How to Survive Thanksgiving Dinner

I don’t know how it happened but Thanksgiving is upon us already!!! I was looking for some good tips for you guys for Thanksgiving and I like these so I thought I’d share!

1. Eat a healthy breakfast – Start your day with a healthy breakfast, such as two eggs and a side of mixed greens, or any combination that’s high in protein and fiber.

2. Don’t go overboard on appetizers – It’s easy to consume 1,500 calories before the turkey even hits the table. But instead of skipping the baked brie altogether, fill most of your plate with vegetables and healthier choices, then leave just a little room for a taste of the indulgent snack.

An average serving of dip or cheese is one ounce, roughly the size of your two thumbs.

3. Watch your portion sizes – The average plate is 14 inches wide, and we tend to finish 98 percent of the food on our plate. No wonder it’s easy to eat too much on Thanksgiving!

To trick your brain into thinking you’ve eaten enough, use a smaller plate and/or fill half a normal plate with salad.

4. Enjoy your favorite dishes – One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the memories and traditions of the day. Don’t limit yourself from enjoying your favorite dishes, but only have a small scoop of those that are less healthy.

Another option is to practice mindfulness while you’re eating. Don’t munch mindlessly — slow down and really savor and enjoy what you’re eating. Don’t eat out of bags or bowls — put your food on a plate.

5. Try new, healthier versions of your favorite recipes – 21 Day Fix-creator Autumn Calabrese and her brother, chef Bobby Calabrese created an incredible menu of Fix-approved Thanksgiving recipes for their cooking show FIXATE that are healthy versions of your favorites.

From Green Bean Casserole and Cranberry Sauce to stuffing and Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, they’ve got you covered.

6. Cook a better bird – Find a recipe that results in a more flavorful turkey, or cook a different protein — ham, fish, or chicken — that you’ll enjoy on its own, and have only moderate portions of the heavy sides.

7. Get everyone involved – Take some of the pressure off yourself and ask guests to bring a healthy side dish or dessert.

If you think they might be stumped, you could even provide them with a list of healthy side dishes they could make.

Going to someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner? Bring a healthy side dish of your own.

8. Go easy on the booze – Limit yourself to one drink before or during dinner and one drink after dinner. Drinking too much alcohol can increase your craving for salt and may set you up to eat 30 percent more than you intended.

Get tipsy at dinner and all your inhibitions will be down by the time dessert comes. Two pieces of pie, a couple of cookies, a scoop of ice cream later… and you’ll need a forklift to get you off the couch and a cab to take you home.

9. Forgive yourself – Did you read this and still overeat? Don’t beat yourself up about it; it happened, now move on. Get up and encourage someone to take a walk with you.

If it’s too cold for a walk, break out a game of Twister or fire up Beachbody On Demand and do a fun family workout like Double Time. Getting moving will ease some of your guilt and also start the digestion process.

10. Remember why you’re there – Between the football game and your sister’s amazing pumpkin pie, take a moment to pause and reflect on what you’re thankful for this year. As tasty as the dishes are, nothing compares to the people we share it with!

Red Meat Causes Cancer – says WHO?

Several of my friends have been asking about the new World Health Organization report that eating red meat increases your risk of cancer.  Processed meat was rated a definite human carcinogen and red meat was rated a possible human carcinogen. If you want to read the original report, you can find it here.

What does this really mean for our day to day eating? If you’re vegetarian/vegan, you’re probably wagging your finger saying, “I told you so!” HA HA HA.  Food recommendaGrilling_Steaks_(with_border)tions from the WHO, the USDA, etc often have a political agenda. Statistics are often used and mis-used to confuse and befuddle the public. I try to find several trusted viewpoints and make my own conclusion. (If you want to skip to the punch line, scroll down to the bottom.)

I immediately went to Dr. Sarah Ballantyne’s website. I have followed her nutrition advice in dealing with my autoimmune diseases for some time. She is known for her scientific research of autoimmunity and the autoimmune protocol nutrition plan. As expected, she already had an article posted with links to scientific research. If you want to read it, you can find the article at The Paleo Mom.  She addresses the very legitimate concerns about eating processed meats and red meats. What the media will not tell you in the never-ending quest for attention-grabbing headlines is that studies also support that eating a diet rich in vegetables mitigates many of the negative effects of eating red meat. The rest can be decreased significantly by how you cook it. Also, the diet of the grassfedcowsanimal as well as it’s living conditions greatly influences the health benefits or detriments of red meat. The short of it is, know where you food comes from. If at all possible,  buy from local farms that have pastured, 100% grass feed cows. I think research soundly indicates that processed meats are just bad for you and should be avoided.

Mark Sisson addresses some of the statistical analyses and the differences in the categories in his post on his blog, Mark’s Daily Apple. Oh gee how I hated statistics in graduate school. The media often uses statistics to confuse us and I think they often don’t understand the numbers! For example, the risk of colorectal cancer in the general population is 1.8%. There was a 17% increase in this risk by eating 100gm or about 1/4 pound of red meat each day. So now your actual risk is 2.1%, which is a 17% increase from 1.8%. If your risk had increased by 100%, then your actual risk would now be 3.6% i.e. doubled. So your actual risk of colorectal cancer is still relatively small. It’s worth minimizing for sure.

chuck roastSo, you don’t have time to read the literature yourself and you just want me to summarize it for you? Ok!

  • Whenever possible, go for grass-fed, pastured beef. The meat will have anti-oxidant properties since these animals were eating grass rather than grains. They require much less antibiotics since they are healthier overall having eaten a diet their bodies were meant to eat. I buy a wonderful chuck roast pictured here and I cut it to make a beef stew. It has so much more flavor than grain-fed beef stew cubes that you can buy in the supermarket and it is healthier for you. I know those food labels are confusing so here’s a good article explaining the difference between grass-fed and pastured beef.
  • Use gentler cooking methods to reduce production of carcinogens. Grilling season is over forbeefstew us but next year, I will definitely be trying some marinades to reduce the carcinogens created in my grilled dinners.
  • Eat your vegetables people! Nature gave us protection from the dark side of beef! Eat it! I have Kale, baby spinach, swiss chard in my breakfast shake everyday! One of my fav dishes is braised kale and carrots! If you want to try it, I use my pressure cooker but you can easily do this on the stove.
  • If you deal with autoimmune disease as I do, you definitely want to be purchasing grass-fed, pastured beef. Since you want to eat foods which minimizes inflammation. Be sure to eat your leafy green  vegetables at every meal!

I just started reading the book Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health by Denise Minger. I’m just in the first chapter but so far it is an engaging read. If you’ve read it or will read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. What does this mean? In order to support my blogging activities, I will receive a few pennies from Amazon but you pay the same price for the item. I only link to items that I have read, used, and enjoyed!

Five Stories of Nutrition and Healing in Autoimmunity

Stories of Nutrition and Healing

Today, I listened to a Phoenix Helix podcast Episode 30. I love her Stories podcasts which are Episodes 1, 14 and 30. In each of these three episodes, Eileen interviews people with different autoimmunity diseases. Today several of the stories really hit home for me.

In the first story, Tracey reversed Scleroderma, Polymyositis, and Raynaud’s with the Autoimmune Protocol diet (AIP). She had severe muscle destruction from her disease and is now back to participating in golfing tournaments and helping to (GASP – she’s 50) take care of her grand babies while running several businesses. Many of her symptoms sound like mine. Even with exercise, she continued to get weaker.

In the second story, Joe healed her severe Psoriasis with AIP. This story was interested b/c stress was a HUGE trigger for her Psoriasis. Even now in near complete remission, a lot of stress will bring on patches. Also sugar is a huge trigger for her autoimmune issues. So while paleo community has “paleofied” many treats using natural sweeteners, even those can be problematic. As Eileen says, if you’re on AIP and still not getting better, remove AIP treats completely to see if that is a trigger. Jo has a blog www.comfortbites.com with best trips for treating psoriasis. What hit home for me was that when she was stressed, it was hard to make wise food choices which of courses makes you feel worse.

In the third story, Dora discusses healing Grave’s disease with AIP. She is early in her journey but is slowly making progress in getting better. She got huge improvements, including a goiter shrinking, after just a few weeks on AIP and being off of steroids for a year. If you want some AIP version of Chinese dishes, check out Dora’s blog, Provincial Paleo.

In the fourth story, Freyja successful treats uveitis with AIP after numerous steroids including eye injections did not work. Interestingly, while she has no symptoms before her diagnosis and AIP, when she went back on a standard diet within hours she felt like she had the flu, she developed psoriasis in 3days, and her back pain which she had learned to live with and had disappeared on the 3months of AIP, was back.

In the fifth and final story, Barbara was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, which her mom also had. While Parkinson’s is not thought to be autoimmune disease, Barbara was told by her doctor to try Dr. Wahl’s protocol for just a few months. She got her life back w/ Dr. Wahl’s protocol. When the holidays came and she ate standard foods, her Parkinson’s symptoms returned.

These stories really drive home for me the importance of nutrition in fighting any chronic illness.

Autoimmune Protocol and Dining Out = Trouble

When you are following the autoimmune protocol (AIP), it is quite challenging to eat out. Even a simple salad can have hidden triggers in the salad dressings such as artificial sweeteners, seed spices, and preservatives. So I was quite delighted when I saw that Panera Bread (the name says it all as to why I don’t go there – GLRaspberry VinaigretteUTEN heaven!) is cleaning up it’s act! They had to change over 100 ingredients to fit it’s new cleaner food promise! Who knew that salad dressings would be the most challenging to clean up! If you’re just starting on your autoimmune protocol adventure, it’s best to not eat out until you’re safely past the reintroduction phase. Once you know your trigger foods, you can begin to navigate the restaurant menu with care.

