Sugar Cleanse :: Spice it up!

One of my favorite spices is cinnamon. Cinnamon has been used as food and medicine since ancient times, and is a powerful herb for regulating blood sugar. It comes from the rust colored inner bark of the cinnamon tree. I love it in smoothies, oatmeal, granola, coffee and hot toddies. Luckily, cinnamon has some great health boosting properties.

In addition to being delicious, cinnamon:

  • Helps balance blood sugar, which is why it’s so great to add to smoothies and desserts
  • Is rich in antioxidants that help reduce inflammation*Reduces the risk of heart disease and also lowers blood pressure
  • Boosts brain health – 2 compounds found in cinnamon appear to inhibit the buildup of the protein that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Keeps your teeth pearly white and your breath smelling fresh with its anti-microbial effects

Keepin’ it healthy homework:
Try incorporating cinnamon into your diet more often. One of my favorite things to make with cinnamon is this refreshing tea:

grapefruit teaCinnamon Grapefruit Tea

1/2 grapefruit
1 stick of cinnamon

Put the grapefruit and cinnamon in a teapot (or a quart mason jar) and cover with boiling water. Let steep for 10 minutes, then enjoy! I love to drink this during the cold months, but you could make an iced version of it as well.

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Sugar Cleanse :: Get sweet, naturally

honey-1772792_640We’ve now explored cravings, and strategies to deal with sugar cravings. The average American consumes well over 20 teaspoons of added sugar on a daily basis, which adds up to an average of 142 pounds of sugar per person, per year! That’s more than two times what the USDA recommends.

Below you will find information on natural sweeteners, all of which are less processed than refined white sugar, and create fewer fluctuations in blood sugar levels.  Although these sweeteners are generally safer alternatives to white sugar, they should only be used in moderation!

Stevia
This leafy herb also known as honey leaf has been used for centuries by native South Americans. The extract from stevia is approximately 100 to 300 times sweeter than white sugar. It can be used in cooking, baking and as a sugar substitute in most beverages. Stevia has been shown to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels by increasing insulin production, and decreasing insulin resistance. Stevia is available in a powder or liquid form, but be sure to get the green or brown liquids or powders, as the white and clear versions are highly refined.

Honey
One of the oldest natural sweeteners; honey is sweeter than sugar. Depending on the plant source, honey can have a range of flavors, from dark and strongly flavored, to light and mildly flavored. Raw honey contains small amounts of enzymes, minerals and vitamins.  It’s also said that consuming local honey can help build up your immunity to common allergens in your area – by introducing your body to the bee pollen.

Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is made from boiled-down maple tree sap and is a great source of manganese and zinc. Approximately 40 gallons of sap are needed to make one gallon of maple syrup. It adds a pleasant flavor to foods and is great for baking. Be sure to buy 100% pure maple syrup and not maple-flavored corn syrup. Grade B is stronger in flavor and said to have more minerals than Grade A.

Maple Sugar
Maple sugar is created when the sap of the sugar maple is boiled for longer than is needed to create maple syrup. Once most of the water has evaporated, all that is left is the solid sugar. Maple sugar is about twice as sweet as standard granulated sugar, but much less refined.

Molasses
Organic molasses is probably the most nutritious sweetener derived from sugar cane or sugar beet, and is made by a process of clarifying and blending the extracted juices. The longer the juice is boiled, the less sweet, more nutritious and darker the product is. Molasses imparts a very distinct flavor to food. Blackstrap molasses, the most nutritious variety, is a good source of iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Brown Rice Syrup
This product consists of brown rice that has been ground and cooked, converting the starches to maltose. Brown rice syrup tastes like moderately sweet butterscotch and is quite delicious. In recipes, replace each cup of white sugar with ¼ cup brown rice syrup, and reduce the amount of other liquids. Brown rice syrup is made of 50% complex carbohydrates, 45% maltose, and 3% glucose. The small amount of glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream immediately, but the complex carbohydrates and maltose are much more slowly absorbed, providing a steady supply of energy.

Agave Nectar
Agave nectar, or agave syrup, is a natural liquid sweetener made from the juice of the agave cactus. Many diabetics use agave nectar as an alternative to refined sugars and artificial sweeteners because of its relatively low effect on blood glucose levels. However, agave is high in fructose and has been under much scrutiny due to possible manufacturing processes which are similar to that of high fructose corn syrup. Some research suggests that fructose affects the hormone lepitin, which controls your appetite and satiety. Too much fructose may result in overeating and weight gain, so it’s important to consume agave nectar in reasonable moderation.

Coconut Sugar
Coconut sugar is the boiled and dehydrated sap of the coconut palm. Pure coconut palm sugar reportedly has a naturally low glycemic index, which has led some people to claim that it is a valuable sugar substitute for people with diabetes or those looking to control blood sugar (the low-carb camp). Indeed, a lower GI may be a good indication that a food is safer for diabetics, though it is not a guarantee. Pure certified organic coconut palm sugar is recommended type.

Personally, when I do choose to use a natural sweetener, I stick to raw honey, maple syrup, molasses, and organic coconut sugar.

Using Natural Sweeteners
Natural sweeteners can be used to replace sugar in any recipe. Here is a guide to substituting these products for sugar. The amount indicated is equivalent to 1 cup of sugar, and the third column details what it is best to use for.  

Screenshot 2018-06-13 at 2.50.51 PM

Healthy homework: Treat yourself! Try making this delicious sweet treat with maple syrup or your favorite natural sweetener.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse

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1 ripe avocado
1-2 TBSP raw cacao powder
1 TBSP maple syrup
1 TBSP almond butter (optional)
Almond milk – about 1 TBSP – enough to get a mousse-like consistency
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of vanilla powder

Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend. Add almond milk as needed toget a pudding-like consistency. Enjoy!


Sugar Cleanse :: Let’s talk caffeine

coffee-2714970_1280Let’s talk caffeine. These are dreaded words for the caffeine addict. Caffeine is a compound found especially in tea and coffee plants and is a stimulant of the central nervous system. The ups and downs of that caffeine causes on your body include dehydration, raising blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems and adrenal exhaustion. Many people feel that caffeine raises stress levels and anxiety.

Caffeine causes blood sugar swings and may cause sugar cravings to become more frequent. Type 2 diabetics should be aware that caffeine may potentially impair insulin’s action, causing a detectable rise in blood sugar levels.

Simply put, caffeine puts your body on a roller coaster much like sugar, and when you crash, your body wants more energy – usually in the form of more caffeine or sugar.

By the way, it’s not all bad news as far as caffeine is concerned, and more studies are showing that moderate consumption of caffeine has been shown to help prevent diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Caffeine can also help with alertness and concentration and contains antioxidants.

What is the answer? Is it ok to drink coffee and tea? For some people – it is, in moderation. Our bodies all handle caffeine differently. Take a look at how much caffeine you drink in a day. Is it one cup of coffee or tea? Or do you drink coffee and caffeinated tea throughout the day? Do you ever feel side effects like stomach cramps or anxiety?

Learn more on the pros and cons of coffee.

For most people, I recommend keeping it to one cup of coffee or caffeinated tea per day – OR eliminating it entirely.

Here are some replacements for coffee:
*Teeccino teas
*Decaf coffee (cold-processed, organic)
*Herbal teas
*Fruit infused water (my favorite combo is fresh mango with mint)
*Sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime
*Smoothie
*Fresh juice
*A glass of water

Health-time homework:

Take a look at how much coffee you drink every day. If you drink more than 1 serving of caffeine per day, start to wean yourself down to one cup. Doing this gradually will help you avoid caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Also, a lot of people find drinking a large glass of water in the morning helpful to not crave caffeine. Sometimes when we crave coffee in the morning we are really just dehydrated.


Sugar Cleanse :: Eat More Fat

avocado-2115922_640Each more fat. That’s right, you read that correctly!

Here is the deal with fats.

Heavily processed, hydrogenated “trans” fats used in prepared, packaged foods can be extremely damaging to the body. They can compromise the cardiovascular system, immune system, and contribute to behavior problems. They can also lead to weight gain, skin breakouts, high blood pressure, and liver strain.

That said, our bodies need fat for insulation, vitamin and mineral absorption, and to protect our organs. High-quality fats can steady our metabolism, keep hormone levels even, nourish our skin, hair, and nails, and provide lubrication to keep the body functioning fluidly. Eating good fats will help modulate cravings and stabilize blood sugar.

How do I eat more healthy fats?

Avocados (my favorite), olives, coconuts are great sources of healthy fats. Whole nuts and seeds, and their butters like almond butter or tahini.

Look for the highest-quality organic oils when shopping. Words to look for: organic, first-pressed, cold-pressed, extra-virgin, and unrefined. Avoid expeller-pressed, refined, and solvent extracted.

Let’s learn how to cook with fats:

  • For cooking at high temperatures (stir frying and baking), try  using coconut oil
  • When sautéing foods at low heat, try organic extra virgin olive oil.
  • Oils like flaxseed, sesame, toasted sesame, walnut, and pumpkin seed are best used unheated in sauces or dressings.

Healthy homework:

Incorporate good fats into your diet – focusing on your breakfast. Try this, make a bowl of plain oatmeal. Then stir in ground flaxseed, cinnamon and top with sliced banana and pecans. Notice how long this meal satiates you.

You’re over halfway through the sugar cleanse! How are you feeling? What is new and good?


Sugar Cleanse :: What to do when cravings hit?

Greetings!

Yesterday’s healthy homework assignment is one my favorites – you were to make a list of sugar free treats to call upon when your life gets unbalanced and out of whack. In case you had a hard time finding ideas, use these healthy treats as inspiration!

tea-1090672_1280*Have a cup of luxurious herbal tea
*Eat a piece of fruit
*Have a glass of kombucha tea (make sure it has no added sugars)
*Have a green juice
*Eat a snack that includes healthy fats, like hummus and carrot sticks or an avocado sprinkled with sea salt
*Go for a short walk outside
*Hug a tree or just be in nature
*Watch a funny movie
*Do something creative – draw, knit, or even draw in an adult coloring book
*Meditate
*Do a quick yoga routine (there are tons on YouTube or come yoga with me)
*Drink a delicious smoothie
*Cuddle with your dog or cat

Homework for you:

Make a list of what you’re going to do when cravings hit. Yours might be completely different from mine, and that’s completely okay. Write the list down and hang it on your refrigerator for reference.


Sugar Cleanse :: Decode your cravings

woman-2827304_1280I hope you’re feeling inspired to take on more healthy habits today!

What positive changes have you made so far? I’d love to hear about them.

Today, I’d like you to think about what drives your sugar cravings.

When I ask my clients this, top culprits include the hectic morning rush hour and looming afternoon deadlines, prompting sugary coffee drinks and spiraling blood sugar levels. Sugar has a temporary mood lifting effect on the brain, leading to a serious crash soon after. Not exactly the best situation when you’re stressed.

What else causes you to crave?

Aside from daily stress that spurs sugar cravings, I encourage you to consider how other components of your life may be affecting what you eat.

Think back to a time when you had just fell in love with someone. Your partner’s affection replaced sugar, making you feel satisfied and appreciated. Many people crave sweets when they are lacking supportive relationships. Take a look at the people you surround yourself with – is it time for a change?

I regularly tell my clients that while what is on their plate is important, healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career, and a spiritual practice can fill your soul and satisfy your real hunger for life. When these areas of your life – your primary foods – are balanced, your life feeds you, making what you eat secondary.

Healthy you homework:

The next time you find yourself with a craving for sweets, focus on the root of these urges.

Look at these primary foods:
*Relationships
*Career
*Physical Activity
*Spirituality

Give each one a rating from 1-10 as you see them in your life right now (10 being satisfied and 1 being dissatisfied).

Be honest with yourself. It’s okay to be dissatisfied some some or all of your primary foods – you are now one step closer to deconstructing your cravings once and for all.

Now that you’ve taken some steps toward achieving life balance, consider other ways you can reward yourself. Make a list of sugar-free treats to call upon when your primary foods get unbalanced. We’ll be discussing this more tomorrow.


Sugar Cleanse :: More veggies please!

vegetables-1666632_1280Today’s topic is one of my favorites!

Vegetables are the most neglected foods in standard diets. When I ask my clients why that is, they usually recall memories of being forced to eat all of their mushy broccoli before being excused from dinner.

The truth is, vegetables are delicious and pack a serious number of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. Best of all, naturally sweet vegetables can help you fight the urge for refined sugar. The natural sugars these vegetables contain stabilize blood sugar and reduce the need for added sweeteners.

Some of my favorite naturally sweet, delicious, nutrient-dense options are:

*Beets
*Sweet Potatoes
*Onions
*Carrots
*Winter squash (butternut, acorn, delicata, etc.)
*Turnips

Homework for your health:

Try to incorporate at least one sweet vegetable above into your diet every day. Sweet potatoes are my all time favorite sweet veggie. I have many sweet potato recipes on my web site.

Or, you can simply chop a bunch of sweet veggies in any combination you like, toss with some coconut oil and sea salt, and roast at 425 degrees into tender. Make a big batch of this on the weekend to snack on and incorporate into meals all week long!

Let me know what your favorite veggie is and how you like to cook it!


Sugar Cleanse :: Sleep, sleep, sleep

cat-1551783_1280Everyone knows that eating right and exercising are top priorities. Few people know that getting enough rest is just as important as meeting your vegetable requirement or hitting the gym or going to yoga.

Are you guilty of not dedicating enough time to relaxation?

I always talk with my clients that just as your body needs proper food and exercise, it also needs adequate time to rest and reboot. Consistent periods of rejuvenation help reduce long-term stress. When we’re not stress, we don’t crave sugary snacks.

Do you see where I’m going with this? Treat your body right and won’t have to battle cravings and an expanding waistline. The good news is your don’t have to give up your evening activities to squeeze in a few extra hours of refreshing shut eye. Focus on quality, not quantity.

Your healthy homework…

Your sleep requirements are as individual as your food requirements – depending on your day-to-day schedule you may need more or less.

Whether you require seven, eight or nine hours of sleep, these tips will help you maximize that precious time:
*Watching TV and surfing the web right before bed will leave you overstimulated and restless – so turn off your electronics at least one hour before and listen to soft music or meditate instead.
*Turn the lights, noise and heat down as you get ready to sleep. Light candles, turn off any noisy electronics and try to keep your room at a comfortable temperature.
*Late-night snacking (especially on junk foods) and caffeine before bed will keep you counting sheep into the early hours, so plan your last meal in advance. However, don’t go to bed on an empty stomach either – balance is key.

Remember – sleep well to be well!

I hope you’re enjoying the cleanse so far! Remember, I’m here for support – just contact me.


Sugar Cleanse :: Crowding out

Today is about making smarter choices about what you eat. Have you been successful so far in eliminating sugar? Let’s get to the root of your cravings for the sweet stuff.

Ask yourself these questions:
*Why do I always finish a meal with a sweet dessert?
*Why do I always put sugar in my coffee?

Many people list cravings, stress and hormones as the reason they carve sugar. What if you’re just hungry for more real food? Your body is designed to recognize and receive nourishment from things that grow in nature.

It may sound crazy, but in the time you’ll find that by incorporating more real, whole foods into your diet, you’ll automatically crowd out the need for sugar and other disease culprits – no deprivation here.

breakfast-1663295_1280Homework for your health:

Do you rush out of the house without breakfast and grab coffee on the go? Your body is hungry and expects fuel to start the day. Wake up 10-20 minutes earlier to prepare a balanced and nutritious breakfast.

Try these energy rich options:
*Oatmeal with chopped walnuts and sliced banana
*Chia pudding with fresh berries
*Sprouted wheat toast with avocado sprinkled with sea salt
*Smoothie with banana, frozen mango and spinach

At lunch and dinner:
*Order or prepare an extra portion of brightly colored vegetables with your meal
*Chew slowly and consciously, making sure to stop when you feel full and satisfied
*Still want that dessert? Sip on herbal tea to satisfy a sweet craving, or try a piece of fresh fruit.

Remember the concept of crowding out as you move forward. By simply eating more whole foods, you naturally reduce that amount of sugar-laden unhealthy items. I’ll be checking in with you on how your breakfast routine is going in a few days!


Sugar Cleanse :: Sugar clean out!

Time to get rid of sugary traps in your kitchen. A simple yet effective exercise is to clean out your kitchen pantry, fridge and freezer – starting today!

Go through all of your food, and toss or donate everything that contains sugar. Pay special attention to canned goods and packaged items, which are the worst offenders.

If you’re not sure it’s sugar, use this list of names to identify this elusive and addicting ingredient. It’s referred to in many different ways, but at the end of the day, it’s still sugar.

Sucrose
Cane sugar
Corn syrup
HFCS
Maltose
Raw Sugar
Turbinado Sugar
Brown Sugar
Confectioner’s Sugar

shelf-1285186_1280

Above: pantry of my dreams!

When I share this list with clients after doing a pantry clean out, I’m often asked “what’s left to eat?” The answer, is plenty. Next time you’re at the grocery store, choose whole, unprocessed foods free of lengthy nutrition labels. When was the last night you saw an ingredient list on a stalk of broccoli?

Go for these naturally sugar-free, delicious options:
fruits
vegetables
whole grains
nuts
seeds
beans

Remember, whole foods are what belong in your body. Keeping your pantry and fridge stocked with colorful, fresh, healthy food is a great beginning step. Set yourself up for success!