Taking Control of Cravings and Temptation

Do you usually give in to cravings, give up… or take control?

This post is not your typical advice about fighting off cravings. 

Sure, mindful eating, drinking more water, decreasing stress and avoiding the notorious feeling of being hangry will all help keep your cravings at bay (like that unplanned decision to grab pretzels from your kid’s snack pack).

Whether you just want to kick up your feet and relax with a glass of wine on the weekend or head out to taste-test Nicholas Creamery, let’s see what we can do to make it fit into your day.

Wait, what? You might be thinking…has Coach Angela gone crazy?

Nope.

What I’m talking about here is learning how to plan ahead to prevent going overboard. Celebrations, holidays, stressful occasions, etc.- they will always be there. Learn how to navigate through them rather than avoid them (and then spiral out of control). The right way.

Here’s the deal. You need to be strategic about it.

Most of us crave energy-dense foods such as chocolate and other high-caloric sweet and savory foods. Whatever it is for you, choose your guilty pleasure ahead of time- a drink, some ice cream, chips and guacamole, etc. It’s all about planning ahead and then staying in control, guilt-free.

Mind blown.

Look at this kind of like a test. A lot of feedback I hear from clients is that they feel uneasy, even scared, to “enter back into the real world” after a challenge.

Our goal is to set you up for success for life – to approach situations with confidence in making the healthiest decisions possible, and also to enjoy yourself in moderation. That being said, if you’re worried that a little will most likely turn into a lot, you might want to wait until you have built up more confidence over your choices, first.

Take Control of Cravings For Good

Whether you decide to implement these tips next weekend or next month, here’s how to stay in control in the face of temptation and cravings.

Decide In Advance-

Decide what food or drink you’d like to enjoy in advance. If you plan for your portioned out serving of dessert or a glass of vino, you’ll be less likely to cave in after a stressful week with an entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s…or the whole bottle of wine.

Pick one.

And take the time to thoroughly enjoy it. Without the side of guilt.

Control Portions-

Be sure to identify the serving size that you’re going to have ahead of time and stick to it. Visualize that one glass of wine or talk about sharing some decadent ice cream with your loved one.

This will help you to stay true to portion control and walk away feeling satisfied rather than stuffed.

Swap it Out-

Now, I know “moderation” requires willpower. Especially when you’re attempting to moderate food specifically designed by scientists to make you want to eat more now and crave more later. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to make the decision to completely avoid those foods that you know you can’t put the breaks on and instead find nutrient-dense alternatives that you enjoy.

Look at this not as deprivation, but as the smartest decision you could possibly make for a happier, healthier life.

Finding foods “that you enjoy” is key. Do some research on healthy swaps and discover whole foods that can replace unhealthier versions. For example, if you love chips and dip – experiment with baked plantain chips and homemade guacamole. Just remember to portion things out properly in advance.

Look for a Distraction-

If your cravings have been hijacked by the surge of dopamine that spikes every time you walk through the kitchen, look for a distraction like drinking a glass of water or calling a loved one. Too often we eat because we’re bored or simply in the habit, rather than physically hungry. To combat that, research shows that changing your habits by focusing on another task, like walking around the block, can help reset your mind and help keep uncontrollable cravings at bay.

Dig a Little Deeper

There’s a chance your cravings due to a strict deprivation. In fact, some studies show that a short-term, selective food deprivation can increase cravings for the avoided foods. But get this:

Dieting’s bad reputation for increasing food cravings is only partially true as the relationship between food restriction and craving is more complex. While short-term, selective deprivation may increase food cravings, long-term energy restriction seems to actually decrease food cravings. This suggests that food deprivation can also facilitate extinction of conditioned food craving responses.

How do you get there? Change your mindset.

You’ve heard me say it before — instead of saying: “I can’t have that.” Reframe your thought process and instead say, “I don’t want that.” Say that enough and you’ll start to believe it.

Ask Yourself

Is there something that you’ve been craving lately? Or an event coming up that’s going to be full of temptations?

How can you manage these feelings by using the tips and tricks mentioned above?

Control Cravings With a Healthy Mindset

A healthy lifestyle is about making the most nutrient dense choices you can but also maintaining a healthy mindset. It’s not about constant feelings of restriction or becoming a hermit to avoid social temptations. Stay balanced by understanding that you can have some (not all) of your favorite foods and be okay with that.

