Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to Break Your Fast (Hint: Bagels and Lox are NOT part of the picture)

Although today’s fast is relatively short, it may feel like you haven’t eaten or drank for days. Many of us are accustomed to eating every few hours, or grazing throughout the day, and so we feel, very acutely, the absence of food.

The truth is most of us could stand to eat less, or less often. When we eat all day long, our digestive systems don’t get the opportunity to rest. In addition, we often eat mindlessly, and by doing so we forfeit the opportunity to see how our food choices affect our bodies, our energy, our health and even our mood (more on that in a later post).

And while this fast is too short to result in deep detoxification or internal cleansing (minus that caffeine withdrawal headache that should be kicking in just about now), even a short fast like this one can offer insight regarding our eating habits and hopefully inspire us to make some thoughtful changes. So, aside from the Halachic requirements to fast and any spiritual benefits that accompany this requirement, we do get a small taste (no pun intended) of the health benefits of fasting.

However, if you break the fast by gorging on bread and/or sugar, you’ll likely find your self with a “fasting hangover” (headache, stomach ache, constipation, etc). The traditional (at least for American-born, Ashkenazi Jews) break fast meal of bagels, lox, and spreads full of mayo is truly a digestive disaster. (In a nutshell: it’s too starchy, sugary, and salty.)

What is the best way to break a fast? While everyone is different, there are a few universal principles here from which we all can benefit.
Below are some tips for breaking your fast in a way that respects your body and your belly:

1. Drink room temperature water. Water should be the first thing you put in your mouth after the fast. If you can, take a high-quality probiotic with this water, to help restore the proper balance of bacteria in your gut after the fast.

2. Eat small portions. We don’t need to eat as much as we think we do, especially after a fast. Try eating tonight’s meal on a salad plate, or in a bowl. And of course, CHEW thoroughly 

3. Start with soup. A brothy soup with lots of veggies will help replace your mineral stores, and is easy on the digestive system. Avoid using flavored soup powders, which usually contain MSG. Rely on herbs and spices for flavor.

4. Eat REAL food. Avoid processed or pre-packaged foods. Most contain additives or preservatives and poor quality oils, which stress your digestive system. If you’re too tired or weak to cook, stick to simple things: boiled brown rice or quinoa, roasted veggies, simple salads, etc. Partner with a neighbor or a few friends and do a mini-potluck so you don’t need to prepare a full meal. Keep it simple, for your sanity as well as for your belly!

5. Go vegan. Try a meal without animal products. Instead, make veggies, fruits, whole grains, and legumes (beans, lentils, etc) the main course. Your digestive system takes a few hours to process protein, especially animal protein, and since you’ll be going to bed shortly after your meal, it’s best to eat easily digested foods. If you feel the need for animal protein, try eggs or fish, rather than dairy products, or chicken or beef.

B’teavon and L’Briut!!

PS: Did you gain any insight into your eating patterns or habits as a result of the fast?
What was revealed to you via this simple act of abstinence and pause? I’d love to hear your discoveries.

Did you unearth something that needs more attention? Need more support in creating your ideal diet, one that gives you the energy and health you need to live to your fullest potential? Call me today to set up your initial consultation and see how I can help you reach your health goals. 054 204 4773

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What Should I Eat When it’s Sweltering Hot Outside?

What Should I Eat When it’s Sweltering Hot Outside?

Now that summer weather has officially arrived, and as my friend Tammy likes to say, it “feels like pea soup outside”, what are the best foods to eat? Which foods will nourish you best in this extreme weather? Following these guidelines will help cool your body and retain your energy during this heat wave and beyond.

1. Drink water. Obvious, I know, but it bears repeating. It is always important that you get enough water in your diet. Water ensures that your body’s systems function optimally. Drinking water also helps to keep your energy levels up. While you may think you crave a cold drink, many ancient healing theories recommend drinking cool or room temperature water. Drinking water with out ice usually means you drink more water (you know this is true if you’ve ever tried to chug ice cold water. Ouch.) Try to get in other forms of water as well. More on that later. Also avoid substances that dehydrate the body. (see tip #2)

2. Cut back on the caffeine.
Among other things, caffeine can dehydrate the body, and negate the positive effects of all of that water you’re drinking. You can’t afford to have that happening during the hot summer months, so it’s wise to cut back on coffee and soda. If you must imbibe (and I totally hear that), drink 3 cups of water for every caffeinated beverage. Some ideas for non-caffeinated beverages: iced herbal tea, water flavored with lemon and mint leaves, and my current favorite-the green smoothie (A topic for a future post, but if you need more information right now, see my recent Facebook post or simply Google “Green Smoothie”. Highly trendy these days and I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll like)

3. Go lighter on the fruit than you might want to, and eat more veggies. While fruit on a hot day is mouthwatering, beware if you tend to be sugar sensitive. Eating lots of fruit can lead to blood sugar spikes in susceptible people, and the crash that follows will leave you feeling like a dried-out bug on the hot pavement. Be sure to eat lots of watery veggies like tomato, cucumber, zucchini, celery, bell peppers, and greens such as romaine lettuce, spinach and chard. Try making blended soups with the above veggies for greater water content, and make sure to eat a variety of raw and/or lightly cooked veggies if digesting raw is challenging for you.

4. Get enough potassium. Whether or not you exercise in the heat, you’ll probably sweat more than usual. Excess sweating can throw off your electrolytes. You can avoid this problem by making sure that you get enough potassium in your diet during the summer months. Potassium helps balance your body’s pH and water. Foods high in potassium include: apricots, avocado, banana, lima bean, potatoes, beets, parsnips and lentils.

5. Lighten up your protein. While everyone loves a good summer BBQ, your body uses a lot of energy to digest meat. Choose lighter, plant-based proteins, like beans, legumes, and nuts and seeds to ease the energy load on your body.

6. Listen to your body. Not a food tip per se, but inherently valuable advice nonetheless. Rest when you feel tired. Scale back your usual activity level, especially in the afternoon. Make a cooling mist with essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint, geranium, or chamomile and spray on your body, especially the back of your neck and feet.

Need more support around creating the vibrant health you are meant to have??? Contact Arlyn today to schedule a consultation. 054 204 4773

•Weight loss, special diets, digestive issues, feeding children and families, emotional eating, pre-natal and postpartum nutrition.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

One Simple Change That Will Help You Lose Weight

Anyone you know ever been on a diet?
I thought so. Weight loss is an eternal quest for so many of us. And it often seems like out efforts are futile, because weight loss can appear so…confusing. First the experts tell us not to eat fat. Then they tell us not to eat carbs. Then they tell us to eat fats… but only the right kind. Then they tell us to eat carbs… but only the brown kind. What’s a person to do?

It’s safe to say that the diet rules are going to keep changing. After all, every time the rules change, someone can sell another slew of diet books. So, it’s wise to look for a constant in the dieting madness. And as usual, it’s the simplest things that are often the most profoundly effective.

It’s quite simple, really. If there’s one piece of advice that has made the biggest difference in the weight loss goals of my clients, it’s been one simple word, “Chew!”

Eating well and losing weight begins with the simple art of chewing.

Let’s explore the phenomenon of chewing and see how it will help you lose weight, absorb more nutrition from your food, and bring more awareness to the act of eating.

Chewing slows down the rate at which you eat. You will feel full well before you finish your plate. This means you will consume fewer calories than normal, but you will feel more satisfied.
• Chewing breaks down food and initiates the release of digestive enzymes, which helps your body assimilate nutrients more effectively.
Chewing creates saliva, which makes the food more alkaline, resulting in less gas and bloating afterwards.
Chewing relaxes you. As most of us learned early on, you shouldn’t talk with your mouth full. Chewing well makes eating a more internal, quieting, and nourishing experience
• Chewing helps you enjoy the taste, aroma, sensation, and texture of the entire meal.
• The more you chew complex carbohydrates, the sweeter they will become.
Chew a mouthful of plain brown rice 50 times and it will taste like honey in your mouth!

How Much Should I Chew?
You should aim to chew every mouthful of food at least 35 times each, until the food becomes liquid. This will seem impossible at first, and completely weird... but after a while it will feel even weirder to swallow after a few bites.

Make it Happen: How to transform into a Conscious Eater

- Pick one meal a day to practice eating with intention. The best meal to start with is the meal that you eat in a relaxed manner, not the meal that you eat while driving, feeding your kids, or a billion other things. (If you’re saying “I don’t eat any meals, or any meal in a relaxed manner”, then this is a great time to shift that behavior!)
- Remove all distractions. Turn off the TV, put down your Blackberry; it’s just you and your food.
- Sit down to eat. It’s tough to chew well if you’re standing at the counter or in front of the fridge.
- Sit up straight and breathe.
- Count the number of times you chew. Aim for 35 times per bite. You may not be able to keep this up throughout the entire meal, but you’ll get better with practice.
- Take smaller bites.
- If counting is distracting, then try chewing until your food is liquid.
- Use chopsticks – these do a great job of slowing you down 
- Eat with the opposite hand. If you’re right-handed, eat with your left hand. This is guaranteed to make you take your time.
- Put your fork down between every bite. Don’t sit there waiting to shovel the next bite in before you swallow.
- Concentrate on the sensation of the food as you chew. Really TASTE it.

I’d love to hear about your experiments with chewing! Please feel free to share what you discover.

Interested in receiving more support around your health, your food choices and weight loss goals? Contact me today for more information or to schedule a session.

Arlyn Boltax
o54 204 4773