Thinking About Cutting Out Meat? Here’s What You Should Know

As someone who lives a mostly vegetarian lifestyle (besides when buffalo chicken dip is present), I’ve taken a lot of time figuring out which way of eating works best for me and makes me feel fueled and healthy. It certainly wasn’t easy for me at first! I was used to eating chicken every single day, and I very quickly felt the effects of cutting it out – but not specifically because I was giving up meat. It was because I was swapping it for way too many carbohydrates, not getting in enough vitamin B12, and didn’t educate myself on healthy vegetarian proteins. I essentially went in a bit blind not knowing what I should be eating and what nutrients I should be conscious about, which left me tired and cranky on most days.

 Ever tried doing meatless Monday’s? Reducing meat consumption has become much more popular as of late due to media shedding light on the health benefits of a plant-based diet, as well as how it impacts our environment and climate. To name a few, health benefits of a plant-based diet include being naturally high in fiber, low in saturated fat, and rich in phytochemicals.

 While vegetarianism or veganism isn’t for everyone, I believe we all can do our part to be conscious of how much meat we’re consuming on a weekly basis. Now, if you are someone that is looking to drastically cut back or go full-blown vegetarian, there are some things you should keep in mind.

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1.      Watch out for nutrient deficiencies

 Like I mentioned, I was severely unaware of my need for vitamin B12 once going meat free. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in cells. This is a vitamin that only naturally occurs in animal products – meat, fish, and eggs, as well as some dairy. But that’s not all. Nutrients such as vitamin D, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids are also nutrients you should make sure you’re getting in consistently. Some plant-based sources of omega-3’s include chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, and brussels sprouts. If you still enjoy fish, you can get both vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids from salmon (hopefully wild-caught), and other fish too. For vitamin B12, you can obtain it from fortified foods, nutritional yeast, or a quality supplement/multivitamin. I’ll talk more on iron next!

 2.      Not all sources of iron are created equal

 If you don’t have enough iron, your body can’t make enough oxygen carrying red-blood cells and you end up with anemia. There are two forms of dietary iron: heme and non-heme. Heme iron is found only in meat, poultry, and seafood, while non-heme iron is found in both animal and plant-based foods such as grains, beans, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. The way our bodies absorb these two types of iron is very different. Heme is much more easily absorbed than non-heme iron, thus posing an issue for vegetarians/vegans getting enough. If you consume eggs, dairy, and fish, this isn’t as much of a concern for you! However, if you limit those foods along with meat, it’s important that you eat an abundance of non-heme iron-rich foods. Examples include soybeans, lentils, cooked spinach, tofu, chickpeas, beans, seeds, and nuts.

 3.      Be wary of fake meat products

 Our food industry has quickly picked up on the fact that people are more and more interested in cutting back in their meat consumption. Thus, instigating a plethora of vegetarian and “fake meat” products on the market. While it’s amazing that the industry is giving us more options than ever, some of them are still overly processed and contain ingredients less than worthy of being in our bodies on a consistent basis. A good rule of thumb is to always look at the ingredient list. Are there quite a few words you don’t understand in your fake meat product such as preservatives, additives, or chemicals? Try only eating those foods sparingly/once in a while and focus on vegetarian products that are made with real food ingredients, or proteins like tofu, tempeh, and lentils.

 4.      Variety in your diet is essential

 Another mistake I made right off the bat was leaning on quinoa, beans, and a lot of veggie straws for who knows how many weeks in a row. I don’t know about you, but I can only handle so many servings of beans, if you catch my drift. Like I mentioned above, getting in those nutrients from a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains is essential to making sure you’re feeling sustained and energized. Be your own nutritionist! Take a look at what you’re eating every day. Does it tend to be the exact same foods? Do your meals consist of similar ingredients throughout the day? Something I always try to do is buy two “new” fruits and vegetables each week so that I’m working in different nutrients while also avoiding letting tons of food go back in my fridge. Experiment with various proteins and meal combinations – make it fun!

 5.      Reduce your meat intake at a pace that works for you

 If going cold-turkey is not your style, that’s a-okay. I often suggest to clients that if they’re interested in going meatless, try starting with a couple dinners a week, then a few lunches, and finally a full 5-day work week. Work your way up at a speed that feels comfortable and feasible to you. Every little bit counts and will make a difference if that’s your goal!

 Going meat free doesn’t have to be hard! Having the education to set you up for a smooth dietary transition will be the key to your success. And if you come to find it’s not for you, that’s okay too. No one’s going to come knocking at your door to yell at you because you decided to eat meat again… promise!

The Importance of Choosing Organic

The Importance of Choosing Organic

Did you know: The U.S. uses 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides a year, but only a mere .01 percent actually reach the intended target: bugs. And where do the rest go? Our food, air, and water. Mmm, tasty!

 Pesticides, which are now present in 70 percent of produce in the U.S., are linked to cancer, hormone and metabolic disruption, blood disorders, reproduction effects, and neurological disorders. Oh, goody!

Have You Eaten Your Fiber Today?

Have You Eaten Your Fiber Today?

At this point, you might be sick and tired of me talking about gut health. But folks, it’s THAT important! Getting in adequate fiber each day, both soluble and insoluble, is essential to our health in more ways than one. Sure, we know fiber helps you poop (sorry, I said it). But why is being regular a sign of a healthy gut in general?

 We know that by having bowel movements we are excreting waste, which includes substances such as excess hormones, cholesterol, and toxins that we want the body to be rid of. When we’re unable to have bowel movements regularly, such as when we become constipated, we risk letting those hormones and toxins circulate back into the body. When this happens, our fat cells want to hold onto these hormones and toxins and store them, which can lead to stubborn weight loss because our bodies don’t want those substances being released back into the blood stream.

Master Mindful Eating in 5 Steps

Master Mindful Eating in 5 Steps

Take a minute as you begin reading this to think about your habits surrounding the way you eat meals and snacks. Do you go through the motions of the day scarfing down the first thing you see just to squash the feelings of ravenous hunger? Or maybe it’s the opposite and you eat at 8am, 12pm, and 6pm on the dot because that’s scheduled time for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, regardless of your hunger levels.

Ever have instances of “fog eating” where your hand somehow manages to bring food to your face for 20 minutes straight, and then low and behold, you come to realize you’ve eaten almost an entire box of Wheat Thins all while watching a mind numbing tv show? Or maybe you’re like me and manage to inhale a whole basket of tortilla chips at Condados without blinking an eye. We’ve all been there. It’s easy to eat food mindlessly if we’re not used to focusing on our hunger levels or setting an intention for our meals. What does setting an intention for eating even mean, anyway? Is that some sort of new and trendy millennial tip? No, but here I am, a millennial, giving you advice on what to do when you sit down for your next meal. 

7 Ways to Combat Those Pesky Sugar Cravings

7 Ways to Combat Those Pesky Sugar Cravings

If you’re anything like me, you really, REALLY like sugar. Honestly though, who doesn’t? (If that’s you, you’re in the minority and I don’t trust you). Jokes aside, sugar IS a prominent ingredient in the American food industry, making it harder and harder to avoid the temptation to indulge in it every day. Oftentimes, we don’t even realize we’re consuming it! So how do we reduce these temptations and halt the hankering for cookies in its tracks? Try out these different options to get you back in control.

  1. Snack on fermented foods

Excess consumption of sugar can adversely affect the microflora in your gut. This imbalance of good to bad bacteria caused by refined sugar and carbohydrates act as part of the reason for why you crave MORE sugar. Fermented foods and drinks contain a range of probiotics (or good bacteria) that can help to restore this microflora and bring balance to your gut. Think raw sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, kombucha, kefir, and quality cultured yogurts. Try snacking on these when you feel a sugar craving coming on, or even when you don’t!

The Surprising Link Between Our Diet, Gut, and Seasonal Allergies

The Surprising Link Between Our Diet, Gut, and Seasonal Allergies

It's not unknown that the state of our gut plays a huge role in our overall health. 70% of our immune system resides in our gut. 70%!!!! That's huge. We also know that what we eat on a daily basis can either help or hurt our gut microbiome. Why is the gut microbiome so important? Well when our gut health is compromised, it directly affects our immune system. And seasonal allergies are the result of our immune system reacting to an external factor. See how it's all connected? A healthy gut = a well-functioning immune system = reduced seasonal allergies. An unbalanced gut that is "leaky" or not functioning well leaves us much more susceptible to illness, food sensitivities, seasonal allergies, and even autoimmune diseases in the long run. So what can we do to help keep our gut and immune system in tip top shape and plunder through this springtime sneezy, itchy-eyed madness?

