Wow, this is the fourth week on healthy habits and this is a tough one! Reducing your sugar consumption.
Now although, my title says switch over to natural alternatives, the rules are the same. We should strive to reduce sugar in our diets, regardless of the source.
This was a real challenge for me, as I didn't realize how much sugar I was consuming as this stuff is lurking in LOTS of foods.
Why should you be concerned with reducing your sugar consumption?
Well, there are a host of reasons, but a few that will get your attention is that it can cause weight gain, can spike your blood sugar and insulin levels, which can cause you to lack energy.
Also if you are experiencing joint pain, (as I was) it can worsen your symptoms.
If you remember from a previous blog post, my recommendation is to reduce consuming highly processed food. One of the other reasons is because hidden sugars are in certain products such as granola bars, crackers, breakfast cereals, (yep it's there, even with so-called healthy cereals.) chips and processed meat and even BREAD!
I'm keeping in mind, some of you may be in different levels of sugar addiction from low to high, but here are a few suggestions for reducing sugar consumption as painless as possible.
If you are a soda drinker, switch over to sparkling flavored water with a splash of 100 percent natural fruit juice. Try doing this with half and half in portion. (You will get a hint of sugar, but you can easily cut your sugar consumption in half with this habit.) Eventually, your taste buds will adjust and you should be able to consume just the sparkling water without the need for the fruit juice.
If you eat oatmeal but tend to have a heavy hand with maple syrup or brown sugar, (I was guilty of this.) try using a reduced amount of only a tablespoon. If it is still not sweet enough for you at first, try adding natural sweeteners of using frozen or fresh berries such as blueberries & strawberries or roasted apple, which has sweetness but also the benefits of added fiber and vitamins.
My final tip is to switch over from highly processed white sugar to natural alternatives. Although these suggestions are still sugar, they are less processed and have a few health benefits.
Try switching over in limited amounts for natural sugar such as honey, maple syrup, date sugar (has fiber) and coconut sugar.
Remember, this healthy habit can take a while, so be patient with yourself.
Eat Good, Look Good, Feel Good!
Eating more green vegetables are a great addition into your diet and is something your body will thank you for.
The positive benefits of eating green vegetables are numerous. Some key things to know is that they are low in calories, (my favorite thing about them) are high in fiber and vitamins and keep you satisfied.
With the opportunity of an array of fresh green vegetables available at most supermarkets, local farmers markets and gourmet grocery stores, you'll discover LOTS of options.
Some common ones are kale, collard greens, broccoli & spinach. But venture out of your comfort zone to try other green vegetables you may have not tried.
Here are some of my favorite "not so common" green vegetables that I enjoy and hope you will seek out to explore.
In Indian cuisine, okra is used quite frequently. This okra is more long and slender than traditional okra but equally delicious! In Indian cuisine similar to southern cuisine, where it is cut and dusted with cornmeal, the okra is sliced really thin, seasoned with spices and dusted with chickpea flour and then fried in oil. To make it lighter, you can just bake in the oven.
Has a crunchy texture and high water content. Can be slightly cooked or eaten raw. Great for stir frys!
This variety of kale is a good choice for folks who don't care for the tougher leaves of traditional kale. Baby kale is more tender in texture. Great for salads and other cooking applications.
A delicious tender green with a slight peppery taste, that grows in natural spring water. You can make the popular watercress soup or use simply as a different variety of greens when making salads
Yes, these are the leaves of broccoli that you can enjoy eating. Very similar tasting to southern collard greens, except these tend to cook quicker and are more tender.
Now if you are not a fan of eating vegetables, especially green ones on their own, start with small steps such as using in smoothies, adding into scrambled eggs, adding into a Chinese stir fry, or into soups.
Also, if you want to get green but don't think you will use a good amount right away, just use frozen green vegetables for convenience.
So with this short information on going green with vegetables, I challenge you to incorporate eating something green at least once a day and increasing to at least twice a day for better health.
Post your comments below if you have already tried any of the specialty greens I've listed and how you prepare them. Would love to hear your thoughts.
Eat good, look good, feel good!
Did you know when you eat a protein packed breakfast, it can give you the energy you need to start your day?
If you are starting off your morning with a high sugar, high carb breakfast, its time to make the shift to a better source of nutrients that won't leave you hungry within an hour.
If you are super busy or skip breakfast for whatever reason, try having a protein packed smoothie instead. They don't require much prep, are easy to have on the run, and you are able to feed your body with the right fuel without too much fuss.
Your smoothie should be filling with a clean protein source with healthy fats, high fiber, with the addition of slow-releasing carbohydrates. This type of smoothie will sustain your appetite while also stabilizing your blood sugar.
Most mornings, protein smoothies are my go to and for my clean protein source, I use collagen peptides for its many health benefits.
It has helped me retain youthful looking skin, improved gut health and relieved my joint pain I had previously, prior to consuming.
