Category Archives: Diet

What are your staple healthy foods?

I’ve mentioned before that you need to make a grocery list BEFORE you go to the store.

But each and every week you shouldn’t have to be reinventing your list from scratch.

Actually, the basis of your list should probably stay the same because you should have certain staple foods you buy each and every week.

Because even though some variety keeps your healthy eating routine interesting, too much variation can prevent you from getting into a habit.

And habits are what help you stick with your program and get results.

So while you may want to have a variety of recipes, you want them to include the same staple foods.

These are my 15 Staple Foods. My list includes:

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The Five Pillars of Health

Being healthy is about more than working out or eating well – it is about balancing what I call “The Five Pillars of Health.”

These five pillars are:

  • Diet
  • Activity
  • Sleep
  • Vitamin D/Sunlight
  • Stress

When you do your best to get the most out of all five pillars, you will be healthy. Ignore one and all of your hard work with the others may go to waste.

Being healthy is all about BALANCE.

Let’s take a look at all five pillars and how they each contribute to us being healthy.

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Finding Balance – Weekends and Binging

When we are around on the weekend, we tend to want to party and relax.

And food is easily right at hand.

Which is why so many of us tend to go crazy on the weekends and overeat.

The food is right there. And we associate “relaxing” and “partying” with food.

While I definitely agree with cheat days, going completely crazy over the weekend may just be holding you back from achieving your goals as quickly as you would like.

If we want to be successful, we need to be CONSISTENT.

Two days of complete binging is far from consistent. Two days of complete binging may cause you to lose gains you made during the week.

It will make you feel like you aren’t making any progress with your diet during the week. Or it may cause your progress to be way slower than it would be otherwise.

It may even cause you to give up on a week day program that truly is working!

Why put in hours of hard work during the week only to erase all your progress over the weekend?

Who would want to sabotage their own progress? To slow down their own results?

NO ONE!

Yet every weekend so many of us do.

We let “we are relaxing” or “partying” to become a complete and utter binge.

We make excuses about how we “deserve” the bad food for all of our hard work.

We completely forget about our goals for the satisfaction in the here and now.

And while we need to balance every day life, fun and our long-term goals that doesn’t mean we have to completely let go every weekend OR completely adhere to our perfectly clean and healthy eating habits.

Instead we need to find a BALANCE.

We have to balance our desire to “party” to “relax” and eat on the weekends with our need to stay consistent enough and remember our goals.

We need to balance our short-term desires with our long-term goals.

What matters most to you?

Remember that and find your balance this weekend!

Stay consistent…Not perfect…Just consistent!

Does food really fall into the categories of “Medicine” or “Toxins?”

I had a client tell me the other day that they went to a healthy eating presentation that said food is either a medicine or a toxin.

I care to disagree.

Food is not medicine in the way we think of medicine.

Eating well doesn’t “cure” anything, at least not in the traditional way we think of medicine curing something.

It will help our body heal and prevent disease but it doesn’t just simply counter-act the crap we put into our bodies.

Crazy how backward we have gone in some things….

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5 Simple SMALL Diet Changes That You’ll ENJOY

Often people think they have to make drastic changes all at once to get results.

But SMALL CHANGES ARE KEY!

Especially when it comes to diet.

I’ve had a lot of people say to me recently that they don’t like being hungry – and losing weight requires you to be hungry like all the time.

I care to disagree.

Drastic calorie cuts will cause you to feel hungry. But losing weight and getting healthy isn’t just about calories in vs. calories out.

Honestly, you can feel hungry eating 1,000 too many calories if you aren’t eating the RIGHT types of calories.

And truly you shouldn’t feel miserable while eating well. Eating well CAN and SHOULD be enjoyable.

Here are 5 changes you need to make that don’t involve cutting calories:

1. Cut out processed crap, but don’t cut out the meals you love. Slowly rid your kitchen of processed and pre-made foods. That doesn’t mean you can’t still occasionally indulge in mac and cheese…It just means you will be better off having homemade mac and cheese then something pre-made with a ton of preservatives. Make adjustments to those recipes you enjoy! Love mexican pizza? Try it on a cauliflower crust. Create huge results by just home making those meals you love!

