tuned for the next post in this series on training for hikers and backpackers – joint stability!

 



 

Disclaimer: While I am an exercise professional, I have not been hired as your exercise professional and I am not familiar with your individual health. As always, check with your doctor about your specific health situation before beginning any new exercise program.

 

You May Also Like

*VIDEO* 2 Quick and Easy Exercises for Better Posture

The #1 Thing you MUST do to Save Time Living a Healthy Life

Factors to Consider when Starting a New Exercise Plan

 



Archives

prevent hiking injuries

 

In the Pacific Northwest, we are finally getting our first glimpses of Spring sunshine (between uncharacteristic snow flurries). The combination of cabin fever and warm, bright sunshine makes me antsy to get outside again. Hiking and backpacking are common and beloved activities in this area (and many others), but the beginning of the hiking season can be difficult and sometimes risky. Both beginning and seasoned hikers, having been cooped up all winter, may experience fatigue and muscle soreness and are at increased risk of injury if their muscles aren’t prepared for the activity.

I decided to spend these last few weeks of cold weather prepping myself to safely and confidently hit the trail. I’m putting together a training guide for you to follow along. There are a handful of areas to train to be in your best shape for hiking/backpacking – even beginners can benefit. In this series, we’ll cover:

 

Endurance

Hiking and backpacking can be major endurance exercises, depending on the elevation and length of the hike as well as the weight you are carrying. We will discuss how to train based on these factors so that you can experience the beauty of nature without fire in your lungs.

 



 

Joint Stability

This is a big one and it can be easy to miss. I know it caught me off-guard on my first overnight backpacking trip! Carrying a pack is an extra challenge on all of your weight-bearing joints, but consider the added challenge of roots, rocks, and unstable trail and you’ve got a recipe for sore or sprained ankles. I’ll address how to best prepare your joints to effectively prevent injuries.

 

Flexibility

It certainly doesn’t take a gymnast or a yoga master to hike. If you can walk, you can hike! That said, loosening up tight muscles can make hiking much easier and prevent strained muscles. On top of that, some more advanced trails contain creeks/rivers, large logs, and other obstacles that are much more easily tackled with a little flexibility.

 



 

I’ll probably toss in some bonus tips for on-the-trail nutrition as well. Check back soon for the nitty-gritty on training for fun, safe hiking and backpacking!

Hiking/Backpacking

exercise programs to meet your goals

 

Sometimes starting a new exercise plan is overwhelming. One nice thing about being more active is that you have a lot of options, but that can also be a struggle. Many people are confused about what types of exercises they “should” do and how they should do them. This post will give you some tips on selecting exercises and making a sustainable (and dare I say, enjoyable?) exercise plan.

Keep in mind that any new exercise plan should be approved by your doctor, particularly if you have any chronic diseases or injuries. Use this form to guide you as you plan to safely increase your physical activity.

What are your goals?

Ultimately the exercises that you choose should be guided by your health goals. While being physically active is beneficial for overall health, choosing the most appropriate and specific exercises will help you achieve your goals most efficiently.

  • Weight Loss – Start out any new weight loss plan by focusing on simply moving more than you move now. Once that becomes a habit, then increase the cardiovascular challenge by spending more time with your heart rate up. Finally, add in strength training to build muscle mass. This extra muscle will use up energy, increasing your metabolism.
  • Endurance – To increase your endurance, start by gradually increasing the amount of time you spend with your heart rate up. In this case, you’re not looking for very intense exercise, but a moderate challenge that you can sustain for longer and longer bouts of time as you train. Then add in strength training, focusing on more repetitions (10+) and lower weights.
  • Strength – Begin by focusing on your form – ask a trainer or friend (or watch in the mirror) to ensure you are performing the exercises safely and effectively. Gradually increase the difficulty, focusing on fewer repetitions (6-8) and higher weights. Focus on muscle balance – if you train one side of your body (for example, your chest), you must also train the other (your upper back, in this case). If you train biceps, be sure to also train triceps. This helps to protect your joints from imbalances that can lead to injury. Make sure to incorporate the recommendations for flexibility into any strength training plan as well.
  • Improved digestion – Yes, physical activity can improve digestion! Moderate cardiovascular exercise can improve circulation to your intestines, helping your body break down and absorb food more efficiently. Another significant factor is stress – stress can wreak havoc on digestion! Consistently performing stress-reducing activities like prayer, yoga, Tai Chi, or meditation can play a huge role in improving digestion.
  • Improved health markers (blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.) – While it varies based on which lab values you’re targeting, most are improved with combinations of cardio and strength training, even without weight loss; however, reducing excess body weight is linked with improvements in blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
  • Flexibility – This is a great goal if you’re wanting to improve or maintain movement in your joints and prevent injuries. Anyone can benefit from maintaining flexibility. The key here is consistency. Stretch your muscles and joints regularly. Whether you use yoga, standing stretches, or wall stretches doesn’t matter as long as you are gentle and consistent.

