Author

Emily Mendez, M.S., Ed.S

Browsing

Simple and Tasty Heart-Healthy Food Tips

It’s so easy to fall in love with foods that are good for your heart. That’s because many of the most naturally flavorful foods are actually heart-healthy foods. When we eat for heart health, we’re focused on healthy foods that provide us with all of the nourishment and nutrition we need without excessive additives, sugars or unhealthy fats. In addition to preventing heart disease, heart-focused eating can help us to look and feel our best because what’s good for the heart is good for the whole body. Here’s a few heart-healthy food tips that anyone can love.

#1 Sprinkle on Those Fresh Herbs Instead of Pouring on the Salt

We sometimes feel bad if we can’t whip up a fresh meal every night. One of the best ways to ensure that we’re bringing at least a little bit of wholeness to our plates is by sprinkling on some fresh herbs. The biggest benefit of flavoring with herbs is that you can skip the salt. Unfortunately, salt causes the body to retain water, which puts a strain on our heart and blood vessels. Heavy salt consumption causes high blood pressure that can increase our risks for heart attack and stroke. Many people get into trouble with salt when they start to lean on canned or prepackaged meals from the grocery store because they don’t have the time to prepare whole meals. These types of foods are notoriously packed with salt. In addition to harming your heart, high-salt prepackaged foods can zap you of energy, give you headaches and leave you feeling terrible.

#2 Be Besties With Black Beans

Black beans are packed full of folate, magnesium and antioxidants known to help lower blood pressure. In addition, they are full of soluble fiber that lowers our total blood cholesterol. Fiber is also linked with a reduction in blood pressure and inflammation. While beans are sometimes thought of as substitutes for meat, the truth is that even people who eat diets containing meat should still be looking at black beans. Black beans and legumes offer a variety of nutritional benefits that animal products don’t.

#3 Choose Your Meat Cuts Wisely

You can eat meat in a way that’s better for your heart. Lean meats are much better for your heart than fatty cuts. When shopping for cuts of beef and pork, look for meats that are labeled “round” or “loin.” Both are premium cuts that are much leaner than other cuts.

#4 Give Your Whole Heart to Whole Grains

If you’re looking for a grain to add to a meal, be picky. Whole grains provide the benefits of fiber, folic acid, iron, selenium, magnesium and B vitamins that many white breads do not contain. The good news is that you have so many flavorful and enjoyable whole grains to enjoy if you’re walking away from white and refined flours. Some top picks that work wonderfully in a variety of dishes are oats, rye, wild rice, quinoa and buckwheat.

#5 Get Cozy With Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids offer some serious heart protection by boosting your good cholesterol levels. In studies, individuals who consumed fatty fish a few times per week had almost half the risk of death from coronary heart disease. Their risk of death from a heart attack was also cut by more than 30 percent compared to people who didn’t consume any fish. Fish is teeming with omega-3 fatty acids.

Fish varieties like trout, salmon, sardines, mackerel and albacore tuna are all famously rich in omega-3 fatty acids. However, this isn’t the only way to get them in. Other delicious, filling favorites like walnuts and flaxseed oil are also full of omega-3 fatty acids.

#6 Sip for Your Heart

Many people are surprised to learn that hydration is an essential part of heart health. The key is to stay hydrated with sugar-free options like water or unsweetened tea. Unfortunately, sodas, fruit drinks and energy drinks that are full of sugar can contribute to obesity if we rely on them for hydration instead of simply having them for refreshment from time to time. We know that obesity is one of the significant risk factors for heart disease and premature death. If you’re focusing on staying hydrated with water and unsweetened drinks, you will be less tempted to grab for high-calorie drinks.

#7 Have a Romance With Leafy Greens

Build your own salad, just the way you like!

Rich in vitamin K, leafy greens can help to protect our arteries. Additionally, the dietary nitrates in leafy vegetables can improve artery flexibility, fortify the lining of our blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. Studies have linked the consumption of leafy greens with reduced rates of heart disease.

Some of the most flavorful greens to add to your diet are spinach, cabbage, curly kale, arugula and beet greens. They can be chopped up or enjoyed as “wraps” that hold things like hummus, tuna fish or beans. 

#8 Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth With Berries

Berries romance your heart with promises of antioxidants that protect it from inflammation and oxidative stress. Blueberries are thought to be especially powerful when it comes to improving the function of the cells lining our blood vessels. However, favorites like strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are also full of nutrients that reduce bad cholesterol and support the heart.

