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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Got Cellulite? 5 Ways To Reduce The Appearance

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Let’s talk cellulite.

At any age, cellulite may feel like a curse or a physical attribute that results in many days of wearing long pants.  Noses have been turned up at the mere sight of it. And a wave of shame or embarrassment may wash over you when you catch a glimpse of your reflection.

But cellulite is, in fact, normal and there is nothing wrong with it. Even though men can have cellulite, women are more prone to the lumps and bumps because of their hormonal structure and their fat distribution. It really is no big deal and does not mean that you are “disgusting” or that your body is “unattractive.”

Let’s get real — babies have cellulite!

Women of all shapes and sizes can have cellulite! How noticeable it is can be based on your genes, body fat percentage, age, and the thickness of your skin. Some women are more prone it, no matter how much they do to reduce it. For others, it could be a sign that their lifestyle choices need some adjusting.

You are never going to totally get rid of cellulite, but you can possibly reduce it by making a few small adjustments to optimize how your body responds.

Changing Your Viewpoint

When I was 15 years old, we stopped at a not-so-local McDonalds for lunch on our day trip with my aunt and cousin. It was a hot day so my shorty shorts and my tank top were the perfect outfit to keep me cool on a warm day of exploring. Young, insecure, and uber impressionable, I sat there eating my french fries and burger, not thinking much other than how good the meal was tasting. All of a sudden, I was brought back into reality when my aunt breaks the silence and points out the cellulite on my thighs and continues to proclaim to the table that I better watch what I eat because I was “getting fat.” My teenage hormones took over and I become embarrassed, emotional, and full of shame and insecurity. I remember not enjoying the rest of my lunch because I couldn’t stop focusing on my “fat legs.”

I am not alone in this. We live in a society that has deemed cellulite to be a sign of being overweight, aging or being unhealthy. This is not necessarily true. 

We all have it. 

It is normal and not harmful.

And, it is time to start having compassion for our beautiful bodies and learning that it is ok to love your body, cellulite and all. 

It is not about the cellulite and the amount you have on your body, it is about how you are taking care of you, your physical body, and your overall health. And, if you reduce the cellulite in the process of getting healthier? Bonus!

What Is Cellulite And What Causes It?

Cellulite consists of several changes in your skin’s normal structure and changes within the fat cells themselves. It is also coupled with circulation issues. Have you ever touched the lumpy skin on your hips, thighs, and buttocks? Chances are that it may feel a little more cool to touch because of the poor blood circulation. 

When the skin overlying certain areas of fat is pulled downward to the deeper tissues by connective tissue bands, cellulite can occur. This is seen by the uneven surface that it creates. It is most commonly found in the hips, thighs, abdomen, buttocks, and breasts.

The collagen fibers between the skin and muscle separate the underlying fat into multiple pockets. This is why cellulite can become more visible as you age and your skin becomes thinner and loses elasticity. All of this exposes the rippled connective tissues underneath. 

Poor diet, lack of exercise, an unhealthy lifestyle, accumulated toxins, genetics, weight gain, pregnancy, and hormones could all cause cellulite. 

Hormonal Impact

The body is incredibly wise and it’s hormones are designed to continually play a dance of balance so that the body can function optimally. Unfortunately, and depending on your season of life or your lifestyle choices, those hormones can become unbalanced, with some hormones moving into a state of dysfunction. Because of this, cellulite can be more dramatic on some than it is on others. 

Most women are going to have cellulite, just because they are women, and looking more dramatic depending on what season of life they are in (puberty, pregnancy, menopause, etc). Let me explain…

The woman’s back of her thighs are very responsive to her hormonal balance and profile. Estrogen prevents fat breakdown and loss by increasing the activity of thigh fat cells. Estrogen also stimulates an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, or LPL, which is responsible for fat growth. Now, this can appear in the buttocks and the abdomen, but it is often most seen in the back of the legs. 

Then there is prolactin. Prolactin, also known as the breast-feeding hormone, increases water retention in the fatty tissue, making each cell look larger and lumpier and making cellulite more visible.

So this leads to the next question — If estrogen and prolactin do this, then why does a women in peri-,post-, and menopause often experience such dramatic affects of cellulite? There are multiple answers for this (less active, less collagen production, etc) but one huge factor is another hormone.

Insulin.

Estrogen and progesterone affect how your cells respond to insulin. After menopause, changes in your hormone levels can trigger fluctuations in your blood sugar levels. You may notice that your blood sugar level changes more than before, and goes up and down.