 



 

Enjoyability

This is so, so important to an exercise program. If you detest doing a certain type of exercise, do not plan on or expect that you will do it consistently. That is a great way to set yourself up to either quit or be miserable. Bear in mind that the first few weeks of any exercise program will be difficult since you are not yet trained for the exercise, but I’m not referring to difficulty here. I’m talking about enjoyability – if you hate to dance, don’t join a Zumba class. If you can’t stand being on a cardio machine, don’t commit to a treadmill. Find methods of exercise that you actually enjoy.

 

Sometimes that looks like building a little more intensity into the movements you do in everyday life. For example, if you love to garden and be outside, use a push mower, shovel by hand, or cut your own firewood. If you like to watch television, ride a stationary bike while you do or – one of my personal faves –  take a drinking game designed for the show you’re binge-watching and exchange the shots for exercises. These tasks will incorporate fitness into aspects of your life that you do enjoy.

 



 

Accessibility

Ask yourself a few questions: Do you have the equipment or space to do this activity? Will you need a gym membership? Is there a realistic time in your day to set aside to do this?

If the basic logistics aren’t there, find something more accessible. If all else fails, there are hundreds of workout videos on Youtube for any type of workout you can think of. No fees, no membership, no travel, and no need for fancy exercise clothes (unless you want them).

 

Taking all three of these factors into account can help make sure that your exercise program gets you where you’re trying to go in the most enjoyable way that is realistic for your life. Fitness isn’t always fun and there aren’t too many people who are super jazzed to do their workout every day always, but a little thought and planning on the front end can make a huge difference in the long run. If you find yourself stuck or confused, find yourself a certified fitness professional to help you out. Finding a way to make it work is worth it!

 



 

Related Articles

The #1 thing you MUST do to save time living a healthy life

Breaking through the pain of a new exercise program

The two most important keys to long-term success

 

Exercise

 

Bacteria aren’t always bad! In fact, your digestive tract is loaded with colonies of these little guys. While some can be harmful, most are helpful. Having a good balance of bacteria in your intestines (aka gut bacteria) can be a critical piece of your overall health puzzle.

 

Less than ideal gut bacteria have been linked to depression, anxiety, overeating, food cravings, brain fog, fatigue, diabetes, obesity, cancer, irritable bowel syndrome and intestinal damage, among other issues.1-5 Tending to the needs of the tiny bacterial warriors in your gut can be hugely beneficial to your wellness. Here’s are four groups of foods you can eat to support your gut health:

 

Probiotic foods

probiotic foods

 

What they do: Probiotic foods contain the good bacteria that can help reinforce the armies in your gut. Different strains of probiotics have been researched for different health benefits. For example, L. plantarum and L. rhamnosus are linked to lower levels of stress hormones and increased amounts of intestinal building blocks.1, 2 L. heleveticus and B. longum improved stress responses in mice.4

How much: Since research into the benefits different strains of probiotics is still in the works, there is no official probiotic recommendation.

How to get them: Foods that are fermented often retain healthful bacteria all the way into your digestive system. Fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi all contain healthful probiotics.

