To lots of people, this information comes as a surprise, which makes sense because pretty much everything I’m saying is contradictory to what the media surrounding healthy eating claims. I am happy to research questions you have about anything to do with food.
To ask me any questions, post here, on any posts, or through twitter or e-mail [see “contact” page]. I will try to answer them promptly and include many scientific sources.
Q: [Re: general health & eating question]: What’s your idea of a healthy eating practice? Right when I wake up, or later? Before or after a workout? How many times a day?
A: There are lots of ways to approach this question. For starters, almost every single health magazine has a different opinion about these questions, and gives you a slew of brand-name, expensive products to help you fuel and keep track of your consumption. So, keep in mind, this is only my opinion, backed by personal experience and results that are appropriate to me [keeping in mind the tips and tricks I preach but sometimes don’t practice].
- First, let’s address the eating in the morning issue. Few people refute that breakfast is important. I usually find that eating first thing in the morning is crucial to getting my day started correctly. Eating late in the morning throws off my eating schedule, so I tend to eat right when I get up. I usually put aside an hour in the morning for cooking, cleaning, and getting myself prepared for the day [if you can’t dedicate an hour in the A.M., it’s sometimes smart to cook ahead of time and just re-heat in the morning]
TIPS for a REAL breakfast:
1) Throw away your cereal & breakfast bars. Breakfast cereal is generally chock full of sugar, which gives you a rush/crash early on. Same goes for “breakfast bars” that are mostly sugar and soy protein. These incredibly modified foods do very little for your body in terms of providing you with naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.
2) Make protein a priority. This is especially important for those who are going to exercise during the day. Eggs, meats, and dairy are great options. If you are in a hurry, add a handful of nuts to your breakfast. If you aren’t a “breakfast food” stickler, add some of last night’s main course to your breakfast [leftover chicken breast and egg scramble?].
3) Prepare for busy mornings. Give yourself options when you wake up a little rushed. Hard-boil eggs and keep them in your fridge, peeled, ready to go. This is not the best way to eat fresh eggs [the less cooked the better], but it can really save you in a pinch. This is another great reason to eat leftovers in the morning… pop them in the microwave and head out the door!
4) EAT! don’t skimp on breakfast. If you think that eating a lot in the morning makes you feel ill, or it’s simply not a priority, try building up to a bigger breakfast. Don’t fill your stomach with coffee first thing in the morning [caffeine is sometimes an appetite suppressant] and drink a glass of water upon rising. Start with a happy stomach, then fill it with stuff that will fuel you throughout the day.
- Next, on to the frequency of meals issue. Eating small meals throughout the day generally wins the popular vote in all the health mags. I agree with this, in theory, but sometimes that’s not do-able. It’s been my experience that when I allow myself to get truly hungry, I will overeat when finally presented with food. If this is your problem, cut your portions in half and save it for later. I’m not saying only eat half a lunch, I’m just saying don’t shove it all down right away. Take a break halfway through the meal to decide if you are actually still hungry, or you just think you are.
- Another popular sentiment of healthy eating is to stay away from eating meals later in the evening. This is also sometimes not possible, for schedules sometimes don’t permit early dinners. If you’ve already had your dinner, though, try to keep late-night snacking to a minimum. Drink a glass of water or brew a cup of decaf tea instead – your body probably just wants to hydrate.
- The question about working out and eating is a tricky one – it depends on what type of exercise. Running, swimming, yoga, and gym workouts require a somewhat empty stomach. A heavy meal should never be consumed directly before working out – you could make yourself sick. If you decide to eat post-workout, make sure it is a high-protein, healthy snack so you replenish the right reserves. Adding sugar and empty carbs into a craving body isn’t smart or healthy. Give yourself the fuel to help your body rebuild stronger muscles like meat, whey protein, fibrous vegetables, and grains.
Q: via Chelsea on the post “The Legend of Salt” July 2011:
“Mmm.. I want to eat big piles of all of this salt. I want to put it on my vegetables and my chocolate.
Appetizers > desserts.
Seasoned hash browns > pancakes
Salted sunflower seeds > everything else on the planet
Wait, am I weird? Why do I have constant salt cravings? Shouldn’t all my estrogen make me want to bathe in chocolate fountains and eat cupcakes for breakfast?”
A: Chelsea, I’ve done some research and have a few options for you to explore:
- Adrenal fatigue/exhaustion could be causing your cravings. I would jump straight to this conclusion, except that the list of symptoms doesn’t seem to match you – but you should still check it out. Thyroid disorders are rampant in America today, and the adrenal system is linked to this. Here’s a brief description of such fatigue:
“The adrenals produce hormones that help to balance your blood sugar, which helps your body to manage your daily ebbs and flows of energy. When blood sugar drops, the adrenals release hormones that cause the blood sugar to rise, and increases energy. The adrenals also release hormones when we’re under stress, releasing energy. It’s the “fight or flight” response from the days when we needed to run away from wild animals, which now kicks in for everyday stressors, such as traffic jams, arguments, and work pressures.But being consistently under stress takes a toll on the adrenal glands, and eventually, they run out of steam, and stop producing sufficient hormones.”
- The simpler option, as described by the “Cravings Coach” here, is that you are craving salt because of a simple mineral deficiency and your body desires the minerals present in unrefined sea salt. Unfortunately, most of the salty things you eat don’t have the unrefined sea salt that is mineral-rich and therefore you are consuming a replacement that only leaves your body thinking that you’re getting minerals. I’d say the first step is to buy a nice container of sea salt and start sprinkling it on your veggies and naturally sodium-free snacks. Lay off the refined salts and focus on providing your body the minerals it needs & I bet your salt cravings will be satiated fully.
Q: (Re: margarine post from Sept. 14, 2010) gross!!!! … but tell me, what about this SmartBalance stuff that apparently oprah is eating…
A: Smart Balance brand products come in many different forms and flavors. There is the classic version: the butter-replacement spread. There’s also peanut butter, mayonnaise, sour cream, and assorted oils an cooking sprays, etc. After reading many of the products’ ingredients list I am automatically seeing a “red flag” about a few things…
- the first ingredient of the buttery spread is “natural oil blend” which is the combination of Palm Fruit, Soybean, Canola Seed, and Olive Oils. These, in combination with water, make up 98% of the buttery spread. These vegetable oils, though touted as heart-healthy in modern diet media due to their polyunsaturated fat content, are actually dangerous to your health. If consumed in large amounts [which has only been a problem as of recent, when this vegetable oil technology was invented], polyunsaturated oils can contribute to heart disease, autoimmune disease, learning disabilities, intestinal problems, weight gain and premature aging.
- These diseases are caused, in part, due to the high amount of Omega-6 fatty acids present in polyunsaturated fats. Omega-6 fats have become incredibly dominant in our diet due to factory farmed animals and dairy products as well as vegetable oils. more on omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
- That saturated fats clog arteries is a myth: the fatty acids found in artery clogs are mostly unsaturated – almost half are polyunsaturated.
- Vegetable oil is known to suppress the immune system. It is even used in organ transplant patients to keep the immune system at bay while the body accepts the new organ. [source]
The best bet is to avoid vegetable oils, especially in your own home. Most restaurants use vegetable oil to be able to claim they are “saturated fat free!,” therefore filling your safe range of vegetable oil quota. On top of everything else, butter is an essential element in the healthy person’s diet. Why replace it? If you are worried about calories, try to keep in mind that there are other ways to cut unhealthy calories out of your diet – sugars, excessive gluten consumption, etc – instead of replacing vital, rich elements like butter.