Foods to Calm You Down

With the holidays upon us, who doesn’t need a little calm? Yeah, yeah, we all know that we should be meditating more…and committing less…and sleeping more…and so on.  Since those things are easier said than done, lets look at foods that combat cortisol, the hormone that causes stress, anxiety, and sadness. Eat more. Stress less. Now that sounds doable.

Wellness Stock Photo by Sash Photography

  • Chia seeds
  • Blueberries
  • Salmon
  • Almonds
  • Grapefruit
  • Oatmeal
  • Maca
  • Avocado
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Shellfish
  • Oranges
  • Dark chocolate
  • Turkey

One Healthy Breakdown: food is medicine

Healthy Holidays OHH Style

The magic of the holiday season surrounds us and we’re determined to make it through feeling healthy, happy, grounded, rested, well-fed, balanced, and ready for 2016!

IMG_3036Although it’s easy as pie to cut sleep, eat all the cookies, skip breakfast, have another cocktail, and end up completely burned out, tired, bloated, hungover, guilty, and miserable come January, let’s not!

hangoverOHH’s #HealthyHoliday Tips:

Keep it simple: yes, there will be parties and cocktails, gingerbread, latkes, toasts, roasts, cookie exchanges, peppermint bark, and a hundred reasons to indulge. And that’s ok. But all of those ‘extras’ sure do add up. To offset the indulgences, keep things simple at home. No need to make a three-course meal; instead, allow yourself permission to keep things light and basic. Make a “kitchen sink” salad, smoothie, or snack – just make sure you’re using whole foods. Keeping meals simple allows our body to maximize digestion and nutrient-absorption. Here’s a super simple salad made of arugula, sauerkraut, tomatoes, avocado, and hard-boiled eggs for your dose of greens, probiotics, healthy fat and protein all in one!

FullSizeRender3Eat your veggies: there’s no way around it – veggies are healthy and you must eat them. Don’t fret, you can easily increase your veggie intake in a yummy, easy way. Try making a meal that centers around vegetables instead of meat or pasta, like a meatless stir fry, hearty soup, or holiday smoothie. We don’t often give veggies the opportunity to be the main attraction, but doing so is a super simple, healthy, and affordable way to fuel our bodies. Secondly, try replacing your usual comfort foods with veggie-loaded options. Instead of your go-to mashed potatoes, try cauliflower mash. Forget the french fries and instead roast a new variation of squash, like acorn, delicata, spaghetti, butternut, kobucha, or pumpkin. When you’re urged to grab chips or crackers to snack on, eat crudite to satisfy that craving for a crunch.

Treat yo’self: we’ve said it before and we’ll say again – it’s all about balance. Let go of the labels and ditch the all-or-nothing attitude. Indulging in holiday treats is not only acceptable, it’s actually good for you! Consciously eating food that gives you immense pleasure can fulfill your heart, satisfy your cravings, and feed your soul. Whether it’s a family recipe that you look forward to every year or a new discovery on your journey, choose to indulge wisely and enjoy every single bite.

balancedNews flash: it’s not just about the treats. Or the veggies. Indulge in something that has absolutely nothing to do with food, like a bubble bath, scented candle, holiday movie, pedicure, song download, nature walk, novel, dance party, magazine, TV marathon, or anything that makes you feel pampered and rejuvenated. Just like we deserve to enjoy the cookie, we deserve a break, some self-care, and even a good nap!

Move and be still: we already established that most of us will be indulging a bit this season and that is A ok…as long as we remember to move (ie: exercise) and be still (ie: meditate/sleep/breathe.) Schedule your workouts (and your stillness) as you would meetings and don’t skip ’em. Get your turkey trot on, try a new class, rake leaves, shovel snow…whatever it takes to stay active and accountable. And mindful. Taking time to slow down, live in the moment, and embrace the holiday spirit is equally as important. Combine the moving and the stillness with a yoga class or non-workout workout. Sweat, enjoy, breathe, repeat.

One Healthy Breakdown: here’s to spreading health and holiday cheer this year!

