A good night’s rest is essential for effective thinking and learning. Lack of sleep can hurt these cognitive processes by impairing alertness, attention, concentration, reasoning and problem solving. These are all things we need to get through our day with ease. In addition, not getting enough sleep is a huge safety hazard on our roadways. Being drowsy when behind the wheel can slow your reaction time down to the same levels as drinking and driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that fatigue is a cause in 100,000 auto crashes and 1,550 crash-related deaths a year in the U.S. The problem is greatest among people under 25 years old.
Here are my top 10 tips to help get your beauty rest:
1. Keep a consistent schedule.
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends. Consistency is important here. Set a regular bedtime each night. Make it a time when you're normally tired anyway. Then wake up at the same time. If you're getting enough sleep, you should wake up without an alarm. I know most of us have to use an alarm, hit snooze and drag ourselves out of bed each morning. With the proper schedule, this will eliminate the dreaded alarm clock.
2. Take a nap if needed.
If your body needs to make up for lost sleep, naps are perfectly fine. Taking a daytime nap is better than sleeping late, especially on a weekend. Make sure to nap early in the afternoon and try to make it no longer than 30 minutes so it doesn’t disrupt your bedtime routine.
3. Increase your light exposure during the day.
Try to spend more time outside during the daytime. Take a break from work and go outside for a nice walk when the weather permits. Let as much natural light as possible into your home or office during the day.
4. Naturally boost your melatonin at night.
Turn off all electronics before you go to bed. Many people fall asleep to the TV but this is a mistake. The light suppresses your natural melatonin production and the TV can actually stimulate you rather than calm you down. This is the same when you get in bed and search Facebook or Pinterest on your phone. Instead, try listening to soothing music or a meditation CD or app on your phone. Make sure you room is dark and relaxing.
5. Make your bedroom more inviting and calming.
Keep the noise down in your room. If you live in a busy area where there is always noise outside, try using a fan or white noise to drown it out. Keep your room cool as well. Being too hot, or too cold, can affect the quality of sleep you get each night. Also, make sure your bed is comfortable. I know I have to have my sheets tucked in just right before I get in bed. My husband couldn't care less about having the sheets in the proper place but he knows it's essential for me to be comfortable. Find what works best for you, as we're all a bit different.
6. Eat dinner earlier in the evening.
I know some families don’t eat until 9 p.m. or even later. You should be eating about four hours before bedtime to ensure proper digestion before you hit the hay. If you have a fatty dinner, then get in bed, you could get heartburn or a slight stomachache, as a heavy dinner takes a lot of work for your stomach to digest.
7. Cut down on the caffeine.
If you are drinking coffee or soda in the afternoon, it's going to be much harder to get to bed at your chosen time. Try to cut out all caffeine by noon each day and stick with water and herbal decaffeinated tea the rest of the day to ensure a good night’s rest.
8. Get movement into your day.
Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. You don’t have to go to the gym and pump iron to get the effects. You can take a walk with your dog or do yoga poses at home and still get the benefits.
9. Relaxation and deep breathing.
If you find yourself lying in bed but unable to sleep, try taking deep breaths to clear your mind and relax your body. I love to relax my entire body by starting at my feet. You tighten the muscles for a few seconds then release. Do this all the way up to your head and you will be amazed at how relaxed you feel when completed. This is called Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
10. Don’t stress about sleep.
Focusing on the time and calculating how many hours until the alarm goes off doesn’t help things. I know, because I'm guilty of this, especially when I have an early flight to catch. Try to make relaxation your goal, not sleep. Work to clear your mind, and if you find you're worrying, or having anxiety about the following day, write it down in a notebook next to your bed and allow yourself to put those thoughts at rest. This ritual can greatly reduce the racing thoughts that go through our heads when we finally let our bodies relax.
You owe it to your body to take care of it and sleep is a huge part of self-care. We put gas in our car when it's empty and we charge our cellphones when the battery is low, so it only makes sense that we take care of ourselves and get the proper rest we need to function at our best capacity.
I know there are so many people that truly want to get healthy
but don’t know where to start. Then there are those that know what is good for them and what isn’t, but they still choose the unhealthy route. I see it in my health coaching practice.
Someone pays for my services because they want to feel their best. We start by making small changes that will last over time. It is truly a blessing when I see real results. But it is frustrating when others complain about not being healthy, eating and drinking too much and not taking time for themselves to actually accomplish anything.
To these people, I say “get out of your own way!”
Here are 8 steps to guide you on your path to health, IF you are truly ready:
1. Put yourself first. Your health should be one of your top priorities. If your car runs low on gas, you fill it up. You put air in the tires and change the oil every three months. Some people actually take better care of their vehicles than themselves. It is time to put yourself first and make the effort to gain better health. No one is going to do this for you.
2. Stop making excuses. We can make enough excuses to talk ourselves out of almost anything. Trust me, I did this for years thinking "oh I will start eating better tomorrow..." If you eat bad in the morning, that doesn't mean you have to eat bad the rest of the day. I know how it is when you are hungry and there is a drive-thru on the corner. But we all know that is the worst choice when it comes to food. Instead of driving thru a fast food restaurant, find somewhere that you can get a healthy salad with grilled chicken instead. I hear people say they don’t have the time for eating healthy, exercising or anything else that is good for them. But they do! You just have to stop making excuses and get real with yourself as to why you are choosing unhealthy options. Once you admit this, then you can figure out how to make room for health in your life.
3. Use what you have paid for. I know people that purchase great, healthy recipe books and never look past the cover. Dust it off and seek out something new. How many exercise DVD’s have you purchased that never made it out of the plastic wrapper? I personally just donated a pregnancy DVD (brand new) and my daughter is almost 12. I had high hopes of using it, but just never scheduled the time. And how many people have their purses and coats hung over the treadmill bars? Clean it up and jump on!
What about the gym membership you signed up for last January and went a few times? If you have already invested the money, put it to use.
4. Grocery shop. This is one simple thing you can do but is very hard for some people. I used to get intimidated and flustered at the store trying to figure out what to buy. It took a few trips with a list and now I can get in and out in less than 30 minutes. I personally go at least twice a week so I always have fresh fruits and vegetables. Making the time to shop for healthy food means when you are hungry, you have good options already at the house. There is no need to go out for dinner.
5. Plan your menu. When you first start your path to eating healthy, planning out your meals is essential to being
successful. You will only do this for a few weeks until you figure out what you like and what you will actually cook and eat. Then it becomes so easy to grocery shop as you already know how to feed your family since you planned it out and stuck to it for a few weeks.
6. Don’t say, “Oh I could never live without…” This could be bread, milk, beef, nuts… the list goes on to what I have heard. Be open to trying new foods and making healthier substitutions. You really can survive without macaroni and cheese from a box, I promise! By saying you could never live without a certain food automatically shuts your brain off to being open to new and delicious alternatives.
7. Schedule exercise or movement into your week. We schedule conference calls, meetings, dentist appointments and the list goes on. But most people don’t actually schedule exercise into their life. This means you are less likely to get active. Block out 30 minutes of your day and take a walk. Or check
the schedule at your gym and put a yoga class into your planner. By doing this in advance, you are more likely to stick to a routine. Find something that you like and that motivates you to get moving. It doesn't have to be fancy or expensive, just get out there and get your heart rate up!
8. Get creative. Do you have a stack of journals that you haven’t opened or art supplies that haven’t been touched? Get them out and get your creative juices flowing. This is something that is great for your health. It is calming and relaxing while allowing your brain to focus on something besides work, chores, kids, etc. And if you think you aren’t creative, that just isn’t true. We all have creativity inside of us that just hasn’t had the opportunity to come out.
Often, we are our own worst enemy when it comes to our health
We know we should do things differently, but just don’t make it a priority. Get out of your own way, stop making excuses and schedule health into your life. If you find there are obstacles, identify them and work to overcome them. Start with small changes if you want to see lasting results. If you change everything in one day, you will most likely set yourself up for failure. Take it one step at a time…your body will thank you for it.
If you need help making changes in your life, please check out my Winter Clean Eating Program HERE!
Today I want to share further information about cleanse, detox,
toxins, clean eating and the basics of an elimination diet.
I get asked these questions often and want to help you understand what all this really means for you and your health.
What is the difference between a cleanse and a detox?
Both detox and cleanse focus on bringing your body into perfect
balance, or homeostasis, where the organs self-regulate to keep the body’s internal environment stable.
A detox focuses on releasing toxicity from metals, chemicals found in cleaning products, cigarette smoke, food and drink, etc. from the body, sometimes from specific organs and/or the blood stream.
A cleanse focuses mainly on cleansing the organs on a deeper level and removing unwanted wastes that accumulate in the colon, digestive tract, and liver that can lead to disease or gut imbalances such as candida, parasites and unwanted pathogens.
In my Winter Clean Eating Program, Eat to Nourish, we are combining the principles of both a detox and a cleanse. Often a cleanse goes deeper into the organs and can include some fasting or a liquid diet for a short amount of time, but I do not believe you need to take this approach to get results. We are ditching the fasting, the pills, and the powders, and focusing instead on improving your digestion. You will only eat whole, seasonal foods that are designed to support your body’s natural processes of detoxification and cleansing.
What is a toxin?
A toxin is any substance that can be harmful to the body, causing allergies, intolerances, sensitivities, bloating, digestive upset, or an overall feeling of sickness. These can be from eating harmful foods, using toxic loaded personal care products and even the air we breathe. You cannot escape toxins
permanently, but you can work to cleanse/detox your system from them.
What is clean eating?
This is a phrase that has become very popular in the past five years. Clean eating is a way of life. By avoiding foods that are processed or refined, which may contain nitrates, chemicals, and pesticides, you reduce your exposure to free radicals that can harm your system and cause disease. By choosing ingredients in their most natural, whole state, including clean animal- or plant- based proteins, and preparing them in healthy fats, you reduce inflammation in your body, balance your pH levels, and improve vitality.
What is an elimination diet?
An elimination diet, such as this program, aims to uncover hidden food allergies and sensitivities and improve your digestion by discovering which foods are right for your body. You eat amazing, whole foods for a week then slowly introduce foods afterward. Your body will tell you what works and what doesn’t.
By cleaning out your digestive system and balancing it with whole foods, you are getting a clean start to finding out any hidden food sensitivities.
I hope this helps to clarify some of the terms associated with my programs. There is not much
better than knowing how to eat correctly for your body. It is truly amazing! For more information on how to get started: Winter Clean Eating Program
I bought a dehydrator over a year ago and never really used it. I pulled it out this past weekend to make beef jerky for my husband. It was SO easy and tasted delicious. And by making it yourself, you know there is nothing added to it that is bad for you. I decided this was the best way when I read the ingredients on a pack of beef jerky at the store. All the additives were ridiculous and took any nutritional value right out the window.
Since I had such success with the jerky, I decided to try apples and pineapples. These just happened to be in my house at the time. Fruits take longer in the dehydrator than beef, but it is SO worth it!
My pick daughter turned up her nose at the pineapple and I made her eat one. She then had that look on her face like "Oh these are awesome" but also "I don't want my mom to know I like them." Mission accomplished...approval from my pre-teen!
If you have a dehydrator sitting in a closet somewhere, dust it off and put it to use! And if you are looking to purchase one, here is the one I have:
Dehydrator. You can find it under "Kitchen Products" on my Favorite Things tab. There are so many options out there for dehydrators and you can spend hundreds. I have found that this one that is fairly inexpensive does the trick!
Now start making some yummy, healthy snacks!
I started drinking coffee in college during all-night study sessions cramming for tests. We would all meet at Denny's where we paid about $2 and could drink as much of this caffeinated goodness that our stomachs could hold. I remember going to class the following morning with major shakes and it's a wonder I ever graduated! The best part of those times was hanging with my friends "studying" and doing way more chatting and coffee drinking than anything. We actually made it fun and looking back, I feel sorry for the waiters that had our table that we would occupy for hours on end with only enough money to pay for the essentials...coffee.
After graduation, I began working at Dell Computers which was my first "real" corporate job. And it wasn't just 9-5, it could sometimes be 7am to 7pm. It was crazy those first few years as the company grew and I was making plenty of money to make up for all the extra hours worked. However, I was tired ALL THE TIME! Then Dell had a fabulous idea...they put a STARBUCKS in our building. It was just a short flight of stairs down to all the coffee, cream and sugar that your heart could desire. And this is when the real habit began.
I would stop at 7-Eleven on the way to work for a huge cup of their coffee and finish it within the first hour of my day. When the mid-morning crash started, I would get a coffee from downstairs at the office. And of course, the afternoon crash was even worse so I would head down again to grab another cup to tide me over until it was time to go home. And I did this every single day. I worked there for ten years and we had our "coffee" groups that would go down and grab our cups together while discussing whatever was happening that day: who's underwear was showing, who came in late, who came back from lunch looking like they got high in the parking lot... and other real important manager stuff. It became a habit. A real habit that was not ever going to break.
