Tag: wellness

 

You asked, so here they are! My top tips for getting in the all-important, nourishing breakfast, even on a tight schedule. Eating in the morning helps reduce cortisol (a stress hormone) that climbs throughout the night. Breakfast also fuels our bodies and brain for the day ahead. Breakfast is a great protector against nagging nighttime snack cravings too, since often our bodies are trying to catch up from nutrition missed in the morning. Even if you feel like you don’t have a morning minute to spare, you can have a quick healthy breakfast!

 

1. Get the Good Stuff

First thing’s first, what constitutes a nutritious breakfast? There are many ways to answer that question, but as a general rule I boil it down to this: include at least three different food groups and make one of them protein. That ensures that you are getting energy-rich carbohydrates, satisfying protein, and several vitamins and minerals along the way.

For more explanation and examples of building three-food group breakfasts, check out this (very old) video post. Please look past my amateur editing – the content is good! So include a protein plus at least two other food groups (or more if you want, you overachiever, you).

2. Find your “Formulas”

Keeping our three-food-group goal in mind, use these basic “formulas” to select a handful of breakfast ingredients that you enjoy and can mix and match. Here are a few of my faves for examples:

Sweet breakfast: whole grain + fruit + protein source

> oatmeal + berries or apples + PB (and cinnamon, because…cinnamon)

> whole grain bagel + sliced bananas + peanut butter (and you guessed it, cinnamon!)

> granola + strawberries + low fat vanilla Greek yogurt

 

Savory breakfast: protein source + vegetable + whole grain

> scrambled eggs + peppers/onions/mushrooms + whole grain toast

> poached egg + spinach and tomato + whole grain English muffin (+ sausage and cheese if you want!)

> sliced ham + tomato/avocado + whole grain toast

These are just some examples – play with them to find combos that work well for you!

 



 

3. Blend, baby, blend!

Smoothies are some of the most versatile and efficient ways to sneak in a quick healthy breakfast, particularly if you are time-crunched or aren’t hungry in the mornings. It’s usually easier to drink than eat if you aren’t hungry, and you don’t have to take the time to sit, chew, and swallow. Your smoothie goes with you to carpool, work, or school, and you can take all morning to finish it if you need to. Boost breakfast nutrition by including greens, fruit, and a protein source like peanut butter, Greek yogurt, or whey protein. There are tons of delicious possibilities – piña colada, triple berry, pumpkin pie, or chocolate peanut butter anyone?


Make your smoothie even faster: ask yourself honestly – am I more likely to spend a couple of minutes in the morning or in the evening to prepare my breakfast? If your answer is evening, load your blender the night before and place it in the fridge or freezer. In the morning you can grab, blend, pour, and go.

4. Consider convenience

Be realistic about what you will be able to add to your morning. If you have exactly 10 minutes to spare most mornings, it’s not likely that you’re going to be cooking up a veggie-loaded omelet. Simple can be okay and in most (seriously, just about all) cases, something in the morning is better than nothing.

Grab a handful of nuts or a granola bar with a few recognizable ingredients, like oats, nuts, fruit, and honey. KIND and Nature Valley have some good options. Pair those with a piece of fruit, a hard-boiled egg, or a yogurt for an on-the-go breakfast. Or pour boiling water on some quick oats and add a dollop of peanut butter, some berries, and a teaspoon of brown sugar for a delicious PB&J oatmeal.

Prefer something savory? Some of the frozen breakfast sandwiches actually aren’t bad – look for one with Canadian bacon or turkey bacon/sausage, low-fat cheese, and/or a whole grain English muffin. These include protein, dairy, and grains, and some even add veggies! Just because it comes from the freezer doesn’t mean it’s off-limits, but choose wisely. Some of these pre-made goodies can be higher in sodium or saturated fat than you might like.

5. Dare to Be Different

Depending on where you live, this tip might blow your mind a little. In the US, we tend to have very defined boundaries around the types of foods that are considered “breakfast foods.” Pancakes, cereal, bacon, eggs, and toast? You’re welcome to join us in the morning. Salad, soup, or dinner leftovers? Come back at noon.

That this assignment of foods into time slots is strange never occurred to me until I spent some time in other countries. When I traveled in Japan, my friends served me a sandwich with salad in the morning. In El Salvador, I had tamales and refried beans for breakfast. I couldn’t believe it – is this even allowed? Turns out, it is! And much of the rest of the world is doing it. So unless it weirds you out (you know who you are), consider “unconventional” breakfast foods. Got a turkey leg, mashed potatoes, and veggies leftover from dinner? That’s really easy to heat up for breakfast. Why make something new? This can totally change the morning game, because it opens up so many possibilities.