30 Things I Learned on Whole30

I recently completed my first (and probably my last!) Whole30. 30 days of whole foods and not a speck of grains, dairy, soy, legumes, corn, baked goods, or added sugar of any kind. I know, I know, “what the heck did you eat?!” Lots and lots of plants, lean protein, nuts and seeds, that’s what! Oh, and not a drop of alcohol. Sounds fun, right?! If you’re wondering why I would do such a thing, (I don’t blame you!) The book It Starts With Food, by the founders of the Whole30 program, inspired me to dig deeper into my own diet and lifestyle, eliminating the foods/food groups above in order to re-evaluate how my body reacts to them after the 30 days. For more specifics about the Whole30 program, click here! unnamed(2)Although it was tough to adjust and even tougher to refrain from just one little teeny tiny drink, (hello, it is rosé season!) I learned a ton over the past 30 days. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly:

1. Sugar is errrrywhere and we’re all pretty seriously addicted to it. You’ve probably heard this in some capacity, but what does that mean?

2. Consuming sugar, artificial sweeteners, and natural alternatives like honey, maple syrup, and even stevia, on a regular basis not only “feed the sugar dragon,” but also throw off our taste buds, cravings, and ability to reach satiety normally.

3. Personally, I do not enjoy black coffee; however, I discovered over these thirty days that I do enjoy unsweetened coffee. Over the past ten years or so, I’ve transitioned from a serious overload of artificial sweetener to cutting back, replacing it with more natural stevia, cutting back on stevia, and now I finally was able to rid my coffee of any sweetener. Whole30 forced me to learn to enjoy my coffee simply with Homemade CocoNut Milk and this is definitely a habit I’m happy to keep. Now I truly savor my coffee, no longer crave it sweet, and rarely do I need a second cup. Remember that baby steps are the way to change a habit for the better. Try cutting the sweetener in your coffee in half to start, if you’re soda drinker, replace one soda a day with seltzer, or satisfy your sweet tooth by having a piece of fruit for dessert. It really does get easier and easier, trust me on this!

4. That’s not to say that occasionally indulging in sweets you truly love is not absolutely necessary to living a balanced life. My love affair with dark chocolate has rekindled and our flame is going strong…although I do not neeeeeeeed it daily like I used to!

5. While many people argue that they don’t have time to eat healthy, healthy meals made from real, whole foods can be very convenient. The Whole30 program made me simplify my meals, at first, simply because of less options to choose from, but now, out of habit. Going forward, I’ll continue with this practice as I’ve noticed that less-complicated meals are easier to digest.

6. I re-discovered some great staples I had been overlooking, like good old scrambled eggs. Nothing fancy necessary. Why? Because…

7. REAL FOOD TASTES GOOD! Seasoning your meals with herbs and spices, tasting the sweetness of a piece of fruit, and savoring the true flavors of food is what it’s all about. Again, baby steps. Your palette will adjust and your body will learn to not only like real foods, but crave them. Trust me, trust me, trust me.

8. Fat does not make you fat. How do I know? Well, I did not gain (or lose) any weight on Whole30, even though I was eating a lot more (healthy) fat on a daily basis – more nuts, oil, avocado, etc.

9. More fat is not better. Some is best.

10. Whole30 or not, portions size is crucial to healthy eating, even when eating all healthy foods.

11. Avocado has my <3 on a daily basis.

12. This may turn your world upside down: peanuts are not actually nuts. A peanut is a legume, like beans, which means that your body may react differently to peanuts or peanut butter than it does nuts and other nut butters. Just some food for thought. And, yes, I did cut out peanut butter for 30 days (if you know me at all, you know that peanut butter is my favorite food in the whole wide world.) Instead, I ate homemade almond and cashew butters as well as sunflower seed butter, that just may top peanut butter on my list of favorite foods. I’m happy to say that peanut butter does now make a regular appearance in my diet; however, it is not the only thing I think about morning, noon, and night, which is probably a good thing because there are other things in life, right?

13. Rules takes the guess work out. I’m not a big fan of long-term labels, strict diets, or restriction, but committing to a short-term plan can be motivating enough that there’s no need for willpower.

14. It’s really, REALLY scary what is in 95% of our “food” these days. For example, even something like store-bought “all natural” almond milk, which a lot of people think of as a healthy upgrade, has far more ingredients than just almonds. What the heck are locust bean gum or carrageenan and why are they in my almond milk?! I decided to break up with store-bought milk for the time being and stick to my new love, Homemade CocoNut Milk. Same with the aforementioned nut butters. Just make your own or buy the ones made with just nuts. There really is no need for ‘palm fruit oil’ in your jar of nut butter. Just like there’s no need for added sugar in your tomato sauce, soy isolate in your snacks, or high fructose corn syrup in…ANYTHING. That’s a no-no no matter what.

15. Which brings me to my next point that I just can’t say enough: READ YOUR LABELS.

16. And do what’s right for you. As I said…

17. Eating healthy doesn’t mean eating only the latest superfoods or trying the latest diet trend. It means knowing what foods make you feel healthy and good.

18. If a food/food group makes you feel energized and healthy, you should probably eat it.

19. If a food/food group makes you feel crappy, tired, or sick, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

20. Whole foods are super versatile, see below:

IMG_085721. Another little fun fact I learned over the past 30 days is that any woman in her 20’s or 30’s that declares that she’s not drinking will, without a doubt, be labeled as pregnant, whether it’s by your waiter or your best friends.

22. Drinking seltzer water or kombucha out of a wine glass is not the same as drinking wine, but that’s alright.

23. Waking up on a Sunday morning without any hint of a hangover or headache is worth all of the above – sacrificing the wine and being labeled pregnant.

24. Smoothies are delicious and nutritious. Smoothies aren’t on Whole30 due to a lack of chewing, the act that kick-starts digestion and satiation. So, what’s a smoothie lover to do? Chew your smoothie! Seriously, do it. I missed my smoothies, green smoothies, and smoothie bowls and am happy to introduce them back into my routine, especially heading into the summer season!

25. It is possible to have too much meat, even lean, organic, grass-fed meat. I got sick of chicken after the first week on Whole30. Happy to say that I’ve since reintroduced tempeh and veggie burgers for some delicious meatless protein. Although I know that for me, everything in moderation works when it comes to protein, I totally respect the vegetarians, vegans, and paleos of the world too. Did I mention to do what’s right for you?! I think I did.

26. The benefit of minty fresh breath after a garlicky meal just may outweigh the drawbacks of chewing gum. Again, something I cut wayyyy back but am not willing to give up completely. Yet.

27. The dreams are real folks. The Whole30 book warns that people on Whole30 may experience weird dreams about eating off-plan foods (which means that you start over at day one.) I’m pretty sure that I had some sort of cheating-on-Whole30-food dream every single night for a month straight. Some worse than others: on the eve of day 30, I dreamed that I weighed myself and the scale read 498 pounds. Thankfully, I woke up.

28. There is something so refreshing about breaking up with the scale. You’re not allowed to weigh yourself during the Whole30 program at all. I’m not a big fan of weighing myself daily, or even weekly, because the number doesn’t often correspond with actual progress. “Non-scale victories” are often much better than a number – looser pants, higher energy, clearer skin, toned muscles, etc. Regarding the scale, if the number makes you feel stuck, negative, guilty, or ashamed, stop weighing yourself and rely on how you feel, inside and out, and how you fit into your clothes. If the scale makes you feel confident and accountable, go for it.

29. Being a proud member of the clean plate club is just plain overrated. Having a healthy diet means eating until your body is satisfied, whether it be fish and veggies or a rich, decadent brownie. It’s not about finishing every last bite, it’s about enjoying one bite at a time, regardless of what you’re eating, and putting the fork down when you’ve had enough (enough means you’re satiated, not loosening your belt in a food coma.) This is easier said than done, I know, so it’s worth the mental effort to work on improving this habit, one meal at a time.

30. Healthy eating is not a mindless activity. It takes awareness, consciousness, presence, and purpose. Some examples include being mindful of how certain foods/food groups make your body feel, inquiring about food preparation when eating out, not digging into the bread basket or snacking simply because the food is right in front of you, and savoring occasional indulgences sans guilt.

So what’s the conclusion here? Honestly, I think that Whole30 has a TON of positive aspects (primarily eating whole foods) and a few negatives (too extreme, too much meat, and not enough smoothies.) Though I’m not the biggest proponent of this exact plan, I’m really happy that I experienced it because I did learn a lot and got rid of some poor habits. What made me stick with it after finding these faults? The sheer fact that I had made a commitment to myself.

Whole30 has lots of great aspects to it and I know that it has changed lots of lives for the better. If this seems like a plan that may be right for you, I encourage you to commit fully as well. Although 30 days may not be realistic, I would suggest an elimination diet for anyone looking to getting to know your body better, especially if you believe you may have an unidentified food sensitivity. Give your body a break from a certain food or food group for about two weeks and then reintroduce it to evaluate your body’s response. That way, as long as other food choices remain consistent, you should be able to tell 24-48 hours after consuming that food/food group if your body is sensitive to it. How will you know? You’ll know. Either it will make you feel fine, good, the same, or it will make you feel not so good in some way. As mentioned above, if it makes you feel yucky, try to cut it out of your diet as much as possible. Lastly, I repeat: read your labels and just eat real food!

