Posts Tagged ‘sugar’

To Your Health This Holiday Season!

Friday, October 29th, 2010

The onslaught of rich, and often unhealthy, foods starts with Halloween and doesn’t seem to stop until the New Year. I don’t mean to be a spoilsport in terms of holidays. I enjoy them. It’s just that so many people ring in the New Year feeling bloated, overweight, sluggish, and frustrated by the extra pounds they put on, that I thought I’d offer a few tips on how to enjoy without the seemingly inevitable suffering.

Planning is one of the keys to success. When we go to a party hungry, we’ll eat everything in sight. By snacking on an apple and a few almonds or hummus and carrots beforehand, we can nibble (key word) and feel satisfied.

Another tip is to change things up a bit when it comes to the family feasts. Do you really need to stick with Aunt Sandy’s 1950s version of cranberry mold with all that sugar? Could you use fresh cranberries, orange and lemon zest, and some agave nectar instead?

Asking our family members what they feel they “can’t do without” versus what “they have never really liked either,” will ensure that everyone gets their favorite dish. Each member will feel special that their request has been honored and you can spread the responsibility as well as the joy around.

We also seem to exhaust ourselves between working and shopping and cleaning the house and preparing the food (sounds tiring just mentioning it). How can you make it simpler? For example, if all agree to buy just one gift instead of several, those January bills won’t seem so large. Gift bags save a lot of time as well. As a special gift to yourself, can you get help with the cleaning?

I have always loved decorating the tree at our house. I put on holiday music and fix some spiced cider, carefully plant each ornament on the tree and decorate until the room sparkles. What are your favorite traditions of the season? How can you make the routine seem special? What would you like to hand off to someone else this year?

Heading off fatigue is part of the trick to really enjoying the season. It means making choices about when to join in and when to say “no.” Sometimes, it means just stopping by, rather than feeling obligated to stay all evening at a gathering. When we gauge our energy and respect it, we can delight in the special moments that we might otherwise have missed.

By remembering that this is your time to enjoy the season in ways that are most fulfilling to you, you will be able to be more available to your loved ones. A wise woman once asked me what I thought my family would prefer–a harried, exhausted mother who has the dinner on, but isn’t able to carry on a decent conversation or a woman who took care of herself and was able to really engage in the special times with her family.

And if, despite your best efforts, you end up overdoing it a bit and find the scale inching upward, you can always contact a health and nutrition coach in January to get back on track. Happy Holidays!

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SAD? Four Easy, Natural Steps to Boost Mood

Monday, September 13th, 2010

The arrival of Fall is always bitter sweet for me. I love the changing leaves and fresh, crisp air. My long-haired dogs get more spring in their step. Yet, as the days get shorter and cooler, I can feel melancholy about the end of lazy summer days…

If seasonal affective disorder or SAD, a mood-related reaction to less sunlight, is something that puts a damper on your spirits this time of year, a few simple and natural activities can help.

Sunlight used to be something we were exposed to on a daily basis when we were agricultural societies. Now that we are indoors a good deal of the time, many of us barely get enough light in summer, let alone winter. Indoor lighting that imitates daylight is a quick fix for the winter doldrums. Depending on need, you can also purchase a light box to give you the extra sunlight your body craves.

The vitamin D that we gain from sunlight on our skin improves mood, resistance to infection and cancer, and facilitates a myriad of other bodily functions. I get tested for vitamin D levels and supplement with a carefully chosen form of the vitamin. I want to be sure I’m not getting “filler,” which can be just about anything beyond the required 20 percent of the vitamin advertised as determined by FDA regulations. A guide to watch for is GMP (Good Manufacturing Process) on the label. This means the supplement company met basic quality standards in their manufacturing.

Most of us, whether we choose to act on it or not, know by now that exercise boosts our mood. It may raise seratonin levels in the brain when the exertion is at a high enough level to cause fatigue. I’m adamant about choosing exercise that we enjoy, otherwise our best intentions will dwindle away to an occasional outing, if we continue to exercise at all. When weather permits, I love to walk at a fast clip with my dogs, taking in the squirrel gathering nuts or the birds swooping down to settle on a branch overhead. Another favorite is bicycling, so I can see something different while I’m moving.  My backup when it’s raining is a Nordic Track while viewing an old Peter Gabriel DVD. What do you love that you could incorporate into exercise?

Another significant way to boost mood is through nutrition. Interestingly, it’s not just about the balance of nutrients that a whole food diet gives us. We can actually manage a predisposition to low seratonin through our food. For example, researchers found that chickpeas supply a hefty enough amount of tryptophan to raise our seratonin levels. This means eat your hummus! It is delicious, provides protein and makes you feel better. Of course, eating fresh, clean, whole foods that are pesticide-, GMO-, and radiation-free will supply the basic nourishment our bodies need to stay healthy and strong.

A last food-related way to improve mood is to become free of refined sugar–especially if you crave it! Sweets may seem to improve mood, but they always let you down with a crash (when you blood sugar takes a dive). For more information about how to get off sugar with a five-day freedom detox, join my free teleseminar, Sweet Success, on Tuesday, September 28 at 7 p.m. EDT. Watch for details and registration on my website,

To Your Sweet Success!

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

I don’t mean to get personal, but what did you eat for breakfast today? I’ll bet some of you can’t remember, some would rather not say and some may have skipped this all-important meal altogether. The reason I ask is because what you eat for breakfast is critical to jump-starting your metabolism, boosting your energy and staving off cravings for what I call the “quick-fix” foods–doughnuts, candy bars, bagels, muffins, etc.

I like to give my clients a breakfast experiment that I learned at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City a few years ago. Every day for a week they try a different kind of breakfast and note how they feel and when they get hungry again. By the end of the week, they have gained a new awareness of which foods support their energy and which foods make them crash and burn.

It’s the sugar highs and lows that seem to cause problems for most of us, though. If we start our day with a cup of coffee and boxed cereal, for example, that caffeine and sugar combination sends us out the door full of energy. On a typical work day at about 10 a.m. we find our energy lagging and start seeking our first pick-me-up. It’s usually another cup of coffee and something sweet to get that blood sugar rising fast, since it just dipped into the danger zone.

We get the boost we needed from that quick-fix and do all right until lunch. The taste for sugar is going strong at this point, so it doesn’t take much to be persuaded to go to a fast-food restaurant for a heavy dose of more fat, salt and sugar in the way of chicken nuggets, fries or a burger. We may even have decided to be “good” and opted for the salad–if only the dressing weren’t loaded with fat, salt and sugar, too!

All’s well in our body’s energy department until around 3 p.m., when we need another quick-fix food. This time a candy bar is in order. Since there are all sorts of “healthy” bars available today, we can convince ourselves that the raisins, nuts and seeds make all that sugar, salt and fat okay. Up goes the blood sugar again–just in time to keep us out of the danger zone.

Dinner may be a bit late, since we have an extra report to get out or the kids to pick up at soccer practice or just need a little R & R with some cheese and crackers and a glass of wine. In any case, we feel rushed when we do start cooking and rely on whatever short-cuts we can use to get the meal together fast. A box of pasta with cheese sauce or frozen veggies in their own special sauce make the fast food tastier. (They threw more fat, salt and sugar in the sauce, so we wouldn’t notice that it otherwise tastes like cardboard). We defrost some chicken breasts in the microwave and voila! Dinner is served.

The cravings are in full force a couple of hours later when the TV is blaring and every few minutes we see a food or pharmaceutical commercial. We just can’t resist a few cookies from the cookie jar or that pint of ice cream in the freezer. We guiltily slink off to bed, thinking we’ll do better tomorrow.

I know once you’re on this blood sugar roller coaster it’s not easy to get off. That’s where a healthy breakfast comes in. Starting your day with a low-glycemic/high fiber smoothie is a great place to begin. Blend fresh or frozen berries, maca, ground flaxseed and protein powder, plus a little agave nectar or yacon syrup if you need it for sweetness, water and add some ice to make it thick and rich. (I throw in a fresh-from-the-farm egg every now and then for protein). It keeps me energized and satisfied all morning; plus, without the caffeine, there is no drop in energy to drive me toward the mid-morning muffins.

It’s one meal and one change that can make all the difference if you want to feel and look better. The rewards are great, too. No more mood swings, fatigue, extra pounds, acne, or a host of other symptoms and conditions brought on by the sweet stuff. Besides, when the new you starts getting compliments, success never tasted so sweet!