Stomach Ache RefluxMost people have experienced heartburn at some point in their life.  A few of us may have it every once in a while, but for others it is a daily occurrence.  During normal digestion food enters your stomach after chewing and is prevented from coming back up your esophagus by your lower esophageal sphincter (LES).  When heartburn occurs your LES is weak and allows your acidic stomach juices to flow back up into your esophagus.  This can be very painful and limiting, especially for those who experience it on a daily occurrence. Overtime the acidic stomach juices can irritate the esophageal lining and may even cause esophageal cancer.  The chronic condition of heartburn is known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Luckily,  I have some tips on how to manage heartburn with diet and lifestyle changes

1.  Limit/Avoid Trigger Foods- The most common trigger foods are mint, chocolate, and caffeinated drinks like coffee or soda.  These can cause the LES to have reduced pressure and therefore allow the stomach juices to flow back up into the esophagus. The key is to to make sure the LES is tight so nothing can get back into your esophagus.  Even if you eat acidic foods such as, tomatoes or oranges, this should not bother you because when the LES is working properly it should not allow stomach contents back up into the esophagus.  However, citrus, raw onions, tomatoes and spicy foods may aggravate symptoms even further.  It may help to keep a food diary to know which foods bother you the most.

2.  Limit/Avoid Alcohol & Smoking- Alcohol and smoking are notorious for lowering the pressure of the LES.  Everyone is a little bit different in their tolerance level.  Some people may be able to tolerate 1-2 drinks but other people may not be able to tolerate any drinks.

3.  Eat Until Your Satisfied-  Overeating will most likely will  cause extra pressure on the stomach resulting in heartburn.  Your stomach is a reservoir for food items you eat.  Its purpose is to mix and breakdown the food and pass it into the small intestine.  If the stomach is overfull then it will not do as good of a job of breaking down the food.  Think about it.  When you want to clean a jar of peanut butter, do you fill the water to the top or do you fill it half way and then shake?  You fill it half way, right?  This gives the liquid more room to break down the food.  Your stomach is the same way.  By not overeating you are giving your stomach more room to help break down your food and

4.  Avoid Laying Down After Eating- After a long day at work it may be tempting to lay down and watch TV on the couch.  But this can increase your risk for heartburn.  Why? Because you are not using gravity to your advantage.  When you sit straight up gravity can help keep food contents in the stomach where it should be, but if you lay down then gravity may pull the stomach contents back up your esophagus.

5. Avoid High Fat Meals-  Fat is good in moderation, but when you eat a high fat meal this can delay your stomach contents from emptying into your intestines.  So you are left with a very full stomach and increased pressure in the abdomen area.  This will likely lead to heartburn if your LES is dysfunctional.  Aim for 20-35% of your calories to come from fat at each meal.

6.  Go for a Walk After Meals- Walking after meals can help with digestion. Physical activity stimulates the GI tract to start working, otherwise known as peristalsis.  This will help empty the stomach contents sooner into the small intestines.   Even a five minute walk can help!

7.  Supplements-  Some supplements have been shown to help with heartburn symptoms.  There is not a lot of clinical research but the studies that have been done are promising.  According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database caraway oil, artichoke leaf extract and angelica may be used to help in treatment of indigestion.  Please speak with a health care professional before starting any supplements.

8. Weight Loss-  If you are overweight, weight loss may alleviate your heartburn.  It is believed that excess weight can cause extra pressure on the stomach which pushes the stomach contents into the esophagus.  A small,  1-2 lb/week weight loss might give you dramatic relief.

If none of the above methods work for you, then I encourage you to see your doctor.  He/She may be able to provide you with medication to help give you with some relief.  You might also want to ask if any medications you are currently on have a side effect of heartburn such as blood pressure medications.

Heartburn can be a very painful condition.  I hope the strategies I provided you with today give you the relief you deserve.  If there were any strategies that helped you that I did not mention, please comment below.


