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Stop Worrying About BMI

Like many, you’ve probably strolled into the doctor’s office for a simple checkup and had a few measurements taken. One of these measurements may have been your Body Mass Index or BMI. This is a measurement that records your height and weight, then categorizes your weight status as either underweight, healthy, overweight, or obese.

The problem with BMI is that it’s very antiquated. This measurement has been used since the 1800’s and doesn’t take very much into account, yet it’s still used today. The amount and location of body fat isn’t even taken into consideration with BMI, which means that an individual with a higher weight, yet lower body fat, may still be categorized as overweight or obese. A BMI this high on an athletic individual is obviously misleading.

So, why is BMI still a thing? Despite there being other, more accurate options for measuring your weight status or health, why is it still used today? That’s exactly what you’re going to be learning more about in this post. You’ll also walk away with some other fantastic options that can be used for checking your health!

A Brief History of BMI

Before dropping into some of the ways that BMI misses the ball, let’s talk about its origins.

The BMI measurement was created in the 1830’s by a mathematician named Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet. What’s interesting about the creation of BMI is that it wasn’t even created by a physician, yet it’s used regularly in a physician’s protocol. The aim of the number was to determine whether a person is of a healthy weight by dividing their weight by their height squared. This number was then used as a statistic for a general population that would aid the government in allocating resources. What it didn’t do is pinpoint exact measures of health or weight status.

The scale of your BMI runs in ranges and places you into categories, which are still used today. You can see these below:

Below 18.5Underweight
18.5-14.9Healthy
25.0-29.9Overweight
30.0 and aboveObese

Why BMI Misses the Mark

Now, is BMI accurate? In reality, using BMI as a measurement of health or weight status can be misleading. When you have an individual with higher amounts of muscle mass, their BMI may be inaccurate. Due to extra muscle contributing to their overall weight, they may be classified as overweight, even though they’re in great shape with a low percentage of body fat. This is due to the fact that BMI doesn’t take actual body fat percentage (or muscle mass) into account. These numbers are huge variables when it comes to determining the health of someone and they’re totally left out in this form of measurement.

Athlete working out with dumbells

The point of BMI is to keep up with weight and the rate of obesity, but can this really be used as a true indicator if it’s mislabeling healthy individuals as obese? In turn, it becomes an indirect measurement of obesity, and this can be seen in a study measuring trained and untrained individuals. The trained group, even though in better shape, had more individuals categorized as overweight than the untrained group. Therefore, some categorizations of people having their BMI measured are in fact wrong.

Even for an individual who does contain a higher percentage of body fat, BMI can still be slightly misleading. BMI doesn’t take the location of body fat into consideration. It’s no secret that an abundance of fat tissue in the midsection is bad for your health, but what if you carry it evenly throughout the body? When body fat is distributed throughout in an even manner, it’s detriment to your health may be reduced (but not eliminated). If you’re looking at BMI as a marker for health, it could be misleading due to the information it isn’t considering.

BMI may categorize you as overweight, or even obese, in cases where you may actually be in great shape. While it may be an accurate measurement for some scenarios, it doesn’t take everything into account, which limits the credibility of it.

So, why is it still used today?

BMI is a fast way of coming up with a supposed range of health in regard to weight. The number can be found out quickly and it’s been used for so long that it’s just stuck. It’s also still used because there is a large proportion of the population that isn’t athletic. Due to this, the ranges given can have some indication of actual weight status.

This, however, doesn’t mean that it’s an accurate measurement and there are much more effective ways of measuring your body composition, weight loss, and overall health.

Other Ways to Measure Health

DEXA Scans

DEXA scans are imaging tests that measure your bone density. While these are used to look for things like osteoporosis, they also show your body composition. This means that you get to see your other tissues like body fat and muscle mass. Using this information, you can differentiate what your weight is actually comprised of. Whereas with BMI an athletic person could be classified as overweight, a DEXA scan might show quite the opposite.

The only downside to the DEXA scans is that they can be slightly pricey. However, if this isn’t a concern for you, it’s a fantastic way to get an accurate read on your body.

Calipers

Body fat calipers being used to measure a women's body fat.

Body fat calipers are tools used for physically measuring the amount of fat present on your body. The process can range from just a few measurements to a full-on exam. This process requires assistance to reach all the locations, and they measurements are often taken from places such as your arms, legs, and stomach. These measurements are put into an equation that eventually produce your body fat percentage. When compare this method to BMI, it may offer you a much better idea of proportion of your weight is actually fat versus lean tissue.

The more places you have tested, the more accurate this outcome can be. There is, however, the chance of a user error in this test so this should be taken into consideration as well!

How Your Clothes Fit

While not an actual test, it can be extremely helpful. As you’re trying to see if things are changing for your body, you can always keep tabs on how your clothes fit. Let’s say the scale hasn’t changed for you, but you’ve been hitting the gym and eating better. However, you have noticed that you had to go down a belt loop for your pants to stay up! This is a good sign and shows that you’ve lost inches. Losing inches is often attributed to a loss in body fat that may accompany a gain in muscle mass. These changes may not show up with a BMI measurement, when in reality a lot is changing.

While not numerical data to use, it’s a great way of self-measuring some changes to your body.

Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

If you really just want to keep up with your health markers, this is where you should be checking. While BMI may give you some inclination of your weight status, these are measurements that can truly make a difference for your actual health. In many cases, some individuals may have a high BMI but be in fair health when looking at blood pressure and cholesterol. This isn’t always the case, but it can be a reality.

You’ll more than likely have these checked at the same time as your BMI, but maybe keep an eye on these instead of worrying about the outdated BMI you just received.  

How You FEEL!

Happy woman after working out.

At the end of the day, no matter what that BMI says, how do you feel? Do you have energy? Can you do the things you enjoy doing? Are you happy? These are great measurements of health that often don’t get the recognition they deserve. We may look at an odd BMI measurement and completely forget that we were able to run a mile today. If you’re on a health journey, this is also a great place to focus your attention. Are you feeling better as you make these changes? While not a statistical date point, it carries a ton of value when actually tracking your wellness.

Conclusion

There are a ton of different ways in which you can measure your weight, body fat, muscle mass, and health. However, you still get the same old BMI score at the doctors office. It’s an outdated measurement that is still in play today, but don’t let it get you down. That number doesn’t carry as much value as you would assume it does. There is a lot that goes unrecognized in that measurement and this can make it inaccurate. BMI is outdated and isn’t something to fret over. You can always try something like a DEXA scan or body fat test that will provide you with an accurate measurement. In addition, you can try things that aren’t number based and truly go off how you feel!

Use what is relevant to you and your situations and keep moving forward!

Choline, the Brain Booster

When you start learning about anything health-related, there are numerous vitamins and minerals that start showing up. You have your typical vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, and much more. However, there’s one crucial nutrient that you may not hear much about – Choline. You may not have heard much about choline because it was only recently discovered! It wasn’t even acknowledged as a crucial nutrient until 1998, which wasn’t that long ago. Choline is a special nutrient that is often referred to as vitamin B4. However, this vitamin is actually an essential dietary amine that we can both make internally and consume in our diets.

While, yes, we can make this nutrient on our own, we don’t create nearly enough needed for optimal health. Thus, we need to consume it in our diets to ensure the proper amounts!

In this post, we’re going to highlight the numerous benefits of choline and how you can get more of this nutrient in your diet!

What Choline Does for the Body

Your body makes choline mainly in the liver, and then you get the rest from food. As you consume or create this nutrient, it works on helping out your brain and nervous system. This means that it has a role in your movement, memory, and even mood! Without it, you might run into some trouble surrounding all of these mentioned functions.

In addition, you may find that choline helps with the formation of certain cell membranes. This is crucial for the protection and proper function of some critical processes that your body is constantly working on.

Our bodies are also made up of DNA. DNA basically writes the script for how we look, function, and grow. Choline actually has a role, along with other vitamins, to help aid in the synthesis of your DNA. You can only imagine how important this process is, as it’s going to play into the proper expression of your genetic code!

Choline and the Brain

As previously mentioned, choline is awesome for your brain health! Your brain uses an important neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which is paramount for proper brain function in regard to memory, muscle control, and even mood. Without the necessary amounts of choline in your body, you can’t create the right amounts of acetylcholine. Therefore, the less choline you have, the less your brain can do its job the right way!

Choline and Mood

Choline also has an impact on something called dopaminergic function. Meaning, higher amounts of choline can lead to an increase in dopamine receptor densities. To put it plain and simple, it makes the things that uptake dopamine better. If you’ve heard of dopamine, you know that it plays a role in your overall mood regulation and much more. Certain imbalances here could lead to the development of certain mood or mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. In one study done with choline, there was evidence showing an increase in anxiety among those with lower levels of choline. While this study showed a link to anxiety, it didn’t give a link to depression in those with lower levels of choline, however, it hasn’t been ruled out as a possibility. Mental health is extremely important for quality of life, and it’s something that a large majority of people struggle with. Therefore, if you can benefit in this area by getting the right nutrients, it’s worth the effort!

