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.

Want to Know the Secret to Meal Prep? Plan Ahead

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

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

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

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

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

Plan Ahead for Meal Prep

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

Start by scheduling.

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

Make your grocery list.

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

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

You are in control.

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

You can definitely do it!

Make Ahead

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

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

Store Safely

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


Bonus Benefits

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

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

The name of the game is:

Anticipate. Plan. Strategize.

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Check out some of our most popular Salus Nutrition posts:

Life After the Nutrition Challenge

life after challenge

Life After the Nutrition Challenge

You made it! After 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

Think of this lifestyle nutrition challenge as a bit of a science experiment in the sense that I want you to realize 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 Lifestyle and Nutrition Challenge

I wanted to take a moment to reflect on this lifestyle and nutrition challenge. As your Nutrition Coach, it is my goal to educate and inspire you to develop healthy eating habits that last a lifetime. I 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 series of posts from previous nutrition challenges:

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.

Hangry? We’ve All Been There

Ever felt hangry?

If this word isn’t familiar to you, the feeling probably is. (I used to experience hanger a fair share when the kids were young, to be honest).

Have you ever snapped at someone right before dinner or when you were grocery shopping on an empty stomach? It’s possible you were having a bad day, but it could have been because you were hangry.

What is Hangry?

“Hangry” has actually been added to the Oxford English dictionary. If you go look it up you may see a picture of me circa 2010 with two infants demanding all of my energy and attention.

/ˈhaNGɡrē/
Adjective informal

Bad-tempered, irritable or angry as a result of feeling hungry.

Hungry + Angry=Hangry.

As in: “I get very hangry if I miss a meal which makes me want to bite someone’s head off.”

Yup, we’ve all been there before. That awful feeling when you are stuck between an early lunch and a late dinner. Hangry is a very real feeling. And it’s actually a signal from your brain.

S.O.S. Hangry is a Signal From Your Brain

When you go too long without food, we can reach the point when a perfectly pleasant person turns into an irritable monster. Oh, and our blood glucose levels start to drop making it harder to control our emotions. This can also trigger the release of stress hormones making it even harder to control anger and other other less than stellar symptoms including:

Mood Swings-

Low blood sugar levels can cause us to feel unusually irritated, anxious and moody.

It’s not just in your head.

A study published in the journal, Physiology and Behavior, found that low blood sugar induced a state of “tense-tiredness” that caused study participants to have more negative outlooks on certain life situations.

Feel like crying when you’re hungry? So do I.

Hulking Out-

Feeling the urge to lash out at your kids or friends when you’re normally calm, cool and collected?

You’re not alone.

Studies have shown that intimate partners are more likely to get angry with each other when their blood sugar levels were lower than normal. When we are hangry, nothing else matters.

Lack of Willpower-

When you’re beyond hungry, you might have a harder time sticking to your goals. Self control is compromised when glucose levels are low which can lead to impulse decisions and overeating.

For example, when you normally pass on the bread basket at dinner, if you’re hangry, you’re pretty much liking the plate clean.

Fatigue-

Being hangry can also result in fatigue, dizziness, headaches, foggy thinking, a decrease in motivation and just not feeling like yourself.

What the Science Says

So, why does this happen again? Why do we get so angry when we’re hungry?

We already know that glucose states get low when people are hungry. The brain requires glucose. If glucose is low, it doesn’t function properly. But, newer research states that ‘hanger’ might be more complicated than just a drop in blood sugar. It appears to be a complicated emotional response between biology, personality and environmental cues.

“Our bodies play a powerful role in shaping our moment-to-moment experiences, perceptions and behaviors – whether we are hungry versus full, tired versus rested or sick versus healthy. If you are feeling a little grumpy, take a step back and think about your emotions for a bit – it might help you from turning into a hangry mess.”

Hanger Management

Today’s questions aren’t quite as deep as the others but can have a profound impact on how you handle situations going forward to prevent this rollercoaster of blood sugar and emotions.

Have you ever felt hangry before? When and what symptoms did you experience?

What steps can you take to start listening to your body and give it what it needs to function at its best instead of ignoring important signs and ending up… Hangry?

Listen, I can empathize. Feeling out of control with our emotions is frustrating, especially when food is involved. But, thankfully, in most cases, hangry can be managed by making better food choices, focusing on quality, quantity and timing.

Quality-

Food quality matters. If you usually reach for processed carbohydrates like cereal for breakfast, your blood glucose levels probably tend to rise quickly which may lead to more extreme crashes later in the morning, leaving you hangry.

Want to avoid that rollercoaster?

