Starches That Help You Lose Weight

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When I first starting learning about carbohydrates, I knew what I knew by what I would read in the mainstream health info. 

Said in my best newscaster voice…

Carbs are bad, unless they are whole grain.

Carbs make you fat. Go Keto.

Carbs give you energy, but don’t eat too many.

Make sure to count your carbs and cut out the sugar.

Carbs, aka carbohydrates or starches, get such a bad reputation. They have been labeled as bad, unless they have fiber, then they might be good. But is this the truth?

Let’s use the term starches (you will understand in a minute) to make this easier…

The reality is that starches are neither good nor bad. Some starches are more life giving and others are more life depleting. You probably have heard the basics of what are better than others, but today, I am going to talk about a specific kind of starch that can help you lose weight and get your blood sugar under control. 

These starches are quite life-giving!

Why do starches get such a bad reputation? When starches are digested they typically break down into glucose. When that happens, that spikes your blood glucose and causes the plethora of issues that go hand in hand with imbalanced blood sugar. 

Let’s dive deeper and get a tad sciency…

What Is Resistant Starch? 

Resistant starch is a kind of starch that is not digested in the small intestine, hence its name. It is a carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestine and ferments in the large intestine. As it ferments, it becomes a yummy food for the good bacteria in the gut, helping to increase the health of your gut. This yummy food is called a prebiotic. 

There are many kind of prebiotics such as inulin from Jerusalem artichokes and chicory. Or soluble fiber from psyllium husks. Or even vegetables such as green bananas (the more ripe they become, the more they turn into a regular starch) and plantains and potatoes. Keep reading for specific foods high in resistant starch and how to use them…

Resistant starch is super helpful in controlling your blood glucose (blood sugar) and helping you to lose weight. This happens because the good bacteria in your gut processes it, creating beneficial molecules that promote balanced blood sugar and healthy gut flora. In layman’s terms? Resistant starch resists digestion and does not spike your insulin or your blood glucose. 

Yay, for resistant starch!

It goes even further than improving your gut health; Resistant starch increases your feeling of being full, helps to relieve constipation, decreases cholesterol, and lowers your risk of colon cancer. 

Food Sources and How To Add More Resistant Starch

The amount of resistant starch changes with heat. Cooking a starch, like potatoes or rice, and then cooling it off and not reheating it, transforms that starch into a resistant starch. For example, cooked rice that has been cooled is higher in resistant starch than rice that was cooked and not cooled. That is one way. Another kind of resistant starch, like those found in oats, green bananas, and plantains lose some of their power when cooked. 

Choose foods such as:

  • Whole grains such as oats
  • Beans, peas, and lentils
  • Plantains and green bananas
  • Cooked and cooled rice and potatoes
  • Other prebiotic foods such as chicory, dandelion leaves, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic and leeks

Here are 5 easy ways to incorporate resistant starch into your diet:

  1. Cool cooked beans and legumes for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator to increase the level of resistant starch. Add them to salads, soups, or as a taco topping. You can also use canned whole beans or refried beans.
  2. Try making overnight oats by soaking them in yogurt, almond milk or another non-dairy milk, or milk.
  3. Cook rice, potatoes, and beans a day in advance and cool in the refrigerator overnight. It’s ok to reheat the starch before eating. Reheating doesn’t decrease the amount of resistant starch. It’s the initial cooling process that is important. 
  4. Add 1-2 tablespoons of powered potato starch to your yogurt or smoothie
  5. Eat more prebiotic foods as mentioned above by adding them to salads or in soups. Try eating them daily if you can. 

Just remember, when increasing your fiber intake, especially resistant starch, start slowly. Resistant starch can change the bugs in your gut and cause gas, known as the die-off affect. As the good bugs come in, they have a little war with the bad bugs and this can cause gas and bloating. As your gut adjusts to this, so will you and that should occur much less.  Remember all types of fiber have health benefits so eat a variety of fiber-containing foods.

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10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Slash Body Pain, Improve Digestion, and Lose Weight

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My grandma used to say “My knees are talking to me.”

I never fully understood what that meant until I got older. My workouts hurt a little bit more. High humidity days would swell my knees up like balloons. I would wake up hurting and left in a perplexing state wondering how I hurt myself sleeping.

