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:

Set Real Expectations

So, you’re motivated to make some changes and you’re willing to do anything you possibly can to achieve these goals. I would love nothing more! But, anytime you start a journey to make a lifestyle change, it can be tough. You can expect some bumps along the way which is why it’s important to set real expectations. For the long run.

Hey, I’m not perfect, you’re not perfect… and no one expects us to be. Because they’re not perfect either.

Set Real Expectations in the Face of Challenges

Sustainable change is all about learning how to set real expectations in the face of life’s challenges. If there’s one thing you can expect in life, it’s that things will always come up: parties, birthdays, anniversaries, life-altering events, stress, work, travel, sickness…COVID-19. Challenges will always be there whether we like it or not.

Don’t run from challenges. Anticipate them.

Challenges are part of life and unique opportunities for learning more about ourselves.

Research shows that while our behaviors may seem “spur-of-the-moment,” when it comes to over-eating, for example, the groundwork is laid several hours, days, months…years, in advance by our daily rituals, habits, mindset and automatic thinking. Your actions in the face of a challenge are simply the last link in a long chain of decisions.

The goal of today is all about recognizing your actions in the face of a challenge:

  • What is the root cause of those actions?
  • How can you learn from those events?
  • … and most importantly, How can you move forward?

According to James P. Leahy, author of Bridging the Expectation Gap: The Key to Happiness, unrealistic expectations create an expectation gap which leads to unhappiness and feelings of failure.

If you’re in this for instant gratification, don’t expect your changes to last. On the other hand, if you’re in this to embrace life-long, healthy habits that you can learn from, you can expect some amazing things to happen now, next month and even more the following year at your annual physical. That’s why if you make a mistake, it’s important to be nice to yourself.

Don’t let one mistake derail an entire day or a whole week.

Set Yourself Up For Success with Real Expectations

Expectations have an enormous effect on our outcome, energy, drive.

In fact, multiple studies show that the way we manage our expectations can heavily influence our ability to experience happiness in life, work and even health outcomes.

When life gets crazy and you end up making a mistake, the one thing that you can control is how you RESPOND in that moment. Remember, you are in charge of your own actions, choices and reactions, regardless of any circumstance.

Letting emotions control you is the easy way out. It’s easier to do (or say) things in the heat of the moment… that you may regret down the line.

But, it takes internal strength to pause, breathe, and make a sound decision by staying calm under pressure. And that starts with setting realistic expectations for yourself in the face of a challenge. 

“When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ~Viktor Frankl

Rather than focusing on perfection, anticipate challenges to occur and then pour all of your energy into simply committing to doing your very best every day with the hand you are dealt.

Common Mistakes and Their Fixes

Here are a few common mistakes many people struggle with and their common “fix.”

The Mistake:

You deter from your normal way of eating and indulge in something outside of the norm, feel guilty and then proceed to eat everything in sight.

The Fix:

Remind yourself that slipping up a little is not the same as slipping up a lot. Own up to your choices and move forward.

The Mistake:

Eating portion sizes like a 5 year old during the day and then binging at night.

The Fix:

Of course you feel ravenous. ⁣
Of course you feel hangry.⁣
Of course you feel out of control.⁣

Your body is trying to do everything it can to signal to you that it needs to fuel itself.⁣ Instead, by eating balanced meals full of animal protein, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds throughout the day– you will reap the benefits of feeling satiated, full of energy, sleeping sound & through the night, and saying ‘goodbye’ to feeling ravenous late at night.⁣

The Mistake:

Waiting until 9pm to realize you still have 1,000 mL of water to drink.

The Fix:

Plan. Ahead. Do the math based on how much water you need and spread it out throughout your day. Rubber bands on water bottles, water app, giant jug…whatever set up works best for you, embrace it and just be ok with the fact that you’re going to probably be going to the bathroom a lot more than you were before. Just don’t let it interrupt your sleep by waiting until night to chug a liter.

Set Real World Expectations

For the next few weeks, focus on making deliberate choices that reflect reality.

There is so much outside of our control.