 

I hope these tips will help you navigate that tricky morning time and find a way to incorporate some much-needed brain and body fuel into the beginning of each day. Let me know which tips you liked the best, or what ways you make sure to get in some tasty healthy breakfast in the comments! Oh, and comment if you want me to post the recipes for any of the smoothies I mentioned!

 



 

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Eating Well in Less Time Wellness Tips

Finding healthy strategies that are actually sustainable can be a challenge. How many times have you tried to drink more water, exercise more, or eat more vegetables but just can’t seem to stick with it? The first (and most important) step is that you must test drive new healthy changes to find the ones that are right for you. Don’t commit right away! Find changes that work with the strengths of your personality, and also help keep your weaknesses in check.

Everyone falls on the spectrum somewhere between a type-A (numbers, details, budgets, lists, organization) and a type-B (free spirit, go-with-the-flow) personality. Someone on the more extreme end of the type-A spectrum might be very good at self-discipline. Too good, in fact. If they choose a very detailed, overcomplicated-because-they-love-control method of keeping their food in check, they may tend to become obsessive. They track grams of carbs, proteins, and fat, and monitor every calorie down to the very last crumb. They thrive on this control until one day – whoops – we pass over healthy and slide down that slippery slope into disordered eating. Eating is no longer fun but a competition. A highly structured eating plan may not be a good idea for someone who is ALL the way at the type-A end of the spectrum.

Let’s try the other end of the spectrum. An extreme type-B may avoid the control of number-tracking like the plague, so they go for a much more flexible method. Too flexible, in fact. So flexible that they free-spirit their way in the opposite direction of their goals. Their personality is so extremely type B that they need a more structured (but not overly restrictive or controlling) method if they’re going to get anywhere. They just need a little more accountability.

 



 

In reality, most people do not fall at either extreme but instead somewhere in the middle. When you’re in the middle, you have some of the strengths of each personality and possibly some of the weaknesses too. No matter where you are on the spectrum, it takes a little honest introspection to know which might be some of the best approaches for you.

Use this flowchart to help you decide which strategies might work well for you:

 

how to make realistic healthy changes

 

Daily Food Group Checklist

Using a daily food group checklist can help you make sure you’re getting a wide variety of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber in the right amounts, but without the detail of a food tracker. Visit this website to calculate your daily needs and get a list of your personalized daily goals for each food group. Make a simple checklist or tally mark for each group each day so you can meet your goals without too much time investment.

 

Healthy Meal Plan

While I’m not a huge fan of meal plans made by people other than you, getting into the habit of making your own regular meal plan is a great way to set yourself up for success. If you already have the plan and the ingredients (possibly prepped and ready to go!), you are much more likely to eat more healthfully than if you were playing it by ear. Check out this post for a step-by-step guide and free printable to help make meal planning simple and easy.

 

Food Trackers

Food trackers are some of the most detail-oriented options for providing structure, accountability, and awareness. They can be as simple as a food journal with pen and paper or as complex as some websites and apps that have barcode scanners and track your calories, macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals. While these tech marvels are nifty, they have their pros and cons, so make sure to test it out first to see if it’s a good fit for you. This post has some reviews of apps and websites to help you create healthy habits. One important thing to remember for tracking: it’s a tool for you, not a rule you must follow. Only track for as long as and to the extent that it is useful and helpful to you – and absolutely no farther! Most of my clients end up settling in to a routine of tracking every other week or a few days a week. Tracking every day forever is pretty exhausting!

 



 

MyPlate

MyPlate is the visual put forth by the USDA to provide nutrition recommendations, and it replaced the Food Guide Pyramid in 2010.

 

Personally, I feel that MyPlate is much more user-friendly, since it does away with memorizing portion sizes and numbers of portions. Instead, it provides a evenly divided plate that builds in a bunch of nutrition recommendations in (so you never have to think about them!). It balances your carbs, proteins, and fats, while helping ensure you are meeting vitamin, mineral, and fiber goals. And you can do this anywhere – you can hit every food group at a fast food restaurant, mini mart, grocery store, or in a packed lunch. It’s so simple my kids have been doing it for years! Just take this mental picture with you and try to make as many of your meals (especially lunches and dinners) resemble MyPlate as possible. A good rule of thumb for breakfast? Include at least 3 different food groups and make one of them protein. You can read about my experience following a MyPlate plan, as well as some of my tips for following it starting with this post.

 

Intuitive Eating

This is a method of allowing your body’s hunger and fullness signals to guide what you eat. Often this begins by practicing mindfulness of your body’s cues. This approach helps separate moral feelings (like guilt or pride) from simply honoring your body’s needs for fuel. You can read more about intuitive eating here.

