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Thanks for being patient with me as I navigate the land of the computer-less. I’m still on the hunt for a new Surface Pro.

Meanwhile, I finished my anti-inflammatory diet on Monday. I was telling my husband that this has to be in¬†the top two for the most enjoyable eating style I’ve tried (tied with carb counting). You can still eat most anything, and it truly makes a difference for me to mentally focus on getting in good stuff rather than cutting out “forbidden” foods (like when I was on Paleo – miserable!).

I can’t say that I felt much different necessarily, with the exception of one noticeable thing. Plug your ears if it weirds you out guys, but when the natural disaster occurred this month, my normally 4-6 level cramps were easily only 1-3. I’ve noticed before that there is a connection between my hydration/diet and my cramps, but this was pretty dang sweet.

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet was mildly restrictive, but largely enjoyable. I didn’t mind adding chia seeds and avocado to stuff and including lots of spices – they add tons of flavor and keep food interesting! Overall, anti-inflammatory is one of my favorite eating styles to date. I will blog more soon about the specific types of conditions/people that can benefit from eating this way. In the meantime, enjoy your Father’s Day weekend!


Sorry for the delay in posting – I’ve been experiencing technical difficulties. And by “technical difficulties” I mean that my work tablet took a brief swim and is now resting in a pan of rice. ūüôĀ Pray for dry insides!

Anyhoo, as you may know, eating out and eating well can be a challenge. My favorite mantra for eating out:

You can make a “bad” choice just about everywhere, you can make a “good” choice pretty much anywhere, but you can always make the best choice for where you are.

Life happens. Food is a (wonderful!) part of life. By all means, eat out and enjoy it! Making choices when eating out depends a lot on how frequently you eat out. If you mostly cook at home and eat out once or twice a month or only on special occasions, ignore this post. Go out on your date night, anniversary, or family fun night and enjoy it. Don’t worry about this – it’s not a big enough portion of your whole eating picture to matter that much. I’m not advocating an all-out binge, but you should order what you want and move on.

On the other hand, if eating out is more frequent for you – maybe you travel or life is just busy – the story is different. You will have to tailor your eating out for your health goals if you ever hope to meet them. If you’re hoping to eat well with an eye towards decreasing inflammation, here are some tips from my experiences in the last few weeks:

Asian

We’ve eaten Asian food out twice since I started anti-inflammatory. Once we went to a new (to us) local Asian fusion restaurant that essentially offers a Subway-style, build-your-own sushi wrap, bowl, or salad. When eating out along these lines, choose foods without too much carbohydrate and get lots of veggies. Choose fish (especially salmon) – it’s high in anti-inflammatory omega-3s! If you’re up for spicy, add in brightly-colored spicy sauces, but go easy on those with sugar like teriyaki or sweet chili sauce. The seaweed in sushi is loaded with antioxidants too. I really wanted a¬†sushi wrap so I asked for a light layer of rice, got miso soup on the side, and only ate half of the wrap.

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Another day we went to a Korean restaurant. This one was easy – I love bibimbap! If you aren’t familiar, it’s a crackly, delicious cauldron of rice, tons of veggies, a meat of your choice, and an egg. I chose chicken and added loads of the optional veggie add-ins at the table (especially kimchi, which not only has colorful spices but also contains probiotics). Again, I saved half for later.

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Italian

This one was tricky because (by far) my favorite type of Italian food is pasta, and most pasta dishes are just that – a giant plate of carbohydrates with a creamy, buttery inflammatory sauce. Hmph. I had to do a little finagling for this one. I decided I would still get pasta but choose a lean meat, an olive-oil based vinaigrette sauce, and lots of colorful vegetables. In this case, I picked a seafood pasta (to up the omega-3s) with tomatoes, onions, and asparagus. To prevent eating too many carbs I only ate half (are you noticing a pattern?). A vegetable-based sauce (like marinara) would have worked nicely too. Watch out for too much cheese or the absurd amount of delicious carbohydrates like breadsticks with pasta, pasta, and more pasta!