Focus on what you can actually control and let go of the things you can’t. Set real expectations for yourself, expect challenges to be there and use them to grow stronger.

Ask yourself these two questions:

What’s one thing that I can expect to get in the way of achieving my goals?

And what can I do today to help me keep going when I face that specific obstacle?

To learn more about making important improvements to your nutrition and exercise program, give us a shout at info@crossfitsalus.com.

 

Sleeping Tips for Athletes

Most of us know how important sleep is for our health. But do you know how important it really is for our digestion, thinking, performance…even body composition…oh yea, and our sanity? But we get it, even if you read all the sleeping tips in the world, the moment your head hits the pillow, you just can’t seem to fall asleep. You’re not alone.

Find out why getting your Zzz’s is so important, especially as an athlete, and some quick and easy sleeping tips to help you fall asleep…and stay asleep.

Sleep, Your Most Powerful (and Legal) Performance Enhancer

If your nutrition and training are on point, but you still don’t perform or look the way you want, poor sleep habits may be to blame. You better believe it, sleep is the most powerful recovery aid out there. And it’s legal.

In fact, research even shows that physical and mental impairments caused by one night of bad sleep can dwarf those caused by an equivalent absence of food or exercise. And those who sleep less than 6 hours per night (or, surprisingly, more than 9 hours) gain almost twice as much weight over a 6-year period as those who sleep 7 to 8 hours per night.

Not surprisingly, more than ⅓ of adults get fewer than the amount of sleep they need to keep their risk of health problems in check. So, what’s that magical baseline number?

Adults need 7 hours of sleep a night- minimum. You need more if you’re training hard in the gym or sick.

Sleep and Body Composition

There’s no question that a lack of sleep causes havoc in your body. When you’re more rested, you’ll be more successful if your goal is to stay lean and recover better so you can perform stronger.

Here’s how.

Research shows that sleep deprivation can create insulin resistance and reduce insulin sensitivity in subcutaneous fat cells, which play a key role in energy metabolism and balance.

Poor sleep habits drain our energy (and our mojo) and screw up the regulation of our hormones. It’s no coincidence that we’re hungrier when we’re tired. That’s because those hunger-regulating hormones that tell us to eat more, go up (ghrelin) and the precious ones that tell us when we’ve had enough, go down (leptin).

A lack of sleep also alters the activity of our hypothalamus, resulting in increased cortisol. Higher cortisol levels have been shown to increase appetite in some people, and can even increase fat storage.

In other words, develop good sleep habits to help your body and mind recover. In turn, it will help us in our efforts to stay lean, perform stronger, stay happy, focus longer and stay healthy.

Sleeping Tips that Work

The good news is that research shows that returning to adequate sleep (7+ hours) can quickly reduce any of the above risks.
So how do we go about getting that performance-enhancing, mojo-regenerating, energy-filling shut-eye?

Try one of these quick sleeping tips tonight!

1. Create Your Own Sleep Routine

We need time to transition from the day to the night. Create environmental cues to help you wind down and de-stress at night. Sip herbal tea, stretch or roll, take a bath, read, meditate, sit outside… you get the idea.

2. Be Consistent with Your Sleep Schedule

Whenever possible, aim to go to bed and wake up around the same time every day/night. I know that’s tough for those with a strong social-game, but the more consistent you are, the more your body will naturally release those calming hormones before your head hits the pillow making that whole falling-asleep process much easier. Plus, a schedule helps to stimulate those necessary hormones that help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to attack the day.

3. Moderate Caffeine and Alcohol Intake

Even though a nightcap may sound relaxing, consuming more than 1-2 drinks at night will interfere with deep, restorative sleep. Same goes for caffeine after 2 p.m.

4. Eat Properly

Eating too large of a meal right before you hit the sack can interfere your ability to fall and stay asleep. Your best bet? Eat a balance of protein, carbs and fats and walk away from your plate feeling satisfied, not stuffed, at dinner. Oh, and steer clear of those heavy late night mindless snacks.

5. Stop Bugging Out

We’ve all been there, your brain is wired and running through all the unchecked to-do’s on your list. The more you think about the fact that you cannot fall asleep, the more you lay there staring at the clock. Instead, grab a paper or create a voice-to-text note to write out whatever’s bugging you out. Dump whatever’s on your mind so you can finally relax.

6. Turn Off Electronics

Your phone, your computer, your TV: turn them off at least 30 minutes before bedtime. The light from a digital device stimulates our brain and interferes with melatonin production making it harder for us to fall asleep and, you guessed it, stay asleep.

7. Set a Bedtime Alarm

Seriously, set yourself an alarm to turn off your devices and start unwinding. Then, set another reminder alarm to head to bed. This will help to snap you out of whatever social channel you’re scrolling through and put the focus back on you, your pillow, and your health.

8. Make the Room Dark and Cool

A dark room will help you to maximize melatonin production. So close the blinds, unplug the hallway night light and flip your smartphone screen face down. Additionally, research shows that most of us sleep better when it’s cool (about 67 F). Set the thermostat to automatically drop a few degrees after bedtime.

Bottom Line

It’s time to get real about the health risks of poor sleep.

Give one of the above sleeping tips a try tonight and start working your way to those 7+ hours of sleep.  When you do, you’ll find that you can ward off stress easier, keep illnesses away, maximize performance & recovery and keep your mojo alive, too!

How do you wind down after a busy day? What’s your favorite pre-sleep hack?

Check out our series on sleep for more information:

Want more health and fitness tips? Check out our recent posts:

Do I Need to Count Macros?
Choosing a Jump Rope
Looking for Natural Remedies for Cold and Flu Season?
Importance of Staying Hydrated
Bar Muscle-Up Progressions
Olympic Weightlifting in NJ: Some Basics
Is Sugar Bad?
Mobility for CrossFit: Why You Need to Do It
What to Expect During Your First CrossFit Class

Changing Habits

 

Changing Habits With Success

Changing habits, like changing a training program, comes with a natural ebb and flow. One day you’re making tremendous progress and the next day you feel like you’ve regressed. It’s an normal (and important) part of the process.

It’s normal, but it’s not easy.

I get it, finding a steady rhythm of consistency to change your habits and food choices can be challenging. But thankfully there are a couple proven ways that you can set yourself up for success: choosing your battles and staying focused on your goals in as many ways possible!

Changing Habits Against the Odds

Working on changing your habits?

Here are 2 quick tips to help you navigate the lows and come out on top.

1. Choose your battles.

You don’t always have to fight the lows.
Be smart and instead, change the timing of your highs.
For example, it’s 10:00 pm and you still have an hour of work to do (and mobility…and have to get up early for your kid’s soccer game). You sink into the couch, open your laptop and the eyelids start to flutter immediately. Your first instinct may be to fight through the fatigue with less than stellar focus, nodding your head a few times before giving in to the pillow… But this time, try a new approach. Close the laptop, hit your 10 minutes of mobility then go to bed so you get your 7 hours (or even 6) of quality sleep. Set your alarm 20-30 minutes earlier and knock out that work you had to do with a fresh mind.

2. Write down your goals, post them close by and remind yourself of them often.

Keep them eye level at your desk reminding you to drink water, on your mirror reminding you to attack your goals, on the refrigerator reminding you to eat more greens or even on the TV to remind you to stretch.
Because, that exact moment you’re on a downward trend, that little post-it written in your own handwriting will remind yourself of those important goals and help you keep plugging away. And during those awesome moments when you’re on the upward trend, having your goals front-of-mind will help to channel your energy in the right direction.
Success!

Changing Habits is Tough – We’re only human after all.

Some days you’ll be able to make it to the box on time, smash out a productive day of work, cook a clean meal, fit in the time for your family and get to bed on time.
Other days, your day feels like it drags on forever and the only thing you can imagine doing is watching Netflix.

Like everything else in life, goals come with its ups and downs. You can’t escape them. But you can learn how to navigate through.

Ask Yourself

What has been the most significant change you’ve made toward your goals recently and what can you to to increase your confidence that you’ll be able to carry them over with you through life?

Making those connections is key to your long-term success. Good luck working on your goals! Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions along the way.

More on our Salus Nutrition Coaching Blog:

Strive for Progress Not Perfection

I challenge you to strive for progress not perfection.

Focus on making an improvement, growing, learning, understanding more about your body, but allow room for imperfection. Just a little wiggle room.

In other words, set the bar high, but be nice to YOU.

Salus Nutrition is about building a new awareness of how certain habits can directly impact your energy, mood, performance, sleep and more. I also want to help you improve your relationship with food and get you working towards the body and mind you’ve always wanted – all while connecting and engaging with the people and activities that make you most happy!

Sure, every day will be filled with obstacles and lots of learning about your own body, but you don’t need to go through it alone. Head to our private Facebook Page – and join the conversation!

Holistic Change

It’s about creating new holistic habits, so in order to make a real sustainable change we need to dig a little deeper than the food we put on our plate. The following questions will help guide you through this challenge. I encourage you to write the answers down in a journal, and consider talking about them with a friend to help you stay accountable. What you choose to do with your answers is up to you!

I realize some of the “mindfulness” parts of this program may make you feel a little uncomfortable. Remember that at the beginning of every great change is a bit of discomfort. I challenge you to test the boundaries of your comfort zone.

You will start to learn more about yourself than ever before which will directly contribute to your success.

Where are you now? What does 3 months from now look like?

Day 1 is all about defining your journey and setting an intention for yourself.

Ask yourself these 5 questions, and let’s get started. Find a quiet place (if you’re a parent, I suggest locking yourself in the bathroom – just kidding – or am I LOL), bring your pen, journal or if you prefer…voice to text. And come with an open mind.

  1. What is my “why”? Write down the key motivating factors for starting your journey.
  2. What are my main priorities coming out of this challenge? Where do I want to be?
  3. Does my current lifestyle reflect and support my main motivations, purpose, and priorities? If not, start this journey with a commitment to change that, now!
  4. What does the end of this challenge look like and feel like? Be as descriptive as possible and include things like the activities you will be doing, the outfits you will wear, the emotions you will feel, the energy levels you will have, the people that will be around you.
  5. What are 3 things I will adhere to on this journey that are not negotiable. For example:
    “I will sleep a minimum of 7 hours a day.” or  “I will eat a balanced-out portion breakfast every day.”
    Post this list somewhere that you can view it every day.

Progress Not Perfection

Before you begin this journey to a happier and healthier you I want you to keep this one thing in mind – strive for progress not perfection.

Remember that this is a journey of self-improvement and it does not define you. If you finish the day with less than perfect points, guess what? You’re human. If you made one improvement in your lifestyle today, that’s a WIN! Celebrate that and strive to make one more change tomorrow.

Remember, when you act from a place of “progress” (one improvement – one step at a time), you will be much more likely to succeed in the long run (after the challenge is over…that’s the point of this, right?).

Any questions? Shoot them my way. I’m always happy to help…seriously. Don’t hesitate! Email me at info@salusnj.com

Let’s get this party started!

Endocrine Disruptors: What Are They? How Do I Avoid Them?

So, you’re drinking all your water, awesome! But now it’s time to step it up a notch and ditch the plastic bottles…and the endocrine disruptors that come along with them.

What Are Endocrine Disruptors?

Endocrine disruptors can be natural or man-made substances that interfere with our body’s endocrine system (hormone and cell signaling) and can lead to harmful developmental, neurological, immune and reproductive effects.

Maybe you’ve heard about BPA? It’s known to disrupt hormones and can mimic the effect of estrogen in the body, leading to hormone imbalances. BPA has been linked to insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, asthma, cardiovascular disease, liver damage, ADHD, infertility (for men and women) and altered gene expression

But, guess what? BPA-free doesn’t mean you’re safe from the health hazards of plastic.

A study published in Environmental Health indicates that almost all plastics, including BPA- and phthalate-free products, release chemicals with estrogenic activity. Bisphenol S (BPS) and triphenyl phosphate (TPP) are two chemicals often found in BPA-free products. Items containing these chemicals have been marketed as “safe” alternatives to BPA-containing plastics, but it turns out that BPS has endocrine-disrupting effects that are very similar to BPA, and TPP is even more estrogenic than BPA.

What Endocrine Disruptors Do?

Our endocrine system consists of glands that release hormones. Once released, those hormones act like chemical messenger that travel throughout our body, bind to target receptors on certain cells and cause predictable cellular change.

Endocrine disruptors mimic our naturally occurring hormones and end up binding to receptors which in turn changes our hormone creation, transport, binding and breakdown. They’re very stable which means they don’t break down easily (why manufacturers use them in products) and also means they stick around in our bodies for a long time.

When our hormonal systems are altered, it can lead to disrupted metabolism, immune function, bone health & mental status, altered testicular function & conversion of cholesterol to steroid hormones, oxidative stress, promotion of obesity and more.

Where are endocrine disruptors found?

We’re exposed to a cocktail of endocrine disruptors every day and probably don’t even know it.

They’re found in our plastic bottles, probably in your carpet and most likely in your drug store beauty care products. They’re even food packaging, shower curtains, cleaning products, children’s toys, canned food and of course water bottles (even BPA-free). That’s right, we’re constantly being bombarded with hormonal manipulators. They’re everywhere.

In fact, the CDC has found over 92% of people tested, including newborns, have detectable levels of BPA and other plastic chemicals in their bodies.

Yikes!

The good news? We can control most of our exposure.

Tips to Avoid Endocrine Disruptors

Research finds that BPA, phthalates and other plastics have harmful effects at both high and very low doses. Given the above evidence, I recommend trying to avoid all kinds of plastic, even ones labeled as BPA-free.

  • Use glass and stainless steel whenever possible for drinking, cooking, eating and storing food.
  • Never reheat your food in plastic containers or wash them in the dishwasher. Use glass.
  • Don’t cook with plastic utensils. Instead opt for bamboo or wood.
  • Use parchment paper or a lid from a pot to cover your food instead of plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
  • Watch what you eat (avoid canned foods and choose organic when possible).
  • Cook with cast iron instead of nonstick pans which can also hide endocrine disruptors.
  • Use a stainless steel thermos to pack your kids lunches instead of plastic baggies.
  • Don’t forget to say “no, thank you” to your receipt, as these have BPA coating as well.
  • Take a look at your (and your kids) cosmetic and personal care products (sunscreens, lotions, make up, soap, etc). Avoid those that contain phthalates in the ingredients and find natural replacements.
  • Choose wood or fabric toys for children instead of plastic.
  • Swap out those plastic water bottles and shaker bottles for an insulated stainless steel or glass (just make sure you keep the lid clean from mold).

Choosing what we put into and on our bodies can have an enormous impact on our health.

What steps do you currently take to avoid plastic? Are there some things you have difficulty finding alternatives for?

Take action, today… and every day.

Consider going plastic-free on your next water bottle purchase. But, remember: No matter what nutritional or lifestyle changes you’re here to make, you have to get better at making a change in the first place if you want those changes to stick.

One realistic step at a time. 

More on our Salus Nutrition Health Coaching Blog:

Got Pain? Leaky Gut Might Be To Blame.

Today we take a look into the connection between joint pain and leaky gut.

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

Our gut.

joint pain leaky gut

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.

Hippocrates was right when he said, “All disease begins in the gut.”

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, pretty much your typical Standard American Diet SAD diet), sleep deprivation, bacterial imbalance, aging and could even be a genetic predisposition.

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

So, 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

Remove. Replace. Restore.
How do I repair a leaky gut?

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

Journey to a Healthier 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. So, channel your inner Dalai Lama, get enough sleep and restore your gut with a long term clean eating plan.

P.S. If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the information above, don’t hesitate to reach out and set up a free 15-minute consultation to learn more about our one-on-one nutrition health coaching.

More on our Foundation Nutrition Health Coaching Blog:

Eating Out and Staying In Control

Eating Out and Staying In Control

Once you’ve made the decision to eat clean, dining out can be a minefield, and can often stir up some anxiety. In attempt to help you from freaking out when you’re eating out, I’ve outlined some simple tips below. Try it at your next business lunch, family celebration or date night.

Ready? Let’s Order.

eating outEating Out: Navigating Restaurant Emotions

First, accept that you just might be considered “that person.” You know, that one who asks all the questions about the menu, make some substitutions and still might have to send something back.
Yup, that might be you.
If you’ve made a commitment to make smarter choices about what you’re eating, you need to do some due diligence. So, instead of sitting back and feeling self-conscious about your new lifestyle, own that shit.
Hopefully you’ve already had the conversation with those you’re dining with, but if you haven’t, let them ask you some questions and answer in a positive light (saying things like “I choose to have xyz” rather than, “I can’t have xyz”).

Also, instead of judging what they choose to order, lead by example.
So, before you start listing off your questions and substitutions, let your server know that you have a few special requests but you’re willing to wait patiently for the changes and that you really appreciate their help. The more they feel your appreciation, the more they’ll show you the same courtesy.

Do Your Research Before You Go

If you know where you’re going ahead of time, do your homework about the menu. Browse through their online menu and take note of any table-temptations (like warm bread or chips and salsa) so you can be mentally prepared. These temptations can also be avoided by my eating something little before you go so you’re not hangry while you’re waiting for your food.

If you have more time, call the restaurant and ask about the oils they use for cooking. This can help you decide which meals have the red light. If you’re on a roll and have their attention, why not ask about how their ingredients are sourced. Do they use a local farmer or a distributor? What about their meats – are they organic or conventionally farmed? If you’re headed to a restaurant that features local or organic, they’re going to be more than happy to share that information with you.

Once you pick a few items on the menu that look promising, take a look at their nutritional value. My Fitness Pal has a decent database to help you navigate eating out. You can either choose by GPS location or search the restaurant name.

Pick Your Protein First

When you find a grass-fed burger or organic, free-range chicken, it’s time to celebrate and bookmark that restaurant as a favorite. But, when you’re eating out, you’re going to find that most restaurants use conventionally-sourced (factory-farmed) meat. In that case, use this as a guide to help you navigate your choices.

  • Your best bet is to choose steamed or grilled fish or lean cuts of red meat (think: sirloin steak). Aim for as lean as possible to avoid fat-stored toxins consumed by factory-farmed animals.
  • Your next best choice is going to be grilled chicken without the skin or a no-bun-burger or even eggs (depending on the oil used). Often, you’ll have no choice but to be at the mercy of vegetable oils. Even high-end restaurants cook with it. Learn to navigate smarter options that require no oil (or less of it), and you’ll set yourself up for success.
  • Finally, the avoid at all costs protein choice when eating out: factory-farmed pork in any form (this includes bacon, sausage, hot dogs), anything skin-on, fried or swimming in sauce.

Be Meticulous

Don’t be embarrassed to take an extra few minutes to read over the menu, if you didn’t have a chance to do it beforehand. Ask questions about the cooking methods before you choose your meal.

  • When possible choose grilled or steamed foods. These will be your safest choice.
  • Sauteed dishes are cooked in fat (and most restaurants cook their vegetables this way). Ask for them to be steamed and served undressed.
  • Roasted might sound like a good choice, they’re just cooked in an oven, right? Wrong. These dishes are usually blasted with fat (not the good kind) to keep them from drying out.
  • Fried. No chance. Moving on….

Relax

foundation nutrition progress not perfectionProgress, not perfection. That’s our mantra right now.
Do what you can to make the smartest choice and keep your meal compliant. And, even if you can’t control the menu, you can control your portions. Use your hand a guide to help you from going overboard.

Then, it’s time to relax and enjoy your company. Remember to also show your appreciation with a tip for your server, too.

Ask Yourself

Last week we tried to make our favorite foods/drink fit within portion control guidelines. If you did, how did that go?

Eating out doesn’t have to be stressful, but it takes a little more work.

How will you be using any of these tips the next time you’re eating out?

Please share your response on our Facebook page.

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

More on our Foundation Nutrition Health Coaching Blog:

Personal Improvement

Setting Personal Improvement Goals

So, you’ve set some personal improvement goals outside of work. You’re most likely learning a lot about what is most important to you, managing your time a little better and creating new habits for lasting change. How do you keep that momentum going strong in the face of ups and downs?

It’s true, goals take patience and persistence, but without them we tend to get caught up in the inessentials and give our precious time and energy to activities, that in reality, don’t necessarily further our long-term growth. Personal improvement goals not only keep you motivated, but they help you grow in other areas of your life as well making a positive impact on stress, strengthening social relationships and improving health, too.

Here’s how to keep personal improvement goals a part of your life long after the initial excitement fades out.

Setting Personal Improvement GoalsSetting Personal Improvement Goals… for Life

Line Up Personal Improvement Goals With Values

Personal improvement means different things to different people but can encompass anything from spirituality to charitable work to expanding your knowledge.

We all have a set a values which are a vital part of who we are. For some, helping people is something they strongly value, for others it may be that solving problems makes them feel alive. Whatever it is that you value in life, it’s important that your goals are aligned. This will also help you to identify anything that’s holding you back along the way.

Prioritize Health

Taking care of your health (nutrition, exercise, sleep, rest and recovery, etc) can make a huge impact on your energy and the success of your personal improvement goals. If health is compromised, for example, you’re sleep deprived, stressed or hangry, it’s far more difficult to focus on anything else.

Surround Yourself with Support

Everything is easier when you have a friend or family to help you along the way. Lean on the momentum of a supportive influencer who can cheer you on when you experience a win and help you stand up when you fall. Tell them about your goals so they can help you stay accountable. And remember to be this kind of person for others, too.

Setting Personal Improvement GoalsKeep Pursuing Goals

Self improvement takes focus, time and energy, especially if you experience ups and downs along the way (which you probably will). Remind yourself to take small, solid steps and that slip-ups are just a part of the process. Learn from them.

Whether your goals are to learn a new language, take time to read daily, go for a bike ride in the woods or simply spend a few moments of time alone to clear your mind, here are a few other apps to help you stay on track with your goals: HabitBull, Time Planner, Strides, Habit Streak, and even Google.

Ask Yourself

What goals personal improvement goals are you currently working towards and what do you intend to pursue next?

“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.” -Tony Robbins

More on our Foundation Nutrition Health Coaching Blog:

Taking Control of Cravings and Temptation

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

So, you’re planning the weekend festivities. What better way to celebrate than with friends, food and drinks? Right?

Ahh, come one…that’s not fair. Don’t tempt me. I can’t possibly do that. Can I?

Guess what?
This post is not your typical advice about fighting off cravings. Taking Control of Cravings and Temptation
Sure, mindful eating, drinking more water, decreasing stress and avoiding the notorious feeling of being hangry will all help your normal day-to-day cravings like that unplanned decision to grab candy from the office break room.

Whether you just want to kick up your feet and relax with a glass of wine next 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 Angie gone crazy in the head?

Nope.
What I’m talking about here is learning how to plan ahead for temptation and cravings. Events, parties, celebrations, etc., they will always be there. Learn how to navigate through them rather than avoid them. The right way.

Here’s the deal. You need to be strategic about it.
Choose your guilty pleasure ahead of time- a drink, some ice cream, chips and guacamole…whatever it is for you, it’s all about planning ahead and staying in control, guilt-free.

Mind blown.

Look at this kind of like a test. A lot of the feedback I heard from the last challenge was people feeling uneasy, even scared, as they were “entering back into the real world” after the challenge.

My 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.

Taking Control of Cravings and Temptation
This post is not your typical advice about fighting off cravings.

Take Control of Cravings For Good

Whether you decide to implement these tips next weekend or at the end of the 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.

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 choice 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.

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?

Fight off 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 Foundation Nutrition Health Coaching Blog: