7 Simple Ways To Eat More Mindfully

Eating as mindfully as we might want, is not realistic for many of us, especially with work, busy families, physical routines, and all the other daily distractions.

Here are seven simple ideas to help you establish more mindful eating habits, and perhaps start to reconnect the body and mind again.

1. Tune in to your body’s signals

Rather than just eating on emotional cues (different for each of us, like sadness, anger, frustration, loneliness, stress or even just boredom) we can learn to tune into and be better listeners of our body’s actual hunger signals.

For example, is your stomach growling, is your energy low, are you feeling a little lightheaded, or even ‘hangry’?

2. Put food on a… plate

Too obvious? Think about this: eating out of a bag is not a very mindful practice! So, get in the habit of placing even snacks on a plate before eating them. This helps you to take notice of exactly what and how much you’re actually eating.

Also, acknowledge the time, effort and passion you put into creating your meal – consider all the ingredients, and the preparation and intention involved in getting the food from stove to plate!

3. Sit…at a table

Now that you’re eating from a plate, continue “formalizing” your gastronomic experience by always sitting at a table.

This helps to pull your attention back to your food and to your eating habits. It has also been shown to dramatically reduce overeating – especially for those who tend to eat in front of the TV.

4. Absolutely, positively NO devices at the table

Now that you’re sitting at a proper table, designating the first few minutes of a meal for quiet, mindful practice can be beneficial – for everyone at the table. This includes putting away the devices and turning off the TV. (more…)

Essential Oils 101: What Basics Do You Need to Know?

The power of essential oils (EO’s) is real – have YOU made them part of your everyday life yet?

Let’s lay out all of the basics so you can decide if you want to get on this one bandwagon that’s here for the long haul. And when you learn about the history of EO’s, you’ll know that they’re not even new. In fact, EO’s have been around for centuries!

Some essential oils come from seeds while many others are extracted from the leaves of the plant. Because EO’s are so highly concentrated, it takes a tremendous amount of plant to produce just one ounce of oil.

Due to this level of concentration, essential oils are incredibly powerful, so a little bit goes a long way!

“Essential” terms you should know:

AROMATIC

Essential oils are basically the natural aromatic compounds extracted from seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. Diffusion is one of the most popular ways to enjoy the aromatic benefits of essential oils.

CARRIER OIL

This refers to a lipid- or fat-based liquid used to dilute EO’s. Olive, coconut, almond, jojoba and argan oils are the most common ones. (more…)

What’s the Deal With Acne? Why Do I Still Have Zits?!

Whether you call them pimples, blemishes, or zits, ACNE is a common skin condition that can be a source of discomfort, frustration, and embarrassment for those who experience it.

 There’s quite a lot of behind-the-scenes action happening in your body that contributes to the development of it.

What Is Acne?

Acne can occur at any age, but is often experienced during distinct phases of hormonal shifting, like adolescence, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. This is because fluctuating hormone levels can increase the amount of oil produced by the skin.

A bout of acne or even the appearance of a single pimple is the result of a buildup of oil, skin cells, and/or bacteria in the pores of the skin.

Causes of Acne

Studies have linked acne to:

  • Inflammation – the root cause of all disease
  • Compromised gut health (i.e. leaky gut, not enough good gut bacteria)
  • High blood sugar and unstable insulin levels
  • Hormonal imbalances

The foods you eat don’t usually directly cause breakouts, but can contribute to acne by promoting inflammation, impairing gut health, and spiking blood sugar and insulin levels.

Inflammatory foods include those high in refined carbohydrates, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Examples include:

  • White breads, pasta, and rice
  • Candy, baked goods, and other sweet desserts
  • Sweetened drinks, like soda
  • Fried foods
  • Hydrogenated oils, trans fats, and saturated fats found in margarine, processed foods, and many animal products

Refined carbohydrates (many of which are high glycemic index foods), contain little fiber and protein, which helps slow digestion and prevent blood sugar spikes.

Instead, these sugary foods are quickly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, causing blood sugar to climb and lots of insulin to be released.

Excess insulin can affect other hormones and cause too much oil to be made by the skin, resulting in those dreaded breakouts. (more…)

The Great Soda Debate: Regular or Diet – is one really healthier than the other?

You don’t have to be a health nut to know that soda isn’t good for you. But is it really all that bad? Is it ok to just have it once in a while? And if you’re going to have it, is it better to have the regular ol’ sugar-filled version or the zero calorie “diet” kind?

Let’s weigh-in on the facts:

Regular soda

PROS:

  • It doesn’t contain artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, saccharin) that have gotten a really bad rap lately

 

CONS:

  • The sugar! A 12-ounce can of cola has about 8 teaspoons; almost the daily limit as recommended by the American Heart Association
  • Drinking 1-2 cans a day can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 26%
  • Regular sodas are filled with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) which is linked to obesity, heart disease, and fatty liver disease

Diet soda

PROS:

  • It feeds the craving for something sweet without adding extra calories or carbs, if you’re concerned about this
  • Since it’s sugar-free, diabetics can sip without worrying about the direct hit to their insulin and blood sugar levels

 

CONS:

  • While diet soda may be considered ‘safe’ for diabetics, they are far from nutritious as the artificial sweeteners in diet soda actually cause you to crave more sugar. When we drink it, our body is expecting sugar. Then when it doesn’t get it, it responds with even more cravings – for sugar!
  • Diet soda drinkers tend to gain more weight particularly around their belly. One study said that frequent drinkers of diet soda gained up to three times more belly fat than their non-diet soda drinking counterparts.
  • Diet soda is now being linked with cancer, heart attacks, strokes and neurological disorders.

(more…)

Everything You Need to Know About Omega-3 Fats

There’s a lot of talk about healthy fats these days. People are including more fat in their diets and forgetting about the fat-free diet crazes of the past.

You’ve probably heard about omega fats in the mix, but what exactly are they?

What are Omega Fats? Do they all perform the same function in our bodies?

Omegas are a group of fatty acids known as Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9. They’re numerically named based on their chemical composition.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids (EFA’s). The body is capable of producing some fatty acids on its own, like Omega-9 – meaning you don’t need to get them from food.

But the fatty acids the body can’t create on its own must be obtained from food, and therefore, are considered essential. Both fats are needed for good health, but most diets contain an abundance of omega-6 and not enough omega-3.

This skewed ratio between omega-3 and omega-6 is considered a cause of chronic inflammation that can lead to scary stuff, like heart attack and stroke.

A 1:1 ratio is ideal for keeping inflammation at bay, but it’s estimated that most people have a ratio closer to 20:1! Wow, right?

Low intake of Omega-3’s means most people are missing out on the major health benefits of this essential fat.

The protective qualities of Omega-3’s include:

  • Improved immune system function
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Decreased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, arthritis, and depression
  • Improved triglyceride and cholesterol values
  • Critical role in human development – the brain and retina contain lots of omega-3 in the form of DHA

(more…)