#9 Keep the Trans Fats to a Minimum

Try to avoid foods prepared with trans fats as much as possible. This includes margarine and spreads that are marketed as butter substitutes. It’s also important to steer clear of overdoing it with vegetable oils like olive oil, peanut oil, soybean oil and canola oil. The monounsaturated fats within many popular oils are linked with heart damage. Non-stick cooking sprays should also be avoided when possible.

#10 Focus on Some Low-Glycemic Foods

Low-glycemic foods have been linked with reduced risk for heart disease. Low-glycemic eating is focused on choosing foods that are packed with healthy fats in moderate amounts. Some of the superstars of low-glycemic eating are fish, skinless chicken, beans, walnuts, almonds, pecans and avocados. It’s also advised that anyone sticking to this eating style should avoid the partially hydrogenated fats that are nearly universal in fast foods and packaged foods. From the dessert perspective, treats made with apples, pears, mangoes, bananas and papayas are all compatible with low-glycemic eating. Finally, meal frequency is also important.

The general guideline for anyone looking to follow a low-glycemic diet is to plan for three meals each day. There is also room for one to two snacks daily. The big rule is that you should never be skipping breakfast. This is where planning your meals ahead of time becomes essential because breakfast is a time of day when most of us are vulnerable to the temptation of reaching for the easiest thing. Many times that means a big, carb-filled treat that’s destined to send you into a blood-sugar crash before lunch.

#11 Part Ways With Processed Meats

You may be in a bad relationship with the easy, processed meats you’re relying on for protein. Many people use processed meats like hot dogs, salami, bacon or cold cuts to get quick, inexpensive protein in their diets. The reality is that any of the benefits you’ll get from the protein in these foods are quickly undone by the health risks of consuming them regularly. Consuming processed meats is associated with increased risks of cardiovascular disease. Processed meats are also linked with higher risks for diabetes, cancer and overall mortality. Make an effort to swap your processed meats for fresher, healthier proteins that provide genuine health benefits.

#12 Have Some Fun

Treat yourself, you deserve it!

Like any relationship, the relationship you have with your heart should be full of enjoyment! No, you don’t have to promise never to eat the things you love again just because you’re focusing on creating long-term health for your heart. What’s Valentine’s Day without a little chocolate? The truth is that you won’t have to agonize overindulging in what you love on special days if you’ve stayed focused on treating your heart right the rest of the time.

Final Thoughts: Making a Plan to Romance Your Heart With Fresh, Whole Foods

Many people don’t invest in a real relationship with heart-healthy eating because they simply don’t have the time. Deciding to eat for your heart does take planning. This may mean totally reinventing the way you handle grocery shopping. You may find that you skip the “middle aisles” that are full of processed and packaged foods altogether once you make a grocery list that reads like a love letter to your heart. If planning meals for every day of the week is too difficult, consider relying on a delivery service that delivers perfectly portioned, heart-healthy meals bursting with lean meats, hearty vegetarian options, leafy side dishes. Perfectly measured breakfasts and balanced snacks such as this may be the secret to transforming your eating habits.

Does better sleep start at your plate? Changing the way you eat may help you enjoy better sleep. In fact, diet is one of the first areas of your life to investigate if you’re suffering from poor-quality sleep, disrupted sleep or restless nights.

It’s hard to be your best when you’re not getting proper rest. Poor sleep is associated with mood issues, cognitive impairment, depression, stress, cardiovascular issues and many more short-term and long-term problems that rob us of happiness, productivity and vitality.

What do you do when you’ve tried all of the “sleep tricks” without any success? Unfortunately, all of the noise machines, light-blocking curtains and essential oils in the world can’t always replace those core building blocks for good sleep that can only be found in nutrients. Yes, what you’re eating may be keeping you up at night! This can be true even if you eat a relatively “healthy” diet because some foods simply aren’t sleep-friendly. What’s more, what you’re not eating can also hurt your sleep.

The good news for anyone exploring the sleep-diet link is that many tasty, wholesome foods that are easy to enjoy can promote more complete, nourishing sleep cycles. Take a look at what science is saying about how to eat your way to better sleep!

Understanding the Link Between Food and Sleep: How What You Eat During Your Waking Hours Impacts Your Restful Hours

Poor sleep habits and poor diet happen to be common among people who lead busy lifestyles. Unfortunately, mixing the two can create a real disaster for health, well-being and productivity. Fortunately, working on these two areas as part of a plan for better living is relatively easy to do once you know about the foods that promote better sleep.