Exercise, managing stress, and eating a diet lower in carbohydrates all help to manage your blood glucose and insulin levels. 

Whenever you eat a carbohydrate-rich food such as donuts, ice cream, pasta, bread, candy, etc or drink a carbohydrate-rich drink such as soda, juice, beer, wine, etc, your body releases insulin to manage the glucose, or the sugar from the carbs, that are entering your bloodstream. Ideally, your muscles will welcome it and use it for energy or store it for later use.

But in a world where we are less active and are not burning off the amount of carbohydrate-rich foods we are taking in, the glucose has to spill over to the fat cells, gets turned into fatty acids, and then stored as triglycerides. This causes fat cells to squish out and become more visible. 

The bad news is that if you are not very active, a high carbohydrate-rich diet will induce more fat cell growth. The good news is that you can balance that out with a healthy mix of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. If you want to lower your insulin response even more, choosing the right kind of exercise and body movement that is right for your body and your stress levels can dramatically help!

5 Ways To Smoother Skin

1. Be Food Savvy

One of the keys to reducing cellulite is to reduce the toxin build-up in your body. Tip #3 and #4 will help with this as well, but it really starts with the food you are choosing to eat each day. 

Eating processed foods that are high in carbohydrates, refined sugars, preservatives, unhealthy fats and salt leads to the accumulation of toxins in your body. The body stores these toxins in fat cells. Try to eliminate these from your nutrition plan –

  • Trans fats (found in many processed and packaged foods)
  • Canola oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil
  • Refined sugar and excess sugar
  • Highly processed foods
  • Table salt and excessive salt

Eating a diet rich in antioxidants and fiber can help to reduce toxins from your body while also providing your body with the nutrients it needs to help balance out your hormones. 

There are many ways that you can get a hefty dose of antioxidants and, even in ways that are helpful for multiple health issues. French Pine Bark Extract, an antioxidant known for neutralizing free radicals and toxins in the body, can also increase blood circulation and strengthen your blood vessels. Grapeseed Extract is an antioxidant that is known to improve circulation in the legs, strengthen blood vessels in the lower body, and prevent build-up of fatty tissue and the inflammation in the skin — all of these benefits indirectly helping to reduce cellulite. 

Healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, etc helps to balance out hormones, improve the integrity of your skin health, and balance out insulin levels, just to name a few. It also helps to keep you fuller longer and staves off food cravings.

One overlooked area of the nutrition-cellulite relationship is hydration. You might believe that if you drink too much water, you will begin to look bloated and cellulite will worsen. This is simply not true! Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day (more if you drink tea, coffee, juice, and any other dehydrating beverages) to flush out the toxins in the body and to hydrate the skin. 

2. Get More Collagen Into Your Diet

After you turn 30, you start to lose 1-2% of collagen a year. Hormonal changes can cause even more collagen loss and thinning of the skin. Without your skin having significant collagen levels, the chance of fat deposits being pushed up against the skin and creating the dimpling look is much more likely. 

One of the most effective ways to combat this is to increase your skin collagen density by taking a collagen peptide supplement and drinking slow-cooked bone broth. Clinical studies show that collagen peptides get absorbed into the bloodstream and then penetrate and remain in the dermis, triggering collagen production in the skin.

Looking for high-quality collagen sources? Try Ancient Nutrition Multi Collagen Protein or Great Lakes Collagen Powder (red can for gelatin/cooking, green can for smoothies). Looking for bone broth? My two favorites are Kettle and Fire and Bonafide. 

3. Dry Brush Your Skin

Remember, cellulite appearance is directly connected to your circulation. Dry brushing is a technique to improve lymphatic drainage and blood circulation while helping to eliminate the toxins that break down connective tissue. A whopping 70% of your body’s lymphatic vessels are located right underneath the skin.

Dry brushing doesn’t take long to see results! It also plumps the skin temporarily, lessening the appearance of cellulite and making your skin feel softer and more smooth. 

4. Get Your Body Moving

Moving your body helps to build up the muscle, increase circulation, burn body fat, and lower insulin levels — all of these promoting smooth skin and reduced appearance of cellulite. Doing full body movement is important, but focus on exercise and strength training that will build up your lower body and use the body as one whole unit, such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, hamstring curls, and leg extensions. This will help to target those areas most prone to fat cell distribution.

If you don’t have time to get to a gym or do a full workout, do chair squats at work or lunges in your cubical. Or, you could go for speed walks on your lunch break. 

5. Scrub Your Skin With Coffee

Outside of the caffeine boost, drinking my cup of coffee in the morning was always a delight because I knew that those grounds were having an extended life cycle. I used to save my coffee grounds and use them as a delicious smelling exfoliant body scrub. Sure, it smelled great, but it was also doing my body good. Scrub the body with coffee grounds helps to remove water and toxins trapped in the body and skin. 

Coffee scrubs can help to remove dead skin cells, regenerate healthy new cells, reduces the appearance of cellulite. They also have powerful anti-inflammatory and metabolic properties. And, when combined with a natural oil, such as almond, olive, evening primrose, and coconut, the coffee scrub can help to reduce free radical damage and improve your skin’s elasticity. 

Even though cellulite is normal and should not be shameful or embarrassing, there are ways that you can reduce the appearance so that you feel more comfortable in your own skin!

Want more?

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I love inspiration through story-telling! If you liked this article, then you will love my other blogs.

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Love Your Body With These 10 Simple Tips

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“I would never wear a tank top. My arms are too flabby.”

As she stood there glistening with sweat and begrudgingly completing her arm exercises, she looked me square in the eyes and said…

I would never wear a tank top. My arms are too flabby.”

Yet at the age of 65, she was more in shape and had more strength than she ever did. Her arms were toned and you could see the muscles working diligently with every arm curl and every weight lift. But, the voices in her head still told her that her arms were too flabby.

Those voices. They can noodle around the brain and wreck havoc on the most positive of outlooks. They can pop up out of nowhere at the most inconvenient times. And, they can demolish dreams in the blink of an eye.

It’s those voices that hold you back from being great and, just as you are riding smoothly through life, those voices can throw a stick in the spoke and cause you to hurl uncontrollably through the air.

Thoughtful Action

The actions you take have mighty power and the words you speak can make or break your confidence to take action. But, it’s the thoughts you think that can cause hurtful words and stop your good intentioned actions dead in their tracks — ultimately, leading to a lack of self-trust, self-confidence, and self-love.

I am going to be real with you — I don’t believe in the fake positivity. I don’t believe in just telling yourself that you are enough or that you are going to have a great day or that everything is all rose-colored and filled with unicorn dust.

Sure, that stuff helps, but it is not enough.

Those old thoughts and beliefs that hide in the shadows are stubborn. They are not fooled by the superficial words and inspirational memes on social media. Rather, they are healed and transmuted by changing the way you think and feel about a situation.

They are also healed and transmuted by the actions that you take to prove to them — to prove to yourself — that other ways of thinking, feeling, and speaking are possible.

Because without taking action, change in what you think is possible, what you believe is possible, and how you feel about your power in the situation will continue to elude you.

To learn to truly love yourself, you need to be willing to step out of old routines and what you know.

You have to being willing to create a shake-up in your normal pattern and step out of what is comfortable. This challenges you to believe in yourself, learn that you can do what you once thought you couldn’t, and to discover parts of you that have been lying dormant.

Let's try it once without the parachute

Here are 10 ways that you can take action and change your inner thoughts about your body image and how you see yourself—

Taking Intentional Action

  1. Try new activities to loosen up your inhibitions, such as Zumba, African dancing, hula hooping, or belly dancing. Try competitive sports or rock climbing or skiing. Get involved in a competition that pushes your limits and gets you out of your comfort zone.
  2. Use your body to do something, such as build a shed, score a field goal, carry an elderly neighbor’s groceries, instead of treating it as an object to be looked at. You are an incredible physical being with capability beyond your imagination. Get to using it!
  3. Indulge in your sensual side, by getting massages, using exotic perfumes, or wearing sexy lingerie (even at work). Only you will know how you are indulging in your sensual side.
  4. Wear clothes that allow you to move freely, such as comfortable shoes, flowing skirts, stretchy fabrics. And don’t worry about labeled sizes, only about how they fit and how your clothes make you feel. Sizes vary from brand to brand and are often purposefully lowered to entice.
  5. Learn about the wonders of the body, by reading books and magazines that are positive influences towards the body. Learn how the body works, why it is such an incredible vessel, and read uplifting exerts that create an appreciation for the skin you live in. This is most freeing and empowering!
  6. Try yoga or mediation, two good practices that teach you how to be in your body in a way that isn’t critical or analytical.
  7. Practice good posture, as an instant shot of body confidence. Standing up tall, squeezing your shoulder blades back, and looking eye level at others creates so much confidence. You can also try the power pose for a burst of confidence building testosterone. Try it out!
  8. Quit believing that people are looking at you and sizing you up, because we as humans are very egocentric creatures. Most of the time, we are focused on ourselves and the thoughts in our head. We have no clue what you are doing. And, if others are judging you, it is most likely because they are insecure themselves.
  9. Live your life in a non-judgement zone, by praising others and their accomplishments and their awesomeness instead of beating them down. Live in a gab-free, gossip-free, non-judgement zone and, instead, learn to support those around you. Good energy bounces back good energy.
  10. Hire a professional to help teach and support you, if you truly have no idea of where to start or you just need some guidance to help you become successful. To achieve anything great in life, being mentored and coached by someone who has walked in your shoes can be a sigh of relief and exactly what you need to finally make the progress you deserve. Also, having someone to cheer you along your journey is a huge boost to the self-image!

It was a hot summer day that was only relieved by a fan, a sprinkler, or a tank top. The air was thick and the sun unforgiving. It was also on that day that my 65-year old client told me that she wore her first tank top in years!

She took a chance and had a moment of “who cares” clarity and slipped into her tank top, showing the world, and herself, that she could do it. And, learning that she looked and felt amazing showing off her newly toned arms.

You have one chance to truly experience life without constraints and with full freedom.

You have one chance at living this life with pure engagement and happiness.

Your life deserves to sparkle, my beautiful friend.

Feel the summer sun on your bare arms and let your body move and dance when the moment inspires you. Embrace your life so that you can look back at any moment and say, “Wow, life is amazing!”

“And, so am I.”

Want more?

Join my Patreon and become part of my garden of wild flowers! Not only will you be part of the exclusive content that I ONLY share with my Patreon members, but you will also be helping a community of holistic health like-minded people push forward!

And, if you are not getting my weekly emails…

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I love inspiration through story-telling! If you liked this article, then you will love my other blogs.

Click here to get my Free 10-day body reset detox guide. You will become part of my tribe and get weekly blogs delivered straight to your inbox (along with a free gift and other insider tips that only my tribe will get)!

6 Blood Sugar Tips For More Energy, Happiness, And Weight-Loss

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According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2018, 34.2 million Americans, or 10.5% of the population, had diabetes. And, in 2015, 88 million Americans age 18 and older had prediabetes. 

Alarming as that may sound, you may be sitting here thinking that just can’t be true. But then you think about your grandma who was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and your coworker that has to “watch her sugar” or your friend who was warned that she was pre diabetic. Maybe it is even you!

Cue the mental visions of chocolate chip cookies dancing in your head while you ride down a slope of vanilla icing on your chocolate bar raft. Mmmmmm…

Wait, reality check —

Maybe that is going to far, but the struggle is real!  There is great reason for the upswing in diabetes and pre-diabetes cases. Sugar is everywhere we turn!

It is in donuts and cookies and cakes. It is in ketchup and spaghetti sauce and salad dressings. It is peanut butter — seriously, peanut butter? 

Even if you do not directly deal with a diagnosed blood sugar issue, you want to be aware of how it can affect you. 

Sugar is a sneaky little devil. It is put into your food (or naturally occurs) which is then absorbed by the body and, when continually bombarded with the white sweetness, your body can start to react defensively and you, my friend, could eventually have an unregulated blood sugar diagnosis. 

Even before the long term effects, blood sugar handling, or the way your body responds to the amount of sugar in your body, could cause concern in your health — weight gain, hormonal imbalances, stress, cravings, fatigue, depression, anxiety, just to name a few. 

Seriously, why is there added sugar in peanut butter?

If that is not enough to get you a little knocked off your rocker, then consider this — Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2017 based on the 83,564 death certificates in which diabetes was listed as the underlying cause of death. In 2017, diabetes was mentioned as a cause of death in a total of 270,702 certificates.

This is not meant to be a scare tactic. It is a sneak peak into the effects that out of control sugar consumption can have on your health. And, why getting your blood sugar handling under control is one of the very basic foundations of health that can quickly boost your health and serve you for a lifetime.

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Here are some starting points to get your blood sugar moving in the right direction:

  1. Your first meal of the day. This is your power meal. It can set your blood sugar up to be regulated in a smooth way that feels like you are riding the energy train right through Good Moodville all day long. Or, it can set you up for your body to have difficulty handling your blood sugar, leaving you on a wild roller coaster ride of emotional ups and downs, draining your energy tank the whole way through. How do you create your power meal? Start your day off with some high quality proteins and fats. You can have carbohydrates, but depending on your own unique body, it may be best to limit them, keep them low glycemic, or eliminate them all together. The key here is the protein and fats. What would this look like? You could try 2 scrambled, pastured-raised eggs with 1/2 sliced avocado and a 1/2 cup of your favorite berries. Or, you could try 1 cup of organic greek yogurt with 1/4 cup walnuts and 1-2 tablespoons of hemp seeds sprinkled with cinnamon. Yum!
  2. Quality matters. Sugar in the body is sugar. Yes — this is true. But not all sugar and foods that break down into simple sugars are the same. Some break down slower and some foods with sugar add more nutrients in the body. Some sugars are better absorbed and used to fuel us throughout the day. Eating carbohydrates that are more starchy and rich in fiber will be broken down slower, add more nutrients and usable components to keep us healthy, and create a source of fuel that is more of a slower burn (think big logs on a fire rather than small, quick-burning kindling). Those are called complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates are like the kindling — they burn quick and give you bursts of energy, but, without something to slow down the burn (i.e., proteins, fats, and fiber), they can easily spike your blood sugar and cause it to drop dramatically. What does this look like in real life? Complex carbs are foods like brown rice, potatoes, vegetables, quinoa, etc. Simple carbs are foods like candy, fruit, honey, maple syrup, etc. The more that a food or meal has of these components, the more it can affect your blood sugar levels. Remember, quality matters! Eating foods that are more whole food based and not processed or packaged will also help to stabilize your blood sugar by taking stress off the body and giving your body food and nutrients that it knows how to break down more easily!
  3. Hidden sugars. Sugar can be hidden everywhere! If your diet consists of a lot of packaged foods, then I encourage you to definitely read the labels. You might be surprised how much sugar is added into foods that you would never think would have sugar. Again, why does peanut butter have sugar? Below is a list that Women’s Health had released that gives you some ideas of sneaky hidden sugar names. It is like a list of fake ID names — you never know what name the food industry may be calling the sugar trying to be slipped into your food! sugar-names-0-1492612561
  4. Low VS High glycemic. This tip relates to tip #2, yet it goes a little deeper. Some foods fall higher on the glycemic index than do others. Why should you care? Lower glycemic foods are more slowly digested, absorbed and metabolized and cause a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and, therefore insulin levels. Layman’s terms? Blood sugar stays more even and you feel more energy and even keel in your moods. What can you do? Go to the glycemic index website and choose many foods that are on the low end of the index. Not all foods have to be low and they shouldn’t be — there are some very healthy foods that are high glycemic. I just advise that you eat them less often or you time them around your workouts or activities that require you to burn more glucose, the fuel that your body uses. 
  5. Don’t eat it alone. This is especially true for diabetics and pre-diabetics, but it is a good habit to get under your proverbial belt now. Eating carbs, especially simple carbs, by themselves could cause dramatic spikes in your blood sugar. If the food doesn’t have fiber or protein or fat to slow down the burn, it could really affect you. Rumbly tummy? If you do find yourself getting bloated or gassy or digestively distressed from this, it is also healthy practice to slightly space out some of those simple carbs because of their ability to ferment in the stomach with certain foods. For example, if you eat fruit with a meal, have your fruit 15 minutes prior to your meal.

    woman smelling bread
    Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com
  6. Stay away from mindless eating. Our gut health and our digestion actually starts in the brain.  Crazy, right? No so much! When we are stressed or eating in a stressed environment, this causes our digestion and ability to digest our food to get a little wonky and not operate as effectively. And, when we are not paying attention to our food, we may eat more and feel less satisfied. There are two common mindless eating environments that happen — First, eating at your desk at work while you are working or even eating while driving in your car. Both of these are being done mindlessly, but also in a potentially stressed environment. You are less likely to pay attention to how the food is tasting and feeling and smelling, which then decreases your satiety and can increase your cravings for more. The second common environment is sitting in front of the tv or a computer screen and snacking. You may not be stressed, but you do have the mindless component! When you are not paying attention, it is so easy to get lost in the bag and not even come back to reality until your hand hits the bottom. Make sure that when you do eat, it is mindful and you are connected into what you are eating. It is also super duper important to eat your food somewhere that feels comforting or low stress. Both of these tactics will cause you to eat less and feel more satisfied, but they will also more likely keep your cravings at bay as the day moves on!

Stabilizing your blood sugar so that you feel at your best all day long is not impossible, but it does take some attention. These 6 tips are an effective place for you start and help get your energy and your blood sugar under control!

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