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If you weren’t so much a pasta person, a salad with Italian vinaigrette or a chicken breast with marinara sauce could be a less inflammatory choice.

Seafood

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A friend’s birthday dinner took us to a seafood restaurant. Seafood is anti-inflammatory as long as it’s not covered in butter or alfredo sauce (darn it), so you can choose a fillet of salmon or whitefish with veggies and a starch any time. I opted for a cioppino – basically seafood stewed in a tomato-based sauce with herbs and spices. High in antioxidants and omega-3s! It came with one slice of bread (plus in the spirit of full disclosure, I ate a slice of sourdough as an appetizer too). I skipped a drink and opted for water instead. Since my entree wasn’t inflammatory and it was delicious and reasonably portioned, I ate the whole thing!

Indian

We didn’t actually go out to an Indian restaurant in the last three weeks, but it could be a great place to go for an anti-inflammatory meal because of all of the beautiful spices they use! Keep your rice/naan portion reasonable, choose a sauce that is brightly-colored but¬†not creamy, like curry, and get a brightly-colored veggie for a side (like palak paneer aka curried spinach with goat cheese). This is a great opportunity to go meatless and choose a lentil- or garbanzo-based dish as well!


Depending on who you ask, you might find anti-inflammatory recommendations that encourage complete elimination of sugar and carbohydrates to decrease inflammation. As is frequently the case, though, those recommendations are likely unnecessary extremes and everything is case-by-case. For one thing, you can probably achieve the anti-inflammatory benefits you’re looking for while still including well chosen, nutrient dense complex carbohydrates. Secondly, why over-restrict if we can still enjoy some tasty treats in moderation? That’s how we balance meeting health goals and living a life we love! So what does the research actually say about carbs and inflammation?

Multiple studies have linked consumption of concentrated sugar and simple carbohydrate consumption with increased levels of inflammation.1-2 A long time ago I talked in this post about what happens when we eat carbs and how we break them down into blood sugar to use as fuel. Those fuels are stuck in the blood until insulin comes around to let them in to our cells. High blood sugars, especially over the long term, correlate with inflammation in several types of tissue in the body, including fat cells.3

A strong link has been drawn between chronic inflammation and insulin resistance.4 This is a vicious cycle because (as you may remember from this post) insulin resistance means that blood sugars get stuck in the blood without a way out, causing fat storage and inflammation. Stored fat then produces inflammatory factors which make insulin resistance worse! Not fair.

So what can we do about it? Well, we can aim to cut inflammation off at the pass by changing parts of our lifestyle and the foods we eat to combat inflammation and give our cells a helping hand with that blood sugar. With regard to carbohydrates, we can do a couple of things specifically:

  1. Focus on eating more complex carbohydrates than simple carbohydrates like sugar. What does that mean? Well, complex carbohydrates are long chains of sugars that take much longer to digest, break down, and enter our blood, thus making our blood sugar much more stable (and preventing inflammation from blood sugar spikes). Simple carbohydrates are individual sugars or tiny chains of sugars that break down very quickly and enter the blood rapidly, causing a sharp spike in blood sugar that is inflammatory. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains, beans, and vegetables are connected with lower levels of inflammation.5 Same goes for high-fiber carbohydrates like fruit.

Photo from wearewhatweeat1.blogspot.com

 

2. Avoid eating too much carbohydrate at once. Just like with diabetes, the key to preventing carbohydrate-induced inflammation is keeping the blood sugar from going too high. Eating controlled amounts of carbohydrate throughout the day can help keep your energy up and your inflammation down.

  1. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/94/2/479.short
  2. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2013/509502/abs/
  3. http://www.jbc.org/content/280/6/4617.short
  4. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/19451
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17391554

We have a winner! (1)

Your voices have been heard! The anti-inflammatory diet came out on top with more than double the votes of either of the other two options.

As a quick overview, there is not truly one well-defined and well-recognized “anti-inflammatory diet” per se, but rather we have a lot of research about how food affects inflammation in the body that we can leverage to decrease inflammation. In the coming weeks I will bring you information on what inflammation is, whether or not we really need to fight it with food, and what the research is telling us about lifestyle changes you can make to affect your levels of inflammation.

Sit back and relax because you’ll have plenty more info on anti-inflammatory eating coming your way¬†soon!



Image from i.huffpost.com

Since my husband and I have met our wellness goals, we are¬†not ready to watch our bodies creep back to where they were, but rather to maintain the progress we’ve made and go even further. How do we avoid becoming another statistic for weight regain or resume our couch-potatoing, Christmas cookie-eating ways? The vital keys to long-term success lie before and after the hard work of reaching your goals.

Key #1: Before you change anything

Decide carefully how you will achieve your goals. For many years, scientists have been studying methods for weight loss to find the “best” way to get pounds off. The surprising result of a lot of this research is that so many methods work. A lot of nutritionists have taken to saying, “diets don’t work.” It might be semantics but in general, if the goal is to lose weight – most fad diets do work. Whether it’s low carb, low fat, low calorie, or portion control¬†– weight typically comes off.1-5 ¬†If they didn’t work at all for losing weight, word would get around pretty quickly and they would never become popular.

Here’s the kicker (besides that many fad diets aren’t safe): the statistics for maintaining weight loss after a diet are horrendous. Long-term studies show that five years after short-term diets the result is an average regain¬†to anywhere from a net loss of only 6 lbs to a gain¬†of 10-21% of pre-diet weight.2,6¬†Yikes!

Many fad diets can be extreme, overly restrictive, or just plain miserable (or option d, all of the above). Most people beginning a diet program are willing to commit to short-term pain for long-term gain. Unfortunately, the reality is that long-term dieting is generally not sustainable, and weight loss from short-term dieting is temporary.

But fear not Рall hope is not lost! The National Weight Control Registry is comprised of people who have successfully lost at least 30 lbs and kept it off for at least a year, though most participants have lost an average of 72.6 lbs and kept it off for more than 5 years.7 Their participants report that ongoing, long-term participation in sustainable habit changes has been key to their success, as opposed to radical, short-term dieting. You can read more about their habit changes at the National Weight Control Registry website.

All these studies show that a pivotal ingredient for long-term success with wellness, weight loss, muscle gain, or any habit change is sustainability. One of my favorite quotes sums up the wisdom behind this:

Begin as you mean to go on, and go on as you began, and let the Lord be all in all to you.”

-Charles H. Spurgeon

Some may wonder what the last phrase has to do with wellness, and personally I believe it is vitally important (and apparently so did Spurgeon since he tacked it on there), so I included it. Regardless of how you feel about God, however, the sentiment is to not even begin¬†a habit change that you can’t commit to long-term. Find changes that work with your lifestyle, not against it.

fighting, clawing, and scratching

Recognize that temporary habit changes create temporary results.  You can tweak them, change them, or adjust to the fluidity of life as needed, but if your habit changes disappear completely, so will the fruits of your labors.

Key #2:¬†After you’ve met your goals

You’ve done it, congratulations! You’ve met your goal! You’ve placed a new brick in the healthy foundation upon which you can continue building the life you want. Guess what? You’re not done! If you want to continue to enjoy the benefits of your progress, you must grab hold of the second key to long-term success:

Always have a goal and a sustainable plan to achieve it.

Achieving a goal merits celebration, and also the exciting task of deciding what your next goal will be. It¬†doesn’t have to be intense – your goal could be maintenance and your plan might be walking – but you need to have both or you’ll watch all your hard work and health benefits slip away. Living a healthy life is swimming upstream in our culture – you can not coast into good health.

So what’s next for Charlie and me?

