It’s fair to assume that we’ve all heard the saying, “You are what you eat.” And I think most people know not to take it literally – you’re not going to turn into a carrot after eating a carrot, or even after eating several. So how can we translate this?
While I can’t say for certain what the person who coined the phrase meant, I can offer an interpretation of it. I think he or she may have been referring to the mental and emotional effects food can have on the body. Have you ever been irritable, overreactive, or tired for a reason you couldn’t pinpoint? Maybe you proceed to have a snack/meal, and suddenly, the initial problem that seemed like an immovable boulder became just a bump in the road? If so, you’re not alone, and research consistently links nutrition to improved mental and emotional health; in fact, this relatively new field of study is called Nutritional Psychiatry.
Researchers of Nutritional Psychiatry reveal that 95% of serotonin, the hormone responsible for our feelings of happiness, is found in our gut. So, the saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?” can actually be applied to everyone, and is a saying that we should all take literally.
What your body is telling you
Simply put, when we eat the food our body craves, we feel satisfied, allowing us move on to our next task. The feelings that we experience after eating is regulated by serotonin. There is a signaling pathway that links your gut to your brain. When the food we eat arrives at our gut, serotonin is activated and sent along this pathway to our brain receptors. Once the brain has received the message, a response to the food eaten – satisfaction, nausea, bloating – is triggered… and felt in the body.
Very often, eating what we crave, also know as eating intuitively, triggers the most desirable response. Cravings are the body’s way of telling us that nutrients are missing. So, when a craving is answered, serotonin carries a message of satisfaction and contentment to the brain. Our brains can then focus on something other than food, hunger, or deprivation from certain foods.
Cravings are normal
This direct connection between our gut and our brain is quite literally felt at gut-level. Feeling anxious may present itself as nausea, depressive thoughts may lead to decreased appetite, nostalgia often causes specific food cravings that can bring you back to a time or place, and trying new foods and eating with other people may increase feelings of happiness.
So, listen to your body! Your cravings are normal and food is important! Enjoy it.
Nearly everyone, especially as people get older seek out products that will give them more youthful skin, longer and stronger hair and nails, as well as better joint mobility.
Well, your answer to these desires could be right in the title – collagen!
Collagen, the most abundant protein found in the human body, is composed of three amino acids, protein building blocks, and serves as a “glue” that gives pliable structure and strength to our tissues. It allows us to stretch and move as we need. It is concentrated in skin tissue to keep our skin supple, and near our joints and bones, serving as a lubricant. So, how can we make sure our bodies produce enough collagen to prevent unnecessary joint pain or premature aging of the skin?
Collagen is quite accessible. Numerous companies such as Vital Proteins and Dr. Axe sell supplements containing the three amino acids in the form of powders, pills, and lotions. However, collagen supplements are expensive! A 20 oz tub of Vital Proteins collagen powder retails for $43.00, and provides 14 servings per container; that equates to a whopping $3.07 per use! And that doesn’t even include the additional costs of whatever you put it in – smoothies, muffins, oatmeal, etc. Seems pricey…
Thankfully, we can get each amino acid from various whole foods. Even better, eating the whole food version would provide more flavour, variety, and affordability! So here are some ideas for every meal of the day that do just that – provide your body with all it needs for efficient collagen production!
Breakfast: Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts/granola
Lunch: Green salad with tofu/beans, seeds, and seasonal vegetables
Snack: 2 hard boiled eggs with an orange
Dinner: Chicken with roasted potatoes and mixed vegetables
** As a delicious, sustainable, and affordable bonus, you can purchase a whole chicken and eat that for the above dinner, then simmer the chicken bones along with celery, carrots, onions, and spices in water to create a bone broth. This collagen-rich broth can be frozen and used to cook anything from rice to chicken soup for future meals! **
You’ll notice that most of the meals above contain an animal-based product, and let me explain why. Since collagen is a protein made only in animals, only animal products contain all the necessary amino acids. However, those following a vegan diet can combine plant-based proteins in order to ensure that each of the three amino acids are consumed. Also, plant products rich in vitamin C, such as green leafy vegetables and citrus, help facilitate the use of the amino acids for collagen production, which is why the animal-centric meals above are paired with one of these.
With so many articles and influencers discussing CBD and their experience with the products (for better or worse), it can be confusing to decipher fact from fiction. So let’s dive into the facts!
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, is an active component that is highly concentrated in both the hemp and marijuana plants. CBD on its own boasts some medicinal properties, without the psychoactive effects caused by marijuana’s THC. So, using CBD alone will not induce the same out of body high produced by THC.
How is CBD consumed?
The “nutty and earthy” taste of CBD oil, accompanied by its distinct smell, is unappealing to some people, so producers have become creative when formulating new CBD products. It can be inhaled by grinding the flowering part of the hemp plant and rolling it into a cigarette or placing the extracted oil into a vaporizer pen; however, smoke inhalation in general poses risks to the body. Alternately, the oil can be placed in pill capsules, or dropped underneath the tongue to be swallowed. For people using CBD to fight inflammation or pain, it can be infused into a topical lotion that cannot enter the bloodstream, but targets its effectiveness on one specific area. Lastly, you can get creative with it in your kitchen! Many people choose to incorporate CBD oil into recipes to mask its taste. Some hide it in nut-butter based energy balls or smoothies!
CBD is promising, but where is the proof?
Epilepsy is the most well known and arguably, the only condition for which CBD’s effectiveness has been scientifically supported, and the only FDA approved medication containing CBD is used for treatment-resistant epilepsy strains. As for anxiety, inflammation, pain reduction, and sleep improvement, the potential of CBD is promising, but not proven. Since the only scientific research on these claims has been done on animals, its effect on and interaction with human function lacks solid evidence. However, many people who use CBD products claim to have experienced decreased symptoms of the aforementioned conditions.
Is CBD regulated by the government?
Because CBD is a supplement, it is not regulated by the government. This lack of regulation means that many products boasting pure CBD contain traces of psychoactive THC. Consumers purchasing CBD products should ensure that the CBD has been derived from hemp, rather than marijuana plants, and that the product has been tested by a third-party.
Where can I get CBD products?
As with most things these days, CBD is sold in the largest quantities online. Amazon alone sells CBD oils, gummies, and lotions, and as of this past April, even mainstream drugstores like CVS and Walgreens made some shelf space for the popular product. Locally, health food and supplement stores, as well as dispensaries are likely to carry CBD items.
“Variety is the spice of life!” Literally. When it comes to food, variety is so important, not just for making sure we eat enough of every nutrient, but also for reducing food waste, and for keeping our palettes satisfied.
The New York Post recently did a survey detailing that 53% of Americans claim to be “foodies.” This means that they are interested and willing to try new foods, and are curious about where their food comes from – which cultures, animals, plants, etc.
Another study determined that 50% of American dieters follow fad diets that require the elimination of large components of an everyday diet. These statistics leave one question unanswered: How can the majority of Americans consider themselves “foodies,” yet many are simultaneously restricting themselves from major food groups?
What if an element of sustainability is added to the definition of “foodie,” and we were able to find freedom from restrictive eating patterns in a healthy way? Enter plant-forward eating.
What is plant forward eating?
Plant forward eating is not the same as plant-based eating (a.k.a. a vegan diet), which restricts consumption of all animal products. Plant-forward eating encourages the reduction, not removal, of animal proteins while prioritizing the consumption of diverse fruits, vegetables, and whole grains available. Plant-forward eating takes into consideration how the food we eat impacts the environment by promoting the reduction of food waste and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. It also allows for a lot of creativity in the kitchen!
Better for you, better for our planet
In what ways does increasing plant food consumption promote environmental sustainability? Here are some facts:
Nearly 15% of all carbon emissions come from animal agriculture.
By reducing animal consumption, there is less need for so many animals on each farm which decreases overall carbon emission.
Raising animals for consumption uses more than 50% of the world’s fresh water supply
Since water is both critical for human health, and it’s availability is decreasing (as seen by the droughts in western America), future you will be thankful for choosing the black bean enchiladas rather than the steak ones!
Animal waste entering ocean environments is creating sections, known as dead zones, where there is no longer oxygen to sustain any sort of life.
Packed with protein
A common concern people have is whether or not they will get enough protein when decreasing their animal product consumption. However, when comparing animal to plant proteins, you may be surprised to see how plant products stack up.
One ounce of cooked meat, which is proportionate to 3 dice, contains 7 grams of protein. For the same amount of protein, you can enjoy ½ cup cooked lentils, ⅓ cup of nuts, or 1 cup of quinoa. These options are great because they provide you with a larger volume of food which will increase your sense of satiety. Plus, they also boast significantly higher amounts of fiber and essential vitamins and minerals!
Up your foodie game with plant -forward meals
For those who enjoy cooking, the creative potential for plant-forward meals is thrilling. Rather than having a meat-centered meal, it is fun to experiment with various spices, vegetables, and grains to create interesting, tasty meals that any foodie will enjoy!
Below are some fun plant-forward meal ideas that you can prepare in advance, and customize to your flavor preferences!
Breakfast: Overnight Oats – there are so many variations available online!
Lunch: Salad with hard boiled eggs, chickpeas, and vegetables
Snack: Seasonal Vegetables with Hummus or a piece of fruit with nut butter
Dinner: Tofu and vegetable stir-fry with rice
Plant-forward eating will look different for everyone. For some, it may be reducing meat consumption to only one meal per day and for others, it may look like having meat for only one meal per week. Remember, starting small is better than not starting at all 🙂
I’m always asked what I cook for dinner, what I feed my family and how I stay consistent with healthy meals. So here are a few of my tricks. I plan, purchase and prepare (P, P, P) on the weekends. That is my saving grace. Without that, our alternatives would be frozen or ordering in which we do occasionally but not my favorite go tos.
Plan- I look at our family calendar to see what the week’s landscape is like for practices, games, events, meetings, travel, etc.. Then I check my email for seasonal recipes and ideas that come from newsletters I subscribe to. I also get inspiration from my CSA box. I pick 5 things to cook for the week. Then scan the refrigerator and pantry to see what items I need and make a list. As I scan the refrigerator and pantry, I take note of what we need for snacks- yogurt, fruit, cheese sticks, nut butters, crackers, chips (yes chips), baby tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, carrots, hummus (if I’m too busy to make it myself). I also grab bars- larabars, kind, clif and Rx bars for back ups.
Purchase- The next day I set out to grocery stores, yes stores. I have a few that I go to that I am particular about for certain items. I make a trip to Costco a couple times a month for eggs, milk, bread (sliced) and any pantry items I may need. A house full of teenage boys and friends requires food in bulk. I also like Trader Joes for convenience items washed, bagged and ready to go vegetables. I often only have 20-30 minutes to get dinner on the table. Lastly, I hit up Whole Foods or Safeway. Depends on which is closer to me.
Prep- I have a love hate relationship with prep. I hate doing it on the weekend because it takes time from other things that I could be going. However, I love it during the week when I come home and the meal is almost done. I just need to add the finishing touches. So some of the prep that I do is wash, cut and store vegetables. I marinade meats. I clean and chop garlic (super time saver or buy the frozen cubes from Trader Joes these are such a time saver!) If I am putting anything in the crockpot/slow cooker, I prep all the items and store in a gallon size zip top bag and just throw it in the morning I am planning to make that meal.
Top 5 favorite meals in our house.
Tacos (pork or chicken cooked in the crock pot) and then tortillas and toppings ready to go. I pull out the cut up veggies to go on the side.
Asian flavored Salmon- I make a orange marmalade, soy, garlic marinade for salmon and serve it with brown rice and a seasonal veggie or salad.
Granola, yogurt, fruit. I make sure I have homemade granola ready to go for the week. Kids will add some mini chocolate chips to it. We always have greek or icelandic yogurt and some time of berries.
Stir fry- Either pork or chicken, white rice and assorted veggies (again from trader joes or safeway).
Grilled meat/Kebab- I’ve done it all. I marinade the meat ahead of time and then do a starch and a salad or veggie on the side. I usually do extra meat here so we can use it for salads for lunch the next day or other type of leftover.
Top 5 Snacks
Veggies and hummus
Dave’s Killer bread, nut butter and fruit
Ham and cheese sandwiches with lettuce, tomato.
Labne and crackers or dried whole wheat lavash.
Trail mix varieties- sometimes just almonds and raisins or we can get creative with dried persimmons, walnuts and cereals.
Remember a little P, P, P can really help you stay on track with your lifestyle and performance goals. It’s just carving out a little time on your lighter days to get it done. As a dietitian, the clients that are most successful are the ones that have some version of P, P, P in their lives.
Everyone always says by reducing stress, doing enough exercise, or even avoiding certain foods you can reduce your risk of disease. But did you know that eating certain foods can actually help reduce your risk of cancer?
Here are 5 foods that could help your body fight the risk of cancer!
Blueberries are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that inhibit oxidation, which could potentially damage your body. They also neutralize free radicals – unstable compounds that lead to disease and could damage cells. Eating just a handful a few times a week could boost your bodies immune system!
Apples are not only delicious, but also a great way to fight cancer cells. The natural fiber ferments in the colon, which produces chemicals that help prevent cancer cells from forming. Apples are an easy snack to keep on the go. Just remember, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”.
Avocados are the hype right now. People are putting them on toast, salads, sandwiches, and more. Avocados have healthy monounsaturated fats that help your body absorb antioxidants that come from other fruits and vegetables. For more information on the healthy benefits of avocados, visit positivehealthwellness.com.
Broccoli contains antioxidant glutathione, which has high free radical-scavenging abilities. Sulforaphanes and Indoles are two antioxidants that have stimulators of detoxifying enzymes that protect the structure of DNA. These antioxidants plus the phytochemical, isothiocyanates, help in the fight against cancer
Turmeric is a spice used in several different ethnic dishes. It has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. It contains an active ingredient called curcumin, which aids in inflammation reduction. It has been shown to reduce the size of tumors and fight breast and colon cancer. For the best absorption, add black pepper into the dish.