 

Vitamins A and D

What they do: Both of these vitamins are linked to improved intestinal and mental health.1

How much: For vitamin A, men should aim for 900 mcg and women 700 mcg per day. For vitamin D, aim for 600 IUs per day unless you’re over 70, then boost that to 800 IU daily.*

How to get them: Boost vitamin A intake with a serving of sweet potato (1403 mcg), spinach (573 mcg), carrots (459 mcg), cantaloupe (135 mcg), red peppers (117 mcg), or mango (112 mcg).

We get vitamin D primarily from exposure to sunlight, but if your area lacks that for some or all of the year (heyyyyy Western Washington!), try a serving of salmon (447 IU), canned tuna (154 IU), and dairy or dairy alternatives with added vitamin D (115-125 IU). For many living far from the equator, a vitamin D supplement can be a wise idea, but ask your doctor to check your vitamin D status first.

 



 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

anti-inflammatory fats to heal your gutWhat they do: Supplementation with the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA is linked with improved gut bacteria and reduced anxiety- and depression-related behaviors.4

How much: 1.6 g per day for men, 1.1 g per day for women.*

How to get them: Different forms of omega-3s are absorbed and utilized at different rates. To get the most usable EPA and DHA, eat a serving of salmon (1.5-1.8 g), mackerel (1.0 g), or trout (.84 g). For non-fish-eaters, plant-based sources of omega-3s contain ALA which can be converted to EPA and DHA, but only about 15% of the ALA is converted. These ALA sources include a serving of chia seeds (5.06 g), flax seeds (2.35 g), black walnuts (.76 g), and edamame (.28 g). If you aren’t likely to meet recommendations with food, a daily omega-3 supplement can back you up. Be sure to choose one that is “burpless” or “enteric coated” to avoid fishy-smelling breath.

 

Prebiotic Fibers

support healthy gut floraWhat they do: “Prebiotic fibers” are specific types of fiber that the bacteria in your gut like to snack on. Keeping a healthy colony of good bacteria well-fed can keep your intestinal lining strong and regulate digestion.1, 4-5 For those who already have a bacterial imbalance or a condition like inflammatory bowel disease, some of these can actually worsen symptoms. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns about your gut health.

How much: There isn’t a specific recommendation for prebiotic fiber intake, but 25-30 grams of fiber covers it for most adults.*

How to get them: Most whole plants foods are good places to find fiber. For prebiotic fibers, go for lentils, kidney beans, apples, currants, dates, figs, and whole grains like wheat, rye, and barley.

 



 

*Recommended intakes and food nutrient contents were obtained from National Institutes of Health fact sheets. Children and pregnant or lactating women may have different recommendations.

 

Related Articles

Anti-Inflammatory Add Ins and Supplements

Why eating enough is just as important as not eating too much

Sugar Alternatives: Sweet solution or damaging and dangerous?

 

  1. Bischoff SC, Barbara G, Buurman W, et al. Intestinal permeability – a new target for disease prevention and therapy. BMC Gastroenterol. 2014;14:189. Accessed from:  https://bmcgastroenterol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12876-014-0189-7.
  2. Carabotti M, Scirocco A, Maselli MA, et al. The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiotia, central and enteric nervous systems. Ann Gastroenterol. 2015;28(2):203-209.
  3. Galley JD, Nelson MC, Yu Z, et al. Exposure to a single stressor disrupts the community structure of the colonic mucosa-associated microbiota. BMC Microbiol. 2014;14. Accessed from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25028050/
  4. Foster JA, Rinaman L, Cryan JF. Stress & the gut-brain axis: Regulation by the microbiome. Neurobiol Stress. 2017;7:124-136.
  5. Oriach CS, Robertson RC, Stanton C, et al. Food for thought: The role of nutrition in microbiotia-gut-brain axis. Clin Nutr Exp. 2016;6:25-38.