5 Ingredients to Avoid to Detoxify Your Beauty Regimen

5 Ingredients to Avoid to Detoxify Your Beauty Regimen

It wasn't until this past year that I became more cognizant of some of the toxic ingredients hiding in every day products such as lotions, shampoos, face washes, and makeup. I certainly don't follow a completely toxin free life, however now that I'm more aware of what certain ingredients can do to my body, I'm ready to start weaning off of them and adding cleaner & greener products into my daily routine. After doing a workshop on how to reduce your toxic load, I realized how ignorant I've been about what the heck I'm putting onto my body and face. Studies showing results of endocrine disruption, exacerbated skin irritations, and increased damage to our organs (yes, your peach scented lotion could be doing this) has me motivated to pursue less toxic options. We know that endocrine disruption = hormone imbalance. And hormone imbalance can lead to loads of problems such as weight gain, fertility issues, gut irritations, abnormal sleeping patterns, etc. Sounds fun, right? Nah.

Here's five commonly used ingredients to start looking out for in your products.

How Intuitive Eating Can Change Your Mindset About Dieting for Good  

How Intuitive Eating Can Change Your Mindset About Dieting for Good   

When deciding upon an official name for my business, I knew I wanted it to represent not just me as an individual, but also my coaching style. Feed Your Intuition, aka FYI, gave me this idea that what we feed our minds is just as essential as what we feed our bodies. You can eat all the apples, egg whites, and spinach you want, but if your mind isn't in tune with your body and its needs, how can we fully reap the benefits of a healthy diet and lifestyle? When working with clients I am upfront about how I like to approach weight loss or diet changes. I'm not one to hand someone a meal plan and say, "okay, eat these meals for 6 weeks and you'll get results". What does that teach someone about how to best fuel their body and match their unique health history? If you ask any random person how successful they were on a diet that told them what they can and cannot eat and for how long to do it, they would probably tell you that not only did they hate the process, but that it didn't last.

5 Easy Ways to Relieve Holiday Digestive Stress

5 Easy Ways to Relieve Holiday Digestive Stress

If you're anything like me, you like to really indulge during the holidays with yummy homemade baked goods and drinks. Lots of wine, buttery potato dishes, pies, cheese, and let's not forget the breads. So. Much. Bread. Between Thanksgiving, holiday parties, Christmas, and New Years, there's a good chance we're eating lots of foods that don't exactly make us feel light as a feather the next day. And that's okay! The holidays are meant to be spent with friends and family while sharing your favorite foods and celebrating traditions. But have you noticed that through the month of December your gut seems to be a bit off? Reoccurring symptoms like excessive bloating, gas, stomach aches, sluggishness, slower digestion, cramps, etc. This is not uncommon! It's usually a sign that we ate more than our bodies could digest at once, or that a certain food just isn't sitting right with us. For many of us, these symptoms tend to pop up when we eat excessive dairy, gluten, or sugar.

Let’s Not Demonize Carbs

Let’s Not Demonize Carbs

Back in the 90's and early 2000's, we were told that a low-fat diet was the key to losing weight and staying healthy. Now, the tables have turned and we're told that a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates is the optimal way to burn fat and get shredded. Somehow the media and this new trendy diet has caused us to think that carbs are the reason we can't lose weight or look how we want in a bikini. There are so many factors that come into play when it comes to weight loss or even just maintaining a healthy weight in general. Things like genetics, inflammation, gut health, hormones, daily water intake, sleeping patterns, and timing of eating can all play a role in weight! Sounds frustrating and a bit overwhelming, right? Let me make it at least tiny bit less stressful for you. Carbohydrates are not your enemy and are most likely not the culprit for why you can't seem to lose the weight you want. The reality is, carbohydrates are the body's preferred energy source, and I believe we'd be doing ourselves a major disservice by denying ourselves the opportunity to truly enjoy them. Now, if you're eating refined carbs like chips, pretzels, white breads and pastas, and processed baked goods every day, that can not only interfere with your goals, but also affect your overall health. But if you tend to focus on complex carbs such as whole and sprouted grains, fiber rich fruits, potatoes, oats, and starchy vegetables, odds are that you're doing just fine in that department.

Omega-3's, 6's, and 9's...What's the Difference?

Omega-3's, 6's, and 9's...What's the Difference?

Most of us have heard about the importance of getting in our omega-3's. But what exactly is an omega-3? Well, it's technically an essential fatty acid, emphasis on the word "essential". This is a type of polyunsaturated fat (vs. a saturated fat) that cannot be produced by the body, therefore we have to look to food sources to obtain it. Omega-3 fatty acids aren't the only kind we should be paying attention to, however! There's also omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, all of which are extremely beneficial to the body and needed in particular quantities and from various sources. Almost every type of omega fatty acid has its own subtypes - confusing, right? Let me break down the types, sources, and benefits of each to help you understand why we need them and how we can get them in our diet on a daily basis.