I look back to that time in my life and I remember dealing with major stomach issues almost daily, including horrific heart burn and acid reflux, among other icky ailments. It makes sense now: I was eating junky food and fueling myself with caffeinated beverages through each day so I could wake up and do it all over again.
About a year and a half ago I went to a doctor that ran the food sensitivities test on me. I had no idea what to expect when the tests came back, but for some reason, I was shocked at the results. There at the very tippy top of my list of the "foods" I was most sensitive was COFFEE! How was this possible? I loved coffee, it helped me wake up every day. It helped me, not hurt me. I owned two Keurig machines, just in case the unfathomable happened and one didn't work. I was ordering at least $100 a month on those little k-cups. Coffee was my #1 offender and causing many of my issues...I just couldn't grasp this information.
As I drove home and thought more about it, it did start to make sense. I was starting each morning with a hot beverage that didn't work with my system. And it was down-hill from there. I decided it was worth a shot to quit coffee after seeing the results on paper.
That was the last day I drank coffee. Just like that; I quit cold turkey. I felt I had to in order to save my digestive system. and so began my search for alternatives. At the beginning, I would have hot tea instead and I still enjoy hot herbal tea at least once a day. The changes after eliminating coffee were almost immediate...besides that blaring headache that came from the withdrawals. Luckily those went away after a few days.
So for me and my body, coffee wasn't working. I missed it greatly at the beginning but now that I have been coffee-free for over a year, I don't even really think about it anymore.
I tell my clients that are heavy coffee drinkers with any sort of stomach issues to slowly begin weaning off of it. I recommend cutting it down by 1/4 a day. So they will have a cup in the morning and instead of the second, I urge them to have a big glass of water. Many people that drink coffee all day are pretty dehydrated. And for those that don't want to give it up for good (which is fine if your stomach tolerates it), I recommend buying a high quality, organic coffee to enjoy. One of my favorite teas that fill that dark roasted coffee need is Dandy Blend. It is incredible and can be a great way to wean yourself down from any coffee habit. It tastes like coffee but is actually a tea and it is gluten free.
So if you are experiencing any kind of heart burn, acid reflux or other digestive issues, I would recommend cutting out the coffee and see how you feel. You might be shocked, as I was, at how much better I feel without it!
This article originally appeared on Mind, Body, Green Saturday November 2, 2013: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11462/why-im-excited-to-turn-40.html
In a little over a month, I will officially hit the big 4-0! So many people
dread these major birthdays, but I am actually looking forward to what the next decade holds for me. There are so many reasons why I am embracing this new chapter in my life and actually looking forward to my 40’s.
1. I am more confident in myself.
When I was younger, I had confidence in my abilities, but it was lost somewhere around the time I had my daughter at the age of 28. My career path was amazing and I had so much potential to really be successful. Then I had my
daughter and it seemed I could barely stay awake at work and she was sick all the time. I lost my focus and my confidence at that point. Now that I'm turning 40, I feel I have it back and I can tackle the world with my four decades of
2. I am more financially responsible.
I am actually saving for retirement and feel more secure in the money department than I have in the past. I don’t spend frivolously and am working to pay down my credit card debt. As you get older, you actually see the light at the end of the tunnel and I want to make sure I am financially able to retire by the age of 60.
3. I found the right partner that I know will be by my side the rest of my life.
I got married at the early age of 23 and didn’t really know what I wanted out of life, much less a marriage. That lasted only five years and I have held out for Mr. Right and finally found him after nine years of looking. It's so exciting and comforting to know that I get to have my best friend with me through all of life’s ups and downs. With this kind of support and love, I know we can make it through whatever life throws our way.
4. I am finally getting enough sleep.
My daughter is now in 6th grade and sleeps all night long without having to get up for feedings and diaper changes. She is old enough to make her own breakfast and get ready for school by herself and I no longer have to lug around car seats and diaper bags. Now I can enjoy spending time with her and have real conversations. I truly enjoy having her friends over and still feel young enough to hang out with them but old enough to offer advice on how to manage being a pre-teen.
I can still remember my own slumber parties, discovering boys, school dances and everything else that comes with that age. I love getting to guide my daughter through this stage in her life.
5. I am old enough to finally get that tattoo that I never could decide on.
In my earlier years, I wasn’t passionate about anything enough to permanently ink something on my body. I am so glad I waited and didn’t make a bad decision that required months of laser removal. Two weeks ago I finally allowed myself permission to get my first tattoo and I love it! I got the words “Just Breathe” on my right foot so when I am in yoga class it's there as a constant reminder. I know this is something that I won’t regret a few years down the road.
6. I feel healthier than ever before. In college and as a new mom, I ate like crap.
At the time I didn’t realize it, but now, I know I was eating horrible foods that were just making me feel worse. Now I know how to prepare a healthy meal for my family and am learning to eat and experiment with new foods all the time. I am so happy to enter my 40s with the knowledge of what foods make me look and feel the best.
7. I decided last year to go back to school to study nutrition.
Going to college at 18, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life or my career. I would have majored in General Studies because I was so undecided, but alas, they wouldn’t let me. I finally chose to major in Journalism which I am now thankful for. I'll never regret getting a college education, but going back to school at the age of 40 is completely different. I
get excited to learn more each week and don’t stress about the tests. I can finally focus on topics that I am passionate about.
8. I don’t feel the need to go to bars in order to have a social life.
I can spend my time and money on things that are much healthier for me than drinking until 2am. I used to feel like I was missing out if I didn’t go to every happy hour with friends from work. Now, I know I am much more content spending time with my family in healthier ways. I enjoy every day by waking up early instead of sleeping off a hang-over until noon on the weekends.
9. I finally feel like I have my life in order.
I have hopes and dreams and can see a future. I have great things to look forward to. Prior to this stage, I was just making it through one day at a time. Now I'm actually planning a few years down the road, which has never happened before.
10. I am truly blessed to have amazing friends from my childhood that are all entering this new decade along with me.
When we get together, we definitely don’t act 40. We laugh and joke like we did as kids. It’s as though nothing has changed in the past 20 years, and for that, I am entirely grateful.
Anyone else about to hit a major birthday? I recommend looking at the blessings you have, the experience you have gained and moving into the next years with hope and happiness!
I have recently started going to yoga at least 5, if not more, times per week. I have dabbled with it in years past and enjoyed the stretching and the balancing poses. But it wasn't until I started going faithfully each week that I have truly found why people love it. It took me a while to "get it" and I finally feel that I am doing just that. I struggle on a daily basis with maintaining my anxiety. It is something that is a constant battle for me as I have a thousand things running through my head at any given time. Yoga is the one hour of my day that I block all that out and truly just focus on my breathing. And it has made amazing changes in my life. If I miss a day, I can tell in my mood and my body. Never have I felt that way about running or going to a gym!
For me, practicing yoga is very spiritual as well as relaxing. I love going to the harder classes to challenge myself. It's a great feeling when I can stretch a little farther or hold a pose a little longer than I could the day before. I also feel like I am at least an inch taller when I leave. For real, I think I grow in there!
I can feel the changes in myself and the way that I handle situations. I am now much calmer and more relaxed about things. When I get home, I literally feel happier and healthier. And I am sure I am much more pleasant to be around.
I used to look at the last few minutes of class as a quick little nap, but now I see that time as so much more. It is weird how it just changes you. Tonight, for example, a big storm blew in at the end of class and it was so incredibly peaceful to be in a room with the sound of heavy rain and lightning. I wasn't worried about getting wet or driving home, I just enjoyed the sounds of nature.
But there is one thing that bothered me and I'm not sure I should have been irritated but I will let you tell me your thoughts. A couple days ago I was at a class that was packed. We all had a decent amount of space, but not near as much as normal. I ended up near the shelves that hold the blankets and bolsters which was totally fine with me. I like being closer to a wall in case I lose my balance I can just grab the wall! Anyways, TWO different women stepped ON my yoga mat while making their way over to the shelves. Not one, but two! For some reason, I just found this a bit rude. I mean, this is my mat...my sacred space for one hour. All mine, no sharing with anyone. And they just stepped right on it when they could have very easily gone around. Am I wrong for getting a little grossed out by their bare feet on my sacred mat? Of course, I didn't say anything but it did throw me off for a bit.
But with a few deep breaths, I was able to get over it quickly. And once I got home, I quickly cleaned my mat to get off any germs.
If you have not tried yoga, I highly recommend it. It has made amazing changes in my life and I know it could in yours as well. And if there are any single guys out there, yoga is the place to find cute girls!
