Sugar Challenge

The thought of sugar evokes celebratory images, good feelings, and pleasant sensory memories for most of us. It’s undeniable. Sugar is woven into the fabric of our daily lives, whether we are celebrating, rewarding, or comforting ourselves.

Our fascination with sugar is displayed in the headlines and titles generated by health news sites, blogs, and print media. Here are some current headlines:

10 Reasons Why Sugar is Bad for You

Is Sugar Bad for You?

The Harmful Effects of Sugar

11 Weird Things Sugar Does to Your Health

How Sugar Affects Your Brain

Is It Time to Stop Worrying About Sugar?

Sugar is Definitely Toxic

Sugar is Not Only a Drug but a Poison

When It Comes to Sweets, Never Say Never

Who has the time or energy to sift through, verify, and separate fact from fiction in the daily flow of media messages? Yet, many of us occasionally experience a gnawing sense of shame that accompanies those moments with our favorite sweets. Are we overindulging? A few sensational headlines and warnings do cause us to pause and worry. Will my food choices affect me negatively? Strong craving’s can challenge our decision-making process.  There is an overwhelming need for that candy bar or soft drink.  Many of us are painfully aware of the after effects of binging on sweets, yet we are unaware of the contributing factors, both physical and mental, preceding and influencing those binges.

The Challenge

My husband and I decided to take the 90 Day No Sugar Challenge and document our journey. We both desire to sharpen our mental capabilities and strengthen our bodies as we age. We are curious.

  • Could hormone and blood sugar levels be positively affected by simply eliminating sugar from our daily diet?
  • Will the absence of sugar eliminate cravings?
  • Will the intermittent brain fog lift and will we have more energy if we eliminate sugar?

We hope this first-hand experience will equip us with some answers and motivate us to make choices that will benefit both our bodies and minds.  This is a journal of our experiment.

Journal Week 1 – 3

The Test

We both love our coffee and it was immediately apparent we needed to replace the sweeteners in our favorite morning beverage.

I also needed to find a replacement for my favorite summertime treat – frozen coffee.

We found a strong attraction to baked goods and Oreo cookies.   “Out of sight, out of mind” was our only defense for this! Actually, “Out of the house, out of mind.”

The Win

My husband replaced the sugar in his morning coffee with a natural sweetener and I experimented until I found a frozen coffee replacement I could make at home. See this Coffee Freeze recipe.

The Surprise

We had cravings but they were not as strong as we expected. We were able to talk ourselves through the strongest cravings and it was easiest when we replaced what we could not have with something comparable.

Our fluctuating blood sugars stabilized.

 

TIPS:

We prepared for the official start date by slowly decreasing the sugar in our daily diet a few weeks in advance. We hoped this would decrease the shock to our bodies.

We avoided eating out for the first week.  It can be overwhelming just trying to make sure you don’t get sugar in anything. Weeks 2-3 we found our dining experiences to be less stressful when we examined the menu online before leaving for the restaurant.  This gave us time to look over the main ingredients, make an informed choice, and note if we needed any clarifications from the wait staff.

I learned to wait for my cravings to pass.  Interestingly, the average craving lasted 20-30 minutes and then disappeared.

We became intentional in planning meals with the appropriate proteins and we tried to choose carbohydrates which are low on the glycemic index. The carbohydrates were slow burning so we felt full longer and our blood sugars did not immediately spike afterwards.  Both of these choices significantly reduced cravings.

Overall, a good start.  We are mindful that this is the beginning and our determination is usually strongest when we begin a new habit. Can we stay the course? Cravings were a reminder that our bodies need time to adjust. Watch for our next journal entry from Weeks 4-6.

 

What can 30 minutes of exercise do for your health?

Find out how many benefits you can get from just 30 minutes of exercise.  It will motivate you to get off the couch, chair, whatever is keeping you from a simple 30 minute walk.  Sometimes it takes the simple to have such profound effects.

 

 

Love Unconditionally

Image captured by: Hannah Ruth Photography

Valentine’s Day is a day of showing your affections toward someone you are romantically involved with or would like to be.  It can also be a time to show appreciation for your friends and family member(s).

Sometimes these tokens of affection are given anonymously.  As I ruminate on this anonymous idea, I can’t help think of the fact that when we share our love for others, we should do it, not anonymously, but instead without expectation.  It can be hard to love someone unlovable.  Yet those are the ones that need it the most.  It can hurt when you love and it doesn’t come back to you the way you had hoped.  If you don’t express it, though, it hurts you and the other person even more.

Is it possible to love unconditionally?  The perfect example of unconditional love is that of Jesus Christ.  He loves us, and do we love Him back? Some do, and some don’t, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t still love us.  How about parent, child, spouse, sibling. . .any one of these relationships that you are experiencing deem unlovable?  Can you love unconditionally?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Unconditional Love

Relationships — My Placeholder

Just hanging out!

I just had my birthday and usually around this time I feel a little bit grumpy.  This year was different.  So many friends (silver and gold), my family, even the store clerk, made me feel special this year.

My friends that are squeezing every minute out of their day for their own work and family responsibilities made sure to take the time to wish me a special day. One friend called me to send well wishes as she could barely drag herself out of bed from having the flu!  Another, never misses a year, ON my day, by calling and sending a card.

Family that showed me how much they cared by spoiling me rotten, ALL DAY.

So, this makes me think, what do I use as my placeholder?  The place I want to be is the love that surrounds these cherished times with family and friends.

Relationships are where I want to be.  It is here that I thrive . . .this is my placeholder. What is yours?  What do you want it to be?

Mindful Eating

Eating Mindfully or Mindlessly Eating?  How many times do you shove food in your mouth and realize that you ate about as much as a meal before sitting down to eat?

Or, you wait until you are ravenously hungry so you grab the quickest and easiest food that may not be the best choice, just to fill your stomach?

And then . . . there is the fork in the road.  You have two choices staring you in the face and it is your decision which one to pick.  What will you choose?

We talked earlier about setting our goals for the new year.  Now it is time to put them in practice and think about the choices we have, why we want to pick the healthier choice, and consider how great we will feel when we do.

Read here about some mindful eating tips to get you started.  Don’t give up!  Plan & prepare ahead of time your healthier meal options.  Limit your dining out and cook your own food at home.  Also, don’t forget to drink more water!

Mindful Eating

The Fork in the Road – What were my Goals?

Making a lifetime change will take time.  You may want to consider a Health Coach to support you and provide you an accountability that will get you to your healthier goals you desire.   Go to the connect tab and fill out a Health History.  No pressure, no charge, just conversation about you and your goals.  I hope to hear from you.

Transform Your Body With This Form of Exercise – Yoga


yoga infographic

27 Amazing Benefits of Yoga (Connect Your Mind and Body)

Hectic Holidays……..Healthy Holidays

holiday

Transform your approach to healthy food choices this holiday season.~

Are you busy?  Is everyone you know busy?  We live most days resigned to stress and endless time crunches.  For many of us, holiday time ramps up the stress to even higher levels as we gather together for numerous events with friends, family, and co-workers.

Some days it is all we can do to just to meet the daily obligations of life and we don’t have energy left to also make allowances for healthy food choices and prep.  Piling on guilt or unrealistic expectations surrounding food choices over the holidays can lead to increased feelings of discouragement.

As we realistically look at the holiday celebrations and challenges facing us, we can make little changes in our approach to food this season!  Each journey toward health is personal.   Healthy food choices are made one choice at a time.  Small choices add up over time. Positive self-affirmations and limitless patience can also transform your approach to healthy food choices.

  • Re-evaluate food expectations. Consider introducing just one healthy recipe into your yearly holiday dinner. If that may cause a mini-revolt among your relatives and friends, then consider just introducing one healthy ingredient like olive oil in place of a less healthy ingredient like butter, in just one dish. Bring a platter of fresh chopped veggies with a delicious dip to your next pot-luck, instead of a sugar-laden, over-processed dessert. If you must bring a dessert, consider a delicious dessert with ingredients that are minimally processed.

 

  • Place a plate of fresh cut fruits and veggies with dip on the kitchen counter while preparing large meals. Small bites of nourishing foods can satiate your appetite and you will be less tempted to overeat when the main meal is finally ready.

 

  • Invite your friends and family members into the kitchen while you are preparing your holiday meals. Sharing food prep can be a wonderful time to lighten the load and enjoy shared company. Consider approaching dinnertime with a more free-flowing expectation that dinner will be served when it’s ready – whatever time that may be.

 

  • Create a peaceful ambiance in your kitchen. Many hours are spent in the kitchen during the holidays. Simmering spices on low during food prep is calming. Burning a candle or beautiful incense burner while cleaning up and washing dishes can soothe those tired nerves.

 

  • Evaluate your kitchen tools. Consider investing in a good set of knives if you will be doing a lot of food prep. Numerous kitchen tools like a mandolin slicer or rice cooker can make your life easier and save precious time.

Have compassion on yourself this holiday season as you navigate through the challenges and celebrate those healthy choices!

 

Your Holiday Options for Weight Control

 

During the holidays you may find yourself dining out more than normal and frequenting the holiday parties that begin with appetizers and end with rich desserts. If you host the holiday gatherings with all the holiday goodies, you may be spending more time in the kitchen near the tempting foods you wouldn’t normally have in your home. So, with more frequent dining out and/or hosting, how can we keep the weight creeping up from excess indulges and overeating? 

Here are some tips that help me stay sane and feel in control. 
dinning-room-30-680x1024

Photo from the creativelylivingblog.com. Christmas dining project gallery.

Angel tag

Remind yourself that you have the choice to stay in control by knowing what triggers the downward spiral into a feeding frenzy.  For example, baking Christmas cookies and being into the kitchen too long tempts me to overeat sugar.  Then I can’t get enough sugar!  Yep, I eat dough, lick the frosting, or test more cookies than a serving for one (or two or three, etc).  If you resonate with this example, here are some options.

Option: I am admitting to an unhealthy practice with this option, but I think its a better alternative to the above.  Christmas seems strange without sugar cookies, so I buy the pre-made sugar cookies, the ones where all you have to do is cut and bake. Or, Gordon Foods have some that are already cut out . . . even easier.  This helps me with portions.  Make yourself observe the nutritional values of each cookie on the box or package.  This information motivates me to stay within a proper portion size.

Option : Find another Christmas tradition that you enjoy that doesn’t include food.  Make some homemade ornaments.  Enjoy this activity with your kiddos, or Grandchildren.  Check here for some great homemade ornament ideas. 

Christmas snowman tagPreparation is key for the holiday health.  Have some healthy go-to recipes and dishes ready made for those days after you have overindulged.  Check here for a great tasting and body cleansing soup that helps you feel a little less bloated. 

Option:  So you don’t feel slighted when the time comes to saying no to cookies or desserts, try sweet vegetables to get off the refined sugar high.  Roasted root vegetables can help as well as sweet potatoes, butternut squash or acorn squash. These options provide a natural sweetness.  Here is another great recipe for a sweet fix that you can make or take as an appetizer. 

Option:  Before a special event that includes so many food choices that may or may not be healthy, decide which ones are worth consuming.  Be a picky eater, and try to compensate the rest of the day for those unhealthier choices.  For example, if it’s an evening dinner, party, etc. eat the vegetable soup you have prepared above for lunch and snack on the roasted root vegetables. Make healthy choices for most of the day so you can have room for those chosen indulgences.  Whatever you do, though, do not go hungry!

As we celebrate the holidays, make the time for reflecting God’s blessings in your life.  Read first hand the Christmas story.  Stay rooted daily. . . it doesn’t take much time to be reminded of the sacrifice this little baby, born in a manger, has made for me and you.  Download this app for bible verses anytime and anywhere.Merry Christmas

A Story for You this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Border
A Story to Promote Wellness with Healthy Relationships

Recently I had a conversation with my daughter-in-law, Caroline and son, Rick about how frustrating it is that God doesn’t speak to me audibly.  My desire is that God would clearly speak to me in words that I can understand, such as how to live my life, and what to do and say in all circumstances.  I know He speaks to me through reading the bible and prayer, but I feel as though I need clearer communication.

Rick and CarolineAs I was complaining about the lack of direction, there was a brief pause in the conversation. Then, Caroline shared how God spoke to her loud and clear, in a very personal situation, and as an answer to prayer.  She proceeded to describe in more detail her story.  It was a privilege for me to hear. 

That dinner conversation made quite an impression on me days after.  I couldn’t help think how a young woman more than half my age could articulate this spiritual interaction with such maturity, clarity and passion. At the same time, I felt exposed to my immaturity and apathy, as I thought more about my relationship with God.  However, by the sharing of her story, Caroline helped me to understand how God does talk to me; through my own stories.

Learning to Listen Well

art-of-listening-prayer-by-seth-barnesWith some embarrassment and pain comes growth. As a result, I am learning that God isn’t holding back from me, I’m just not listening well.  So, to improve my relationship, reading the Bible is my starting point.  Sometimes, though, I need a little help and The Art of Listening Prayer by Seth Barnes has been very beneficial.  Day 13, Seth talks about ways God speaks to us.  That day made me realize that there are many ways he does talk to me. But I have to do my part.  It starts with: focusing, repenting, asking, and listening . . .  then I can write my story.  The answer may be that God is letting me decide, as Seth puts it day 11. 

How does God speak to you?

Now it’s your turn.  Try it out; write it out, and look back at God’s glorious goodness and mercy.  You will definitely promote a heartfelt spirit of gratefulness as you read through those answered prayers, the big and little miracles, that reveal the awesome way God has created you and this world we are passing through. Happy Thanksgiving, and God bless you!

pumpkin-patch-with-mums

Your Local Farmer’s Market & When to Go Organic . . .

Summer is so short for those in the northern, east and midwest sections of the country.  Enjoy every minute of it!  This includes what you eat, and how you shop for your food.

Make it an event and attend your local Farmer’s Market.

Picking Vegetables

How do you know when to go organic?  Whenever possible!  However, many people cannot afford to buy all organic all the time. But you don’t have to buy all organic produce to reduce your risk for chemical contamination. This list from the Environmental Working Group tells you which fruits and vegetables contain the most chemicals and which ones are least contaminated. Use it when shopping to help make the best choices for you and your family – even if you cannot buy entirely organic foods.

Shopping the Farmer's MarketMost and Least Contaminated Produce

12 Most Contaminated

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

12 Least Contaminated

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

Source: Environmental Working Group, www.ewg.org © Integrative Nutrition 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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