Healthy Swaps

So we’ve purged some obvious sugar culprits in our pantry and gotten clear on our WHY. Let’s step it up a notch by swapping out one (or more) of those sCRAP-py (sugar-filled, completely refined and processed) foods you found earlier this week for a cleaner version. 

While whole and fresh foods are strongly encouraged, I also recognize that having a well stocked pantry, fridge and freezer can be time saving while adding flexibility to your meal choices. Your challenge today is to identify a healthier version of one of your typical packaged foods.

Here are a few healthy swaps to try:

Flour/Baking

Pre/Post Workout

Other

 

Salad Dressing: 

Salad dressing can be loaded with sugar and preservatives. Don’t be fooled by low-fat or fat-free labels. You may think that you are doing yourself a favor if you choose these versions of salad dressings, but they are actually even worse when it comes to hidden sugars.

Try this homemade Basic Vinaigrette recipe instead:

  • 1 Tablespoon no sugar added balsamic vinegar (check the label – some have sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Whisk all ingredients together until well blended.

What’s Driving the Urge to Eat?

Beyond finding a swap, it’s also important to address what’s truly driving the urge to eat. Such as if your blood sugar is low. Low blood sugar could mean that you are skipping meals, spacing them out too much, or you’re not eating enough blood sugar-steadying protein. 

Try instead pairing a simple carbohydrate with protein, like mixed nuts and fruit. The healthy fat in the nuts helps to slow down the absorption of the fruit’s natural sugar so that you get back into balance and are better able to control cravings.

What swap did you make?  Take a picture and share it with the group!

Take the sCRAP-py Food Quiz

You already know that consuming too many sCRAP-py (sugar-filled & completely refined and processed) foods can halt your goals (and it’s no bueno for your health). Yet, it’s found in practically everything we eat (way more than you may realize).

Let’s figure out any patterns as to why you eat what you eat…and when you eat it. Is it within acceptable limits, totally out of whack, or somewhere in between? This quiz is a powerful tool to help you start your journey to understanding and limiting processed foods and sugar intake.

1. How often do you eat or drink sugary foods or beverages including those made with artificial sweeteners?

a. Once or twice a month at most. I’m not big on sweets.
b. Have dessert a couple of times a week but I rarely drink regular or diet soda.
c. Pretty much every day

2. How much sugar or sweetener do you usually add to coffee?

a. None
b. A teaspoon or one packet.
c. 2 teaspoons or two packets. At least.

3. What does your typical breakfast look like?

a. Scrambled eggs with veggies, avocado toast, or even last night’s leftovers.
b. Greek yogurt, oatmeal with fruit, or a shake.
c. Sugary cereal, a muffin, donut, or a not-so-healthy bar.

4. How often do you go out of your way to get something sCRAP-py, like stopping at the store just to buy some ice cream.

a. Almost never.
b. Every once in a while if I get a crazy craving for something.
c. Often… like at least once a week.

5. Do you ever eat food in secret?

a. No. If I’m indulging, it’s part of a meal or an event with others.
b. A couple times a year. I definitely feel like polishing off some ice cream or a bag of chips on the couch by myself.
c. I usually wait to eat those foods until I’m alone so I can eat without anyone judging me.

6. Do you ever hide food just to eat them later?

a. No. Never.
b. Not usually. But, if I know there is just a little bit left of my favorite splurge left, I might rearrange some things in the refrigerator just to make it harder for anyone else to find.
c. Yes. I have a stash of my favorites to eat when I’m by myself.

7. Do you ever feel powerless in front of certain foods, like chips, bread, or cookies?

a. Rarely. It just doesn’t tempt me.
b. Maybe once in a while, if I’m hangry. But, I can usually have one or two and then stop.
c. Yes. Usually once I start eating stuff like that it’s hard to stop. Even if I’m already full.

8. While indulging, have you ever gone overboard and told yourself that “this is the last time I’ll ever eat like this again?”

a. Not really. Maybe one or two times.
b. I tried cutting out sCRAP-py foods in the past but nothing ever works.
c. I tell myself that a lot and end up feeling guilty when I don’t follow through.

Count up how many times you choose each letter, then read the descriptions below to determine your sCRAP-py food dependence and how this challenge will help you move forward.

MOSTLY A’s: Congratulations! Sounds like you don’t have a whacked-out sCRAP-py food diet (Sugar-filled & Completely Refined And Processed). However, you can still benefit from this challenge. Throughout the next three weeks we will reveal lots of amazing tips to help you make even more lasting changes. Take it to the next level by eating mindfully.

