Monika Nowak, Nutrition Coach

My name is Monika Nowak, founder of Power Nutrition LLC, Nutrition Coach, Personal Trainer, and food blogger.

My goal is to help you CHANGE your eating habits so that you NEVER have to resort to using fat loss pills, restrictive diets, weight loss scams, counting points, or wearing sweat suits AGAIN.

Break the cycle of yo-yo dieting & lose fat for good.

If you are looking for a quick fix, I'm not your coach.

But if you are READY to make changes & build HABITS that will last a lifetime, let's talk.
Profile Feed
Fall is here, and so far it's been a beautiful one. I know many of my clients and readers are still enjoying their hikes and putting in more rounds of golf. Skiing season is ahead of us and I thought this would be a perfect time to cover healthy snacks for all of your outdoor activities. 
Before... see more we go over specific foods to bring, here are three tips to keep in mind when planning & packing for outdoor activities: 
1. ALWAYS READ FOOD LABELS
Whole, unprocessed foods are always the first choice, but if you are going to go for something packaged, the less ingredients, the better.
Always check for added sugar, it's hidden everywhere these days, even in things that may not taste sweet.
Try to get your energy from naturally occurring sugars first such as those found in fruits, vegetables, nuts or plain dairy before you reach for other snacks.
For packaged foods & snacks, a good rule is to keep the sugar content below 5 g per serving.
Watch for fat content - too much fat will leave you feeling slow, heavy and sleepy, and may severely affect your performance and overall experience.  
2. ENJOY BALANCED SNACKS
You’ll get the biggest bang for your buck by putting together snacks that balance out carbs with high quality protein, vegetables and natural fat. 
Natural fats in moderate amounts, such as avocado, walnuts and almond butter, are especially helpful for providing sustainable energy, reducing sugar cravings, and increasing satiation. 
3. BRING PLENTY OF ZERO CALORIE LIQUIDS 
For 0-2 hour outdoor activities water should be sufficient. Adding cut up fruit such as limes, lemons, oranges can add a ton of flavor without the extra calories. 
If it's really hot or humid, and you will be sweating for an extended amount of time, adding electrolytes to your water is always a good idea.
If you are trying to lose weight Smart Water is your go-to for electrolytes without the calories. But, if you want something with flavor, yet still low calorie, these Nuun tables will do the trick. 
WHAT TO PACK FOR OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES 
fresh fruit, raw or slightly salted (if sweating a lot) nuts;
trail mix (avoid ones with cranberries and added oils);
greek yogurt with frozen or fresh berries and cinnamon;
shelf-stable protein shake such as Orgain Grass Fed Protein;
nitrate-free turkey, mustard, greens, tomato, cucumber sandwich on sprouted or whole grain bread such as Ezekiel;
peanut/almond butter sandwich with a sliced banana and cinnamon on sprouted or whole grain bread such as Ezekiel;
low sugar, high protein bars such as Garden of Life Fit Bar ;
hard boiled eggs with sliced veggies and/or fruit;
low sugar jerky or meat-based bars such as EPIC bar ;
fresh fruit with low-fat cheese sticks or low-sugar jerky;
Turkey & Quinoa mini quiches - recipe HERE 
homemade no bake Larabar copycat energy bars - recipe HERE
homemade Flourless Protein Shake Cookies - recipe HERE
WHAT TO AVOID
On the golf course: hotdogs, chips, most granola, snack bars and energy bars, candy bars, sodas, cookies, muffins, other baked goods, alcohol. 
While skiing: waffles, donuts, hot dogs, burgers, fries, cakes, pastries, chips, most granola bars, ice cream, candy bars, alcohol. 
While hiking: anything high in fat such as pastries, donuts, fries, chips. 
What are your favorites snacks and foods to bring when you are active outdoors? 
Share them with me and my readers by email or Facebook.   
  • 1
  • 2
Fruit juices and smoothies have been flooding the supermarkets lately, marketed & sold as healthy options. But are they really? 
I'm going to share some tips on what to look out for when making or buying them, and how to make the best out of your liquid nutrition. 
Just to... see more clarify the definitions here, when I talk about juices, I mean blends that have only fruit, veggies or both in them.
When I talk about smoothies, I'm talking about blends of fruits, veggies or both, with a variety of other things added such as protein powders, yogurt, chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut oil, chocolate, cocoa powder, maca powder, etc. 
100% fruit juices, V8's, and other fruit blends
The biggest misconception about fruit juices (including 100% ones) is the fact that most people think they get the same benefits from blending fruits and vegetables as eating them in a whole form. WRONG.  
There are two most important differences:
1) when you blend fruits and vegetables you destroy their "fiber lattice"* which has a profound effect on blood sugar (more on it below); 
2) blending or juicing exposes fruits and vegetables to heat, and air - both of which lead to oxidation and loss of many valuable minerals and vitamins; 
*Fruits & veggies "fiber lattice" is composed of soluble and insoluble fiber that slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, blunting insulin (necessary for blood sugar regulation) and dopamine (reward hormone) responses. When you blend the fruit and vegetables, you shred that fiber lattice, leaving all that sugar free to hit your system as fast as a piece of candy. 
Fruits without their protective lattice are like Miracle-Gro for your fat cells.
Having said that, here's a list of tips for future purchases. 
Quick tips for buying or making fruit & veggie juices: 
avoid any pre-bottled fruit or vegetables juices (including 100%) that have more than 5 g of sugar per serving - always read the labels (fruit juice bottles usually have more than 1 serving so you must multiply the sugar grams x the servings size to get the sugar content in the whole bottle); 
if you get a juice from a juice bar, make sure they use cold-processingand drink the juice soon after you get it to avoid oxidation and loss of vitamins and minerals;
when ordering juices or making your own, stick to mostly veggies (ask for celery, kale, spinach, cucumbers, etc.) and one serving of low sugar fruit such as apples, lemons, berries versus bananas, grapes or oranges. 
Smoothies 
Guys, believe me when I say this, it's SO easy to make a smoothie that has 500-600 calories, even a 1000 calories.....
Just check out this "All-in-one breakfast smoothie" recipe from "Health" magazine.
This baby has 523 calories and whooping 77 g of carbs, most of them coming from simple sugars - that's more carbs and sugar than in 2 Snickers bars.
Not to mention that this smoothie has 22 g of fat - that's as much fat as in 2 McDonald's cheeseburgers. And only 9 g of protein so less than in 1 cheeseburger. 
The only way I can describe this smoothie is a calorie, fat and sugar bomb. 
Quick tips for buying or making lowest calorie, low sugar homemade smoothies:   
whatever fruit you are using try to use an equivalent of 1 piece of fruit, so 1 banana, 1 peach, 1 apple, 1/2 cup berries. You can mix and match but stick to the portion size as if it was 1 fruit only; 
don't add any other sweeteners such as honey, agave or even zero calorie sweeteners like stevia; 
add green vegetables if you can, spinach is pretty much undetectable; 
add protein powder or collagen; protein will slow down the absorption of sugars into the blood; 
for weight loss stick to water, green tea, black coffee, unsweetened plant-based milks as liquid; 
for weigh gain, smoothies are one of the easiest way to pack add more calories without feeling too full, so if that's your goal, you can add things like coconut oil, peanut butter, oatmeal, oat bran, sweet potatoes, etc. 
add super spices like cinnamon (helps with blood sugar), turmeric/black pepper (anti-inflammatory) or ginger (antioxidant). 
Looking for a healthy recipe? 
Click here for one of my favorite immune-boosting smoothies. 
Have more questions about any of this stuff? Let me know, I would love to help you out.
You can reach me via email or Facebook. 
  • 3
Why reading labels on everything you buy, whether food or supplement, is so important these days? 
 
Knowing exactly what's in your food (or supplements) is important.
 
It’s easy to focus on what seems “healthy” or “wholesome” about a processed food product, such as:

the product’s... see more name (e.g. "Healthy choice", "Smartfood", “Taste of Nature”; “Mom’s Home Recipe”, “XYZ Farm”, etc.)


the product’s packaging (e.g. bright colors or an earthy-looking brown paper package)


claims made on the front of the package (e.g. “Helps lower cholesterol” or “A good source of fiber”)


where the product is shelved and sold (e.g. in the “health food” aisle or in a health food store)

But are those processed products really “healthy” and “wholesome”?
Sadly, no.
 
Today we’ll look at why many “healthy” foods don’t count as whole foods.
 
In fact, plenty of “healthy” foods aren’t much better than their conventional counterparts.
 
Organic food
Organic food is big business.
 
U.S. sales of organic food and beverages grew from $1 billion in 1990 to $35.9 billion in 2014.
 
And most well-known “small” organic brands are actually owned by large corporations.
 
For instance:

ConAgra, one of the largest processed food producers in North America, produced brands such as Orville Redenbacher Organic, Hunt’s Organic, and PAM Organic.


The fabled “hippie” brand of Ben & Jerry’s is actually owned by Unilever.


Coca-Cola owns Odwalla, while Pepsi owns Naked Juice.


Kashi is owned by Kellogg; Kraft owns Back to Nature, and General Mills owns Cascadian Farm.

The same is true of personal care products, by the way.
 
There actually was a Burt and a Tom, but now Burt’s Bees is owned by Clorox, and Tom’s of Maine is owned by Colgate-Palmolive.
 
This isn’t to say that all product lines owned by big corporations are “bad.”
 
However, it’s important to realize that just because a product sounds healthy, that doesn’t mean that it is.
 
Or that those wacky Ben and Jerry guys are sitting in their offices thinking about how to keep you healthy and lean.
 
What does “organic” mean?

​​SMLXL

In the United States and Canada, “organic” covers the ways that crops, livestock, and agricultural products are raised, processed and handled.

Organic crops are raised without using most conventional pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers.


Animals raised on an organic operation must be fed organic feed, bred naturally, and get to go outdoors. They are not given antibiotics or growth hormones.


In Canada, organic standards prohibit factory-type farming. This means that organic farmers must minimize the animals’ stress and not confine them in pens or cages that are too small.

Organic simply means that the food was grown or raised without certain chemicals like pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, or hormones.
 
