Should You Be On a Ketogenic Diet?

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Keto diets are all the rage these days and I've had so many people ask me what I think of keto, if should they be doing it, and if it will it help them lose fat, heal from chronic illness, achieve better brain health, etc.  So I'm finally sitting down to give you the skinny on this high fat protocol in hopes of shedding some light on the subject to help you decide if it's right for you.  Keep in mind, this article is not intended to guide you through following a ketogenic diet.  I simply want to present you with some facts and considerations to help you decide if it’s worth pursuing depending on your goals.

First of all let me say that there is no single perfect diet that EVERYONE should be on, regardless of what “the experts” might say.  The closest thing to that would be a whole or non-processed food diet where you eat real food that comes from the earth, not from a lab or factory.  But you probably knew that already.  

If you're not yet familiar with the ketogenic diet, it is a very high fat, low-moderate protein, extremely low-carbohydrate diet.  It has been used as an effective therapeutic diet for epilepsy since the 1920's, and more recently for cancer, Lyme disease and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and ALS.  When the body is deprived of glucose (which we get from carbohydrates), it is forced to burn fat for fuel instead which is why it can be effective for fat loss, mitochondrial function and brain/neurological health.

The most well-known diet that people associate with keto is the Atkins Diet, but this differs from a true ketogenic diet in that it includes high amounts of protein.  A proper, healthy ketogenic diet will not be high in protein since the body can convert protein into glucose more easily than it can convert fat, so even if you're eating really low-carb, too much protein can prevent you from getting into ketosis.  With that out of the way, let's dive into what you need to know before doing keto.

Do Your Research First

There is SO much misunderstanding and misinformation out there about keto and there are certain people who should absolutely not follow it, so it's important to understand what it's all about before you try it.

While many people may benefit from a ketogenic diet for several weeks or even a few months, I don't believe that people should be on a ketogenic diet long-term unless they first do genetic testing to understand how a high fat diet might affect them in light of their genetic predispositions.  This applies both for those wanting fat loss and those considering keto as a therapeutic diet, and stay with me here because I'm gonna get all science-y for a minute...

For example, in people who have one or two alleles (+/+ or +/-) of the the APOE4 gene, high saturated fat intake is associated with greater risk for Alzheimer's.  Since the ketogenic diet has actually been shown to be beneficial for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's patients, it would be important for APOE4 individuals to limit saturated fats and eat mostly  unsaturated fats.  And while the keto diet has become the hot ticket for fat loss, there are some people with a gene variant who are more likely to actually gain weight if they eat a high fat diet.  There are yet other genetic variants that put people at greater risk of obesity and diabetes if they consume a high fat diet, so bottom line, if you're following or considering the ketogenic lifestyle, you may want to do some genetic testing.

I also recommend regularly checking in with your doctor and monitoring your thyroid and hormone levels since some people (usually women) will experience suboptimal thyroid levels and hormonal changes. If you have thyroid or adrenal issues,  a keto diet may not be the best idea for you.

Carbs Matter

Let's start with what it takes to actually get into ketosis and how to measure it.

Depending on your goals for doing a keto diet, your daily intake of net carbs (total grams of carbohydrate - grams of fiber = net carbs) will vary between about 20-60 grams.  Men can often go higher and still achieve ketosis, especially if they are active, but everyone is different and it takes some people longer to get into ketosis than others which is why it's important to measure your ketones regularly.  Total daily net carbs should be lower If you are using keto as a therapeutic diet, versus for fat loss, but again this varies according to the individual.

I was at recent event when a woman who was "trying the ketogenic diet" refused to taste a special cocktail because it had a few grams of sugar, when meanwhile she was snacking away on cheese crackers.  I think some people believe that just because something isn't sweet means that it doesn't contain sugar.  The fact is that foods made from grains and starchy vegetables like potatoes are easily converted into glucose (yep, that's sugar) once we eat them, so it doesn't matter if you're avoiding actual sugar if you're still eating too many carbs.

Measuring Ketone Levels

I’m not going to sugar coat it; accurately measuring ketones is a giant pain in the ass and it’s expensive. Ketones are detected in the blood, breath and urine and testing methods vary greatly in cost and accuracy.  

Most people rely on urine strips which are the least expensive option but are notoriously inaccurate since ketones will appear in lower and lower levels in the urine the longer someone is in ketosis.  Urine strips often work well for the first 1-2 weeks, but after that they become less reliable and results can differ depending on how hydrated you are at the time of testing.  Testing ketones via blood is the most accurate, but it’s also painful and expensive.  Other methods test acetone in breath and include the Ketonix and LevlNow devices.  I had the chance to test the Levl for a couple months when I was following a keto protocol and I was impressed with it, but it requires a significant investment both initially and monthly.  

At this point in time, the Ketonix device may be the happy medium when it comes to price and accuracy, but I’m hopeful that the Levl will become less expensive in the near future.  They’re a great bunch of people and the accuracy of the device is the next best thing to blood testing, so if you don’t mind the price tag, this is a good way to go.

The beauty of measuring your ketones regularly is that you will learn how your food, exercise, and schedule affect your body’s ability to get into and stay in ketosis.  If you don’t measure you can end up being more or less strict than you need to be and you may not reap the benefits of the protocol.

Not all Fats are Created Equal

Probably the biggest and most detrimental mistake people make when on a keto diet is not being careful about the types of fat they’re eating.  If you’re eating a high fat diet you want to make sure that the fats you’re ingesting are high quality, anti-inflammatory fats, versus inflammatory, processed, or hydrogenated ones, as these will exacerbate the problems that a keto diet is supposed to reverse.

Good fat sources to eat include avocado, olives, coconut, nuts, seeds, cold water fish, and fats & dairy products (if you tolerate dairy) from organic, pasture-raised, and grass-fed animals.  Fats to avoid as much as possible include processed/refined industrial “vegetable oils” like canola, soybean, sunflower, safflower, corn and peanuts oils, and fats from non-organic and factory-raised animals.

It’s also important to use the right cooking temperature for each type of oil to prevent oxidation for overheating which can turn an otherwise healthy oil into a trans-fat.

Don’t Skimp on Veggies

Another common mistake keto dieters make is not eating enough vegetables.  Getting plenty of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in veggies is crucial for good health, and as long as you’re eating non-starchy vegetables that are low in starches/sugars, you can eat quite a lot of them without going overboard on net carbs.  Some of the best bets are dark leafy greens, broccoli rabe, cauliflower, cabbage, asparagus, bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, celery, and cucumbers.

Is Keto Right For You?