You can read the entire article on Panera Bread in the May 6, 2015 edition of Fortune Magazine. So when you’re eating out, be mindful of the eateries  that are trying to clean up their act and support them! It can be challenging to visit such places as Panera Bread with the family when on a restricted diet. I hope it continues to get easier to find healthy, clean food when you are out and about enjoying a meal with family and friends.

Panera is particularly excited about its efforts to “clean” up salad dressings. Beginning Tuesday, the restaurant’s salads will be made without artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors and preservatives. Many of the company’s sales, like the new Kale Caesar salad, are made completely without those artificial additives.

“Salad dressings were the most challenging category by far for us [to change],” said Burnett. All commercially made dressing are packed with those ingredients, so Panera had to get creative.

The company also had to be patient. It took two months just to determine what the ingredients were in the Greek salad dressing, for example, and another four months to reformulate the dressing so all the ingredients and the process to obtain them fit in Panera’s new standard. Panera then spent months testing the new formulation in its restaurants.

 

My kids love to whip up their own salad dressings. One of their favorites is Balsamic vinaigrette from the 21 Day Fix nutrition guide.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

6 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 c fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. raw honey (or pure maple syrup)

2 tsp. Dijon mustard (not-AIP)

6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1. Combine vinegar, lemon juice, and honey in a medium bowl; whisk to blend.

2. Stir in mustard; mix well.

3. Slowly add oil while whisking; mix well.

You can store left over dressing in the fridge in a sealed container. Hold at room temperature for 30min or sit in warm water and  give it a good stir before serving.

 

If you’re on autoimmune protocol, do check out Dr. Amy Myer’s new book, The Autoimmune SolutionShe includes several salad dressing recipes including a handy “Create Your Own Salad Dressing” chart. You choose your oil, your vinegar, your juice and your seasoning from the list of choices and there you have your own AIP-compliant salad dressing!

 

Dr. Terry Wahls – Healing MS with nutrition, exercise, meditation

This is a wonderful video by Dr. Terry Wahls. She is a traditionally trained physician who lived life on the other side of the desk – as a Multiple Sclerosis patient. She was quickly confined to a zero-gravity chair for most of the time until she started researching animal models for healing the brain. She has a book titled,

The Wahls Protocol – How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine.

I am dealing with the possibility of a second autoimmune diagnosis, Myasthenia Gravis. It’s time for me to further refine my nutrition so that I’m able to keep the level of fitness that I so enjoy.

To watch the video, just click here.

Are your energy levels low? Are you tired and sluggish?

Are you suffering from a lack of energy?

I too suffered from a lack of energy. I would wake up wondering how I would get through the day, caring for my young children. Fortunately, a friend recommended P90X. From there I slowly started working on my nutrition, based on the nutrition guide, and my energy levels improved by leaps and bounds! That is why is just makes my heart sing when I can pay it forward and do the same for someone else.

“For the last 3-4 weeks I have been having Shakeology in the am 3-4 times a week. I decided not to take it on vacation…big mistake….HUGE… I can really feel the difference in my energy level. It is low and sluggish. I did not take it because I had ordered the big bag and did not want it to spill. Changing order to the individual packages so it will not happen again. Also decided to try the vanilla as well.”

Nutrition is so important. Don’t accept that fatigue is a normal part of the aging process or simply due to a busy life. Look at what you’re eating and make small changes and begin to nourish your body!

 

I received this post from one of my Focus T25 Challengers today!

 

“I started week 5 yesterday with total body. I still had the energy to complete the workout despite my two days off. My weight remains the same, however, I can move my watch to the next loop hole, my thighs or becoming smaller, my legs are toned, and my clothes are becoming loose. Not giving up just because the scale is not moving like I want it to. I continue to have a lot of energy, I can perform the moves faster and with better form, and I’m not taking a long nap after work, I’m sleeping through the night and waking up ready to go the next morning. I also notice I can return home and perform physical activities, such as, picking up the pine cones in my yard after my workout or after a long day of shopping. In the past I would usually sit lay down and go to sleep. So Alpha round almost completed getting ready for Beta.”

 

Can you change your life in FOUR WEEKS???? HECK YES!!! This is what it is all about! Sure it’s great to fit into that dress or bathing suit, but ultimately, it’s about QUALITY of LIFE!!! Sleeping well, feeling great, doing household tasks with ease, I got all teary eyed just reading this. This truely is what Beachbody is all about! These are the changes that keep you playing the game for the long haul rather than quitting once you reach that short term goal of fitting into that dress or bathing suit!

 

And here is another one!

 

“I am down 7.2 lbs, 2 inches from waist, and 1 inch from arms. Feeling good:) loving my shakeology with almond milk banana. Yes but honestly I don’t look much different:) however I feel so much better. I have a lot on my shoulders right now and I so happy I started this program it has helped tremendously with coping. That’s my real reward:)”