My new goal: Maintain cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. Gain strength and muscular endurance (I want to be able to do 10 pull-ups or rock climb for an hour without getting pooped).

My new plan: Mindful, intuitive eating along with 30-40 minutes of cardio twice weekly, strength training 4 times weekly, and 10-20 minutes of yoga 5 days per week.

Charlie’s new goal: Maintain cardiovascular endurance and flexibility. Gain strength (he wants to be able to save people from burning buildings and stuff).

Charlie’s new plan: My Fitness Pal (with his calorie and macronutrient needs adjusted since he’s building muscle now), 30-40 minutes of cardio twice weekly, strength training 4 days per week, and 10-15 minutes of yoga before each workout as well as a longer practice twice weekly.

Have a goal of your own but need help finding a sustainable plan that fits your lifestyle? Contact me or schedule an appointment to start building a healthy foundation for the life you want!

  1. https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article-lookup/doi/10.1210/jc.2002-021480
  2. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2001.134/full
  3. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/412650
  4. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2004.61/full
  5. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/53/5/1124.short
  6. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/2613427, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/74/5/579.short
  7. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/1/222S.short

Since I was a little stuck with progress on returning to my previously normal weight last month, I decided to start using a food tracker for the month of March just to make sure I wasn’t missing my nutrition goals accidentally. Food trackers¬†can range anywhere from a pen and notebook to wearable devices that connect to apps and websites with huge searchable food databases. Tracking the food you eat has some major pros and major cons…and it’s important to understand both before deciding if (and what kind of) food tracking is right for you.

Photo from www.pinterest.com

 

Pros:

  • Accountability – The primary function of tracking is accountability for what you eat. By tracking, you can see what you have eaten compared to your recommendations, and keep yourself in check throughout the day. If you have a day that is “off the rails” you can easily see it, notice it, and adjust or monitor a little closer in the coming days (by the way, you don’t have to feel guilty – that’s not the point!).
  • Awareness – Tracking causes you to pay more attention to the actual contents of what you eat. Websites, apps, and food labels all provide information on calories, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates, sodium, and protein – all of which may be useful depending on your health goals. Most of my clients find some surprises when they start tracking (I never knew that had so many calories and so much saturated fat! I thought that food was healthy!). Tracking offers a learning opportunity that will help support you in lifelong wellness as you learn which foods fit best in your plan.
  • Convenience – One study found that those who used a smart phone tracking app that assisted with goal setting and behavior change were more likely to meet their goals and, in this case, lost more weight than those using paper and pen or a website to track.1

 

Cons:

  • Tedium/Obsessiveness – Particularly for those who are not so detail-oriented (or those with a history of eating disorders), food trackers can be more of a hindrance than a help. Tracking every detail can become overwhelming and exhausting, and people who are overwhelmed and exhausted are less likely to make good health choices or reap the benefits of tracking.¬†If you fit in these categories, you’ll likely find¬†more benefit using strategies other than food tracking.
  • Inaccuracy – Food trackers are only as good as their accuracy and the honesty of the person using them. If you’re going to track at all, commit to being thorough and including everything you eat or drink – don’t forget¬†condiments, cooking oils, seasonings, and beverages! Studies have found paper-based and online food tracking to be equally accurate.2
  • Lack of Evidence-Based Support and Resources – Two studies¬†of food tracking apps discovered that most apps¬†do not assist with evidence-based skills that promote success¬†like problem-solving, stress reduction, and improving motivation.3, 4 If you’re using a tracker, be sure to seek out other support for these important areas.

Many people I work with find using a food tracker beneficial, but also grow weary of the “cons” listed above. I encourage them to consider being flexible in their use of food trackers. Often, one can glean the benefits of awareness and accountability by tracking a few days per week or one week per month, and those benefits will often carry over for the remainder of the time. If you decide to do this, set a concrete goal of what days or how many you will track (example: I will track Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays or I will track the first week of every month).