A ketogenic diet can be healing and life-changing for some and a disaster for others, so it’s important to listen to your gut instincts, talk to a trusted health practitioner, and do some research before diving in.  I’ve coached many clients to successfully navigate a keto protocol so if it’s something you’re considering, let’s talk more about it.  I am more than happy to answer any questions you may have to help you decide if it’s right for you.

As I've said in previous blog posts, I'm not one for bandwagons. In fact, if "everyone is doing it" I'm extra skeptical.  The first question that runs through my head is, does this have any merit or is it just the latest fad? Usually it's a combination of the two and the important thing to ask yourself when you’re intrigued by the newest, hottest thing is “Does this resonate with me as something that might be truly helpful or is it just a shiny new object?” Because at the end of the day, it’s all about figuring out the right approach for your body and your lifestyle, not what’s right for the current Hollywood “it girl”. 

Continually jumping on trend bandwagons will keep you in a cycle of dieting and prevent you from creating a sustainable and healthy lifestyle that enables you to get results AND enjoy life.  If you are looking for support and guidance in finding the right approach for you, I can help! Click here to schedule a free Coffee Talk session and let’s chat about what you want to achieve.

Paleo Desserts on New Day Northwest's Wellness Wednesday

I had so much fun on New Day NW's Wellness Wednesday! If you missed the live show, you can click here to watch my dessert segment and here for the Wellness Wednesday panel on Sleep Issues and Healthy Food Choices with myself Dr. Darius Zoroufy from Swedish Hospital.

New Day has a beautiful new kitchen set where I shared my recipes for Sautéed Cherries with Raspberry CoulisDecadent Dairy-Free Paleo Cheesecake, Chocolate Pot de Créme and Pistachio Almond Truffles (AKA fat bombs). Give them a try and let me know what you think. And for those of you who want to make your own almond based "cream cheese", here is the best recipe I've found thus far (although I'll admit that I rarely have the time or the desire to make my own so I use the Kite Hill stuff instead). 

I'm always nervous before going on camera, but Margaret Larson is so gracious and real and she really knows how to put you at ease. I felt like I was just cooking and and chatting with a girlfriend, so thank you to Margaret and all the wonderful staff at New Day for making this so much fun! Of course I remembered good stuff I could have shared as soon as I left the building so I recorded the short video below to add to what we discussed in the panel.

Questions about trying out a paleo or ketogenic diet? Schedule a free Coffee Talk session by clicking here and you can ask me all your burning questions.

Give Teas a Chance

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As a Health Coach, I get asked a lot of questions about coffee and tea. So I’d like to clear up some myths, answer some commonly asked questions, and share with you the joys and benefits of TEA! I find no matter what the season, many people (including me) love the ritual of making and sipping tea. And with new studies showing the extraordinary health benefits of tea – including Matcha tea – I want to make sure you have the latest wellness information. Whether you drink it hot, iced, or at room temperature, I think you’ll find new reasons to love tea!

Now is a great time to learn about the benefits of tea and why you might want to swap out your coffee for tea, add it to your day, or continue drinking it if you’re already a tea-lover.

Tea dates back to 2700 B.C. According to an article published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Chinese legend says that leaves from an Camellia sinensis plant fell into Emperor Shennong's cup of boiling water – and tea was born, brewed and boosted around the world for its soothing qualities and powerful health benefits.

In the past two years, scientists have conducted more than 30 studies on the health benefits and disease-fighting properties of tea, with nearly 1 million participants. That’s a lot of research! I’ve culled the findings below into several overall benefits. So put the kettle on and discover the health benefits of tea!

The Health and Wellness Benefits of Tea

Cancer-prevention. Tea contains powerful antioxidants that help reduce and repair free radicals in our body. Free radicals are the molecules that cause inflammation and can lead to diseases such as cancer. Herbal and green teas are less processed, and are the best choices to get your antioxidants.

Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease. Black tea has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks, while green tea has been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Green tea has the highest amount of polyphenols. Polyphenols are particularly powerful in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and osteoporosis.

Weight loss. Some studies have found that tea may help you lose weight and reduce belly fat. The most effective weight-loss tea is green tea because it is high in catechins – antioxidants that can boost your metabolism and increase your body’s ability to burn fat. Other teas that may aid in weight loss are: 

  • Black tea: High in flavones, it’s associated with weight loss and lower BMI (less fat around the middle). 
  • Oolong tea: Some studies show it improves fat burning and speeds up metabolism. 
  • White tea: Early studies show it may increase fat loss.

Multiplied benefits with Matcha. If you want to maximize the health benefits of tea, Matcha tea is the powerhouse!

  • Made from baby green tea leaves ground into a powder, Matcha tea has the nutritional equivalency of 10 cups of green tea! Matcha has more antioxidants and catechins than green tea alone, so you get more of the disease-fighting and metabolism-boosting benefits.
  • One study found that Matcha has more than 100 times the amount of polyphenols as regular green tea, and more than 60 times the antioxidants as spinach.
  • A recent study (NIH) shows that the combo of phytochemicals, L-theanine and caffeine in Matcha (and green) tea improve mood and reduce brain fog.L-theanine is an amino acid known for its calming effects.
  • Matcha also has high amounts of EGCG, a component that stimulates thermogenesis, the biochemical process our bodies use to burn fat and create energy. Studies show EGCG may speed fat burning and reduce new fat cell production.
  • Matcha is still in the scientific discovery phase, so you should continue to read studies and avoid over-drinking it. (More is not necessarily better!) The recommended amount is ½ teaspoon per brewed cup, once daily. Quality matters, so be sure to buy organic Japanese matcha as there are concerns about soil contamination with Chinese matcha.

More Tea Benefits! 

  • Reduces depression. Tea (three cups a day) can lower the risk of depression by 37 percent (NIH, NLM, NCBI) and the risk of a stroke by 21 percent (AHA).
  • Reduces risk of liver disease. Tea reduces the risk of liver disease, including liver cancer, carcinoma, and cirrhosis. (NIH, NLM, NCBI).
  • Reduces risk of Type 2 diabetes. Tea (two cups) can reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by nearly 5% (NIH, NLM, NCBI).
  • Reduces caffeine-related symptoms. If caffeine has a negative affect on you (contributing to anxiety or insomnia, for example) note that tea typically has 50% less caffeine. Naturally decaffeinated tea is considered healthier than the chemical process used to remove caffeine from tea (and coffee). An 8-ounce cup of tea using one tea bag, brewed for three to five minutes, has 40 mg of caffeine; a cup of brewed coffee contains 100 mg. For those who still struggle with caffeine-related symptoms even with less caffeine, there are many varieties of naturally caffeine-free tea, including hibiscus, chamomile, rooibos, and most herbal teas.