Choline and Brain Development During Pregnancy

While your brain health is important, when it comes to having kids, the development of their brain can be influenced by choline. As a mother is carrying through pregnancy, the state of her nutritional intake is crucial! There are multiple vitamins and minerals that go into the development of a child’s brain during pregnancy. While there aren’t many studies on humans in relation to choline and fetal brain development, there are currently studies showing a benefit to choline intake on mice and their fetal brain development. These mice are given choline supplementation during pregnancy, and this helped to improve the brain development in the growing fetus.

Choline and Your Memory

Memory and cognition are important for advancing into life, as well as keeping it long and fulfilling. We spend our lives creating memories and we never want to let those things go! So, it’s important that we take steps to make this happen in whatever ways we can. One great way is through nutrition and choline intake. Choline intake has been shown to help improve memory and cognition, and even has some promise for individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. This makes it a potent nutrient that we need to take seriously.

It also needs to be considered that choline is a fairly new nutrient and is still being studied extensively. The research on its use for memory is still ongoing, and some results show it to be beneficial while some show it to have no effect. Regardless, we do know that it plays a role in brain health, which can improve memory all together!

What Happens Without Choline?

As with any nutrient, you need a certain amount. When that minimum amount isn’t reached over a period of time, you can end up with some adverse health problems. Being deficient in choline is no different.

While choline deficiencies can be hard to achieve, they do happen! When one is present, you can see symptoms and risks such as anxiety, fatty liver disease (non-alcoholic), muscle damage, kidney problems, some increased risk for heart disease, and an increased risk for some cancers.

In addition, while more research is needed, there could be associated risks for brain health, memory, and cognition without the proper amounts of choline in your diet.

Again, extreme deficiencies are rare when it comes to choline, but there is evidence to suggest that many people in western countries aren’t hitting the mark. Thus, it’s important that you take some steps to get that extra choline into your body!

Below you can find a table from the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements listing the recommended intakes of choline based on age!

The Brain Booster, Choline

Choline is a powerful nutrient that not only does good for your body and nervous system, but also your brain! It’s a precursor for some important compounds that are created in your body, and this makes it paramount for proper function. While still a fairly new nutrient in terms of discovery, its importance is profound. We can consume it to boost our natural levels of choline, and this is how you’ll avoid being deficient in it!

Great Sources of Choline

While your body can synthesize some choline naturally, most of it needs to be consumed from the diet. If you miss out on including it, you could see some trouble when trying to keep up with an adequate intake. So, let’s talk about some great sources of choline that you can easily get in your diet.

Beans

All kinds of beans are a great source of choline. This includes soybeans, lima beans, and even kidney beans. Any kind of legume is going to be a big part of the choline game. Not only do they contain tons of this essential nutrient, but you’re also getting high amounts of protein and fiber. You can easily mix these in with other foods containing choline to get your daily intake.

Quinoa

This grain has become a staple in healthy meals. Not only is it packed with fiber and lower in calories, but it contains protein. This makes it great for someone trying to pack some muscle or lose some body fat! Luckily for you, quinoa is also a fantastic way to get in more choline. This is another one of those foods that can be paired with other choline boosters for a supercharged meal.

Nuts

Foods like almonds are a natural, easy to get source of choline. They can be carried around for convenient snacks or even turned into something like a butter for toast. This makes getting choline in super easy, as you can just take them with you!

Cruciferous Veggies

You can get up to 13% of your daily choline needs with just a cup of cooked cauliflower. The same can be done with other cruciferous veggies like broccoli or Brussel sprouts. They pair well with other foods that contain choline, and you can easily make a great tasting meal with them. Not to mention the numerous other health benefits that these veggies come along with!

Poultry

Turkey and chicken are great ways to get a lean source of protein. They’re low in calories, high in protein, and packed with choline. They’re often used as the base for a healthy meal and can easily be adapted for tons of flavor and meal prep options!

Beef

While most tend to shy away from beef, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a place in a well-balanced diet. Beef is packed with tons of nutrients, of which are extremely bioavailable. Beef also touts some of the highest amounts of choline in animal foods! In addition to your normal cuts of beef like steak or roast, other parts of these land animals are great sources of choline. Beef liver and other organs are packed full of this essential nutrient. You can eat just 3 ounces of cooked beef liver and get 65% of your recommended intake of choline. While beef liver may not normally be on the menu, this is a great opportunity to try some new things!

Mushrooms

Fungi are a great way to add flavor and texture to dishes. They’re also powerhouses when it comes to nutrients. Mushrooms are rich in vitamin D, B vitamins, and choline. They’re a great option for the plant-based choline seeker.

Fish

Most fatty fish will come with a whopping amount of choline. This includes salmon, tuna, and cod which are also full of other essential nutrients. Most individuals who consume lower amounts of fish tend to have lower levels of choline as well. This goes to show that there’s some relationship between the two! There’s a lot that you can do with these kinds of fish when it comes to meal prep, which makes them a perfect protein source.

Whole Eggs

While you may hear that the whole egg is bad for you, this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, the yolks of eggs are packed with multiple nutrients needed for good health. Of these nutrients is of course choline! If you tend to only eat the egg whites, you’re actually missing out on one of the highest sources of choline you can find. Egg yolks contain up to 147mg of choline, which means you can eat 2 whole eggs to hit 54% of your recommended intake.

Conclusion

Alright, you’ve been given the run down on choline and what it can do for not only your body but your brain. It’s a crucial nutrient for your nervous system, memory, and even mood. While a deficiency in choline can be rare, it does happen, and many people miss the mark. Your body can only make so much of your needed choline, once you hit your cap you need to consume more in your diet.

Luckily, there are numerous ways of finding and consuming choline in foods. Plus, it’s what we do best here at LoCal Foodz! We create personalized meals for your needs, and most of the foods we have to offer contain choline naturally. So, not only can you find something to fuel your workouts or lifestyle, but you’ll also be getting a boost to the brain!

What new ways are you going to get choline into your diet?

Many of us have been there before— trying out another fad diet, feeling restricted and unsatisfied, and finally giving up and feeling guilty, only to start the cycle over again. Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of health. We need to fuel our bodies to function our best, but dieting doesn’t always leave us feeling that way. Intuitive eating teaches us to let go of restrictions and rules and listen to what our bodies and minds need. It helps us build a healthy and positive relationship with food and our bodies. Gentle nutrition is the final step in intuitive eating. It focuses on taking care of our bodies and minds and feeling satisfied while eating a balanced diet that gives us all the nutrition we need.

Nutrition should be a lifelong commitment, not a fad. To build these lifestyle changes, they need to be not only healthy but also sustainable. The fact is food is meant to be enjoyed and is not just there for survival. We need a balance. So, how can we be sure we’re supplying our bodies  proper nutrients in adequate amounts without counting, measuring, or obsessing? Cue gentle nutrition. Here are some ways to better understand gentle nutrition and how to get started.

Understand Your Food

Before we can eat intuitively and make healthy dietary choices without needing to read labels, we need to have at least a basic understanding of our food choices. For example, whole grains are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, while white bread is a simple carbohydrate that is not as rich in fiber and micronutrients. Take note of some healthy sources of fats and good protein sources, understand antioxidants, and so on. Learn about fiber and probiotics. You don’t need to get into the details, but you should have a general idea of what different categories of foods have to offer. Once you understand that, it’s easier to eat a balanced diet without paying attention to the nutrition label. Try our Balanced Meal Plan to make meals easier for you. We do the macro calculations, and you sit back and enjoy your food!

Take Note of How Foods Make You Feel

Friends enjoying a run

With intuitive eating, we try to let go of the idea that there are good and bad foods. As soon as you set limits on yourself, labeling foods as “bad” or off-limits, you start to feel restricted and fall into the pattern of dieting. Take notes of how you feel after eating your meals. It helps to write it down— what did you eat, and how did you feel afterward? You can use a food diary. This makes it easy to identify whether certain foods make you feel bad or good afterward. Everybody is different, and that is why no one diet works for everyone. You might have some intolerances or allergies that make you bloated or sick. Some foods might make you feel sluggish and heavy, while others give you energy and make you feel good. Write it all down until you notice patterns. That way, you’re not eliminating or restricting foods because someone told you to, but because you know they don’t make you feel good, and you don’t want them. You may still choose to treat yourself, and that’s fine! The reasons behind your food choices should always be positive and come from a place of self-care. You can still avoid certain foods or choose to eat plant-based, keto, or sugar-free, but your “why” is what makes the difference between dieting and gentle nutrition.

Differentiate Between Being Full and Satisfied

A big part of intuitive eating is tuning into your hunger cues and honoring them. If you’re hungry, eat. However, sometimes we eat a full meal, and while we no longer feel the physical hunger, we still aren’t satisfied. Intuitive eating focuses on both feelings because we don’t eat to simply be full— we also eat for enjoyment.Honor your cravings and eat in a way that leaves you satisfied both physically and mentally. When we don’t honor cravings, feelings of restriction start to pour in, and we don’t want that. If you eat a bowl of veggies but feel unhappy and want some pasta, then go for it! Pay attention to your food, try not to multitask while eating, and truly enjoy the experience of mealtime. This will also tremendously help with understanding and listening to your body and what it needs.