20140810-133859.jpgWe have all been there. You want to try a new activity or goal in life but you are not quite sure how to get there. Daydreaming about it can be fun, but starting it can be challenging and overwhelming. So you think maybe some other time. Today I want to share with you how I recently stepped out of my comfort zone and how you can too!

For years I have been wanting to use a pressure cooker. I always heard about the fun things you could do with it like canning and reducing your time in the kitchen. You can cook dried beans within 6-8 minutes without pre-soaking! Truly an amazing accomplishment when it normally takes 3-12 hrs depending on the type of bean. As you might expect, I was thrilled when we received a pressure cooker as a wedding present three years ago.

The only problem was I did not use it. It just sat in my cupboard and collected dust. Why?

Because I was scared. I was scared of trying something new. I blamed the fact that I had no one to teach me. I heard so many horror stories about how dangerous a pressure cooker could be that I did not try. Despite articles I read about how much safer they are, I still did not pursue it. But the truth was I was scared to try something unknown to me.

20140810-133910.jpgAbout six months ago I bought a pressure cooker magazine to help inspire me to cook something. Still nothing…

Then last weekend my husband said, “I think we should start using the pressure cooker.” Apparently that was all I needed as a catalyst to try to use it.

The next day I picked out a recipe while Eric put together the pressure cooker parts. We decided to choose something easy for our first experiment…beets! A friend of mine gave me a bunch from her garden so we wanted to put them to good use. Then the fun started.

I was gritting my teeth when the steam began rising out of the pressure control due to my nervousness. But guess what? Nothing scary. No eyes went missing. No faces were burned off.The only thing that happened was delicious beets in a quarter of the time. I am now very eager to try other recipes. It was super easy and a great time saver. Now I know what to expect and I am no longer afraid to use it.

20140810-133922.jpgWe all tend to have things we are nervous about trying, whether it be trying a new class at the gym or presenting a new idea at work. Stepping out of our comfort zone can be a scary process, but that is where the magic happens. You begin to feel more confident in your abilities to do other things as well. Here are 5 ways you can learn to step out of your comfort zone:




20140810-133930.jpg1. Focus on the Excitement- When you try something new there tends to be two feelings: nervousness and excitement. I encourage you to focus more on the excitement. Excitement is going to give you the energy and confidence to complete the task at hand.

2. Share the Experience- It can be overwhelming learning something new. By sharing the experience with someone else it can be make the activity less daunting. If it wasn’t for my husband wanting to use the pressure cooker, I don’t know how long I would have put off using it. By sharing the experience it can also make you more accountable for your actions. You don’t want to disappoint others when you don’t follow through.

3. Get Inspired- Watching your favorite chef on TV or picking up the latest fitness magazine can be motivation to get you started on your goals. Who or what inspires you? It might be a biography of someone you admire, or maybe you like to create inspiration boards to achieve your goals or dreams. Whatever inspires you, start doing more of it :)

4. Start with Baby Steps- Sometimes it is easier to focus on individual steps than the whole activity. When you focus on the whole activity it can seem overwhelming and easy to back away from. First, focus on looking up what time the gym class is. Second, write the class into your schedule. Third, put on your gym clothes and so on. You get the idea :) With this approach you can focus on the barriers as they come instead of focusing on them all at once.

5. Enjoy the Journey- I know. I know. This sounds corny, but it is so true. Learning and appreciating the process is all part of stepping out of your comfort zone. Making mistakes is expected. Learning from mistakes is what is important. I have made raviolis from scratch many times. Each batch is a little different and I improve each time. Sometimes I take a couple steps back and they are less than edible, but that is okay. I am learning and it is about enjoying the process.

Everyone has different personal goals or dreams. Some are easier than others, but for most goals it’s about stepping out of your comfort zone to get there. Good luck :)




05. June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Healthy Eating

Nutrition factsWhat comes to mind when you think about eating healthy?  Fruits and vegetables?  Lean proteins? Vitamins? Fiber?  These are all important components of a healthy diet, but we often get stuck on counting calories and miss the big picture. Counting calories can be a successful strategy to help with weight loss, but a healthy diet is much more than that!