More on our Salus Nutrition Coaching Blog:

How Much Should I Eat? How to Start Listening To Your Body

Two of the most common questions we get at Salus Nutrition is: “How much should I eat?” and “Should I count macros?” Similar to the question: “How much should I be lifting?” the answer is greatly dependent on many different factors. It’s impossible to give out a number without digging into the details, but you can get a head start by recognizing hunger cues (listening to your body) and becoming aware of appropriate portion sizes. Here’s how.

Learn: How Much Should I Eat? By: Listening First

Let me start off by repeating: there isn’t a cookie-cutter approach to determining: “how much should I eat.” Nutrition needs, just like your workouts, are not determined by a one-size-fits-all approach.

What works for them rarely works for you.

The secret: Listening to your body. Find out what you need to feel your best, in your workouts and especially during that typical 3pm slump. Determine what foods affect your energy, sleep, mood, etc. This awareness is essential to improve your LIFE.

Listening to your body will help us shed some light on the emotions that drive our eating decisions, our motivation to workout and helps us to check-in when we’re over-tired, over-stressed or over-emotional. It can also help us overcome the notion that we need to eat until every last bite is cleaned off our plate.

Are You Part of the “Clean Plate Club”?

Many of us are raised with the “Clean Plate Club” mentality. This compulsive need to polish off every single morsel can lead to overeating. Like many of us growing up, I was encouraged to eat everything on my plate. Instead of listening to our bodies and responding appropriately as kids, we often left the table feeling more full than necessary. This ingrained habit still affects many of us today.

Clean Plate Club: When one feels the need to eat all food on their plate (and/or their child’s plate), regardless of whether he/she is fully satiated at that meal.

So how do you overcome this as an adult? By practicing mindful eating and re-learning how to listen to your body’s fullness signals.

Research is still unveiling the many ways that our body is affected by our lifestyle choices. So many connections between our microbiome, stress, inflammation, etc. The food choices we make are literally sending signals to the cells in our body that impacts how we feel (much more on that later).

While it might sound cliche to “listen to your body,” if you want to establish lifelong health changes, it plays a key role.

Eat To 80% Full

If you’ve eaten until you’re full, you’ve probably already overeaten. Time to get back in touch with your hunger/fullness signals with a simple rating of 1-10. (1 = very hungry, 5 = comfortable, 8= satisfied, but not stuffed, and 10 = uncomfortably full).

Rate yourself before you eat and then again midway through your meal. Stop eating when you get to a “8”. Eat until you’re no longer physically hungry, but not to the feeling of being “stuffed” or “full.”

Don’t get hung up on the exact percentage, just shoot for the general idea.

Remember to eat s-l-o-w-l-y. Be patient and listen for that “80% full” signal rather than your social or emotional hunger cues). And don’t hesitate to leave food on your (or your kid’s) plate or pack it up for leftovers.

But, what if you’re experiencing strong cues, like no appetite or feeling hungry all the time?

No Appetite? What Does Hunger Cue Mean?

Lost your appetite?

So often, nutrition topics centers around overeating and weight loss, but undereating is important to address, too. Signs you might not be eating enough include: low energy, headaches, unintentional weight loss, poor sleep quality.

If you’re experiencing a lack of appetite it could be tied to psychological factors such as stress, depression or grief. Take a deep dive into stress management: Read: “Control Stress Before It Controls You,” for some great tips on finding a greater sense of calm and clarity in your day.

Stress, even the stress that our body experiences from overtraining, can cause an increase in hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine. This can inhibit appetite. It’s essential to incorporate recovery days to allow our bodies to adapt to the stress of exercise, replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues.

Health-relation conditions may be at play, as well such as postpartum depression and the common cold or flu. During this time, it’s essential to stay hydrated and eat as much whole, nutrient-dense foods as possible. Like it or not, cold/flu season is about to rear its ugly head.

Read: “Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu Season,” for some helpful tips.

Hungry All The Time? What Does Hunger Cue Mean?

If you feel hungry all the time, it could be a result of lifestyle factors such as lack of sleep, feeling stressed (there’s stress again), drinking alcohol or being dehydrated. When any of these factors are at play, it can cause our hormone levels to fall out of whack which can lead to a feeling of hunger…when you’re really not.

Dehydration can greatly limit the processes in our body. By drinking enough water, you’re supporting digestion, metabolism and more. Need more convincing? Check out, “Importance of Staying Hydrated.”