IMG_0647One Healthy Breakdown: lessons learned, tools in toolkit, carry on.

Warming Herbs and Spices

Well, the weather outside is (again) frightful. Until spring hits and we begin to defrost, there are things we can do to keep a little bit warmer. Here’s a list of herbs and spices to add to your next meal, soup, or even smoothie, to turn up that internal temperature. Plus, as if warmth isn’t reason enough, they all pack a powerful metabolism-boosting punch as well!

fire

  • Tumeric
  • Wasabi
  • Basil
  • Shallots
  • Carob
  • Rosemary
  • Ginger
  • Dill
  • Nutmeg
  • Star anise
  • Black peppercorns
  • Garlic
  • Miso
  • Cardamom
  • Fennel
  • Cloves
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginseng
  • Allspice
  • Coriander
  • Chile Peppers

One Healthy Breakdown: Turn the heat up and warm from the inside out

Naturally Fight Germs This Flu Season!

Brrrrrr! It’s beginning to look a lot like…cold season, flu season, germ season. Ick. Here are some tips on fighting germs and staying healthy so we don’t feel like this little munchkin.

  • Get enough Vitamin C (found in bell peppers, strawberries, papaya, oranges, greens, etc.)
  • Lots of cinnamon and oregano, the natural antibiotics (herbs and spices are SO good, packed with flavor and health benefits at no calorie cost!)
  • Get your probiotics (yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, etc.)
  • Skip or minimize sugar, it weakens the immune system.
  • Eat foods with lots of phytochemicals (plant-based nutrients) to ensure lots of vitamins and minerals.
  • Get enough rest. You know the deal, 8 hour minimum!
  • Eat foods with riboflavin (mushrooms, soybeans, spinach, almonds, etc.)
  • Drink hot tea and hot lemon water, they warm and detox the body.
  • Load on the garlic, preferably raw, for countless health and anti-bacterial benefits.
  • Use coconut oil, it boosts the immune system.
  • Breathe natural steam above a boiling pot of water for a natural decongestant.
  • Apple cider vinegar alkalizes the body among lots of other benefits!
  • Wash your hands often (obviously!)
  • STAY WARM! Layer up!

One Healthy Breakdown: Germs happen, but we can fight off sickness!

WHOLE and More!

I recently attended a lecture by Dr. Cambell (author of The China Study and Whole.) Here’s what I learned:

Arranged Vegetables Creating a FaceOur bodies are machines constantly working towards HEALTH. It is how we feed our bodies that determines how easy or difficult it is for the body to get to what we’re working towards. When we feed the body the best fuel, (whole foods) we thrive from the nutrients, making it much easier to maintain a healthy body. When we don’t eat healthy, our body has to work much harder to break down the food, remove the nutrients, and fuel itself to continue to work towards health. If we fuel our machines (bodies) right, they will ‘run’ better and be healthier all around. Whole foods are easily digested, so the majority of the nutrients are absorbed into the body. Since food fuels the body’s processes, the easier the food is to digest, the more we benefit from it.

Nutrition may actually outweigh genetics. We are all pre-disposed to disease through genetics, some more than others, as DNA varies person to person. Nutrition, however, determines which of these genes are turned on. For example, we know that cancer cells thrive in an acidic environment. Eating a diet full of whole foods and plants increases alkalinity, while too much meat and processed foods tend to increase acidity.

MP900387908The good news is that we can actually reverse disease and shut these cells off, just like we can turn them on. Diet can change the body on a cellular level. For example, studies show that people with heart disease can be “cured” through nutrition. Although the genes still exist, they are dormant as a result of dietary changes. How cool is that?! And why don’t most people know that?!!!

Modern medicine is not based on holistic health and nutrition. The food and drug industries seem to be competing instead of aligning in the name of health. Most doctors do not preach a whole food diet because nutrition is the one thing that is not taught in medical school that is actually the leading factor for change.

Lastly, and my very favorite point is a direct Dr. Cambell quote: “when you eat healthy, your taste buds begin to change overtime. You begin to crave a salad. If you don’t have a salad, you want one.” I can’t reiterate how true this is. Overtime, as I’ve become more knowledgeable about nutrition, my body has naturally learned to crave healthy foods. If I go a day without fresh vegetables or fruit, my body wants nothing more than wholesome nourishment. The same goes for poor diet, so why not train yourself wisely?

One Healthy Breakdown: educate yourself. Nourish yourself. You deserve the best.