While this is all great, and it’s definitely a good thing to support small organic farmers — especially ones in your community — this criteria doesn’t mean that "organic" automatically equals "healthy."
 
Remember, an “organic” label alone doesn’t guarantee that the food is safer or healthier, especially if it’s a processed food product.
 
What do the labels mean?

100% Organic or Organic: Contains 95% or more organic ingredients


Made With Organic Ingredients: Contains at least 70% organic ingredients


If the product has less than 70% organic ingredients, then only the ingredients that are organic can be called “organic”.

An organic label was never intended to mean "healthy".
 
It just means that what’s inside was grown totally, or in some small part, according to a specific set of chemical standards (see above).
 
Oh, and by the way, the term “natural” is meaningless so don’t be fooled by “organic” and “natural” labels.
 
You won’t be healthier, leaner, or a better athlete from impulse buys based on this labeling.
 
The health food hustle

​​SMXLL

Like organic food, “health food” and “natural products” are also big business.
Indeed, health food stores have come a long way since their humble beginnings as weird-smelling, cramped hippie outposts.
 
For instance:
The “natural foods” grocers Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s earned $15.4 billion and $30.6 billion USD in sales in 2015. They made substantial profits and opened new superstores while many other grocery chains (such as Safeway) lost money and/or had to close up shop.
 
In some ways, this is a good thing.
 
Now it’s a lot easier for consumers to buy healthier, organic, minimally processed foods.
 
On the other hand, this also means that there are a lot of companies introducing foods to “compete” in the natural and organic food space.
 
And, as each company adds their unique processing twist, we end up with a bunch of distracting processed foods that seem healthy... but aren’t much better than any other processed food out there.
 
Be a critical consumer.
 
The easiest way to do that:
 
Buy unprocessed or minimally processed foods that don’t have much packaging to distract you from what’s important.
 
When is organic better?
Organic is better when the food is a whole, relatively unprocessed food, such as:

vegetables


fruits


meats and poultry


fish and seafood


nuts and seeds


beans and lentils


whole, intact grains


minimally processed dairy (e.g. fresh plain yogurt)


cold-pressed, virgin oils

Organic food is even more awesome when it’s local and raised sustainably on a small farm (or wild-caught). Animals should be fed their natural diet (e.g. grass for cows) and be raised in their natural surroundings.
 
When you have a steak from an organic, free-roaming, lovingly pasture-raised cow, or a fresh-picked, in-season peach — you’ll taste what we’re talking about (and you’ll feel good about your choices too).
 
However, organic food may not be the best choice when it means processed, refined food products, or products that had to travel thousands of miles to get to you.
 
Of course, if you’re confused, don’t hesitate to ask your grocer or butcher where the food came from.
 
Ask your farmers at the market how their animals are raised and treated (or even visit the farm — it’s a great family field trip for city slickers).
 
Be a smart — and skeptical — health food shopper!
 
And when in doubt, go minimally processed. It’s usually the safest bet.
 
Did you enjoy reading this article? This article is an excerpt from one of the lessons from my Online Nutrition Coaching Program designed to help my clients achieve health and wellness goals no matter if they live close by or far away. Want to find out more about the program? Shoot me an e-mail. 
 
If Online Coaching doesn't sound like you and you don't live in Fairfield County, I also do phone and Skype consultations for out-of-area clients. 
  • 3
What are the best sources of potassium? 
Since I coach a lot of people who exercise regularly, this is a very common question I get. Everybody knows the banana, but let's see what other foods top the list.  
Potassium helps regulate your body’s fluid levels, aids in muscular function and waste... see more removal, and keeps your nervous system functioning properly.
If your potassium levels are too low, it can result in fatigue, insomnia, depression, muscular weakness or cramping, and cardiovascular issues such as an abnormal heart rhythm. 
So what are the top sources of potassium other than bananas? 
1. ALL kinds of baked potatoes 
2. Dark leafy greens - such as spinach, bob chow, Swiss chard, kale. 
3.  Avocados 
 4. Wild Salmon - raw, baked, broiled, or canned 
5. Acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkin, zucchini, brussel sprouts 
6. Beans, lentils, edamame & nuts 
7. Tomato sauce, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted tomatoes
8. Watermelon & cantaloupe 
 9. Beets 
10. Yogurt and milk 
Since fall is here try my potassium rich post-workout smoothie: 
Ingredients:
1 banana fresh or frozen 
2-4 TBS pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice 
1 cup spinach, tightly packed 
 5 oz greek yogurt, OR 5 oz plain yogurt + 1-2 scoops vanilla protein powder 
Blend it all together, serve and enjoy! 
If you have a favorite recipe that comes to mind after reading this article, please share it with us on my Facebook page or via e-mail. 
  • 3
Many people assume that since I'm a Personal Trainer and a Nutrition Coach I eat chicken and broccoli out of tupperware containers and exercise every day but I want to say that I have been a sugar addict for most of my life. 
So let's get real today. 
My clients... see more share their stories with me all the time, so it's time to return the favor. Below is a short version of my food story. 
Most of you know that I grew up in Poland, moved to Scotland when I was 18 and then permanently to the US when I was 23. 
Since I remember, all of my fond memories have been around food, mostly cakes, pastries, chocolate and pizza. 
Growing up in Poland was like being constantly surrounded by the best pastries, breads, sausages, cheeses you can imagine, 24/7, unlimited.
I would always have white bread with cheese and honey for breakfast, more bread with cold cuts or cheese and fruit juice for lunch at school, fairly healthy dinner at home (meat, potatoes, overcooked vegetables), followed by a sweet pastries, donuts, cakes, ice cream or chocolate. EVERYDAY for 18 years. I even had a secret Belgian chocolate stash in my desk. At least I can say I have always been a chocolate snob. 
It was a miracle that I didn't put on weight and my best guess is that it was due to following reasons:
1) I walked everywhere (everybody does) - 10,000 steps means nothing in Europe,
2) Since the first grade, we had 3 mandatory PE sessions a week at school, plus I played various sports after school, 
3) I never ate when I wasn't hungry,
4) I never overate,
5) I spent most weekends at my grandfather's house/farm so besides the junk I did have very good access to freshest eggs, meat, fruits and vegetables. 
Then at 18, I moved to Scotland to attend university.
I wanted to make it on my own, without help from my parents, so I got a job the second day I arrived, and lived on a very limited budget (I had an Excel spreadsheet with all my food expenses) of $45 a month, yes, a month.
All my college years I worked in food places, pizza places to be precise.
My little food budget was mostly spent on: bread, cottage cheese, honey, pasta, frozen meals, tomato sauce, chips and english tea biscuits. Plus I ate pizza at least 3 times a week for lunch or dinner because I could eat it for free at work.  
This time around I wasn't so lucky. I still walked a ton, but I started to put on weight pretty quickly after having pizza on my work breaks (at 11pm) three times a week. The breaking point was when, during my work shift, I bent over, and my jeans (yes JEANS) ripped right on my butt. Oops...
Long story short, I got my s^%t together, stopped having pizza in the middle of the night and signed up for the gym. Lost the weight quickly by cutting calories and doing lots of cardio on empty stomach. 
Then at 21, I had my first taste of the United States of America.
I worked full time in a country club and lived on club's property. I had no fridge in my room, and no easy access to a store, so I completely relied on the food being served by the cooks in the kitchen. You can imagine what kind of food they served, cheap and greasy American favorites: burgers, fries, french toast, pancakes, soda and lots of sandwiches. 
I put on weight fairly quick, and again, as soon as I realized it, I started to exercise and cut down on the crap, and I went back to normal weight. 
Then at 23, I moved to the US for good and this time around I wanted to make sure things would be different. I started to learn how to cook, eat out less, read about eating better, go for occasional runs, etc. 
Since then, I changed my career, my diet and exercise habits have improved dramatically and I made my life goal to help people live healthier,  but it wasn't until very recently that I realized that I was totally addicted to sugar. 
I had some suspicions that there was something going on in my brain, but  I never thought that strategically planning out sugar splurges, day-dreaming about nightly chocolate or planning trips based on pastry shops, was a red flag. 
In the end of the day, I was healthy, lean and fairly fit. A little sugar can't be so bad, can it? 
Moderation is key, right? 
Do you know that saying "the darkest place is under the lamp?" 
I thought that my food obsessions stem from the fact that I love to eat and that I'm in the line of work where I talk about it and read about it all the time. 
Then I went added sugar free for about 6 weeks and everything changed. I didn't realize that my obsessive thoughts about food were coming from the fact that I was addicted to sugar. A small amount of sugar, yet so significant. 
When I cut out all the remaining added sugar (nightly chocolate) in my diet I had a number of epiphanies. 
My brain changed. 
My cravings have changed (meaning 0 cravings!!!!)
My physiology changed. 
My thoughts about food have changed. 
If you are a sugar addict like me, moderation may not be good enough. Moderation was keeping me hooked. 
And again, I didn't have a ton of chocolate every day but even that little bit was kryptonite for me. 
That tiny habit made a huge difference!! 
Don't believe me that moderation of all things is not always a solution? 
Would you ever ask an alcoholic to moderate his alcohol intake?
Would you ask a cocaine addict to limit himself to 1oz a day? 
The purpose behind this article is to let you know that I am not perfect. You are not the only one craving food, obsessing about food, day-dreaming about food. You are not the only one struggling. We all are. 
Mine is chocolate. 
I can't say that I am totally sugar-rehabbed but I am getting there. 
And I can help you. 
I can help you deal with this stuff because figuring out this stuff is hard. 
I'm passionate about helping people resolve their food and drink problems. 
Let me help you. 
Shoot me an email and let's start figuring things out together. 
  • 5
Think of an elephant.
Wrinkly gray skin. Tree-stump legs. Snorty trumpet hooowaaahh sound. Trunk curling into an elegant “S” shape as it grabs a peanut.
OK, now don’t think of an elephant.
Seriously, stop thinking about that big, honking gray elephant stomping around.
DO... see more NOT THINK OF AN ELEPHANT NO MATTER WHAT.
If you’re like most people, that elephant is now etched into your brain like the latest, horribly catchy “earworm” pop song. You can’t get it out, even if you try.
Especially if you try.
The human mind is funny. It has a rebellious streak, kind of like a little kid. The second it’s told to avoid something, it goes right for it.
“Billy! Don’t play in that mud!”
Slop.
This goes for thoughts, feelings, and the desire for actions.
The more we try to avoid thoughts, feelings, and urges we don’t like, the stronger those thoughts, feelings, and urges may become.
The Great Escape
Uh oh. The boss is on her way to your cubicle. She’s wearing her frowny face. She’s got a copy of your performance review in her hand.
Run!
Time for a fast bathroom break!
You duck down behind your wall divider and start to crawl away, hoping the potted plants and filing cabinets will camouflage you.
Maybe the boss will forget about you if you can just hide out in the loo long enough.
Most people naturally want to avoid feeling bad.
They’ll do nearly anything not to feel bad.
They often try to avoid feeling bad by simply… running away.
When we’re confronted with things we don’t like, we regress to simpler instincts.
Our thinking, planning, reflecting brain (who normally plays a mean game of chess and knows how to spell “syzygy”) downshifts to “lizard brain”, fight or flight mode.
We don’t want to think any more. We just want to find a place to hide and make ourselves feel better.
This instinct worked great when our ancestors were escaping from a tiger. See tiger, freak out, run, hide, curl up in cave… perfect.
This instinct is not so helpful when it causes us to avoid dealing with things that we should deal with.
At some point, your boss is going to find you. Now what?
The problem with escape: It makes things worse.
Not only do you have to talk about your performance review, you now have to explain why you’ve spent the last two weeks hiding in a toilet stall.
The more you avoid the situation, the more you think about it.
The more you avoid thinking about the elephant, the bigger the elephant gets.
Eventually, it’s elephants elephants elephants. 
In fact, some psychologists argue that it’s not our actual problems that cause us distress — it’s avoiding our problems.
The coping mechanisms we choose to get away from our problems are what make us unhappy.
For instance, if we eat in order to avoid feeling bored at work, the eating becomes more of a problem than feeling bored was.
If you’d just dealt with feeling bored at work, then you wouldn’t have the second problem of eating.
Now, you may be reading this thinking “I’m doing great! I don’t have any problems!” Awesome! Keep on being fantastic!
However, most of you may be nodding in agreement… or desperately trying not to think of elephants.
What’s your elephant? 
Almost all of us have elephants we’d rather not think about. That's normal.
But your elephant could be holding you back from making the best possible progress.
Your elephant could be:
Long hours at work.
An extra drink here and there.
A stash of treats in the house… “because the kids like them”.
Skipping your workouts or avoiding the bits you don’t like.
Taking care of everyone else before yourself.
Whatever your elephant, the more you avoid it, the bigger it gets.
The bigger it gets, the more you want to avoid it.
And the more you want to avoid it, the more likely you are to do things that help you forget about it, such as eating, drinking, being “too busy”, and zoning out.
Think about the elephant. 
Today, in order to help you do a little more, and a little better, we want you to think about your elephant.
Stop running, turn around, and look ol’ Jumbo in its big brown elephant eyes.
Use your smart, thoughtful human brain (instead of your instinctive lizard brain) to take a good look at that elephant.
Maybe you don’t want to think about the whole elephant today.
That’s OK. Think about ONE very small piece of your elephant.
For instance, think about:
whether you really need to work late on Monday — and how you still get your workout in.
whether you could have one less drink — or maybe a soda water.
whether you could toss out ONE treat today — or find a healthier substitute.
whether you could grit your teeth and do ONE more set, or even just one more rep, of the exercise you hate.
whether you could just say a polite “No thank you” or “Actually, that doesn’t work for me”.
Ask yourself:
What’s the elephant I’ve been avoiding? In other words, what problems, challenges, or limiting factors have you been avoiding?
How can I confront my elephant today… just a little bit? What’s ONE very small thing you can do today to tackle a tiny piece of your elephant? This will help you today as you work on a little more, a little better.
Tackle that piece.
Did you enjoy reading this article? This article is an excerpt from one of the lessons from my Online Nutrition Coaching Program (ProCoach) designed to help my clients achieve health and wellness goals no matter if they live close by or far away. Want to find out more about the program? Check out this link or shoot me an e-mail.
If Online Coaching doesn't sound like you and you don't live in Fairfield County, I also do phone and Skype consultations for out-of-area clients. 
  • 3
Some of you may be thinking "What the hell is she up to now?".
Well, let me explain really quick. 
My husband decided that he wanted to challenge himself to not drinking alcohol (and coffee) for a month, so I thought I would join him with my own challenge. I decided to go gluten-free and... see more coffee-free. 
Ok, but why? 
First, I like to experiment with myself. Second, I wanted to see if I will feel, look or perform any different, especially without gluten (it's quite controversial topic these days). 
A little bit on coffee ... 
A lot of you may still be questioning what's wrong with drinking coffee, especially since multiple studies show benefits of having a cup of coffee each day.  
For me personally there are three major reasons for reducing my intake: 
1) too much coffee (more than 1 cup) gives me jitters, heart palpitations and makes me sweat like crazy; 
2) having black coffee (which is the only way I drink it) makes me want to eat sugary stuff especially pastries or cakes; 
3) coffee affects sleep cycle by blocking adenosine (a sleep inducing signal that accumulates in the brain the longer we are awake and the harder we work); 
I've been seriously working on breaking the coffee = sugar connection over the last few months by having more savory breakfasts and having fruit as the only sweet item but still when I go by a coffee shop all I want is a cup of coffee with a pastry. 
So what happened when I stopped drinking coffee for a month? 
Surprisingly I wasn't more tired without it;
The transition was easier than I expected;
I was a little afraid that I won't be able to go to the bathroom without it (coffee is a well-known bowel movement helper) but that was not the case;
I enjoyed having tea instead - I could have a different tea every day which added some variety; 
I was a lot less thirsty throughout the morning; 
I definitely didn't crave sweets as much; 
I felt like my blood sugar was more balanced throughout the day; 
I finished my month trial a while ago and I haven't had a real cup yet. If I do feel like coffee I've been having this Mushroom Coffee which has less than half the caffeine plus some medicinal mushrooms in it. It tastes really good, without the jitters, sweat, or heart-palpitations. 
Overall verdict: I'm happy to stay coffee free for the time being, if I want it for the taste I will go for the mushroom coffee. 
Now onto the gluten...
Why no gluten? 
Gluten is a tough protein for humans to digest. 
In a nutshell: gluten consumption > gut irritation > increased intestinal permeability > increased inflammation 
Inflammation leads to a variety of diseases such as Celiac, IBS or Rheumatoid Arthritis. If you are interested in all the science behind it I highly recommend a book "The Grain Brain" by dr. David Perlmutter. 
Do I agree that everybody should go gluten-free? Probably not. But the fact is that a lot of people feel much better without gluten in their diets. Their weight decreases, skin clears, allergies subside, GI issues improve and they think clearer.
I was pretty sure that I was not sensitive to gluten (DNA testing) but I wanted to see what happens when I remove it all together. Will I feel any different? 
Besides not having any gluten I also didn't want to have any gluten-free processed foods like breads, cakes, pastries, ice cream, chocolate, protein shakes or bars, etc. I also didn't want to have any of the naturally gluten-free grains such as oats or quinoa. 
I just wanted to see how I would feel if I cut all of that stuff out and stick with meat, dairy, fruits, veggies and nuts.  
To give you an idea of what my menu looked like for a month here's a recap: 
Breakfast: 2 eggs + unlimited vegetables + fruit
OR greek yogurt/cottage cheese with fruit, raw nuts
OR my banana pancakes (recipe here) with greek yogurt/cottage cheese 
Lunch: salad with protein 
Dinner: protein with vegetables
Dessert: fruit with mascarpone OR nuts, and of course wine (1-2 glasses)
Snacks: nuts or DIY plain popcorn with spices: paprika, cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast. I didn't use any oil for popping but I used avocado oil spray before adding the spices. 
So what happened when I went gluten-free for a month? 
Although I was certainly NOT trying (and I had a lot of nuts and cheese daily to increase my calorie intake), I did lose weight; 
Surprisingly I didn't miss my Ezekiel bread at all but boy, did I miss having beer (on hot days); 
I had significantly more fruit (3 servings per day vs 1-2), nuts and dairy than before - that's where I compensated; 
I was hungry for the first 3 days after breakfast but after that I played around with different food combos and I figured what gets me the fullest; 
Shockingly I had zero cravings for my usual suspects like chocolate or pastries, but I did crave beer;
Overall staying gluten free was suprisingly easy at home and very challenging when going out. Restauranteurs do a very bad job announcing where the gluten is on the menu. 
My stomach did feel better, especially after eating out and skipping the gluten-rich options. 
Zero skin problems to report, and I felt like my PMS symptoms improved.  
Overall verdict: Going gluten free wasn't a life changing experience for me but I decided I will do my best to stay gluten-free - it definitely didn't hurt and hopefully over the long run it will improve my overall health and well-being. I'm even playing around with gluten-free beers. I'm hopeful about finding one that will hit the spot on hot summer days. 
Next step would be to try to experiment with cutting dairy (another inflammatory agent), but for whatever reason I feel like that's a lot harder than gluten as I really love my cottage cheese in the morning. I need to think this one through. 
Do you have any questions or comments? 
Are you gluten-free?  
Share it with me on my Facebook page or via e-mail. 
  • 3
Regardless of the body size, I'm pretty sure that anyone reading this (including myself) has had hundreds of food cravings and has overeaten occasionally (or a lot). Pizza, chocolate, fries, pretzels, cookies, cakes, sodas, alcohol top the list of the most craved foods. And for a good... see more reason. Today, unlike for the other 99.5% of human history when we had to exert a significant amount of work to get food, we are surrounded by highly palatable foods that require zero effort to get. 
Studies show that the same brain regions light up when people are presented with highly palatable foods as when addicts are given cocaine. Yes, you read that right. Based on years of studies, and multiple books published on the topic* researchers now are sure that certain foods are as addictive as drugs.  They stimulate our dopamine receptors SO much that it makes our brain go bananas. 
Ok, so food is addictive - I'm sure that's not surprising for you to hear. You may be sitting reading this right now thinking about that cookie platter somebody brought to work. But what can we do when those cravings arrive? 
Here are 5 strategies you can incorporate today to reduce your food cravings: 
1. Have well-balanced meals 3 times per day.  
The main causes of food cravings are: 1) blood sugar disregulation, 2) nutrient deficiencies and 3) microbiome mayhem. 
Having 3 balanced, minimally processed meals a day that combine all essential macronutrients (carbs, fats and protein) and a variety of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) optimizes blood sugar levels, ensures nutritional needs are meet, offers prolonged satiety, and feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Why 3 times a day is optimal? Studies show that the more times we eat during the day, the more we think about food. Also, constant snacking or grazing keeps our blood sugar elevated and small portions never fully fill our stomach to notify the brain that it's time to stop eating. So we are left with elevated hunger hormones and suppressed fullness hormones. 
If you are already doing that but still have cravings, you may not be eating enough at meals (start by increasing the amount of produce at meals). 
So what would an optimal meal day look like? 
2-3 eggs, lots of vegetables and a piece of fruit for breakfast
Large salad with mixed greens and grilled chicken for lunch 
Salmon with sweet potatoes and lots of vegetables for dinner 
Of course depending on your work and schedule, activity levels and wake up time, you may need a 4th meal which would somewhat look like the meals above, with each meal being slightly smaller. 
2. Never shop hungry. 
I could have called this point "Clean out your pantry" but in the end of the day foods in the pantry get there somehow so hear me out here. When we shop hungry, our brains are literally screaming for energy, and for the most exciting kind, i.e. processed foods loaded with sugar, fat and salt. Don't believe me? Have you ever came home with too much broccoli? 
We are also A LOT more likely to act irrationally and buy multiple items not on our shopping list. And that's not even the problem because you may say buying and eating are two different things, however, anybody knows that it's a lot easier NOT to eat something if it's not in the house.
So to sum up: shopping while full = sticking to the grocery list = less junk in the house = less temptations/cravings. 
3. Plan all your meals for the week. 
I know you may think this sounds crazy, but planning all foods ahead of time is an extremely powerful strategy for anybody who struggles with food cravings, has obsessive thoughts about food or overeats on regular basis. And again, you don't have to be overweight to struggle with those issues. 
Planning your week removes any doubt and anxiety. It gives you clear guidelines on what you are buying and eating. If you fill your plan with foods mentioned in point 1. your blood sugar will be balanced, your hunger under control and your brain free to think about your next vacation or business venture, rather than your next meal. It may take a little while to get a hang of but in a few weeks it will become automatic. 
4. Minimize exposure to cravings-inducing media.  
Thinking about food, talking about food, reading about food and watching food can make us hungry and craving all sorts of things. I realize that by choosing the pizza picture as my featured image I may have caused you to want some right now. 
If you want to reduce your cravings, unsubscribe from, or unfollow any people, pages, video streams, stores, organizations that promote tempting foods or drinks. Pages like Buzzfeed's TASTY with millions of followers even feature categories like "cheat day" as if we need more help getting access to non-nutritious foods. 
Stop listening to the radio with commercials - our local radio 98Q drives me nuts with constant commercials for Dunkin Donuts, McDonald's and new restaurants opening in the area. I'm drooling just listening to them.  
Same goes for watching TV. Minimize exposure to commercials and food channels and your cravings will get better. 
Additionally, delete apps on your phone that may keep your brain thinking about tempting foods or drinks, for example, apps that offer any kinds of coupons, special offers, or rewards. 
For me, my obsession-fueling app was the Starbucks app. I used to be addicted to their frappucinos, and I couldn't wait to get my free drink of choice, or a discount coupon for the next sugar-loaded coffee. Get rid of anything like that. 
5. Develop your own coping strategies.  
Having a plan for when the next urge arrives is very important. Whether you decide to re-direct your thoughts, distract yourself, etc. work on having a specific list of ready to go moves when next temptation arrives. 
Here's an article on some of the best techniques you can start incorporating today. 
* Books I highly recommend you look into if you want to understand more about how we get addicted to food and what to do about it: 
 Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf
The Hungry Brain. Outsmarting the instincts that make us overeat by Stephan J. Guyenet, Ph.D. 
The end of overeating. Taking control of the insatiable American appetite by David Kessler, MD. 
Brain-powered weight loss by Eliza Kingsford
The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, Ph. D. 
Do you have any questions? Need help with your nutritional intake? Want to improve your health and wellness? Do not hesitate to shoot me an e-mail. 
  • 4
When was the last time you checked the nutritional (back) label of the item you were purchasing? Like many of us, chances are you only read the front and make your decision based on the marketing claims created by food manufacturers whose main goal is to sell as much of this food as possible. 
This... see more week I want to test your knowledge in a form of a little food trivia.
I went to Trader Joe's and picked pairs of packaged items from similar food categories and compared them based on their nutritional value (calories, carbs, fats, sugar, protein).  
Based only on the front of the package, do you know which item is more nutritious and therefore a better buy?
Write your answers as you go down the list and then check if your choices was the more nutritious ones (answers in the end of the post). 
Post your score under my Facebook page or e-mail it to me. Let's see who gets the most answers right. I got to say, some of them are pretty tricky and may really surprise you.
Good luck!
1. RX bar VS Cliff bar.
 2. Omega Trek Mix VS Go Raw Trek Mix. 
3. Organic Cold Brew Mocha Nut Latte VS Vanilla Almond Spiced Chai. 
4. Chocolate Chip Dunkers VS Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies. 
5. Breaded Cod Fillets VS Panko breaded Tilapia Fillets.  
6. Fish Sticks VS Fish Nuggets. 
7. Organic Corn Flakes VS Shredded Wheats. 
8. Gluten Free Battered Halibut VS Regular Battered Halibut.
9. Spanakopita VS Greek Spanakopita. 
 10. Potato Fries VS Garlic Potatoes w/parmesan sauce.  
11. Fage 2% VS Organic Non-fat Vanilla Greek Yogurt  
Ok, so here the answers: 
1. RX bar
2. Go Raw Mix
3. Mocha Nut Latte 
4. Dunkers 
5. Cod
6. Fish sticks 
7. Shredded Wheats
8. Gluten-free Halibut
9. Spanakopita
10. Fries
11. Fage 2%
Are you surprised with the answers? Have questions or comments? 
Share them with me on my Facebook page or via e-mail - I would love to hear from you. 
  • 3
No matter which boat you are in right now: trying to improve your health and/or  body composition, or trying to maintain it, this quick guide can be very helpful.
The one thing you can absolutely control at any point in time is your own behavior. Every time you eat or drink something you make... see more a conscious decision to do so.  
I'm not saying it's easy to resist temptations and urges but with the right practice assertiveness can become as effortless as eating that second (or third) donut.  
 So here's a list of potential high-risk situations and how to make them work for you: 
1. Getting ice cream with your family.  
Order kids size ice cream in a cup. No cone. Fresh fruit toppings instead of the sprinkles. 
2. Going to a BBQ at a friend's house who always serves tons of alcohol, and non-nutritious foods. 
Alcohol: ahead of time decide how many drinks you are going to have and stick to it. Have a tall glass of water between each drink. 
Food: have something to eat before you leave so you are not hungry when you arrive, and bring your own healthy dish to share with everybody. 
3. Going out to eat.  
Look up the menu online and decide what you will order before you go. Don't accept the restaurant menu, it will only tempt you to change your mind. 
Also, if you are worried that your portion may be too big, share it with your friend/spouse, or ask a waiter for a to go box when you order your meal, so that you can pack up half to take home before you even start eating. 
I have clients who plan their lunches based on the leftovers from the times they eat out. 
4. You are at a party and the cake is calling your name. 
Take a few bites, and if that still doesn't satisfy you and you want to keep eating more (you know you will regret that later), quickly sprinkle some salt or pepper over it to ruin the taste or grab a chewing gum and stick it in your mouth. Chewing gum or carrying a breath freshener also works when somebody brings sweets to the office that are hard to resist. 
5. You are going away for a special celebratory weekend with your spouse. 
You both love food and good wine, however remember why you are going away. It's about celebrating your love to one another and relaxing together, not about food. 
6. Home alone with nothing to do. 
Get out of the kitchen or any other room you would be tempted to hang out in and eat (for me that's my family room). Go to your bedroom and read. Take a bath. Call a friend. Go for a walk. Pick one relaxing and distracting activity that will leave you refreshed and happy rather than too full and regretful. If watching TV is a way you destress - make sure your hands stay busy while you watch - pet your dog, roll quarters, knit or do puzzles. 
7. You come home from work hungry and snack (on chips, pretzels, popcorn, cheese, etc.) a lot while cooking, then you are not hungry for dinner (but you still finish your plate).  
I do this fairly often myself.
Most people get hit with hunger around 3pm - if that's you, have a protein-oriented snack with vegetables/fruit such as greek yogurt w/berries, 1/2 protein bar, protein shake, a couple of hard boiled eggs, turkey roll ups, etc.
If that doesn't do the trick and you are still hungry when you get home and feel like snacking while cooking always keep sliced up vegetables in the fridge that you can dip in hummus or eat raw. 
8. You get stressed out and you find yourself grazing through the fridge or opening another bottle of wine (or both). 
STOP acronym is a quick way to remember the steps to calm down when you are feeling stressed out and out of control. 
STOP. 
TAKE A BREATH or two. 
OBSERVE your feeling and your thoughts. 
PROCEED with intention, choosing what you will say or do next. 
Be mindful about this. You have full power over your thoughts, and know that your own thoughts affect your emotions, not the other way round.
Control your thoughts and you will be able to control the behavior that is driven by your emotions. 
This process takes time and practice, practice, practice. Give it a try next time you are caught off guard. 
If you are trying to improve your diet and/or lose weight, give me a shout - let's look at your daily habits and see where we can create a deficit so you can start living a healthier life and learning how to maintain it.
  • 2
My Discussions
Empty
Profile Feed
Fall is here, and so far it's been a beautiful one. I know many of my clients and readers are still enjoying their hikes and putting in more rounds of golf. Skiing season is ahead of us and I thought this would be a perfect time to cover healthy snacks for all of your outdoor activities. 
Before... see more we go over specific foods to bring, here are three tips to keep in mind when planning & packing for outdoor activities: 
1. ALWAYS READ FOOD LABELS
Whole, unprocessed foods are always the first choice, but if you are going to go for something packaged, the less ingredients, the better.
Always check for added sugar, it's hidden everywhere these days, even in things that may not taste sweet.
Try to get your energy from naturally occurring sugars first such as those found in fruits, vegetables, nuts or plain dairy before you reach for other snacks.
For packaged foods & snacks, a good rule is to keep the sugar content below 5 g per serving.
Watch for fat content - too much fat will leave you feeling slow, heavy and sleepy, and may severely affect your performance and overall experience.  
2. ENJOY BALANCED SNACKS
You’ll get the biggest bang for your buck by putting together snacks that balance out carbs with high quality protein, vegetables and natural fat. 
Natural fats in moderate amounts, such as avocado, walnuts and almond butter, are especially helpful for providing sustainable energy, reducing sugar cravings, and increasing satiation. 
3. BRING PLENTY OF ZERO CALORIE LIQUIDS 
For 0-2 hour outdoor activities water should be sufficient. Adding cut up fruit such as limes, lemons, oranges can add a ton of flavor without the extra calories. 
If it's really hot or humid, and you will be sweating for an extended amount of time, adding electrolytes to your water is always a good idea.
If you are trying to lose weight Smart Water is your go-to for electrolytes without the calories. But, if you want something with flavor, yet still low calorie, these Nuun tables will do the trick. 
WHAT TO PACK FOR OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES 
fresh fruit, raw or slightly salted (if sweating a lot) nuts;
trail mix (avoid ones with cranberries and added oils);
greek yogurt with frozen or fresh berries and cinnamon;
shelf-stable protein shake such as Orgain Grass Fed Protein;
nitrate-free turkey, mustard, greens, tomato, cucumber sandwich on sprouted or whole grain bread such as Ezekiel;
peanut/almond butter sandwich with a sliced banana and cinnamon on sprouted or whole grain bread such as Ezekiel;
low sugar, high protein bars such as Garden of Life Fit Bar ;
hard boiled eggs with sliced veggies and/or fruit;
low sugar jerky or meat-based bars such as EPIC bar ;
fresh fruit with low-fat cheese sticks or low-sugar jerky;
Turkey & Quinoa mini quiches - recipe HERE 
homemade no bake Larabar copycat energy bars - recipe HERE
homemade Flourless Protein Shake Cookies - recipe HERE
WHAT TO AVOID
On the golf course: hotdogs, chips, most granola, snack bars and energy bars, candy bars, sodas, cookies, muffins, other baked goods, alcohol. 
While skiing: waffles, donuts, hot dogs, burgers, fries, cakes, pastries, chips, most granola bars, ice cream, candy bars, alcohol. 
While hiking: anything high in fat such as pastries, donuts, fries, chips. 
What are your favorites snacks and foods to bring when you are active outdoors? 
Share them with me and my readers by email or Facebook.   
  • 1
  • 2
Fruit juices and smoothies have been flooding the supermarkets lately, marketed & sold as healthy options. But are they really? 
I'm going to share some tips on what to look out for when making or buying them, and how to make the best out of your liquid nutrition. 
Just to... see more clarify the definitions here, when I talk about juices, I mean blends that have only fruit, veggies or both in them.
When I talk about smoothies, I'm talking about blends of fruits, veggies or both, with a variety of other things added such as protein powders, yogurt, chia seeds, flax seeds, coconut oil, chocolate, cocoa powder, maca powder, etc. 
100% fruit juices, V8's, and other fruit blends
The biggest misconception about fruit juices (including 100% ones) is the fact that most people think they get the same benefits from blending fruits and vegetables as eating them in a whole form. WRONG.  
There are two most important differences:
1) when you blend fruits and vegetables you destroy their "fiber lattice"* which has a profound effect on blood sugar (more on it below); 
2) blending or juicing exposes fruits and vegetables to heat, and air - both of which lead to oxidation and loss of many valuable minerals and vitamins; 
*Fruits & veggies "fiber lattice" is composed of soluble and insoluble fiber that slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, blunting insulin (necessary for blood sugar regulation) and dopamine (reward hormone) responses. When you blend the fruit and vegetables, you shred that fiber lattice, leaving all that sugar free to hit your system as fast as a piece of candy. 
Fruits without their protective lattice are like Miracle-Gro for your fat cells.
Having said that, here's a list of tips for future purchases. 
Quick tips for buying or making fruit & veggie juices: 
avoid any pre-bottled fruit or vegetables juices (including 100%) that have more than 5 g of sugar per serving - always read the labels (fruit juice bottles usually have more than 1 serving so you must multiply the sugar grams x the servings size to get the sugar content in the whole bottle); 
if you get a juice from a juice bar, make sure they use cold-processingand drink the juice soon after you get it to avoid oxidation and loss of vitamins and minerals;
when ordering juices or making your own, stick to mostly veggies (ask for celery, kale, spinach, cucumbers, etc.) and one serving of low sugar fruit such as apples, lemons, berries versus bananas, grapes or oranges. 
Smoothies 
Guys, believe me when I say this, it's SO easy to make a smoothie that has 500-600 calories, even a 1000 calories.....
Just check out this "All-in-one breakfast smoothie" recipe from "Health" magazine.
This baby has 523 calories and whooping 77 g of carbs, most of them coming from simple sugars - that's more carbs and sugar than in 2 Snickers bars.
Not to mention that this smoothie has 22 g of fat - that's as much fat as in 2 McDonald's cheeseburgers. And only 9 g of protein so less than in 1 cheeseburger. 
The only way I can describe this smoothie is a calorie, fat and sugar bomb. 
Quick tips for buying or making lowest calorie, low sugar homemade smoothies:   
whatever fruit you are using try to use an equivalent of 1 piece of fruit, so 1 banana, 1 peach, 1 apple, 1/2 cup berries. You can mix and match but stick to the portion size as if it was 1 fruit only; 
don't add any other sweeteners such as honey, agave or even zero calorie sweeteners like stevia; 
add green vegetables if you can, spinach is pretty much undetectable; 
add protein powder or collagen; protein will slow down the absorption of sugars into the blood; 
for weight loss stick to water, green tea, black coffee, unsweetened plant-based milks as liquid; 
for weigh gain, smoothies are one of the easiest way to pack add more calories without feeling too full, so if that's your goal, you can add things like coconut oil, peanut butter, oatmeal, oat bran, sweet potatoes, etc. 
add super spices like cinnamon (helps with blood sugar), turmeric/black pepper (anti-inflammatory) or ginger (antioxidant). 
Looking for a healthy recipe? 
Click here for one of my favorite immune-boosting smoothies. 
Have more questions about any of this stuff? Let me know, I would love to help you out.
You can reach me via email or Facebook. 
  • 3
Why reading labels on everything you buy, whether food or supplement, is so important these days? 
 