Why do you want to be healthy?  Everyone has different answers to that question, but most involve wanting to feel better, look better, have more energy and prevent chronic illnesses.  Can a 1500 calorie diet provide you with that?  Maybe.

Healthy eating involves eating a variety of different fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains.  The more variety your meal plan contains the more likely you are getting all of your vitamins and minerals for the day.  If you are focusing on just counting calories then you might be missing key nutrients in your diet.  A 1500 calorie diet containing multiple protein bars or processed foods may lack the necessary fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, and trace minerals that your body requires.

Even if your protein bar or meal replacement diet is fortified with all the necessary vitamins and minerals, research has shown they do not function the same way in your body as they would from whole foods.  Real food is key for a healthy diet.

Counting calories can often leave you feeling bored with your meal plan.  You end up eating the same foods because you know how many calories are in them.  While this may help in initial weight loss, you are less likely to stick with this sort of meal plan long term.  Most people do not want to eat the same thing everyday.  Variety is the spice of life, right?

I like to encourage my clients to focus on eating a variety of different whole foods as opposed to counting calories.  Aim to include at least 3 different food groups at each meal, and 2 at each snack.  This will increase your chances of meeting all your nutritional requirements for the day.

If you enjoy counting calories and feel it provides you with the structure you need, then check out This website gives you an idea of how many foods from each food group to include in your daily diet based on how many calories you require.   It also provides sample menu ideas and budget shopping tips.

No matter what your health goals are, solely counting calories tends not to be the answer.  Try to remember to look at the whole picture.  Am I eating at least 3 servings of veggies daily?  Do I have enough carbs in my meal to help me power through my next exercise routine?  If you need help balancing your meal plan with your personal health goals,  a dietitian can be great source to start with :)

08. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Healthy Eating · Tags: , , ,

Blanched beans being quenched in iced waterHave you ever seen the word “blanching” in a recipe and have been too intimidated to give it a try? If you have, you are not alone. I tend to skip over recipes that call for blanching because it has seemed too sophisticated and fancy. Blanching is a technique that gourmet chefs use, not normal cooks like myself (well somewhat normal :)). The other day I tried a delicious pizza recipe and it called for blanching so I decided to give it a try. Here is what I learned.

- It is super easy!!!

- It helps preserve the nutrients and flavor of the vegetable/fruit

- It involves 4 steps. 1) Boil water. 2)Toss vegetable/or fruit into water for 30 seconds. 3) Remove vegetable/fruit 4) Immediately submerge vegetable into ice water and dry.

So what is the point of blanching?

Blanching is used for a variety of reasons. It helps to bring out the vibrant color in green vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, or green beans. Boiling helps to soften it a little bit and submerging it in ice water stops the cooking process, so you are left with a tender crisp vegetable. This can be a great technique to use for broccoli salads or stir frys.

Blanching can also be used to soften the skin on fruit or vegetables. Blanching tomatoes can be a useful technique prior to making tomato sauce to help remove the skin. It makes the peeling process so much easier!

Lastly, blanching should be used to stop the enzyme action of produce prior to freezing such as in carrots, spinach or peppers. For recommended blanching time for freezing please check out this website.

Personally, my favorite part about blanching is the way green vegetables look more vibrant. Have you ever wondered how restaurants make a vibrant green pesto sauce and why yours always looks dull? It is all in the blanching :)


meat and pork liver with sauteed vegetablesThe Paleo Diet has exploded on the American culture within the last couple years and many people are wondering, “Is it for me?”  Lots of people have claimed to lose weight with the diet and feel better mentally and physically.  I am always asked, “What do you think? Is it good for me?  Is it bad for me? My cousin lost 20 lbs and I thought I would try it.”  My answer usually entails something to the effect of,  “There are some concepts about the Paleo diet that I really like, but others that I do not think are necessary.”  Will you lose weight?  Most likely, but what are you missing in order to lose those 20 lbs?