And as if all these benefits weren’t enough, the ritual of simply making a cup of tea has a calming, relaxing effect for many people. 

I’d love to hear how you enjoy tea! Please share with a comment below or post on my Instagram or Facebook page!

What Can Detoxing Do for You?

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Detoxing has become a popular way for people to restore their health, jumpstart their metabolism and kick off a weight-loss or clean-eating program. There are many reasons a detox can be beneficial, and done right, detoxing does a great job of helping you achieve those goals.

However, there are many different ways to detox, and the process you choose should be based on your individual needs, challenges, goals, and preferences. Don't just jump on the detox bandwagon without doing your research first! Beware of any program that requires extreme calorie deprivation or prolonged fasting, even juice fasting, as these extreme protocols can do more harm than good.

While healthy eating and/or detoxing should not feel like an exercise in depriving yourself, nearly all programs include refraining from one main food that may be the cause of many of the symptoms people suffer from most – fatigue, bloating, moodiness, headaches, congestion, itchiness, and stomach upset issues of one kind or another. That one food is sugar.

Consuming sugar does more than cause weight gain; it causes inflammation, belly fat storage, and spikes in your blood sugar that create a roller-coaster effect: it provides a burst of energy, but then it depletes your energy, so you crave MORE sugar. The more you eat, the more you want, and its effect on your body makes it nearly impossible to lose weight or reduce your symptoms.

Did you over-indulge over the holiday season? Have you been feeling more sluggish or achy than usual? Has your stomach been upset for days (weeks or years!)? Do you suffer from headaches, heartburn, or have trouble sleeping? Do you feel like your clothes have shrunk? Do you want to get back on track, feel and look fabulous and have more confidence? Would you love to fit into your skinny jeans? If you answered yes to any of these questions, embarking on a detox or clean-eating program for 10 to 21 days may be a great way to remedy your symptoms, increase your energy and lose the post-holiday padding. My best advice includes:

1) Recognize that there are many types of detoxes – they don’t all involve juicing, fasting, or deprivation. In fact, my program includes real, whole food at every meal – plus snacks, and a wide variety of easy, delicious recipes. Remember, a detox isn’t just about what you DON’T eat – it’s also about what you DO eat and how you nourish your body, mind and spirit.

2) Ask yourself how you feel, what you want and why you want it. Write it down. Don't rely on willpower for motivation! You need a driving purpose to keep you in the game. 

3) Get Support – Don't try to go it alone. Get a close friend or loved one to detox with you and/or talk to an expert who can help you determine the right approach for your individual goals. Prep week for my Reboot Your Bod 21-day winter detox starts Tuesday, January 2nd and the detox begins on Monday, January 8th. This is a great opportunity to reboot your system with a great group of like-minded people, and start the New Year feeling great! Read more about it here.

I’m happy to answer your questions about detoxing and help you find a program that’s right for you. YOU CAN DO IT. I can help you! Click here to schedule a free 50-minute Coffee Talk.

You're Sweet Enough Already...

Do you enjoy a no-sugar-added soda with dinner every night? What about a low-sugar, high protein ‘nutrition bar' after a workout? At the office, are you mindlessly grazing through the low-sugar or no-sugar added cookies? Do you read food labels to see where on the ingredient list sugars are hidden? If you're regularly drawn to sweets- or foods laden with artificial sweeteners-try going without them for a few days and see what happens. Are you having headaches, irritability, cravings, and symptoms that could only be described as withdrawal? Do you find yourself so uncomfortable that you're drawn right back to those same foods? You could be trapped in the vicious cycle of sugar addiction!

Sugar is a carbohydrate, one of the major nutrient groups, but it doesn't provide vitamins, minerals, or even fiber to our diet. Still, it's added to an array of foods, including ketchup, yogurt, cereal, canned soup, some lunch meats, salad dressing, condiments, bread, and so much more. While we require some sugar (glucose) in order to function property, all of this added sugar is harmful to our system.

Sugar's Addictive Qualities

When we ingest sugar, our body generates a response similar to that seen in addictions, which is why we develop cravings for more. It's often called the cocaine of dietary additives and recent studies have shown it to be 8 times more addictive than actual cocaine. Crazy right?

Here's how it works: Sugar -- whether natural, processed or artificial -- enters the bloodstream quickly, causing your blood sugar level to spike. The body recognizes this imbalance and acts to bring blood sugar back to normal. Insulin, a hormone, pushes glucose into the cells to be used for energy. But if you eat a lot of sugar, the body can't keep up. Insulin has to work harder and the body overcompensates, causing blood sugar to drop too low - and your brain reacts. You feel depleted, irritable, and crave more sugar.

Sugar by Any Other Name

Sugar names you might recognize are sucrose (table sugar), fructose (found in fruits, some root veggies, and honey), and lactose (milk sugar). Naturally occurring sugar in fruit and vegetables has a place in a balanced diet. But added sugar, artificial sweetener, and processed ‘natural' sugar like high fructose corn syrup are detrimental to your health.

Eliminate Unhealthy Sugar From Your Diet

Learn where Sugar Hides. On ingredient lists, any words that ends in -ose are sugars.  If they're among the first five items, walk away from it. If sugar is one of the last ingredients on the list, that's a better choice.

Avoid the Fake Stuff. Products containing artificial sweeteners are not a healthy alternative since these sweeteners are highly toxic and arguable more addictive than real sugar. Diet soda, 'fat free' and 'sugar free' candy and cookies are associated with weight gain and cravings, creating a cycle of addiction.

Sip with Awareness. A single can of soda, bottle of juice, flavored water, or Gatorade typically contains nine or more teaspoons of sugar. Four grams of sugar is a teaspoon so keep that in mind when reading nutrition labels.

Make Sweet Substitutions. Look for snacks labeled 'no added sugar' or 'unsweetened.' Use canned foods packed in water instead of juice or syrup. When baking, swap table sugar with stevia, monk fruit, applesauce, date paste, or molasses. Adding cinnamon or cacao powder is a great way to sprinkle flavor onto yogurt, oatmeal, or coffee. Opt for honey, maple syrup or coconut palm sugar over other processed sugars.

Reprogram your taste for sugar slowly. If you put two sugar packets in your coffee, cut back in half-packet increments and keep the sugar bowl off the kitchen table. Small steps add up to sweet success!

Carve a Pumpkin and Avoid Looking Like One

While sugar is a powerful “drug” (see the latest report here), it’s not just the cute and colorful treats that tempt us. Halloween may hold happy memories for many of us of our own childhood costumes and candy collecting, as well as those of our children dressing up for trick-or-treating and their squeals of delight as they came home with pillowcases filled with candy.

