Did summer mean a few added pounds and a little less attention to your weight loss plan? Summer is nearly over. Did it bring all of the potential weight gain slips that vacations, busy schedules, and changes in your routine can bring? Not to mention the summer parties and neighborhood barbeques!
Take a few moments to think about your busy lifestyle and stay in charge of your food choices. After all, you want more energy for your all of your activites, right?
Avoiding refined sugar is one of the best ways to minimize blood sugar spikes and crashes, which cause a drastic change in energy level. The most effective way to get off sugar is to get to the root cause of your sugar cravings. Here are a few strategies:
1. Eat sweet vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, corn, winter squash, sweet potatoes and onion to satisfy our body’s need for sweet taste (which is normal)
2. Eat meals with low glycemic load to avoid fluctuation in energy and blood sugar level. When we crash, we reach for sugar for quick fixes. Combine whole grains and vegetables (high fiber foods) with a moderate amount of good fats and lean protein.
3. Stay hydrated – thirst is sometimes mistaken as hunger, which leads to cravings.
4. Investigate sugar cravings as a result of nutrient deficiency – e.g. chromium and tryptophan.
5. Nourish your soul – some people crave sweets out of boredom or loneliness.
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Sometimes it's not the major events that wear me out, it's the little accumulations of things that don't go my way or startle me or just seem to be more than I can wrap my arms around. We live in a demanding and busy world. I don't know about you but I jam pack my life with everything I can. I run from one expereince to the next. I fill my life with lots of exciting things. I place a lot of demands on my own time. And then somehow I am surprised when I am exhausted. How did that happen?
In response to a stressful situation, our body secretes the stress hormone cortisol, which alters our physiological response. Cortisol helps us cope with acute stressful situation by increasing blood levels for energy mobilization, increasing appetite, converting fat to energy, suppressing reproductive system, and stimulating immune organs to cope with bodily injury.
However, if the level of cortisol is chronically elevated, it results in a number of negative and destructive effects, including: visceral fat deposits, memory impairment, insulin resistance, osteoporosis, mood swings, changes in sleeping habits, various digestive issues, neuromuscular complaints as well as immune system impairment – leading to autoimmune disease and increased metabolic disturbances.
Besides making us much less able to enjoy life and much more unpleasant to deal with, chronic stress can cause a cascading series of physiological response in our systems that lead to serious health issues in long run:
- Nutrient deficiencies due to decrease in nutrient absorption and increase in excretion of certain minerals
- Increased chances of cardiovascular disease by increasing LDL, triglycerides, high blood pressure and aggregation of blood platelet
- Reduced good gut flora, which can lower immunity and cause digestive issues
- Reduced metabolism and increased fat storage, leading to weight gain
- Decreased healing ability
- Increased oxidative stress which increases premature aging
So how to cope? Take a Stress Break
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Even during the wonderful months of summer, we can get overwhelmed with life's demands. Does it sometimes feel like going on vacation is more stressful than your every day life? The week before leaving on vacation and the week after returning from vacation often undo the quiet relaxation of the vacation itself.
Do you find yourself coming back to your work and your usual routine feeling jangled and on edge? Is that first week back fraught with overwhelm and exhaustion?
Taking care of your nervous system can help you restore and replenish your energy, stay focused without the caffeine jitter, and feel calm and relaxed so that you can get the rest you need when you need it.
Here are 4 approaches to help care for your nervous system for increased energy:
1. Strengthen the nervous system with herbs such as burdock, dandelion, gingko, nettle, oaks and Siberian ginseng.
2. Encourage calm and relaxation with chamomile, valerian, lemon balm and oats.
3. Explore coffee alternatives such as Yerba Mate, green tea, black tea, or Rooibos (African Red Bush) to avoid the caffeine jitter.
4. Calcium has a soothing effect on the nervous system. Eat calcium-rich food for dinner (e.g. leafy greens, bone broth). If you take a calcium supplement, take it with dinner. An alternative is to use a soluble calcium packet in your water and make sure you are fully hydrated with 60-80 ounces of water in your day.
A little self care can make all the difference in your abiltiy to cope with stressors and bounce back from challenges.
Are you grumpy early in the morning? Do you crash after lunch? Do you have all the energy you need to get things done in your day?
I find I am very sensitive to those blood sugar crashes. You know, the ones that come when you push past your usual lunch break to meet a deadline or squeeze in one more task, or in my case, one more client? I can run on the adrenaline of the session, but when it's over, so am I. I hate that stopped in your tracks feeling. I always have more I want to get done and when I let my blood sugar crash, I know I won't accomplish more in that day. It feels like someone turned my brain off.
To minimize spikes and crashes in energy level, you want to make sure your nutritional intake supports a sustained flow of energy by limiting fluctuation in blood sugar level. An even blood sugar level can also help you improve your focus and concentration, and help you prevent mood swings caused by hypoglycemia.
Here are 5 tips to use nutrition to support a sustained flow of energy:
1. Eat meals with a low glycemic load – combine whole grains and vegetables (high fiber foods) with a moderate amount of good fats and lean protein.
2. Eat foods rich in B vitamins, such as whole grains and nutritional yeast.
3. Eat just the right amount and type of protein for your body – keep a food journal to see how much protein works best for you.
4. Stay hydrated – dehydration often causes fatigue and headache. How much is enough? Divide your body weight in half. That's the number of ounces to aim for in a day. (If you weigh 150 lbs, you should drink 75 ounces of water each day!)
5. Avoid caffeine, which worsen blood sugar fluctuation. A little natural caffeine is good for the brain; just don't run on caffeine as a source of energy!
Can't figure out how to incorportate these tips into your lifestyle? Check out our group coaching offer for practical help. Sometimes you just need a weight loss coach to make it all fit!