The concept behind the Paleo Diet involves eating like those of our caveman ancestors. It encourages consumption of lean meats (preferably grass fed and organic), seafood, fruits, vegetables and a variety of nuts and seeds. The diet discourages the intake of dairy products, legumes, grains, potatoes, refined salt & sugar, and processed oils.

So what is good about the diet?  The inclusion of fruits, vegetables and nuts are my favorite parts about this diet.  Fruits,  vegetables and nuts provide a variety of different antioxidants and minerals to help your body function properly.   They also include fiber which is an important component of any diet.  In addition, eliminating processed foods from the diet tends to be a good thing for your body. Lots of excess fat, sugar, salt and preservatives found in processed foods do not provide any nutritional benefit and may lead to negative health consequences.

So what is bad about the diet?  The exclusion of any food group such as dairy or grains can put you at risk for nutritional deficiencies.  There are a variety of B vitamins and minerals found in whole grains which are important components of any diet.  Dairy contains calcium for bone health which many people are already lacking in their diet. Lastly, The Paleo Diet eliminates one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet…Legumes! While it is true that protein and other nutrients are more easily absorbed from animal sources than with legumes, I do not feel beans need to be eliminated from the diet.  They contain vital nutrients that animal products cannot provide enough of such as folate and fiber.  Folate is an important component of DNA synthesis and legumes are an excellent natural food source.  In addition, the fiber in legumes may be more effective against colon cancer than other fiber sources (1).

My question for you is, “Why do you want try this diet?”  If it is too lose weight then I feel there are many other ways to lose weight without feeling so deprived.  Any diet you are on should be something you enjoy and are willing to stick with long term.  By using the word “diet,” I mean what you eat normally everyday, not what you eat to lose weight.  Eliminating dairy and grains can be very socially isolating and you may miss some of your favorite foods.  Most people lose weight on this diet because they end up eating less calories and are hungry because they are not allowed to eat a variety of foods that are available to them.  When I spoke to people who have tried this diet they stated they ended up eating a lot of meat because it was easier to eat on the go.  A vegetarian diet consisting of only broccoli is not healthy, just how a Paleo Diet consisting of only meat is not healthy either .  A variety of whole foods is the key to health.

I have also heard stories from people who say they have more energy and generally feel better when they are on the Paleo Diet.  These people may have an intolerance against dairy or gluten.  It is difficult to diagnose an intolerance but if a client states they feel better when they eliminate a certain food, then I think they should continue eliminating it. But it is still important to make sure you are getting the nutrients from another type of food.  If you would like to try the Paleo diet, I encourage you to visit with a dietitian to make sure you are getting all of your necessary nutrients.





Bostic graphic proposed label 

Stephanie Bostic, a Ph.D student from Cornell University, contacted me this last week and wanted to share with my readers information regarding the new nutrition facts label.  She proposes a thought provoking article and I hope you enjoy what she has to offer.  Please comment or provide feedback to assist Stephanie in her project.

The FDA proposed a new Nutrition Facts Label recently.  At first glance, it’s quite similar.  It lists calories, fat, protein, vitamins, etc.  By using the Reasonable Person Model (RPM), we can guess how helpful they would be.  RPM suggests that we humans have certain needs: information gathering and exploration, being effectively focused, and taking meaningful actions.  When these needs are met, we are essentially happier, more pleasant people who do a better job of living meaningful, productive lives. (It’s probably a lot to ask of one label, but just think about the effect of one label multiplied by the 1000+ sources of information day you interact with, from a word processing program to ordering lunch or even doing laundry.)  Let’s see how well this proposed label performs.

Gathering and exploring information:  There are a few key features of the new label that support information gathering, which is highlighted in the graphic.  The addition of new nutrient types of public health concern (i.e. separating added sugars from sugars naturally in foods like fruit) and the adjustment in serving sizes to reflect servings of what we actually eat rather than USDA portion sizes provide more relevant information in our current food context.  These make it easier for you to actually monitor your calorie intake, since you might not have to adjust your serving sizes yourself.  Design changes also emphasize existing key features, like calories.  Unfortunately, despite improvements in the information listed, the proposed Nutrition Facts Label does not support further exploration of either the food itself or the topic of nutrition because they have no links to additional information.

Being effectively focused: One challenge we face is mental fatigue; each day, we’re asked to take in massive amounts of information, filter out whatever is irrelevant, and make decisions based on that info.  A good nutrition label would promote good decisions by providing enough info to be useful and the context to convince us it is important, while not giving us so much information we’re distracted and confused.  Except for the jargon-filled “footnote” in tiny font at the bottom (omitted from graphic for clarity), the current label just provides basic nutrient information without context.  Without that context, though, we’re less likely to categorize the label as relevant, remember it, and act on the information.

Taking meaningful action: Meaningful, of course, depends on what you care about.  Someone who is managing diabetes may find it meaningful to manage their carbohydrate intake and watch calories to lose weight.  Someone who is feeding a family may find meaning in providing a range of healthful foods.  Another person may find it meaningful to write to companies about reducing the sodium or added sugars content of a food.  Yet another person may decide to avoid most foods with labels altogether!  While the Nutrition Facts Label itself doesn’t directly suggest action, it does enable action for those who already have a particular focus.

Altogether, the proposed label has some minor improvements in design, but still lacks some components that could increase engagement and learning.  If you want to comment on the proposed new label (take meaningful action?), click here to review more details and to tell the FDA how the label could improve your experiences of exploring and acting on nutrition information.

The Reasonable Person Model was proposed by Rachel  and Stephen KaplanStephanie Bostic is a community nutrition PhD student at Cornell University with an interest in how our interactions with our food environment affect food choice.  She thanks Kristin Willard for hosting this post!

wheat grainsLots of attention is given to carbs, fat, protein and calories, but what about fiber? Fiber is found in plant products such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Fiber is considered indigestible by your body, but it can be fermented by the bacteria in your gut and provide you with lots of health benefits. Here is what fiber can do for you!

1. Promotes bowel regularity- The insoluble fiber found in the skin of fruits, vegetables and whole grains helps to increase the frequency of your bowel movements (Aka:poop). The less time your poop spends time inside your body, the less likely your will be exposed to carcinogens or toxins.

2. Feeds your microflora- Fiber helps fuel the good bacteria in your gut. These bacteria break down the fiber through a process known as fermentation. The by-products of this process, such as short chain fatty acids, help protect the integrity and health of the gut. In addition, fiber promotes more gut friendly bacteria in your colon which can improve your immune function.

3. Curbs your hunger- Soluble fiber can help the stomach to slowly empty into the intestines. This leaves you feeling fuller longer and more satisfied with your meal. Try to include a high fiber food item such as whole wheat bread or brown rice and water to gain the maximum benefits

4. Cancer protective- Evidence suggests that a diet high in fiber may lead to less risk of colon cancer. The exact mechanism is unknown, but it is thought that the increase in bowel regularity reduces the amount of time carcinogens are exposed to your body.

5. Reduces Cholesterol- In simple terms, fiber acts like a sponge in the intestines and absorbs cholesterol. Then you poop it out! This way cholesterol (in bile acids) is not absorbed back into your bloodstream. Isn’t that great? Way to go fiber :)

6. Reduces glucose and insulin levels- Studies have shown that fiber may help promote better glucose control. Remember how I explained fiber slows the emptying of the stomach contents? Well this also helps your blood sugars because it slows the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream. Thus, your insulin levels do not rise as high.

I hope I have provided you with enough reasons to include fiber at every meal. Aim for 25-38 g of fiber a day to gain the maximum benefits. Great sources of fiber are nuts, whole grain breads and cereals, beans, artichokes, broccoli and berries. Yum!




06. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Healthy Eating, Recipes
Fuyu Persimmons

Fuyu Persimmons

When I want fresh fruit during the fall the season I tend to reach for an apple, pomegranate or a mandarin, and hardly ever think about a persimmon.  I always assumed persimmons were used for baking cookies or bread and never thought to enjoy the fruit raw.  During this last Thanksgiving my neighbor brought me a grocery bag full of fuyu persimmons, which I was grateful for, but I honestly did not know what to do with them :) Even though the bowl of persimmons made a beautiful centerpiece on my table, I knew I needed to try and use them.  I cut the first one up like an apple and popped a piece into my mouth and immediately fell in love with the delicate, sweet, pumpkin-like flavor.

My first experiment involved dehydrating them.  I sliced the persimmons into thin pieces and placed them on a metal cooking rack on top of a cookie sheet  and put them in the oven under the “warm” setting.  I left them in the oven for about 6 hours. Once they were dehydrated I put the dried slices into zip lock bags with some walnuts     for ready to eat snacks.

My next experiment involved a smoothie.  I cut the persimmon into slices and placed them into my Vitamix.  Then I added vanilla yogurt, rolled oats, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.  I blended them all up and had a delicious smoothie to hold me over until my next meal.

Here are some additional food items persimmons can be added to;

  • Salads
  • Cereal
  • Cottage cheese or yogurt with a little cinnamon
  • Oatmeal
  • Chutney

Aside from the delicious taste, persimmons are an excellent source of fiber, Vitamins A and C, and manganese. This powerful blend of nutrients  may help protect your immune system during this years flu season.  So go ahead and start eating this delicious fruit before they go out of season!

hachiya persimmons

Hachiya Persimmons

(As a side note, make sure you are using the fuyu persimmon for these recipes. The fuyu persimmons are more squat in shape and have a firmer texture than oblong-shape hachiya persimmons. The hachiya persimmons are used more for baking and are only sweet when they are extremely soft)


Pot of teaRight now I am sitting at one of our local hot spots in Chico, California, the T-Bar & Fusion Cafe, and loving the change in weather and a warm cup of tea in my hand.  With all the different tea aromas circulating around me, I could not help but feel inspired to write an article on why I love tea. Now don’t get me wrong, I do have a soft spot for coffee as well, but tea was my first love. I still remember when my mom would brew Lipton’s Black Tea with a little sugar and milk in it for me on a cold day.  Since then my palate has expanded to enjoy a wide variety of tea leaves and I appreciate the earthy flavor of tea throughout the year.  I would not consider myself a tea connoisseur, but I don’t think of myself as a connoisseur of anything.  I just like what I like :) Here are my reasons for why I love tea!

1. The Flavor: First and foremost I love the flavor of tea.  It has a milder flavor than coffee and has many different varieties. I can always find one to fit my mood.  Green tea has more of a grassy flavor and a little more caffeine than other tea leaves so I tend to enjoy it first thing in the morning.  On a hot day I am always in the mood for a fruity tea, like peach blossom over ice to quench my thirst. Before bedtime I like a warm cup of chamomile tea with honey to help me wind down.  With hundreds of tea varieties to choose from, I am confident you can find a tea to suit your mood too!

2. Health Benefits: Every week it feels like there is more research boasting the health benefits of tea.  Green tea appears to get the most media coverage in regards to cancer prevention and promoting weight loss.  The bioactive compounds in tea have been shown to help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, improve cognitive function, and increase immunity. Some studies have shown the health benefits of tea are inconclusive, but I personally feel drinking black or green tea can be good for your health and not pose any health risk.  Herbal teas lack the clinical evidence of health benefits compared to green/black tea, but they can still be a satisfying beverage during your day.  They too, contain antioxidants and bioactive compounds which may aid in your health.  If you are pregnant use these herbal teas with caution and let your doctor know.

3. Calorie Free: I am not one to count calories, but I can’t help but notice that tea contains healthy bioactive compounds and no calories.  Lots of drinks out there such as soda, sports drinks, and coffee concoctions contain lots of calories that may aid in weight gain and not offer any health benefits. Tea is a great substitute because it has lots of flavors and you can pair it with many meals and drink it throughout the day.  Even if you add milk and sugar it usually does not compare to the calories in soda. I like adding milk because it binds with the tannins in tea to help soothe the astringent flavor.

4. Cheap & Easy to Make: Tea is an inexpensive beverage.  A tea bag usually costs less than 20 cents, and if you use loose tea leaves it costs less than 50 cents a serving.   If you know how to boil water or heat water in the microwave you can make tea. Loose tea leaves tend to have better flavor than tea bags and may take a little longer to brew.  Click here if you want to know how to brew loose tea leaves.  There are some teas out there that may cost lots of $$, but as a general rule tea is cheap.

5. Connection:  Some of my favorite memories involve a conversation over a cup of hot tea.  Sharing a pot of tea with a new friend, family member or childhood friend can be a bonding experience.  Tea can also be a form of love, such as making a fresh cup of tea for sick loved one.  But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Cultures such as Britain and China have been socializing over tea for centuries.  Tea can also be enjoyed alone, giving you the opportunity to build a better connection with yourself and your own thoughts.

Now you know my top reasons for loving tea.  If you love tea for other reasons, please comment and let me know :)


12. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: About me, Healthy Eating, Stress Management

Lets face it. Life is messy sometimes and it can be difficult to sit down and eat a well balanced meal. Right now is one of those times for me. I recently went full time at my position at the local hospital and my husband and I just purchased our first home. Since we enjoy DIY projects we have been remodeling the home ourselves. At this moment our kitchen floor is pulled up because we are going to install new flooring. We had to relocate our refrigerator and stove into our living room until we finish the new floor. A weekend project has now turned into a month long project due to unforeseen obstacles along the way (which tends to happen with DIY projects :)) Without a working kitchen it has been challenging to prepare home cooked meals and eat my daily dose of fruits and vegetables. To be honest, it has not happened. So I have had to readjust my lifestyle for the time being. Life can come at you in cycles and sometimes you just have to be flexible. Here are 5 strategies to use when you can’t prepare a meal and want to continue to eat healthy.

20130711-172249.jpg                     20130711-172227.jpg


1. Be mindful- Sometimes it can be difficult to eat healthy when you are eating out frequently, and I don’t always want a low calorie/low fat option. I have been relying on my fullness and hunger cues to guide me through my meals. I tend to eat when my body tells me I am hungry, instead of relying on the clock to guide my mealtimes. I also try to stop eating when I am satisfied. There always comes a point in my meal, when I notice my stomach is beginning to feel full, and at that point I put my fork down. Try to trust your body to let you know when it is time to eat and when to stop.

2. Box it up- Once I feel satisfied with my meal, I push my plate away and ask for a box. Then I use my boxed up meal for lunch or dinner the next day. This saves me time, money, and most likely a lot of calories. I usually do not split my meal in half right way and box it up, because everyday is different and my hunger is different at each meal. There are days when I only eat 1/4 of my meal and others days when I eat my entire entree. Once again I go back to paying attention to my body.

3. Add extra veggies- When you are constantly on the go, it can be difficult to get in your recommended veggies for the day. When you order your meal such as a burrito, sandwich, salad, or pasta dish, ask if you can order extra veggies. Instead of dispersing your veggies throughout the day, it may be easier to eat a larger amount at one or two sittings. Veggies are packed with vitamins and minerals to help keep your immune system functioning at optimum level when you are stressed, and they are also full of fiber to help you feel fuller longer.

4. Grap a protein bar- Remember my previous article Are Protein Bars Right For You? I encouraged whole foods, but protein bars do have a place. They can help fuel your body when you do not have any time to sit down for a meal. Hunger does not always come at a convenient time, but a protein bar can help get you through the hunger spell until your next meal.

5. Sneak in physical activity- I know. I know. Being physically active when you are busy is difficult to accomplish, but any small amount can have health benefits. Park farther away from your work, take the stairs, or go on a 5 minute walk after meals. It all adds up. You might find during this time of the day you are able to relax and let go of your other daily stresses. Plus physical activity can help maintain your weight and release “feel me good” endorphins in your body.

At first eating so often often made me uncomfortable. But I have begun to learn how to embrace my reality and enjoy it for the time being. One day (soon hopefully) I will get my kitchen back and I will look upon the days of no dishes and a different cuisine every night as fond memory.