Can Lack of Sleep Cause Weight Gain?

Are you stuck trying to figure out why you’re gaining weight — or why it’s so difficult to lose those extra pounds that just seemed to sneak up on you despite not changing your diet or exercise habits?

This is often referred to as Weight Loss Resistance and it is exactly how it sounds: weight that just won’t stinking budge no matter what you do!

Here’s one surprising reason why you might be gaining weight or experiencing weight loss resistance: lack of good, quality, restorative sleep.

In fact, there are actually science-backed reasons why a lack of sleep can be a strong contributing factor to not being able to maintaining a healthy weight.

Why Lack of Sleep Causes Weight Gain

If you thought unsightly dark circles under the eyes were the worst outcome from cutting corners on sleep, you may want to think again.

Sleep is of the utmost importance to nearly every bodily system and losing out on it, even just a little, creates a vicious cycle in your body.

For example, where a healthy body weight may be of concern, the more sleep deprived you are, the higher your levels of stress hormone (cortisol) will be, which tends to increase your appetite.

Then, once the appetite is increased, lack of sleep also thwarts your body’s natural ability to process sugar and carbohydrates. Which of course is what you’re craving after a crappy night’s sleep!

Additionally, when you’re overtired, the mitochondria (little cellular factories that turn food and oxygen into energy) actually start to shut down. This causes glucose to stay in your blood, and you end up with high blood sugar levels.

Insulin is a hormone whose job it is to signal the body’s muscle, fat, and liver cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream to be used for energy. A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported that skimping on sleep can cause fat cells to become less insulin-sensitive by up to 30% – meaning they lose their ability to use insulin properly.

Yet another reason you might pack on pounds when you’re lacking in sleep is because your body goes into survival mode – much like when we deprive our bodies of too little energy & calories. Therefore, survival mode = extra fat storage. (The body thinks it’s better to be fat than dead!)

And all of that isn’t even the worst of it! (more…)

What Are The Healthiest Oils & Fats To Cook With?

If you haven’t heard by now, fat is your friend! Dietary fat provides energy, supports cell maintenance, enhances nutrient absorption, and is essential for producing some hormones.

Dietary fat got a bad reputation back when, blamed for increasing rates of obesity and heart disease. Now, thanks to science and the increasing popularity of fat-containing diets, like Paleo and Keto, we know fat is an essential nutrient and a critical component of a healthy diet.

However, not all fats are created equal. Some fats come with extra health benefits and some can be harmful to your health and should be avoided all together.

One of the best ways to include healthy fats in your diet is using high quality cooking oils. When it comes to cooking, the type of cooking and amount of heat matter when selecting which oil to cook with.

In general, oils that are highly processed should be avoided. These include vegetable oil blends, like canola, soybean, sunflower, and safflower oils.

These oils undergo chemical and high heat processes during production, which often turns the oils rancid – aka full of oxidation, trans fat, and other inflammatory byproducts that aren’t best for your body.

Oils that have a low smoke point or contain a high percentage of polyunsaturated fatty acids, like walnut and flaxseed oil, shouldn’t be used for cooking. That’s because heat damages the flavor and nutrition profile of these oils and causes the formation of unhealthy free radicals.

There are a few tried and true oils that lend flavor and nutrition no matter what cooking method you’re using.

Here are the 4 healthiest oils/fats to cook with:

OLIVE OIL

The monounsaturated fats found in olive oil are linked to reduced inflammation, decreased risk of heart disease, improved triglycerides and cholesterol levels, and many of the other health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet.

Olive oil is best for low-heat cooking, such as a quick sauté or baking at 350 degrees and below. It has a low smoke point, which means high temperatures will cause olive oil to degrade, so it shouldn’t be used in high heat roasting or frying. (more…)

Your Daily Self-Care Routine

In these trying, stressful times we can all use a little self-care, self-love, self-support, self-nurturing… whatever you want to call it. It’s one of the greatest investments you can make for your physical, mental, and emotional health & well-being.

Because when you nurture yourself, you are better equipped to help others. But self-care isn’t all about rewarding yourself at the end of a hard day or stressful week(s). It’s about engaging in something that is self-supportive and looks after your own needs first.

“Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s mandatory. Fuel your soul so you can give your best to your people. We need all of YOU!”
~ Dr. Sara Gottfried MD, Author of The Hormone Cure

And if you’re someone who actually finds it hard to care for yourself, and give yourself permission to carve out that time, then you probably need it more than anyone else!

Your Daily Self-Care Routine – 50 Easy Ways To Start One Today!

If you’re not in the habit of nurturing yourself regularly, here are 50 ways to begin your self-care practice. Start small and START TODAY!

The list was created prior to the COVID-19 pandemic so please make sure you are following the guidelines within your community in regards to staying home, social distancing, etc. as there are items listed that have you going outside of your home. If you want even more ideas, please check out each of these self-care blog posts:  Healthoholics  Wholefully  Tiny Buddha  CanPrev (more…)

Chronic Stress – Am I At Risk?

