If you’re like most adults, enjoying two cups of coffee or tea in the morning won’t have any impact on your bedtime. But there is a direct relationship between age and caffeine. So if you’re celebrating another milestone birthday or especially sensitive to caffeine, you might need to change up your A.M. ritual, and certainly avoid it later in the day.
It’s common to make healthy tweaks to your eating habits this time of year. Maybe you’ve set an intention to drop a few pounds, so you’re cutting out soda and sugary snacks. Or maybe you’d like to gain muscle mass, so you’re upping your calorie intake and doing more weight training. Small, reasonable changes like these can have a positive impact on your overall health. But some people take the tweaking a little too far—cutting out entire food groups and analyzing every morsel before it reaches a plate. And for some of those individuals, the desire to make healthy choices becomes an obsession that can lead to orthorexia.
Too Much Restriction is Unhealthy
Orthorexia, an unhealthy fixation around only eating foods deemed to be “healthy,” “pure,” or “high-quality,” is on the extreme end of the diet-minding spectrum. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, orthorexics don’t necessarily obsess about being thin or losing weight, or about the quantity of the food they eat—the way someone with a classic eating disorder diagnosis of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa would. But rather, these individuals become fixated on the quality and purity of foods, restricting themselves to only consuming certified organic items, for instance; and punishing themselves by becoming even more strict when they eat something they’ve deemed to be “bad” or “unhealthy.”
Simply setting an intention to become a healthy eater doesn’t make you an orthorexic. The distinction is in whether or not making those food choices has a negative impact on the rest of your life. “When you create a mindset that encourages you to obsess about food, that’s when it becomes problematic,” says Taz Bhatia, MD, an integrative health and wellness expert and author of What Doctor’s Eat.
Someone suffering from orthorexia reaches a point where thinking about food affects the enjoyment of daily living. “It’s the person who can’t go out to dinner with friends, because she’s afraid of eating something unhealthy,” says Bhatia.
Take a Mindful Approach to Healthy Eating
An all or nothing mentality sets you up for failure, says Bhatia. “When you tell yourself you can’t have something, you end up playing a mind game that makes the restricted item even more attractive,” she says. Instead of labeling foods as “healthy” or “unhealthy,” or creating categories of “good” and “bad,” give yourself the opportunity to eat everything. And then check in with how your body feels afterwards.
“Make a connection to how your meals affect you physically and mentally,” says Bhatia. “Check in with your belly—is it bloated or gassy? Do you feel good, tired, or super energized?” Answer those questions honestly and you’re likely to find yourself naturally making smarter choices at the meal times.
When you approach healthy eating with mindfulness you’re less likely to fail. “You give yourself the opportunity to make corrections as you go,” says Bhatia. “You can say to yourself, ‘OK, I’ve had a lot of sugar today—time to cut back.’”
As for cravings, don’t discount them. Restrictive diets and eating plans that rule out entire food groups or nutrient categories can negatively impact your nutrition. “You might think you’re doing well, following all the rules, but many plans don’t compensate for what gets left out,” says Bhatia. And that’s when cravings can come into play. “If you’re craving red meat, for example, it might be because you’re not getting enough protein from a variety of sources—you have to look beyond one source, like soy,” she says.
It’s also important to remember healthy eating can look different from one meal to the next, and from one person to the next. “There’s more than one right way to eat—every diet has it’s merits, but also it’s traps,” says Bhatia. “It’s all about being smart about how and what you eat, and leaving room to enjoy your life.”
More Advice for Healthy Eating
If you do find yourself struggling with an unhealthy obsession around food, contact the NEDA’s free, confidential helpline: 1-800-931-2237.
Breakfast has long been touted as the most important meal of the day. But if you’re like most Americans, you don’t have the luxury of making it a lengthy, sit down affair. If you’re lucky, it’s a bowl of cereal before dashing out the door. And if you’re late, it’s a grab-and-go option like a bar, or a muffin from the coffee shop next to the office. However, there’s another option that can be just as fast and, according to a study in Journal of the American College of Nutrition, could help you lose weight: oatmeal.
Oatmeal is more fun to make and eat than ever before! A quick scroll through Pinterest proves this whole grain is having a moment—thanks to a trend to make it overnight and eat it cold, straight out of the fridge. Want to give it a try? Gather your favorite ingredients and follow these simple directions. Prep your morning meal the night before in a container with a lid (food bloggers love mason jars), and you’ll be all set for the next day. Better yet, make several servings on Sunday to last you through the work week.
Easy Overnight Oats
- ½ cup rolled, uncooked Oats
- 1 cup Liquid
- Spices (optional)
- Fruit (optional)
- Nuts (optional)
- Start with ½ cup of rolled oats in a container with a lid.
- Add 1 cup liquid—milk, almond milk, coconut milk, and water all work.
- Sprinkle on spice—cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger are good.
- Stir in fruit—raisins, diced pear, sliced banana, the options are endless. (Fruit adds plenty of healthy sweetness to the oats, but if you’d like more you can always add a dash of honey or maple syrup before eating.)
- Top with nuts (if using), such as almonds, pecans, or walnuts.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight, or until the oats have absorbed all of the liquid.
3 Delicious Overnight Oats Combos to Try
Oatmeal + Coconut Milk + sliced Banana + sliced Mango + Coconut Flakes
CHERRY ALMOND OATS
Oatmeal + Water + dried Cherries + Almonds
PUMPKIN PECAN OATS
Oatmeal + Milk + pureed Pumpkin + Pumpkin Pie Spice + Pecans
Rumor has it, adding a dollop of butter to your morning cup of Joe can give you an edge in your next workout, improve your mental performance, and help you lose weight. Professional distance runners Ryan and Sara Hall are fans of the buttery beverage—but does fat-filled coffee really live up to the hype? Here’s the buzz!
What Is Buttered Coffee?
The trend to swirl saturated fat into coffee stems from Dave Asprey, creator of Bulletproof® Coffee. A self-identified biohacker, Asprey has spent years tweaking his daily routine and nutritional choices for optimal health. He believes you can maximize the energy boost you get from caffeine by consuming it with healthy fats.
More than just a pad of yellow stuff plopped into a mug of regular brew, the standard recipe involves combining high-quality coffee with butter and a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, such as coconut oil, in a blender. Asprey prefers butter made with milk from grass-fed cows and a blend of coconut and palm oils to get the job done.
How Buttered Coffee Works
The caffeine in the coffee stimulates your central nervous system by blocking the sleep-inducing hormone adenosine, and allowing levels of other hormones, including glutamate, dopamine, and seratonin, to surge. For most drinkers, those brain chemicals lead to feeling happier and more alert, and can explain the improved mental performance and memory retention. Adding fat to your coffee increases the rate at which your body absorbs caffeine. But not all fat is created equal—that’s where the fancy butter comes in.
Studies link the consumption of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid found in butter made with milk from grass-fed cows, to a decrease in inflammation and improved gut health; and, in research on other mammals, butyrate intake leads to an increase in metabolism. Which is why Asprey and his followers believe consuming high-quality fats fuels the brain and helps the body tackle its own fat stores.
As for the MCT oil, some research shows oils that contain MCT, such as coconut oil, are easier for the body to readily burn for energy and are less likely to be stored as fat. These oils also have the potential to increase good HDL cholesterol levels. In addition, good fats are satiating, and can decrease cravings and hunger pangs.
Still, some experts are concerned about sipping so much saturated fat. “Even through saturated fats aren’t all bad for us, it’s still a good idea to limit your intake, as the evidence backing the health benefits of diets low in saturated fat is just too strong to ignore,” says Tracy Morris, a consulting dietitian for Fitbit. If you’re going to start your day with buttered coffee, consider passing on a fat-laden snack or meal later in the day.
An Easy Buttered Coffee Recipe to Try
- 1 cup Hot Coffee
- 1 tbsp. Unsalted, Grass-Fed Butter
- 1 tbsp. Coconut Oil
- Blend all the ingredients together in blender on high for 10 seconds.
Heading into the holiday season, with its big buffet dinners and lengthy mingling sessions, can be intimidating—especially if you’re worried about what others will say when you turn down a calorie-laden appetizer or walk around with an empty glass. That’s why being able to anticipate your actions and responses is key. “You know when those food-heavy, family-focussed holidays are coming,” says Steven Ledbetter, an expert on behavior change and co-founder of Habitry. “Which means you can plan ahead, and develop a strategy to not only get through them, but also stay on top of your health and fitness goals.”
The best way to come up with that plan: “Have a practice Thanksgiving!” says Ledbetter. “Invite your family and friends over for a potluck meal and practice how you will respond when faced with difficult choices,” he says. Here’s what you’ll learn when you get everyone together before the festivities really begin.
Turning Down Dessert Isn’t So Hard
Often, social pressures steer you toward tasting a certain dish or taking a second helping. But it’s possible to politely turn down a scoop of candied yams or a slice of caramel cake without hurting anyone’s feelings. “When you practice eating together, you can see it’s not so hard to make good choices,” says Ledbetter. Fill up on the healthy options and then offer a simple, “That looks delicious, but I’m already stuffed,” for everything else.
You Can Participate Without Food (or Alcohol)
Standing around at a party with empty hands, or sitting at the table with an empty glass or plate, can feel uncomfortable—especially when others keep lifting their cups to toast the season. But you don’t have to fill the void with a fistful of food or another beer. “Practice what you’ll say or do when you’ve finished eating and drinking,” says Ledbetter. “How will you respond when someone offers you another cocktail, or when you find yourself standing next to the dessert tray without someone to talk to—practice!” It’s easier than you might realize to top off your water glass and find a fun conversation to join.
You’re Not the Only One Trying to Make Healthy Choices
When you invite everyone over for a practice Thanksgiving, let them know why you’re doing it. “Family obligations don’t have to be pitfalls,” says Ledbetter. “Chances are there are several people in your life who share your goals, and practicing how to be healthy together can take the guilt out of the holidays.” When you realize the people you practice with are the same people you actually party with, it will be that much easier for all of you to make healthy decisions.
You know the saying, “You are what you eat?” Well, new research is proving it to be more true than ever. Scientists are now reporting junk foods can put you in junk moods.
A new study published in the scientific journal Neuroscience reports your stomach is in direct communication with your brain, and the two organs communicate to impact your moods based on what you eat. It seems diet-related changes in your gut microbiome (the friendly bacteria that help break down food in your digestive tract) caused by munching on high-fat and high-sugar foods can negatively affect your cognitive flexibility—a.k.a. your ability to adapt to change.
If you’re following me,
@kimberlyadaly, you might be. I’ve been posting #TDayTips to help you survive the big meal without gaining any big regrets! (Most Americans gain 1 to 2 lbs. over the holidays—and many aren’t able to drop them again in the New Year. Yikes!) Here’s a recap…
#TDayTips 1: Don’t “save room” for the big meal by skipping breakfast or lunch. You’ll be ravenous and eat way more than you should.
#TDayTips 2 Can you say Turkey Trot? Burn off calories before the big dinner to offset some of the extra goodies you’ll inevitably consume.
#TDayTips 3 If you’re heading to a potluck, offer to bring a skinny version of a classic dish (or a healthy new one!).
#TDayTips 4 Arrange smaller portions of your favorite foods on half your plate. Then fill the rest of it with salad and veggies.
#TDayTips 5 Up for seconds? Fill your water glass, start an “I’m thankful for” chat, and let the tummy register it’s full—it needs 20 mins!
#TDayTips 6 Go ahead, have pie! Pick your absolute fave from the dessert buffet, take a small slice & be mindful of every yummy bite.
[Sneak Peak] #TDayTips 7 Slow down & savor dinner (and the day!) by chewing more, talking often, and enjoying the good company.
Happy Thanksgiving to all! And to all a good meal!
Michael K. Farrell and I will be running the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot in San Jose, CA tomorrow morning—yippee! Stay tuned for a race recap next week!
Who’s got a Turkey Trot on tomorrow’s menu? Share in the comments below!
What does National Kale Day have to do with marathon training? Honestly, nothing. But if you keep reading, I’m sure I’ll be able to come up with some clever connection.
I’ve been a lazy runner lately. My butt started acting up again this summer, so I didn’t sign up for any fall races, and recently I’ve only been running when I feel like it, usually no more than 3 miles in any given stint. This year, running just hasn’t felt as important to me. Like any relationship, the one I have with running ebbs and flows; there are times of intense passion and moments when I take the love for granted.
When I lived in New York City running was my escape from the stress of work and living with a bazillion people. The 6-mile loop in Central Park served as a refuge, a place where I could feel alone (though I never had the park all to myself—I was living with a bazillion people!). Today, my life appears to be 180-degrees different. I’m often alone. I work from home and set my own schedule, and I’ve never had so much space in my life. There are wide-open parks everywhere in the Bay Area, and Californian’s are so much more relaxed than New Yorkers—no one ever seems to be in a hurry to get anywhere or do anything.
I still want to get faster, that’s always been my back-of-mind running goal, and I still tend to push myself on those easy 3-milers. But my endurance has really tanked and I want to get that back—I miss the mind space of a long run, and the feeling of accomplishment, so I’ve put myself on a marathon training program. I have my sights set on a race that I haven’t registered for yet, and I’ve decided to “decide later” on whether or not I will actually line up for the start. If I do, it will simply be to complete. I just want to have fun and go long.
Now, back to kale. Part of the reason for the lull in my running relationship has to do with my focus on food lately. After graduating from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition earlier this year, I’ve attempted to gain traction as a health coach. I’ve set up a private practice, read a bazillion books on diets, and started consulting with a start-up (so very Silicon Valley of me!) that’s teaching people how to eat better. I’m so consumed with healthy eating, there are days I forget to make myself lunch. It’s not a surprise that I forget to run, too.
My brain has turned to kale. And while kale seems to be getting more than its 15 minutes of fame, I’m still a big fan of the green stuff and I’m so happy there’s a group of people who love it as much as I do (if not more!). I hope you all have big plans to celebrate National Kale Day! Be sure to raise a fork to me and wish me well as I train for my secret marathon.
What’s your favorite kale recipe? And what are you training for now?
Last weekend I was in Minneapolis, MN for Healthy Living Summit 2013. It was three days jam-packed with firsts: My first time flying on Frontier airlines (very smooth!), my first time in Minneapolis (what a friendly city!), and my first time at a bloggers summit (so fun!). I learned so much from scheduled seminars and picked up some awesome lessons hanging with fellow healthy living pushers. A few key take-aways:
Healthy living is a come-as-you-are party. Just like runners, healthy living bloggers come in all shapes and sizes, and at HLS13 they covered the spectrum—beginners who’ve recently started to eat better, women who made changes years ago and have shed some serious pounds since, and fitness gurus looking to share their knowledge with the world. That’s good news for anyone hoping to get healthy or healthier—the healthy living train picks you up at YOUR station, wherever your starting point may be.
Good food doesn’t need to be complicated. In her presentation, “Grow Your Own Food,” Aundra shared her love of gardening and pointed out that anyone can have a green thumb if you start small and plant what you love. And keynote speaker Brenda Langton, an award-winning chef and restaurateur, stressed the importance of using simple recipes to bring out the best in whole foods.
Running builds relationships. This one is a no-brainer: Anytime you sweat it out with a friend, you’re bonding on a deeper level. The summit culminated with a 5K fun run/walk to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden that gave us an opportunity to sightsee and chat about the weekend.
Everyone can contribute to the conversation. Healthy living is a broad category, filled with different strategies and tactics for looking and feeling your best. Here’s a sampling of the awesome bloggers who made it to the summit—check them out for recipes, fitness tips, motivation, and more.
- Ari’s Menu
- Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie
- Fit For Life
- Perfection Isn’t Happy
- Health, Love, and Chocolate
- Running with Spoons
- Where I Need to Be
- Gold Standard Women
- Just A One Girl Revolution
Which healthy living blogs make your favorites list?
There’s no better way to celebrate the end of summer than barbecuing in the backyard with friends and family. But indulging in all those grilled burgers, scoops of potato salad, and cupcakes can leave you feeling a little sluggish. (Raise your hand if you pigged out over the weekend?) To get back on track with healthy eating during arguably the busiest week of the year, focus on filling your plate with veggies and snacking on whole fruits and nuts. You can also try one of these yummy smoothies. I created them for my clients who will be wrangling kids to the bus stop and juggling back-to-school nights, along with new deadlines at work. (Phew!)
Each of these delicious drinks take minutes to prep and make. Simply put all of the ingredients in a blender in the order listed (leafy greens on the bottom), and blend on the highest setting until everything is smooth. You can add a splash of water if you prefer a thinner smoothie, or throw in a few ice cubes if you’d like it to be thicker. Then, grab a friend (your kid works, too), a couple of straws, and enjoy!
Banana Berry Blaster
This one’s full of immunity boosters—just what kiddos need when they’re heading back to the classroom with all their friends. Leafy greens are packed with iron, which supports healthy blood cells as they fend off pathogens. And a burst of vitamin C from the spinach and berries acts as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals before they can do any damage. (This smoothie is on the sweet side. For those who don’t want a treat, substitute ½ cup of water for half of the juice.)
- 2 cups Spinach
- 1 cup Orange Juice or Apple Juice (preferably fresh, unsweetened)
- 1 Banana
- 1 cup Strawberries
- 1 cup Blueberries, frozen
Prep time: 5 minutes Ready in: 5 minutes Servings: 2
PB & J Swirl
This twist on a classic packs in more vitamins, protein, and easy-to-digest fiber than the traditional sandwich. Spinach is loaded with iron and vitamin C, the banana brings in potassium and fiber, and red grapes offer up resveratrol—the same heart-healthy antioxidant found in red wine. You also get protein from the almond milk and peanut butter to help build strong muscles, as well as a balanced source of quick-burning carbohydrates to fuel your day. Plus, it tastes so great you’ll forget you’re eating vegetables.
- 2 cups Spinach
- 1 cup Almond Milk, unsweetened
- 2 cups Red Grapes (frozen ones are great in this!)
- 1 Banana
- ¼ cup Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter)
Prep time: 5 minutes Ready in: 5 minutes Servings: 2
“Carrot Cake” Cooler
Again with the spinach! I push it on everyone because it’s a vitamin powerhouse. But unlike its leafy green cousins kale and chard, spinach has a milder taste that mixes well with other flavors. With this smoothie, you get all the benefits of spinach, plus a giant dose of vitamin A from the carrots. Our bodies use vitamin A to build and maintain healthy tissue for eyes and skin, making it an important nutrient for growing kids and adults alike.
- 2 cups Spinach
- 1 cup Almond Milk, unsweetened
- 2 cups Baby Carrots
- 1 Banana
- 1 tsp. Pure Organic Vanilla Extract
- 1 tsp. Cinnamon
- 1 tbs. Organic Raw Honey (optional)
Prep time: 5 minutes Ready in: 5 minutes Servings: 2
How do you slip more fruits and veggies into your day? What’s your favorite healthy, kid-friendly recipe?