Knowing exactly what's in your food (or supplements) is important.
 
It’s easy to focus on what seems “healthy” or “wholesome” about a processed food product, such as:

the product’s... see more name (e.g. "Healthy choice", "Smartfood", “Taste of Nature”; “Mom’s Home Recipe”, “XYZ Farm”, etc.)


the product’s packaging (e.g. bright colors or an earthy-looking brown paper package)


claims made on the front of the package (e.g. “Helps lower cholesterol” or “A good source of fiber”)


where the product is shelved and sold (e.g. in the “health food” aisle or in a health food store)

But are those processed products really “healthy” and “wholesome”?
Sadly, no.
 
Today we’ll look at why many “healthy” foods don’t count as whole foods.
 
In fact, plenty of “healthy” foods aren’t much better than their conventional counterparts.
 
Organic food
Organic food is big business.
 
U.S. sales of organic food and beverages grew from $1 billion in 1990 to $35.9 billion in 2014.
 
And most well-known “small” organic brands are actually owned by large corporations.
 
For instance:

ConAgra, one of the largest processed food producers in North America, produced brands such as Orville Redenbacher Organic, Hunt’s Organic, and PAM Organic.


The fabled “hippie” brand of Ben & Jerry’s is actually owned by Unilever.


Coca-Cola owns Odwalla, while Pepsi owns Naked Juice.


Kashi is owned by Kellogg; Kraft owns Back to Nature, and General Mills owns Cascadian Farm.

The same is true of personal care products, by the way.
 
There actually was a Burt and a Tom, but now Burt’s Bees is owned by Clorox, and Tom’s of Maine is owned by Colgate-Palmolive.
 
This isn’t to say that all product lines owned by big corporations are “bad.”
 
However, it’s important to realize that just because a product sounds healthy, that doesn’t mean that it is.
 
Or that those wacky Ben and Jerry guys are sitting in their offices thinking about how to keep you healthy and lean.
 
What does “organic” mean?

​​SMLXL

In the United States and Canada, “organic” covers the ways that crops, livestock, and agricultural products are raised, processed and handled.

Organic crops are raised without using most conventional pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, or sewage sludge-based fertilizers.


Animals raised on an organic operation must be fed organic feed, bred naturally, and get to go outdoors. They are not given antibiotics or growth hormones.


In Canada, organic standards prohibit factory-type farming. This means that organic farmers must minimize the animals’ stress and not confine them in pens or cages that are too small.

Organic simply means that the food was grown or raised without certain chemicals like pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, or hormones.
 
While this is all great, and it’s definitely a good thing to support small organic farmers — especially ones in your community — this criteria doesn’t mean that "organic" automatically equals "healthy."
 
Remember, an “organic” label alone doesn’t guarantee that the food is safer or healthier, especially if it’s a processed food product.
 
What do the labels mean?

100% Organic or Organic: Contains 95% or more organic ingredients


Made With Organic Ingredients: Contains at least 70% organic ingredients


If the product has less than 70% organic ingredients, then only the ingredients that are organic can be called “organic”.

An organic label was never intended to mean "healthy".
 
It just means that what’s inside was grown totally, or in some small part, according to a specific set of chemical standards (see above).
 
Oh, and by the way, the term “natural” is meaningless so don’t be fooled by “organic” and “natural” labels.
 
You won’t be healthier, leaner, or a better athlete from impulse buys based on this labeling.
 
The health food hustle

​​SMXLL

Like organic food, “health food” and “natural products” are also big business.
Indeed, health food stores have come a long way since their humble beginnings as weird-smelling, cramped hippie outposts.
 
For instance:
The “natural foods” grocers Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s earned $15.4 billion and $30.6 billion USD in sales in 2015. They made substantial profits and opened new superstores while many other grocery chains (such as Safeway) lost money and/or had to close up shop.
 
In some ways, this is a good thing.
 
Now it’s a lot easier for consumers to buy healthier, organic, minimally processed foods.
 
On the other hand, this also means that there are a lot of companies introducing foods to “compete” in the natural and organic food space.
 
And, as each company adds their unique processing twist, we end up with a bunch of distracting processed foods that seem healthy... but aren’t much better than any other processed food out there.
 
Be a critical consumer.
 
The easiest way to do that:
 
Buy unprocessed or minimally processed foods that don’t have much packaging to distract you from what’s important.
 
When is organic better?
Organic is better when the food is a whole, relatively unprocessed food, such as:

vegetables


fruits


meats and poultry


fish and seafood


nuts and seeds


beans and lentils


whole, intact grains


minimally processed dairy (e.g. fresh plain yogurt)


cold-pressed, virgin oils

Organic food is even more awesome when it’s local and raised sustainably on a small farm (or wild-caught). Animals should be fed their natural diet (e.g. grass for cows) and be raised in their natural surroundings.
 
When you have a steak from an organic, free-roaming, lovingly pasture-raised cow, or a fresh-picked, in-season peach — you’ll taste what we’re talking about (and you’ll feel good about your choices too).
 
However, organic food may not be the best choice when it means processed, refined food products, or products that had to travel thousands of miles to get to you.
 
Of course, if you’re confused, don’t hesitate to ask your grocer or butcher where the food came from.
 
Ask your farmers at the market how their animals are raised and treated (or even visit the farm — it’s a great family field trip for city slickers).
 
Be a smart — and skeptical — health food shopper!
 
And when in doubt, go minimally processed. It’s usually the safest bet.
 
Did you enjoy reading this article? This article is an excerpt from one of the lessons from my Online Nutrition Coaching Program designed to help my clients achieve health and wellness goals no matter if they live close by or far away. Want to find out more about the program? Shoot me an e-mail. 
 
If Online Coaching doesn't sound like you and you don't live in Fairfield County, I also do phone and Skype consultations for out-of-area clients. 
  • 3
What are the best sources of potassium? 
Since I coach a lot of people who exercise regularly, this is a very common question I get. Everybody knows the banana, but let's see what other foods top the list.  
Potassium helps regulate your body’s fluid levels, aids in muscular function and waste... see more removal, and keeps your nervous system functioning properly.
If your potassium levels are too low, it can result in fatigue, insomnia, depression, muscular weakness or cramping, and cardiovascular issues such as an abnormal heart rhythm. 
So what are the top sources of potassium other than bananas? 
1. ALL kinds of baked potatoes 
2. Dark leafy greens - such as spinach, bob chow, Swiss chard, kale. 
3.  Avocados 
 4. Wild Salmon - raw, baked, broiled, or canned 
5. Acorn squash, butternut squash, pumpkin, zucchini, brussel sprouts 
6. Beans, lentils, edamame & nuts 
7. Tomato sauce, sun-dried tomatoes and roasted tomatoes
8. Watermelon & cantaloupe 
 9. Beets 
10. Yogurt and milk 
Since fall is here try my potassium rich post-workout smoothie: 
Ingredients:
1 banana fresh or frozen 
2-4 TBS pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice 
1 cup spinach, tightly packed 
 5 oz greek yogurt, OR 5 oz plain yogurt + 1-2 scoops vanilla protein powder 
Blend it all together, serve and enjoy! 
If you have a favorite recipe that comes to mind after reading this article, please share it with us on my Facebook page or via e-mail. 
  • 3
Many people assume that since I'm a Personal Trainer and a Nutrition Coach I eat chicken and broccoli out of tupperware containers and exercise every day but I want to say that I have been a sugar addict for most of my life. 
So let's get real today. 
My clients... see more share their stories with me all the time, so it's time to return the favor. Below is a short version of my food story. 
Most of you know that I grew up in Poland, moved to Scotland when I was 18 and then permanently to the US when I was 23. 
Since I remember, all of my fond memories have been around food, mostly cakes, pastries, chocolate and pizza. 
Growing up in Poland was like being constantly surrounded by the best pastries, breads, sausages, cheeses you can imagine, 24/7, unlimited.
I would always have white bread with cheese and honey for breakfast, more bread with cold cuts or cheese and fruit juice for lunch at school, fairly healthy dinner at home (meat, potatoes, overcooked vegetables), followed by a sweet pastries, donuts, cakes, ice cream or chocolate. EVERYDAY for 18 years. I even had a secret Belgian chocolate stash in my desk. At least I can say I have always been a chocolate snob. 
It was a miracle that I didn't put on weight and my best guess is that it was due to following reasons:
1) I walked everywhere (everybody does) - 10,000 steps means nothing in Europe,
2) Since the first grade, we had 3 mandatory PE sessions a week at school, plus I played various sports after school, 
3) I never ate when I wasn't hungry,
4) I never overate,
5) I spent most weekends at my grandfather's house/farm so besides the junk I did have very good access to freshest eggs, meat, fruits and vegetables. 
Then at 18, I moved to Scotland to attend university.
I wanted to make it on my own, without help from my parents, so I got a job the second day I arrived, and lived on a very limited budget (I had an Excel spreadsheet with all my food expenses) of $45 a month, yes, a month.
All my college years I worked in food places, pizza places to be precise.
My little food budget was mostly spent on: bread, cottage cheese, honey, pasta, frozen meals, tomato sauce, chips and english tea biscuits. Plus I ate pizza at least 3 times a week for lunch or dinner because I could eat it for free at work.  
This time around I wasn't so lucky. I still walked a ton, but I started to put on weight pretty quickly after having pizza on my work breaks (at 11pm) three times a week. The breaking point was when, during my work shift, I bent over, and my jeans (yes JEANS) ripped right on my butt. Oops...
Long story short, I got my s^%t together, stopped having pizza in the middle of the night and signed up for the gym. Lost the weight quickly by cutting calories and doing lots of cardio on empty stomach. 
Then at 21, I had my first taste of the United States of America.
I worked full time in a country club and lived on club's property. I had no fridge in my room, and no easy access to a store, so I completely relied on the food being served by the cooks in the kitchen. You can imagine what kind of food they served, cheap and greasy American favorites: burgers, fries, french toast, pancakes, soda and lots of sandwiches. 
I put on weight fairly quick, and again, as soon as I realized it, I started to exercise and cut down on the crap, and I went back to normal weight. 
Then at 23, I moved to the US for good and this time around I wanted to make sure things would be different. I started to learn how to cook, eat out less, read about eating better, go for occasional runs, etc. 
Since then, I changed my career, my diet and exercise habits have improved dramatically and I made my life goal to help people live healthier,  but it wasn't until very recently that I realized that I was totally addicted to sugar. 
I had some suspicions that there was something going on in my brain, but  I never thought that strategically planning out sugar splurges, day-dreaming about nightly chocolate or planning trips based on pastry shops, was a red flag. 
In the end of the day, I was healthy, lean and fairly fit. A little sugar can't be so bad, can it? 
Moderation is key, right? 
Do you know that saying "the darkest place is under the lamp?" 
I thought that my food obsessions stem from the fact that I love to eat and that I'm in the line of work where I talk about it and read about it all the time. 
Then I went added sugar free for about 6 weeks and everything changed. I didn't realize that my obsessive thoughts about food were coming from the fact that I was addicted to sugar. A small amount of sugar, yet so significant. 
When I cut out all the remaining added sugar (nightly chocolate) in my diet I had a number of epiphanies. 
My brain changed. 
My cravings have changed (meaning 0 cravings!!!!)
My physiology changed. 
My thoughts about food have changed. 
If you are a sugar addict like me, moderation may not be good enough. Moderation was keeping me hooked. 
And again, I didn't have a ton of chocolate every day but even that little bit was kryptonite for me. 
That tiny habit made a huge difference!! 
Don't believe me that moderation of all things is not always a solution? 
Would you ever ask an alcoholic to moderate his alcohol intake?
Would you ask a cocaine addict to limit himself to 1oz a day? 
The purpose behind this article is to let you know that I am not perfect. You are not the only one craving food, obsessing about food, day-dreaming about food. You are not the only one struggling. We all are. 
Mine is chocolate. 
I can't say that I am totally sugar-rehabbed but I am getting there. 
And I can help you. 
I can help you deal with this stuff because figuring out this stuff is hard. 
I'm passionate about helping people resolve their food and drink problems. 
Let me help you. 
Shoot me an email and let's start figuring things out together. 
  • 5
Think of an elephant.
Wrinkly gray skin. Tree-stump legs. Snorty trumpet hooowaaahh sound. Trunk curling into an elegant “S” shape as it grabs a peanut.
OK, now don’t think of an elephant.
Seriously, stop thinking about that big, honking gray elephant stomping around.
DO... see more NOT THINK OF AN ELEPHANT NO MATTER WHAT.
If you’re like most people, that elephant is now etched into your brain like the latest, horribly catchy “earworm” pop song. You can’t get it out, even if you try.
Especially if you try.
The human mind is funny. It has a rebellious streak, kind of like a little kid. The second it’s told to avoid something, it goes right for it.
“Billy! Don’t play in that mud!”
Slop.
This goes for thoughts, feelings, and the desire for actions.
The more we try to avoid thoughts, feelings, and urges we don’t like, the stronger those thoughts, feelings, and urges may become.
The Great Escape
Uh oh. The boss is on her way to your cubicle. She’s wearing her frowny face. She’s got a copy of your performance review in her hand.
Run!
Time for a fast bathroom break!
You duck down behind your wall divider and start to crawl away, hoping the potted plants and filing cabinets will camouflage you.
Maybe the boss will forget about you if you can just hide out in the loo long enough.
Most people naturally want to avoid feeling bad.
They’ll do nearly anything not to feel bad.
They often try to avoid feeling bad by simply… running away.
When we’re confronted with things we don’t like, we regress to simpler instincts.
Our thinking, planning, reflecting brain (who normally plays a mean game of chess and knows how to spell “syzygy”) downshifts to “lizard brain”, fight or flight mode.
We don’t want to think any more. We just want to find a place to hide and make ourselves feel better.
This instinct worked great when our ancestors were escaping from a tiger. See tiger, freak out, run, hide, curl up in cave… perfect.
This instinct is not so helpful when it causes us to avoid dealing with things that we should deal with.
At some point, your boss is going to find you. Now what?
The problem with escape: It makes things worse.
Not only do you have to talk about your performance review, you now have to explain why you’ve spent the last two weeks hiding in a toilet stall.
The more you avoid the situation, the more you think about it.
The more you avoid thinking about the elephant, the bigger the elephant gets.
Eventually, it’s elephants elephants elephants. 
In fact, some psychologists argue that it’s not our actual problems that cause us distress — it’s avoiding our problems.
The coping mechanisms we choose to get away from our problems are what make us unhappy.
For instance, if we eat in order to avoid feeling bored at work, the eating becomes more of a problem than feeling bored was.
If you’d just dealt with feeling bored at work, then you wouldn’t have the second problem of eating.
Now, you may be reading this thinking “I’m doing great! I don’t have any problems!” Awesome! Keep on being fantastic!
However, most of you may be nodding in agreement… or desperately trying not to think of elephants.
What’s your elephant? 
Almost all of us have elephants we’d rather not think about. That's normal.
But your elephant could be holding you back from making the best possible progress.
Your elephant could be:
Long hours at work.
An extra drink here and there.
A stash of treats in the house… “because the kids like them”.
Skipping your workouts or avoiding the bits you don’t like.
Taking care of everyone else before yourself.
Whatever your elephant, the more you avoid it, the bigger it gets.
The bigger it gets, the more you want to avoid it.
And the more you want to avoid it, the more likely you are to do things that help you forget about it, such as eating, drinking, being “too busy”, and zoning out.
Think about the elephant. 
Today, in order to help you do a little more, and a little better, we want you to think about your elephant.
Stop running, turn around, and look ol’ Jumbo in its big brown elephant eyes.
Use your smart, thoughtful human brain (instead of your instinctive lizard brain) to take a good look at that elephant.
Maybe you don’t want to think about the whole elephant today.
That’s OK. Think about ONE very small piece of your elephant.
For instance, think about:
whether you really need to work late on Monday — and how you still get your workout in.
whether you could have one less drink — or maybe a soda water.
whether you could toss out ONE treat today — or find a healthier substitute.
whether you could grit your teeth and do ONE more set, or even just one more rep, of the exercise you hate.
whether you could just say a polite “No thank you” or “Actually, that doesn’t work for me”.
Ask yourself:
What’s the elephant I’ve been avoiding? In other words, what problems, challenges, or limiting factors have you been avoiding?
How can I confront my elephant today… just a little bit? What’s ONE very small thing you can do today to tackle a tiny piece of your elephant? This will help you today as you work on a little more, a little better.
Tackle that piece.
Did you enjoy reading this article? This article is an excerpt from one of the lessons from my Online Nutrition Coaching Program (ProCoach) designed to help my clients achieve health and wellness goals no matter if they live close by or far away. Want to find out more about the program? Check out this link or shoot me an e-mail.
If Online Coaching doesn't sound like you and you don't live in Fairfield County, I also do phone and Skype consultations for out-of-area clients. 
  • 3
Some of you may be thinking "What the hell is she up to now?".
Well, let me explain really quick. 
My husband decided that he wanted to challenge himself to not drinking alcohol (and coffee) for a month, so I thought I would join him with my own challenge. I decided to go gluten-free and... see more coffee-free. 
Ok, but why? 
First, I like to experiment with myself. Second, I wanted to see if I will feel, look or perform any different, especially without gluten (it's quite controversial topic these days). 
A little bit on coffee ... 
A lot of you may still be questioning what's wrong with drinking coffee, especially since multiple studies show benefits of having a cup of coffee each day.  
For me personally there are three major reasons for reducing my intake: 
1) too much coffee (more than 1 cup) gives me jitters, heart palpitations and makes me sweat like crazy; 
2) having black coffee (which is the only way I drink it) makes me want to eat sugary stuff especially pastries or cakes; 
3) coffee affects sleep cycle by blocking adenosine (a sleep inducing signal that accumulates in the brain the longer we are awake and the harder we work); 
I've been seriously working on breaking the coffee = sugar connection over the last few months by having more savory breakfasts and having fruit as the only sweet item but still when I go by a coffee shop all I want is a cup of coffee with a pastry. 
So what happened when I stopped drinking coffee for a month? 
Surprisingly I wasn't more tired without it;
The transition was easier than I expected;
I was a little afraid that I won't be able to go to the bathroom without it (coffee is a well-known bowel movement helper) but that was not the case;
I enjoyed having tea instead - I could have a different tea every day which added some variety; 
I was a lot less thirsty throughout the morning; 
I definitely didn't crave sweets as much; 
I felt like my blood sugar was more balanced throughout the day; 
I finished my month trial a while ago and I haven't had a real cup yet. If I do feel like coffee I've been having this Mushroom Coffee which has less than half the caffeine plus some medicinal mushrooms in it. It tastes really good, without the jitters, sweat, or heart-palpitations. 
Overall verdict: I'm happy to stay coffee free for the time being, if I want it for the taste I will go for the mushroom coffee. 
Now onto the gluten...
Why no gluten? 
Gluten is a tough protein for humans to digest. 
In a nutshell: gluten consumption > gut irritation > increased intestinal permeability > increased inflammation 
Inflammation leads to a variety of diseases such as Celiac, IBS or Rheumatoid Arthritis. If you are interested in all the science behind it I highly recommend a book "The Grain Brain" by dr. David Perlmutter. 
Do I agree that everybody should go gluten-free? Probably not. But the fact is that a lot of people feel much better without gluten in their diets. Their weight decreases, skin clears, allergies subside, GI issues improve and they think clearer.
I was pretty sure that I was not sensitive to gluten (DNA testing) but I wanted to see what happens when I remove it all together. Will I feel any different? 
Besides not having any gluten I also didn't want to have any gluten-free processed foods like breads, cakes, pastries, ice cream, chocolate, protein shakes or bars, etc. I also didn't want to have any of the naturally gluten-free grains such as oats or quinoa. 
I just wanted to see how I would feel if I cut all of that stuff out and stick with meat, dairy, fruits, veggies and nuts.  
To give you an idea of what my menu looked like for a month here's a recap: 
Breakfast: 2 eggs + unlimited vegetables + fruit
OR greek yogurt/cottage cheese with fruit, raw nuts
OR my banana pancakes (recipe here) with greek yogurt/cottage cheese 
Lunch: salad with protein 
Dinner: protein with vegetables
Dessert: fruit with mascarpone OR nuts, and of course wine (1-2 glasses)
Snacks: nuts or DIY plain popcorn with spices: paprika, cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast. I didn't use any oil for popping but I used avocado oil spray before adding the spices. 
So what happened when I went gluten-free for a month? 
Although I was certainly NOT trying (and I had a lot of nuts and cheese daily to increase my calorie intake), I did lose weight; 
Surprisingly I didn't miss my Ezekiel bread at all but boy, did I miss having beer (on hot days); 
I had significantly more fruit (3 servings per day vs 1-2), nuts and dairy than before - that's where I compensated; 
I was hungry for the first 3 days after breakfast but after that I played around with different food combos and I figured what gets me the fullest; 
Shockingly I had zero cravings for my usual suspects like chocolate or pastries, but I did crave beer;
Overall staying gluten free was suprisingly easy at home and very challenging when going out. Restauranteurs do a very bad job announcing where the gluten is on the menu. 
My stomach did feel better, especially after eating out and skipping the gluten-rich options. 
Zero skin problems to report, and I felt like my PMS symptoms improved.  
Overall verdict: Going gluten free wasn't a life changing experience for me but I decided I will do my best to stay gluten-free - it definitely didn't hurt and hopefully over the long run it will improve my overall health and well-being. I'm even playing around with gluten-free beers. I'm hopeful about finding one that will hit the spot on hot summer days. 
Next step would be to try to experiment with cutting dairy (another inflammatory agent), but for whatever reason I feel like that's a lot harder than gluten as I really love my cottage cheese in the morning. I need to think this one through. 
Do you have any questions or comments? 
Are you gluten-free?  
Share it with me on my Facebook page or via e-mail. 
  • 3
Regardless of the body size, I'm pretty sure that anyone reading this (including myself) has had hundreds of food cravings and has overeaten occasionally (or a lot). Pizza, chocolate, fries, pretzels, cookies, cakes, sodas, alcohol top the list of the most craved foods. And for a good... see more reason. Today, unlike for the other 99.5% of human history when we had to exert a significant amount of work to get food, we are surrounded by highly palatable foods that require zero effort to get. 
Studies show that the same brain regions light up when people are presented with highly palatable foods as when addicts are given cocaine. Yes, you read that right. Based on years of studies, and multiple books published on the topic* researchers now are sure that certain foods are as addictive as drugs.  They stimulate our dopamine receptors SO much that it makes our brain go bananas. 
Ok, so food is addictive - I'm sure that's not surprising for you to hear. You may be sitting reading this right now thinking about that cookie platter somebody brought to work. But what can we do when those cravings arrive? 
Here are 5 strategies you can incorporate today to reduce your food cravings: 
1. Have well-balanced meals 3 times per day.  
The main causes of food cravings are: 1) blood sugar disregulation, 2) nutrient deficiencies and 3) microbiome mayhem. 
Having 3 balanced, minimally processed meals a day that combine all essential macronutrients (carbs, fats and protein) and a variety of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) optimizes blood sugar levels, ensures nutritional needs are meet, offers prolonged satiety, and feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Why 3 times a day is optimal? Studies show that the more times we eat during the day, the more we think about food. Also, constant snacking or grazing keeps our blood sugar elevated and small portions never fully fill our stomach to notify the brain that it's time to stop eating. So we are left with elevated hunger hormones and suppressed fullness hormones. 
If you are already doing that but still have cravings, you may not be eating enough at meals (start by increasing the amount of produce at meals). 
So what would an optimal meal day look like? 
2-3 eggs, lots of vegetables and a piece of fruit for breakfast
Large salad with mixed greens and grilled chicken for lunch 
Salmon with sweet potatoes and lots of vegetables for dinner 
Of course depending on your work and schedule, activity levels and wake up time, you may need a 4th meal which would somewhat look like the meals above, with each meal being slightly smaller. 
2. Never shop hungry. 
I could have called this point "Clean out your pantry" but in the end of the day foods in the pantry get there somehow so hear me out here. When we shop hungry, our brains are literally screaming for energy, and for the most exciting kind, i.e. processed foods loaded with sugar, fat and salt. Don't believe me? Have you ever came home with too much broccoli? 
We are also A LOT more likely to act irrationally and buy multiple items not on our shopping list. And that's not even the problem because you may say buying and eating are two different things, however, anybody knows that it's a lot easier NOT to eat something if it's not in the house.
So to sum up: shopping while full = sticking to the grocery list = less junk in the house = less temptations/cravings. 
3. Plan all your meals for the week. 
I know you may think this sounds crazy, but planning all foods ahead of time is an extremely powerful strategy for anybody who struggles with food cravings, has obsessive thoughts about food or overeats on regular basis. And again, you don't have to be overweight to struggle with those issues. 
Planning your week removes any doubt and anxiety. It gives you clear guidelines on what you are buying and eating. If you fill your plan with foods mentioned in point 1. your blood sugar will be balanced, your hunger under control and your brain free to think about your next vacation or business venture, rather than your next meal. It may take a little while to get a hang of but in a few weeks it will become automatic. 
4. Minimize exposure to cravings-inducing media.  
Thinking about food, talking about food, reading about food and watching food can make us hungry and craving all sorts of things. I realize that by choosing the pizza picture as my featured image I may have caused you to want some right now. 
If you want to reduce your cravings, unsubscribe from, or unfollow any people, pages, video streams, stores, organizations that promote tempting foods or drinks. Pages like Buzzfeed's TASTY with millions of followers even feature categories like "cheat day" as if we need more help getting access to non-nutritious foods. 
Stop listening to the radio with commercials - our local radio 98Q drives me nuts with constant commercials for Dunkin Donuts, McDonald's and new restaurants opening in the area. I'm drooling just listening to them.  
Same goes for watching TV. Minimize exposure to commercials and food channels and your cravings will get better. 
Additionally, delete apps on your phone that may keep your brain thinking about tempting foods or drinks, for example, apps that offer any kinds of coupons, special offers, or rewards. 
For me, my obsession-fueling app was the Starbucks app. I used to be addicted to their frappucinos, and I couldn't wait to get my free drink of choice, or a discount coupon for the next sugar-loaded coffee. Get rid of anything like that. 
5. Develop your own coping strategies.  
Having a plan for when the next urge arrives is very important. Whether you decide to re-direct your thoughts, distract yourself, etc. work on having a specific list of ready to go moves when next temptation arrives. 
Here's an article on some of the best techniques you can start incorporating today. 
* Books I highly recommend you look into if you want to understand more about how we get addicted to food and what to do about it: 
 Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf
The Hungry Brain. Outsmarting the instincts that make us overeat by Stephan J. Guyenet, Ph.D. 
The end of overeating. Taking control of the insatiable American appetite by David Kessler, MD. 
Brain-powered weight loss by Eliza Kingsford
The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal, Ph. D. 
Do you have any questions? Need help with your nutritional intake? Want to improve your health and wellness? Do not hesitate to shoot me an e-mail. 
  • 4
When was the last time you checked the nutritional (back) label of the item you were purchasing? Like many of us, chances are you only read the front and make your decision based on the marketing claims created by food manufacturers whose main goal is to sell as much of this food as possible. 
This... see more week I want to test your knowledge in a form of a little food trivia.
I went to Trader Joe's and picked pairs of packaged items from similar food categories and compared them based on their nutritional value (calories, carbs, fats, sugar, protein).  
Based only on the front of the package, do you know which item is more nutritious and therefore a better buy?
Write your answers as you go down the list and then check if your choices was the more nutritious ones (answers in the end of the post). 
Post your score under my Facebook page or e-mail it to me. Let's see who gets the most answers right. I got to say, some of them are pretty tricky and may really surprise you.
Good luck!
1. RX bar VS Cliff bar.
 2. Omega Trek Mix VS Go Raw Trek Mix. 
3. Organic Cold Brew Mocha Nut Latte VS Vanilla Almond Spiced Chai. 
4. Chocolate Chip Dunkers VS Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies. 
5. Breaded Cod Fillets VS Panko breaded Tilapia Fillets.  
6. Fish Sticks VS Fish Nuggets. 
7. Organic Corn Flakes VS Shredded Wheats. 
8. Gluten Free Battered Halibut VS Regular Battered Halibut.
9. Spanakopita VS Greek Spanakopita. 
 10. Potato Fries VS Garlic Potatoes w/parmesan sauce.  
11. Fage 2% VS Organic Non-fat Vanilla Greek Yogurt  
Ok, so here the answers: 
1. RX bar
2. Go Raw Mix
3. Mocha Nut Latte 
4. Dunkers 
5. Cod
6. Fish sticks 
7. Shredded Wheats
8. Gluten-free Halibut
9. Spanakopita
10. Fries
11. Fage 2%
Are you surprised with the answers? Have questions or comments? 
Share them with me on my Facebook page or via e-mail - I would love to hear from you. 
  • 3
No matter which boat you are in right now: trying to improve your health and/or  body composition, or trying to maintain it, this quick guide can be very helpful.
The one thing you can absolutely control at any point in time is your own behavior. Every time you eat or drink something you make... see more a conscious decision to do so.  
I'm not saying it's easy to resist temptations and urges but with the right practice assertiveness can become as effortless as eating that second (or third) donut.  
 So here's a list of potential high-risk situations and how to make them work for you: 
1. Getting ice cream with your family.  
Order kids size ice cream in a cup. No cone. Fresh fruit toppings instead of the sprinkles. 
2. Going to a BBQ at a friend's house who always serves tons of alcohol, and non-nutritious foods. 
Alcohol: ahead of time decide how many drinks you are going to have and stick to it. Have a tall glass of water between each drink. 
Food: have something to eat before you leave so you are not hungry when you arrive, and bring your own healthy dish to share with everybody. 
3. Going out to eat.  
Look up the menu online and decide what you will order before you go. Don't accept the restaurant menu, it will only tempt you to change your mind. 
Also, if you are worried that your portion may be too big, share it with your friend/spouse, or ask a waiter for a to go box when you order your meal, so that you can pack up half to take home before you even start eating. 
I have clients who plan their lunches based on the leftovers from the times they eat out. 
4. You are at a party and the cake is calling your name. 
Take a few bites, and if that still doesn't satisfy you and you want to keep eating more (you know you will regret that later), quickly sprinkle some salt or pepper over it to ruin the taste or grab a chewing gum and stick it in your mouth. Chewing gum or carrying a breath freshener also works when somebody brings sweets to the office that are hard to resist. 
5. You are going away for a special celebratory weekend with your spouse. 
You both love food and good wine, however remember why you are going away. It's about celebrating your love to one another and relaxing together, not about food. 
6. Home alone with nothing to do. 
Get out of the kitchen or any other room you would be tempted to hang out in and eat (for me that's my family room). Go to your bedroom and read. Take a bath. Call a friend. Go for a walk. Pick one relaxing and distracting activity that will leave you refreshed and happy rather than too full and regretful. If watching TV is a way you destress - make sure your hands stay busy while you watch - pet your dog, roll quarters, knit or do puzzles. 
7. You come home from work hungry and snack (on chips, pretzels, popcorn, cheese, etc.) a lot while cooking, then you are not hungry for dinner (but you still finish your plate).  
I do this fairly often myself.
Most people get hit with hunger around 3pm - if that's you, have a protein-oriented snack with vegetables/fruit such as greek yogurt w/berries, 1/2 protein bar, protein shake, a couple of hard boiled eggs, turkey roll ups, etc.
If that doesn't do the trick and you are still hungry when you get home and feel like snacking while cooking always keep sliced up vegetables in the fridge that you can dip in hummus or eat raw. 
8. You get stressed out and you find yourself grazing through the fridge or opening another bottle of wine (or both). 
STOP acronym is a quick way to remember the steps to calm down when you are feeling stressed out and out of control. 
STOP. 
TAKE A BREATH or two. 
OBSERVE your feeling and your thoughts. 
PROCEED with intention, choosing what you will say or do next. 
Be mindful about this. You have full power over your thoughts, and know that your own thoughts affect your emotions, not the other way round.
Control your thoughts and you will be able to control the behavior that is driven by your emotions. 
This process takes time and practice, practice, practice. Give it a try next time you are caught off guard. 
If you are trying to improve your diet and/or lose weight, give me a shout - let's look at your daily habits and see where we can create a deficit so you can start living a healthier life and learning how to maintain it.
  • 2
Info
Full Name :
Monika Nowak, Nutrition Coach
Membership

Contributor

My Albums
Empty
My Blog
Empty
My Products
Empty
My Articles
My Files
Empty
My Goods
Empty