And for so long I blamed it on the aging process, convinced that it was a natural sign of aging and something that I had to deal with. Or maybe it was genetic and I was destined to have my grandma’s talking knees.

I learned that it doesn’t have to be that way!

Inflammation 

Inflammation comes in many forms and can be super sneaky. You might feel it as muscle soreness or joint pain.

Or, maybe you are dealing with depression or emotional imbalances.

Perhaps you have digestive issues or a disease, autoimmune disorder, or cancer has creeped into your life. All of these (and more) are directly connected to an inflammation imbalance.

When Inflammation Is Good

The body’s inflammation response is an essential part of the healing process. Injuries, surgeries, and other traumas need to have inflammation acutely in order to help the body heal and bounce back quickly. This is a good thing!

In acute healing phases, inflammation is essential. It helps the body fight foreign invaders and also has a role in repairing damage. Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could easily take over our bodies and kill us. Yay, inflammation!

When Inflammation Is Not So Good

When the body starts to heal and the effects of trauma are resolving, inflammation should begin to resolve too, right? Not necessarily.

When there was no trauma involved, the body should naturally feel free of pain and discomfort, right? Again, not necessarily.

Chronic inflammation is like a silent fire smoldering beneath the surface. Because you can’t see or actually feel this type of inflammation, it’s often referred to as the body’s “silent fire”—which makes perfect sense, because the word “inflammation” derives from the Latin word for “to set on fire.”

When the body’s immune system doesn’t communicate to shut off, it can be like a fire that is not extinguished easily. It is not entirely known why the body will not communicate the shut off. It just keeps producing immune cells, leaving your body in a constant state of alert. And the body remains in a constant state of stress.

When the immune cells can’t find an injury or illness to repair, they eventually attack healthy cells, damaging your tissues and organs. This is when you start to have noticeable problems! This damage has been linked to a slew of diseases and disorders, including asthma, ulcers, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, ulcerative colitis, allergies, some types of cancer and even Alzheimer’s.

Unfortunately, you can’t see low-grade, chronic inflammation and squash the silent fire ahead of time. This is why it is so easy to think that having sore joints and a painful body is how you are SUPPOSED to feel. It isn’t until the damage is done that you really start to step back and notice; even then you may not immediately link it to chronic inflammation.

Using Digestion To Silence The Fire

Your body is incredibly wise and does give you clues to inflammatory cues for concern.

Excess inflammation in the body can cause weight gain (especially in the belly), mental fog, and an overall ‘blah’ feeling. It can also lead to fatigue, digestive issues, depression, sleep issues, and random aches and pains. This is only to name a few!

When making changes, it is important to start at the root cause. Digestion is one of the first places to begin because the digestive tract is the most condensed area of immune cells— 80% of the immune system is located within the gut, and gut microbes can drive inflammation.

There are four main goals of an anti-inflammatory nutrition plan:

  1. Keep blood sugars balanced. Excess glucose stresses the body and causes a systemic inflammatory response.
  2. Eat the right types of fats. Fats are super important for hormonal balancing and decreasing stress placed on the body.
  3. Consume anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. Some foods have natural inflammation fighting powers.
  4. Promote healthy gut flora. You got to keep the gut strong so that it can absorb all the beneficial nutrients you are feeding it.

It may sound complicated, but don’t let that frighten you. If you make a few small changes, for even a few minutes each day, you can drastically lower inflammation levels in the body.

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10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods To Silence The Fire

  1. Dark leafy greens: Think kale, spinach, swiss chard, broccoli— these powerhouse foods are not only high in antioxidants and healing flavonoids, but they also contain a compound called “quercetin,” which acts much like anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin). Toss a handful of spinach in your morning smoothie or throw together some chopped up kale, carrots, and raisins for a delicious kale salad. You can also toss a handful of spinach into your morning omelette and cook until leaves are wilted.
  2. Turmeric:  Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric and it is a very powerful antioxidant and has incredible anti-inflammatory properties. They are so powerful that even studies have shown that curcumin is more powerful in decreasing inflammation than anti-inflammatory drugs. Add some turmeric to your morning egg scrabble, season your roasted veggies, toss some into your smoothie (be careful how much you put in because the taste can be overpowering), or drink a turmeric tea.
  3. Blueberries: An antioxidant powerhouse, blueberries are high in phytonutrients that are buzzing with anti-inflammatory protection. They protect against many diseases, such as cancer and dementia. Add them to your salad, use them for your morning smoothie, freeze them and eat them as a cold treat, or top your favorite healthy dessert with a handful of them.
  4. Wild-caught salmon: Wild-caught salmon is an excellent source of two omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, that are known for their inflammation slashing. The benefits of omega-3 have been backed over and over by studies. They are shown to reducing symptoms of psychological disorders, preventing heart disease, and reducing your risk of cancer. No farmed salmon here! Two times a week, add salmon to your diet. Salmon fillets with lemon juice are a great choice! If getting in salmon is pretty challenging, opt for supplementation by a liquid or a capsule most days a week.
  5. Coconut oil: This is by far my favorite! And for good reason— Coconut oil is not only anti-inflammatory, but it also boosts metabolism, helps balance hormones, and has anti-microbial properties. It is truly a healing powerhouse. Try adding it to your morning shakes, sauté your leafy greens in it, roast your turmeric root vegetables in it, or use it as a spread on your sprouted grain bread. Remember, the skin is an absorbable organ. You can use coconut oil externally too. Use coconut oil as a moisturizer instead of the expensive, paraben-laden cosmetics from the beauty counter.
  6. Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a powerhouse of nutrients. Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, an antioxidant that protects your brain, decreasing inflammation that can cause depression and other brain health issues. Throw some in your salads or eat some sauce, just make sure that you are getting the skins of the tomatoes, where lycopene lives.
  7. Avocados: Not only are avocados a healthy fat that improves digestion and supports heart health, but they are good for inflammation too. They also contain carotenoids, which are linked to reduced cancer risk. You can throw some in your smoothie, on your salad, or top your scrambled eggs with them.
  8. Cherries: Cherries are so delicious and remind me of summertime. But, they are also rich in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and catechins, which fight inflammation. Although the health-promoting properties of tart cherries have been studied more than other varieties, sweet cherries also provide benefits. You can drink a tart cherry juice or buy a bunch of sweet cherries to munch on as a snack.
  9. Red Bell Peppers: I love red bell peppers for a hefty dose of anti-inflammatory power—but go red to reap the most benefits. According to Journal of Food Science, out of the three colors of bell pepper, red have the highest amount of inflammatory-biomarker-reducing vitamin C along with the bioflavonoids beta-carotene, quercetin, and luteolin. Luteolin has been found to neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid, fat-soluble compounds that are associated with a reduction in a wide range of cancers, as well as reduced risk and severity of inflammatory conditions such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Quercetin acts as a mast-cell stabilizer, decreasing the number of cells reacting to an allergen. Make a stir-fry or slice them up for a delicious dip in your hummus.
  10. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Olive oil is fabulous for fighting inflammation and research believes it is because of the olecanthal, found only in olive oil. It has been found to have significant impact on inflammation and helps reduce joint cartilage damage, working similarly to ibuprofen. You can sprinkle olive oil on anything — your sandwich, in your smoothie, on your eggs, and of course on your salad.

Even though nutrition is only one piece of the lifestyle puzzle for calming inflammation and silencing the fire, it is an easy one to start with. Slowly start adding some of these foods into your daily nutrition plan to take back control of your body!

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Trouble Slowing Your Mind? 3 Steps To Easy Meditation

My brain was like a monkey flying on the high trapeze and tauntingly giggling at me with each swing.

Back and forth. Here and there. Laughing at me the entire way.

Or, so it seemed as I sat awkwardly in the OM-iest of ways. Fighting the movie of monkey thoughts streaming across the screen of my brain — My neck hurts. My hips hurt. Surely it has been at least 10 minutes of this mind calming stuff that I know is supposed to be good for me. I can’t believe she called me that today!

Don’t look at the clock…Don’t look at the clock!

(*Looks at the clock*) Only 3 minutes?!?!?! This is stupid….I can’t do this. I am so bored…My mind is not made for meditation.

When I first started meditating, this was what happened to me. I could not focus. My brain was not trained to focus. My brain was trained for distraction. And the monkey swinging wildly was out of control. Not only in my meditations, but also in my everyday moments. My mind was running amok and I convinced myself that I was no good at the meditation thing — it was a waste of my time.

How many times have you told yourself that meditation is “not for you?” Or that you were no good at it. Or that you don’t have time to sit and meditate.

What I learned is that meditation is for everyone — at least one of it’s forms. Meditation doesn’t mean that you have to sit crossed-legged, palms up, and chanting wildly. It simply means that you are engaging in an act that calms the mind and brings you to a place of mindfulness that pulls you away from the chaos of your world.

Mindfulness and meditation are not just trendy terms that the Yogi down the street is raving about or that all the celebrities are doing to be noticed. There are real reasons you might just want to try it out. Here are just a few nuggets of benefits —

  • Restores blood pressure
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Increases blood flow
  • Slows your heart rate
  • Increases deeper levels of relaxation
  • Decreases headaches and muscle tension
  • Increases exercise tolerance
  • Builds self-esteem
  • Reduces anxiety attacks and depression
  • Increases mood and behavior
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Increases immunity
  • Stabilizes pre-menstrual syndrome
  • Helps with healing following a trauma or surgery

Meditation is medicine outside of a bottle!

But what if I tried it before and I failed? I got 3 main tips for you to get started that can help to get you in a solid routine, turning off the monkey movie, and finally feeling successful in mastering your own meditation!

couch-447484_1920Same Time, Same Place

Practice time is sacred. Even if you are walking down the hallway to work while eating an apple as you march towards your next meeting, that time is sacred if you are using it to center yourself and calm your mind. Is that optimal meditating skills? Probably not, but it is one way to own your space and reclaim your brain.

What I am trying to emphasis is that practice time is sacred and set boundaries make it even more sacred. To deepen the sacredness of your OM-iness, take it one step further and try to stick to the same time and same place everyday. It creates some solid consistency and cueing to the brain. For example, meditation time could be at 6 am, after you wake from your deep sleep, retrieve your steaming cup of Joe, nestle into the couch with your headphones and a zen-like tune, and set aside 10 minutes to enter a quiet reflective mind. Deep breathe…and you are off.

When you step into that space at the time you are keeping sacred, your brain turns on to tune into meditation (think Pavlov’s dog, without the drooling).

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Create A Ritual

We humans love some easy rituals. Even the most spontaneous and impulsive folks gravitate towards rituals. Why? Because it creates repetition and repetition easy. We don’t have to think too hard about it. Fortunately for us, repetition leads to habit and habit leads to stickability. It’s like a respite for the brain and a trigger that says, “It’s ok to relax.” What do I mean by rituals?

  • Put some soothing music on or a guided meditation. One of my favorites is Chakra Healing Zone.
  • Perform 3-5 deep belly breaths, relaxing more into your seat or couch with each exhale.
  • Visualize connecting to your higher power (or something bigger than yourself) by imagining a bright white beam of light laser beaming from the center of the sky and  entering through the crown of your head, traveling down your body. Let it fill every nook and cranny with a glowing white healing light.
  • Take a deep belly breath in and begin counting down from 10 to 1, relaxing every part of your body and sinking even further into your seat or couch with each descending number.
  •  Bring your attention to your breathing and allow your mind to be free to anything that passes through it. Observe whatever thoughts enter and, without judgment, give yourself permission to let it go.

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Let Go Of Judgement

Thoughts of what Lucy said about you today. That annoying thing that your significant other did this morning. The utter embarrassment of tripping over your foot and almost falling in front of everybody. These are going to run through your head. At least at first! And that is ok.

Day’s events and judgey thoughts are going to try to consume your mind. That is totally normal (even for experts who have been doing this forever). And even though this is normal, fearing and worrying only prompts the monkey mind to become frustrated and more likely to quit. Here is the key  — remain judgement-free and just observe it. Try this little exercise:

Pretend you are at the movies. When thoughts pop in, gently observe them like you are watching a movie on a big movie screen while you are sitting comfortable in your movie chair. Allow them to flicker by as you tune in and observe. Rather than getting consumed in the movie, keep judgment-free and think to yourself “Hmmm, there that is.” Gently bring your focus back to your breath. Rinse and repeat as thoughts enter.

The more you practice, the more your mind becomes disciplined to hone in faster and stronger.

Did you know that mindfulness and calming the mind are one form of detoxing the body? It helps to decrease stress and inflammation so that your body can operate optimally. Want more detoxing power? Scroll below…

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8 Tips To Avoid Overeating During The Holidays

“I’ll just skip dessert.” 

Was what I would tell myself foolishly as I saddled up to the dinner table, enticed by all the delicious, decadent dishes and rich foods. I actually thought that my willpower had a chance.

The smells penetrated by nose — the sweet aroma filling the kitchen from hours of turkey roasting in the oven, the cinnamon and nutmeg from fresh baked pumpkin pie, and the peppery buttery goodness of creamy mashed potatoes. My senses were heightened and my stomach was growling. I had a serious love affair with sugar.

people sitting beside table
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Yet, I actually thought that my willpower had a chance!

A little of this and a little of that become second helpings of a lot of this and a lot of that. My stomach full and my pant’s button cutting into my skin, surely I was satisfied and I could victoriously push myself away from that dinner table.

Can you believe that I actually STILL thought that my willpower had a chance?!

And then the dreaded words of defeat were uttered. “Who is ready for dessert.”

As my salivary glands started to go into overdrive and my thoughts intermingled with bites of pumpkin pie deliciousness, I knew that my willpower had no chance.

Whomp, whomp!

Willpower has no chance against your stronger emotional senses. Smells and feelings and family connections and the flooding of hormonal functions that all of this creates puts a big, fat piece of pumpkin pie on your willpower so that you can not even see it wiggling underneath or hear it calling for help.

But there are specific little actions you can take to better stronghold your willpower and keep your emotions and hormones from grabbing the steering wheel and driving off the cliff into a sugar coma. Here are 8 served up just for you!

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  1. Sneak in a workout before your meal. Outside of off-setting some of those extra calories, a few other things are happening in the background. First, you are releasing the feel good hormones into the brain that naturally come from exercise. Since typically overeating is associated with stress, exercise can help to calm the stress and relax your body, decreasing the release of ghrelin, the appetite inducing hormone. If you are exercising, it can also mean that you have a health goal in mind and you are more prone to choosing healthier options.
  2. Remember, size matters. Choosing smaller plates and bigger forks trick the brain into thinking you are getting more food or that your portion size is bigger than what it actually is. According to an article published by NCBI in 2013, smaller plates means you could eat up to 45% less food simply because you can not pile as much food onto a smaller plate.
  3. Pause, then reach for seconds. No one says you can’t fill up your plate a second time if you really want to. But wait at least 20 minutes. It takes about that long for partially digested food to reach the small intestine and trigger the release of hormones that signal feelings of fullness. If you still really want seconds, then go for it — Eat.
  4. Be a positive pusher. You can make all the right choices, but there are still those folks that push you to eat more or to try that dish. Instead of getting flustered, ultimately giving into temptation, emphasize how good you feel right now and that you feel fully satisfied. Not only will this help grandma to put away the ladle, but it will also help you to connect your brain into your stomach and body cues — decreasing your chance of mindlessly overeating.
  5. Plan ahead. Remember last week’s article about planning ahead by bringing a healthy meal? Here is your chance! Eat that dish first or give yourself a hefty helping to offset your hunger before you dive into more decedent treats.
  6. Eat slowly and mindfully. The first two bites of your food are the most flavorful and delicious. Be hyper-focused to those first two bites because they can dictate how your brain tunes into the rest of the meal and how satisfied you may feel. Pay attention to the smell, the taste, the texture, the temperature, and any other sensation that pops up. It also takes 15-20 minutes for the brain to signal to the stomach that you are full. If you are not careful, you could pack in a lot of extra food during that time.
  7. Guzzle up water. Drinking water hydrates the body, which signals the brain that you may not be as hungry as you thought you were. Not only for the brain power, but it also fills up the stomach. I do recommend drinking 16 ounces of water before your meal, but refrain from drinking water during your meal, unless you really have to. That can inhibit your digestion.
  8. If you plan to drink alcohol, make it a post-game event. Speaking of staying hydrated, make sure you are drinking water between any alcoholic beverages. Hydrating is key, but it will also slow you down between drinks. Remember, alcohol can sabotage your self control and fool you into thinking you still have room in your stomach for a few more slices of pie.

What is your favorite tip above? Tell me in the comments below!

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