Monday, September 22, 2014

Learning to Make the Right Choices at Mealtimes

Eating healthy may come easy to some but, for most of us, it is a difficult task to accomplish with all the temptation that surrounds us on a daily basis.  There are the notorious office potlucks, the ever easy fast food drive through, a quick microwaveable dinner and the unavoidable holiday parties that we encounter year after year.  When you throw in a full time job and kids into the mix, eating healthy and making good choices for meals can seem impossible.  Believe it or not, there are ways to eat healthy and make it convenient.  The important thing to remember is to incorporate foods you love so you don't feel deprived and find healthier ways to make them.  Below are some examples of foods and meal times when temptation and convenience may get the best of us.  Immediately following these examples, you'll find ways to solve the problem and make better, healthier choices for yourself and your family.

Breakfast is the meal that is skipped by more children and adults across the country than any other meal of the day.  The mornings tend to be so busy and rushed that there's hardly time to grab a cup of coffee.  Because of the lack of time, we tend to rely on unhealthy options such as bagels, donuts, toaster pastries and sausage sandwiches.  These options are laden with carbohydrates and unhealthy fats. They are also missing the key ingredient to keeping you full until lunch, protein! 

How do you eat healthy in the mornings and have time to drop the kids off before work?  Start with quick, healthy options such as the ones below:

--Shakeology (my personal favorite!)
--whole wheat toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter
--an apple and Greek yogurt with honey
--whole oats with dried fruit and chopped nuts
--a handful of almonds and a string cheese
--your favorite yogurt with granola and favorite fruit

All of the options above have the perfect balance of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats to give you the energy to start your day and help keep you full until it's time for lunch. Most can also be eaten on the go.

Lunch is also a meal that is rushed, either because it is only 30 minutes, you choose to work through it and sneak out of work early or you run errands and opt for a fast food burger in between.  Eating a healthy lunch doesn't mean you have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen the night before preparing it.  There are healthy lunch options you can take with you and also some you can pick up at your favorite fast food restaurant.  Instead of a greasy double cheeseburger, opt for:

--an apple, string cheese and a protein bar
--a veggie burger
--a grilled chicken sandwich sans mayo with mustard instead
--a grilled chicken salad with balsamic dressing
--Believe it or not, a kid's meal from any of the popular fast food chains. Kid's meals tend to have smaller portions (mini burgers) and offer healthy options for sides such as sliced apples.  If you're desperate and not in the mood for a salad, this can be an option. 

All of the options above are available at just about any fast food restaurant and most cost less than $3.

If you're the type of person that snacks all day long, carrying a small lunch box with you throughout the day, while at work or running errands, is a great way to avoid temptations.  Fill it with plenty of water, nuts, fruit, string cheese, whole wheat crackers and dried fruit.  This way you'll have food on hand when the hunger pangs begin and you won't be tempted to reach for those tempting mall pretzels or sugar filled cinnamon rolls. 

When it comes to dinner, there are endless options for healthy meals that taste as good as options you find in a restaurant. All you need to do is find healthy ingredients to make them with.  If you're craving tacos, make them at home with ground turkey.  Less fat, just as much protein and a fun family dinner you can make together.  If fried chicken is one of your favorite meal time staples, try baking it instead. Opt for breasts since white meat has less than half the fat of dark meat and use whole wheat or panko bread crumbs for a healthier alternative.

Dessert after dinner is almost always a must and one of our biggest diet pitfalls.  Luckily today there are many varieties of desserts that offer low fat, low sugar options.  Many of our favorite ice cream flavors are available with half the fat.  If you want milk and cookies or a slice of cake, make them at home and use applesauce instead of oil and eggs to lower the fat content.

No matter what you're craving, if it's unhealthy, there's most likely a healthier option out there waiting for you to find it.  All you need to do is make the choice to live a healthier, happier life by choosing to eat the right foods.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Top 10 + Benefits of Shakeology

Ok a little disclaimer first....I have to give credit to my friend Leslie who tried to get me to drink Shakeology for AT least a year and I was stubborn. I refused to give up my protein shake for Shakeology for a variety of reasons, the main one being cost.  I couldn't justify spending $3-4 per day on a nutrition shake when mine ended up only costing about $1 day.  I was happy with my protein shake and I don't like change.

Well, fast forward a few years and, after meeting an Elite Diamond Beachbody Coach, I became her social media manager and started helping her promote Beachbody and Shakeology. Well, this is when I started to really learn about Shakeology and see the many benefits it provides. So, I decided to give it a shot.  What can I lose? They offer a bottom of the bag guarantee so, if I'm not happy, even if I finish the whole bag, I can return it and get my money back!  So I tried it.....and so did my husband....and we are elated!! Not only does it totally justify kickin' my $4 per day Starbucks habit for this, the benefits far out weigh those of ANY other nutritional shake on the market!

The incredible difference it has made in our lives (and our kids' lives) is amazing.  Both of us have more energy, don't have that bloated feeling you get with a typical protein shake, we've each lost 4 lbs (after drinking it every morning for 2 weeks!) and (TMI alert) we are regular again after not being so regular due to the protein shake we used to drink!!  Now this is just the beginning.  Below you'll find another set of reasons that are CLINICALLY PROVEN and further explain why YOU should be drinking Shakeology.  And below that, you'll see some of my favorite Shakeology recipes! Enjoy and, if you want more information on Shakeology, contact me via this LINK.  By purchasing it through me, you get FREE fitness coaching, meal plans, grocery lists, recipes and much more!

  1. Boost your immune system
  2. Increase energy
  3. Aids in digestion
  4. Boosts metabolism
  5. Curbs unhealthy cravings
  6. Helps build and repair muscle
  7. Support brain function to help improve focus
  8. Promotes healthy skin, hair and nails
  9. Help reduce anxiety symptoms
  10. Low glycemic index food
  11. Gluten Free and Non-GMO
  12. Vegan options

In addition to the benefits it can provide adults, Shakeology has also been proven to improve mental focus and ADD/ADHD symptoms in children! How many nutritional shakes out there are even safe for children to drink?  Click on this LINK for a peek into an online forum of mothers discussing the wonders Shakeology has made in their kids' lives.  And Shakeology has even been proven to help improve focus in autistic children

Do you need any more reasons to drink it? How about the delicious recipes you can make with it! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

How is Sugar Making You Fat?

When the sugar free craze hit in the 80s, everyone started buying fat free everything! Fat free cookies, cakes, hot dogs, you name it, they bought it. Then they thought, if I eat this way, of course I'll lose fat and weight. I'm not eating fat so I'll lose fat. Well....WRONG! 

The problem with this mentality is that eating fat doesn't necessarily make you fat.  Our bodies need fat to function.  It helps with digestion and to keep our organs healthy, among other things.  We need healthy fats such as fats from Omega 3s from fish and from natural foods such as avocados, nuts, seeds and other natural foods.  The reason fat free foods don't help us lose weight is because the fat in those foods is replaced with added sugar.  And what happens to sugar when it's not burned and used for energy?  It turns into fat and is stored in our body's fat cells.  

So, the fat free craze ended up making people bigger instead of smaller because they thought they could eat as much of these fat free foods as they wanted because they didn't contain any fat.  The reality is, that the calorie count was still the same and the food was less nutritious than its full fat variety.  Eating the fat free foods also spiked diabetes in our country because of the increased sugar intake.  

So, what's the solution?  The same as it is for everything in life.  Eat sugar in moderation and get your sugar from natural sources such as fruits and vegetables.  Yup that's right! Vegetables have sugar and the sugar in them, along with fruits, is what your body needs. Not the sugar in candy, pastries, sodas and other packaged foods. 

So, how much sugar should we be eating per day? According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of sugar we should consume per day is 9 teaspoons or 37.5 grams for men and 6 teaspoons or 25 grams of sugar for women.  So, keep this number in mind and try to stay well below it. If you do consume sugar, make sure it's from a natural food source such as fruits and/or veggies!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Teach Your Kids Everything They Need to Know for Pre-K and Kinder with School Sparks

One other resource that I found invaluable for teaching your kids at home is the School Sparks website.  This website was designed by a former teacher and has thousands of worksheets on every topic you could imagine (including auditory processing, reading comprehension, fine motor skills and even holiday worksheets!)  One of the best ways to get your kids interested in learning at home is by starting with the holiday worksheets.  They are more interesting to them, more colorful and they get them into the spirit of the season.  Since we're in October, take a look at their Halloween worksheets and print some out at home to get your kids started. Click the link to get to the worksheets that you can print for FREE!

If you like the site, you may want to save money and order all of their worksheets in a bound book.  It includes over 450 of their best worksheets for only $28.  A great deal that was an excellent resource for me as well as many other mom friends that ordered it.  And by the way, I was not paid or compensated in any way to write this review on School Sparks.  I simply loved the site and had to tell other moms about it.  So check it out and use it with your kids. You'll be benefiting them more than you know and you'll be saving money on preschool too!