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Upgrade Your Eating Habits

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Here are some simple tips to incorporate into your routine that will help make healthy eating more efficient, cooking easier, and shopping simpler.

  • Cook once eat twice – Cooking new meals every day can be time consuming, so cook enough food at dinner so that you can modify it a little the next day and have it for lunch.
  • Buy organic – Look at it this way: you can either pay the farmer or pay the hospital. Yes, it’s more expensive, but you’ll get much more out of your foods. Most of our nutrients come from the soil so if soil quality is compromised by pesticides our food is nutrient deficient. Additionally, pesticides can be very harmful for our brains, fertility, and organs, and lead to various diseases. Start out buying 50% organic. Some foods are more affected than others by pesticides, so check out this guide to help you decide what to definitely buy organic: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/
  • Chop vegetables right when you get home from the grocery store – Having your veggies already chopped and ready to go when it comes time to cook makes it that much easier and faster to get to dinner time. Buy onions, bell peppers, green beans, carrots, and celery that can be easily stored in a Tupperware and will keep well for a few days.
  • To hydrate, only drink water – Any small benefit of drinks that have vitamins or electrolytes is always outweighed by the sugar content, and is a big contributor to weight gain, hyperactivity in children, irritability, and anxiety. Flavored ice teas, juices, sparkling juices, sodas, and sports drinks are all full of sugar. If you have to have a sweet drink try and start cutting down, treat it as an indulgence and see if sparkling water with lemon or lime helps cut the cravings.
  • Eat slowly, stop when you’re full – As simple as this sounds a lot of us eat way past when we’re full. When we eat quickly it takes our brain time to catch up to our stomachs to realize that we’ve had enough. Slowing down allows us to stop when we’re full and avoid overeating. A good rule of thumb is to eat until you feel about 80% full.
  • Chew your food – Chewing food thoroughly is extremely important. When we chew, our bodies begin to create digestive enzymes that help us break down our food. When we don’t chew properly, our stomachs aren’t prepared properly to digest. Not only that, our stomachs don’t have teeth (obviously), so when we swallow food that’s still partially whole our bodies have to work extra hard to break down the food. This takes tons of energy from us and creates that tired, lethargic feeling we often have when we’re done eating.
  • Don’t buy foods that have more than 10 grams of sugar in a serving – Sugar is everywhere! Sugar content in foods is growing every year and is an extreme contributor to weight gain as it sends our insulin levels up and tells the body to store fat. Do your best to avoid sugar and if something does have sugar in it, make sure it’s less than 10 grams per serving.
  • Drink water 20 minutes before eating – When we drink while we eat it makes it hard for our stomachs to properly release the digestive enzymes we need to break down food. Because we’re not able to break the food down properly it rots in our digestive tracts and isn’t effectively eliminated. Undigested food is also a big reason for why many of us feel bloated or overly full after eating a reasonably sized portion.
  • If you’re feeling hungry and it’s not snack or meal time, try drinking water – Many times we mistake thirst for hunger, so we go to food to satisfy the craving we’re having. This unnecessary eating leads to weight gain and dehydration.
  • View dairy products as an indulgence – Cheese and milk are very delicious, but they’re also very hard for your body to digest and are high in fat. When they’re not high in fat they tend to be high in sugar, which encourages your body to put on weight. Cutting down on dairy and viewing it as an indulgence will help you to lose weight and keep it off more easily.
  • Sprinkle ground flax seeds on your meals – A large percentage of the US population is fiber deficient. Ground flax seeds are an excellent way to fortify your meals with fiber to help with digestion and promote healthy liver function. Super easy and very healthy!
  • Buy pink Himalayan salt – Salt is actually a very important mineral for humans but has gotten a bad rap. While white table salt is highly refined and is hard on our hearts and arteries, pink Himalayan salt is in its natural form, and when eaten in small amounts can be good for us. It tastes the same without being processed and harmful to your body.
  • Cook with coconut oil – Coconut oil is an excellent source of omega 3 essential oils. These are extremely important for our metabolism, memory, prevention against depression and anxiety, skin health, heart health and more. It can be very sweet at first so use it with veggies that are already a little sweet like squash, onions and carrots. It’s also a lot more stable than fruit oils like olive oil so it can handle high temperatures very well.
  • Eat the colors of the rainbow – When shopping, your basket should be full of brightly colored veggies and fruits! Various colors promote different functions of the body, so make sure to get a colorful combination. Bell peppers, sweet potatoes, onions, spinach, cucumbers and berries are a great place to start.


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From Italy: 5 Ways to Live More Holistically

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Known for their excessively long lunches, luxurious beach holidays, and shameless promiscuity, Italians truly live a sweet and unapologetic lifestyle. Italy is a fantastic place to learn how to slow down and savor the delights of life. What is most fascinating however, is the longevity experienced by this indulgent culture.

Sitting at the dinner table my boyfriend’s grandparents at eleven o’clock at night, we share stories and I watch their tenderness towards one another. Both in their late eighties and practically perfect health, you see that their joy and wellness does not come from following every dietary rule there is or limiting wine to one glass per night.

Their health comes from living a full life – finding love, holding family at the core of life, and taking time in their daily rituals. They take vacations, drink wine, stay up late and eat bread (and pasta!) at every single meal. They grow gardens and cook extensively, ride bikes, and enjoy the natural beauties of the country. I’m quite sure guilt doesn’t even exist in Italy – indulgence is to be enjoyed it and every sweet moment savored. Everything is done in moderation but also with passion.

Living holistically means living in harmony with your surroundings. A truly happy and fulfilled life does not come from limiting yourself through diets or pushing yourself through extreme workouts. It comes from a community of loving friends and family, enjoying the beauty that surrounds us and giving thanks for the many joys that life has to offer. Here I offer a few simple tips I learned from my truly holistic Italian family.

1. Take your time – Slow down, savor the goodness in life and live in the present. Don’t think about your next task, meal or deadline. Take time to listen, taste, smell and enjoy each detail of every experience you have.

2. Eat whole foods – One of the many perks of technology is that we now have access to processed foods that make cooking and eating a lot faster. Unfortunately what we now know is that these convenient meals are costing more than they save as they are filled with dangerous chemicals and fattening sweeteners. This is why it’s so important to base your meals around whole foods. Growing your own garden is the most amazing way to get back to your roots, to self-sustain and to have fresh foods ready for every meal. Just a small herb garden can be so healing in itself. I recognize that this is a luxury and many of us do not have the space or time, so the next best thing is to take your time at the farmers market or grocery store choosing whole grains and veggies for your meals. A wholesome and nutrient rich meal should be filled with bright fruits and veggies. If pasta or delicious local cheese is part of it, all the more to enjoy, just make sure to balance.

3. Cook your own meals – You don’t have to be a great or creative cook to eat delicious meals. Dishes like sliced tomatoes or asparagus in olive oil, salt and pepper is a fantastic addition to a meal. Decide what veggies you and your family enjoy and go from there. Cooking and eating well doesn’t have to be complex. A great rule of thumb is to cook once and eat twice – prepare something that can be stored and fixed for dinner that night or lunch the next day. It saves you time and money and means you don’t have to worry so much about every meal.

4.Eat your largest meal at lunch time – Between twelve and two P.M. our digestive systems are working at their full potential, so this is the best time to eat a lot as our bodies can process and utilize nutrients and energy most efficiently. Many people hesitate to do this as they don’t want to feel sluggish afterwards, but if you eat low glycemic load foods such as vegetables and whole grains I assure you this won’t happen. Feel free to enjoy a coffee or desert also, as your body can process it well at this point in the day. A lot of us eat a large meal for dinner but this puts a toll on our bodies as the evening is for winding down and re-energizing for the next day, not spending extreme amounts of energy digesting a calorie dense meal.

5. Incorporate physical movement into your routine – Because gas is so expensive in Italy (almost $10 a gallon!) and things are so close, most people find it much more convenient to ride their bikes or walk. This has a double benefit as it gets the heart rate up and pumps fresh blood throughout the system, improves brain function, and keeps one looking fresh and feeling young and energized. Staying active doesn’t mean pushing your body to the limit five days a week in a gym; many studies show that thirty minutes of gentle movement a day proves to have positive effects on most people. Simply using the stairs instead of the elevator at work, taking your dog (or going with a child or friend) for a thirty minute walk in the evenings, riding your bike three days a week instead of driving has excellent effects on your physical and mental health. Find what works for you and commit to it.

These steps may seem simple but the point is to simplify your routine. As the burdens of work, family and responsibilities build up over time, life gets in the way of living. Our bodies and minds suffer as a result and time flies by without notice. It’s time to slow down, bask in the sweetness of life and nurture our souls. Choose one of these ideas and see how it feels. Once you incorporate one positive change into your lifestyle, many other good things come effortlessly. Good luck and let me know what works for you!