Too many starchy carbs can also affect hunger. Refined carbs not only lack nutrients that our bodies need to function, they lead to a spike in blood sugar…and then a crash, leaving you hungry again.

A lack of protein or healthy fats can also leave you with the urge to snack. Healthy fats and protein can help you feel fuller, longer. Try adding avocado or a teaspoon of nut butter or coconut oil to your protein shake/smoothie and experience satiation all afternoon.

Other common causes of feeling hungry all the time are very much linked to emotional and environmental connections. Whether you’re bored, associate food with a certain event (like always snacking while you watch TV) or obsessing over counting calories, these could lead to overeating.

To help you identify emotional those triggers, simply ask, “Am I hungry?” whenever you feel like snacking. If you truly don’t feel any physical signs of hunger (growling stomach, low energy, etc.), it’s likely that the urge was triggered by emotional or environmental cues.

Test Your Hunger

Then test yourself. If you’re truly hungry, you’ll be down to eat a variety of foods, even a meal, to quiet your rumbling stomach. If you have an emotionally driven craving, you’ll often find yourself standing in front of the fridge with the door wide open whenever you’re bored. Or maybe you’ll feel a craving for a specific type of food such as chocolate or a salty snack.

Keep good tasting, wholesome snacks handy for those hunger pangs. Prepare cut-up vegetables to have handy with hummus or sprinkle plain yogurt with some nuts and frozen organic berries. Even prepare a couple protein shakes with a half a banana and greens ahead of time (store them in a mason jar in your fridge for an easy grab-and-go).

Get Your Portions In Check

So, to answer the age-old question, “How much should I eat,” intuitive eating is the overall goal.

But, it’s also important to become aware of your appropriate portion sizes and/or macronutrient needs. Some individuals may have the patience to weigh and measure their food to determine how many grams of carbohydrates, fats and protein. But for most people, that’s not practical.

Enter: Your hand.

Eating according to your hand guide helps you meet appropriate macronutrient portions without needing to count or measuring anything. And allow yourself to nudge up or down depending on workout days, cycle days, sick days, etc.

Find out more: “Portion Guidelines Explained” to get more guidance on finding a good balance for protein, veggies, smart carbohydrates and healthy fats. This goes for meals and snacks.

What’s important to remember is that determining how much you should eat isn’t necessarily about restriction or “being strict.” It’s about learning how to eat in a way that gives your body what it needs to feel good.

Dealing with Setbacks

Setbacks are a normal part of the process. And they’re actually an important part of the process.

It’s how we respond that makes all the difference in how we grow from there.

Life happens. When the weekend hits, it can become tempting to steer away from our plan and indulge. When we’re stressed, we often crave comfort food or may even lose our desire to eat or exercise completely.

Here’s how you can learn from these situations so you can prevent big setbacks later down the road.

Weekend Setback

Here’s the deal. While weekends, vacations, celebrations, etc. they’re are a good way to kick back, relax and destress, it’s important to rid yourself of the all or nothing mentality. One meal won’t ruin everything you’ve worked toward.

Find ways to fit in nutrient-dense meals and take the time to break a sweat. Use the time as an opportunity to work a little closer to your goals – making a better decision than you might have before- while still enjoying yourself. Rather completely going off the rails and (fill in the blank: eat the whole cake, drink one too many, finish off the fries, etc) be OK with a small, planned out, controlled portion.

For example. Let’s say you have a big celebration planned and are excited to indulge. Your normal drink of choice is a rum runner – made of two kinds of rum, fruity liqueur, fruity juices, grenadine- loaded with sugar. If you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to down a few of them before the night even gets started. If it’s not realistic for you not to have a drink at this event, consider switching from that sugar-bomb rum runner to a vodka seltzer with lemon or lime, and then alternate your drinks with a glass of water.

This way, you’ll still be taking a step in the right direction without feeling deprived.

The point is to be okay with enjoying yourself… without forgetting about your goals.

Read more: Top 3 Healthy Party Tips >>

Unexpected Setbacks

Some of the hardest setbacks to deal with is through a period of injury, illness or year of quarantined stress. No one is immune from sidelining stress. But, how you respond to life stressors will make all the difference.

This doesn’t mean you have to buckle down and charge ahead more intensely. It probably means you need to recognize what’s happening and let yourself heal.

It can take a lot of digging to find ways to turn a negative situation into a positive one; at least try find a way to help others by sharing your experience.

Do what you can to nourish your body with the right kinds of foods, hydration, sleep and stress managements. LISTEN to your body. And when the time comes that you’re ready to turn that setback into a comeback, do so carefully.