If you’re looking for ideas for food trackers to try, consider My Fitness Pal, Lose It, My Plate Supertracker, or Google “food journal” if you prefer pen and paper.

  1. http://www.jmir.org/2013/4/e32/?
  2. http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(14)01219-2/abstract
  3. http://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(13)00426-1/abstract?cc=y=
  4. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13142-011-0076-5

NationalNutritionMonth2017

In honor of National Nutrition Month, I thought I’d give you a few thoughts on how to put your best fork forward this month (and every month)!

  • Try a new recipe ‚Äď some of my favorite recipe websites are from the American Heart Association or the American Diabetes Association. Trying out something new can add variety and keep eating from being boring!
  • Work on enjoying natural flavors ‚Äď Make a goal to decrease ‚Äúextra flavors‚ÄĚ like sugar, salt, and artificial flavors in order to really enjoy the full flavors of the foods, herbs, and spices you’re eating. Check out this post for more tips on flavor!
  • Explore fresh new cuisines ‚Äď most of us are familiar with Chinese, Italian, and Mexican foods, but how about Salvadoran, Ethiopian, Indian, or Vietnamese? There are over 190 countries in the world, each with amazing, flavorful, and unique dishes. Plus, different countries’ diets have different health benefits. You might discover a new favorite and expand the variety of foods you love! Bonus tip: make a quick Google search about the type of cuisine you’re trying before you go to a restaurant. That way, you can have some ideas of any unique customs (did you know that at most Ethiopian restaurants, patrons eat with their hands?) and what to order in case you can’t read the menu!
  • Get rid of the ‚Äúgood‚ÄĚ and the ‚Äúbad‚ÄĚ labels ‚Äď We have a tendency to label foods as though they are good or bad, as if food and nourishment were totally black and white! All foods can belong in a healthful diet, and bodies are so, so individual! What may make one person feel terrible may be a great choice for someone else, and it is fairly rare that there is a reason to completely cut anything out entirely. Research has shown that this kind of labeling is detrimental to healthful diets and healthy relationships with food.1 Learn to love and moderate all kinds of foods, and avoid villifying anything.

As a special bonus for National Nutrition Month, I’m offering 10% off an initial appointment! If you’ve been thinking about getting started with an empowered, healthful lifestyle, this is a great month to start! Click here to schedule an appointment!

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3779532/

_export-4I wrapped up carb counting yesterday, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved that I don’t have to poke my fingers anymore. I’m glad I did it – I got some good ideas for tips on how to make it hurt less (the side of the finger is the spot!). I did miss my insulin one day – I was on an overnight girls’ trip and thought I brought everything (got my meter, lancets, blood sugar log, and vitamin) but I somehow managed to leave my syringe behind. Phooey. There goes my perfect record.

As far as carb counting goes, it’s not awful. It gets tiresome and Halloween was definitely tough, but it wasn’t the hardest part. Getting the 30 minutes of activity 5 days per week was a challenge, but not the end of the world. Now, getting the 3 minutes of activity per every 30 of sitting – that was the sticker. Fortunately, the apps I discussed in this post made it easier. I’ll be writing a post reviewing the two apps soon! Even with the apps, it was downright impossible to do that every single thirty minutes. You know, I have 60-minute appointments and on girls’ day I drove for two hours there and two hours back. No exercise there. But I did the best I could and honestly, it really felt good to get up and get the blood flowing and joints moving on a regular basis.

  Carb Counting Goal Week #1 Week #2 Week #3
# of days nutrition recommendations met 7 7 6 6
Average carbohydrate intake per meal 45-60 grams 52.4 55.2 50.4
Weight change   -2 lb +1 lb -2 lb
Waist change ¬† -.5″ 0‚ÄĚ +.5″
Grocery Budget Change   +18% 0% -2%

 

As a special treat, my husband and I completed the #DiabetesDanceDare for Diabetes Awareness. Enjoy!