 



Wellness Tips

hacks for losing weight

 

Regardless of your body’s size, maintaining positive habits makes a significant difference in your overall health. Sometimes, though, your health goal itself may include losing some extra fat that is causing you discomfort or health problems. Weight loss is a commonly sought after and frequently frustrating goal – mostly because there is so much confusion about how to effectively go about it! After working as a dietitian for 6 years, I’ve compiled a list of my top 15 weight loss tips to help you meet your goals. Enjoy!

 

1. Ease into it

I know this might be a weird thing to hear from a dietitian, but don’t come out of the gate doing every healthy thing you can think of. Plan a couple of healthy changes, add them into your life, get used to them for a few weeks, then add in a couple more.

 

There are a couple of reasons I recommend this – first of all, it’s much more likely that you’ll be able to stick with your new habits if you have a little time to get used to them and work out the kinks. Second, nearly everyone will run into a plateau at some point on their journey. For plateaus lasting more than 2-3 weeks, it’s nice to have a couple of healthy changes in mind to get things moving again. If you start out by maxing out your exercise and strictly limiting your food intakes, you don’t have anywhere to go when things inevitably get stuck.

 

2. Be part of your own plan

As tempting as it is – trust me, I know – avoid going for pre-made meal or diet plans. These plans are convenient and seem simple, but they were not made to match your lifestyle. They may get you moving along for a week or two (or even a month or two), without teaching you to make your lifestyle more healthful. Often, they contain foods you don’t care for and leave out some of your favorites – that’s no way to live! This is one reason I don’t make meal plans for my clients. Participating in the creation of your own healthy plan will help you practice making a healthy lifestyle that you actually enjoy and can follow long term. If you’re lost on how to do this, find a Registered Dietitian to help you!

 

3. Don’t expect (or aspire to) perfection

Do not expect to never eat your favorite foods. Do not aspire to never eat your favorite foods. It makes me sad just to think of it! You can and should include all kinds of foods that you enjoy while meeting your health goals. Do it intentionally and without guilt. Including favorite foods will help your plan be sustainable and enjoyable, and prevent out-of-control bingeing.

 



 

4. Consider your personality

A sustainable healthy lifestyle is about so much more than calorie calculations and exercise. Consider aspects of your personality that you may never have thought of in relation to nutrition and fitness before. Are you detail-oriented? Tech savvy? Flexible? Need structure? Tend to obsess? All of those things should play into your choices about which paths to take. If you’re not sure how to do that, check out this handy graphic to guide you.

 

5. “Begin as you mean to go on”

Originally said by Charles Spurgeon, the sentiment of the quote is to only begin a life change that you expect to be able to continue long-term. Do not begin any nutrition plan that you only intend to follow temporarily. Your plan should be sustainable. Now, sometimes, life will happen and you’ll have to change up your plan accordingly, or you’ll change it up to match your workouts, for example. The point is that you shouldn’t embark on a plan that you know beforehand will be too hard to stick with after a few months.

 

healthy habits that fit your life

 

6. Embrace the trial and error

Approach your healthy plan as a series of trials and errors, designed to find the healthy plan that perfectly fits your life. If you try something that doesn’t work, it’s not failure, it’s information. That wasn’t the right approach for you. Try another! Keep going, and you’ll have ironed all of the wrinkles out of your plan and it will fit your lifestyle like a glove.

 

7. Make sure you’re eating enough

There is so much bad info out there. Weight loss is so much more than eating less and moving more. In fact, about half of the clients I see who are trying to lose weight are undereating, not overeating.  Their undereating is what keeps them from being able to lose weight! Without going into the nitty-gritty hormonal details, chronic over-restriction leads your metabolism to slow down and puts your body in fat-saving/fat-storage mode. Strict calorie restrictive diets actually teach your body to store fat. The next time someone says that you should be eating 1200 calories per day to lose weight, just let that comment roll off your back. The goal is to eat exactly what your body needs, minus just a tad. Then your body won’t mind filling in the gaps with extra fat.