Hopefully these guides and resources help you find the best healthy changes to test drive for your life. Let me know if you have other ideas of healthy changes, or which strategies have worked the best for you!

 

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Eating Well in Less Time Wellness Tips

best ways to save time and be healthy

 

In this series, we’ve covered several tips that can help make eating well simpler and easier. From meal planning to food prep, these strategies can help you make the most of your time. There is one more thing that is absolutely vital to finding the most efficient, time-saving way to be healthy. Without this, you may be able to bumble along, finding some success along the way, but never truly be healthy or happy, and certainly not save yourself any time.

When I work with clients, I always try to help them find skills and strategies that are sustainable for them in the long term. By long term I mean lifelong (or at least until a major life change comes along). To do that, we test changes one at a time to make sure that they actually fit that client’s life/personality/budget/preferences/family/etc.

I encourage clients not to commit to new health changes right off the bat – don’t get married, date first! There are several ways to approach being healthy, just as there are many fish in the sea. Don’t just find any old fish and marry it! It might be smelly or taste too fishy or its scales may clash with your décor. You have to get to know it first and spend time with it in a lot of different situations before you know if that fish is the fish for you. If it’s not, toss it back and find another. This process of trial-and-error is key to your long-term success.

 



 

You might think:

That sounds much more time-consuming than following a plan I found online/10 years ago/on a commercial/from my co-worker, friend, or family member.”

You might be right, in the short term. Complete ready-made plans are very appealing. You don’t have to think about them – just follow the meal plans they give you and it will seem so, so simple. You’ll start moving toward your goals and feeling well. You can fight, claw, and scratch for weeks, months, or sometimes even years. But then…the meal plans get boring or expensive, you get tired of making yourself different food than your family, or you just want a single darn slice of bread! Following restrictive plans designed by strangers (who didn’t have you in mind) only works for so long.

I can not stress this enough:

You can not succeed forever with a cookie-cutter plan.

You must test drive individual changes to see how well they fit all of the factors that make up your individual life. Date them. Don’t get married blind!

 



 

So now you’re thinking:

Okay, I get what you’re saying, but how is this going to save me time? Test-driving individual changes sounds like a long process.”

It certainly can be, and I won’t sugar-coat that. But I can promise you that in the long run, it is a straighter line to lifelong health, happiness, and weight maintenance than using diet plans that you can’t (and shouldn’t!) continue forever.

The effects of these diets on your metabolism and your mindset can create a physiological cycle that works against you for the rest of your life. Unsustainable restrictive diets are training your body to store fat,1 and training you that being healthy is a miserable process. I can’t even begin to count the clients that I’ve seen who are chronically undereating (a sad lesson taught by a myriad of ill-fated diet plans) and have lost x numbers of pounds and gained x + 20 over and over again throughout their lives.

Research documents this. Restrictive, not-tailored-for-you “diet plans” consistently lead to weight gain.2

 



 

So how does fiddling around with these diet plans save you time in the long run?

Resist the temptation for a “quick fix.” Daily at my practice I see the results of years and years of “quick fixes” that never actually fixed anything in the long run. It takes work to heal their metabolisms and get them on a healthy, realistic track. One of my clients spent years exercising and following a low-carb diet (that he despised, by the way). It is taking months of proper eating to get his metabolism convinced that it’s safe to lose his 80+ pounds of extra body fat. I am certain that he would not say that his time on that diet saved him any time in the long run.

In fact, I am certain that every single one of these clients would tell you the same thing:

Stay away from restrictive diets. Test out individual, realistic, and sustainable changes that work for you.

If you need help finding realistic changes to make, stay tuned! I’ll be posting tips about finding changes to test drive that are most likely to work with different personality types. If you’re still overwhelmed, find a dietitian to help guide you through the process! It’s what we’re here for. Don’t waste your time with tantalizing promises of quick weight loss that are ultimately followed by disappointing regain and a messed-up metabolism. Invest your time now in a life that is much healthier and much happier down the road.

It can save you years – and that is quite a lot of time, don’t you think?

 

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References

  1. Cooper, E. The Metabolic Storm: The science of your metabolism and how its making you fat. Seattle Performance Medicine. 2015. 2nd edition.
  2. Lowe, M., et al. “Dieting and restrained eating as prospective predictors of weight gain.” Front. Psychol. Sept 2013. Accessed August 12, 2018. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00577/full.

 



Eating Well in Less Time Wellness Tips

quick and easy health tips for busy moms

 

For the next article in my series on Eating Well in Less Time, I’m sharing a guest post with you from Scott Reid at Focus Performance. Scott is helping out today with a list of health hacks (related to both nutrition and fitness) for busy moms. Enjoy!