What The Heck Do I Pack My Kid for Lunch?

What The Heck Do I Pack My Kid for Lunch?

I can still picture the homemade school lunches that my mom would pack for me every day perfectly. Natural peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread, usually a fruit like grapes, oranges, or an apple, goldfish, and an organic cheese stick. My mom never kept us from eating foods that we loved, but she did have her limits. For example, there was maybe two times ever that she let us have a Lunchable. Fruity Pebbles were definitely off limits due to the crazy artificial colors, and you could forget about Heinz Ez Squirt colored ketchups that were on the market at the time. But seriously, why was that ever a thing? I knew early on that packaged and processed meals were typically full of crap. As a kid, there were definitely times where I was jealous when my friends got to eat their pizza Lunchable, Trix yogurt, Yoohoo chocolate milk, or especially hot lunch from the cafeteria. I craved junk food just like any normal kid, but I already had some of the basic knowledge that allowed me to make educated choices. I was also one of the pickiest eaters around, so when my mom was able to feed me nutritious foods that I liked, that was an extra bonus.

Eat These 5 Cheap Superfoods to Optimize Skin and Gut Health

Eat These 5 Cheap Superfoods to Optimize Skin and Gut Health

It's unfortunate that the majority of healthy, organic, and local foods tend to be more expensive than their conventional counterparts. It can make eating clean and wholesome foods that much more challenging, stressful, and unappealing. As someone who is typically always on a budget, I've been there! That's why I like to buy foods that will give me a good bang for my buck, meaning I want to get a nutrient dense punch if I'm going to be spending my hard-earned dollars on it. While I've been able to find lots of different healthy foods for decent prices, I have a list of my top 5 nutrient-dense foods I always have stocked in the kitchen. I picked these 5 because not only are they fantastic for maintaining gut health, but they'll also help your face look like a ray of sunshine.

Which "diet" is right for you?

Which "diet" is right for you?

First, let me start off by saying that I think the way we view the word "diet" needs to drastically change. The connotation behind the word can bring up bouts of anxiety in people due to the stress that typically follows a strict dieting period. Almost every other day I hear someone describe the current diet they're trying out, whether it be keto, paleo, whole30, gluten-free, a juice cleanse, etc. People become frustrated over how their diets aren't working effectively or that they can't stay committed to their current meal plan. They're worried they won't obtain the results they want in a certain time period unless they restrict, restrict, restrict. What I keep seeing is that while many diets can be temporarily effective (meaning it results in weight loss), the body becomes confused on how to eat and process foods once people go back to their old way of eating. The media loves to amp up each new trend and diss the last one, causing people to think they've been doing it all wrong and sending them straight into the next trendy diet. Not only are our minds confused, but our bodies don't understand how to recalibrate appropriately with all this yo-yo dieting!

FYI, Your Gut Needs Love Too

FYI, Your Gut Needs Love Too

Gut health has become a widely popular topic in the field of health and nutrition the past decade, and honestly, it's about time. Your gut houses 70% of your body's immune cells, produces 95% of its serotonin (the neurotransmitter that regulates appetite, mood, sleep, etc), and acts as its own brain. Like, what? That means it's probably super important that we take extra good care of our gut every single day. We've been told for years that fiber is the way to keep our gut healthy - and that's extremely true - but there are so many other key components to keeping your gut healthy and everything running smoothly. Anyone here enjoy feeling moody, bloated, constipated, or gassy? Yeah, me neither. So the next time you're feeling grumpy and grumbly, try incorporating these steps into your daily routine to omit the next bout of gut dismay!

1. Eat your probiotics and prebiotics

Some of you reading this may already be taking a daily probiotic - and that's fantastic! But it is so important to incorporate whole foods into each meal that contain both probiotics, which are the good bacteria that make up your microbiome, and prebiotics, the food that feeds that good bacteria. It's all about diversity. By eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and high-quality cultured dairy (I'm not talking shredded taco cheese), you automatically help your gut receive tons of wonderfully beneficial bacteria that can improve your immune system, mood, energy levels, and even combat tons of common diseases. Some examples of foods loaded with probiotics include kombucha (I'm drinking GT's Kombucha as we speak), organic and grass-fed plain yogurt, kefir, tempeh (fermented soy), miso, kimchi, raw apple cider vinegar, saurkraut, and even pickles! (Please, not the kind with gross preservatives and coloring added).