 



 

8. Don’t fear the carbohydrate!

While we’re on the subject of slowed metabolism, let me address one of the most common weight loss mistakes I see – undereating carbohydrates! Poor carbohydrates, they get such a bad rap as being one of the leading causes of weight gain. Not true! Carbs are the primary fuel our bodies use. When our bodies don’t get enough carbs for a while, they slow our metabolisms down to “survive the winter.”

This is why nearly every low-carb diet works spectacularly for a while, then weight tends to plateau. Typically as soon as you start adding carbohydrates back in (no matter how gradually), most of the lost weight comes back. This is because your body believes it is now summer again – time to start stocking up fat for the next period of starvation!

This is not to say that a mild decrease in carbohydrates can’t help speed weight loss, but drastic reductions are not the answer for sustainable weight loss. Lose the weight in a way that includes carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, but choose well in each category. Go for complex and nutrient-dense carbohydrates like whole fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and low-fat dairy or dairy alternatives. Choose lean proteins like skinless poultry, lean beef or pork, fish, eggs, and nuts. Aim for liquid, plant-based fats like avocado oil and olive oil. Add plenty of antioxidant-laden veggies. 🙂

 

9. Hold steady (and expect plateaus)

Plateaus happen for all but the very lucky in weight-loss journeys. Sometimes they happen for a discernable reason, sometimes your body just isn’t feeling like losing weight that week. Don’t stress, and continue doing what you are doing. If your weight sticks for more than 2-3 weeks, only then is it time to consider tweaking your plan. Try adding a little time or intensity to your workouts, or add in some cross-training.

 

10. Build in non-scale victories

Keep goals besides weight-loss goals, because sometimes the scale just doesn’t want to reflect the hard work you’re putting in. It happens. To everyone.

My faves are achievement goals. They are the most fun! Explore new territory – maybe something you’ve always dreamed of doing but never believed you could do. Want to learn to box? Hike part (or all!) of the Pacific Crest Trail? Ride a horse? Become a personal trainer? Play tag with your grandkids? Skydive?

Pick one that fires you up. Consider your workouts training for that dream. Be consistent. Achieve it. Pick a new goal. Rinse and repeat.

 



 

11. Embrace health improvements, not just pounds lost

Along those lines, make changes for their benefit to your health, disease prevention, or an increase in energy. Believe in the good you are doing for your body by moving it more, eating more vegetables, or drinking more water. Read handouts or books about it if you need to! Sometimes it seems the only reason someone is willing to do anything healthy is to watch the number on the scale go down. While that can be a satisfying and healthy goal, the scale does not always cooperate (as mentioned above). If you’re putting all your eggs in that basket, you’re setting yourself up for frustration. Instead, notice the way your body feels – your energy levels, your digestion, your skin, the way your clothes fit. All of those are signs that you’re headed in the right direction, and none of them require weight loss.

 

achieve your health goals

 

12. Ditch an “all-or-nothing” mindset

Some people are inclined to have an “all-or-nothing” mindset, particularly about nutrition or fitness. Either they’re doing all the things – eating “clean,” working out out 5 times a week, drinking enough water, and taking their vitamins – or they’ve given up on being healthy. One day of a missed workout or a serving of french fries leads them to throw in the towel on all of their healthy habits. Health does not work this way, and neither should you think this way about your health. Every step is a step in a healthier direction. Don’t let one “imperfect” moment tell you how everything has to be. Just pick it back up and move on.

 

13. Steer clear of “diet lingo”

While we’re at it, avoid phrases like “eat clean,” “cheat days,” “cutting carbs” and “guilty pleasure.”

There’s nothing dirty about dessert, eating cheese is not cheating, carbs don’t need cutting (except with a bread knife), and no tasty food should make you feel guilty.

Using these phrases reinforces the mindset behind them, and that is not a helpful mindset. All food can fit in a balanced weight-loss lifestyle.