MOSTLY B’s: You are in good command of your sCRAP-py food intake, but there’s always room for growth. This challenge will make you even wiser about your choices and learn great tips to swap out the junk and stay on track with your goals.

MOSTLY C’s: Sounds like sCRAP-py foods are a frequent choice for you, so you may be hooked. I’m here to help get unhooked! To jump-start your efforts and break free of this trap, start by getting clear on your WHY.

Connect!

Have you joined the private Facebook Challenge group yet? Being a part of the community will not only help you to stay accountable with your own goals, but also see how others are doing, find support, share your successes and struggles, and of course, get some great, new meal ideas.

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 certain foods like:

  • Sugar
  • Saturated Fat
  • Trans Fat
  • Omega 6 Fatty Acids
  • Refined Carbs
  • MSG
  • Gluten & Casein
  • Vegetable Oils
  • Alcohol

Then replace the good by eating whole, unprocessed foods that support nutrient absorption such as:

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Green leafy veggies
  • Nuts
  • Fatty fish like salmon
  • Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries and oranges

Finally, 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!

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:

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.”

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.

————–

Check out some of our most popular Salus Nutrition posts:

7 Keys to Setting SMARTER Goals

smarter goals

Setting New Goals

Plus My Favorite Habit-Tracking App

Have you ever set a lofty goal for yourself (with the best intentions in mind, of course) only to eventually get frustrated and quit? This is all too common, especially in the New Year.

You know and so much research shows that setting goals is a very important component to success. They can give us something to aim for and help provide direction, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed if not approached strategically.

Set SMARTER Goals

No doubt you’ve heard of SMART goals before, but have you heard of SMARTER goals?

Borrowed from Michael Hyatt, SMARTER stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Risky
  • Timely
  • Exciting
  • Relevant

Great results don’t just happen. You have to be intentional. ~Michael Hyatt

SPECIFIC goals helps you identify exactly what you want to do, whether that’s an achievement or a new habit.

  • Not: I want to lose weight.
  • Be Specific: I want to lose the weight I put on during quarantine.

MEASUREABLE means you will know exactly when you have achieved that goal. Without something to measure, how will you know if you have succeeded?

  • Not: I want to be healthier.
  • Measure it: Lose 5 pounds.

ACTIONABLE goals are those that includes an action word and not just “to be.” For example

  • Not: I want to be more consistent with exercise.
  • Show Action:  CrossFit three times a week.

RISKY goals should stretch you out of your comfort zone, but not too much. It should be challenging and realistic, not overwhelming.

  • Not: I want to lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks.
  • Be Risky, yet realistic: Lose 20 pounds of fat in 10 weeks and gain 5 pounds of muscle.

EXCITING goals should keep you motivated to keep pursing that goal, even in the face of unexpected challenges – which you will inevitably encounter. To be honest with you, I don’t know how you can set a goal without being emotionally involved with it.

  • Not: I want to workout.
  • Get Excited: I want to overcome my fear and learn how to do a handstand.

RELEVANT goals must align with your current circumstance in life. Your goals now may be different 6 months (or even 6 weeks) into the future. For me, my goals right now look entirely different than they did last January.

  • Not: All in. All the time.
  • Be Relevant: Ask yourself: Given where I am right now in this season of my life, does this goal make sense?

A goal is not just about what you accomplish. It’s about what you become. ~Michael Hyatt

Write Down Your Goals

When was the last time you actually wrote down your goals? This is a critical part of the process to motivate you to take action.

Writing them down and placing them somewhere where we can see them every day allows us to be reminded of the things we wish to manifest into our lives and grow every day. It can include anything that you can draw inspiration from, larger goals or even just little reminders to keep on the right track.

That motivation is even more so when you share those written goals with others…only if those people are committed to helping you achieve them (your coach, accountability buddy, mentor, etc).

When you write down your goals, you’re stating your intention and setting things in motion. But the real key is to review them on a regular basis. This is what turns those goals into a reality.

Every time you review your goals, ask yourself: What’s the next step I need to take to get closer to this goal?

Set Your Goal

To get started, ask yourself a few questions. Write down your answers and share them with a coach and a friend to help you stay accountable:

• If nothing ever got in the way (stress, injuries, time, work, obligations, etc.) what is your dream performance accomplishment?
• What steps can you take to work around those challenges and work toward that dream accomplishment?
• Use 3 words to describe what progress means to you. Define what it looks like and feels like.
• What performance-specific skills are you working on?
• How can your daily choices be refocused to work toward your goals and improve your health?
• What is one positive affirmation that you need to be reminded of?