Learning from Setbacks

Whether it’s another weekend, you’re (finally) heading on vacation or life simply deals you a bad hand, it can get tough to stay on track with nutrition. But if you want to make a change, it’s essential to learn from your challenges so you can prevent them from happening again.

Regain control and reframe.

Dr. Greg Winch, psychologist and author of The Squeaky Wheel, says that regaining as much control over your situation as possible is necessary to help you “avoid feeling helpless and hopeless.” Once you regain control, be sure to find a moment in there that you made a positive decision (it’s in there, you just have to open your mind and look).

And then finally, remind yourself of your “why.”

“When you feel like quitting, remember why you started.”

Debunking Nutrition Myths

When it comes to food and fitness, how many false assumptions have you heard before?

Carbs are bad…fat will make us fat…if we do a gazillion sit-ups, we’ll get abs…to lose weight all we need to do is keep cutting calories, right?

Not quite.

Brainwash be gone!

Carbs are not “bad.”

Although low-carb diets do lead to rapid, short-term scale weight loss (spoiler alert: it’s mostly water weight), research shows that people who follow a low-carb diet end up gaining the weight back over time (and then some).

Fat does not make you fat.

Yes, the nutrient: dietary fat, has more calories per gram (9 calories per gram) than carbohydrates and protein (4 calories per gram), but it isn’t to blame for your body fat. What is? Too much of anything, really. Too much sitting, too much snacking, even too much restriction.

It’s complicated. And it’s not a cookie cutter answer. Speaking of cookies…

Sit ups will not give you abs.

Eat too many cookies and no amount of sit ups will show those abs if there’s too much body fat in the way. So, check your cabinets first then go do a plank.

It’s not as simple as calories in vs calories out.

Surprising to many, it’s not as simple as calories in vs calories out, especially when it comes to your energy, performance and health. Focusing solely on calories may cause you to miss the bigger picture. You need a lot of macronutrients to stay alive: carbohydrates, protein and fat. These three macronutrients have different roles within your body, and deliver energy that our bodies use as fuel.

Many different factors will determine your % macro breakdown needs and timing (basic metabolism, genetics, hormones, sleep habits, stress levels, non-exercise activity: NEAT, and intentional physical activity and more.)

In the end, opt for nutrient dense foods that provide higher amounts of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial compounds per gram compared with less nutrient-dense foods.

Wild Salmon vs Farmed Salmon

Salmon is prized for its health benefits. This fatty fish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which most people don’t get enough of.

However, not all salmon is created equal.

Let’s take a look at some differences between wild salmon vs farmed salmon and how to tell the difference between the two.

What’s the Difference Between Wild Salmon vs Farmed Salmon

Wild salmon is caught in natural environments such as oceans, rivers and lakes. But salmon is also farmed. In fact, farmed salmon now accounts for about 80% of the world’s salmon supply. The problem with that? Fish farms, which use a process known as aquaculture to breed fish for human consumption.

The biggest concern with farmed salmon is organic pollutants like PCBs. If you try to minimize your intake of toxins, you should avoid eating farmed salmon too frequently. Antibiotics in farmed salmon are also problematic, as they may increase the risk of antibiotic resistance in your gut.

Wild salmon eat other organisms found in their natural environment, whereas farmed salmon are given a processed, high-fat, high-protein feed in order to produce larger fish.

How can you tell the difference? When raw, a salmon filet will display white lines running across its flesh. This is fat. Wild salmon will generally not exhibit this build-up of fat between its muscles.

Differences in Nutritional Value

For this reason, the nutrient composition of wild and farmed salmon differs greatly. The table below provides a good comparison.

Calories, protein and fat are presented in absolute amounts, whereas vitamins and minerals are presented as percent (%) of the reference daily intake (RDI).

Clearly, nutritional differences between wild and farmed salmon can be significant.

  • Farmed salmon is much higher in fat, containing slightly more omega-3s, much more omega-6 and three times the amount of saturated fat. It also has 46% more calories — mostly from fat.
  • Compared to their farmed equivalents, wild salmon is richer in omega 3 fats and the carotenoids (which is what gives them their vibrant coral color). Wild salmon also contains more minerals.
  • Farmed salmon is higher in vitamin C, saturated fat, polyunsaturated fatty acids and calories. The two main polyunsaturated fats are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids play important roles in your body.