Zoom Out

Stop stressing about each meal and trying to balance out every plate with enough carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Look at the bigger picture. You can reflect on your food choices at the end of the day— did I eat a balanced diet today? Put all the meals together. Maybe your breakfast was primarily carbohydrates, but your dinner had lots of protein and veggies. As long as you feel good, that’s what matters. You may even wish to assess weeks at a time so that it feels less intimidating. Nobody’s perfect and intuitive eating embraces that. The goal of gentle nutrition is to eat a balanced diet overall, which means you don’t need to stress over each thing you eat but rather look at the big picture.

Prepare and Plan

Grocery Shopping

Although intuitive eating focuses on listening to your body, sometimes the easiest way to start with any lifestyle change is to plan and prepare. Have a rough idea of what meals you’d like to eat throughout the week or month, or at least what ingredients you want to have in your kitchen. Not only will this help you stay organized and save you time, but it will also help you plan balanced meals. When you go to the grocery store, try to cover all your bases— fruits, veggies, carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. That way, you have everything you need to make your nutritious meals. If you don’t have enough ingredients, eating intuitively while balancing meals can be tricky and intimidating.

Try New Things

The easiest way to eat a balanced diet and ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need is to diversify your grocery list. Every week, or however often you go grocery shopping, pick out a fruit or vegetable that you haven’t had in a while (or maybe ever). Not only will this allow you to get creative in the kitchen, but eating a variety of produce helps you get all the different vitamins and minerals that you need. Try to pick a variety of colors when you choose fruits and veggies, as the colors often correlate with different antioxidants and micronutrients. Eating the rainbow will brighten up your plate and is a fun way to ensure you’re getting a broad list of micronutrients. Aim for at least three colors on your plate. Try to incorporate different sources of protein, as well. Instead of having chicken every night, get creative and make a plant-based dinner with tofu or chickpeas. Our Plant-Based Meals can inspire you to try some new foods you may not have had before.

Cook At Home More

Cooking at home

While we don’t want to restrict anything, it’s a known fact that homemade meals are generally healthier than eating out constantly. You shouldn’t be afraid to eat at a restaurant with friends, but you should get to know your kitchen well. When time and your schedule allows, cooking can help build a healthy relationship with food because you can put love, time, and creativity into everything you eat. The why of intuitive eating and gentle nutrition is the most important part— if you’re doing something to care for your body and mental health versus having the mentality of restricting and guilt, then you’re on the right track.

Add to Your Favorite Meals

Instead of restricting, switch your mindset to adding. What can I add to this meal to make it even more nutritious while still tasting delicious? If you don’t like the taste of your new dish, feel free to stick to the original. Remember, it’s all about balance. One chocolate ice cream dessert won’t change anything, but if you can make it with bananas or avocado instead of heavy cream and still love the taste— why not? Get adventurous and find your love for cooking and improvising in the kitchen. Add some green peas to your mac and cheese, blend some spinach into your morning smoothies, or add some nuts and seeds to your muffins for some added omega-3 fats and protein.

Be Easy on Yourself

Enjoying ice cream

Remember that eating intuitively should make you feel good and improve your relationship with food. The principle itself is called “gentle” nutrition. You shouldn’t feel guilty for eating that piece of chocolate cake, eating white bread instead of whole wheat, or not having any protein in your dinner. The point of gentle nutrition is to guide you to a balanced diet and to help you let go of any negative feelings towards food. This is the final step in intuitive eating for a reason— if you’re stuck in a “diet” mentality and haven’t fully fixed any negative relationship with food you may have, focusing on nutrition can be a step backward.


Sources:
https://colleenchristensennutrition.com/getting-started-with-gentle-nutrition/
https://karalydon.com/intuitive-eating/practice-gentle-nutrition-intuitive-eating/
https://nourishrx.com/6-strategies-for-embracing-gentle-nutrition/
https://www.rachaelhartleynutrition.com/blog/how-to-practice-gentle-nutrition-in-intuitive-eating

How do you eat like a champion? From watching the Olympics in Tokyo, many people are feeling inspired by the endurance displayed by the world’s top athletes to begin fueling their own bodies a bit differently. For top-tier athletes, diet is closely tied with peak performance. The truth is that the “average person” doesn’t necessarily need the same caloric intake as athletes who spend hours training each day. For instance, the 12,000 calories that Michael Phelps consumed during training leading up to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing would do more harm than good for nearly everyone else. It’s not uncommon for Olympic athletes to consume double or triple the number of calories recommended for “ordinary” people during peak training periods.

While it’s easy to get caught up on the number of calories top-level athletes take in, the lesson is really found in the types of calories these athletes consume. There are plenty of eating tips that everyday people can borrow from Olympians for peak life performance. Let’s explore what we can learn from how Olympians eat.

Keeping Your Eye on the Prize Starts on the Plate: Modeling Your Diet After Olympians

You may know Laurie Hernandez as an Olympic gold medalist for the U.S. gymnastics teams. Laurie is also a big advocate of sharing tips for healthy eating. After competing in the Olympics for the first time at age 16, Laurie became committed to ensuring that she was fueling her body properly. This commitment to staying fueled both on and off the mat helped the gymnast become the youngest celebrity ever to win a top place on “Dancing with the Stars.” She recently shared a sample menu of her eating habits on a typical day with USADA. Here’s a look:

Keto Egg Scramble
  • Breakfast: Breakfast for Laurie typically includes a protein-rich mix of scrambled eggs, turkey and cheese. Something like a keto egg scramble fits in nicely with this type of plan. If she’s in a rush, she’ll choose some fruit or yogurt on the go. She’s also a fan of sitting down with a warm bowl of oatmeal on slower mornings. The one thing that Laurie has every morning is almond milk. In fact, the athlete swears by using almond milk in her coffee and cereal in place of regular milk.
  • Lunch: The middle meal of the day is usually a sandwich with grilled chicken or turkey. On days when she’s eating lighter because she’s headed to the gym, she’ll opt for a salad that contains fruit, meat and nuts to create a light, quick way to get a balanced meal without feeling overly full.
  • Dinner: For dinner, Laurie peppers in a mix of carbs, protein and vegetables. Her favorite dinnertime proteins are grilled chicken and salmon. Her carbs of choice are quinoa and brown rice.
  • Snacks: Yes, this Olympian does snack! However, don’t picture this top-level athlete shoving her hand into a bag of chips each night just yet. Laurie uses snacks to fill in any gaps her meals may have left to get various nutrient requirements in her diet. That means that her snacks are always intentional and meaningful. A typical snack for Laurie might include nuts, berries and bananas. Interestingly, she prefers fresh, whole foods over things like protein bars because she doesn’t like the uncertainty of the ingredients in prepackaged, mass-produced snacks. Laurie is a fan of homemade granolas that might include honey or chocolate chips for some wholesome sweetness.

The one meal tip that is true every single day for Laurie is that she never skips meals. The athlete recognizes the need to give the body complete, balanced nutrition that rests on her ability to plan ahead for each meal period of the day. While Laurie doesn’t track calories, she is consistent with having appropriate portions of nutrient-rich foods every day.

What Do You Need in Your Diet When Training Like an Athlete?

Let’s start with protein. Olympic athletes live for protein. However, anyone who works out or trains regularly should also prioritize a protein-rich diet. Just how much protein do you need when training? The answer can vary based on how you’re training. According to the USADA, this is how much protein is needed for various types of training:

  • Endurance: 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
  • Strength (Muscle Gain): 1.6 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
  • Strength (Muscle Maintenance): 1.6 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
  • Weight Restricted: 1.8 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.

Next, it’s time to focus on fat. It’s recommended that athletes consume 20 percent to 35 percent of their calories from fat. Some sources of healthy fat that are recommended in the official USADA guidelines include dairy products, cooked meats, fish, nuts and avocados.

It’s also recommended that athletes use their diets to promote gut health. To achieve proper gut balance for optimal health and performance, athletes can consume foods rich in probiotics. Getting the right balance of healthy bacteria in the gut via probiotics helps prevent illness and boost the body’s natural immune system. The easiest way to get probiotics in your diet is simply by eating yogurt. However, probiotics are also found abundantly in fermented foods like miso or keifer.

Hydration is also a big part of the Olympic diet. As you may know, 60 percent of body weight is water! When we train vigorously, we lose fluid at a rapid pace through our sweat and breath. It’s essential to replenish the water that is lost throughout a training session to ensure that we don’t decrease blood circulation in a way that leads to poor performance, tiredness and injury. Here’s a look at the hydration protocol outlined by the USADA:

  • Athletes should drink 7 ounces to 12 ounces of cold water before working out.
  • Drinking should not be restricted during workouts. Drinking 4 ounces to 8 ounces of a cold fluid is recommended every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Athletes should not wait to drink until they feel thirsty because dehydration begins before thirst forms.
  • Beverages with caffeine, alcohol and excessive carbs should be avoided.