But it’s not all fun and games. Sugar can weaken our immune system, increase symptoms of ADD/ADHD, and contribute to weight gain, moodiness and lack of energy. And the more we eat, the more we want. So what can you do now to avoid “over-treating?” Here are few healthy tips:

1. Focus on the Festivities. There is a lot to get excited about besides candy: Make creative costumes, plan a neighborhood party; build a haunted house; have a pumpkin-carving contest; spend the day decorating your yard and house.

2. Speaking of healthy treats … What if you (and/or your kids) try making some cute, nutritious Halloween treats like the recipe below or my Coco Loco Amazeballs? Now we’re talking fun and nutritious!

3. Don’t trick-or-treat on an empty stomach. I know the kids are excited, but it’s a great idea to have a nutritious meal ready when they get home from school. If you’re in a hurry, kids can have a “snack-ful dinner” – almond butter on whole grain toast with apples; carrots with hummus; black beans and quinoa, or a whole-grain pita with avocado and chopped chicken.

4. What is your favorite Halloween candy? Whatever it is – leave it at the store! If you must buy candy to give out to the trick-or-treaters, consider buying candy that you’d never eat if it was the last sweet on earth! Perhaps buy it that morning, and get just enough to give out that night.

5. You can’t eat it if it’s not there. Don’t let one night of sweet treats turn into a month of candy snacking. Toss out leftover candy the next day, and give your kids just a few days to indulge. Better to be a little wasteful by throwing out the sweets than to derail your health and weight goals (not to mention adding to tooth decay and all the other sugar symptoms).

Just because it is the 31st of October doesn’t mean we have to indulge in daily sweet treating that we wouldn’t normally do. It’s really about making better choices that keep YOU feeling better. Have cut-up fruits and vegetables in your fridge; fill snack bowls with almonds and walnuts (and take some to work, too!) Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and give yourself permission to break with old Halloween traditions to start your own.

Banana Ghosts and Tiny Pumpkins

Serves 12

Perfect for a party, these treats are a great way to provide your kids with some healthier choices.

Ingredients: 
• 6 bananas, peeled and cut in half horizontally
• 24 carob chips
• 12 tangerines or clementines, peeled
• 2 stalks celery, peeled and cut into 12 ½ inch pieces, and sliced thin (see picture)

Directions: 
For the Banana Ghouls, place carob chips as “eyes” on the bananas, turning them into ghostly goodies! For the Tiny Pumpkins, insert one cut celery piece into the center of each clementine to make a party “pumpkin” treat. Serve on a large platter at room temperature!

Fat Was Never the Bad Guy

The Secret’s Out on the Sugar Industry

Having grown up int he 80's and 90's I was one of those who fell prey to the high carb low fat diet craze and it took me years to reverse the damage it did to my health and my waistline. Luckily we now know better and the truth is finally coming out.

A report published in the JAMA Internal Medicine on Sep. 12, 2016 revealed that the sugar industry paid scientists in the ’60s to shift the focus from sugar as a link to heart disease and blame saturated fat instead.

The New York Times reported the discovery of internal sugar documents. The documents suggest that many of today’s dietary recommendations were influenced by the sugar industry.

According to the NYT, “A trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation paid three Harvard scientists … to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease. The studies … minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat.”

Sounds similar to the decades-long cover-up of the health hazards of nicotine, doesn’t it? The NYT article also cites the previous revelation of soft-drink companies covering up the link between sugary drinks and obesity. 

Why do wellness coaches and health practitioners care so much about the recent report? As the NYT cites, “For many decades, health officials encouraged Americans to reduce their fat intake, which led many people to consume low-fat, high-sugar foods that some experts now blame for fueling the obesity crisis.” 

Just one more reason to recognize that sugar is addicting and harmful to our health; the better choices we can make, the better we can influence our health and longevity, and the health of our kids. Read the entire article, with links to the research, here.

Spice It Up!

Rumor has it that red hot chili peppers can help you lose weight.

Bite into a hot pepper, or chilis, and you'll instantly feel the 'flame effect.' But can these fiery fruits actually boost your metabolism and promote weight loss?

To a degree, the scientific answer is yes, but they're no magic pill.

Chilies get their heat from an oily chemical compound called capsaicin, which is concentrated in the membrane surrounding the seeds of the Capsicum plant. In studies, Capsaicin boosts thermogenesis - the process by which the body turns calories into heat to use for fuel. However, the effect on weight loss is modest, at best. Here's why:

Given the pungency of peppers, it's difficult for anyone, even a person with a great tolerance for spicy foods, to eat hot peppers often enough and in a sufficient enough serving to lose weight via the 'chili pepper effect.'

Even though we can't eat enough hot peppers to result in weight loss, including chilies in your diet promotes good health in other ways. Chilies are rich in vitamins A, E and K and potassium. Additionally, in scientific studies capsaicin (in capsule form) has been shown to help reduce pain and inflammation, boost immunity, lower the risk for Type 2 Diabetes, and clear congestion associated with colds.

Caution: Biting into a raw or cooked chili pepper creates an intense heat inside the mouth (the flame effect). If that happens to you, drink milk or eat cottage cheese or plain yogurt to tame the heat. Also, if you're not accustomed to eating chilis your throat may swell and your body may react to the peppers and cause you to vomit. Some people have a sensitivity to nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, white potatoes, etc.) which can cause joint pain and inflammation, so proceed with caution and listen to your body.

The Hottest of the Hot

The Scoville scale measures the heat of chili peppers. The following list shows chilis in the order of their Scoville Heat Units, from high heat to modest heat:

  • Habaneros and Scotch bonnets
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Tabasco pepper
  • Thai chili pepper
  • Jalapeno and Serrano chili peppers

Hot Tip: If you can't remember which are the hottest of the hot peppers, look at the thickness of the stem. The thinner the stem, the hotter the pepper (and higher the capsaicin), and red peppers are hotter than green.

Cayenne (Capsicum annuum)

A popular ingredient for giving a kick to salsa and other dishes, Cayenne has numerous health benefits including reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, reducing pain and inflammation, providing relief for heartburn, moderating blood sugar level, and helping to break down carbohydrates during digestion. All of that is due to a potent chemical, capsaicin, found in the thin skin surrounding the seeds.

Cayenne (capsaicin) supplements have been studied for their ability to curb appetite, increase resting metabolic rate (turn-up your metabolism), and stimulate the breakdown of fats for energy. Short-term studies (12 weeks or less) with athletes, individuals who are of average weight, and those who are obese have shown cayenne does raise metabolism by about an extra 50 calories burned per day. In one to two years, if you did nothing else special with your diet and exercise routine, you'd lose a little weight.

Other studies have looked at different amounts of capsaicin taken and how it is prescribed (ex., taken before, during or after a meal) plus a person's general health status. Capsaicin has an affect on how full a person feels (satiety) before, during, and after a meal as well as food choices people make. (The latter, scientists think, has to do with how cayenne supplements are digested). The amount of capsaicin taken, to a certain point, also affects the amount of change in metabolism and the effect on appetite. A holistic health practitioner can best determine the amount of capsaicin that will help you with your weight loss or other health goals.

A capsaicin supplement is a great way to support your metabolism when you are trying to lose weight but it's not a "miracle diet pill." You still need to follow an overall healthy diet and follow a fitness program consistently.

Chili Pepper References

Cayenne References

Can You Actually Speed Up Your Metabolism?

Many people blame their expanding waistlines on a slow metabolism. But is that really what's keeping you from reaching your ideal body composition?

What is Metabolism?

Metabolism is your body's method of converting calories, from the food you eat, into energy needed to power all the physiological processes that keep you alive and kicking 24/7. The minimum amount of energy your body needs to keep you going is called Base Metabolic Rate (BMR).

Calories in food - protein, fat and carbohydrates - fuel your BMR. Each of us requires a unique daily number of calories to maintain BMR so we can breathe, grow, think, sleep, digest food, and filter waste. Age and lifestyle are significant factors in calculating BMR. If you sit more than you move each day, your BMR is lower and your daily calorie needs are lower, too.

Calories In, Calories Out - Not the Whole Story

Losing or gaining weight is not just about energy balance (calories taken in - calories burned off). Sure, if you take in more calories than your body needs you'll probably gain weight, but it's not that simple. The food we eat acts as a chemical messenger that tells our hormones and other chemical compounds in our bodies what to do.

I always give the example of the doughnut and the chicken breast: both have about the same calories but the chemical reactions that occur on the body after ingesting each of the foods is drastically different. The combination of fat and starch in the doughnut will cause your blood sugar to spike and ghrelin, often called the "hunger hormone". So in short, the donut puts your body into fat storage mode, increases hunger and promotes insulin resistance.

The chicken breast on the other hand stimulates production of glucagon which enables the body to burn fat instead of storing it when insulin levels are low. The protein in the chicken also stimulates leptin production which helps suppress hunger. This is why most people could eat several doughnuts but would struggle to eat more than 1 or 2 chicken breasts.

Here's a great excerpt from this article by Dr. Keoni Teta that helps explain the importance of hormones in relation to body composition:

GLP (glucagon-like peptide) and GIP (glucose dependent insulinotropic peptide) are secreted by the endocrine cells of the small intestine.  They basically help the body sense the macronutrient ratio the incoming food. In other words, they taste the food in the small intestine and tell the body whether there is more fat and sugar in the meal or more lean protein and vegetables in the meal.  More fat and sugar in the meal cause the small intestine to release more GIP relative to GLP, and the more protein and fiber in the meal causes release of more GLP relative to GIP.  Think of GIP as fat storer and GLP as fat burner.

Eating more protein and vegetables influences a stronger signal of GLP relative to GIP thus helping to burn fat.

Your Genes are Not Your Destiny

Your genes (and hormones) play a role in metabolism because they can influence the potential you have to grow muscles (how dense and how big) and how your body stores fat. However, genetic and hormonal mechanisms in metabolism are extremely complex. There are no definitive theories. Yet, many people have lost and maintained a tremendous amount of weight despite their family history. Many health experts agree, "Your genes are not your fate."

Chances are your 'slow metabolism' has more to do with your diet and the type of exercise you are (or are not) doing on a regular basis.

If your exercise routine builds lean muscle, that helps rev-up your metabolism. Muscle tissue requires more energy to maintain than fat tissue. This is why people with leaner bodies (a higher muscle to fat ratio) have a higher BMR. (Those are the folks who eat carrot cake that doesn't 'go right to their hips.)

Build a 24-Hour Fat Burning Body

The first key to revving-up metabolism is eating a whole foods diet: clean protein (organic, pasture-raised meats and poultry and wild seafood), anti-inflammatory fats and oils, fresh organic fruits and veggies, and drinking lots of water.

To really turn-up the heat on your metabolism, and your waistline, you'll want to try the muscle-building, never boring workouts listed below. These workouts help your body generate a 'post-exercise burn' that can rev up your metabolism for 2 - 24 hours after you finish a workout. Factors that determine the "afterburn" effect include your current fitness level and body composition, the intensity and duration of exercise, and type of exercise performed.

Just remember: Our bodies are designed to adapt; beginners to elite athletes both have to change-up their routine every few weeks to continue to see progress.

Circuit Training: Exercises all the major muscle groups in one workout (30-45 minutes) and may include body-weight movements, machines, dumbbells, and exercise bands. Exercises are performed for 8-12 reps, 1-3 sets of each.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and Rest-Based Training. These workouts alternate bouts of maximal physical effort with a rest (or lower intensity) period for set times (e.g., 40 seconds max, 15 seconds lower effort). HIIT principles can be integrated into a variety of exercise routines including walk/run, swim, weight training, and group classes. Research shows an increase in calorie burn for up to 24-hours post exercise. I take this a step further with what we Metabolic Effect folks call "Rest-Based Training". This means that you go as hard as you possibly can during a high intensity interval until you have to rest. You then rest as long as you need to until you can go again at the same intensity. This allows you to individualize a workout to your fitness level and achieve that afterburn effect in less time.

Metabolic Conditioning routines are highly intense and designed to engage different physiological "energy" pathways in the body. These workouts typically use a "suspension exercise system" (e.g., TRX) but can be integrated into other fitness activities. It's best to have a metabolic exercise routine designed and supervised by an experienced exercise specialist who can appropriately alter the intensity, reps, sets and rest intervals.

References

The Power of Walking

Walking just may be the best-kept health secret today! It releases stress, reduces anxiety, helps clear your mind, increases blood flow, improves your energy, helps with weight loss, enhances your mood, and – along with healthy nutrition - can reduce or eliminate a host of symptoms, such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, stomach distress, and more! And with daylight savings time and spring just around the corner, this is the ideal time to put on your sneakers and get out for a walk.

The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recommends 30 minutes of walking a day, at least five days a week (the equivalent of 10,000 steps daily) for the best health benefits. Here are more top tips to get the most health value from your daily walk:

• Make it your morning routine. Studies show that it feels easier to keep our commitment to exercise when we schedule it in the morning or early part of the day – before we are exhausted after work or get bogged down with other commitments.

• Eat a balanced dinner of organic veggies and anti-inflammatory fats to ensure your body has fuel for the morning. Make sure you stop eating two to three hours before bedtime, and skip the alcohol (which can interrupt your sleep cycle or make you feel sluggish in the morning).

