Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Foods to undo some of the holiday bulls#!t

Last night Carolyn and I had a talk to give. If you’re in NYC,  you know that it was an insanely rainy night. So, like the true professionals we are, we emailed our host 10 times saying “are you sure we’re on, it’s so bad out maybe people would like to do another night?” We were on and, as is often the case when you least expect it, it was great. We had a smart/fun group in a small, swanky 51st floor room. There was booze we didn’t drink and chandeliers we did NOT swing from (we didn’t know these people yet). The topic was top 10 foods you should eat to undo holiday damage.

Issue: Hangovers
Shockingly over 20% of people do not experience hangovers. Most of us do. Try our 1 for 1 rule and have 1 water for every drink you have or just stick to 1 drink (some people can do this). If you overdo it, think ginger. Most hangover issues stem from inflammation. We like Wakaya ginger Mix it with water after you drink or next morning or be like us and plop some in your clear spirit of choice.
Honorable  hangover mentions:  coconut water, eggs, vitamin B12
Skip: hair of the dog or bacon egg and cheese rituals

Issue: Sweet tooth (or teeth)
Sweets are a big issue this time of year or really every time of year. If sweets are your kryptonite- be ferm! I’m talking fermented foods. Your gut is really the control tower for your body and what’s going on there affects your cravings, especially sweet cravings. The “top shelf” ferm(ented) foods are  fermented  veggies (farmhouse kraut, bubbles pickles and BAO are great brands) & kefir (sort of turbo yogurt when it comes to probiotic count).

Issue- Dry, gross skin
Winter, sugar, booze and too much time inside = parched, sad skin.
If you haven’t started collagening, you have 2 choices:
collagen powder or bone broth. In NYC check out the new brodo shops west village and Bryant park.

Issue: Zero Energy 
First I’ll remind you to sleep more and hydrate (professional obligation). If you want a little metabolism boost, make that water ice cold. If  you’re seekinga more interesting upper, drink matcha. Matcha, because you consume the whole leaf via this pretty powder, puts plain old green tea to shame.
Matcha gives you a push without making you jittery. It revives you and calms you down at once, impressive. If you’re really feeling low, drink matcha with brain octane in it and thank me when you decide to take a break hours later.

Issue: Stress!!!
Once upon a time there was a mineral called magnesium. This super-crucial mineral helps you chill out and keeps your metabolism humming along. However, there’s also a demon called stress that runs around the city scopping up magnesium. I don’t’ know where I’m going with this but most of us are deficient in magnesium which means both our mood and metabolism are subpar.
Don’t freak out. I love magnesium bath flakes (Naturopathica makes amazing ones), you can supplement magnesium (we love pure encapsulations or natural calm packets). And you can eat real, potent dark chocolate, 70% or > and avocado morning, noon and night.

Issue: family 
Solution: I’ll get back to you on this one, Foodtraining can only fix so much.

Happy Holidays! Cheers to not feeling like Santa at the end of this season.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Don't be burned but heartburn meds

If you’re someone who takes medicine daily, any medicine, it’s important to step back and consider whether you still need to be taking it. I’d also brush up on the side effects. While I’d love doctors to focus on getting patients off unnecessary meds, let’s face it medicine is a business. But if you, or someone close to you, are one of the 15 million Americans who take a certain type of acid blockers, there are some serious side effects.

There is a class of acid blocking (“heartburn”) meds called PPIs. Examples of PPI’s are Prevacid, Nexium and Prilosec. The concerns about taking these meds long-term have been out there; however, almost daily I have a client in my office who feels they’re totally safe.

Whenever I see one of these meds in a new client’s chart I ask a few questions.
How long have you been taking this medication?
Have you tried going off of it?
What modifications do you make in your diet for your reflux or heartburn?
The answers are quite similar. Most clients have been on their acid blockers for a while- usually years. They haven’t tried to discontinue them and they “can eat anything on these meds so there’s no need to change their diets.” Sigh. It’s so backward. The meds are like pain killers; they aren’t improving the condition. And just because you “can eat anything” doesn’t mean you should.

Stomach acid has important functions. We need an acidic environment for maximum vitamin and mineral absorption. On PPIs you see more bone fractures because calcium absorption is compromised. There have been cardiac side effects researched as well. There is an increased heart attack risk on PPIs. There’s also less gut diversity or less “good” bacteria when there’s less acid. Our gut flora is connected to mood and food cravings. Stomach acid helps digestion and prevents infection.

These meds should be used short term or occasionally. If you are interested in going off of your PPIs, you need to wean yourself gradually you can have rebound symptoms. As you decrease your dose, address your diet. For starters, try decreasing alcohol, sugar and caffeine. You can try a spoonful of apple cider vinegar diluted with water before meals. I also like a probiotic, vitamin D and glutamine supplement to restore your gut health.