According to a study published in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in 2016, “Eating less fiber, more saturated fat and more sugar is associated with lighter, less restorative, and more disrupted sleep.” This echoes what many researchers, doctors and dieticians have known about fatty, sugary, low-fiber foods for a long time. Results from this particular study show that greater fiber intake actually predicted more time spent in the deep, slow-wave stage of sleep. This is considered the brain-building, nourishing portion of the sleep cycle. By comparison, taking in higher percentages of energy from saturated fat predicted a reduction in slow-wave sleep. Research also reveals that higher sugar intake is associated with frequent arousals from sleep. The most shocking finding to be revealed by the study is that these negative or positive changes don’t necessarily build up over time. Just a single day of higher fat intake, higher sugar intake or lower fiber intake can influence sleep quality.

The good news is that enjoying whole, higher-fiber foods in your diet is relatively easy. Familiar favorites like lentils, beans, avocadoes, apples, berries and broccoli all have high fiber content that helps to leave you feeling satisfied. When planning a sleep-friendly diet that contains enough fiber, it’s essential to at least meet the recommended daily fiber intake of 25 grams to 30 grams. That intake level should ideally be coming from foods instead of supplements. Unfortunately, most Americans are falling short of that goal. The average daily fiber intake in the United States is just 15 grams per day. Factoring in that figure, it’s not surprising that 70 percent of American adults report having insufficient sleep at least one night per month. For 11 percent of Americans, that insufficient sleep is experienced every night.

Eat More Foods Containing Magnesium

Magnesium is the sleep mate you never knew you needed. In recent years, magnesium has received lots of attention for being a mineral that promotes better sleep. In fact, several studies link magnesium with improved sleep quality. This mineral even shows promise for helping people to overcome insomnia. There’s also evidence that magnesium promotes better, more restful sleep by reducing the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol that is known to be a serious sleep disruptor. Here’s a look at some foods that are naturally high in magnesium:


Try our organic white quinoa with edamame, parsley, salt and pepper.

  • Leafy greens
  • Beans
  • Nuts/almonds
  • Seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Fish/tuna
  • Bananas
  • Dark chocolate
  • Raisins

If you’ve never focused on magnesium before, it might be a good time to pay attention to how much of it you’re consuming every day. For men, the recommended dietary allowance for magnesium is between 400 and 420 milligrams per day. The recommended daily allowance for adult women is 310 to 320 milligrams. It’s important to get as much of the recommended daily allowance of magnesium as possible through diet instead of using supplements. A simplistically clean and delicious meal option like a quinoa salad is a great go-to choice if you’re looking to increase the magnesium in your diet.

Promote Better Sleep by Getting Rid of Acid Reflux

While getting enough fiber in your diet is the first step to eating your way to better sleep, you may have some extra steps to take if acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) are to blame for sleepless nights. These painful conditions can make it difficult to sleep without propping your body up with pillows. Even that often isn’t enough to stop sleep disruptions.

We know that high-fat foods are linked with reflux issues. The same goes for alcohol and carbonated beverages. However, it’s not just “unhealthy” foods that can trigger symptoms. Onions, citrus, tomatoes and peppermint are also known reflux triggers. Coffee and tea can also exacerbate reflux issues. If your sleep is being disrupted by reflux, it’s important to plan your meals carefully to avoid accidentally reaching for dishes that contain foods on the list of reflux “offenders.”

Audit Your Relationship With Caffeine

Many of us are guilty of reaching for caffeinated beverages to power through the second half of the day. Unfortunately, we may be paying for that little “jolt” of energy for the rest of the night through poor sleep. Caffeine can stay in your body for up to nine hours after being consumed. In one study, researchers found that consuming caffeine within six hours of bedtime could reduce total sleep duration by a full hour!

It’s possible to have a healthy relationship with caffeine without necessarily cutting it from your life. Sleep experts recommend limiting daily caffeine consumption to no more than 300 to 400 milligrams per day. That’s not so painful once you realize that totals three to four 8-ounce cups of coffee every day! However, sleep experts warn that consuming more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day can increase your risk of having difficulty with falling and staying asleep. It’s also important to be wary of fancy coffee drinks that contain sugar or high-fat ingredients close to bedtime because these flavorful treats can cause spikes in blood sugar that will cause you to crash.

The bottom line on caffeine is that it’s probably best to try to drastically limit your consumption if you’re having sleep issues. Many people who depend on caffeine to push through to the end of the day may bristle at this idea. After all, it can be very difficult to conjure up the energy to get work done, focus on household tasks or put in a workout without feeling totally zapped after a long day. It turns out that rethinking your diet can make it easy to avoid energy slumps that you usually fix with caffeine.