2. Focus on meats and veggies, but they can TASTE GOOD. Eating healthy doesn’t mean cutting out flavor. While you want to focus your diet on meat and veggies that doesn’t have to mean plain chicken breast and steamed broccoli. Use some full fat cheese. Make sauces and dressing. There are tons of healthy ways to make your meals flavorful. I love adding guacamole and salsa to salads as dressings. I use tamari and sesame oil to make stir fries. I pack meals with flavor without adding any crap! Just avoid any pre-made seasonings and sauces that add in preservatives, vegetable oil or other crap.

3. Satisfy cravings. Cravings come in lots of different forms. And if you don’t satisfy them, you are going to end up giving up on your diet and binging because you feel to restricted. Satisfying your cravings also doesn’t have to mean eating badly. Craving something sweet? Eat a piece of fruit or some dark chocolate. Here is one of my favorite sweet, salty and fatty healthy treats – Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Macadamia Nut Bark. Craving something savory? What about some veggies in a homemade dip? Or some salted nuts (heck even coat them in some other seasonings). Or some kale chips. There are tons of ways to satisfy your cravings without eating badly. And sometimes maybe you do have a specific burrito craving and need the real thing. Then get it and get right back on track. Not feeling restricted is key to sticking with your diet in the long run! It isn’t being perfect one day, it is about the big picture.

chocbark1

4. Plan and choose recipes that you enjoy. Often I think we just slap together healthy things without worrying about how they taste. And, at first, that works because we are motivated. But after a while, we stop wanting to eat the boring, bland meals. We start to miss comfort foods. That is why it is important to make meals that you enjoy! Choose recipes that mimic or remind you of those foods you love. No they won’t be exactly the same, but they will taste good and keep you going even when your initial motivation wears off. Plus, it can be fun to find new creative ways to use healthy ingredients. I love the challenge of trying to use the same few ingredients in different ways!

binge cycle

5. Eat the things you love in moderation. Don’t be afraid to cheat. Often when we do cheat we make ourselves feel so guilty about it that we don’t even enjoy it (and sometimes we even make ourselves feel so bad that we start binging instead of getting back on track).  Take time to enjoy those foods you love. Just exercise moderation and/or make healthier swaps whenever possible. But don’t completely restrict yourself!

Notice one thing with all five tips…All of these changes focus on continuing to enjoy your food. Dieting shouldn’t make you feel like you are suffering or missing out. You should be able to enjoy eating well!

For more tips to help you eat well, check out these Healthy Eating Guidelines.

Fruit – Should You Eat It?

I get lots of questions about fruit. Should you eat it? How much should you eat? When should you eat it?

The Food Pyramid tells us that fruit is essential…more essential even then meat and beans.

While fruits do have vitamins and minerals and many have antioxidants that are good for you, fruits are all carbs….

So essential to your diet?…Honestly, not really.

Vegetables can really give you the exact same nutrients you will find in fruits.

For instance, we always turn to oranges or orange juice for Vitamin C. But bell peppers actually have MORE Vitamin C than oranges do.

HOWEVER, fruit is delicious and nutritious so can be included in moderation.

local and fresh produce

Fresh local fruit, in season.

Here are my guidelines for including fruit in your diet.

  • Eat seasonally and locally. Eat fruits that are in season and local. When fruits are in season, they are going to be at their peak…aka pack in the most nutrients. And when they are local, you are also get them the freshest.
  • Eat organic if thin-skinned.  If your fruits have a thin skin that you don’t peel off or can be easily penetrated by pesticides, buy them organic. Or from a farmer’s market since most of the stands there carry local produce even if they can’t afford to pay for the label.
  • Treat it as a treat and snack. Fruit is sweet and higher in carbs. Use it as a sweet treat to curb cravings. It can also be a decent snack especially when paired with a fat to help hold you over so that you don’t just get hungry a few minutes later. Try an apple and almond butter…Or a banana and almond butter…YUM!
  • Don’t make fruit the basis of the meal or treat it as an “unlimited” food. I personally try to avoid smoothies for breakfast unless mixed with fats and protein. Alone fruit won’t keep you feeling full for very long, which can cause people to consume more calories than they actually need. And again…It has lots of carbs and those add up quickly, which makes it a food you can’t just eat as much as you want of….unlike vegetables…and even protein. It is hard to eat “too much” protein or vegetables. It isn’t hard to eat too much fruit.
  • Make lower carb fruit the fruit you consume most often. Just like proteins, vegetables and carbs in general are not created equal, neither are fruits. There are some fruits that should be included more often than others. Tropical fruits, for instance, should be included only every so often. While berries can be eaten more often. They are lower in carbs and are super nutrient-dense with lots of antioxidants. Choose your fruits wisely. As with all foods you consume, you want to get the most bang for your buck possible!
  • Eat fruit on carb days. Fruits are great for carb days. They are healthy and nutrient-dense. Cycle your fruit consumption just like you cycle your carbs.
  • Fruits and fruit juices are not the same thing. Consume fruit in its natural state. Juices with anything added, even if they say all-natural, contain way more sugar and crap. And it is way easier to consume way too much fruit when it is in liquid form. Avoid juices as much as possible.

The fruits I indulge in most often are berries and apples. They are my favorite…especially apples and almond butter.

What fruits do you include in your diet?

Alcohol and Health

Alcohol comes up often in discussions of health and healthy eating.

mimosas

Is drinking ok? What should you drink? Is there a certain amount you should drink? If you want to be healthy and lose weight should you drink?

While I believe that alcohol can be a part of a healthy diet, moderation must be exercised.

Here are the guidelines I follow when considering if, when, and how much alcohol to include in a healthy diet.

  • Alcohol, in general, is empty calories, which isn’t exactly helpful when trying to lose weight. Yes, wine does have antioxidants, but it is not a necessary, nutrient-dense food. So if your goal is weight loss, you want to keep the alcohol consumption to a minimum. However, if you really enjoy a glass, don’t deprive yourself for so long that you end up binging. Just do not binge on alcohol.
  • Do not let alcohol interrupt your schedule. Binge drinking and the hangover the next day really throw your body off and generally interrupts your diet and exercise routine. If you want to stay on track, binge drinking is not recommended. Enjoy a drink or two but be moderate. The pain and horrible feeling the next day really aren’t worth it. And they really do nothing to further your goals, let alone make you feel good.
  • If you can, make healthier switches. While a strawberry daiquiri or frozen blended margarita may be delicious, it probably isn’t the healthiest choice. A great indulgence but not a healthy every day drink. Make simple switches and choose healthier options. Wine and even certain hard alcohol drinks (with out the sugary syrups) can be good in moderation.
  • A healthy diet should make you feel GOOD. If your alcohol consumption isn’t making you feel good, it is way too much. If it is hindering you from reaching your goals, it is too much. There is no set number, no exact right amount of drinks. Just really consider whether or not it is helping or hurting you.
  • Do not drink alcohol before food right after a workout or competition. The alcohol will prevent the absorption of nutrients your body needs and reduce your ability to recover.

Alcohol CAN be a part of a healthy diet but only in moderation. It can be enjoyed but should never leave you feeling anything but refreshed the next morning.

You want to eat and DRINK to support your goals.

Planning for Success – Making Things Easy

For the first few days after you set a New Years Resolution, you are generally pretty motivated to accomplish it.

But as early as a week later, that initial motivation has already dwindled.

And things that seemed easy to do, like cook meals and eat clean, stop seeming as easy because you aren’t as motivated to do them.

If you don’t have a solid plan in place and haven’t done the proper preparation, you are going to slip back into old habits.

We will find any excuse to not make changes.

Therefore we have to make things as simple, and as idiot proof, as possible for ourselves.

So if you want to make some healthy changes to your diet this New Year, how are you going to make your plan excuse proof?

These tips below may just help….These tips are meant to help us create healthy habits so that we don’t have to think or use as much self-control to stick with the new program.

Because our self-control gets depleted as the day goes on, especially if we’ve had a stressful day. And the more things are in place so that we don’t have to use self-control, the more likely we are to stick with our plan and accomplish our goals!

5 Tips To Make Changing Easier

1. Meal Prep (Make Lots of Leftovers and Cook When You Have Time) - The easiest way to change-up your eating habits is to have healthy foods already cooked when you get home tired from work. The last thing most of us want to do when we are tired and hungry is spend even 10 minutes making food. That is why meal prep is so important. Pick a day when you are around the house anyway. It can even be a day when you are around the house RELAXING because if you pick a few recipes for the oven or crockpot, you don’t even have to stand around and stir them or anything. Find a few recipes that allow you to make meals for a couple of days. For instance, bake a chicken or some chicken breasts. You can simple throw them in the oven and go do something else while they cook. Or make a chili in a crockpot. You can throw in all the ingredients and even go out and do whatever you want all day. You will come back and have numerous meals! Eating clean really doesn’t have to be a horrible chore. Make it easy and make it work for you.