 

Busy moms are often running around after children, working, running the household and trying to do 15 things at once – which can mean the person they need to look after the most is often the last one to get any attention – the mom herself.

Moms are notorious for putting themselves last, but if a mom is not in tip top condition herself she won’t be able to look after everyone and everything else which she has on her to do list. That’s why we have compiled a list of health hacks which busy moms can do as part of their daily routine to stay healthy.

You can also check out these motivation tips related to fitness from Focus Performance.

 



Adapt your routine

 

If you used to work out every morning before heading out to work, but are now tied up getting children up and dressed and heading out for school before your workday starts, then don’t just give up on your work-outs.

Try moving your routine around to adapt to your new situation. Make time to work-out in the evenings instead, or if you have help at home then assign 2-3 mornings where you don’t have the child responsibility and can work-out instead.

 

Try new exercise programs

 

If you used to go out running for hours every evening to keep fit but can’t do this post-baby, try some different types of exercise programs instead. Perhaps join a gym which has a day care so you can take your children with you, or invest in a jogging stroller and take your baby out while you jog.

It might be that you can go to a mom and baby yoga class or even try exercise DVDs at home instead of what you used to do. It’s all about adapting to fit your work-outs in with your new lifestyle rather than just giving up and not bothering at all.

 



 

Walk more whenever you can

 

Walking every day can really make a difference to your waistline, without costing a penny. If you have a young baby, walk out with the stroller, or walk them over to day care instead of driving. If you are at work, try walking out at lunch time and you really will see the difference.

 

Join local mom fitness groups

 

Check out local fitness groups aimed at or run by moms where there will be day care facilities or stroller options available. It’s a great way to improve your health while also adding to you and your child’s social life and fun as well.

 

Batch cook healthy meals for the freezer

 

Try planning your time so that you have space on the weekend to batch cook healthy meals which can then be frozen, ready for the week ahead. Perhaps on a Sunday evening while the children are asleep, try batch cooking things like chilis, curries, sauces and burger mixes which can be frozen and then microwaved in the week.

 



 

Make your health a priority

 

Don’t make excuses not to do the healthy food cooking or to skip your exercise routine. Make your health a priority and never feel guilty for putting yourself first when you need to. A healthy mom, leading by example, leads to healthy happy children and families.

 

Do family fun days for exercise

 

Family fun days like going out cycling, swimming or even a day in the park playing baseball, is great fun and gets everyone exercising together. If everyone joins in it can become a real family effort and make being healthy and exercising just part of what the family does for fun, rather than being seen as a chore.

 

Get your shopping delivered

 

Save time by getting your shopping delivered rather than having the stress of dragging your young children screaming around the shops. It also gives you control over your cart with no temptation for impulse purchases or bargains – you can select only health options to add into your basket and keep the food shopping under control.

 



 

Be kind to yourself

 

Take it easy and be kind to yourself – when you have a lot to juggle and deal with as a new mom it can be quite daunting to be careful, listen to your body and just ease yourself into the new health routine. Don’t rush and don’t try to do too much too soon.

 

Don’t be too goal-focused

 

Trying to stay healthy as a mom is a challenge in itself, so don’t set yourself weight loss or inch loss goals for this type of program. Just aim to complete your exercise regimen and keep up the healthy eating so you are looking after yourself and being a good example.

Being a busy mom and keeping healthy can go hand in hand as long as you are willing to adapt your routine to fit your new circumstances. Be kind to yourself and don’t try to take on a hugely ambitious fitness challenge – but with these hacks you will be on your way to staying healthy.

 

Scott is a sports and fitness writer and writes full time for Focus Performance. When not in front of his computer or spending time in the gym you can see him hanging out in his favorite coffee shop devouring the latest Stephen King novel. 

 

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Eating Well in Less Time Wellness Tips

 

Have you ever watched a cooking show where they try to pass a delicious healthy recipe off as a “20-minute meal”? You get all excited, ready to take notes and make this healthy kitchen masterpiece a reality, until you notice that as they are cooking, somehow all of their vegetables are already magically diced, their meats trimmed and cut, and their herbs and spices pre-measured? And then – big surprise! – the whole dish is done in 20 minutes or less! All they had to do was dump this, brown that, stir this in, and the whole creation was complete.

If you’ve had this experience and you’re anything like me you feel lied to. This was not a 20-minute meal. This was a 20-minute meal preceded by 10-15 minutes of peeling, chopping, dicing, and measuring which, again, if you’re anything like me, is the least enjoyable part of cooking.