Eating high protein foods full of fiber and low in sugar can help you enjoy sustained energy without the peaks and valleys that come from simply grabbing “easy” snacks and drinks full of sugar and carbs. Many people find it easier to ditch their reliance on coffee in the morning by switching up the breakfast routine. One idea to consider is switching from coffee to a high-protein, nutrient-dense smoothie that provides that much-needed morning energy without the impending energy “crash.”

Eating for Better Sleep Is Eating for Better Living

Many people who make dietary changes to tackle sleep issues find that they end up getting a new lease on life in many ways. That’s because many of the issues that cause poor sleep ultimately cause reduced energy levels, mood issues and many more problems that may be going unnoticed. Better, more complete nutrition combined with better sleep creates the perfect recipe for feeling energized and capable. Knowing where to start is always the most challenging part. Many people find that creating carefully crafted meal plans that are full of sleep-friendly foods makes it easy to avoid the habit of “grabbing” for whatever is convenient.

In many cases, this means choosing a week’s worth of food that can be delivered entirely ready to eat! If you’re suffering from sleep issues that are hard to pin down, start with diet! A delicious meal of your dreams may just lead to sweeter, longer dreams every night!

Has your interest about intermittent fasting (IF) been piqued after hearing everyone from your favorite podcaster to your health-conscious best friend talking about how this technique changed their relationships with health, wellness and eating? There are some things to know before diving in. First, intermittent fasting isn’t as radical as it sounds. This is a very popular, mainstream approach to weight loss and healthier living used by everyone from spiritual gurus to competitive athletes for eons. What is often most surprising for people who experiment with IF is just how easy it is to work this into their lives without the pain and suffering they thought they’d experience.

Let’s cover the basics of IF for beginners. Once you learn the facts, you may discover that you’re a bit of a fasting pro without even knowing it. We can also take a look at what you need to know about getting some of the benefits of “true fasting” if you determine that IF just isn’t for you.

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

At its core, intermittent fasting is an approach to nutrition that involves cycles of fasting and eating. Generally, a “fasting” period is a time without any food. However, many people still consume water, tea, coffee and other beverages that are free of sugar and calories. Supplements and medications are also permitted during fasts. Some people who do not feel comfortable doing full fasts will do amended fasts consisting of small portions of clean, low-calorie foods during their “reduced intake” periods.

Some people use a type of fast called the Warrior Diet if they don’t feel comfortable doing a full fast. Using this diet, you’re refining what you eat down to very low-calorie, raw fruits and veggies during the day. You then focus your calories on a single meal in the evening. The overall goal with the Warrior Diet is to focus on nutrient-dense, paleo-type eating.

For people who practice daily intermittent fasting, ultra-long periods of fasting are not necessary! The most common fasting schedule to follow divides each 24-hour period into two sections. The first section consists of a 14-hour to 16-hour fast. The next eight to 10 hours are non-fast hours that involve eating. This might look like a day where you fast from the time you wake up until noon. You would then allow your eating window to last from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m. before resetting your fast until the next morning.

Why Fasting Might Not Be as Hard as You Think

Going 16 hours without eating can sound daunting at first. However, it’s not as dramatic as one might think when you break down the numbers. Very few people wake up during the night to eat! That means that we all go roughly eight hours each night without eating. What’s more, you may not have breakfast until an hour or two passes after you wake up. That puts you at 10 hours of fasting right there without even thinking about it. If you didn’t have dinner or a snack within two hours of going to bed, that’s already 12 hours. That means most people can easily fast between eight and 12 hours every 24-hour cycle without even putting any thought into it! With intermittent fasting, you’re merely extending that food-free time intentionally.

Many people find that waiting a while to have breakfast after getting out of bed in the morning gives them more energy and clarity as they begin their days! Of course, it does take some effort to get over the mental hurdle of being in the habit of reaching for the cereal box within minutes of rolling out of bed. This is why a “routine change” is often very beneficial if you’re trying to begin an IF routine.

Dividing your days into pockets of eating and not eating isn’t the only way to practice intermittent fasting. However, this method is often considered to be the easiest “entry point” for fasting. Another popular method is to only fast on certain days. Many people do two-day fasts that cover the weekend only as part of a 5:2 fasting ratio. This allows them to maintain regular eating habits during the five-day workweek. There is also an eat-fast-eat method where people will carry out random 24-hour fasts. The strategy here is to essentially go from “dinner” to “dinner” without eating to complete your fast.

