Power Up With Plants

What is a plant-based diet and why should you care?  I enjoy throwing around words like tofu, edamame and lentils.  It’s sure to evoke a response from people in the group, usually in the form of a scowled face.  Negative reactions to topics like vegetarianism and plant-based foods are understandable.  There’s a stereotype, often incorrect, that adopting a plant-based diet means giving up all meat and instead eating a diet consisting of lettuce with a side of seeds, and perhaps more lettuce.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.

A plant-based diet is one that focuses on plants.  It’s exciting, colorful, tasty and with lots of texture.  It does not necessarily mean that someone adopting a more plant-based diet abstains from meat all together.  As one woman protested, “I’m not giving up my red meat!” HA! Fair enough and thank you for proving the point.  You can adopt a more plant-based diet and still have red meat.  The difference is that your diet is plant-centric, seasoned with meat.  There are different types of plant-based diets ranging from Vegan (no animal products), to a more flexible approach such as the Flexitarian diet.  For our purposes, we discussed the Flexitarian diet approach which seeks to incorporate more plant-based foods into your existing diet.  So instead of subtracting or cutting out, we focused on foods to add—a concept known as crowding out.

Benefits associated with plant-based diets are too many to mention, but here are the most notable:

  • Lower body weight, weight loss
  • Eat more, weigh less (plant-based diets are typically lower in calories)
  • Decrease risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic diseases
  • Reversal of atherosclerosis
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Healthy gut microbiome
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduce risk of cancer
  • Better brain health
  • Increased intake of important nutrients and fiber
  • Cost-saving

If you would like to learn more about the benefits associated with plant-based eating, visit http://www.nutritionfacts.org which is a website dedicated to providing evidence-based nutrition advice. Adopting a more plant-based diet is exciting and fun, but can undoubtedly be intimidating to some. Below are some practical and simple suggestions.  I’d encourage you to start gradually and build your culinary skills as you go.

 

 

 

Breakfast

  • Vegetable omelet with black beans and salsa
  • Plain or Greek yogurt with berries and almond slivers
  • Steel Cut Oats with ground Flaxseed and walnuts
  • Tofu scramble with black beans, onion, spices and red peppers
  • Breakfast smoothie with almond butter, frozen fruit and soymilk

Lunch

  • Gingery Maple Glazed Tempeh on a salad of mixed greens with cashews
  • Black Bean, vegetable and cheese burrito
  • Chickpea, spinach and feta salad
  • Beef & Lentil Taco’s

Dinner

  • 3 Bean Chili
  • Tofu Curry
  • Tempeh Stir Fry
  • Edamame Pasta with meatless crumbles and marinara sauce

If you’re looking for an even lower commitment, start with a “Meatless Monday,” or pick one meal and replace the meat with a plant-based protein such as beans, seasoned tofu or marinated tempeh.  Gradually adopting a more plant-centric diet will produce dramatic health improvements.  Try it for yourself and see if you don’t feel better!

Trouble Losing Weight? Maybe It’s Stress


Our bodies stress response is actually a wonderful invention.  When our body perceives a threat, our endocrine and nervous system work together at a lighting fast speed to alert us to the danger.  We get a surge of hormones and chemicals that enable us to take immediate action.  Our pupils dilate, our heart beats fast and blood gets diverted to the large muscles of the body and this just might save your life.  This is called the acute stress response, otherwise known as “Fight-or-flight.”  Once the perceived threat is over, the body returns to a more balanced state.  Chronic stress, on the other hand, is what happens when the body stays in that stress response state.

Chronic Stress & Your Weight
The stress response affects your health habits both directly and indirectly.  Stress increases hunger hormones, which leads to increased appetite and cravings.  It also decreases your satiety hormones so that you don’t feel satisfied when you do eat.  Increased cortisol has been correlated with increased visceral adiposity— “belly fat”—which is particularly risky in terms of inflammation and disease.  Too often people assume that they have a lack of willpower or discipline when the truth is that chronic stress is highjacking their biology.

Stress causes us to reach for comfort foods as a way to medicate the brain.  We crave high sugar, high fat, and salty foods because that provides the instant gratification that we both crave and have been accustomed to enjoy.  From a very early age, our brains learned to associate sweet and savory foods with rewards.  If we had good behavior, we were rewarded with a cookie.  If we were sad, depressed, happy or mad, we were given food to cope.  You may not remember all of the ways that food was used to medicate, but the brain does.  When we are stressed, we don’t reach for grilled fish and broccoli.  No, we reach for the foods that will provide us with that quick boost in mood and energy.  We fail to remember that the junk food never really solves our problems, but actually creates more problems in the long-term.

