What do you think?
What do you think?
Like heroin, cocaine and caffeine, sugar is an addictive, destructive drug, yet we consume it daily in everything from cigarettes to bread.
–William Dufty, author of Sugar Blues.
It is that time of year again (Lent) when many people choose to give something up for 40 days. This year I have been reading on a number of blogs and hearing from friends that they will be giving up sugar or sweets. I had a friend ask about tips for giving up sugar here are my top 5 tips:
1. Chew More! Saliva breaks down food into simple sugars, creating a sweet taste. The more we chew, the sweeter our food becomes, so we don’t crave those after-meal sweets. Chewing also reduces digestive distress and improves assimilation, allowing our bodies to absorb maximum nutrition from each bite of food.
2. Eat more grains, beans, vegetables and fruit. Unprocessed, sugar contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and proteins. When whole grains are cooked, chewed and digested, the natural carbohydrates break down uniformly into separate glucose molecules. These molecules enter the bloodstream, where they are burned smoothly and evenly, allowing your body to absorb all the good stuff.
3. Be aware of hidden sugars. The recommended daily intake of sugar is 10 teaspoons. There are many “healthy” foods that contain massive amounts of sugar for example a lemon poppy seed Clif Bar has 21 grams of sugar, or 5 teaspoons. The worst part is that a chocolate-glazed cake donut from Dunkin’ Donuts, has less sugar at 14 grams/3 teaspoons than its “healthy” counterpart. Additionally, don’t forget about your morning or afternoon Starbucks run that Grande Frappuccino actually contains 44 grams of sugar, or 10 teaspoons- a full days allowance!
4. Eat balance foods and find balance in your life. If you focus on eating foods that make us feel balanced you can naturally reduce cravings and feel healthier and happier. Balanced Foods include: Brown rice; Whole grains: brown rice, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, oats; Vegetables: squash, carrots, parsnips, onions, broccoli, mushrooms, etc.; Dark, leafy greens; Beans and legumes. Along with eating balanced foods you also need to take time to make sure you are finding balance in all other aspects of your life including your relationships, physical activity, spirituality and career. When you have balance in all of these you will then find that your cravings will start to disappear.
5. DRINK WATER! One of the primary causes of cravings is dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water. However like everything else you need to find a balance because excess water can also cause cravings; don’t over hydrate.
Whole grains are an excellent source of nutrition, as they contain iron, dietary fiber and vitamin E and B Vitamins. They are also absorbed slowly providing sustained and high-quality energy. To aid in digestion it is best to soak grains prior to cooking*; soaking helps to eliminate phytic acid which is what causes gas.
Beans can be a great source of fiber, protein and folic acid. For more information on beans and how to make them more digestible you can refer to this post – Beans, Beans, The Magical Fruit…
Greens are a great source of calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K; as well as fiber and folic acid. Some of the benefits of eating dark leafy greens are:
-Strengthened immune system
The best choices for greens are bok choy, napa cabbage, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, broccoli rabe and dandelion. Other good options are green cabbage, arugula, endive, chicory, lettuce, mesclun and wild greens. Spinach, Swiss chard and beet greens are good as well but should be eaten in moderation because they are high in oxalic acid, which depletes calcium from the bones and teeth; best eaten with tofu, seeds, nuts, beams, or oil to balance the effects of the oxalic acid.
*Whole Wheat Couscous is technically not a grain but rather a pasta product made from wheat and doesn’t require soaking.
Tonight I decided to try some new heirloom beans that I picked up at the health food store; I boiled them until tender and the sauteed them with garlic, shallot, olive oil and cremini mushrooms tossed with a little nutritional yeast and Braggs. I placed the beans on top of a bed of lettuce and a scoop of whole wheat couscous and topped with a little avocado.
This year is all about setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals aka Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Tangible Goals. Last night the Hubz and I kept it pretty low key with homemade tempura veggies, martinis and too many episodes of House Hunters. We also took a minute to sit down and work on our goals for the new year.
I wasn’t quite as successful last regarding my goals- you can checkout how everything went here.
I know that this year I am setting goals that I can complete and look forward to the adventure.
1. Attend a blogger conference – this might be a slight cheater one but I will be attending Vida Vegan Blog Conference . After a long discussion with the Hubz we finally decided that we would make the trip to PDX for the conference and we are looking forward to it.
2. Do an overnight backpacking trip on the Long Trail- this is one of the goals the Hubz and I have together. He has developed a new found love for hiking and I am warming up to it as well. I have decided that this year I want to try new things and challenge myself and an overnight backpacking trip will definitely be a challenge worth doing.
3. Run a 5k- As you will see this is one of my goals from last year that I totally failed on. I decided that I am still wanting to challenge myself athletically and put this back on my list to give myself a second chance.
4. Blog with a purpose- I have decided that I really need to take more time with my blogging and write high quality blog posts. I do not want to pressure myself to write everyday but write when I want to and only submit post that I am proud of.
5. Embrace Health Counseling- I will receive my health counseling certification in April. I currently am able to counsel but I only have a limited number of clients. This year I would like to increase my clients, work on marketing my business and teach a health/nutrition related course at a local gym, co-op or health food shop.
Other things I want to do in 2011:
What are your goals for 2011?
Acknowledge your cravings and what to avoid:
Top 5 Tips:
Eating a healthy vegan diet isn’t as complicated as you might think with a few key tips you can be on your way to eating a healthy, balanced and delicious vegan diet. The key to eating a healthy vegan diet, or any diet for that matter is to keep it simple. I know that there are a number of great vegan cookbooks and recipes blogs out there with elaborate vegan dishes which can be intimidating. However eating vegan doesn’t have to be complicated; keep it simple and save those more elaborate dishes for parties and weekends when you have more time to fuss over your meal.
What does keeping it simple look like?
When you keep things simple it only takes a matter of 10 or 15 minutes to make a healthy, nutritious and delicious meal. When you do want to spice things up a bit and try that really great recipe you found take the time to do it when you have the time. Make sure when you are picking recipes look for ones that are low in sugar, fat and other processed ingredients. I also recommend eating organic when possible especially keep in mind the “dirty dozen”http://www.organic.org/articles/showarticle/article-214 the most contaminated vegetables. I know that cost is a concern but a great way to eat organic vegetables for less and support local farms is to find a CSA in your area or visit a local farmers market; you cut out the middle man which lowers the cost to you.