They’re termed essential fatty acids, or EFAs, because you need both in your diet.

However, it’s necessary to strike the right balance.

Omegas

Most people today consume too much omega-6, distorting the delicate balance between these two fatty acids.

While farmed salmon has three times the total fat of wild salmon, a large part of these fats are omega-6 fatty acids. For this reason, the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is about three times higher in farmed salmon than wild.

It’s also important to note that farmed fish tend to ingest more potentially harmful contaminants from the water they swim in and the foods they eat. Studies published in 2004 and 2005 showed that farmed salmon had much higher concentrations of contaminants than wild salmon.

Keep in mind that farmed salmon is still a healthy choice and provides healthy omega-3s. However, because of environmental and dietary differences, farmed salmon may contain more potentially harmful contaminants than wild salmon. While these contaminants appear to be safe for the average person consuming moderate amounts, some experts recommend that children and pregnant woman only eat wild-caught salmon — just to be on the safe side.

Budget may also play a factor in your choices. Wild salmon is also much more expensive than farmed and may not be worth the extra cost for some people. So, depending on your budget, it may be inconvenient or impossible to buy wild salmon.

The Bottom Line

Aim to eat fatty fish such as salmon 1–2 times per week for optimal health. This fish is delicious, loaded with beneficial nutrients and highly filling — and therefore weight-loss-friendly.

And, if your salmon comes in a package, remember to READ the ingredients list. Avoid products that have added dyes, sugar or have long lists of unpronounceable ingredients.

In the end, given its high amount of omega-3s, quality protein and beneficial nutrients, any type of salmon is still a healthy food.

Recipe: Cajun Salmon and Fruit Salsa

Salmon

Next time you buy salmon fillets, try this recipe from PN! The hint of spice paired with the sweet and refreshing salsa is sure to please your taste buds.

Ingredients

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Yields: 2 servings

Directions

Begin by dicing up ingredients for the fruit salsa – mango, tomatoes, red onion, and cilantro. Put diced ingredients into a bowl and add the lime juice and a small pinch of salt.

Let sit.

Next, mix together all of the spices and coat each salmon on the flesh side. On a BBQ or stove-top grill (if stove top add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan) – grill skin down for 15 minutes on low-medium heat, flip over and cook another 5 minutes. If the fish needs longer to cook – flip back to the skin side and continue cooking – it should no longer be pink inside.

Top fish with salsa and additional cilantro if desired.

Enjoy!

References:
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16251623/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15506184/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15866762/

 

Micronutrients: Benefits of a Colorful Plate

colorful plate micronutrients

Fruits and vegetables often get their colors from the nutrients they have inside: MICRONUTRIENTS. Because these foods are generally low in fat and calories and provide complex carbohydrates that can give you energy and fiber that makes you feel full, they should have a starring role on your plate at every meal.

What Are Micronutrients?

You often hear about macronutrients like proteins, fats, and carbs when we talk about nutrition – and although these are important – micronutrients are important, too.

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals, as well as chemicals found in plants called phytonutrients. Micronutrients play important roles in the functioning of the body and brain, from the workings of the nervous system to immune function and bone strength, but our bodies cannot manufacture most of them…so we need to get them from food.

Did you know that over 30 percent of Americans have some kind of micronutrient deficiency?

Some of the most common deficiencies in the US, according to the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), include:

  • Vitamin B6 11% of the total population
  • Iron 10% of females aged 12-49, and 7% of children aged 1-5
  • Vitamin D 9% of the total population (31% of non-hispanic Blacks)
  • Vitamin C 6% of people over the age of 6
  • Vitamin B12 2% of the total population

Additionally, deficiencies are particularly common among certain populations including:

  • The elderly, who may have trouble preparing, chewing, or digesting foods
  • Women (aged 19-50), particularly if pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Athletes, who have higher nutrient requirements because of the extra demands on their body

Go for a Colorful Plate to Boost Micronutrients

Let’s take a look at a few benefits of each color:

  • White fruits and vegetables provide dietary fiber. Fiber helps protect against high LDL cholesterol levels, which, in turn, protects heart health.
  • Red foods include tomatoes, watermelon, cherries, beets and peppers. These are foods that are likely to be rich in the antioxidants which are also valuable for heart health.
  • Orange and yellow foods get their hue from beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is vital to good bones and healthy skin.
  • Green vegetables provide vitamins C, K and E, which can all help support the immune system, healthy eyes and bones and reduce your risk of chronic diseases.
  • Blue and purple fruits and vegetables get their color from anthocyanins. Blue foods like blueberries have compounds that act as anti-inflammatories, reducing the risk of disease in your esophagus and colon.