Chronic stress also means we don’t have time to arrange our world for success.  When we’re stressed, we are thinking about the here and now and we’re not taking time to nurture ourselves through proper diet and exercise.  We’re also not likely getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep, which further feeds this vicious cycle of stress.

Avoiding Stress Eating
Changing eating habits is hard. It’s especially hard when those habits have been engrained for years.  There’s no denying that eating junk food when we’re stressed or tired provides an instant, albeit momentary break from our suffering. That awareness is the difference between setting up strategies that work versus beating yourself after each failure. First, recognize the stress emotions. Then work to replace unhelpful habits with habits that provide lasting reward. Some tips:

  • Plan ahead. Always make sure you pantries are stocked with healthy stuff. Make it easy to do right, and hard to do wrong.
  • Make sure meals and snacks have plenty of fiber and protein. This helps promote satiety
  • Aim for whole foods. Get rid of enriched grain products, added sugars, and ultra-processed foods. These foods create a viscious cycle of cravings and hormonal imbalances in the body
  • Include anti-inflammatory fats such as those found in walnuts, fish, chia and flax seeds
  • Pre-portion high calorie snacks such as nuts, cheeses, and dark chocolate, for example
  • Include plenty of magnesium-rich foods such as beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds that helps promote relaxation in the body

Get the right support and the right tools! Visit our website or call us 864 522-2183

Diets and Weight Loss

No doubt, you’ve tried countless diets over the years in an effort to shed a few pounds or to improve your health.  Fad diets are easy to spot once you know what to look for.  They speak to our need for control when everything is out of control.  Fad diets are an attractive option because they seem to make logical sense, that is, until you do some actual research from an unbiased source.  Here’s what you need to know:  THERE IS NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR HEALTH.  There’s no magical formula that will get you the results you want.  You can’t follow your trainer’s diet and expect to get the same results.   The magic happens when accept that you are unique and will require a unique approach, but don’t think you should approach it alone.  It can be highly worth your time and money to seek professional support from a health coach or a registered dietitian.

A sound nutritional plan will always include lots of vegetables, lean proteins and whole foods, while being low in sugar, refined carbohydrates and highly processed foods.  If you seek better health through better nutrition, you should know that the answer isn’t “out there.”  Instead, the answers you need lie within you—specifically, in the mass between your two ears.  The question often is not what should I eat, but rather how can I make it happen.  Diets fail for lack of proper planning.

If that overly simplistic explanation doesn’t quite motivate you, there is another tool that can help.  Nutritional genetic testing looks at your individual genetic makeup which determines how you may respond to diet and exercise.  It’s called nutrigenomics and it reinforces the idea that no one person responds equally to the same diet.  Instead of bouncing from one fad diet to the next, you can be tested and the results will be reviewed with you by a trained professional.  Likely this person will be a dietitian and they will counsel you on the appropriate nutrition and exercise strategies for you.  If you are interested in learning more about this testing, schedule an appointment or simply give us a call

Nutrition Solutions

Eat More, Weigh Less

As I often say, losing weight and keeping it off are not necessarily the same thing. Most weight loss programs focus on weight loss without much, or any consideration for maintenance. Keeping the weight off requires a person to sustain health habits for life. Losing weight can be exciting, whereas keeping the weight off can be rather mundane.

Weight maintenance may not be so easy, but it’s also not complex. It requires total commitment to diet, exercise, sleep and stress management. The correct diet for maintenance of a healthy weight (which, by the way is not just a number on a scale) is one that is that is personalized to you. But in general, your diet will be abundant in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, while also low in processed foods and sugar. Essentially, your diet should consist of a lot of plant foods, sprinkled with lean meats, proteins and seafood, with some good quality fats. Rather than getting hung up on details, for most people it’s better to focus on dietary patterns rather than specific nutrients and diets.

Cutting calories does not need to be boring, and it certainly does not mean depriving yourself of nourishing and delicious foods. By focusing on nutrient-density in meals, it’s possible to eat MORE, but get LESS CALORIES. Many people mistakenly assume that cutting calories equates to eating diet foods and salads, but this is far from the truth. Your diet should be sustainable, nourishing, and pleasing to the palate. Nutrient-dense foods meet all of these criteria.

My criteria for nutrient-dense foods are whole foods that are full of nutrients, while also being low in calories for what they provide. Essentially, nutrient-dense foods give you a better bang for your buck. They contain numerous important nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and often times phytochemicals or important anti-oxidant compounds. Dietary patterns that meat this criteria are Volumetrics Eating Plan, Mediterranean, and DASH. You can glean from these diets, but experiment with what works for you and have fun.