Who out there is a little stressed these days? COVID-19. Businesses closed. Working from home. Schools Closed. Home schooling. Toilet paper and cleaning supplies shortages. I could go on… Serious folks no one can avoid it these days. And even if we weren’t in a full out pandemic – it literally surrounds us in everyday life and virtually no one is immune to it. However, a little bit of stress is actually a good thing! It keeps us – and our neurological systems on its toes, for lack of a better term.

But, while short-lived stress is generally harmless, and sometimes even helpful (hello there, motivating adrenaline rush!), it’s when it persists and becomes chronic that it can really start to create havoc in our lives – and in our health.

Chronic stress can cause a range of concerning symptoms, and not just the psychological ones we often associate it with. It can also contribute to the development of a multitude of physical and mental disorders, it truly is a full-body response!

In fact, chronic stress has become so stealthy at infiltrating every part of our lives that health professionals have dubbed a new illness for a new era… Chronic Stress – the health epidemic of the 21st century.

What Does Chronic Stress Feel Like?

First, we must understand what our natural or normal stress response feels like:

  • Encounter a perceived threat – whether that’s real or imagined, physical, mental, or emotional.
  • Hypothalamus, a tiny region at your brain’s base, kicks into gear and sets off the alarm system in your body.
  • Via nerve and hormonal signals (sent as a result of the alarm system), the adrenal glands are prompted to release stress hormones, including Adrenaline and Cortisol
    • Adrenaline increases heart rate, elevates blood pressure and pumps up energy reserves
    • Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases glucose in the bloodstream, enhances the brain’s use of glucose, and bolsters tissue repair function
    • Cortisol also downgrades nonessential functions that would take up precious resources needed during the fight-or-flight response. For example, the immune system, digestive system, reproductive system, and growth processes are all put on the back burner.
  • Perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. For example, as stress hormone levels drop, heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other body systems resume their regular activities too.

 But what happens when your normal stress response goes into overdrive? (more…)

Emotional Eating – What is it and how can I get a handle on it?

Picture this: You hit the snooze button one too many times, had a last-minute project thrown at you at work, and then sat in an hour of evening traffic.

Finally home, you breathe a sigh of relief, head into the kitchen, and decide you deserve a snack after the day you’ve had. Maybe you reach for a few crackers, then a bit of chocolate. Before you know it, you’ve munched your way through the entire kitchen without eating a proper meal. You’re stuffed, ashamed, and wondering WHAT THE HECK just happened?!

Sound familiar?

It’s called emotional eating, and in a nutshell, it is eating for any other reason besides actual physical hunger, fuel, or nourishment.

3 Trademarks of Emotional Eating

  • Binging – usually on high-sugar and carb-rich comfort foods (i.e. junk food). How many people do you know who reach for avocado and apples when they’re upset?
  • Mindlessly eating – you’re not aware of what or how much you’re eating or how those foods are making your body feel.
  • Eating to numb, soothe, please, relax, or reward self, i.e. “I had a bad day and deserve it” kind of thinking. Eating during these times provides temporary relief, but often leaves you feeling worse than where you started!

I know I have personally done all of these! I’d get home from a long day and feel drained so I’d just grab something until I made dinner later. Then never made dinner because I just ate a crap ton of just whatever. Or on more than one occasion saying “umm, how did this whole bag of chips disappear?”

The trouble with emotional eating is it overrides your body’s natural hunger cycle and can promote things like:

  • weight gain
  • an increase in your risk for inflammation and chronic disease
  • create an unhealthy relationship between you and food
  • lead to more danger types of disordered eating

What Triggers Emotional Eating?

Even though it’s called “emotional eating” because people often reach for food to cope with their feelings, there are a lot of other non-hunger reasons that can prompt you to eat.

Some of those reasons include:

  • Uncomfortable emotions, like anger, guilt, fear, and sadness
  • Stress (biggest culprit)
  • Boredom
  • Need to feel pleasure and/or comfort

(more…)

Three Must Eat Breakfast Foods

Do you love your breakfast?  Do you have a short list of “go-to” recipes? Do you need a bit of inspiration to start eating breakfast again?

Getting some protein at each meal can help with blood sugar management, metabolism, and weight loss. This is because protein helps you feel fuller longer and uses up a bunch of calories to absorb and metabolize it. So I’m going to show you how to get the protein, as well as some veggies and healthy fats for your soon-to-be favorite new “go-to” breakfasts.

Breakfast Food #1: Eggs

Yes, eggs are the “quintessential” breakfast food. And for good reason! No, I’m not talking about processed egg whites in a carton. I mean actual whole “eggs”.

Egg whites are mostly protein while the yolks are the real nutritional powerhouses. Those yolks contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats. Eggs have been shown to help you feel full, keep you feeling fuller longer, and help to stabilize blood sugar and insulin. Not to mention how easy it is to boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in the fridge for a “grab and go” breakfast when you’re running short on time.

And…nope the cholesterol in eggs is not associated with an increased risk of arterial or heart diseases. One thing to consider is to try to prevent cooking the yolks at too high of a temperature because that can cause some of the cholesterol to become oxidized. It’s the oxidized cholesterol that’s heart unhealthy.

Breakfast Food #2: Nuts and/or Seeds

Nuts and seeds contain protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Nuts and/or seeds would make a great contribution to breakfast. (more…)