What If You Want to Eat Like an Olympian Without Training?

You may be simply looking for some diet tips from Olympians even though you don’t necessarily need the hundreds or thousands of extra calories per day that are required when you’re in the midst of intense training. Many of the tips offered by top-level athletes still stand. The big point to walk away with for “ordinary people” looking for Olympic-level nutrition is that balance and consistency are the keys. The one thing that all Olympic athletes have in common is that they are never “surprised” by mealtimes. They know that being caught hungry at the last minute can lead to cravings that throw their eating plans off balance. If you’re wondering how to create a balanced meal plan, the goal is to keep a constant rotation of interesting and tasty vegetables, fruits, healthy grains and lean proteins on hand.

One thing that’s notable about Olympians is that they don’t shy away from snacking! While snacking has a bad reputation in popular culture, athletes view snacks as essential tools for making up for any nutritional gaps in their meals while also providing fuel between meals. When you plan to eat healthy, appetizing snacks, these foods can become “fuel boosters” that contribute to a healthy diet instead of sources of temptation that leave you feeling lethargic due to wonky blood sugar.

The final thing to remember is that it’s not necessary to always eat like you’re in training mode if you’re not an Olympian. Many nutritionists recommend using something called the 80/20 rule when planning your diet:

Following the 80/20 rule, you can “freestyle” your food plans 20 percent of the time as long as you’re sticking to a balanced, disciplined food plan 80 percent of the time.

An easy way to stick to the 80/20 rules is to have all of your meals planned out for Monday through Friday using a meal prep service before allowing yourself to enjoy time out with friends on the weekends. Planning ahead will help you avoid decision fatigue, which can sabotage your Olympic eating goals.

Just remember: Olympians don’t become Olympians without a plan. The easiest way to gear up for better mental and physical performance is to make a solid, no-fuss plan for healthy meals and snacks that allows you to be a champion of life!

Cravings have a bad rap for those looking to live a healthier lifestyle. This is often because the types of foods people tend to crave are typically found on their “naughty” list. Rarely do people complain of their out-of-control broccoli cravings. Instead, it’s the sugary, fatty, salty, overly-processed foods that tantalize our craving taste buds.

Gaining control of these cravings, however, begins with understanding what our cravings mean. Is the cause physical or emotional? Is it a genuine hunger, boredom, or the routine of eating that sparks a specific craving?

What Are Food Cravings?

The intense, almost insatiable desire to eat a specific food or flavor has been termed Food Cravings. For some, this craving may feel uncontrollable, as if the craving will not be satisfied until the food is consumed (sometimes in excess).

But not all cravings are caused by the same triggers. Both internal and external factors play a role in what you crave. For example, daily habits, brain chemistry or hormones, dehydration, lack of sleep, and more are all possible causes for certain cravings.

Many times, our brain is the culprit, as it aims to keep us alive and healthy by ensuring everything remains in balance. However, our brains don’t always go about it the right way. Cravings for food can be triggered by brain regions that are responsible for memory, pleasure, and reward. When you have a food craving, the hippocampus, insula, and caudate (parts of our brain linked to memory and pleasure sensing) are active.

Additionally, daily habits and stress are major contributors to food cravings. From poor sleep to a poorly managed stressful situation, every moment has the ability to impact the foods we crave.

Are Cravings a Sign of a Nutritional Deficiency?

It’s often assumed that we crave foods to fill nutritional deficiencies, however, this is a common misconception. External factors such as emotions and habits frequently play a larger part in influencing the foods we crave than internal bodily processes and hormones.

Although minor, hormonal imbalances may occur throughout our life, leading to certain cravings. This is most common during pregnancy and menopause in women, leading to low serotonin levels in the body. Serotonin impacts many bodily functions from motor skills to mood and is made from the essential amino acid, tryptophan, which enters our body through foods.

Many times, when people crave sugar or simple carbohydrates, the brain is actually craving a burst of serotonin. However, as sero­tonin returns to its normal level, you experience the ​“crash” and the cycle starts over. And thus, the popular belief of food cravings causing a desire for those “naughty foods” was born.

Are Particular Cravings Specific to Certain Bodily Needs?

Another widely held belief is that cravings are caused by nutrient deficiencies. Many individuals view cravings as the body’s way to correct deficiencies and imbalances in our daily food intake.

Others argue that, unlike hunger, cravings are mostly driven by what our brain wants rather than what our bodies require. While in some cases, cravings may reflect an insufficient intake of certain nutrients, more often than not, the particular craving is just that — a desire for something the body may or may not need.

Pica is a condition in which a person seeks nonnutritive substances like ice, dirt, soil, laundry, or cornstarch, among other things. Pica is more common in pregnant women and children, and the reason is unknown at this time. However, nutrient deficiencies are thought to play a role.

In other (more common) circumstances, people tend to crave high-carb, high-fat foods, rather than nutritious whole foods. Consequently, the craved foods are often not the best source of the nutrient commonly associated with the craving. Below are some common cravings and the most logical reasons for why we crave them.

Sugar

Sugar, such as glucose, is our brain’s favorite fuel and something we’ve been biologically trained to seek, so it’s no surprise that sugar is at the root of so many cravings. Unfortunately, our biology hasn’t caught up with the fact that sugar is readily available these days, thus sweet desires require special consideration.

Our bodies can break down many types of food into glucose for fuel. So when you find yourself craving sweets, try to stick with things like fruit to not only satisfy the desire but also provide dietary fiber, nutrients, and minerals.

Pairing sweet things with some protein or healthy fats, like a handful of nuts, helps stabilize blood sugar as well, keeping more of those cravings at bay.

Fat

Speaking of fat, many of our cravings for this macronutrient are for greasy, processed foods. However, that is often not what our bodies need. Our bodies depend on essential fatty acids for many vital functions, and we need some fat to help absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

But, the type of fat matters. Opt for more natural fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, olives, seeds, coconut oil, or MCT oil. These types of foods provide the vitamin absorption qualities our bodies may need while satisfying the craving our brain wants (without additional gut issues or guilt).

Salt

Much like sugar, salt can become a very addictive and easily craveable substance. While necessary for survival, it is far too common to see individuals over-consuming salt on a regular basis. Most people who crave salty foods are not deficient in this nutrient. A craving for salt is often a sign that our electrolyte levels are out of balance, not that we need salt in particular.

It could also indicate that dehydration is on the way. It’s no accident that pregnant women want salty foods as their water needs increase, as do their mineral requirements, which are commonly met by salt.

Adding a tiny pinch of salt to drinking water may help maintain hydration, as well as keep cravings for salty foods at bay.

Chocolate

As one of the most craved foods, chocolate deserves a special mention. With so many positives surrounding cocoa (decreased inflammation, improved heart and brain health, blood sugar, and more) it is often easily over-consumed and craved.

Seeing as many veer off their healthy lifestyle with chocolate, it’s important to pay attention to the type and quality of the chocolate consumed. for a square or two of dark chocolate when the craving hits.

Tips to Manage our Cravings

Before giving in to those cravings, try these tips to avoid over-indulging in anything that might hinder those nutrition goals.

  1. DRINK WATER: Try drinking a large glass of water and wait a few minutes. Oftentimes, food cravings fade away as the body was actually just thirsty. Furthermore, drinking plenty of water may have many health benefits. For instance, drinking water before meals can reduce appetite and help with weight loss.
  2. MANAGE STRESS: Food cravings are often triggered by stressful situations and used as a coping mechanism. Stress can impact the way our body functions and our overall health, but learning to manage stress may reduce the impact we feel in our food consumption. Regular physical activity or practicing relaxation techniques can help you manage stress and reduce blood levels of cortisol, a hormone that can make you gain weight, especially in the belly area.
  3. MEAL PREP: Skipping meals increases the chance of craving convenient snack foods while eating smaller healthy meals throughout the day maintains satiety and curbs cravings. If possible, try to plan meals for the day or upcoming week. Thankfully meal prep can make it easier to follow this tip. Whether following Keto, low-carb, high protein, or a simply balanced meal plan, there is a plan for you!
  4. MINDFULLY EAT: Keeping track of the foods/practicing mindful eating is a helpful way to observe our dietary habits. One 6-week study in binge eaters found that mindful eating reduced binge eating episodes from 4 to 1.5 per week. Journal food entries and include information around specific cravings such as the time of day, emotions, and the foods craved. This will provide valuable insight to identify patterns that are connected to specific habits and cravings.

Kicking the Cravings—Our Final Note

Cravings are very common. In fact, more than 50% of people experience cravings on a regular basis. They play a major role in weight gain, food addiction, and binge eating. It is much easier to resist cravings and their triggers once we are aware of them. It also makes eating healthy and losing weight a lot easier.

Following the tips on this list, such as drinking more water, planning our meals, and practicing mindfulness, provides the ability to take charge next time cravings try to take over.

Cravings Infographic

Weight maintenance is a part of health maintenance for many people. Setting weight goals can be an important way to reach health objectives based on your personal goals for fitness and well-being. However, understanding how to set weight goals can be challenging. When creating a weight-loss plan, there are two prevailing theories to know about called the set point theory and the settling point theory. Knowing the science behind both can put you in a good spot for understanding how to craft a way of eating, exercising and living that’s ideal for your body.

What We Know About How Our Bodies Use Food

Most people understand weight loss as a simple formula that’s based on calories in versus calories out. That means that we tend to gain or lose weight based on what we’re eating versus how much energy we’re expending. Is it really that simple? The answer can depend on which scientist you ask.

The truth is that your body’s relationship with food is complicated. While it makes sense that excess fat storage occurs when there is an excess amount of calories taken in without being expended, it’s also very likely that a variety of physiological factors also determine how the body uses food. This is where the understanding of setting point versus settling point comes into play. Let’s dive in for a crash course on the things nobody ever told you about what your body thinks of your diet.

What Is the Set Point Theory?

The foundation of the set point theory is that the human body has an “internal control mechanism” that wants your body to maintain a certain body fat percentage. This “set point” varies by person based on physiological factors. In fact, scientists even know where this “set point” mechanism is located. It is believed to be nested in the brain’s lateral hypothalamus that is responsible for regulation each person’s metabolism. The hypothalamus communicates directly with your body’s fat cells to release insulin and hunger-related hormones. At the core of the set point model is the idea that we each have a genetically preset weight range that our bodies are actively trying to get back to regardless of our behavioral changes. While we may see temporary changes in weight, our bodies are working behind the scenes to override our efforts to get us back to that preset weight range by resetting our metabolic function.

If you’ve ever felt like you gained or maintained weight when eating less, it may not have just been your perception. Your “set point” regulators may have triggered a slowing of your metabolism to ensure that you don’t dip below your “set” percentage of body fat. In fact, studies have shown that severe caloric restriction can depress resting metabolism by 23 percent.

What Is the Settling Point Theory

The settling point theory focuses on behavior over biology. First proposed by a researcher named James Hill of the University of Colorado, the settling point theory hinges on the idea that we settle into habits for diet and physical activity based on several factors. However, it does assign some importance to biological influence when determining weight-related habits. This is where the confusion between set point and settling point comes in for some people. The big difference here is that the settling point theory cites genetic predisposition as an influence on behavioral choices instead of being responsible for actually setting your metabolism. Here’s a look at some factors other than genetic predisposition that are believed to impact weight based on the settling point theory:

  • Learned behaviors.
  • Environmental cues.
  • Sensitivity to food-related cues.

Researchers who back the settling point theory point to evidence that health interventions focused on incorporating physical activity into a weight-loss plan have the greatest success rates. It’s very important to note that the settling theory doesn’t “blame” people for their weight problems because it assumes that weight gain comes down to “bad” behavior. This theory simply recognizes that a combination of genetic and learned behaviors influence eating behaviors. For people trying to lose weight, the settling point theory can be more encouraging than the set point theory because it means that obstacles to weight loss are technically removable with behavioral changes. By contrast, the set point theory is based on the idea that our bodies essentially have internal “weight clocks” that are set for a certain percentage of body fat that cannot be undone.

Separating Fact From Fiction: Is the Set Point Theory True?

The answer is that we aren’t sure yet. The set point theory is something that researchers are still studying. The set point theory may have some validity. However, the exact amount of power that our body’s internal “weight clock” has on our ability to lose weight has yet to be determined. Many researchers are quick to point out that our “set point” might not be as set as we think, even if this theory turns out to be true. In fact, we can actually sabotage our personal set points if we create long-term habits for excessive eating paired with a lack of exercise. Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard point out that it’s actually possible to create a higher set point beyond our original predetermined set point through long-term habits.

Of course, the risk with only subscribing to the set point theory is that there’s a lot of discouragement wrapped up in this theory. The set point theory is not permission to “give up” on healthy eating simply because the science says you have no control over your weight. By contrast, this information should be used to craft a tailored, highly personalized diet plan that takes into account your specific nutritional needs.

Tying the Two Theories Together

We know that “starvation” diets can slow the metabolism and lead to weight gain. We also know that exercise is one of the most effective tools for lowering body weight. In addition to burning calories in the moment, exercise also turns us into calorie-burning machines even when we’re not actively working out because it builds muscle that passively burns more fat. This is where the theories of set point and settling point intersect. What may seem like two conflicting points of view clashing is the marriage of two aspects of how the body maintains a healthy weight.

Let’s do a roundup of what we know based on what was covered so far. The settling point theory pushes the idea that physical exercise can help us “hack” our predispositions to get within our desired weight range. Next, even researchers who follow the set point theory agree that unhealthy behavioral patterns can actually increase our set points. It seems that the answer is a healthy, balanced lifestyle regardless of which theory we follow. More importantly, we need to understand the importance of using the right fuel if we try to use exercise and activity as a balance to whatever our genetic predispositions might be. With the understanding that not consuming enough calories can lead to weight gain under the set point theory in mind, we know that consuming enough healthy calories is essential for reducing our set points.

Making Sense of Set Point and Settling Point From a “Whole Picture” Standpoint

When looking at these two theories, we should really be focusing on set point, and settling point instead set point versus set point. That’s because both theories ultimately boil down to the idea that healthy, nourishing foods paired with a good amount of physical activity make it easier to maintain a healthy weight. While not everyone has the time or means to pay someone to design a genetically specific diet plan for them, we can all focus on high-protein foods full of healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants and essential minerals in appropriate portions.

One of the best ways to avoid that “creep” toward a higher set point is to be conscious about meal planning to avoid the urge to reach for whatever is fast and convenient. Unfortunately, grabbing for the nearest thing when we don’t have healthy meals and snacks waiting for us often means grabbing for calorie-dense, nutrient-void foods. Research shows that meal planning is associated with a healthier diet, a better variety of foods, weight loss and reduced obesity. That could mean that opting for something like a complete high-protein meal plan tailored to meet your daily calorie goals could be ideal for making sure you’re getting the calories you need for energy and health without the perils of being short on time. If one time of the day is your weak spot due to a hectic schedule, you may want to focus on just making sure you always have a high-powered, energy-boosting breakfast waiting for you.

Do these insights about set point versus settling point ring some bells about your own experience with trying to maintain a specific weight? Let us know if you can relate to feeling like your weight has been “set” by genetic factors. You can also let us know what you plan to do with this information now that you know more!

Summer is just around the corner, but Spring and the annoying sneezes, sniffles, and other allergy symptoms that come with it are still a daily annoyance for many of us. But we have good news for you! Did you know some foods can help alleviate allergy symptoms?

Yup, you read that well! As crazy as it sounds, your nutrition plays a significant role in the prevention of allergy symptoms. So, get ready for your allergy season meal prep because it’s time to discover which foods will become your spring allies. 

What are allergies, and what causes them?

An allergy is an inflammatory response of the immune system triggered, among other substances, by histamine, responsible for the main symptoms (itchy eyes, rhinorrhea, etc.). These symptoms begin to appear when an allergen overcomes the first defensive barriers of our body: the skin and the mucous membranes.

Any natural substance can cause allergies, either through breathing, ingestion, or contact. These substances are known as allergens.

So, to prevent allergies, the best thing you can do is pamper your digestive system since 70% of our immunity comes from it. It is also important to make sure we are providing our liver with ample support before allergies appear.

According to a recent article published by the Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology Associates of Tampa Bay, if the liver can’t process a substance, the immune system becomes overstimulated. Hence, recognizing it as an allergen. The liver then produces antibodies (immunoglobulins). These antibodies set off a reaction, releasing many inflammatory chemicals or histamines, causing an allergic reaction.

Therefore, as you can see, our diets are just as crucial as avoiding such allergens. Thus, healthy meals can do more to prevent allergies than you’d think. So, let’s see which foods boost the immune system and minimize the effects of an allergic reaction.

13 Foods that prevent seasonal allergies

Healthy foods are essential to take care of the intestinal wall, the digestive mucosa, and the microbiota (our healthy gut bacteria). When our intestines perform their function correctly, it produces beneficial substances. And so, we must promote liver function.

With that said, there are, of course, some foods that may harm you, especially irritating foods such as coffee, gluten, dairy, or sugar. However, everybody is different, and what causes you an allergic reaction may not cause an allergic reaction to others.

Remember, it is crucial to talk to your health care provider if you suspect you might have an allergy, so you can determine the source of the allergy.

The following foods are beneficial when it comes to preventing season allergies. Make sure to incorporate them into your diet to help your body be better prepared for seasonal changes.

Apples

An apple a day keeps the doctor away! Apples are rich in quercetin, a flavonoid that tones the immune system and helps minimize the allergic response. An apple a day (raw or cooked) is enough to reap its benefits!

Onions

Onions are not just delicious and can enhance any dish, but they also support liver function thanks to its rich content in sulfur amino acids, necessary for liver function. But, that’s not all, just like apples, onions are also rich in quercetin, a powerful natural antihistamine antioxidant. And, on top of that, onions are potent prebiotics, which helps feed the good bacteria that live in our intestines and promote our immunity, which helps us prevent allergic reactions.

Green tea

Green tea contains a substance called epigallocatechin gallate, which helps neutralize a receptor involved in the production of the allergic response. In addition, green tea is rich in antioxidants with anti-inflammatory action. We recommend drinking 1 cup of green tea a day to make the most out of it.

Carrots

Rich in beta-carotene, a type of pigment responsible for the vibrant orange color of carrots, these substances help prevent allergy symptoms. In addition, carrots are a great source of vitamin A, which is a key vitamin to treat skin conditions caused by allergies.  Whether cooked or raw, carrots and all other vegetables rich in beta-carotene (all orange and yellow vegetables) and vitamin A have a protective function on the immune system.

Garlic

Garlic

Keep away vampires and allergies! Garlic is known for its powerful capacity to strengthen the immune system. For years, garlic has been a part of traditional and holistic medicine for its many health properties. Among these benefits, we find the prevention of allergies and the strengthening of the immune system.

Garlic contains substances that inhibit certain inflammatory enzymes that can cause allergic reactions. To make the most out of this superfood, try our Garlic Celery Chicken.

Cabbage

Cabbage is rich in glutamine, an amino acid that helps heal the intestinal wall when hyperpermeability. This amino acid promotes the functions of the digestive system. Therefore, cabbage is a natural ally for your immunity, which plays a key role in the prevention of allergies.

Moreover, cabbage is rich in vitamin C. In fact, did you know that cabbage is the single most rich in vitamin C vegetable out there? Vitamin C is necessary for liver function and to aid the digestive system, which we know are two main factors that can improve the symptoms of seasonal allergy.

Spinach

Widely known for its benefits to detoxify the body, spinach also aids liver function. Thus, its consumption may be beneficial to treat symptoms of seasonal allergy.

Besides, its power to detoxify the body also promotes better management or prevention of symptoms of allergic reactions. What’s more, the greener the leaves, the richer in chlorophyll, which helps purify the blood.

Cruciferous vegetables

Some people with allergies struggle to remove toxins through the liver and kidneys. If the toxins get into the body, it raises the chances of inflammation, which leaves an allergic person even more sensitive. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage can assist the process, thus, preventing or reducing symptoms.

Turmeric and hot water

Turmeric and ginger

On one hand, the curcumin present in turmeric is a powerful antioxidant with strong anti-inflammatory properties. And, on the other hand, ginger improves digestion and boosts our natural defenses while reducing inflammation. These factors play a significant role in the prevention of allergic symptoms.

Fermented foods

Fermented vegetables, such as pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi feed the gut microbiota. But that is not all, beverages like yogurt or kefir are also great alternatives.

In particular, the families of bacteria that help alleviate and prevent rhinitis symptoms the most are the Lactobacillus, found in yogurt and milk kefir, and Bifidobacterium, which have been shown to be important allies in alleviating the symptoms of all sorts of allergies.

Chia seeds

The seeds of chia are essential to prevent and improve allergies because they are a good source of omega-3, a potent anti-inflammatory.

According to a recent study published in the Japanese Society of Allergology, omega-3 fatty acids show efficacy in the prevention or amelioration of asthma and allergic diseases, as well as benefits in inflammatory responses.

Salmon

Just like chia seeds, salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which as previously mentioned, can improve asthma and symptoms of seasonal allergies.

What’s more, a 2005 study from Germany published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that the more fatty acid people had in their bloodstream, the less their risk of allergic sensitivity. The American Heart Association recommends consuming 8 ounces of fish per week. 

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Although when we think of vitamin C, we instantly think of all citruses, such as oranges and lemons, the truth is that tomatoes are an outstanding source of vitamin C.

In fact, a medium-size tomato contains 26 percent of our recommended daily value of vitamin C. But that is not all; tomatoes also offer lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that prevents the symptoms of seasonal allergies, such as sneezing and excessive mucus. This compound called lycopene is more easily absorbed by the body when it’s cooked.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of your diet, if you believe you suffer from any type of allergy, you should always consult with your physician. However, remember that during springtime, it is common to have some type of allergy. In fact, according to the Washington Post, 24.4 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies, which is 14 percent of the population.

Now that you know what foods might help reduce allergy symptoms or could even help prevent them, we recommend you build your own Custom meals based on your allergies and what you want to prioritize. By building your own custom meal, you can remove food allergens (for example, if you’re allergic to shrimp), and  also build meals that are nutritionally focused on   boosting your immunity. Choose the foods that will address your allergies and enjoy the benefits of proper nutrition.

While no food is a replacement for any treatment for seasonal allergies, the food and nutrients you supply your body with can help tremendously! 

Our animal instinct leads us to prefer foods with warm colors, think yellow, red, and orange. However, even those of colder colors, such as blue and purple are also just as important. You probably heard the famous phrase: “Eat the rainbow”, and there’s a pretty good reason why that statement is essential.

A varied diet is the key to providing our body with the proper nutrition it needs on a daily basis. However, sometimes we may have a hard time knowing just how much of each type of nutrient we need, and that’s where understanding the nutrition of our foods can help you along the way. So, today we have gathered all the perks of each of the colors of nature’s food palette. Are you ready to eat the rainbow?

Let’s see what the rainbow of food has to offer to your health:

Below there’s a list containing all the benefits of each color group: Yellows, purples, reds, greens, and even whites.

Yellow and Orange

There’s so much to expect from colors that represent youth, joy, vitality, light, and the sun. Yellows and oranges in both fruits and vegetables are a good indicator of high content of Vitamin C, which stimulates the production of collagen, keeps the skin smooth and young, and our joints and ligaments strong. Hence, including yellow and orange foods is vital.

When we think of orange we automatically think of oranges, carrots, and sweet potatoes, right? Well, we owe this vibrant color to the beta-carotenes present in those foods. This is, perhaps, the most important property of these foods, since our body transforms it into vitamin A.

Carrots, pumpkin, mangoes, pears, and peaches are just some of the foods that provide us with quality nutrients, such as beta-carotene and also flavonoids. The latter offers antioxidant functions, reinforces the benefits of vitamin C, slows down degenerative processes, and protects the heart.

Keep it orange with our pick: Veg Buddha Bowl

Green

They say the darker, the better. And that probably stems from the fact that dark leafy greens are among the best sources of nutrition. Besides, the green team is probably the largest among vegetables. So, without even giving it too much thought, whenever we think of “green” we instantly relate the color to “health”, and for a good reason. 

Green vegetables are rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K. But, that’s not all, some green vegetables are also rich in B-vitamins, such as broccoli and spinach. Among the big family of greens, we can find all sorts of fruits and vegetables, from kiwis to avocados, to leafy greens, asparagus, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale. 

What’s more, these vegetables are usually rich in lutein – a powerful antioxidant, but also high in folic acid, magnesium, fiber, and potassium. These vegetables are also rich in carotenoids-antioxidants that protect the cells. According to recent studies, these antioxidants play a key role in tackling the early stages of cancer. Furthermore, greens are very low in calories, so they are ideal to load up on if you’re trying to lose weight.

So, if you don’t know exactly what foods you can include in your diet to make green taste delicious, you can try our Organic Soba Noodles!

White

There’s plenty of foods included in this color range: garlic, cauliflower, onions, parsnips, leek, cabbage, and potatoes, to name a few. White vegetables and fruits provide us with phytochemicals such as alkynes, anthoxanthins, and inulin. These vital nutrients help us maintain low blood pressure, fight infections, and act as food for our good gut bacteria. Most white vegetables are important sources of prebiotics. Prebiotics nourish a group of microorganisms that populate the intestine, which helps us keep safe from viral and bacterial infections.

Unfortunately, white vegetables are normally forgotten, as the brightest colors of the rainbow tend to get all the fame. However, the variety of fruits and vegetables that falls into this category is quite large. But, even if you think your white vegetables are not pretty much Instagram-worthy, clear those ideas from your mind, because white vegetables and fruits have much to offer from vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that are essential to your overall health. 

This group of vegetables is a good source of vitamin C and group B vitamins, potassium, and magnesium, as well as phytochemicals like potassium, magnesium, fiber, and antioxidants. They also help reduce cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, prevent type II diabetes. So, next time remember: Don’t judge a vegetable by its color, especially if you can make our Chickpea with cauliflower and potato bowl out of it!

Red and Purple

Bright and eye-catching, red foods evoke passion and exoticism. But besides from its vibrant and bright tempting colors, this group has a lot to offer. Fruits and vegetables like apples, red bell peppers, strawberries, pomegranates, tomatoes, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and eggplants are just a few examples of this wide range of nutrient-rich goodies.