What Are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

Many people feel that fasting activates mental clarity, physical healing, physical regeneration, and weight loss. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that they’re right! A lot happens to our bodies when we fast. What many people find attractive about IF is that much of what happens during these fasting periods impacts our fat stores. That’s important if weight loss is one of the reasons why you’re investigating IF. Here’s a look at what we know about intermittent fasting and weight loss:

  • Fasting changes our hormones and insulin levels to allow for fat stores to be used up.
  • It may significantly speed up the metabolism to facilitate weight loss.
  • We eat fewer overall calories when we practice fasting due to smaller eating windows.
  • In studies, some people have been shown to see weight-loss increases totaling 3 percent to 8 percent when practicing fasting over three to 24 weeks compared to other weight-loss methods.
  • Human growth hormone (HGH) levels spike during fasting to help with fat loss and muscle gain.

Weight loss and increased muscle mass aren’t the only potential benefits that draw people into fasting. Fasting has been shown to supercharge our natural cellular repair process. That means that fasting is something of a “fountain of youth” that helps speed up healing and restore vitality. There is even some evidence to suggest that fasting can protect us against certain diseases by changing the way our genes function. Longevity is also thought to be a side effect of IF. In one study involving rats, lifespan grew by 36 percent to 83 percent among fasting rats.

A lot of people insist that intermittent fasting makes them mentally sharper. This brain boost isn’t all in their heads. It turns out that IF may help us to create more of a brain hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). What is significant about this is that BDNF is related to nerve growth in our brain tissue. It’s not surprising that many people feel like they are finally firing on all cylinders once they get deep into a fast. If you try IF, don’t be surprised if you do your most brilliant and creative work when you’re in fasting mode!

Not all of the benefits of IF can be seen and felt right away. There’s also a link between IF and cancer prevention. What’s more, intermittent fasting may also reduce our “bad” LDL cholesterol levels to provide a big heart-health boost! This is a big thing to know if you’re concerned about a family history of heart disease.

Is Intermittent Fasting for You?

There are plenty of reasons to be curious about IF if you’re always looking for ways to feel and look healthier. However, it’s essential to avoid being naïve about fasting. Generally, IF is considered a very safe and healthy practice. However, you should still speak with your doctor about this approach to nutrition before dipping your toe into the world of fasting. If you have a history of being underweight, having diabetes, experiencing low blood sugar or suffering from eating disorders, IF may not be the best choice for your mind or bod. You might also want to skip IF at this time if you’re on a medication that could make fasting complicated. Women who are pregnant, nursing or trying to conceive should also avoid IF.

Some people may experience increased bloating while intermittent fasting. But don’t worry! If you focus on staying hydrated and focus on eating fiber-rich produce and healthy fats, you should be able to keep your digestive system on track.

What Foods Should You Eat When Practicing Intermittent Fasting?

There’s no specific rule about the foods you can or can’t eat between your fasting periods. Many people who practice IF try to stick to very clean, natural diets full of lean proteins, whole grains and organically sourced vegetables. One of the easiest ways to stay on track when you’re practicing IF is to have some healthy, nutritious premade meals ready and waiting for you when you come back down from your fast. This will help you avoid any urge to reach for foods that aren’t really in your plan just because they happen to be there when it’s time to eat again.

It’s essential to keep in mind that one of the underlying reasons for IF being so effective for weight loss is that you’re eating fewer overall calories. That means that you can still get many of the benefits of IF even if you’re not a good candidate for this practice simply by reworking your meal plan to include more healthy, whole foods that pack in more protein and nutrients for fewer calories. What’s more, eating meals and snacks prepared using brain-healthy, heart-healthy ingredients like fish, avocados, and healthy oils can give you the “brain benefits” and disease-prevention perks that IF creates.

Overstuffed is only good when we’re talking about the turkey… not our stomachs. Follow these 10 tips to eating healthier and lighter during this feast-worthy holiday.

Festive gatherings filled with friends, family, and food. That’s what often comes to mind when thinking of Thanksgiving day. But, for some, this day carries a lot of anxiety.

“How will I maintain my healthy lifestyle throughout the holidays?”
“There are never any healthy meals at dinner. I just shouldn’t go this year…”
“What’s the use? My diet is ruined, I might as well just eat whatever I want.”

Pssst… we have a secret for you: THANKSGIVING DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY! Okay, sorry. That was a bit aggressive. But, it’s true! With the right game plan, you can conquer this holiday guilt-free and without restrictions. Thanksgiving won’t derail your health goals, and we’ll show you how.

Why We Fall Off the Wagon Every Thanksgiving
Millions of Americans will gain a pound over the holidays, despite a well-thought-out diet plan held throughout the year. The reason these diets fail around Thanksgiving is that they address the wrong problem. It’s not your willpower.

It’s the environmental cues we surround ourselves with that trigger our appetite and food habits. Thanksgiving, especially, combines some of the worst environmental cues for overeating. There is plenty of food easily accessible, lots of company to share the moment, and an increasing amount of variety. Your willpower is easily overwhelmed by all of these cues to eat.

How to Combat the Holiday Food Guilt
When it comes to sticking to your nutrition plan and keeping the holidays as healthy as possible, it’s important to alter the environmental cues around you. Now, this doesn’t mean avoiding get-togethers with family and friends or restricting yourself by any means. All we encourage you to do this holiday is to follow these 10 guidelines as best you can:

1. Keep It Squeaky Clean Leading Up Dinner

Thanksgiving week can often be filled with tumultuous treats and recipe sampling leading up to the big day. But, it’s important to keep food quality high during this time. Focus on crushing protein and veggie-heavy meals throughout the week as well as the day of.

While many individuals skip meals on Thanksgiving day in preparation for the feast, sticking to small, satisfying meals will help curb your appetite for dinnertime. Start your day with eggs and toast or a bowl of whole-grain cereal and low-fat milk to avoid overindulging later that day.

2. Offer Up Your Cooking Skills

Walking into someone else’s party without your own food is asking for hidden calories. Instead, offer to meal prep for the occasion, bringing healthy side dishes filled with veggies, fruits, or proteins. These types of foods are always lacking around this holiday, so switch it up and provide a healthy option for you and others! This also gives you the opportunity to make some smart swaps with foods traditionally high in calories.

For example, mashed potatoes! While we love these tasty spuds, the appeal is more about the lush, smooth texture than any standout flavor… as well as a vehicle for gravy. However, you can swap out the mashed taters with pureed cauliflower instead. This cruciferous vegetable has six times the Vitamin C, twice the fiber, and fewer calories than the standard spud.

Not a master chef? We can help! Choose from any of our a la carte options to ensure there’s a healthy, tasty side dish ready for you at dinner.

3. Fill Up on Fiber & Water

Eating a nutritious meal with protein and fiber before you arrive takes the edge off your appetite and allows you to be more discriminating in your food and beverage choices. However, it doesn’t have to stop there. Try to fill half your plate with non-starchy veggies come feast time.

This may include brussels sprouts, green beans, carrots, bell peppers, or a green salad. Aim to make your plate as colorful as possible. As well, sipping on water throughout the day will curb cravings and keep you full in-between meals!

4. Limit the Bubbly

These fun gatherings often call for a splash of liquid courage. But this doesn’t have to derail your healthy eating habits. Alcohol can lower blood sugar and those alcohol calories that can add up quickly.

If you do have alcohol this Thanksgiving, have it with food. Also, set a goal to minimize any boozy drinks to about 2-3 servings. In between drinks, sip on some refreshing La Croix, Zevia, Kombucha, or water.

5. Stick to Your Routine

Just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean your routine has to change. Crush some breakfast, hit a workout, or take a time-out to recharge from family and friends. If you love journaling in the morning or taking a mid-afternoon walk, DO IT! Consistency is key to keeping your healthy habits alive and well during the holiday.

As well, try to keep your food routine the same, if not similar. Eat close to your usual times to keep your blood sugar steady. If your meal is served later than normal, eat a small snack at your usual mealtime and eat a little less when dinner is served.

6. Police Your Portions

Thanksgiving tables are bountiful and beautiful displays of traditional family favorites. But before you let Aunt Irma stack your plate high with “a little bit of everything,” scout the buffet table to decide what you really want to treat yourself to. Then select reasonable-sized portions of foods you cannot live without.

If you are still hungry after your first plate, head back for seconds to sample a bit more. Start conservative and add as your stomach sees fit.

7. Feast on Your Favorites

No food is on the naughty list. Don’t waste your calories on foods that you can have all year long. Choose the dishes you really love and can’t get any other time of year. Fill half your plate with small portions of holiday favorites and the other half with healthy veggie options.

Or if appetizers are your thing, grab a plate and fill up. No sense saving yourself for the main meal if turkey and trimmings leave you cold. Don’t feel obligated to eat specific foods, regardless if they’re deemed “bad” or “good.”

8. Get Physical… Physical

Getting physical and staying active means many things to many people. But when it comes to the holiday season, especially Thanksgiving, fitness doesn’t have to be so strict. Make it a family adventure! Take the kids for a walk early in the day or after dinner. It is a wonderful way to get some physical activity in a fun and social way.

While you may burn off the calories from your future meal, there are other benefits to being active. Exercising before a meal puts you in a positive mindset with an eye toward health, and exercising afterward can help banish that uncomfortably full feeling. Find which option works best for you and your schedule!

9. Savor It Slowly

Ever sit down for a delicious meal only for it to be over in the blink of an eye? You weren’t able to truly appreciate everything that went into the meal. This often leaves you unsatisfied and over-stuffed.

Eating slowly, putting your fork down between bites, and tasting each mouthful is one of the easiest ways to enjoy your meal and feel satisfied. Choosing whole grains, fruits, vegetables, broth-based soups, salads, and other foods with lots of water and fiber will also add to the feeling of fullness.

10. Enjoy the Day with Friends and Family

Thanksgiving is not just about the delicious bounty of food. It’s a time to celebrate relationships with family and friends. The main event should be socializing and spending quality time together. Even if you slip up during this time, you can easily get right back to healthy eating with your next meal.

The most important thing about this holiday is being able to enjoy it with loved ones instead of stressing over what the scale might say the next day. Remember Thanksgiving is a holi-DAY, not a holi-WEEK or holi-YEAR. Become aware of your environment and adjust your habits to conquer the day successfully!

Feeling a little sluggish in the digestion department? Unfortunately, even just a few days of grabbing for the wrong foods can leave us feeling off-balance. During busy, hectic times, it’s typical to go days or weeks without eating healthy meals. As a result, we walk around feeling bloated and bound up. Yes, your diet may be to blame for stomach pain, bloating, painful constipation, low energy, and that general feeling of not operating at your peak. Take a look at the nutrition mistakes many of us are making that lead to a “backed-up” way of being that really drags us down.

#1 Not Getting Enough Fiber

Do you often feel bloated or constipated? If so, then fiber is the friend that you didn’t know you needed. While there are many dietary factors that can leave our digestive systems sluggish, the biggest one to look at is fiber. Let’s explore the diet-gut connection that directly impacts how you look and feel. The big perk of fiber is that it normalizes and regulates bowel movements. That right there is often enough to get things moving in terms of addressing constipation and constant bloating. In addition to helping you feel better today, fiber also helps you maintain overall, long-term bowel health that will protect you against digestive diseases and cancers.

We also know that high-fiber foods help us to attain and maintain a healthy weight! First, a lot of the excess bloating that we’re carrying around is relieved by proper fiber intake. The second reason is that foods that are high in fiber tend to be more filling than foods that lack fiber. As a result, you won’t feel the need to overeat because you’ll be more easily satisfied while still getting all of the same energy-giving nutrients!

Try our quinoa bowl with tofu and brussels sprouts.
Try our quinoa bowl with tofu and brussels sprouts.

The goal should be to take in between 25 and 30 grams of dietary fiber per day. Unfortunately, most Americans are falling short by getting in only about 15 grams. Which foods are the best for fiber? Put the focus on fresh greens, vegetables, seeds, fruits, and grains to get the fiber content you need for a thriving digestive system. Some superstar high-fiber foods include avocados, beets, broccoli, lentils, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, and almonds.

#2 Skipping Fresh Plates

For many busy people, finding healthy meals in the frozen section full of organic, high-quality ingredients feels like coming upon a goldmine! We feel that this is the secret to eating well-prepared meals without the need to put the time in to create hearty, wholesome dishes at home. Yes, it’s true that a good frozen meal can save the day once in a while. However, too many frozen meals could be behind why you’re feeling so bloated.

Your healthy “grocery store” frozen meals could be hiding a secret. It turns out Americans are essentially overdosing on the salt that’s packed into frozen meals. In fact, more than 70 percent of the sodium consumed by Americans comes from frozen foods! Sodium is used so abundantly in mainstream packaged frozen foods because it helps to preserve food. It’s also an inexpensive way to thicken or enhance various flavors. Now, this is a situation where you need to be a bit of a label detective because even foods that don’t taste very salty at all can have hidden high levels of sodium.

Why exactly is sodium such a problem for healthy digestion? Simply put, salt is the biggest “bloater” out there. Salt intake causes our bodies to retain water almost immediately. Generally, that retention is concentrated around the belly area. However, some people also find that their hands and face get very puffy and bloated after high-sodium meals.

What’s the fix for salt bloating? Switching to freshly prepared meals that don’t need sodium as a preservative is the best bet. While fresh food sometimes has a dash of salt for flavor, your body isn’t getting that sodium overload that leads to painful water retention and gas around the abdominal area.

#3 Consuming Too Much Fat

The common culprits behind bloating are fried foods, greasy foods, chips, and vegetable oils.

Now, a balanced diet should definitely contain healthy fats that come from healthy foods like lean proteins, avocados, and healthy oils. However, overdoing it on high-fat foods is one of the most common causes of bloating. The reason is that fatty foods are digested slowly. That means that they hang around in your digestive tract longer. The common culprits behind bloating are fried foods, greasy foods, chips, and vegetable oils.

#4 Ignoring Your Gut Health

Constant or recurrent bloating isn’t always caused by a single food “trigger.” Bloating and constipation are sometimes the results of imbalanced gut bacteria. Consuming high amounts of refined carbohydrates, packaged snacks, sugary drinks, and alcohol can really throw the gut off balance. That means that switching to a menu full of fresh, whole foods after a “bad” weekend is essential for avoiding painful gas and bloating for days or weeks to come.

Unfortunately for those with a sweet tooth, sugar is really one of the worst culprits for throwing gut bacteria off balance. In addition to increasing your odds of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and more, consuming large amounts of sugar can also put your gut in danger. Researchers have found that sugar can prevent the good microbes that keep the gut healthy from colonizing. Fortunately, we can build gut-friendly diets by including plenty of fresh, low-sugar foods. Organic dairy like cheese and yogurt also introduce good bacteria called probiotics into the gut to provide tons of benefits for both the brain and body!

#5 Not Staying Hydrated

Stay hydrated!

While it may seem counterintuitive, having a belly full of water can actually help you to be less bloated in the long run. Unfortunately, not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. The impact can be so subtle at first that we don’t even notice it. However, things like tiredness, gas, and bloating are all actually common signs of dehydration. The reason why not drinking enough water causes bloating in the gut area is that our bodies actually try to fight back against dehydration by holding on to water. That means that you’ll have all of the uncomfortable effects of retaining large amounts of water even if you didn’t drink much water.

Drinking water is an obvious way to increase hydration. However, eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is another easy to increase your daily water intake without feeling like you’re sipping all day. Most fresh vegetables are actually more than 90 percent water. The bottom line is that it’s very likely that you’re at least partially dehydrated if you’re eating a lot of processed foods because you’re missing out on the natural water content that comes from eating fresh!

#6 Eating Too Quickly

How you eat can actually be just as important as what you’re eating when it comes to the dreaded bloat! It turns out that “inhaling” food quickly can introduce air into the stomach to create bloating. Unfortunately, we often fall into the habit of shoving food into our mouths when we’re loading up on snack foods or “fast” foods because we’re pressed for time. The result is that we’re combining all of the bloating factors of unhealthy foods with excess air in our digestive systems! That can mean a real bloat avalanche that leaves us feeling uncomfortable and sluggish just when we need energy more than ever! The solution is to try to be more intentional about how and what we eat! That usually means planning ahead to avoid being stuck in a position of having to grab something quickly on the go. By planning healthy, whole meals, we have a reason to sit and slowly savor what we’re eating. By the end of the meal, we feel satisfied and revved up instead of overstuffed and sluggish!

#7 Ignoring a Gluten Sensitivity

Mysterious bloating that occurs soon after you eat can sometimes be a sign of gluten intolerance. It’s a possibility to consider if you’ve already tried de-bloating techniques like eating high-fiber foods, avoiding fried foods, and hydrating adequately. The good news is that you’ll find so many delicious, high-protein gluten-free options to choose from if you decide to try a gluten-free diet.

The Real Cure for Bloating and Constipation: Fresh, Whole Foods

If you’re tired of feeling worse after you eat, it’s time to become more intentional about what you’re eating. There’s just no substitute for fresh, whole foods. It is clear that fresh meals are healthier all around. Frozen meals just don’t compare in terms of nutrition. They tend to contain less vegetables, fewer nutrients, and fewer healthy fats compared to fresh meals.

What if you simply don’t have the time to meal prep, buy all of the ingredients, and prepare meals? Does that mean that you’re bound to go through life looking and feeling bloated and uncomfortable? Thankfully, the answer is no! The good news is that if you don’t have the time to cook and meal plan, you can still have amazing, fresh meals thanks to local food delivery. Knowing that a perfectly portioned, fresh meal full of protein, fiber, and healthy fats is going to be there when it’s time to grab breakfast, lunch, or dinner is the best way to fight back against those “easy” habits and snack attacks that are wrecking your gut.