"When our bodies become toxic, it means that our natural means of ushering out metabolic waste from a normal human metabolism, environmental pollution, and what has become known as the Standard American Diet (or SAD diet) have exceeded the threshold for what the body's innate detoxification system can tolerate on its own. With this toxic load, every system in the human body can become affected. From our head to our toes and everything in between, toxicity makes us sick!" --Dr. Mark Hyman, Functional Medical Doctor & Teacher
Cleansing and eating "clean" is such an important and productive process for your body. Our bodies need to clear out the built-up waste in our systems to leave you feeling lighter and cleaner.
Some people do a detox or cleanse in order to lose weight, but it is so much more than that. Sure, it will result in weight loss but it will also improve your digestion, improve your metabolism, uncover any hidden food allergies and decrease inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of all major, and minor, illnesses. These are things such as chronic colds, brittle nails, hormonal imbalances, dry skin, dry hair and constipation...just to name a few!
Every food you consume, every breath you inhale and everything you touch each day brings contaminants. This constant barrage forces your liver to work hard to detoxify your body daily. There is no way to avoid these toxins so our bodies have to work that much harder to process them. When we stop and give the body a rest by eating whole, clean foods, your body will naturally detox and reset itself. This will leave you feeling amazing!
So why is detoxing in the Fall a good thing? For starters, it prepares your body for the winter months both physically and emotionally. It helps to prevent common winter illnesses and attaining a clearer and more focused mental state. We could all use that, right? Our bodies tend to build up toxins over the summer months of heat that can lead to coughs, migraines and stuffy noses in the coming weeks. Fall is a wonderful time to slow down and move the focus inward, purging the toxicity that is keeping us from being the best version of ourselves. It is similar to the trees losing their leaves; you are shedding what is no longer serving you as you ready yourself for the coming cold months.
During a Fall Cleanse or Detox, we honor the lungs and the large intestine.
Physical: Optimal delivery of oxygen. Supports healthy immune system and good digestion. Preventative against colds and winter congestion.
Emotional: Release feelings of sadness and prevent the "winter blues."
Physical: Cleanse and support for healthy functioning, better support of the immune system and optimal digestion.
Emotional: Release negative emotions that are not serving the body well. Letting go.
Hopefully this helps to understand why cleansing in the Fall is so vital and important to our health in the coming winter months. It really is essential to keeping your immune system up and running at its best to protect you!
My first Fall Clean Eating Group Program began today and we have an amazing group that are committed to cleansing in a fun, healthy way. That group is now closed but the second group is now open for registration and will begin November 4th. In addition, if you are looking to get started on your own schedule, there is a DIY option available as well.
I highly recommend joining in this Fall with my incredible program and support the entire step of the way. You will be so glad you did!
My article as it originally appeared on Mind, Body, Green October 1, 2013:
Have you ever felt like you needed a bag of chips or chocolate bar immediately, and you couldn't focus on anything but feeding that craving? This is typical for so many of us, but it isn't entirely normal and can often indicate several different issues.
For starters, you may just be thirsty and a glass of water can help satisfy the craving. Or it could mean you're hungry, plain and simple. But it can also be something deeper. If the majority of your diet consists of packaged and processed foods, your body is most likely lacking the nutrients that it needs to thrive.
Needing acceptance, pleasure or love can also manifest in cravings. These intense urges can cause you to fill this need with something crunchy or savory. This is when you need to stop and listen to your body to figure out what it's truly trying to tell you.
In the parenting world, it seems that every reward comes in the form of food: cupcakes, ice cream, chips or candy. What happened to the time when you were rewarded with a dollar to put in your piggy bank? I see parents all the time bribe their children with candy and junk food. This tells them at an early age that if they do what they are told, they'll be rewarded with junk food.
This also happens in the work environment. At my job recently, there was an all-day health fair at the office. We all got weighed, had our fingers pricked for cholesterol, and our BMIs calculated. This was great, but two days later there was an all-company email letting everyone know there was “CAKE IN THE BREAK ROOM.” So here we are, as adults, still being rewarded with food that doesn’t nourish our bodies and that only contributes further to the vicious craving cycle.
Here are questions to ask yourself next time you are craving something unhealthy:
1. What's my hunger level?
If you haven’t eaten in four hours, then your body is most likely telling you it is time for lunch. If you just ate, rate your hunger level on a scale of 1 to 10. You might find that hunger isn’t really the issue.
2. What have I eaten today?
If you can't remember, it might be good to keep a food journal for a few days to notice any patterns. Figure out what you've already had, and determine what was lacking. For example, if you had a donut and coffee for breakfast, your body is most likely craving a good salad with protein for lunch to counteract the sugary breakfast.
3. What's my mood?
Try to really get in touch with your emotions about eating. If you're tired or cranky, you may feel that eating will solve this problem. But if you find you're binging on unhealthy foods, it could be your body telling you that you're lacking support or love in your life. This is where you really have to dig deep to uncover what these emotions and cravings are really about. Many times, they aren't about food at all.
4. What diet and lifestyle am I following?
If you're vegan or vegetarian, but are craving red meat, it's most likely your body telling you it needs this right now. If you've cut out a major food group and you feel intense cravings for it, your body is speaking to you. If you aren’t getting enough protein from certain food groups, your body will let you know by signaling certain cravings.
Here are a few suggestions for healthier alternatives when you have a craving for “bad” food:
Chips/Crackers: Try crisp vegetables, like carrot sticks with hummus.
Cookies/Cake: Try oatmeal bars or dried fruit instead.
Ice Cream/Milk Shakes: Make a healthy smoothie with frozen bananas, strawberries and almond milk.
Candy/Sour or Tangy: Try water with lemon or fresh salsa on greens.
No one likes to feel deprived, and that's really at the heart of why diets don’t work. They focus on cutting out certain foods rather than adding in delicious, healthy ones. If you have a craving for something sugary, you don’t have to deny yourself for the rest of your life. You can still enjoy treats sometimes, but pay attention to the portion and try to only eat half of what you were planning. If you sit down and chew slowly, you won’t need as much to really enjoy and feel satisfaction.
If you are eating well-balanced, healthy meals on a regular basis, you'll find your body stops craving junk food. It takes time, but it's so worth it in the long run.
I wrote a quick "5 Things" for my daughter's middle school PTA newsletter and thought I would share it here as well. I might add, we are not perfect over here. Now in our 4th week of school we are finally getting the routine down and I have only had to make one trip up to school with a forgotten item. Which technically should have been avoided but I gave in to my daughter's argument that it was "just fine" to wear flip flops to school. No sooner had I dropped her off when my phone rings with her asking me to bring "closed-toe shoes" because it is required in her science class. Don't you wish our kids would just trust us sometimes???
Anyways, now onto the quick 5 things you can do to have healthy, happy kiddos:
Now that school is back in full swing, we have all hopefully settled into our new routines. This abrupt change in schedule from the relaxed weeks of summer can be stressful for the entire family and put kids at risk for getting sick. Starting a fresh year is a great time to implement healthier habits for our kids. Here are 5 things we can do as parents to keep our kids healthy and happy:
1. Plenty of sleep: For kids 12-18 years old, it is recommended they get at least 8-9 hours of sleep each night. Establish a nighttime routine and try to have lights out by 9 or 10pm to ensure they are well rested for the school day.
2. Healthy breakfast: When we sleep too late and rush out the door, it causes our kids to have anxiety and stress before getting into the classroom. Get up a bit earlier to make sure there is time for them to sit down and enjoy a healthy breakfast. Some suggested ideas are: Coconut yogurt with granola and fresh berries, apple slices with nut butter and toast, green smoothie, or even a burrito with black beans, eggs and salsa. Try to keep away from anything packaged as they are filled with preservatives and sugar.
3. Stay active: This is very important for the middle school years as our kids are developing habits they will take into high school and their adult years. Make sure as parents we are encouraging them to be involved in sports that interest them or even taking a family bike ride. If your child shows interest in something, do your best to allow them to explore new things. Team sports are a great way to stay active as well as meet new friends in the community.
4. Lay off the caffeine: Our children should not need caffeine to get through their days. Always make water the easiest and fastest drink for them when thirsty. Many kids are mildly dehydrated every day because they are consuming way more sugary drinks than water. Set the example as a parent and drink your share of water as well. If possible, don’t have
sodas and sugary juices at home. Save these as a treat when you go out or on the weekend.
5. Stay organized: I know this is difficult to do, but it takes the anxiety and stress off of everyone in the busy mornings. Have your student pick out their clothes and pack their backpacks the night before. Establishing this healthy routine will set our children up for success as adults by planning ahead. It will also mean less trips by parents to the school dropping off forgotten items.
Here’s to a great, healthy new school year!
My mission as a Certified Health Coach is to make the world a happier, healthier place, one person, one meal at a time, with love and gratitude. I work to inspire others to live a life of prevention and overall wellness!