Tricks to Get More Color on Your Plate

It’s not always easy to introduce new foods to your diet. If you are not sure how to make a more colorful plate with more micronutrients, try some of these simple tips below:

  • In recipes that call for potatoes, try sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes have higher levels of fiber and vitamin A, letting you pack more nutritional punch into each meal. Swap out baked white potatoes for sweet potatoes or use sweet potatoes in your favorite soups and stews.
  • Go with a colorful garnish. Diced red peppers, sliced green onions and other colorful foods are great sprinkled over a wide range of savory dishes.
  • Choose unusual varieties when you see them. You can find golden cauliflower, purple broccoli, red carrots and more.
  • Give vegetables a larger share of your plate. When you make a stir fry at home, include four or five vegetable ingredients and cut down on meat.
  • Eat fruit for dessert. If you like to end a meal with something sweet, try a bowl of berries or a tart made of fresh peaches.
  • Choose local. Choosing local can have a big impact on the micronutrients in your produce.
  • You’ve likely also heard that eating organic is “healthier.” But did you know that not all produce needs to be organic? Read: When Should You Choose Organic? to find out.

In a nutshell, the more colors you have on your plate, the more micronutrients you’ll consume.

 

From a Deprivation Mindset to a Decision Mindset

Moving From a Deprivation Mindset to a Decision Mindset

What we consume over the course of a day creates the experiences and energy we get to have during that day. 

If we eat clean, healthy foods full of energy, we’re going to feel full of energy, have clear thoughts, be productive and advance toward our goals. And the complete opposite is also true. If we eat garbage, we’re going to feel like garbage: sluggish, foggy thoughts, procrastinate and waste opportunities.

It can be a hard cycle to break. 

Your Environment Matters

If your kitchen is filled with tempting foods (whether they are yours or your kids), it can be… a real problem for goals. No matter how much willpower you have, it’s just natural to grab the most convenient and most tempting food options, especially when you’re tired, stressed, or ravenous.

A little effort ahead of time can lead to substantially better choices in the moment. That’s why we created the food list. The food list is a tool to help us prepare, clean up our choices (not deprive you) and allow you to embrace a decision mindset.

You Choose

The more you clean up your diet with highly nutritious foods, the more your taste for junk fades. But, this wonderful switch doesn’t happen until you shift away from a deprivation mindset to a decision mindset.

Think Differently

It’s your conscious decision to eat foods that make you feel better, look better and perform better. Own it.

So, instead of: “I can’t have that.”
Say: “I don’t want that.” “I don’t need that.” “I don’t eat that anymore.” or “I’ll have this instead (insert healthy alternative).”

Instead of labeling foods “good” and “bad,” reframe your thought process by identifying how these foods affect you. For example, let’s look at them as red, yellow, and green light foods.

Red light foods

Red light foods are those that present such a difficult challenge for you that they just aren’t worth the struggle. Red light foods may not work for you because:

  • They don’t help you achieve your goals
  • They’re tempting to overeat
  • You’re allergic or intolerant to them
  • You really don’t like them
  • You’ve made the decision not to eat them anymore

Yellow light foods

These are foods that you can eat a little bit of, be satisfied and stop without being tempted to go overboard.

Green light foods

These are nutritious and make your body and mind feel full of energy. You can eat them normally, slowly, and in reasonable amounts. Whole foods usually make up most of this list.

Make it a Habit

Just as I mentioned before, this kind of mindset is a habit. And as with any skill or habit, practice makes permanent. You know, we’ve heard forever: practice makes perfect, practice makes perfect. But, we all know that perfect isn’t real. Nope – no kind of practice will ever make perfection.

There’s only progress to work on making something permanent.

Practice that mindset habit daily.

Destination Fixation

The cornerstone of all success begins with your foundation: Your WHY.

What’s important to you?

What is the ultimate goal?

Why do you want it?

Once you clarify your why, write it down and stick it somewhere you can see daily. Written goals give us clarity and direction.

But you have to be willing to go deeper than JUST desires. Desires, such as: “I want to get in shape for summer!” are often mistaken for goals. Your “why” must be deeper than desires to give you the motivation and accountability to take action whenever you experience a road bump (and you will – it’s actually an important part of the journey).

Road Bumps are Part of the Journey

When Gino and I lived in California (before kids), he taught me how to ride a mountain bike…in the freakin’ singletrack trails at Mammoth Mountain Bike Park (which according to the website is a “downhiller’s paradise” with an elevation of 11,053 ft). One of the first things he taught me was: “Look where you want to go.” A very useful tip on Seven Bridges Trail (yup, that’s me in the picture).

Trail riding requires balance, endurance and a strong focus on where you’re headed. If you look at a big tree root, you’ll run right into the tree root and probably put your foot down or fall. I learned, however, that if I noticed a tree root and kept my focus out in front of me while preparing my body to absorb the bump, I would roll over the tree root and keep moving forward.

Buuut, If I stared down the obstacle, I would inevitably crash.

Keep Your Focus on Your Why

What I’m trying to say is this: Acknowledge the bumps in the road but don’t fixate on them or they’ll knock you on your butt.

Let’s work on catching ourselves when we start to focus on anything other than our “destination”– the why or positive end result of our goals. This kind of mindset is a habit and as with any skill or habit, practice makes permanent. We can’t avoid all obstacles, but we can keep the focus on our why.

You control your direction. Where you look is where you will go.

Make the Choice

Today is a good day. It’s the day you have decided to kick-start some serious changes (not just for a week or four weeks, but for good). From now on, things will be different.

And it’s all driven by that “why.”

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into visible.” Tony Robbins

Want to Know the Secret to Meal Prep? Plan Ahead

You’ve set some goals, so now it’s time to get used to tracking your progress and learning how to plan ahead.

No matter your intention for joining the challenge. Setting goals and changing your way of life can be tough at the beginning. It’s it’s not uncommon for the initial reaction to feel a little overwhelmed about hitting each goal flawlessly. But remember, you want your goals to be risky, yet realistic.

Refer back to my previous post about striving for progress…not perfection.

If you’ve been eating a certain way for quite some time, the best thing you can do to set yourself up for success is to focus on one change at a time.

Planning ahead for meal prep is key to make this happen.

Plan Ahead for Meal Prep

With 101 things on your to-do list, meal prep can seem intimidating. How do you even get started? Meal prep doesn’t require complicated planning or tools – just a little time to get organized first. With a few hacks, you can gain control and help make cooking during the week way easier.

Start by scheduling.

Actually schedule time on your calendar to plan your meals for the week (or at least part of them), make the shopping list, go grocery shopping and meal prep. Go ahead, open your calendar and put those important reminders in now…

Make your grocery list.

After you figure out what your week looks like, make your grocery list. Be sure to stick to a store you’re used to and can navigate conveniently. This is not the time to venture out to a new grocery store.  Go prepared with your list and NOT on an empty stomach. Shop mostly along the perimeter, where the produce and meat aisles are located.

Or you can even get your groceries delivered. For example, if you have Amazon Prime and a Whole Foods nearby, you can order with ease and even save favorite items for easy cart adds.

You are in control.

Just remember: You are in control. You make the list; you choose to stick to it (don’t fall for those impulse items). Bring home only what you want in the house to keep temptations at bay.

You can definitely do it!

Make Ahead

Once you get home, start prepping and cooking (or schedule the day that you will do this). At the Salveo house, we usually meal prep Sundays and Wednesdays. Whip up a batch of protein — grill some salmon or several chicken breasts (or both) at once. Wash and chop veggies so they’re easy to grab for snacks or salad. Shave and cut up sweet potatoes, batch cook brown rice…You get the idea.

Or consider a regular healthy meal delivery service like Fit Food NJ. Even one meal during your busiest day might be worth it, and could mean the difference between a nutrient-dense, delicious meal and a regrettable fast-food run. (Save 10% with code: Salus)

Store Safely

Use quality food storage containers to keep prepared food safe. Stainless steel containers and glassware are the safest solutions. I recommend avoiding reusable plastic containers whenever possible. But, if you do use plastic, at least keep it out of the microwave.


Bonus Benefits

It’s so much easier to focus on healthy ingredients, control portions, and avoid those mid-week slumps when ordering a large pizza sounds so much easier than whipping up something fresh.

Ready to set things up this week so you can’t fail? Even an hour can set you up for success.

The name of the game is:

Anticipate. Plan. Strategize.

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Check out some of our most popular Salus Nutrition posts:

The Link Between Sleep and Goals

You have big goals and you’re ready to achieve them… except for one problem. You have to sleep! Sooner or later you have to stop sprinting and start sleeping.

What a downer, right?

Sleep and Goals

Actually, it’s not. Far from undermining your goals, sleep is a key ingredient in achieving your goals!

Studies show that getting a good night’s sleep can have a direct impact on achieving your goals. If you don’t get adequate sleep, it is much more difficult to sustain mental strength and stability (key components when it comes to achieving goals).

Whether you want to achieve a fitness milestone, clean up your diet, or attack a work performance goal, then getting the daily recommended 7-9 hours of good-quality sleep is paramount.

Too tired to crush your goals?

This has not been a very good year for sleep, I can relate.

Put the following tips into practice and you’ll feel better at home, during work, at the gym and you’ll have more energy to attack those goals. You’ll shift from a: “I’m just getting through the day survival-mode” to: “Hey, I have energy at 3pm to work on my goals (without a jolt of caffeine).”

Here are 10 tips (plus a bonus) for getting more and better sleep so you can bring your best self to each and every day.

1. Find a rhythm. Go to bed and wake up at the same time. A consistent sleep schedule is key.
2. Lower the temperature in your bedroom. 60-67 degrees is optimal.
3. Avoid blue light (electronics) for 2 hours before bedtime.
4. Exercise daily.
5. Keep it dark. Remove all light sources from your room.
6. Avoid alcohol & caffeine later in the day.
7. Get up as soon as you wake up without hitting snooze.
8. Relax. Add some relaxation habits to your nightly routine.
9. Alter lights to match circadian rhythm.
10. Get outside. Expose yourself to sunlight early in the day.

Bonus. Set a bedtime alarm (this one is my favorite) to remind you to turn off devices and start unwinding.

How You Eat Affects Your Sleep and Your Sleep Affects How You Eat

Sleep might sound like it has nothing to do with nutrition, but the truth is, if you’re not getting enough sleep (quantity AND quality of sleep) you’re going to ride the struggle bus the next day just to stay on track with your food choices and workouts.

The relationship between poor diet and bad sleep is a two-way street.

Much research suggests that the foods you eat can directly affect how well you sleep. AND also, your sleep patterns can directly affect your dietary choices.

Eat Better to Sleep Better

Research shows that eating a high-sugar diet, a diet high in saturated fat and consuming processed carbohydrates can all disrupt your sleep. On the other hand, eating more plants, more fiber and more foods that are rich in unsaturated fat (nuts, olive oil, fish and avocados) can have the opposite effect by helping to promote sound sleep.

Sleep Better to Eat Better

Additionally, scientists have found that when people are sleep deprived, they experience physiological changes that can influence them to consume more junk food. In clinical trials, healthy adults who were allowed to sleep only four or five hours at night ended up eating more calories and snacked more during the day.

A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that participants who slept fewer than five and a half hours per night ate 385 more calories the next day. That’s another meal for many people – equivalent to guzzling two and a half cans of soda, a few extra handfuls of chips or a couple slices of pizza.

Another interesting note in the study: the sleep-deprived individuals chose different kinds of foods the next day compared to the well-rested subjects. The sleep deprived folks skimped on clean foods like protein and veggies – and instead ate empty calorie foods like soda, chips, and pizza!

Not only that, but they also experienced significantly more hunger and their preference for sweet foods increased.

Why does this Happen?

Sleep loss changes the timing and release of appetite-controlling hormones. Chances are, if you experience a lack of sleep, you’ll be triggering increased levels of ghrelin (hormone that tells the brain you’re hungry) and decreased levels of leptin (the satiety hormone that tells the brain you’ve had enough), leading to increased hunger and appetite.

But hormones aren’t the only thing at play. Without adequate rest, junk food and other high-fat, processed foods become more appealing because of certain changes in the rewards center of the brain. Interestingly, sleep loss affects this area of the brain in much the same way marijuana does and often leads people to seek out foods that offer quick bursts of energy or increased alertness: sugar and junk.

Consequently, the results are much the same — a serious case of the munchies.

Yikes.

The Takeaways?

  1. Eat clean and it will improve the quality of your sleep.
  2. Get enough (good) sleep and it can increase your willpower to avoid unhealthy foods.

From Zzzz to GSD

Sleep is underrated. Try these tips and you’ll be amazed at the spike in your energy levels. You’ll go from yawning your way through the day to being recharged, refreshed and get more stuff done (GSD).

In fact, we love sleep so much, we’ve written quite a few posts about it: