Let’s Talk PLANT BASED Protein

 

One hot topic that’s always popular to talk about, no matter what time of year, is protein. With the focus on high-protein diets, the subject of protein always comes up.

 

Let’s talk about plant-based protein. Plant-based protein foods contain lots of vitamins, minerals and are loaded with antioxidants. Incorporating them into your diet can improve gut health, prevent against heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and decrease the risk of cancer.

 

You don’t need to be a vegetarian to get the benefits of plant-based protein. I recommend you try decreasing the amount of meat you eat per week. If you eat animal protein (red meat, chicken, turkey, eggs, fish) three times per day, try meat only once a day. Or give it a whirl and just eat animal protein 2-3 times per week. There are no hard and fast rules. Here are some plant-based superfoods.

 

Plant-Based Protein Foods

 

  • Beans, lentils, split peas (½ cup=8-9 grams of protein)
  • Edamame (½ cup=11 grams of protein)
  • Soy milk (1 cup= 8 grams of protein)
  • Tempeh (3 ounces=16 grams of protein)
  • Tofu (3 ounces=14 grams of protein)
  • Sunflower seeds (¼ cup=6 grams of protein)
  • Nuts (¼ cup=7 grams of protein)
  • Nut butter (2 tablespoons=7 grams of protein)

How to Survive The Holiday Season: Healthy Eats and Drinks

 

With the holiday season in full swing, life can get pretty crazy! Parties, shopping, eating…it feels like the madness never slows down. Take a deep breath! If you have practiced good eating habits throughout the year, chances are they will carry over into the holiday season.

Strategies to managing holiday food

  1. Do not starve yourself before going to a holiday party. You’ll probably eat more than you intended. Instead, have a snack 1 ½ hours before you go to your event. Eat greek yogurt and fruit, string cheese and an apple, turkey slices, or some hummus and veggies, or a hard boiled egg. Make sure your snack is packed full of protein as this will prevent you from going to the party ravenously hungry.
  2. Choose a healthy appetizer at the party before drinking an alcoholic beverage. Alcohol stimulates appetite so you are more likely to consume more food when drinking on an empty stomach.
  3. Drink a glass of water between each glass of wine. This will decrease the amount calories and alcoholic beverages you consume.
  4. Stay clear of the office lounge! Holiday season can be deadly with all the holiday candy on co-workers’ desks and with the cookies, brownies and cakes tempting you in the lunchroom.
  5. Keep your desk stocked with healthy, tasty snacks so you’re not tempted by all the holiday delectables.
  6. DON’T BE SEDUCED BY THE CANDY COUNTER. Purchase non-food items for gifts.

So, What’s the Deal With Vitamin D?

The health benefits from Vitamin D are endless. Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” it is produced in our skin as a response to sunlight. While our bodies naturally produce Vitamin D when exposed to direct sunlight, we can also get it through certain foods. As a fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin D comes in two main forms: D2 and D3. Read on to learn all the important must-knows about Vitamin D.

Consumption of Vitamin D helps fight disease

The consumption of Vitamin D can help improve bone and teeth health, reduce the risk for asthma and heart attacks, and decrease the likelihood for inflammation. It does all of this by regulating our body’s digestion of phosphorus and calcium and encouraging a normal and healthy functioning of our immune systems.

Consumption of Vitamin D helps promote weight loss

For years and years, studies have shown that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with obesity. Vitamin D optimizes the body’s ability to absorb nutrients that are important for weight loss, such as calcium.

Consumption of Vitamin D helps fight against depression

It is proven that taking Vitamin D supplements can have mood-stabilizing effects by warding off risk for depression and anxiety. It does this by boosting levels of the mood-elevating chemical, serotonin, in our brains.

How to know when you’re deficient in Vitamin D

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency include lethargy, muscle aches and pain, emotional instability, and stress fractures that would suggest weak bones. This can happen for a variety of reasons: having darker skin, less exposure to the sun, and not eating enough Vitamin D-rich foods.

Good sources of Vitamin D

Do you live in a generally gloomy area? Be sure to incorporate these foods into your diet so that you get enough Vitamin D.

Wild caught fish (salmon, shrimp)
Canned fish (sardines)
Egg yolks
Shiitake mushrooms
Fortified yogurts and cereals
Almond milk
Orange juice
Oatmeal

How much Vitamin D do I need?

The recommended IUs (international units) for Vitamin D each day are as follows:

Children/teens: 600 IU
Adults under 70: 600 IU
Adults over 70: 800 IU
Women who are pregnant/breastfeeding: 600 IU

How to Avoid Stress Eating!

 

Let’s face it – who hasn’t been bogged down by stress before? Often times when we’re feeling stressed, we reach for the bag of chips in the pantry or the carton of ice cream in the freezer. This is because when our minds are preoccupied, it’s harder for us to make healthy choices. Moreover, the instant gratification we get from eating junk food seems like it’ll make us feel better and put our worries at ease in that moment.

This all comes down to a hormone called cortisol. Termed the “stress hormone,” cortisol is secreted into the bloodstream at higher levels while the body is under stress. High, prolonged levels of it can lead to impaired cognitive performance, lowered immunity, and higher blood pressure among other things. Read on to see how you can stay healthy when you’re stressed!

 

In with the fruits and veggies, out with the sugar

Folate, which is found in many fruits and vegetables, helps to keep our stress levels at bay. There are particularly high levels of this vitamin found in asparagus, avocados, and berries. If you’re craving something sweet, reach for some fruit, as sugar only spikes our blood sugar levels, thus leading to a never-ending circle of stress.

 

Limit or avoid caffeine all together

Caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, and some sodas, triggers the release of cortisol. This can make us feel more wound up, likely making stressful situations seem even worse. Not to mention – caffeine inhibits our ability to sleep and less sleep equals more stress.

 

Drink a calming chamomile tea before bed

High stress levels often make sleeping more difficult. At the same time, however, a good night’s sleep can greatly reduce the effects of stress. When we’re tired, we’re more easily agitated. Combat this reality by drinking a warm cup of chamomile tea before bed. Not only does chamomile calm our nerves, but it also promotes sleep – truly a win win!

 

Carve out some time to cook

 

Ever heard someone say that cooking is therapeutic? Well, it is. While you might not think we have time to cook, squeezing 20 minutes of cooking time into your day can make a big difference on how you feel physically and emotionally. It’ll help focus your mind, thus ridding your brain of dizzying stressful thoughts, and it’ll also help you regulate exactly what you are putting into your body.

 

Grab a friend and go for an active adventure

In times of stress, we often seek the companionship of a friend. Call over your best bud and go for a walk. Doing something active outdoors will release endorphins in your brain (yay, happiness!) and it’ll help you clear your mind. Plus, having your friend by your side will only make the experience even better by having someone to vent to!

Here’s How to Prevent Yourself From Overeating

 

Sometimes the reason we eat isn’t because we’re physically hungry, but because we’re reacting to outside triggers such as stress. Whatever the reason, learning how to stop ourselves from overeating is an incredibly useful tool. Follow these steps to ensure that you are eating to satiate yourself – and nothing more.

 

Get rid of your distractions

To eat intuitively and really understand your body’s hunger cues, you must step away from the TV and your cell phone and sit down at the table. Ridding yourself of distractions will help you focus simply on eating. This will keep you from reaching for more food.

 

Eat breakfast

The saying, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” doesn’t exist for no reason! Not only does eating a balanced breakfast in the morning ensure that we stay focused and energized throughout the rest of the day, but it also means we’re more likely to eat less later on. Eat some fresh fruit with yogurt, whole grain cereal, or oatmeal to start your day off right.

 

Drink water

 

Studies suggest that nearly 60% of the time we feel hungry, we’re actually just thirsty. We should aim to drink around 64 oz of water a day. Having a glass of water before you sit down for a meal will help to keep your stomach full and will, in turn, prevent you from overeating.  

 

Don’t eat out of the bag

Portion out your snacks. Eating out of the bag will only make it harder for you to stop yourself from finishing the whole thing. Instead, setting aside a handful of whatever it is you’re munching on will help you to stop eating once you’re done.

 

Eat every 4 hours

When we’re hungry, it’s hard to control how much we eat. Often times, we shovel food into our mouths and then realize we’re full – once it’s too late and the damage has already been done. Regular eating helps to keep our blood sugar and energy levels stable, thus keeping us from scarfing down tons of food all in one sitting. Keep some fruit and unsalted nuts within arms reach throughout the day. Packed with fiber, you can munch on these without feeling guilty. They’ll leave you feeling full and their disease-fighting nutrients will keep you healthy – an added bonus!

 

Fill up on fiber and protein

Fiber makes us feel full for longer. This is because the body processes fiber-rich foods more slowly. Aim for getting at least 25g of fiber a day through produce such as apples and carrots, along with whole grains. Similar to fiber, protein also keeps us feeling satisfied and less hungry throughout the day. Try to get about 30% of your daily calories from protein. Do this through eating egg whites, lean turkey and chicken, and black beans and soybeans.