Should I be eating seasonally or does it matter what form I get my fresh produce in?
Just adding an increase number of fruits and vegetables into the diet is a huge first step, but eating food fresh and in season does have it’s benefits. Choosing local, seasonal produce not only means you are eating fruits and veggies at their peak flavor, but also injesting nutrients at just the right time. It means supporting local farmers, which means supporting families and communites close to home. For more info, check out the Why Eat Seasonally. If fresh foods are not available for cooking, frozen is the next best thing as most of them are frozen at their peak. Canned should be a last source as they usually go through a process of preservation which can mean adding quite a bit of salt. While many people have to avoid excess sodium for a number of reasons, the idea of bloating paired with tight jeans is enough to have me running in the opposite direction. If you have no option but canned, try to pick a salt free or low sodium variety.
What is clean eating?
I am a HUGE supporter of clean eating. Considered a lifestyle, not a diet, clean eating consists of choosing food as close to natural and organic as possible, eating seasonal produce, drinking plenty of water, eating several small meals throughout the day, learning to avoid refined or processed foods and limiting alcohol consumption to a healthy limit for the body. Check out more info on clean eating here.
What do you do to stay in shape? Working out for an hour or more every day just won’t fit into my schedule.
I don’t know many people who have that much time to workout. However, I want an effective workout that is going to give me results. I have absolutely fallen in love with the Fit Mommy Challenge by Nicole Wilder. She has a free 15 day challenge and a Six week challenge that combines high intensity exercises with cardio that you can do right from your own living room in less than 30 minutes. Working out from home is something that has to become routine in order for it to stick, so I always recommend scheduling yourself in a certain time to get it done until you can trust yourself to do it. Life is never going to give you a hall pass to work out, so find the time and commit yourself to doing something better for yourself. You deserve it!
Why are you such a big supporter or indulging? Aren’t you afraid of messing up all the hard work you put in to stay in shape?
This one is funny topic because it has been debated back and forth by nutritionists and health trainers for years. Some swear you should have a treat meal once a week, some say a treat day or weekend, and some say nothing at all. I believe to truly live a healthy lifestyle, we need to be able to enjoy life as it comes along. That means if you scheduled your treat meal for a friday night and you are invited to an impromptu birthday party on Sunday, are you not allowed to have any cake? How does that make you feel to see everyone else enjoying it but you? IMHO, if you go through life without enjoying it, you will become resentful to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s like having super oppressive parents and when one finally finds freedom, they tend to go overboard. It’s the same with food. If you never get to enjoy it or only do so when it is planned, that feeling of oppression will ultimately set in eventually making it hard to maintain. Now I am not telling you to go out every night or to every special occasion and stuff your face. But you should be able to enjoy a small portion of something without huge feelings of guilt. And if you go a little too crazy, just add in a some sort of exercise for the day. Theres plenty of at home things you can do to raise your heart rate, from doing stairs to jumping jacks. The main thing is not to beat yourself up about it. I heard an interesting story once about a vegan who found himself in Germany for a festival. He was presented with beer and a big plate of meat first thing in the morning as part of a celebration with friends. Oddly enough, eating something that should have made him disgustingly ill actually made him feel better than he did obstaining from these foods the night before. Sometimes it isn’t so much about following the rules of your diet as it is enjoying the experience you are surrounded by. Life is meant to be enjoyed. So find food that is good for you and ways you like to eat it. And then let your hair down and indulge when the time is right ;)
Why does snacking increase your metabolism?
When you aren’t eating enough throughout the day, you send signals to your brain that makes it think you are giving up on eating. Your body then begins to “hoard” food in the effort to have a supply in the event you might not give it a meal. Throughout this process, your metabolism begins to slow down as well, making it harder to digest the food you are eating in a normal time frame. You may eat two meals a day and not even be hungry, but your body doesn’t care. It’s prepared for survival against you. Eating this way also tends to mean you are going to eat larger portions at one time, giving your body more of a “mess” to clean up. When you add up the fact that eating a huge meal decreases your metabolism and increases digestion time, you have a growing (pun intended) problem on your hands…and thighs…and stomach…
If you begin to feed your body on a more regular basis, it starts to calm down and not hold on to so much excess “in case of emergency” fat. You also begin to increase your metabolism which in turn gives you a higher energy level, decreased cholesterol level, promotes weight loss and helps in developing lean muscle mass.
Of course you could eat anything as a small snack, but you also risk a slew of other health problems (ex: diabetes, immune disorders, heart disease, cancer, etc.) if you continue to stuff your face with fried, over-processed starch filled junk. That’s why it is so important to think carefully and plan ahead before putting food into your mouth. This website will help you effectively do just that; become more health conscious and learn to enjoy it!
How should I go about eating more frequently?
First things first: Don’t skip BREAKFAST!! This is the meal that will jump start your metabolism for the day. Many people are not hungry in the morning and that’s ok, but you should still have something small and light, like a piece of fruit, if your stomach doesn’t handle food well in the morning.
Try to find a schedule of eating that works for you. You do not need to eat more than six times a day or your risk of obesity will go up. I eat about every 2-4 hours. A usual day for me is Breakfast at 8am, Morning snack at 10am, Lunch at 1pm, afternoon snack at 4pm, and Dinner at 6:30pm. This schedule works for me. You may not want to eat dinner so late (in fact some studies say this may increase obesity as well, although I have not noticed a problem myself and I work overnight 3 days a week). Consistency is key. Once you train your body to eat smaller meals more regularly, your metabolism will begin to re-train itself to speed up and your body will become less of a food hoarder.
Can’t I just exercise instead of cutting down on my portion size?
Funny, you would think so, but no. It doesn’t work that way. You would literally have to be working out several hours a day or training for a super-competition like the Ironman for that to be effective. I have run several half-marathons and even competed in marathons where people with extra adipose were faster and more athletically trained than I was at a smaller size. To be painfully honest, if the average person decides to start ‘working out’, they usually only go to the gym maybe 3-4 times a week from 30 minutes to an hour at a time. That’s definitely not enough time to make an impact without adjusting any eating habits. It doesn’t make sense at first, but once you understand how your body holds onto food based on how often you are feeding it, the picture becomes very clear. You just can’t eat huge meals and then run it all off. And you certainly can’t work out, eat whatever you want and expect to see fantastic results. You may lose a little weight and be a more toned than when you started, but all that hard work and lackluster results will wear a person down over time.
You’re a Mom so I know you know the struggle of trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep healthy food available. How do you do it?
Let me ease gently into this one…this may be a good time to take an evaluation of how you spend your time. I know personally as a mommy, there are some days where I am going going going 24 hours a day, but most of us have time we could be doing something good for our bodies vs social media, watching tv, etc. It’s a balance in deciding how far you are willing to go for the greater good of your health. Key word here is balance. Does this mean I give up any free time to be a slave to the kitchen? Nope. I just learned where I needed to adjust my schedule. There is this awful misconception that cooking healthy is super time consuming. It really can be simple if the right recipes are used! Most of the snacks I make take less than 30 minutes and have less than 10 ingredients (many have less than 5!) Also, food prepping several snacks ahead of time is also a life saver when you are a busy person on the go! Spend a few extra minutes making a batch of snacks or extra meals and you have significantly cut down on your kitchen time later in the week.
I am willing to eat healthier, but my family isn’t so accepting. How can I get them to eat what I am eating?
So many families are living in what I like to call the “easily accessible junk food era”. The problem is that your kids and spouse sometimes don’t see it as junk. Especially the kids. After all, it doesn’t taste like junk. If they have been raised to be able to eat whatever for a majority of their life, the challenge becomes even more difficult to remove it out of their life. There are a few things you can do to help lessen the “blow” of changing to a healthy lifestyle for your children, and who knows, your spouse might even be re-trainable too!
1) Replace a favorite junk food with a food they enjoy. Everyone likes something that is healthy. Start there. Make a healthy snack with a food that your family is into and start to exchange that for the bad snack. You might even be able to turn them on to a healthy snack if you offer them some while you are eating it just to gauge facial expressions before weeding out the old snacks. After you find a few things they like, start the transition. Trust me, the struggle is REAL with my toddler and I am perpetually introducing new healthy foods, over and over again. Sometimes it takes quite a bit of repetition before one will stick.
2) Don’t throw everything out at one time. If you get rid of all the bad stuff at one time, your family will not only call you a few choice words, but also view the whole experience as negative. When you have reached the point to eliminate a certain food, don’t announce it. Just have the new snack they enjoy ready to eat in place of the old snack.
3) Encourage your kids to help you make snacks. If they are little, this is a really good way to not only teach them about cooking, but also makes them more likely to want to eat what they have made. It’s like a fun science project.
4) Once you have the snacks transitioned, start slowly changing the main meals. It is important to try and add as many fruits and vegetables into a dish as you can. I love finding recipes where I can “hide” the veggies in everyday meals. Kids nationwide continue to fall for their parents veggie deception annually. Sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do!
Overall you need to ask yourself if you truly care for your family. The answer is of course a unanimous YES! Start to view changing the family diet as a loving gesture. There are probably many things as a parent that your kids are mad at you for now, but they will understand one day. It is meant to be for their best interest and protection. I am sure you don’t want to lose your spouse at a young age, or have your children grow up unhealthy, or even morbidly obese as so many kids are these days. Give them a good start and knowledge about the right foods to eat before they head out into the world alone, making their own choices. There are enough obstacles to overcome in the world. Food shouldn’t have to be one of them.