Cooked chicken, eggs, rice, sweet potatoes, dressing and cut up veggies for the next couple of days to make cooking quicker and easier!

Cooked chicken, eggs, rice, sweet potatoes, dressing and cut up veggies for the next couple of days to make cooking quicker and easier!

2. Don’t Keep Temptations In The House - When we get stressed or upset, we are going to reach for comfort. And if we have those old comfort foods around, we are going to reach for them EVEN if we can resist on a normal day. When you are trying to create new habits, don’t keep things around that may derail those habits. Out of sight, out of mind. Very rarely will you make an effort to go get those unhealthy foods when emotional. And if you do, then accept it and move on. Just make yourself have to really work for it in hopes that it will give you time to reconsider. (Because more often than not, you will simply do what is easy and stick with the clean food you have around.)

3. Don’t Wait Till You Are Starving To Eat – While I do believe in intermittent fasting and that you don’t need to eat a certain amount of meals everyday, you also don’t want to just starve yourself to lose weight or wait to eat till you are super hungry. We tend to make horrible decisions when we get super hungry. We tend to not care what we eat and we tend to eat too much. Listen to your body and recognize when you are getting hungry. Then eat!

4. Always Have Healthy Snacks Around – For one, like I said above, you don’t want to get to the point of starving so that you seek out ANYTHING to eat. Plan and have snacks around for those times when you may need a quick little bit. Also, many people are emotional eaters or eat when they get bored. Most of us are guilty of it at some point at least. And while that is an issue we do need to deal with, a great way to prevent our emotions or boredom from derailing our new healthy habits is to have healthy snacks around so that we don’t munch on something worse. At least then we are reaching for something healthy and not something that may make us feel even worse, which could lead to the binge eating cycle.

5. Know Your Restaurant Options - While yes, often the healthiest option is to eat something homemade, that isn’t always an option. Plan for having to go out. Know the restaurants near your home and work so that if you do WANT to go out or get asked to eat out, you know the healthy options. Prepare yourself with go-to eating out options so you aren’t taken off guard or persuaded to eat something that derails your progress when you don’t want to cheat. I have a few restaurants that are my go-to when I want to eat cleaner but either have to go out to meet people or my meal prep wasn’t perfect and I need a meal in between. (Note: You can also choose not to eat out at all. While often this isn’t something we want to do, you can give yourself permission to join people out and then go back and eat the meal you planned to eat. It is just good to recognize this is an option even if people may make you feel guilty for wanting to stick with your plan.)

BONUS:

SET AN END DATE! I’ve been harping on this a lot with people lately, but even when you are trying to create habits for a healthy lifestyle, you need to set an end date. We don’t mentally do very well with FOREVER. So maybe set up a reward at the end of each month. Maybe you go shopping or do something special with friends and family. Or maybe you simply switch up the recipes you use every 4 weeks. Whatever it is, make there some sort of “end date.” Some time where you can pat yourself on the back for completing what you set out to do. And then at that time, you can adjust your plan a bit for the next month or so to keep you moving forward!

Once healthy habits are in place, you may find you don’t need to be as diligent with these tips because the ideals are engrained. Till then though, make it as easy as possible for yourself to stick to your new habits.

The more you prepare against the excuses, the more likely you are to create habits that LAST!

Bacon Ribeye Tacos with Avocado Salsa

There is this local, family-owned restaurant called Taco Mesa here that has amazing Alambre Steak Tacos.

We are like OBSESSED with them.

These Alambre tacos are corn tortillas filled with steak, bacon, onions, peppers and cheese.

AND THEY ARE AMAZING.

They are even better with Taco Mesa’s amazing Avocado Salsa.

So yesterday Ryan decided he was going to try to make a variation of them and the salsa.

Here is his Bacon Ribeye Tacos with Avocado Salsa.

bacon ribeye tacos with avocado salsa

Ingredients:

TACOS:
3/4 lbs Ribeye Steak
5 pieces of nitrate-free bacon
2 tsp Cumin
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Chili Powder
2 tbsp Tomatillo and Roasted Yellow Chili Salsa (from TJs)
1 tsp Jalapeno Pepper Hot Sauce (TJs)
7-8 Corn Tortillas (Homemade recipe here otherwise buy ones that are only corn, water and lime!)
1/2 cup Shredded Cabbage
1/4 cup Raw Milk Cheddar Cheese

AVOCADO SALSA:
2 Avocados
2 tbsp Cream
2 tbsp Salsa Verde (TJs)
2 tsp Olive Oil
2 tbsp Cilantro

Cook the bacon in a skillet on high. Once the bacon has browned, remove to a plate. Place the chopped ribeye into the pan with the bacon grease. Add cumin, paprika, chili powder, hot sauce and salsa to the steak in the skillet.