Foods of this color are another source of vitamin C, magnesium, and phytochemicals. But above all, they contain lycopene, a type of carotenoid, which has been the subject of various studies for its many great qualities.

However, the darker varieties, such as blueberries and blackberries are rich in anthocyanins, which according to recent studies, seem to improve cholesterol levels and help regulate blood sugar levels. Anthocyanins are the component that gives these fruits and vegetables their distinctive red or purple color. But, that’s not all it does! These nature miracles can also help protects us, and even fight, oxidative stress, a process that’s known for promoting cardiac disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurodegenerative complications.

Both red and purple foods are essential to our heart health, but also, to maintain a good memory and stay focused throughout the day. With today’s distractions, it can be hard to stay laser-focused on work and our daily tasks, with so much to do, so many emails to respond to, and dozens of notifications that make it even worse. In this sense, this compound called lycopene, in addition to protecting our cardiovascular system has a protective role against various types of cancer, research shows.

So, next time you try our Breakfast Sandwich, or our Impossible Tacos don’t forget that you’re not just eating a delicious meal, you’re also contributing to your long-term health.

How to eat by colors

Now that you know exactly what’s on your plate when you see a colorful and vibrant Instagrammable meal, let’s see how you can implement this into your daily routine. We know how hard it can be to cook all your meals for the day. Not only this can take hours away from our day, and we know how busy people are today. No matter if you’re in a lockdown or if you’re on the go. Apparently staying at home ended up being much more demanding than we thought it could be, so yes, unfortunately, staying home does not equal more time to prepare our healthy meals.

However, that’s where we come in, to save you some time, so you can still nurture your body and stay on track, depending on your goals. So, today we wanted to take this opportunity to share a few ideas on how you can eat the rainbow just a few clicks. Are you ready?

The trick to keep eating healthy meals consistently is meal prep. We know, you heard it all over the internet, so we don’t need to go over just how wonderful it is. But you know it, it saves time, money, and the best thing is you don’t have to clean after cooking. Who doesn’t want that? But, the key to successful meal prep is thinking of the week ahead and understanding how to build your weekly meals.

As a general rule, and as you probably imagine by now, the more colors we add to our diet, the healthier we will be eating. So, while you can always choose one of our pre-determined plans, you can still make your own or find alternatives. Sometimes you’ll see you can swap meals in case you don’t like that option. However, when swapping it, you need to see the big picture. Are you including enough vegetables and fruits? Are you providing your body with enough vitamin C, how about vitamin B?

Now, before you read this article, this could have been harder to guess. But now, as a general rule, you can guide yourself by the colors of your meals. This is easy to deduce after examining the main color groups. And, it goes without saying that we are talking about colors found naturally in food, not artificially colored and processed foods, which is great because that is exactly what you can find here.

However, here are a few tips that will help you along the way:

  • Choose fruits and vegetables in season.
  • Choose a vegetarian dish from time to time to load up on vegetables and fruits.
  • Looking for a snack? Choose a piece of fruit!
  • Be original when combining vegetables. The more variety, the better.
  • Make sure that at least a quarter of your plate is vegetables, this can be a salad, steamed spinach, broccoli, potatoes, you name it!

As you can see, eating by color is an easy way to eat healthily. Not only is it going to help you achieve your goals, lose weight or maintain weight or build muscle while staying lean, but it can also help you live a longer and healthier life. We hope did you have learned something today and that this information helps you make better decisions for your nutrition from now on. And remember – eat the rainbow and don’t judge food by its color. Bon appétit!

We all eat. We all have to eat. Generally, we all love to eat. While our relationship with food is entirely natural, it can also be surprisingly complicated. That’s because eating isn’t just a physical act. There is a strong psychological component behind our eating behaviors and habits. Many of us have motivations for eating the way that we do that we aren’t fully aware of in our conscious minds. Yes, there are emotional, family, cultural, economic and biological underpinnings that can influence our eating behaviors. That’s precisely why a one-size-fits-all diet can never work. It’s also why fad diets can fizzle out quickly.

While many people find short-term success with cutting out specific foods by following diets like low-carb and keto, these changes may not be ideal for everyone looking for sustained results gained through overall healthy habits. Focusing on forming a healthy relationship with food is essential regardless of the specific diet protocol you find works best with your body. Here’s a look at what our diets should be doing for us when everything is in alignment:

  • Giving us increased energy.
  • Helping us to be alert enough to “show up” for life.
  • Allowing us to enjoy food!
  • Improving our health by delivering the nutrition we need to thrive.
  • Fueling us for an active life.

Here’s a look at what our diets should not be doing for us:

  • Serving as a way to hide our feelings by being distracted instead of dealing with our problems.
  • Allowing us to feel as though overindulging is the only way we can feel in control of something.
  • Creating avoidable, diet-specific issues with our weight, blood sugar, cholesterol or blood pressure.
  • Curing boredom.
  • Causing shame.

Yes, food should be an experience that we enjoy. However, we shouldn’t necessarily be viewing food as a psychological crutch. That’s not to say that food can’t provide psychological benefits. For instance, having a delicious lunch outdoors with friends can be a soul-nourishing experience. For some people, planning meal prep for a busy upcoming week allows them to feel excited about being ahead of the game.

The First Step: Separating Emotional Hunger From True Hunger

Emotional Hunger is when you think you’re hungry due to stress, happiness or boredom. By contrast, true hunger is a gradual process where your hunger builds up while also providing you with cues to stop eating when you’re satisfied. Generally, people who eat out of emotional hunger will continue eating past satiation. This often leads to feelings of guilt or shame.

“Boredom increases eating in an attempt to distract from this experience, especially among people high in self-awareness,” according to a 2015 study examining why consuming food is used as a tool to escape awareness. The researchers in that study ultimately concluded that boredom could actually promote eating healthy if we’re smart about it. They found that eating more exciting foods is the key to formulating a dietary intervention. That means that people looking to break the cycle of emotional eating may be able to pivot to healthier, balanced diets by eating foods that are exciting and interesting. It’s a great reason to try new foods like organic soba noodles, quinoa bowels or organic strawberry chia pudding.

Stopping the Cycle of Stress Eating

Stress eating is another primary culprit for poor dietary choices. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 27 percent of adults admit to eating to manage stress. What’s more, 34 percent of those who report either overeating or eating unhealthy foods due to stress say that this behavior is a habit.

Stress can impact our food preferences. Studies show that physical and emotional stress prompt the intake of foods that are high in fat and sugar. Once the fat and sugar are ingested, our stress response and emotions are dampened. As a result, we feel temporarily pacified in the moment. However, many people experience a food “hangover” after using food as a coping technique. This can create a very vicious cycle that leaves you feeling tired, stressed and unproductive. For example, you may reach for a box of sugary cereal because you are stressed while staying up late to get a deadline completed for work. While all that sugar may ease your anxiety in the moment, you will soon have a sugar crash that causes you to feel sluggish and unproductive. This can make it even harder to get through your work to meet your deadline. As a result, you’ll miss even more sleep because you’ll stay up later. That equals a very unproductive night followed by a tough morning. You’re already setting yourself up for an energy deficit in the morning that may perpetuate your stress-overeating-crashing cycle. This is precisely why so many people feel chronically stressed and tired. By contrast, reaching for a high-protein, low-sugar snack to get a sustained energy boost while powering through a work session can help you avoid crashes.

Don’t Sabotage an Opportunity to Build a Healthy Relationship With Food

Some people believe that deprivation is the only way to gain control over cravings and “out of control” eating. In reality, this only feeds into a dangerous cycle of feeling deprived, resentful and out of control in your relationship with food. While having techniques for delaying gratification instead of grabbing for the closest thing when cravings strike is wise, trying to outsmart your body through deprivation is always a bad idea when the goal is to create a balanced, nurturing relationship with food. Here are some simple ways to correct the path if you’ve drifted into an unhealthy territory with eating:

  • Don’t skip meals. Plan a meal menu ahead of time if you struggle with knowing what to eat. Prepared, made-to-order delivered meals can help you to stay consistent about getting the proper nutrition if this is a place where you tend to lose your way.
  • Keep a judgment-free food journal. The goal is accountability over blame or regret.
  • Drink plenty of water! In addition to keeping you satisfied, it’s just good for you!
  • Devote your full attention to eating when you’re eating. Carve out a time for eating when you’re not driving, working or watching television. Eating while doing another task reduces enjoyment. “Distracted eating” is linked to weight gain. When we eat while we’re distracted with something else, we also tend to engage in “repeated eating” because we’re not getting the full eating experience.

This is not meant to be a set of strict “rules” to follow. The goal should be to experience the nourishing, delicious food you’re engaging with to avoid the feeling that you’re left wanting more. When we eat based on automatic emotional reasons, we often find that we’re never really full because we haven’t allowed ourselves to truly be present while eating. We’re always chasing the next bite.

A Path Toward a Healthier Food Mindset: Practicing Mindful Eating

One of the ways to overcome automatic eating behaviors is to practice mindful eating. If you’ve spent time researching wellness and self-care, you probably already know that mindfulness can help us combat stress, enjoy our lives and provide perspective. Mindfulness is simply the “quality” or “state” of being conscious of something. While many people use mindfulness techniques to learn how to be still in the moment during everything from meditation to breathing exercises, few ever stop to consider the value of mindfulness when it comes to eating.

Simply making an effort to be aware of your eating experience is a form of mindful eating. When enjoying healthy meals, take time to notice the colors, textures, aromas and flavors of the food you’re eating. Consider how the beautiful, vibrant colors are full of vitamins and antioxidants that will help to keep your body strong.

Here is a visual guide to mindful eating.

Vector illustration with cartoon rules on mindful eating theme.

The biggest rule of mindful eating is that distractions aren’t allowed! While a dining companion is allowed, you’ll want to shut off any electronics that could take you away from the moment. If you struggle with rushing through meals in a way that makes you finish your plate before your body even feels full, consider setting a timer for 20 minutes. This will help you to pace your bites. The emphasis should be on taking small, slow bites that you savor. The plus side to this is that chewing your food properly actually aids in digestion to help you absorb more usable nutrients. Food mindfulness can even begin before your meals start. When you catch yourself reaching into the fridge or pantry for a snack, always take time to ask yourself if you’re truly hungry. This is a good opportunity for you to explore any anxiety, boredom or feelings of avoidance that may be compelling you to distract yourself with food instead of addressing your emotions.

Final Thoughts on Having a Healthy Food Mindset

Like all things related to the brain and body, diet psychology comes down to making a decision to change for the better. The goal isn’t to cut out comfort foods from your life forever. It’s simply important to be intentional and mindful when it comes to how, what and when we’re eating to make sure that we’re eating to fuel our biological needs instead of our emotional needs. There are many other appropriate outlets in life for getting our emotional needs met. The bottom line is to go in prepared by having a plan for each meal that will help you to avoid the emotional pull of feel-good foods that don’t actually leave you feeling good.

Are you ready to put a stop to emotional eating and become more mindful in your eating habits? Take the first step by shopping for fresh, healthy meals. Our meals are proportioned perfectly to help satisfy you when hungry and help you stop eating full.

Have you ever felt like your body has an internal “timer” that makes you crave snacks before bed? It turns out there’s some science behind this phenomenon. While many people blame that all-too-familiar “snack attack” that tends to hit between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on everything from boredom to lack of willpower, researchers have made some interesting discoveries that point to the idea that our internal clocks set the snack alarm for the evening hours.

If you believe the research, your own natural circadian rhythm may be behind the strong urge to snack that you can’t seem to shake. This is need-to-know information for anyone struggling to shake off the habit of snacking in the evening. While you may not be able to change the biological factors that drive humans to snack, understanding what your body is “looking for” when it compels you to grab for those chips or chocolate cookies could help you formulate a plan for achieving a better nutritional balance.

The Science Behind Evening Snack Attacks: How Circadian Rhythm Impacts Hunger Cues

One curious observation is that people don’t tend to be “ravenous” in the morning even though they’ve just fasted for roughly eight hours. In fact, breakfast is typically the smallest meal of the day for the average person. This fact led researchers to wonder why people aren’t at their hungriest in the morning.

It turns out that our natural circadian rhythm drives hunger in anticipation of overnight fasting. This is why it’s so common for people to get hungry before bed, even if they’ve eaten what would be considered adequate meals. What’s more, our hunger declines as the night goes on to stop hunger-induced wakefulness from disrupting our sleep.

For many people, the temptation to snack at night can feel a little bit like having a devil on their shoulder urging them to grab for those crunchy, sweet and salty treats. In reality, what’s happening to us on a biological level isn’t so far away from that imagery. The brain and body are conspiring to try to persuade you to “stock up” for the night.

It turns out that our bodies are smart enough to know that the most efficient way to “store up” calories before a fast is to eat high-calorie, high-fat foods. In fact, researchers were able to identify how our internal circadian rhythm actually induces cravings for sweets, salty foods and starchy foods. While this may seem frustrating when you’re trying to be disciplined about your diet, our bodies really are just trying to do us a favor!

There is an evolutionary advantage to having your largest meal of the day in the evening just before bed. During times of food shortages, eating the bulk of your calories just before bed allows you to store up energy overnight while you’re sleeping. That means that your body can distribute energy while it’s in a rest state. By contrast, food that is consumed in the morning can be burned off quickly.

The problem that many people run into when following the natural hunger cues that are dictated by the circadian rhythm is that they don’t necessarily need to store up energy while they sleep. In fact, this built-in hunger cycle that is intended to keep us alive in lean times may actually be putting our health at risk. There is evidence that consuming the largest meal of the day in the evening could be contributing to the rise of obesity in the United States.

Is there anything that we can do to ease the cravings that come knocking at night? According to researchers, hunger guided by the circadian rhythm occurs independently of other factors. However, maintaining a balanced, complete diet can make it easier to decipher the difference between “genuine” hunger and the body’s personal snack alarm.

Avoiding the Circadian Rhythm “Snack Trap”

Hint: Planning ahead is the key!

The best way to effectively fight an evening snack attack is to ensure that you’re getting appropriate nutrition the rest of the day. This will help you decipher between genuine hunger caused by the need for more calories and a biological urge to “load up” before fasting. If the theory regarding the circadian rhythm impacting hunger patterns is correct, everyone is hit regardless of how much they’ve eaten in a day. However, we can set ourselves up for extreme nighttime hunger if we haven’t adequately nourished our bodies during the day.

Start With a Solid Breakfast

Try our Texas Egg Scramble

Most people don’t crave a big breakfast. However, it’s still important to make sure that you’re planning a balanced, healthy breakfast that will help you power through the first portion of the day with the energy needed to fuel your brain and body. When planning breakfast, you want to avoid high-sugar, high-carb foods that will cause your blood sugar to spike and drop. This can be a recipe for feeling terrible before 10 a.m. In fact, having a sugary, “carby” breakfast can leave you in worse shape than not breaking your morning fast. That’s why things like protein, fruit and whole grains are commonly recommended as breakfast staples. It takes planning to get the right amount of protein and nutrition in the morning. It’s so easy to grab for something that’s “sweet and easy” without really paying attention to the nutrition label.

Plan a Snack-Busting Lunch

It’s the same story with lunch. If the goal is sustained energy using fresh ingredients and lean proteins, be smart about meal prep instead of falling prey to prepackaged foods that are easy to grab on the go. You also don’t want to skip lunch! Many people who do this assume that they will consume fewer calories over the course of a day. However, the circadian rhythm can come calling with a vengeance if we simply haven’t consumed enough calories during the day.

Strategize for Dinner

Dinner is the most important meal when it comes to battling the “circadian munchies” that come on strongly in the evening. Dinner is really the last defense against an overwhelming urge to snack due to the fact that it’s the last meal we’re having before we go into an overnight fast.

One of the best ways to stay feeling full and satisfied longer is to have healthy meals containing proteins and healthy fats. Things like chicken breast, avocado, steak and lentils can provide that sustained energy needed to fight off the urge to snack.

Try our Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Based on what researchers think they have discovered about how the circadian impacts hunger, our body is truly trying to push us toward eating our highest concentration of calories just before bed. Feeling full and satisfied may make it much easier to resist cravings for sweet and salty foods that will fill in the nutritional gaps that our bodies are feeling if we haven’t eaten complete, balanced meals that offer adequate nutrition during the day.

What If You Want to Snack Before Bed?

Try our Pumpkin Muffins

It’s certainly not a crime to snack before bed. Of course, it’s essential to keep in mind evidence that routinely consuming foods just before bed may play a role in rising obesity rates. If you’d like to snack at night, you may be able to “hack” your body’s strong desire for calorie density by supplying it with highly nutritious snacks instead. In fact, keto and high-protein options can be excellent choices for giving your body fuel without excess sugar. Some nutritionally dense, highly satisfying evening snacks to consider are edamame, raw nuts, carrots and celery, chia pudding, a yogurt cup or a pumpkin muffin.

Knowing How Your Hunger Cues Work Can Help You Plan the Right Meals

Ultimately, researchers are still learning more about how a person’s circadian rhythm can impact hunger. However, there is some pretty strong evidence to suggest that a desire to snack in the evening is a biological reality that has evolved over time to help humans survive when food is scarce. While we can all marvel at the way the human body is capable of adapting to survive, we may not appreciate what feels like a hijacking of our self-control once 8 p.m. hits.

Like many things in life, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet takes planning. One of the best ways to fight back against circadian diet sabotage is simply to anticipate that cravings will hit as we settle in for the evening. We can use this knowledge to plan to have snacks that provide the right amount of nutrition to avoid grabbing for the sweet and salty goodies that we may not necessarily want to consume every night.

Being smart about making sure that we’re getting enough calories by consuming things like healthy fats, whole grains, vegetables and fruits can help us to avoid a feeling of being famished that’s going to supercharge our body’s existing inclination to stock up on calories just before our overnight fast. D