Consistency is better than perfection. We can all be consistent-perfection is impossible. ~Michael Hyatt

Celebrate Your Wins

Remember to celebrate the new habits that you cultivate along the way. This help you pull together the foundation for your long-term plans. Here’s why:

Need some inspiration?

Here are a few goal examples:

• Need to hydrate more?

Set a water target for your day and download an app to track how much you drink.

• Want to clean up your eating?

Start tracking what you eat in a free app like MyFitnessPal or chat with Coach Angela or Camilla about your specific nutrition needs.

• Looking to fit in more CrossFit classes?

Determine one action that you can do in 5 minutes or less to make your mornings go smoother. For example, lay out your gym clothes, pack your lunch, tell a friend to meet you there.

• Want to sign up for a weightlifting or CrossFit competition?

Talk to a coach, identify a comp and develop a plan.

• Need to change your mindset?

Set an affirmation for each day to create more positive self-talk.

• Ready to PR?

Put your numbers together, identify the missing links and talk to a coach about a proper progression to get you there.

Become Aware

The great thing about setting a goal is the more time we spend truly being aware of what we want in our lives, the more aware we become of what we need to do to get there. The bigger, long-term goals motivate us and the short-term goals allow us to break those bigger goals into something more attainable and satisfying.

We started our business to help people change their lives and become the best version of themselves. It’s not just about one competition or one PR. It’s about those daily wins, lifting a little heavier, eating a little better, etc. Let us help you create a process you can maintain, and keep you accountable. You’ll reach those goals before you know it!

My Favorite Habit-Tracking App

For tracking my nutrition goals, I have been using —and loving!—MyFitnessPal. It is free and available for both iOS and Android devices. It is a food diary that allows you to break down your macronutrients and micronutrients. Specifically, it allows you to:

  • Establish good habits or break bad habits by becoming aware of what you’re eating and when.
  • Identify your streak target which is how many times in a row you track your food.
  • Set reminders.
  • Keep your diary private or share it with your coach for that extra level of accountability.

Refresh Your Goals

Did you set a goal at the beginning of 2020 only to be sidelined by quarantine? Yeah, me too. Remember, if we’re always looking for perfection, we may never experience progress.

Give yourself permission to refresh your goals. And remember, the practice of setting goals is not just helpful, it  can make you happier, too. Studies tell us that people who make consistent progress toward meaningful goals live happier more satisfied lives than those who don’t.

Every small change that we implement into our daily lives has the power to allows us to reach our dream accomplishment. So, go ahead and dream big – we’d love to help you get there!

Nutrition Inquiry

Life After the Nutrition Challenge

life after challenge

Life After the Nutrition Challenge

You made it! It’s been weeks of clean eating, being mindful of your portions, staying hydrated, exercising, mobilizing, sleeping like a baby, working toward your goals and motivating everyone around you! But, now what? What happens after the nutrition challenge?

Preparing for life after a nutrition challenge is not a huge topic many nutrition challenges address (resulting in a lot of those notorious ups and downs). But, since we’re all about making changes for LIFE (not just during the challenge), here are a few things to keep in mind.

Dealing with All the Occasions

Although things look a little different this year, we will inevitably be faced with vacations, holidays, celebrations, unexpected dinners out, soon enough. These are important moments – they’re happening now, they’ll be facing you next month, next holiday…each and every year. And you should be able to enjoy them without stressing out. “How will I deal with those road bumps,” you ask?

By practicing your new set of skills.

Hopefully you feel armed and ready to attack the real world with all the knowledge, new habits and shift in your mindset. As you’ve learned, being mindful with what, when and how you eat is a skill that must be practiced regularly.

Whether it’s a celebratory beer at the beach on the fourth of July, a taste of your nephew’s birthday cake or those famous nachos you’ve been dreaming about, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

“Learning is discovering that something is possible.” ~Fritz Perls

Once you are comfortable with your normal, day-to-day quality and quantity choices, it is okay to enjoy a splurge “treat” once and a while. But remember, this is not an excuse to go off the rails and eat everything in sight. Take this time to practice the skills you have learned throughout our journey – rely on your hand for portion sizes, stay in tune with your body’s fullness signals (think 80%), stay away from those things you know are going to make you feel like crap the next day (refined sugars, etc), plan ahead (be mindful) and hey, don’t stress about it.

Turn your focus more on who you are with, your surroundings and how the food tastes.

But, I get it. It may not only be dinners out or fancy celebrations that pop up. Sometimes, we just feel physically or mentally exhausted… and all we want to do is veg with our meal in front of the TV. And that’s OK. It’s impossible to be perfect 100% of the time…I’m sure as heck am not.

And no one expects us to be.

The biggest challenge we’ll ever face is that of our mind. When we don’t do what we believe or feel deep down in our gut to be “right,” we won’t feel good. And our bodies will show it. But, if we live according to our values (and often, healthy choices), life “flows” much more effortlessly. You must be willing to face your own doubts and fears. You know you’re going to face difficult situations in the future.

You can’t control the future. But you can control the choices you make, your reactions and your mindset.

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

No matter where you are, practice what you learned over the challenge and keep your mindset…and portions, in check.

Identify Your Goals for After the Nutrition Challenge

After the nutrition challenge is over, it’s important to clearly identify your goals going forward.  Figure out your long term and short term goals. This will help you stay motivated and find a clear (and safe) path to take.

If you love how you felt over the past few weeks and have decided this is now how you’d like to continue living life. Keep doing what you’re doing! Find an alternate way to stay on top of clean eating meal prep and check-in with your goals regularly – whether that’s with a buddy, a coach, an app. There’s not necessarily one right answer for that, different things motivate different people.

If you love how you felt over the past few weeks, but you’ve decided to add back in some of the foods you were avoiding (gluten, dairy, soy, processed foods, sugars, etc), it’s important to carefully re-introduce them slowly to avoid feeling ill. If you had an “off-day” any time over the challenge, you know exactly what I mean.

Here’s what you need to know about reintroducing foods back into your life after the nutrition challenge.

Implementing an Elimination Reintroduction Plan After Your Nutrition Challenge

This nutrition and wellness challenge was a bit of a science experiment. You learned a lot about your body and hopefully realized that food isn’t just fuel…it’s information. Every bite we eat sends messages to our body and our body responds. Sometimes louder than others.

Think about this: the GI tract doesn’t just have the job of digesting and absorbing food…. It also has its own working nervous system (the enteric nervous system). That means our gastrointestinal tract is abundant in neurotransmitters, chemical messengers, bacteria, enzymes and hormones. That’s pretty awesome, right?

But now consider this: given the amount of devoted resources our body needs for a properly functioning GI tract, when things go wrong in our gut, all hell breaks loose. From microbial imbalances and detoxification abnormalities to motility issues and inflammation, food intolerances or sensitivities can directly contribute to gut problems like gas pains and bloating, AND it can also harm other body systems at the same time.

GI disturbances have been linked to unwanted symptoms such as arthritis, skin conditions, autoimmune disorders, asthma, addiction, migraines, mood disorders, kidney problems and a whole slew of other conditions.

Proceed with Caution

So, all that being said, after you’ve eliminated potential food sensitivities throughout this challenge and you’re ready to reintroduce some of these foods back into your diet, you must proceed with caution.

1. Grab a pen and paper or use a handy app like myfitnesspal where you can record what you eat and jot down notes about how you felt after and monitor yourself for symptoms.
2. Slowly reintroduce only a SINGLE food group that you previously eliminated for one day only. Then monitor yourself for two days. (example: if you decide to reintroduce dairy on Monday, that day you might try milk in the morning, some cheese at lunch and maybe even a little cottage cheese at night). The key word being: slowly.
3. Monitor yourself for any abnormal reactions through Wednesday. Negative reactions to watch out for include: insomnia, fatigue, joint pain, skin breakouts, headaches, bowel changes, brain fog, bloating and even respiratory issues.
4. If you don’t notice any negative symptoms, it’s time to reintroduce a different food (example: sugar) on Thursday. Proceed with the same timeline as above.
5. Continue this process for a few weeks, reintroducing one new food only every few days, no sooner.

Depending on how much you eliminated, this process could take up to 6 weeks, but at the end of the experiment, you’ll know a whole heck of a lot about your body and how it responds to different foods…which as you saw above, can give you more than just gas and bloating.

The bottom line: Don’t waste all your effort over the last few weeks. Take the time to learn even more about your body and how it responds to your every day choices.

Reflections on Your Nutrition & Wellness Challenge

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on this nutrition & wellness challenge. As your Nutrition Coach, it is my goal to educate and inspire you to develop healthy eating habits that last a lifetime. It has been a pleasure guiding you through and I hope I’ve helped you:

  • Have the desire to eat more fresh, minimally-processed foods.
  • Discover how to balance lean protein, veggies, nutrient-dense carbohydrates and healthy fats.
  • Learn to adjust portions that directly meet health, performance and body composition goals.
  • Become aware that many other areas, in addition to nutrition, affect our physical and mental state. Sleep, environment, hydration, exercise…they all play a role, too.