Lower the heat and let the steak simmer in the salsa and spices. Add back in the bacon.

While the steak is cooking, add the avocados, cream, salsa verde, olive oil and cilantro to a food processor. Process until smooth. Then put the salsa into a bowl.

Once the steak mixture is almost ready, heat the tortillas in a skillet or microwave to warm them.

Shred the cheese and cabbage.

Then divide the steak mixture between the 7-8 tortillas. Top with cabbage, cheese and avocado salsa. Sprinkle with more hot sauce if you would like.

Enjoy!

Makes 7-8 tacos and lots of leftover Avocado Salsa.

What restaurant meals do you enjoy making variations of at home?

How do I avoid gaining weight during the holidays?

Eating well this time of year is far from easy.

While that is a lot, there are still over 300 other days a year to create and instill healthy habits!

It is doable, but not easy.

People are constantly bringing in treats to work. You have tons of holiday parties to go to. And everyone seems to always want to go out and eat and drink.

Because this seems to be the season of eating, I then see a ton of clients stop tracking their food and complete give up on all the great habits they’ve developed.

But honestly the worst part is, they start making excuses and feel guilty every second of every day.

Which just makes them stress more and enjoy themselves even less, keeping them in a negative downward cycle that leads to binging and completely giving up on their goals.

So of course at some point someone will say, “Well there just is no way to continue to lose weight during the holidays.”

And yea…losing weight during the holidays can be difficult to do. It most definitely takes a lot of planning and self-control.

But reaching your goals and staying on track during the holidays doesn’t mean you have to continue to move forward by leaps and bounds.

Too often we only think of success as moving forward.

But maintaining the progress we’ve already made is also a victory, especially during times when it is tougher for us to strive for perfection.

So when it comes to holidays, healthy eating and weight loss, I think the proper question to consider is , “How do I avoid gaining BACK the weight during the holidays?”

(Notice I’m not talking about losing more OR about starting a healthy diet during the holidays. Sorry but I’m just not big on trying to start creating new habits at a time when most people can’t even stick with well ingrained habits…)

How do you balance life with your goals to MAINTAIN the progress you’ve already made?

Well for one….If you’re going to cheat…ENJOY IT!

Even worse than the bad food is the stress and guilt that accompanies breaking with our plan or diet.

So just don’t feel guilty. If you make the decision to cheat, ENJOY IT!

For two, just because a food, a treat, is there, doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Pick and choose the things you truly want to eat and don’t feel obligated to eat the other things just because they are there.

You don’t have to deprive yourself of every treat or avoid eating at every holiday party; however, all too often people just eat because it is there even though they don’t truly want it.

Don’t do that. Eat the foods you truly want and exercise the self-control to avoid the foods that are “just there.”

That will help you control your portions to prevent weight gain AND prevent you from entering a downward negative spiral.

It will give you something to enjoy AND BE PROUD OF. You will not feel deprived because you got the food you wanted; however, you will also be able to be proud of the fact that you didn’t let a little treat completely derail all your progress.

For three, life interferes all the time and we have to learn how to deal with it.

We have to find the balance.

If we want to reach our goals, we can’t constantly be like, “Well there is just too much going on right now.” We can’t just say that every time something comes up…Because let’s face it, something comes up like every week!

We have to learn how to balance life with our goals.

We have to understand that our mental attitude is more important even than the foods we eat.

We have to know whether even a small indulgence will lead to us falling off the wagon or if it will keep us from feeling deprived.

We have to learn to deal with the unexpected and not only make choices, but not dwell on them.

If you want to avoid gaining weight during the holidays, and please note I’m talking about MAINTAINING the progress you’ve already made not about losing more weight or starting a healthy diet, you have to remember that reaching your goals isn’t about perfection – that every day you don’t need to be moving forward.

That sometimes it is simply about not doing too much damage to the progress we’ve already made so that we keep our healthy habits intact.

Enjoy the holidays. Don’t stress over a cookie. Just don’t feel obligated to eat everything you see!

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