Here is one of my favorite recipes for a Blueberry Smoothie using collagen and almond butter, with the addition of other healthy ingredients. (You can find the recipe in the above gray link or go to my Recipes page.)
It's very filling, delicious and you won't believe how incredibly satisfying a smoothie can be when it's made the right way.
If you prefer a smoothie with other clean protein sources, try nut or seed butters with the addition of other superfood ingredients such as hempseeds, flaxseeds and chia seeds. The possibilities are endless.
So, the next time you are in a hurry in the morning or just need to fuel your body in a more nutritious way, just enjoy having a "good for you" breakfast with a protein packed smoothie!
To get you on the road to eating well, I thought I would start off with a 4 week series of healthy habits to get you to think differently on how you may do food shopping for yourself or family.
The question is, should you eliminate ALL processed food from your diet?
The quick answer is NO.
When we hear we should eliminate processed food, most of us will automatically think of all the pre-packaged things such as candy, cookies, boxes of powdered mac & cheese macaroni, high sodium ramen noodles, etc....
Yes, these types of foods should definitely be reduced or eliminated from daily meals. But, CERTAIN processed food can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there is a range for processed food. The range is from minimally processed to heavily processed.
The processed food that CAN belong in a healthy lifestyle is the MINIMALLY processed foods such as nuts, pre-cut fruit and vegetables, (for convenience sake) and canned fish such as tuna and salmon.
Also important when choosing any processed food, you should read the ingredients list. There is a lot of trickery in certain words on labels with hidden words for sugar and salt. For example "dextrose" is another form of sugar and "disodium guanylate" is another form of sodium.
One way I got away from HIGHLY processed food, is that I started doing more from "scratch" meals. In my not so healthy days, I wouldn't blink an eye to grabbing frozen pizza's from the freezer section because I just would want something quick. Once, I started making my own style of healthy pizza from scratch, it was so much better taste wise and nutrition wise!
Although it can be easier said than done, small changes such as this can make a difference in the long run.
One way to start the process, is by replacing a favorite food that you would normally grab for convenience.
For example, it can be something as simple as frozen French fries. Instead, make the habit of making French fries from scratch using potatoes, leaving the skin on for extra fiber and nutrition and drizzle with olive oil and seasonings. Then, just simply bake in the oven instead of frying.
Also if you are a fan of soup and are currently buying canned, opt to make your own, where you control the ingredients and sodium. (If time is an issue, use a slow cooker.)
One last note, highly processed food can be addictive, so it may take a while for you to start this healthy habit. As long as you are making some of the subtle changes, you will eventually get there!
Eat good, Look good, Feel good!
This is my first post and I have to say I am excited and looking forward to building my blog with helpful content.
My goal is to help others adapt and maintain a healthy eating lifestyle, all the while achieving awesome results in the process!
Who am I?
I'm a woman who loves delicious food and is also a chef who has taught healthy cooking to ALL age groups from children to seniors for the last 10 years. (You can read more about me here.)
Why did I decide to start this blog?
Well, it comes down to numerous things, but I'll keep it short with the main two reasons, so that I can keep your attention.
My own personal journey to wellness that worked and can work for you too!
I've always been a "work in progress." What I mean is, I didn't make myself a priority because I had the mindset that I was too busy. (I know some of you can relate.)
Basically, I got into a rut and didn't prioritize my time to REALLY taking care of myself. But now, it's non-negotiable.
Every morning starts with movement. (Yup, you guessed it.) Exercise!
The second part of my mornings and throughout the day, I make it a point to eat nourishing foods to fill my body with the proper fuel so I can be my best.
Because of these daily, positive, consistent habits, I have been rewarded. I've gained energy, relieved joint pain, greatly reduced sugar cravings and lost inches. (Yes, I'm talking fat loss, not weight.)
Most importantly I just feel better!
Now with the fitness thing, do I feel like exercising 4-5 days a week? Nope! (I'm being honest) lol...But, I do it anyway as it's necessary. It's called being disciplined and putting in the hard work even when you don't feel like it.
Some people not ALL, think healthy food just isn't appealing to their taste buds. (I want to help those with this mindset, who struggle with this.)
What I've learned over the years is, some people will hear the words "healthy" and think "Oh god, the food can't be good!" When in reality, healthy food can be downright tasty when you make adaptions to it the RIGHT way with nutritious ingredients.
Remember, this is a process and will take time to adapt to this new way of eating.
Let's face it, no one wants to feel like they are deprived and my goal is you won't be with my upcoming tips, recipes and resources moving forward.
You CAN achieve a healthy lifestyle change that is sustainable, meaning it can be a habit you can live with for the long term, which is what most of us want.
It doesn't matter what your eating preferences are, as I'll have something for everyone who can benefit from my content and will be helpful to put into action straight away.