Please Share

I genuinely appreciate any and all feedback on your experience, so please take a moment to drop a review on Google or Facebook.
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Create Healthy Nutrition Habits for Life

And, after the challenge, if you’re interested in learning more about a customized plan that really dials in to your individual health and nutrition needs, or you have any other nutrition-related questions, reach out to info@salusnj.com to set up a free 15-minute consultation.

Check out our most popular posts from the nutrition challenge:

Mindful Eating

When was the last time you truly paid attention to what you were eating — when you truly savored the experience of a meal? Often, we eat on autopilot, inhaling our food while our attention is on the TV, laptop or our phone.

Mindful eating encourages us to remove those distractions and sit uninterrupted for a meal. In doing so, we begin to take our time, eat more slowly, and reconnect with our senses.

Mindful Eating: Slow Down for a Moment

Why do you eat when you eat?
Are you hungry, bored, stressed?

Today, we’re going to review some simple ways to recognize these habits (you may not even realize you’re doing it), and talk about ways to navigate around them for more mindful eating.

Eat With Your Brain

Most of us are guilty of aimlessly walking into the fridge after just eating a meal, opening it up and searching for something else to eat.

Are we really still hungry or maybe it’s just that we’re bored… or simply in the habit of grabbing something sweet after dinner. There are so many different environmental factors that play a role in mindless eating. And many we don’t even recognize.

In order for the body to realize it is becoming full it needs to work with the mind. When you pay attention when eat, you not only allow yourself time to feel full, but studies show that you’ll also enjoy what you’re eating more.

Refresh your perspective.

Diets and challenges are pretty much synonymous with short-term restriction and feelings of deprivation. Because of this most diets fail after the first week. Of course, we’re not going to let that happen.

Prepare healthy, not convenient, food and refresh your perspective on the healthy habit changes you’re starting to implement to embrace them as a lifelong change.

Be present.

Mindful eating simply invites us to be present during the cooking process or while eating. It allows us to truly savor our food without experiencing any judgment, guilt, anxiety, or sabotaging inner self-talk. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Sit down when you eat.
  • Take a breath and appreciate what is in front of you and be present in the moment.
  • Take a look at the ingredients list and read each word. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, put it down (and then don’t buy it again).
  • Giving thanks or saying a mantra to yourself might help you slow down. Try something like: “I eat to nourish and energize my body.”
  • Keep practicing. Just like any habit, mindful eating takes practice.
  • Put down distractions…

Put down distractions.

Distractions take away from our intention to appreciate the food on our plate. Its texture, smell, taste and how it will benefit our bodies, energy, performance, etc. Try to identify when something other than hunger is making you want to eat and then steer your attention to your goal oriented activity instead.

Listen, I’m a mom of twins. I know a distraction when I see one. Use what you’re learning as a teaching tool for your children, but set real expectations. Help them instill mindful eating habits early on to set them up for success later in life. It won’t happen overnight… and they will most likely get distracted by the bunny in your yard time and time again. But, if you can you can make an effort to be present as a family, just a little bit at a time, you’ll be more likely to succeed.

Food for Thought

Where were you at lunchtime or dinner time yesterday?

Who was with you and what did you talk about?

If you were alone, did you do anything else besides eat?

What was your mood like when you were eating?

Some days we won’t be able to remember the answers to these questions. The truth is, some days we’ll be lucky enough to sneak in a meal in between meetings and kids practice.

Make an effort to enjoy a peaceful meal over the next couple days.

Don’t let food become a mindless afterthought.

Take a Deep Breath

Now sit down, take a deep breath and really savor what you’re eating. And then read more on The New York Times, “Mindful Eating as Food for Thought.”

“The rhythm of life is becoming faster and faster, so we really don’t have the same awareness and the same ability to check into ourselves. That’s why mindful eating is becoming more important. We need to be coming back to ourselves and saying: ‘Does my body need this? Why am I eating this? Is it just because I’m so sad and stressed out?’

For many people, eating fast means eating more. Mindful eating is meant to nudge us beyond what we’re craving so that we wake up to why we’re craving it and what factors might be stoking the habit of belly-stuffing.”

More on our Salus Nutrition Coaching Blog:

DISCLAIMER: It’s important to note that individuals dealing with an eating disorder should first consult with a  health care professional before incorporating mindful eating as part of a broader strategy.