 

14. Rewrite your cassette tapes

This is an idea one of my clients had and I loved it. She said she had all of these old self-deprecating diet “cassette tapes” playing in her head, telling her she was too fat, shaming her for what she would choose to eat, or telling her that fruit was bad because it was too high in sugar. As she was working with me, she learned that the voices on these tapes were misinformed or just plain wrong. She had to make a conscious effort to “record over” the unhelpful voices with something she knew to be true. She actively thought about how nutritious fruit is and how the fiber helps her digestion, or how she is making many efforts to improve her health and she should not be ashamed for the choice she is making now. Rewriting her tapes enabled her to take charge from all of those old, useless philosophies that had held her back for years.

 

15. Believe in yourself – no matter how long it takes, you can do it.

If you follow the other tips, losing weight and making healthy changes shouldn’t be excruciating. If it is, it’s time to change your plan! I certainly won’t say it will be a walk in the park (though it may involve some of those!), but it’s doable. It takes consistency, patience, and dedication to the process over anything else. Slow and steady, and if you need some help, go and get it. There’s no shame in that. You can lose weight. You can improve your health.  Believe it.

 



Wellness Tips

How to heal your liver with diet

 

I’ve been on a liver-friendly diet for over a month now. If you’re not sure why, you can read about it here. A few days ago, my doctor redrew my blood to check my liver enzymes and they were…*drumroll please*…normal! Thank goodness that whatever was the reason for my elevated liver enzymes has resolved at this point and is no longer an issue!

As far as following the liver-friendly diet itself, here are my observations:

 

The Good

Eating 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day makes me feel so good! I have great energy, great digestion, and my skin is super clear compared to when I eat fewer servings of the good stuff. Whenever I make sure to get my plant foods in it always reinforces to me how important it is for my body.

 

The Bad

No raw sushi. 🙁

 

The Ugly

 

Not a whole lot…probably the toughest part of the whole month was navigating social situations where others were drinking alcohol or eating high-fat or high-salt foods and I was trying to limit those. I wrote about a few of those situations in my post about eating out on a liver-friendly diet. It wasn’t miserable, but it was a bit tough. I think the difficulty would depend on how often you normally drink alcohol, take NSAID medications, or eat high-fat foods. Since none of these are a huge part of my normal, I didn’t feel like I was missing out too much.

 

Thanks for following along with my liver-friendly journey! Stay tuned to find out what I’ll be up to next!

 

Related Articles

The Story of my Mystery Illness (and how I got my new diet!)

Does Dietitian on a Diet Need to Ditch Dairy?

Eating out on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Liver-Friendly Diet

 

This past weekend I had the opportunity to try out a weekend of celebration, liver-friendly style. Every year in January we go with some friends for a weekend away, this time to McMenamin’s Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, OR. Typically, this weekend consists of delicious food, a few cocktails and ciders, and a lot of board games. We always have a great time. Since I’m on a liver-friendly diet this year, I decided to do the best I could to navigate my nutritional recommendations while still having a great time with my husband and friends.

Whether it’s a whole weekend away or a single meal, my primary strategies for meeting dietary recommendations while eating out: plan and prioritize.

 

Planning Ahead

 

Check out the place you’re going to (if you haven’t been there before) and find out what kinds of food are going to be available. We have been to the Grand Lodge many times, so I already know that the lunch and dinner fare is primarily pub-type food (with amazing tater tots). Veggies, protein, grains, and dairy will be no problem, but fruits will be lacking. I’ll have to be careful with fat and sodium, for sure.

 

Also, I know that there is an amazing chocolate milkshake made with their Terminator Stout that I usually get that I won’t be getting this time because it’s loaded with saturated fat and sugar and contains alcohol.

 

road trip snacks that are good for your liver

 

To address these two anticipated issues, I brought along some mandarin oranges and a dark chocolate bar. The chocolate bar contains some saturated fat and sugar, but it will be far better for lil’ ol’ liver than that Terminator Stout milkshake, and I’ll still get some chocolate!

 



 

Prioritizing

 

Think about what menu item would most delight you to eat, whether it’s an entree, a side, a dessert, you name it. Even if it’s a bit high in sodium, fat, or sugar, get that thing. Enjoy it! Surround it with healthier options.