• Prep the night before. It helps to have your walking shoes, bottled water, and morning smoothie ingredients (or a banana) ready to go.

• Include short, power walks as well as longer, more moderate-paced walks each week. Health experts have long recommended challenging yourself to keep a brisk pace, but that you should still be able to “talk and walk.” However, the latest research cited in Prevention Magazine, from studies at the University of Virginia, found that women who walked shorter, fast-paced walks three times a week PLUS two longer, moderate-paced walks “lost five times more belly fat than those who strolled at a moderate pace five days a week - even though both groups burned the same number of calories (400) per walk.”

• Take a moment! If you’re walking outside, take time to appreciate the beauty of the outdoors, the flowers blooming, the blue skies, the birds chirping. Walking is not just good for your body, it’s good for your mind! If you have a favorite playlist – great! That can also be meditative and relaxing. Just remember to pay attention to your surroundings and look ahead for any uneven payment, cracks in the sidewalk, or holes in the ground to avoid injury.

• Warm up and cool down. Within the first few minutes of your walk, stop and complete a few easy stretches to protect your hamstrings, knees and ankles. During the last 5 to 10 minutes of your walk, slow your pace and complete additional stretches, ensuring your muscles and heart have a chance to recover.

• Replenish with water. Believe it or not, most of us are dehydrated before we even head out the door in the morning. I recommend that you drink half your weight in ounces of water every day, and on those days when you exercise more, you’ll want to drink more water. One easy tip: Start by drinking eight ounces of water when you wake up. An hour or two before your walk, drink another eight ounces. During your walk, replenish with water every 15 minutes. This will not only keep you hydrated, but will also help you maintain your energy during and after your workout.

One of my favorite tips is to walk with a friend! It helps me keep my commitment to walking, while giving us time to catch up and motivate each other. Who can you partner with to step up your walking workout?

Why Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail and How You Can Make Sure Yours Succeed!

Did you know that 95% of New Year’s resolutions are forgotten or denied by the last day of January? Studies find that by February, many people are further behind than when they made the resolution! Here are some of the reasons why, and what you can do to avoid the pitfalls.

Challenge: New Year’s is a false start-time influenced by a group mindset. People have a greater chance of succeeding when they have laid the groundwork for success and considered the best time to begin working on their goals. January 1st is an arbitrary date, and we get caught up in feeling as if everyone is doing it. That said, there are some great ways to kick off the New Year on a positive note by taking care of your physical and emotional health and establishing healthy habits.

Solution: Collaborate with a friend or coach to pick a start date that’s right for you to begin working toward your goals. For example, if your goal is to lose a certain amount of weight, you may first want to keep a food diary for a couple of weeks, then clean out the “temptations” from your pantry and refrigerator. This helps you set up for success from the start. The best way to accomplish a long-term goal is to work toward it all year long. If you do choose to participate in a January health or fitness program, look for something like my Reboot Your Bod Detox that will teach you healthy, sustainable habits that you can incorporate in your daily life long after the program ends. 

Challenge: We set vague and/or unattainable goals. Resolutions are typically black and white – dealing in absolutes: I will quit smoking. I will exercise every day. I will not spend money. Goals like these set you up for failure before you even begin!

Solution: Set realistic and specific goals. Don’t try to fix everything all at once. Focus on what is most important to you right now, for THIS year. For example, “I will lose weight” is not a specific goal; however, “I will lose 10 pounds” is both specific and measurable. To make it realistic, give yourself a reasonable timeframe to attain your goal and set smaller, weekly goals. Then, celebrate when you’ve reached that first weekly goal, such as losing your first pound or two!

Challenge: It is difficult to stay motivated day after day, week after week. If we decide to give up or give in, who’s really going to call us on it? In order to make true change, we need to “retrain our brain,” create new habits and ensure accountability.

Solution: The #1 tip from health experts is: get support. Have an accountability partner, work with a Wellness Coach one-on-one, or exercise with a “workout buddy.” Accountability increases your opportunity for success by more than 50 percent! For example, with a Wellness Coach, you can explore your individual challenges and what’s holding you back, without feeling judged. With a workout buddy, you’ll show up on time, week after week, and have someone with whom to share your successes and hardships!

Try these other proven tips:

Picture your preferred future. Close your eyes. Picture how you will look, act, talk, walk, smile, when you’ve achieved your goal.

Feel the feeling of success. Consider how you will you feel once you’ve achieved your goal: Happy? Confident? “Lighter?” Go ahead and let yourself imagine it! Be specific – are you walking down the aisle in your wedding gown (or bridesmaid dress)? Are you dancing in skinny jeans and sexy heels? Are you on the beach in a bathing suit – without a cover up? Visualizing yourself as already having achieved your goals will help you stay on track toward what’s truly important to you.

Understand what de-rails you. Have you ever heard of “emotional eating?” That’s when we use food to comfort us when we’re depressed, scared or stressed out, for example. Let’s say you get upset at work; you may head to the vending machine thinking something sweet or salty will make you feel better. (It won’t.) Or if you’re bored, you might find yourself mindlessly eating chips in front of the T.V. Identifying your own unique, emotional eating triggers is the first step toward creating new healthy habits!

Start with these tips to help you ring in the New Year – healthier, happier, and with more intention and compassion for yourself!

Chocolate, Beloved Chocolate!

Chocolate is a big topic for my clients this month, with many of them suffering from post-Halloween blues …not-so-thankful memories of Thanksgiving desserts … and the temptation of holiday goodies strategically placed on store shelves and throughout workplaces everywhere. While candy makers would have us believe that all chocolate (and more chocolate) is good for us, not all chocolate is created equal! Before the frenzy of the festivities carries you away, let's bust some common chocolate myths help you separate fact from fiction.

Did you know that if we averaged all the chocolate eating in America, we consume 12 pounds of chocolate per person, per year? (I don't know about you, but I definitely contributed to that statistic in the past!) But why do we LOVE chocolate so much? Well, when it comes to brain chemistry, eating chocolate is actually similar to falling in love. It’s true; your love affair with chocolate is not just your imagination (but it may be one-sided!). When we consume chocolate, it releases serotonin and endorphins in the part of our brain that controls our feelings of pleasure, love and happiness. It is this chemical release that can become addictive and cause cravings for more.

Think about it -- when do you have the strongest cravings for chocolate? When you’re tired? Sad? Frustrated? Anxious? Bored? When you reach for those chocolate kisses or M&Ms, what do you want them to do for you? Maybe you’re hoping that eating them will make you feel better, happier, or give you more energy. But here are the facts: The chocolate may give you a short burst of euphoria or energy – what we call a “sugar rush” -- but it's short-lived. And when you crash, you will often feel sadder, moodier, more frustrated, or more tired than you did before!

But wait! Not all chocolate is created equal 
Mass-produced chocolate – like candy bars, kisses, hot chocolate -- are made of mostly sugar, inflammatory oils, chemicals, and preservatives. These ingredients can lead to or aggravate health problems such as hypoglycemia, obesity, diabetes, headaches, insomnia, depression, osteoporosis, arthritis, and cancer – just to name a few.

Chocolate is also one of those “foods” that we tend to eat mindlessly; a handful of M&Ms becomes two or three or even a whole bag. When we are not aware of how much chocolate we’re eating, we are at risk of gaining weight and running down our immune system.

On the other hand, high quality, organic chocolate with a high percentage of raw cacao offers many heath benefits in addition to its feel good nature. The unprocessed cacao bean (“kah-‘cow”) is rich in flavonoids and antioxidants similar to those found in red wine and green tea, which help protect your cells against damage by free radicals. In addition, high-quality cacao is rich in magnesium, iron, chromium, manganese, zinc, copper, theobromine, Vitamins A, B, C, D, and Omega 6. Chocolate also has a blood-thinning effect and can prevent blood clots. According to the University of California, Davis Department of Nutrition, eating raw cacao can be just as effective as taking a daily aspirin to prevent heart attack and stroke. It can also help prevent cravings and promote a feeling of satiety, which makes it a great way to get a sweet fix without going overboard. Obviously that’s not the case if chocolate is a binge food for you, but I find that 80% cacao dark chocolate is so rich that it’s hard to eat more than a few bites.

Below I’ve listed a few of my favorite chocolate bars for my fellow chocoholics. Try a few and let me know which one is your favorite. My general rule of thumb is to choose a bar with a minimum of 70% cacao with low sugar content and to savor it slowly. Happy Holidays!

Theo Organic Fair-Trade Salted Almond 70% Dark Chocolate

Equal Exchange Chocolates Organic Panama Extra Dark Chocolate

Taza Chocolate 85% Super Dark

Artisana Organics Venezuelan Criollo Cacao – Dark 85%

Camino Panama Extra Dark Chocolate Bar (only available in Canada)

How to Win Thanksgiving

Forget football! Here is YOUR game plan for enjoying a healthy, feel-good Thanksgiving weekend!

1. Don’t show up hungry. When you sit down for the Thanksgiving meal, you don’t want to be “starving.” Studies show that skipping meals on the big day won’t save you calories – in fact, you will end up eating more!

2. Start Thanksgiving Day with two things: : 1) A healthy, satisfying breakfast and stay hydrated. There is not one right meal choice for everyone; if you need help figuring out what breakfast is best for you – let’s talk. 2) An intention for the holiday, such as “I will have a 'plan' and stick with it; I will eat mindfully, and I’ll remember to breathe!"

3. Have a midday mini-meal. If your Thanksgiving meal is in the early afternoon or evening, have a healthy midday snack that includes protein, fiber and healthy fat to help you avoid overeating at the Thanksgiving table.

4. Skip any foods that you don’t absolutely love. Don't waste your calories or indulgences on foods that aren't totally wonderful and amazing. Enjoy that piece of pie but skip the rice or potatoes that aren't that special, and fill the rest of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and clean protein. When you do eat something indulgent, really SAVOR it! Eat it slowly and take time to notice the smell, taste, and texture. You'll be surprised at how much more satisfied you are if you are mindful and present in that moment vs. popping cookie after cookie in your mouth without really paying attention.

5. Make the good stuff. If you’re not in charge of the Thanksgiving meal, you can still bring a healthy dish to ensure that you have a healthy option that you enjoy. Use this tip when you are the host, too!

6. Limit alcohol to one drink or skip it altogether. The more alcohol you drink the worse your judgement will get so this can also keep you from “mindless” eating and drinking! Instead, sip water, sparkling water with lemon/lime, or herbal tea. 

7. Say no to unhealthy leftovers. If you’re hosting, buy disposable food storage containers and send your guests home with all the not-so-healthy leftovers. If you don’t have it in your house, you can’t eat it!

8. Get right back to your healthy routine. If you eat a little too much or make some poor choices on Thanksgiving, don’t sabotage the entire weekend! The next morning, head to the gym, go for a walk or a bike ride. Drink half your weight in ounces of water each day, and journal about whatever cravings or feelings you have. The faster you get back on track, the less chance you’ll have of gaining weight or suffering from food-related symptoms. It's not the occasional indulgence that sabotages your health goals, it's the habitual, daily choices you make that determine your long-term success.

9. Be good to YOU. The holidays are a busy and stressful time for most of us and self-care tends to go out the window. Schedule some time for yourself to get a massage, take a relaxing walk, or spend some down time alone or with your partner. Don't engage in negative self-talk or inner dialogue because it just makes you feel worse and less motivated to make good choices that truly serve you. You deserve to be well taken care of, especially by yourself.

By being proactive and using these healthy planning tips, you can have a happy AND a healthy Thanksgiving holiday!

Fat Loss and Detoxification - Why Toxicity May Be Stopping You From Losing Weight

Detox has become somewhat of a dirty word these days. With all of the "detox" programs that require juice fasts, extreme calorie restriction and bizarre foods, it's no wonder that people cringe when they hear the word. Truth be told I have the same reaction and unless I know and trust the source of a detox program, I tend to assume it's a bad idea.

Our bodies have built-in detoxification processes which, as long as they are working properly, don't need crazy diets or loads of supplements to rid our bodies of the toxins and pollutants we're exposed to every day. However, our bodies were not designed to handle the amount of toxic exposure we are subjected to in this day and age which means that our internal detox pathways can get overloaded. Throw a poor diet on top of that and you'll find yourself feeling and looking pretty awful.

For years we have been told that losing weight is simply a matter of calories in, calories out, and to some degree that is true. But weight loss and fat loss are two VERY different things, and for most people, real fat loss is what we want to achieve. That brings us to our fat cells. These little guys get a bad wrap, but in fact they're helping to protect us by storing any fat-soluble toxins that our organs of detoxification can't get rid of. So the next time you see those rolls of chub on your tummy, remember that while you don't want to keep them, they're preventing your organs from being poisoned.

If we are storing a lot of toxicity in our fat cells, our bodies will not release that extra weight because it simply isn't safe. But if we nurture our liver and kidneys and optimize our body's detox pathways, we will have a much easier time eliminating those toxins and then we will more readily burn fat.

So how does one go about detoxing in a natural, gentle way without going to extremes? There are a few ways to go about it, but the bottom line is - use your food as medicine. By eliminating the most common inflammatory and allergenic foods, avoiding non-organic foods and toxic chemicals, and eating foods that support the your detox organs, you can help optimize your body's ability to "take out the trash".

October is a great time to step back and take stock of your health, using the change in season as a chance to make a fresh start. I wanted to give clients a way to do this that was both effective and enjoyable so I created the Reboot Your Bod Detox. My Fall detox program is an ideal way to detox gently and naturally while enjoying delicious, whole foods that nourish and heal your body. And you won't be going it alone! Starting on October 19 others just like you will begin their 21-day journey to a healthier, happier body and mind, and I'll be supporting you every step of the way with one-on-one coaching and a private Facebook group.

The most common feedback I hear from my Detoxers is that they are amazed at how they can eat so much delicious food and still lose weight, eliminate bloating, feel more energized. And the best part is that you'll learn skills to continue seeing results long after the program is over. Want to learn more? Click here for Detox details and to read what others are saying about this transformational program.

Other articles on this topic from industry experts:

PCBs are Linked to a Fat Stomach by Byron J. Richards, CN

Pesticides vs. Calories. Another hit to the calorie model. by Dr. Jade Teta

Remove Toxins From Your Fat Cells by Dr. John Douillard

How Toxins Make You Fat: 4 Steps to Get Rid of Toxic Weight by Dr. Mark Hyman

Beating the Late Night Munchies

Dinner is done, the dishes are put away, and you’re watching your favorite show. The next thing you know you’re standing in front of your pantry (or fridge or freezer), pulling out chips (or ice cream or crackers or popcorn) to satisfy those nagging post-dinner cravings. Does this happen to you? What’s going on? Are you really hungry?

Night-time snacking is one of the biggest challenges and can really contribute to weight gain. When you eat within a few hours of sleeping, your body stores the food as fat.

Believe it or not, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes of night-time snacking -- habits, hormones, emotions, nutrition deficiencies, sleep deprivation – even the influence of television! See my top tips below to help you beat those late night munchies!

“Emotional eating.” Have you heard of “emotional eating?” Perhaps you‘ve experienced this or seen a movie where the jilted lover tries to soothe her broken heart with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s? (They actually have a flavor called “Chocolate Therapy!”) But emotions that can drive you to snack are not always that clear or dramatic. Everyday stress, anxiety, frustration, loneliness, and boredom are just a few of the feelings that cause many people to “comfort eat.” You may not even be aware of those feelings, but night-time can magnify them and send you to the kitchen.

In my practice, I work with clients to help them understand their emotional triggers, change their relationship with food, and learn healthier habits. The first step is self-awareness. When you find yourself mindlessly snacking, write a few notes about how you’re feeling and ask yourself a few questions:

Am I really hungry or am I bored? New clients often tell me that they snack because they’re bored. Does that ever happen to you? When and why does that happen? What could you do about your boredom besides eat?

Am I stressed and trying to comfort myself with food? Stress increases cortisol, which can increase your craving to snack. How about trying some healthier ways to relax, such as taking a walk, doing yoga stretches, soaking in a warm bath, or doing some deep breathing or meditation exercises? Check out the meditation app, Headspace. It’s easy, just 10 minutes at a time, and very calming.

Emotional eating is one driver of night-time snacking, but here are some other common reasons why we may get the urge to snack:

Insufficient nutrition earlier in the day. If you haven't eaten enough or had enough of the right foods throughout the day, your body is going to want more nourishment come night time. Shoot for eating 1 lb of non-starchy vegetables each day and include sources of clean protein and healthy fats at each meal. Drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages first thing in the morning before eating can also cause major cravings later in the day.

Entertaining. When we get together with family or friends, it’s often about eating, and summertime brings picnics, BBQs, family reunions, and more! If you’re worried that you’ll offend your host who’s baked all day, or that your family or friends will give you a hard time (what’s that all about? NOT cool), bring healthy food with you, let them know you are focusing on healthy habits, and find other ways to join in and connect. If that idea makes you uncomfortable (you’re not alone here, this is a very common challenge) let’s talk about ways you can handle this with your friends and family.

TV triggers. When you’re watching your favorite shows, you’re the target of commercials for fast food, sweets and salty snacks. These ads work, as they were designed to, and they trigger the urge to snack. Companies spend millions of dollars to create those cravings, so take back your power by muting the television or fast-forwarding through your recordings.

Hormone health. Your body produces hormones to help regulate your appetite – insulin, leptin and ghrelin are just a few. If these hormones are out of balance, you might feel as if you can’t control your hunger, because your brain is not acknowledging that you’re full. For example, why do we crave something sweet right after a big meal? It’s physical! Your body produces insulin after you eat in order to process the carbohydrates (sugar). Making just small changes to when and what you eat can help keep your hormones in check, making it easier for you to kick your cravings and maintain or lose weight.

Here are some steps you can take right away to help curb your night-time snacking:

1. Eat a nourishing breakfast. Because our bodies store late-night eating as fat, snacking before bedtime might prevent you from being hungry when you wake up. This might cause you to skip breakfast, which could throw you off for the whole day. It’s a snacker’s vicious cycle! To prevent this, be sure to begin your day with a nutritious breakfast of protein, fiber and healthy fats. For example eggs with veggies sautéed in coconut oil or ghee will help fuel your brain and regulate your blood sugar until it’s time for lunch. I like to make a smoothie with coconut milk, vegan protein powder, hemp hearts, frozen organic blueberries and kale, and mac root. It energizes me and keep me going for 2-3 hours.

2. Don’t keep tempting snacks in the house. So there you are, right after dinner, looking in the pantry or fridge. What are you looking for? If you can’t find the snacks you crave, you can’t eat them! The decision not to have snacks in the house is made in the supermarket. Next time you’re grocery shopping, resist the temptation to bring home the unhealthy treats that sabotage your health and weight-loss goals. If it’s not in your house, it’s not in your mouth!

3. Crowd out the unhealthy snacks with better options. It’s unrealistic to think we’ll never want a snack – the key is to choose good, better, best options for snacking! Sliced cucumber with hummus or half an avocado are both tasty, satisfying options.

4. Make sleep a priority. Studies show that when we’re tired, we’re 25% hungrier. Remember the hormone ghrelin I mentioned earlier? Your body produces more of it when you’re tired, and ghrelin is the hormone that tells your body that you’re hungry... If you tend to stay up too late, you could be adding a double-whammy to your night-time cravings.

Want to beat your bad habits once and for all and create an empowered and healthy lifestyle? Book your free Coffee Talk session and let’s get to the root cause of your snacking!