While I only focused on these acid-blocking medications, talk to your physician if you are interested in discontinuing a particular drug. And yes, there are certain cases where you absolutely need a particular med, even the acid blockers. More often than not, this isn’t the case.

Friday, November 4, 2016

If the Halloween candy "called" you, here's why

 Via Vo/shutter stock
There’s a definite pattern when it comes to adults and Halloween candy. Many adults resist candy on Halloween. Then, the next day if it’s in the house or at the office they start to pick. “Just a couple” pieces here, a couple there. The same thing goes for Thanksgiving. Day of, many clients are on plan. The next day? The leftovers take them down.
Why is this? Many people make a decision, ahead of time, not to eat candy on Halloween or not to eat the 5,000 calorie meal on Thanksgiving. It’s clear what the plan is for the holiday itself. The day after? There’s no plan for that and so deliberation begins. “Should I have it?”  and this line of questioning rarely ends well.

I read a thought-provoking Vox article, “the myth of self-control”. The first portion of the article is a little depressing as the case is made that it’s super tricky to pass things up. “Human beings are terrible at resisting temptation.” Then came the  interesting part. “The people who are really good at self-control never have these battles in first place.” It’s not that some people have more willpower, it’s that some people avoid having to exert it.

If you want to avoid the exhaustion that comes with fending food (or other temptations for that matter) off some ideas:

I talk about this throughout The Little Book of Thin. The fewer food decisions you make on the spot, the better. When you’re staring face to face with the muffin tray and negotiating, your odds are slim. A Foodstalking client has a coworker with a candy bowl or “bowl of bullshit” as she calls it. The bowl was her downfall every afternoon. “One or two things only” wasn’t cutting it. Instead she called out of B.O. B. and put it on her “no” list. No piece here or piece there, no contemplating no bullshit…period.

Reminders and reinforcement
 In research mentioned in the article, people were texted reminders of their goals to help them make good choices. A couple of years ago, we started our Foodstalking program. We were astounded by the success and demand for spots. In this email-based program, we are in touch with clients daily. This encouragement and accountability helps establish new behaviors. Having a buddy is another way of doing this. Enlist a friend or coworker (spouses aren’t best idea for this) and work together to skip the candy, make it to your workouts etc.

 “No candy” for some sounds daunting. In order to avoid the bowl of bullshit, my client has an RX Bar at 3pm every day. You can replace a food with a food or it can be a behavior. Taking a walk after dinner or meeting a friend for a workout instead of a drink are other examples of substitution.

So don’t beat yourself up for a slip. Instead, backtrack and see where you could’ve avoided that temptation all together. I’ll remind you about this  again before Thanksgiving and leftovers come into play.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Is food an issue in your relationship?

Sure you want to eat that?
What are you uncomfortable discussing? Sex? Money matters? I would normally add politics to this list but most of us have extinguished that fear this election season. Today I’m shooting a news segment on couples and food. The producer joked to me “it’s easier to get heroin users to talk to us.” I sent a few emails to clients and friends. We have two women and one man on board to open up about food differences in their relationships. However, the majority of the responses I received went something like “this is a huge issue for us but I’m not sure we want to air our dirty laundry.” Really? We weren’t asking people to strip naked. Rather “he’s a health nut and I’m not” that sort of thing.

When a client enters into a new relationship I always ask, “what kind of an eater are they?” While this may seem unimportant initially, while everyone is on good behavior, you eat three times a day, it will matter. If you love to stay home and cook and he wants to go out every night OR he is gluten free and you are “gluten full” you need a game plan.

No need to completely convert
“We need to work on his eating” a client told me last week referring to her boyfriend.
“No we don’t” I said. Let’s work on your eating. As long as your partner isn’t AGAINST your eating regime, you’re ok. We don’t expect our significant other so think the same way we do and so they don’t need to eat the same exact way either.
My husband loves golf, I promise you he spends more hours golfing than eating. I tried it and I don’t love golf (understatement alert). He doesn’t expect me to golf, we’re good.

Metabolism Matters
When it comes to eating, metabolism, gender and age affect how much you should or can eat.
A tiny woman shouldn’t match a big guy or you’ll have relationship weight gain.

Homemade Helps
Cooking at home allows you to share the experience of meal prep and menu selection. If one person likes fries or steak, you can make baked fries or sweet potato fries and grass-fed steak. Or, you can add a veg for the healthier eater. There’s usually that Venn diagram overlap or some common ground.

No Food Advice While Eating
This is the same advice I give to parents of teens.
“Are you sure you want to eat that?” is never going to be met with “oh you’re right, I don’t’ want to eat that.” If you’re going to say you’re worried about their health, I am sure but don’t worry about it at the table. There is nothing sexy about policing your mate.

Finally, as I said in my blog last week, let’s not be so shy about this. Whether you’re in a new relationship or a longstanding one you can discuss food and eating. Just don’t contact Foodtrainers for “couples Foodtraining” we don’t offer that service for a reason.
We're not on camera, tell me about your relationship food issues. Do you and your partner eat similarly? Was that always the case? If you do not, what do you do to compromise?
And finally, happy halloween...if you missed it here is a link to our "healthy sweets you can eat newsletter".

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Are you thinking about food at the expense of other things

You can be successful in every area of your life and fucked up with food. Oftentimes, you can’t even take in that success if “food stuff” is casting a pall. I recently watched an interview Oprah did with songwriter/composer Carole Bayer Sager (pictured above with the "That's What Friends Are For" crew). Carole described the semi-spiritual way she approaches writing. She spoke of her desire is to help people feel less alone via her songs. There’s a universality to her lyrics that always made her seem like someone who got it. But you can “get it” and not internalize it. 

As the interview moved along Oprah, as Oprah tends to do, delved into Carole’s personal history. In her words, she was a cubby child born to a narcissistic mother. Carole shared a memory where her mother said “fatty, walk behind me”. As we know, those comments sting and stick. I watched his (almost 70 year old?) accomplished, beautiful woman say she had never solved her relationship with food. That chatter over what to eat when to eat and whether she’s eating correctly lingered. That residue of being the “fatty” accompanied her to the Oscars and the songwriters’ hall of fame.

The next day, a story about figure skater Gracie Gold circulated. The first bits I read were that Gracie Gold attributed recent, poor performances to weight gain. Now, Gold is an athlete and her body plays an important role in her results. But when I looked at her performance video I saw a slender, graceful woman. Nobody knows if a couple of pounds on a small frame affected her balance or skills. I don’t know the details about her weight history. What I do know is that one of the top skaters in the world was giving a press conference about her weight.

There are no easy answers here. The more body and weight issues are discussed openly, the more they can be addressed. Many of these issues are traceable to a comment or a crisis (Gold also mentioned she had been depressed) and I can assure you most people have them. New clients often talk about “food noise”. My reply and feeling is that having a system for our nutrition can displace some emotion, can quiet things. But I’ve learned that body image and weight issues do not necessarily fade with age. Like our mental state, there’s a range . We don’t expect to 100% happy and I don’t think we can expect to 100% at peace with our food or bodies either.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

10 tips for an easy fast (and the ultimate fasting secret)

It's not a turnip
I don’t fast for religious purposes but I have many religious and semi-religious clients who fast on Yom Kippur. We've been known to suggest non-religious lent so there’s no reason why everyone can't fast or atone. If you do, some tips:
  1. Don’t feast before you fast- I get the “last supper” (wrong religion I realize) tendency to feast before you fast but that leaves you feeling gross and, more importantly, makes your fast more difficult. Have a dinner portion you’d call skimpy if you were served it at a restaurant.
  2. Fat is your friend- fats take a long time to digest thus providing more staying power. Include avocado (taco Tuesday meets Yom), coconut oil, ghee or tahini in your dinner before you fast.
  3. Go green- fat and fiber are the magic combination, have two cups of green vegetables with dinner (just skip asparagus). 
  4. Portion your  protein- you can have fish or roasted chicken at dinner but protein uses up a lot of water as it digests, so aim for palm-sized portion max.
  5. Drink until you sink :) in the PM hours before a fast have a class of water or herbal tea per hour.
  6. Take a shot- combine 1Tbs apple cider vinegar, a dash of cinnamon and a lemon squeeze in a shot class and bottom's up before dinner (bottoms will come into play in tip #9). This will help balance your blood sugar.
  7. Take D3 to be less hungry- vitamin D decreases appetite, it also helps your body's melatonin relax you. Take your vitamin D after dinner.
  8. 8 is great- be sure to get your sleep before a fast,  less sleep means more hunger. Eight hours of sleep will set you up perfectly.
  9. Another way to get caffeine-try a caffeine suppository. I had 2 orthodox clients mention this so I guess it’s not cheating. It seems silly that the other end is fair game but I don't make the rules. Tylenol makes caffeine suppositories and they will help you remain headache free when fasting. "The fast is best thought of as an instrument to achieve greater things. And so there’s nothing wrong with making your fast as easy as possible, within reason" says a smart rabbi. Why suffer?
  10. Better not bagel! Let’s be honest, even if you’re fasting for religious purposes, a little weight loss never hurt. Or, why gain weight after you spent day fasting? Don’t bagel,  BYO Bagel substitutes such as Organ crackers or Siete, almond flour wraps.
For more fasting thoughts, check out this article from Prevention I was quoted in.
A healthy and happy new year to you! Any other fasting tips or tricks you'd like to share?