We headed out Friday afternoon and on the way down we decided to stop at a burger joint recommended to us by a friend. None of us had been to Smashburger before, but we decided to give it a go. After checking out the menu, I saw that they had some rosemary herb tater tots. I am a big tot fan, so that was going to be my priority. My main dish was going to have to be healthier. They had a black bean burger on a multigrain bun with avocado, and it sounded tasty!

 

liver friendly avocado black bean burger

 

It was pretty dang good, but the tots were even better. I rounded it out with a water.

Later that evening, we went to soak in the hot tub. This is when I would usually end up getting a mojito, but since alcohol is a no-go on my liver-friendly diet, I asked for a seltzer water with a lime.

 

liver friendly lime seltzer

 

Was it as delicious as a mojito? No, but it was refreshing, tasty, and certainly more hydrating! Besides, I’m really out there to relax in the soaking pool, so mission accomplished.

 



 

After soaking we settled in for some board games and snacks. The Grand Lodge has some epic Cajun-spiced tater tots. If you remember from earlier, tots are definitely a priority for me. Those had to happen. We ordered some pretzel sticks with cheese sauce, but I only ate a couple of the pretzel sticks and avoided the cheese sauce. I would rather have tots!

 

Cajun tater tots and pretzel sticks

 

They were fantastic as always.

The next morning I was fortunate enough to eat one of my favorite dishes, and it just so happens to be liver-friendly! This salmon and red potato hash is made with veggies, anti-inflammatory salmon, and red potatoes. If you want to try it, check out this copycat recipe. My hubby’s breakfast came with a fruit cup but he’s not a melon fan, so he ate the rest and then I got some fruit too!

 

liver friendly breakfast

 

Breakfast did not disappoint.

That afternoon, my friend and I went to see Mary Poppins Returns. It was so well done! For the movie I would normally have chosen to order a hard cider. I wanted something sweeter than the lime water I had last night, so I ordered a seltzer water with lime juice and a half-shot of simple syrup. It had a couple grams of sugar, but it was a definite liver-friendly improvement.

 

seltzer water with lime

 

A side benefit of these “alternative” drinks is that the bartenders wouldn’t even charge me for them since they were mostly water and a little bit of fruit juice. I spent a few dollars in tips instead of the $20-25ish I would have spent on my usual drinks throughout the weekend!

 



 

For a late lunch, we ended up at a Hawaiian fusion restaurant. Everything on the menu looked so good, but I had to go with chicken katsu curry. While it does contain veggies and lean meat, the meat is deep fried and the curry is loaded with sodium. This one may have been a little over the top, but the last time I ate katsu curry was in Japan and I about died from delicious, so I wasn’t going to pass it up. It was supposed to come with macaroni salad, but I subbed that out for the house salad. The curry was the priority!

 

liver friendly Japanese curry and salad

 

After lunch, we were going to settle in for some more board games and snacks. The crew stopped at the grocery store to buy some junk food. My oranges and chocolate bar came to the rescue so I was satisfied with only 2 cookies instead of…however many I would otherwise have eaten…

 

liver-friendly snacks

 

For our final breakfast, I had been itching to find out what the chef’s “daily scone” was. I am Scottish, after all. I asked my server – it was caramel apple. Guys. I was definitely going to have that. Now, I realized that a caramel apple scone was basically breakfast dessert, so I needed some protein and ideally veggies to balance this sucker out. I ordered the veggie sausage on the side and got another cup of unappreciated melon from my husband. The whole thing was dee-licious.

 

liver friendly breakfast

 

Then it was time to leave relaxation for the regularity of normal life. Sigh…it was such a great weekend. While the food I ate was certainly not as low in sodium, fat, or sugar as what I would eat at home, I feel great about the balance. When you’re eating out, gauge your choices based on the foods that are your priorities. The tastiest and most wonderful should take center stage, backed up by a chorus line of nutritious extras. You’ll enjoy yourself and feel great!

 

Related Articles

 

How to Make Healthy Changes that Actually Stick

Eating Out on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Why You Shouldn’t Commit to a Diet this New Year (and what you should do instead)

 



Liver-Friendly Diet