Many of my clients struggle with this – they buy fresh veggies with perfect intentions of using them. But after a long day the thought of all that prep before they even get to cooking sends them, defeated, to that bag of freezer ravioli (or the corner fast food joint) and their produce one day closer to the garbage.

 



 

So how can we bridge this gap? We want our food to be healthy, and we need it to be quick and easy. Can we have both?

My answer is pretty much, yes. I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s not going to take any time and I certainly can’t hire a magic kitchen for you like the Food Network hosts have, but I can share the trick that has helped make healthful cooking SO MUCH FASTER for me.

That “trick” is food prep. Food prep is different than meal prep, where you actually cook and portion out individual meals in ready-to-go containers. If you have sufficient time and don’t mind eating the same meal for a few meals, meal prep is a great option! If you like a little more variety or can’t spare an hour or more for meal prep each week, give food prep a try!

 



 

Basically, you are your own magic kitchen. When you bring your groceries home, set all your produce (and your meats, if you really want to go for the gold!) on the counter. Put everything else away.

Now you get out your cutting board and knives (once!), and some containers. Chop, slice, and dice your little heart out. It usually takes 10-20 minutes, depending on how many veggies are in the recipes you’re using that week. Put them in containers based on the recipe they’re for. If we are having burgers, I slice tomatoes and onions, lay out lettuce, and put a handful of sliced mushrooms on a plate. If we’re having stew, I cube potatoes, chop onions, and slice carrots and seal them in a container. Then you clean up your cutting boards and knives (once!) and you’re done chopping for the week.

Note: Make sure that if you trim and cut raw meats, you prep them after you’re done with all your produce and that you store them in separate containers if they are uncooked!

Aren’t they pretty?

Now, when it’s time to cook, you can pull your container out of the fridge, dump this, brown that, stir this in, and your healthful meal is ready to go – just like the cooking pros!

For a demonstration of food prep and a recommendation for one of my favorite food prep kitchen tools, click here!

Have you ever tried food prep? Do you like it? Hate it? Let me know in the comments!

 



 

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Eating Well in Less Time Wellness Tips

It’s time to start another feature, and this time I’m adding a new category of features: healthy lifestyles!

 

 

This category includes tips and advice on living well within different lifestyle factors: kids, tight budgets, tight schedules, picky eaters, you name it! So now is the time to vote. Which factor should I feature to help make your healthy life easier?

 



Eating Well on a Budget

We’ll talk about every trick in the book for making a healthful lifestyle as cheap as possible. It doesn’t have to be crazy expensive and often it’s actually cheaper than buying “cheap” junk food! I’ve been playing around with cutting our food budget while keeping it healthy for years, and I can tell you it’s possible to eat well on a tight budget (and I can show you how)!

 

Eating Well in Less Time

We are all busy! A tight schedule can leave little margin in our day (not to mention our energy) for keeping up healthy habits. Let me help you find healthy habits to streamline your life and make healthy work for your mind as well as your body.

 

 

Eating Well and Reducing Waste

For most American households, the vast majority of our trash bins are full of food waste and plastic food containers. A few easy swaps can significantly reduce the amount of food-related garbage in our landfills and be healthy for the planet as well as for you.

 

Vote in the poll below to let me know which feature is most helpful for you!

 

 

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Healthy Lifestyles

Salmon and red potato hash with dijon aioli

 

This delicious dish is a copycat of a breakfast from a favorite restaurant of ours – the Ironwork Grill at McMenamin’s Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, Oregon. The original is made with a dill sauce but I always swap it for this dijon aioli, and I’ve never been disappointed!

The salmon, veggies, and potatoes make this a complete, protein- and potassium-laden anti-inflammatory power meal. Plus, it is so, so tasty and very easy to make!

 



Salmon and Red Potato Hash with Dijon Aioli

This dish is a complete dinner - it's loaded with omega-3, antioxidants, and other anti-inflammatory power punches. It's also very easy to make!

Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

Salmon and Vegetables

  • 4 fillets salmon
  • 1 diced red bell pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 10 spears asparagus, cut into 2" lengths
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black ground pepper

Dijon Aioli

  • 1/4 cup avocado oil mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

  2. Place fillets skin-side down in a greased 9 x 13" baking pan. Surround with vegetables.

  3. Drizzle with canola oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  4. Bake for 25 minutes or until thickest part of salmon measures 145 degrees.

  5. While salmon is baking, whisk together mayonnaise and dijon mustard.

  6. Serve salmon with aioli spread on top.

Recipe Notes

Each portion contains 499 calories, 29 g carbohydrate, 32 g protein, 3 g saturated fat, and 458 mg sodium.



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