It’s best to choose whole, nutrient dense foods that help you feel full longer and offer vitamins, minerals. Next time you’re in a mega-rush for breakfast, reach for something like a banana with a thumb portion of unsweetened almond butter and a hard-boiled egg.

Quantity-

Despite your lack of glucose driven hanger, don’t think you should just reach for a giant donut to fight off symptoms.

That will surely backfire.

As a general guideline, mix in a balanced portion of carbohydrates, protein and fat at each meal.

Refer to our recent post about proper portions.

Timing-

Like our bodies, our brain also needs fuel to function properly. Don’t wait until you feel overly hungry to eat.

For many people, this means eating more frequent portions than the typical three meals a day. If you know you’re the type of person who is prone to feeling hangry, plan ahead and meal prep a small snack to have in a pinch.

Fight Off Hanger by Listening to Your Body

Get in tune with your body and the signals it is giving you rather than brushing it off. Body communication and awareness is key:

  • Rest when you are tired.
  • Eat when you are hungry.
  • Move when you are stressed.

So, on a scale from one to #hangry, how ready are you get control and listen to your body and its cues? Once you do that, you’ll better manage your own chemical and hormonal reactions which will do wonders for your mind, body and spirit (and hanger-state).

Stay connected, friends.

More on our Salus Nutrition Coaching Blog:

Strive for Progress Not Perfection

Plan Ahead

Set Real Expectations

Overcoming Procrastination: Just Do the Dishes Already

 

This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice.

Balancing Macronutrients for Energy

Balancing Macronutrients for Energy

Macronutrients, you probably know them as “macros,” include carbohydrates, protein and fat. Each one plays a significant role our health, affecting our energy levels and body composition, our ability to do work and recover from exercise as well as our fight against chronic disease.

Today, we’re going to touch on energy balance and how the kind of macronutrients you choose (for example, minimally processed versus highly processed) and amount of each, can affect our body’s natural ability to control appetite and fullness cues as well as hormones and mood.

Macronutrients and Calories

You’ve heard of a Calorie. Technically speaking, a Calorie is a unit of heat measurement; kcal is used to express food energy, representing a Calorie. Different macronutrients make up different amounts of heat:

  • Fat contains 9 kcal per gram
  • Carbohydrates contain 4 kcal per gram
  • Protein contains 4 kcal per gram
  • Alcohol contains 7 kcal per gram

While we lose some of this potential energy through digestion and excretion, our bodies still do a good job of saving much of this energy for the resynthesis of ATP (using about 90% of the energy in our food, actually). But some factors can affect the nutrient and energy content of the foods we eat: soil and growing conditions such as climate and sunlight as well as ripeness at time of harvest (in season produce vs out of season) can affect the nutrient makeup of our produce.

Additionally, the length of storage and how we prepare and cook our food can also impact the amount of energy and nutrients we get from food (cooking, for example, usually makes more energy available, and can reduce the nutrient availability).

Metabolism

The amount of energy required for our individual physiological actions is referred to as metabolism. This includes:

  • Basal metabolic rate (BMR)– This is the level of energy we need to maintain vital functions of the body and stay alive.
  • Resting metabolic rate (RMR)– Similar to BMR, RMR is measured during rest and takes into account our oxygen consumption which is related to energy production.
  • Thermic effect of feeding (TEF)– The very act of eating and digesting will increase our metabolism. Our metabolic activity changes depending on what macros we eat: the thermic effect, or production of heat (proteins tend to have the highest thermic response, fats tend to have the lowest thermic response).
  • Exercise activity– Exercise activity obviously varies from person to person. The higher intensity exercise activity, the higher demand for energy transfer during and after the activity.
  • Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)– This refers to all our daily life movement that isn’t considered deliberate exercise such as cleaning, playing with our kids, etc.

Why am I going into all this detail?

Everybody’s Macronutrient Needs Will Differ

It’s important to understand that every body will differ in their energy needs and without a proper balance our energy systems can get out of whack. For example, restrictive dieting and chronic stress can both lower our RMR by up to 15% which can affect our body weight as well as our physiological function and cells’ function.

If our energy intake is too low, for example carbs or fat stores are in short supply, our body will turn to protein from our muscles and even other structures such as bone which means that our bodies won’t recover properly. Not good for athletes. On the flip side, if we have too much energy coming in and not enough going out, it can affect our body weight, hormone balance, mental health and more.

We definitely don’t want either of those things to happen.

Macronutrient Balance and Planning Are Key

That’s why a proper macronutrient balance, along with exercise is essential. As a general reference, refer to our post on portions, “Do I Need To Count Macros?” for more information on portion guidelines.

Take the time to plan out your meals for the days ahead and remember to pack enough snacks to ensure you have a good balance of macronutrients.

Sharing Best Practices

Tap into your inner chef today and help others get creative with their food choices to stay balanced.

What are some of your favorite recipes or go-to recipe websites to look for challenge-approved meal ideas?
Also, what are some of your favorite local restaurants in Monmouth County that have good alternatives?

Please share your response on our Facebook page.

If you have any questions about your individual macronutrient needs, set up a free 15-minute consultation to learn more about our one-on-one nutrition coaching.

More on our Salus Nutrition Health Coaching blog:

Nutrition Inquiry

Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Healthy breakfast ideas… they can be the Achilles heel of the modern day parent.

As a mom of twins, I know that mornings are crazy. Between dragging the kids out of bed and making sure they’re ready for school, it can be tempting to give breakfast the backseat and go for convenience over nutritious.

I get it. You don’t want to be repetitive with food items every morning, yet you have to be practical and keep things as easy as possible, too. But, the fact is: if you’re too busy to prepare and eat a nutritious breakfast, you’re simply too busy to be lean and healthy.

What about intermittent fasting? Sure, some individuals intentionally skip breakfast in effort to drop body fat, but it doesn’t seem to work in the long run.  Some studies show that those who skip breakfast are up to 5 times more likely to be obese than those who make their first meal of the day a nutritious, daily habit.

The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice nutrition for convenience.

It’s time to think outside of the donut box. Here are 15 healthy breakfast ideas to help you make your mornings a little less chaotic and a lot more nutritious.

sweet potatoes for breakfast

15 Healthy Breakfast Ideas

Try these healthy breakfast ideas (kid-approved) to keep variety and interest up.

  1. ★Sprouted grain toast, eggs over easy, avocado, cucumber,
  2. ★Egg Sandwich using Birch Benders Paleo pancake mix as your “bread”
  3. ★Sweet potato, scrambled egg whites, one whole egg, no-sugar bacon, avocado
  4. ★Stove top oatmeal with fresh fruit (mashed banana works wonders!), flax,fresh pumpkin seeds, or a few nuts (need more protein, mix in some of your favorite protein powder – just add extra water), and unsweetened nut milk
  5. ★”Noatmeal” made with eggs, nuts, raisins, bananas. Blend all together then cook stove top with coconut oil
  6. ★Lara bar, seasonal fruit
  7. ★Hard-boiled egg, avocado, banana
  8. ★Loaded egg white omelet with turkey sausage, spinach and fresh berries on the side
  9. ★Plain Greek yogurt parfait: layer plain organic yogurt, walnuts and fresh or frozen berries
  10. ★Birch Benders pancakes or waffles with heated fruit spread on top (blueberries & bananas work really well), side of egg whites. Birch Benders also has pumpkin flavored mix, for all you pumpkin fans.
  11. ★Sprouted grain toast, grass-fed butter or nut butter (no sugar added) spread
  12. ★Protein shake mixed with half frozen banana, unsweetened oat milk, and nut butter
  13. Steves PaleoKrunch with yogurt or unsweetened nut milk
  14. ★ Egg White Muffins (fill each muffin slot ½ – ¾ of the way with egg whites and add in your favorite healthy ingredients like spinach, peppers, onions, tomatoes, turkey sausage. Bake at 350 degrees until the edges are golden)
  15. ★Dinner leftovers (seriously!) Don’t be afraid of eating vegetables, or “dinner food” (like chicken and salad, or chili) for breakfast Try my Butternut Squash soup – it would make an amazing morning meal!

★or try your hand at your own cereal recipe!

Healthy Breakfast Ideas Made Easy

As a busy parent, I know it’s hard to resist the reliance on boxes and packaged goods. The key is to find the healthiest alternative and sneak in a few homemade options as well. Just start with one healthy breakfast idea to make from scratch, like Noatmeal or Butternut Squash soup. Try it on the weekend when you have a little more time and choose something that’s easy to prepare ahead. You’ll find that it’s easier than you think once you find some new favorites and get into the rhythm.

The key is to establish a routine that you can stick with

Try a New Healthy Breakfast Idea This Month

I challenge you to try something new this month. Have your child scroll through and choose the healthy breakfast ideas that sound good to try!

Jot down your favorites post it somewhere so everyone can see. Add new ideas every month or get creative and make new combinations!

Get kids involved with the cooking and have fun!

When Should You Choose Organic?

when to go organic

If You Choose Organic, Does That Mean It’s Healthy?

“Organic” always means “healthy,” right? Well, sometimes. Choose organic foods and you’ll avoid a lot of toxic chemicals, which is ideal… but think twice before you rely on the “organic” label just to justify that organic pastry or lollipop for your kids.when to go organic

What separates conventional farming from the organic way?

The National Organic Program, a regulatory program within the USDA has established national standards for organically grown foods. To earn the label of “organic” in the U.S., farmers must adhere to certain standards such as: submit to audits conducted by accredited certifying agents, give animals access to the outdoors, make use of crop rotation, mechanical tillage, hand-weeding and other management methods to control weed growth. They must NOT: treat animals with antibiotics, growth hormones, or feed made from animal byproducts, fertilize with sewage sludge, apply prohibited substances to their land for at least three years prior to harvest.

Simply stated, organic produce is grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones. “Organic” does not necessarily mean animals are humanely treated, free to roam pastures or grass-fed. And it is not synonymous with healthy, low-sugar or unprocessed food…but, that’s what marketers want you to believe. You know, so they can charge you more. Confused yet?

Be a smart consumer. Here is the organic label lingo to become aware of:

Organic Labels

Many people get caught up on trick labels like “healthy,” “fresh,” “natural.” It’s easy to get confused. Always check the ingredient list and the nutrition-facts panel to see what’s really in your product. If you can pronounce the ingredients, you won’t need a chemistry degree to decipher the label.

  • “100% organic”: This product must contain 100% organic ingredients.
  • “Organic”: This product must have at least 95% ingredients organically produced.
  • “Made with Organic ingredients”: This product must have at least 70% organic ingredients.

 

Choose Organic with the Dirty Dozen

Each year, the Environmental Working Group identifies the fruits and vegetables that contain the most—and least—chemical pesticides. They call them the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen.” The ”dirty dozen” list is a good place to start going organic.

  1. Strawberries (these are the worst offenders hording the most pesticide residues)
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes
  13. *Hot Peppers

NOTE: A small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from genetically modified seeds. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid genetically modified produce.

Even though it didn’t officially make the list (because it’s processed), the EWG also included a special report about raisins. EWG says that 99% of nearly 700 raisin samples tested positive for traces of at least two pesticides, and one sample had 26 different pesticides. “If we included raisins in our calculations, they would be number one on the Dirty Dozen,” said Thomas Galligan, Ph.D, a toxicologist for the EWG, in a press release. So, go organic with your raisins!

Clean 15

The Clean 15 list, on the other hand, includes produce that is least likely to be contaminated by pesticides. Almost 70% of these food samples had no pesticide residues whatsoever. You can typically go conventional with these fruits and vegetables.

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Onions
  5. Papayas
  6. Frozen Sweet Peas
  7. Eggplant
  8. Asparagus
  9. Cauliflower
  10. Cantaloupe
  11. Broccoli
  12. Mushrooms
  13. Cabbage
  14. Honeydew
  15. Kiwi

Keep in mind, organic foods can cost up to 50% more than conventional products, so do your research first and choose wisely.

Do Your Research

Is there a trick label that often confuses you? Take a moment to look it up, define it and share it.

But, I know, Google can be equally confusing. Here are a couple more reputable sources to consider for your own research:

 

More on our Salus Nutrition Coaching Blog:

5-Minute Meditation with Gina

guided meditation gina

Starting a New Fitness Journey

As a Yogi, Gina was already active, but she craved more. She actually started CrossFit as a way to connect with her family’s conversation at the dinner table. But, soon found she discovered she was competitive and even loved lifting weights, too!

Her progress was motivating. New deadlift PRs, first-time handstand push-ups…the list goes on!

Shifting Her Mindset with Nutrition Coaching

Soon after joining Salus, Gina began working with Coach Angela on her nutrition and continued to make an amazing transformation. Coming from WW, which uses a point-based system for weight loss, she shifted her mindset to a behavior-change approach for healthy living.

Her view on what and how she was eating changed and that gave her a new-found freedom over food. Her mind and body both responded positively.

Meet Gina:

Gina brings an amazing energy everywhere she goes, especially as a Reiki Master. Find out what Reiki is all about and how Gina uses this mindset in her everyday life.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. According to Mindful.org, “While mindfulness is innate, it can be cultivated through proven techniques, particularly seated, walking, standing, and moving meditation (it’s also possible lying down but often leads to sleep); short pauses we insert into everyday life; and merging meditation practice with other activities, such as yoga or sports.”

Try This Guided Meditation with Gina, Reiki Master

In this guided meditation, Gina offers an opportunity to bring awareness to our breath, settle the mind, and dedicate a few minutes to self-care.

We are honored to have her lead us through a 5-minute guided meditation. Please join us: