Tag Archives: get healthy

Changing your diet starts with changing your mind… and then your kitchen

change the way you think to change the way you eat

Changing your diet comes down to some really practical things. And if you can break it down and look at it as a series of small changes, it becomes much less daunting.

I love these seven strategies that Dr. Mark Hyman suggests for revolutionizing your eating habits. And I think the number one item is especially smart:

1. Change your mind about cooking. When you view cooking as an act of love that you share with your family, you strengthen bonds, teach important life-extending skills to your children, and enrich and nourish your bodies and your souls.

How would it change your kitchen if you saw preparing food as an awesome privilege?

This has certainly been the case for me! I used to view cooking dinner as drudgery; now I see it as a creative outlet, and a way to thank my husband for working hard all day! And to bless any friends or family who might be joining us.

(Yes, I work too, but I have more freedom in my schedule than he does, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. Creating a healthy, enjoyable meal is one of the ways I show that gratitude. When he retires, there will be more sharing of the load!)

2. Keep staples nearby. …3. Choose frozen. While fresh foods in the produce aisles are ideal, frozen berries, vegetables, and other foods make longer-lasting alternatives. You can stock up and have [them] on hand in your kitchen for healthy, easy meals when you can’t get to the market or these items are out of season.

Some items I try to always have stocked in my kitchen: a bag of onions, fresh spinach and/or romaine, carrots, celery, cooked/diced sweet potato, tuna, one or more kinds of already-cooked meat, eggs, avocado (or Wholly Guacamole singles), and coconut milk. In the freezer: more meat (cooked or not), mahi mahi, shrimp, frozen berries and/or cherries, green beans and other veggies. More detail in my how I stock my kitchen post.

4. Reclaim your kitchen. Establish your kitchen as the ground-zero family meeting place and establish it exclusively for cooking and socializing.

clear off the kitchen table!

This one challenges me! I think we (me and the hubs) need to kick the laptops out of our kitchen. The clutter we accumulate nearby quickly takes over. (True confession: I tidied up a bit before taking the above picture of my end of the kitchen table!)

5. Re-evaluate your time. Time is the biggest excuse why many of my patients don’t cook. Keep a journal for one week to monitor your time. You might be surprised at how you spend your time.

I highly recommend this! I think most of us would find ourselves much happier and healthier if we gave up a few rounds of Candy Crush or a couple hours of TV or internet or “retail therapy” on the weekend to spend a little more time planning and prepping meals for the week.

6. Make mistakes. If you’re new to cooking or your skills have gotten rusty, don’t aim for perfection with your first recipe—aim for experimenting and practicing. Start with… basic recipes with few ingredients and work your way up to something more complex.

Yes, yes, yes! Just try stuff! Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t come out great. Learn and move ahead!

7. Get everyone involved. Enlist help from family members—drag your kids away from their video games and ask them to measure ingredients, pull food from the fridge, or even chop veggies if they’re ready to take on this task. Decide on meals together to get everyone excited about what’s in store.

Again — Amen! If you don’t have kids, make it time with your spouse, friend, or sister. Or, if you’re an introvert, choose your favorite music, crank it up, and relish the alone time!

If you do have kids, and if having all the kids in the kitchen at once is a sure recipe for chaos and bickering, take one kid at a time and make it a special one-on-one time for the two of you. Let them choose the music. Infect them with a love for preparing good, healthy food! (Spoken from one who wishes she’d done it this way early on. Oh well, maybe with grandkids.)

Start kids (or yourself) off with something fun and easy, like cookies (they could be Paleo! like these coconut cookies), and work your way up to healthier, more complex stuff. My daughter’s love for cooking began early — mostly in her grandma’s kitchen!

changing your diet starts in the kitchen!

 

By the time she was twelve, she was able to make chicken noodle soup from scratch, all by herself. Ten (fast!) years later, she’s now married and easily handles the day-to-day cooking. (I’m so proud of you, Sweetie!)

So don’t make changing your diet overly complicated. Start with learning a little more about prepping and cooking food, with simple dishes, and with changing your mind about creating meals!

(One way to learn? Follow me on Instagram. I often shoot a quick pic of my easiest meals and post them there with brief notes about what went into them. @janalovesrealfood )

“Changing your mind” typography by dudebeawsome on Instagram

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Ready to cut refined sugar and/or grains out of your diet –

but still want to enjoy sweets?

Check out my cookbook…

 sugar-free dessert cookbook now available

Spiritual lessons from physical training

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Some lessons I’ve learned while working out….

First of all, you need to understand what a victory it is for me that I’ve been consistently exercising for three months now! I loved activity as a kid — running fast and climbing trees were two of my favorite things — but junior high PE class changed all that. (I’ve tried three times to start writing why, but there are so many reasons, it would take this post off-topic. So let’s just move on….) For decades, doing any kind of exercise has been something I don’t like and struggle to stay at it. Mostly, I don’t. Or didn’t.

Three months ago I finally admitted that I lacked the self-discipline to keep up with exercise on my own, and I started working with a personal trainer. The progress I’ve made in that time amazes me! And while I’m loving that clothes shopping is kinda fun again, the bigger victories for me have been in my thinking, and in my spirit.

This is not me! But this is how I feel sometimes when I’m working out.

Here are a few lessons I’m learning, that cross over from physical to spiritual:

1. When moving forward becomes painful, I want to give up. (Especially if we’re talking running.) But if I persevere through the pain, it goes away and then I feel better than I did before I started! And I’m more able to tackle that distance, or that move, or that weight again.

2. Growth requires ignoring the old tapes in my head. Voices that have been there a long time say, “You’ve always failed at this; this time will be no different,” and “You look stupid when you do this.” Whether that’s feeling like a spaz (note: junior high word!) when I’m trying to do a new move, or being afraid people will think I’m weird when I talk about God, those old tapes need to be erased, and I need to put a new message in their place! “With God’s help, I can do new stuff — and get better at it!”

Behold, I am doing a new thing...

3. This was new news to me: To make a muscle get stronger, you need to push it to the point of failure. When you’ve lifted a weight that you’re able to move at first, but then with repetition gets to a point where the muscle just plain gives out, that sends a message to your body: Hey, we need more strength here; send reinforcements! Likewise, don’t be surprised or discouraged when your faith “fails;” this is the point where God’s strength comes to build us up — IF you’ll I’ll lay down your my pride long enough to let Him!

My grace is sufficient...

4. When you’re trying something new and hard, the trainer is there to suggest new tactics when you run up against a difficulty, to spot you if you do start to drop something (my trainer taught me this one), and to encourage you when the going gets tough. Pastor/teacher Chip Ingram talks about how, in the spiritual realm, we often feel like we just need to try harder, when what we really need to do is to train better. The training leads to improvement. And training works best with help! (See a bit of his teaching on this here, and here.) Likewise, God is your partner in your spiritual growth: He can send you new tactics or encouragement, and He’ll always be there to catch you when you fall. But He also sends others to help coach and encourage you along the way. Make use of them!

5. There will be sweat! That’s okay! Maybe you’ve seen a jock type wearing a t-shirt that says, “Sweat is weakness leaving the body!” Likewise, there may be tears as your faith is stretched. But maybe tears are just spiritual sweat?!  🙂

photo credit: Marco Crupi Visual Artist via photopin cc

Sugar in food: sneaky and surprising

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Having been diagnosed at a young age with reactive hypoglycemia, I’ve long been aware of the fact that modern food products hide alarming amounts of sugar, and conceal sugar in foods you’d never think contain it.

Like in food labeled as “Sugar Free”:

Or ketchup:

Britain’s FSA (Food Service Authority) defines high-sugar content as being 10%. Heinz Tomato Ketchup contains 23.5%. (British info source. Percentage from Heinz U.S. website.)

The following facts are just a taste (sorry!) of what investigative reporter Michael Moss uncovered in his book Salt, Sugar, Fat, about America’s food industry. (Via buzzfeed. More fun facts there!)

The American Heart Association’s recommendation for women’s sugar intake is just five teaspoons a day. That’s half a can of Coke. Or one and a half Fig Newtons.

Another source puts it like this: The American Heart Association recommends that women eat no more than  six teaspoons of added sugars per day or nine teaspoons for men. But, one 20-ounce bottle of soda contains about 16 teaspoons of sugars from high-fructose corn syrup. In other words…

(By the way, Coca-Cola executives refer to consumers who drink more than two or three cans a day as “heavy users.”)

And as I said before, sugar is hiding in unexpected places. There’s as much sugar in 1/2 cup of Prego tomato sauce as there is in three Oreos.

This fact alone (reported in Moss’s book) is particularly telling…

Some packaged food executives don’t actually eat the products their companies make.

John Ruff from Kraft gave up sweet drinks and fatty snacks. Bob Lin from Frito-Lay avoids potato chips. Howard Moskowitz, a soft drink engineer, doesn’t drink soda.

Go thou and do likewise.

Kicking the sugar habit? Here’s the most important thing to know.

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Kicking the sugar habit - sugar monster, or sugar dragon

Sugar really can be quite addicting.  Dr Eric Stice has famously said, “Sugar activates the brain similar to the way cocaine reacts”. I think that those who call it “toxic” are going overboard, though. As Dr. David L. Katz says, “the dose makes the poison.” And Americans are definitely over-dosing. On average, American adults eat about 100 pounds of sugar a year. (Source.)

(Click these links for some stunning graphics showing how much sugar and corn syrup the average American consumes in a day, week, month, year and lifetime. Care for a dip in a hot-tub full of corn syrup, anyone?)

I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia in high school, so I was trained early on to stay away from or at least go easy on sugar, but later in life, I got a little sloppy with it. Eventually, between my weight gain, migraines, and moods, I finally realized that I needed to get back to that super-cautious approach to sugar.

Here’s a short video by “Mama Natural” with some tips for kicking the white stuff:

I especially want to note this point that she mentions in passing:

Eating sugar creates craving for more sugar.

Understanding this made a big difference for me. Before I realized this, I might indulge in some sweets a few times a week because, hey, a little now and then isn’t that bigga deal, right? But the sweet itself isn’t the only cost: it can kick off bigger cravings one or two hours later, and depending on your vulnerability, those cravings might last for days. As I’ve made clear before, I do believe in the occasional indulgence for very special occasions. But when I do, I know I’ve got to get back on the no-sugar horse the very next day and tough out the cravings until they subside.

The great thing is, the reverse is also true. The more you stay off of sugar and other white carbs, the more your cravings will subside. The first week or two is gonna be tough, but after that it gets lots, lots easier. If you are physically addicted to sugar, you may need to do a slower withdrawal in order to manage bothersome side effects. For more info, see this article on how to get through sugar withdrawal.

So if you’re trying to punt the sugar monster, hang in there! You’ll be glad you did!

the hard truth: if you want to get rid of cravings, you've got to get rid of sugar.

* Find Just Me(gan)’s blog at http://tallydogs.wordpress.com/