Got Pain? Your Gut Might Be To Blame.

Did you know that there is a strong connection between joint pain and your gut? If you’re experiencing achy knees, chronic pain or stiff joints, leaky gut may be to blame.

Often, these ills are attributed to the unfortunate effects of aging and maybe we just chalk it up to be arthritis. What if that pain was actually caused by an imbalance from another part of our body?

Our gut.

Did you Know:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may affect as much as 30% of the population. Symptoms typically include gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and altered bowels (constipation, diarrhea, loose stools).
  • Up to 84% of IBS may be linked to an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines. The good news is that many people can experience relief by following diets that reduce bacterial overgrowth.
  • What’s interesting is that when gut health is improved, studies show that it can also improve anxiety and depression. Evidence shows that brain fog and impaired memory can also improve with gut healing.
  • What’s more? data also shows that improving gut health can also show an improvement in metabolism.
  • Additionally, several studies have uncovered a link between microbes in our gut and other diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). People with RA as well as psoriatic arthritis tend to have higher levels of a certain type of bug in their intestines that those without the disease. This research suggests that the connections aren’t just between the gut and arthritis, but any type of inflammation in the body.
  • Inflammation in the intestines has been shown to cause insomnia, improving that inflammation can improve sleep!
  • Certain skin conditions (pimples, rashes, skin inflammation) have been clinically documented to improve after reducing unwanted bacterial overgrowth.

Importance of the Small Intestine

The small intestine accounts for over 56% of our intestinal tract, nutrients are absorbed here and it is responsible for 90% of caloric absorption. Yep you read that right 90% of the calories you take in are absorbed in the small intestine. Another factor worth noting is that the small intestine has a profound impact on the immune system: the largest mass of immune cells found in our entire body is seen in the small intestines.

So, you can see, it’s kind of a big deal.

It’s important to note that the small intestine’s thin, protective mucous membrane is much more prone to damage (which can result in leaky gut) than the large intestine.

That is why small-intestinal health is impactful on immune and autoimmune conditions.

What Exactly is Leaky Gut?

Think of the gut as a drawbridge. Naturally, the gut is semi-permeable to allow micronutrients (think of them as tiny row boats) pass through the intestinal tract into our bloodstream (this is normal). Certain external factors such as processed foods, infections, toxins and stress can increase intestinal permeability, causing our drawbridge to stay open which allows larger boats to escape into our bloodstream (this is NOT a good thing). Your immune system marks those foreign invaders that were never meant to pass through, such as toxins, as pathogens and begins to attack.

According to a description in the journal, Frontiers in Immunology, leaky gut is described as:

The intestinal epithelial lining, together with factors secreted from it, forms a barrier that separates the host from the environment. In pathologic conditions, the permeability of the epithelial lining may be compromised allowing the passage of toxins, antigens, and bacteria in the lumen to enter the bloodstream creating a ‘leaky gut.’

What Causes Leaky Gut?

Maybe you just tweaked your ankle and have been trying to limp your way through the day with a few Motrin. Perhaps you’ve been taking birth control for years. Or your diet is filled with processed foods. Any of these scenarios can irritate the small intestine leading to leaky gut or intestinal permeability (when the food particles that pass through the intestine “leak” into our bloodstream) which triggers the immune system to go into attack mode and fight the invaders.

This is dangerous.

Leaky gut results in increase in inflammation, this inflammation can lead to joint pain and a host of diseases.

Leaky gut can also be caused by:

  • Chronic stress
  • Toxin overload (alcohol, antibiotics, pesticides, tap water, aspirin, other drugs)
  • Poor diet (inflammatory foods such as added sugars, refined oils, soy, food additives, gluten, dairy,  the typical Standard American Diet SAD diet)
  • Artificial sweeteners (saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame-K, sucralose, neotame)
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Bacterial imbalance
  • Aging
  • Genetic predisposition

In fact, a 2015 review paper, published in the journal Autoimmunity Reviews, shoed that food additives found in processed foods can irritate the gut, lead to leaky gut and subsequently, cause autoimmune disease.

As you can see, many things on that list is IN our control (minus aging and genetics).

How Do I Know If I Have Leaky Gut?

In addition to your joint pain, additional symptoms that may indicate the problem is all in your gut include:

  • Inflammatory conditions, arthritis
  • Digestive problems (bloating, gas, IBS, gastric ulcers, diarrhea)
  • General/seasonal allergies and/or asthma
  • Hormonal imbalances (PMS)
  • Autoimmune diseases (celiac disease, psoriasis, lupus)
  • Chronic fatigue and/or fibromyalgia
  • Brain-related symptoms (brain fog, anxiety, moodiness, depression, ADD, ADHD)
  • Skin issues (acne, rosacea, eczema)
  • Candida overgrowth
  • Food allergies and/or intolerances

Create a Healthy Gut Environment for Healthy Bacteria

Remove. Replace. Restore.

Adequate, if not optimal, digestive system function is essential to our health. If you are in pain, try eating to reduce inflammation to create a healthy environment for gut bacteria and improve microbiota/gut flora.

The first thing is to remove all inflammatory triggers (such as stress and food such as gluten, dairy, sugar, etc…sound familiar to our challenge?), replace the good (whole, unprocessed foods that support nutrient absorption), restore a healthy bacteria in your gut (think: high-quality probiotics, prebiotics: non-digestible fiber compounds found in garlic, onions, leeks, raw dandelion greens, curcumin, bone broth).

You must eat to balance blood sugar, and steer clear of food allergens, intolerances, and food additives. Why? As a response to eating food that you’re intolerant to, your immune system will react with inflammation.

How do you know if you’re intolerant to certain foods? Of course you can do a blood test, but the most useful diagnosis is 3-week food exclusion to watch for symptom improvements followed by a gradual food reintroduction to confirm.

One way to try a food exclusion experiment is to follow the Paleo diet, which does a great job of removing common food allergens. In the Paleo diet, you focus on fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, eggs, healthy fats, oils, nuts and seeds. You avoid grains, beans and legumes, processed foods and dairy.

Which Approach is Best for You?

Remember, our gut is the gateway to health.

With nearly 80% of our immune system residing in the gut and 95% of our serotonin produced in the gut, chances are, if our gut is healthy, we will also be healthy.

But this is a journey. These changes won’t take place overnight. A good place to start is with the 3-day elimination diet. But, if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the information above, don’t hesitate to reach out.

You can also set up a free 15-minute consultation to learn more about our one-on-one nutrition health coaching.

More on our Salus Nutrition Coaching Blog:

Overcoming Procrastination: Just Do the Dishes Already

Most of us know that the key to maintaining momentum with our goals is by overcoming procrastination.

Have you ever noticed how the smallest things can feel so difficult? I know I’m not alone on this. Without a doubt, we all have that one thing (or many things) that needs to get done, but we tend to procrastinate doing it. For me, it used to be a resistance to folding socks and doing the dishes.  Now, I’m the kind of person that likes to check off the boxes and get stuff done, but, there was just something about folding socks that drove me bonkers. Don’t judge me LOL

Until I realized how little time those two tasks actually took me. I literally timed myself one day.

Those tasks took me less than two minutes.

Seriously.

Overcoming Procrastination in Less Than 2 Minutes

Personal growth is a form of change. Unfortunately, there is an unconscious, deeply rooted part of us that resists change.

Even if it’s a positive change.

This internal resistance can show up in a variety of ways, from feeling lazy, scared, complacent, doubtful and that overwhelming feeling of procrastination.

Here’s the deal…

Most of these things we procrastinate aren’t actually difficult to do (I mean, come on…folding socks? What was I thinking?) We just avoid getting started on them for some reason. Of course, the more time-consuming the activity is, the bigger resistance to starting it is created in the mind of the procrastinator.

How do you overcome?

The two minute rule

Relative to the size of the task, the 2 minute rule can be applied in two ways:

  • The first way is to do short and easy tasks right away.
  • The second way is applied to bigger projects that require added time and effort. And just start chipping away.

Originating from Newton’s first law of motion that states that objects in rest stay at rest and objects in motion stay in motion, the 2-minute rule in this case means finishing that bigger project 2 minutes at a time. Research shows that the way to start big projects is to break it down into as many small tasks as possible where completion will lead to an increase in motivation. For example, get dressed for a workout and lace up your shoes (2 minutes, check!) and you’ll be more likely to go to the gym, exercise and have more energy! Or sit down to write your grocery list and you’ll be more likely to go grocery shopping, meal prep and eat healthier.

Countdown from 5

But, getting started can be harder than it sounds – even if it’s just for two minutes. So, try this trick. The moment you have an instinct to act on something, count out loud: “5,4,3,2,1” and then physically move your body before your brain has a chance to stop you. The counting distracts you from your excuses and help you focus your mind on moving in a new direction. It interrupts your default thinking and becomes a “starting ritual” that activates your prefrontal cortex which will help you change your behavior.

Try it! I promise the 5 second countdown preceding the 2 minute rule will ignite something powerful if you just give it a try!

Procrastination Trigger: Feelings

You can probably name a handful of things you’re currently procrastinating. The truth is, overcoming procrastination is not necessarily going to be your cure-all. It’s about teaching yourself to anticipate your specific triggers and coming up with a plan in advance on how to get started without hesitation, such as the two-minute hack.

Common procrastination triggers are the fear of the unknown, distraction, lack of motivation and resistance to get started (doing the dishes). Big or small, every task comes with a certain level of resistance.

And one of the most common reasons why we procrastinate is that we want things to be perfect. Our feelings get in the way. Instead of focusing on getting started, we obsess about achieving perfect results and end up paralyzed.

According to neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio, our feelings decide for us 95% of the time. We FEEL before we think. We FEEL before we act. As Damasio explains, humans are “feeling machines that think,” not “thinking machines that feel.” Ultimately, our feelings have a strong influence on how we make decisions. You need to learn how to separate what you are feeling from the actions that you are taking.

The 5 second countdown to the 2 minute rule is a remarkable took in this regard. For example, the moment you don’t feel like meal prepping, you won’t. But if you countdown from five and tell yourself that you’ll just take 2 minutes on the task, you can untangle your feelings from your actions and get started.

Remember, set realistic expectations and strive for progress, not perfection.

Remember to Reinforce Your Habits

William H McRaven said it well in his book, “Make Your Bed,”

“Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room, and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard, and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack.

It was a simple task, mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that we were aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle-hardened SEALS, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.

If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made-that you made-and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”

Overcoming Procrastination in a Simple, Yet Powerful Way

What is that one thing you have been procrastinating that might be holding you back from achieving your goals?

Are you paralyzed about food choices?

Does taking the time to stand there and fill up your water bottle hold you back from staying hydrated?

Does the latest episode on Netflix prevent you from getting enough sleep?

Whether you’re waiting for the “perfect time” to start exercising, eat better… or do the dishes, I encourage you to use these tools to help you overcome procrastination and attack your goals head on. Whatever it is that’s taunting you, hanging over your head, if it takes less than two minutes to get started, then do it now.

Knowing what you need to do is the easy part…pushing yourself to do it takes courage.

If you already started making positive changes, you’re likely learning a lot about your body and mind. Hopefully, these are changes that you can embrace and carry through with you for life. Ride that momentum and take the steps you need to feel confident and become a better, healthier version of you.

Let me know how it goes!

Healthy Popcorn Recipe

If you’re looking for a new healthy popcorn recipe, we’ve got you covered!

Popcorn is a Healthy Swap for Chips

If you have that need to crunch and are looking for a snack that’s lower in calories than chips (but filling) we highly recommend popcorn. Popcorn is one of our favorite snacks because it’s high in fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and helps to keep you feeling full for longer. Plus, if you make it with coconut oil like the recipe below calls for you have your carbs (popcorn) and fat (oil) macronutrients accounted for.

Ounce for ounce, popcorn has more protein than most chips…but it’s not much. To make popcorn even more satisfying, turn this snack a mini-meal by adding a bit of protein. Add a couple slices of nitrate-free deli meat or some almonds on the side to provide a better balance of macronutrients.

Is Microwave Popcorn Bad for You?

ahhhhh! It can be, depending on how you pop it.

Have you heard about the dangers of microwave popcorn? Microwave popcorn bags can be toxic and some brands can have hidden (dangerous) ingredients, “flavors” and preservatives.

In fact, a FDA report indicates that the chemical coating used in microwave popcorn bags will break down when it’s heated into a substance called perfluorooctanoic (PFOA). The Environmental Protection Agency has identified PFOA as a “likely carcinogen.” PFOA is also used to make Teflon and other nonstick materials, such as pizza boxes. This chemical can stay in your body and the environment for long periods of time.

Avoid the potential hazards of microwave popcorn. Make your own. It’s so easy…and so much healthier!

If you love popcorn, consider going with air-popped with organic kernels and your own seasonings. Electric air poppers are relatively inexpensive. Good ones heat up the popcorn quickly and efficiently enough to ensure you end up with fluffy popcorn for movie night.

Here’s how you can make your own popcorn, a naturally gluten-free snack.

Poppin’ Your Own Coconut Oil Popcorn

Popcorn Ingredients

1/2 Cup Organic Popping Corn
1 1/2 Tablespoons coconut oil
Sea salt

Popcorn Directions

  • Heat a large, heavy bottom pot over medium heat.
  • Add the coconut oil and let it completely melt. Put a few test kernels into the pan and wait for them to pop.
  • Place the rest of the popcorn seeds into the pan and cover.
  • After the kernels begin popping, shake every 10 seconds until you hear the popping slow down.
  • When the popping slows down to a pop every 2-3 seconds.
  • Remove the pan from heat.
  • Continuously shake for another 10-20 seconds so the popcorn at the bottom doesn’t burn.
  • Salt to taste and enjoy.

Taking Time for Yourself: Why Self-Care is SO Important

Do you ever feel guilty taking time for yourself?

You shouldn’t.

Self-care shouldn’t be a thing of the past. Here’s why you don’t have to “earn” me-time or feel guilty about taking it.

Taking Time for Self-Care: Put Your Oxygen Mask On First

It’s so easy to make [fill in the blank] your whole life. Whether it’s work, kids, caring for others or home improvement projects, it can be hard to disconnect and take a step back. Plus, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re all facing something we’ve never experienced before…an insurmountable level of stress. If we’re not putting our energy into something, we feel guilty, selfish, wasteful. Believe me, as a mom of twins and small business owner, I can empathize.

But it’s shouldn’t be that way. In fact, it’s a nasty recipe for burnout.

As much as you you might love your work, etc, it can become consuming and stressful if you let it.

That email (dishes, laundry, etc) can probably wait a few hours or even until the next business day, if needed, so you can knock off a little early and make time for you.

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

Every week, look at your calendar and book some “me time.”

Head to the gym, catch a sunrise at the beach, read a book, make a nice meal, go for bike ride, meditate, work on personal goals…get enough sleep. Whatever is important to you, schedule in the time for yourself. Literally book an appointment with yourself and then DO NOT CANCEL.

Take time away from “being busy” to relax and do something you enjoy (that has nothing to do with deadlines, homework or responding to emails) and that makes you a better person from the inside- out.

It’s not only better for your brain to disconnect, it’s better for your overall health to step away and make time for YOU….before you have nothing left to give. Psychologists agree self-care is effective against all kinds of external stress and can help you:

1 – Relax your Mind
2 – Boost Concentration & Focus
3 – Understand Yourself
4 – Resolve Problems
5 – Build Mental Strength

Because, if you’re not caring for yourself emotionally, mentally and physically, how can you give it your all in your work, for your kids or for others?

It’s like the oxygen mask that drops down on the airplane- you’re instructed to put your oxygen mask on first.

Even if it’s just taking five minutes to get up from your desk every hour for a little stretch break or scheduling in your workout (and then not cancelling on yourself). In the end, carving out time for yourself (and then actually taking it) will help you be a better employee, parent, spouse, etc.

Positive Self Talk

Let’s be honest. When the **** hits the fan, so can a lot of our healthy habits. Maybe the chips are disappearing from the cabinets a little faster than usual or maybe you’re i the thrones of a full-on Netflix and wine binge.

Guess what?

You’re human. It’s okay. Seriously. I never judge and I understand you more than you might realize. You’re not alone. This is normal. The last thing you want to do is harm yourself further by beating yourself up. That will only amplify the stress-loop-of-doom even more.

Instead: The key here is to recognize those patterns so you’re better prepared to make future changes. But the only way you’ll get to that point is to go deep with yourself. So, strap on your scuba gear and bust out your journal. Time for some honest self-talk.

Then…MOVE ON. And recognize it’s ok to ask for help.

Good Nutrition is Positive Self-Care

Nourishing our body with good, clean food is the foundation of health. Diet culture and Instagram influencers often make food out to be the enemy or as something that needs to be controlled. However, the food we eat impacts our ability to thrive and can be a form of self-care.

Here are a couple of ways to practice self-care through nutrition:

  • Take your time during meals. Slow down and put the fork down in between bites.
  • Remove distractions when you eat (away from TV and phone). Research actually shows that removing distractions also allows you to enjoy your meal, which may help you absorb nutrients more effectively.
  • Eat regularly to prevent low energy levels, brain fog and that dreaded “hangry” feeling.
  • Get colorful. Not only does a colorful plate add more diversity of immune-boosting and inflammation-fighting vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, studies show that diets rich in fruits and vegetables are associated with daily feelings of well-being.

That’s what I call self-care.

Do you struggle with taking time for yourself?

In our busy world of endless to-do’s, it’s essential to give yourself permission to take a mini time-out and recharge your batteries. Doing so will help you prevent burnout, reduce stress and refocus your energy.

Your time and your energy is precious and should be respected. Because, if we treat ourselves as less important, it’s likely that same response will be mirrored back by colleagues, family and friends.

Your needs matter. Self-care matters.

Especially as a parent, you want to ensure that your children know that they deserve the same quality of care and attention as everyone and everything else… help them feel confident about making the time for themselves by leading by example.

Put your oxygen mask on first.

Get Your Nutrition and Wellness Back on Track

Do you struggle with self-care? At Salus Nutrition, we care for our clients the same way they care for their own loved ones. You’ll find countless diets, programs and fads out there…but Salus Nutrition Coaching is the only program designed to take care of what matters most to you (your nutrition, wellness and well-being) the same way you would take care of those who matter most to you, too.

It’s not about criticizing your food log or demanding you do fasted cardio, it’s about recognizing your unique needs and giving you the help and support you deserve.

So, let us help you.

We accept a small number of new clients every month, so reach out and get your name on the list today.

Nutrition Inquiry

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.