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Dietary Goals

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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. Healthy nutrition, pespect body, aviod multitasking and stress. Awareness, consciousness.Harmony in food, healthy kitchen infographic

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


When it comes to creating healthy meals, meal prepping, or taking control of our nutrition, calories only paint part of the picture. Calories are simply a measure of energy. They ensure we are receiving energy to go about our day, crush our workouts, or recover from those workouts.

However, just counting calories doesn’t explain the nutritional aspects of what we consume. If we have specific goals in mind, calories are only a fraction of what we need to be aware of.

Macronutrients, on the other hand, reveal the nutritional benefits of each type of food consumed. Research has shown macro counting is specifically beneficial for those seeking performance or body composition improvements as certain ratios of proteins, carbs, and fats are essential for optimized performance.

Nutritional Benefits of Macronutrient Tracking

Not all calories are created equal. In fact, which macronutrient we consume determines the calorie content. A single gram of protein or carbohydrate will have 4 calories, whereas a gram of fat will have 9 calories. So, if we eat 125 g of protein, that’s 500 calories from protein, leaving 1,500 calories to split between fat and carbs.

But macros do more than determine calorie counts. They can help us understand how different foods affect our bodies. Carb consumption triggers different hormones in the body, signaling a specific response — proteins and fat consumption also have these unique responses.

Carbohydrates function to provide and store energy, build macromolecules, and spare protein and fat for other uses. Protein, however, can be used to make hemoglobin, build muscle, and more. Finally, fats are the primary macros for storing energy, insulating and protecting organs, and regulating or signaling different hormones in the body.

Certain activities or bodily functions require more of one macronutrient than the others. So those who focus more on the composition of foods — i.e., which macros they’re hitting — are going to pay more attention to how they’re feeling and how their body reacts.

It may even help people meet their fitness goals! By understanding how different macros affect the body, we can create more satiety in our meals by adding more protein, boost energy with additional carbs or fats, and improve bodily functions.

For example, if we are primarily focused on building muscle mass, additional calories from protein to build that muscle is important in our diet. Now, if we are training for a marathon, higher carbs and protein are important to recover from such intense training. Each goal has accompanying proportions of macronutrients needed for success.

But what if we’re not interested in boosting performance? What if we just want to improve our nutrition and create healthy meals on a regular basis — is macro tracking right for that? YES!

Tracking Macros is Important in the Long Run

A healthy diet plan consists of a balance of all three macros at each meal. This ensures we are consuming adequate amounts of carbs, protein, and fats while providing enough energy to go about our day. Experience in tracking macros helps reveal which foods fall under which macronutrients to create balanced, healthy meals.

When aiming to lose weight, increasing protein and fat intake while decreasing carb intakes appears to be the optimal change. Studies have shown that increasing protein intake can help us feel full while lowering our daily calorie intake. Protein is the most satiating/slow-digesting of the macronutrients, so consuming more protein at the expense of other macros can be a smart choice. However, it’s important to slowly add more protein to your meal prep to avoid any stomach distress.

When trying to build lean muscle, increased carbs are necessary for energy during workouts as well as enough protein to recover and build muscles. In this case, nutrient timing is also important — carbs prime the body for activity, but also help the absorption rate of protein — and it may take a bit of trial and error to find what works for each individual.

Macro Tracking May Alleviate Mental Stress Related to Food

Oftentimes, people don’t realize how much they’re eating. Research shows we often underestimate our food intake (sometimes by as much as 30-50%). And the stress of trying to understand which foods are “good” for weight loss or muscle building can be detrimental to our mental health if we didn’t have macro-tracking available to us.

Without macro tracking, we can easily disregard how calorically dense foods can be. Serving sizes can be tricky, especially when it comes to irregularly sized foods (think: medium-sized apples vs. 100g of apple). This often skews our meal prep items towards high calories, and possibly more carbs, fats, or proteins than we need (or want).

As a result, we struggle to recognize how many calories our meals have… or fail to eat foods in appropriately-sized portions. When utilizing tools like Cronometer and MyFitnessPal, the stress of how much to eat in a single day fades away. The best part about these apps? When we have a specific goal to work towards, we can easily answer a few questions to have the app calculate our new macro goals for us!

Tracking Can Remove Bias Towards Certain Food Groups

Guessing how much we eat isn’t the only stressor surrounding our foods, though. Understanding what to eat can add tremendous stress when aiming to improve our diets. Food is supposed to be pleasurable as well as fueling for our day, so claiming foods as “forbidden” can make other foods less palatable.

However, a macro-tracking eating plan allows all foods to be enjoyed in a balanced way. The goal of a macro-based diet is to provide an individualized structure that allows for more than just chicken, rice, and vegetables. This way of eating provides both structure and comfort knowing no particular food is forbidden… they just affect our bodies differently.

After tracking our macros regularly for a period of time, we can begin to turn our nutrition into one big science experiment! First, we gain a historical perspective of ourselves by tracking regularly with no changes to the way we eat… we learn our tendencies, stress-eating habits, and our baseline macro breakdown.

We then can manipulate specific macros and quantities to elicit desired outcomes, such as weight loss or muscle building! And if we have a special event coming up, macro counting provides a cushion to (on occasion) manipulate our day to enjoy those once “forbidden foods” while still working towards our goals.

Is Macro Tracking Right for Your Goals?

Counting macros can be an eye-opening invitation for us to take a look at where the calories are coming from in our diet. It can provide structure in meal prep and freedom when dining out — it can even reveal our go-to nutritional habits (do we turn to carbs when we’re sad? Does a lack of fats in our diet make us tired and hungry often?). Seeing a complete macronutrient breakdown can help us better understand how our diets affect our bodies.

On the other hand, some people can get a little too obsessive with tracking their macros. This type of diet structure may not be ideal for those with past disordered eating patterns. While a great tool for many, it’s important to ensure it is the right tool for your unique needs. We don’t eat macros. We eat food that contains some or all of the macros in different amounts. A healthy lifestyle is about more than the number of macros you’re eating. This is just a place to start a lifestyle filled with nourishment and health.

Luckily, LoCal Foodz makes it easy to start tracking macros! With several meal plan options — from high-protein or low-carb plans to more balanced macro plans — there is something for every goal.  Click here to view the meal plans (and their accompanying macro breakdowns to make tracking even easier)!

You have a finite amount of willpower that you can pull from each day. Once that pool becomes depleted, making decisions becomes difficult. This has nothing to do with any weakness or personal flaw on your part. It’s simply how the human brain works. The phenomenon is known as decision fatigue. What you may not realize is that it’s impacting more of your habits than you think.

The Tricky Thing About Decision Fatigue

Decision fatigue is not the same thing as regular physical or mental fatigue. You don’t necessarily know that you’re “spent” when it creeps in. For each decision that your brain makes, the next decision becomes even more challenging. Our brains are smart enough to look for shortcuts that will spare us from having to make one more decision. In most cases, this means avoiding any activity that requires us to make more choices. In cases where we have to make more choices, our brain will do one of two things. The first is to simply follow whatever suggestion we receive. The second is to resist any changes.

You’ve probably already experienced decision fatigue, even if you weren’t aware of what was taking place at the time. Picture the way you feel at the end of a long week. After slaying all the dragons in your work life and personal orbit, you walk into your kitchen with the intention of cooking yourself a dinner that you can drag over to the television to unwind. However, you suddenly find yourself staring listlessly into your pantry or fridge. You can no longer differentiate between chick-pea pasta on your middle shelf, and the Snickers bar tucked away on the bottom shelf in terms of which one is a healthy, suitable dinner. Should you turn the burner on to boil some water? Would it be better if you washed some broccoli for extra nutrition? Of course, that might not be enough protein to help you recover from a week that really knocked you down. You wish someone could just tell you what to eat at this point. Ultimately, you just end up eating the same frozen meal or peanut-butter sandwich that you settled for all of the other nights of the week. Yes, that’s decision fatigue.

Decision fatigue doesn’t just apply in mundane circumstances. It can have some very dire consequences for humans. Researchers have observed that “time of day” can impact whether or not prisoners who appear in front of judges are granted parole. In one instance, prisoners who appeared early in the morning were granted parole roughly 70 percent of the time. By contrast, those who appeared late in the day were granted parole less than 10 percent of the time. Following a day of hearing cases and consulting with experts, judges making parole decisions were simply burned out from making so many decisions.

The Decision-Willpower Connection

Decision fatigue goes deeper than just making it hard to make a choice. We lose our willpower when decision fatigue sets in. Yes, making a series of decisions actually makes it more difficult to resist our impulses. In one instance, researchers decided to use shoppers who were partaking in a going-out-of-business sale to observe the impact of decision fatigue on impulse control. The researchers polled shoppers on their opinions of various products. Time after time, they were asked to make judgments about one product versus another. Next, the shoppers were given a very classic self-control test. They were told to hold one hand in ice water for as long as possible. Shoppers who were asked to make decisions regarding products in rapid succession by the researchers were only able to hold their hands in water for an average of 28 seconds. Shoppers who had not participated in the rapid-fire questioning were able to average 67 seconds.

If you’re relating this experiment to your own life, some big bells might be going off. Decision fatigue may be preventing you from reaching the goals that you’re setting. What makes this especially tricky is that it’s all happening on a subconscious level.

How to Fight Back Against Decision Fatigue

Decision fatigue is something that happens naturally to everyone. While being aware of this tendency can help us to be more aware of the pitfalls of trying to make too many decisions in a short amount of time, it won’t necessarily shield us from the problem. The point isn’t to avoid decision fatigue in the moment. The point is actually to set up our lifestyles to protect us from the effects of decision fatigue. For many of us, that simply means planning choices in advance to stagger our decision-making responsibilities. We can make decisions when we are in an open, clear-headed state that will benefit us when we’re in the thick of decision fatigue. There are plenty of examples of people doing this in real life.

During the 2020 quarantines, various subscription services helped many people enjoy an elevated quality of life by providing the antidote to decision fatigue. More specifically, the rise of book-subscription services provided people with a way to unwind and relax without the stress of having to choose their own titles. Throughout 2020, Australia saw a year of record book sales as people subscribed to popular options like the Literati Book Club, WellRead, Bookabuy and Bionic Book Subscription. Using algorithms that predict personal reading preferences, these subscription services delivered curated picks that made lockdown a little brighter for Australians!

It might be surprising to hear that a book subscription could become a runaway hit in an age when anyone can download a book in seconds on Amazon. However, the availability of millions of titles at the click of a button from a platform like Amazon is precisely what makes a book subscription service so valuable. For many people, the limitlessness of Amazon’s selection brings on a serious case of decision fatigue because it’s impossible to know where to start. There is also the crippling fear of making the wrong decision. That causes many of us to simply decide that it’s not a good time to read a book. For others, we may simply click on a suggested title that ends up being a dud. When we hand the decision over to an expert literary curator, we get the excitement of being delivered a hand-selected gem while also delegating the task to someone else.

As one best-selling author recently discovered, the freeing aspect of subscription services doesn’t end with book subscriptions. Neil Strauss has made a living as a best-selling author and journalist. If you haven’t read his books, you may have spotted some of his articles in the New York Times and Rolling Stone. Strauss gained a lot of attention recently when he revealed that one of his secrets for being so productive in his career as a writer is to rely on food-delivery services for all of his meal prep. Far from being an extravagant choice, this is actually a way to eliminate the need to make tons of small decisions throughout the day that keep a busy professional like Strauss from focusing his full attention on his work.

In deciding to clear decisions from his plate, Strauss is tapping into some well-known research that confirms that the small decisions we make each day chip away at our cognitive ability. In studies, it has been shown countless times that asking people to make a series of “microdecisions” actually depletes their abilities to perform more complex tasks. For instance, people are more likely to give up on solving a complex puzzle if they’ve just finished grocery shopping because they used up their cognitive stores while making decisions in front of grocery shelves. When using mall shoppers as study participants, people who have spent more time shopping are more likely to give up on puzzles sooner.

Designing a Life That’s Resilient Against Decision Fatigue

There are things we can do to orient our lives to be more resistant to decision fatigue. The best way to protect your brain is to cut down on the number of decisions you have to make daily. A good routine can eliminate many of the unnecessary or frivolous decisions we make. Start by thinking about what your typical morning looks like. Do you start by opening up your favorite news website or social media feed? You’re already putting yourself in a position to decide what to click on. If you check email as soon as you open your eyes, you’re facing an onslaught of decisions that range from which email to open first to what to buy with the coupon you see in your inbox. That equals dozens of snap decisions being made all within moments of waking up! Next, your breakfast situation may be riddled with questions. Time spent staring into your cupboards is time spent with dozens of culinary scenarios running through your brain. If you head to a grocery store or restaurant to pick up breakfast, you’re walking straight into a battlefield of even more decisions. Repeat that for three meals a day and all of your snacks to see how much productivity you’re losing.

The key to shielding yourself from brain fatigue is automating as much of your routine as possible. For many people, that means having healthy meals delivered to their doors. In addition to insulating you from the stress of deciding what to eat in the moment, a pre-planned meal strategy also protects you from the possibility of making an impulsive decision that doesn’t align with your goals. Take some time to examine how decision fatigue may be robbing you of productivity while zapping your quality of life. For many people, decision fatigue is the silent, undiscovered saboteur in their lives that can be defeated with just a little bit of forethought.

References:

There is high debate amongst nutrition and fitness enthusiasts as to whether alcohol should (or even could) be included in a healthy diet. This article reviews both the benefits and the detriments of drinking alcohol when trying to achieve specific body composition goals.

For over 10,000 years, humans have been preparing and indulging in fermented beverages as well as arguing their merits and demerits. As the argument continues, it’s safe to say that alcohol is both a tonic and a poison. The difference, however, lies in the dose.

For such a controversial beverage, one would wonder how beer and wine came about in the first place.

The Role of Alcohol in Nutrition
The beer and wine we know today are far different than what was originally brought about. It was a thick, gruel-like concoction that must be filtered through a straw when drinking. Although unappetizing in our minds, this drink was an important source of calories for ancient Sumerians.

As civilizations began to evolve, so did the production of alcohol. In England between 1001 and 1500 A.D., for example, ale was the common drink consumed by adults and children throughout the day as this fermented beverage was often safer to drink than the water in town.

As the agricultural revolution came about (and the effects of alcohol became more well-known), our eating and drinking habits began to shift more towards what we see today. Brewing, fermenting, and distilling became an art to create better flavors and a smoother texture.

This made drinking alcohol more recreational than nutritional.

Healthy Meals with Alcohol?
Our favorite liquid courage can definitely make for a fun social time. It’s tasty (thanks to the hundreds of years of perfecting the process), may help us to relax, and can be a gateway to some amazing memories with friends and loved ones.

However, as we aim to improve our health, prep meals, and improve our physique, regular consumption of alcohol is not ideal. And when those social opportunities arise, it can be difficult to just say no — and, anyway, haven’t we earned the right to indulge every now and then?

In order to understand whether or not we can enjoy some boozy bubbly without losing all our progress, we must first understand the impact alcohol can have on our bodies.

Alcohol is technically considered the fourth macronutrient, as it contains calories and can be found in large amounts (compared to micronutrients) in the body. However, it is not required by the body and operates much differently than protein, carbs, and fats.

How Alcohol Affects Our Body Composition
Our bodies want to process the alcohol before handling anything else. Therefore, in the presence of our favorite boozy beverage, the body may not be able to metabolize the other three macronutrients (protein, carbs, or fat). This, in turn, may negatively impact muscle protein synthesis.

Muscle protein synthesis is a naturally occurring process used to repair muscle damage, often caused by intense exercise. When in the presence of alcohol, this process is shut down or at least severely diminished, negatively influencing our ability to build muscle.

As well, alcohol may raise estrogen levels, lower free testosterone, deplete zinc levels, and result in lower testosterone production. Not ideal for anyone looking to gain strength or even tone up those muscles.

Our body — specifically our hormones — work best when in balance. When things are thrown out of whack, say after a night out on the town, the body has to work even harder to get back to a balanced state.

In general, we could almost think of alcohol as the “anti-fiber” of the body. Whereas fiber keeps things moving smoothly in the GI, our bubbly slows down metabolism, and normal processes become interrupted.

Scale fluctuations are also common after a night out. The morning after is often deceiving as the scale will most likely be lighter (due to dehydration). However, in the following 2-3 days after drinking, we would potentially weigh even more. From there, it takes an additional 3-4 days for the scale to resume normal activity.

That’s potentially 5-7 days before your body resumes normal activity (depending on how much we consumed). So, if we’re headed out for Friday beers with coworkers every week, it is extremely likely we won’t be able to properly track our weight losses or gains.

How drastic the fluctuation is not only dependent on WHAT and how MUCH we drink, but also our food choices surrounding our drinks. Alcohol changes the way our brains make decisions, making that heavy, calorically-dense pizza look way more appetizing than that garden salad with balsamic vinegar.

How to Minimize the Damage
But hey, that doesn’t mean we have to give up drinking to see results. Sustainability and flexibility are the names of the game, and the more we understand how alcohol affects us, the better we game plan. Here are some strategies to minimize the damage on planned drinking days or nights.

Crush Some Activity Before-Hand    
According to a new study, regular exercise may counteract some of alcohol’s long-term health risks. After reviewing over 36,000 survey responses in England and Scotland between 1994-2006, the study found that heavy drinking was associated with an increased risk of death from all causes.

But when they factored in physical activity, researchers found the links between drinking and death remained for people who got less than the recommended minutes of weekly physical activity. Those who moved at least 150 minutes a week, however, experienced decreased risks or none at all.

Even more, people who were physically active and drank occasionally (not every week) seemed to have a lower risk for cardiovascular death than those who never drank. So, aim to squeeze in a good workout the morning of as well as netting 7-10k steps on the occasional drinking day.

Set Limits PRIOR to Going Out
As well as limiting drinking to 1-2 times per week, it’s important to limit the nightly amount of booze. For those seeking fat loss or are tracking their calorie intake, it’s important to note that 1g of alcohol contains 7 calories, affecting the overall caloric intake for the day.

A good rule of thumb to avoid consuming too many liquid calories set a limit of 30-40g of alcohol on these nights (280 calories). This would look something like this:

  • 40 oz. Beer (3 beers)
  • 13 oz. Wine (3 glasses)
  • 4 oz. Liquor (2.5 shots)

If tracking calories/food intake it may be best to mark this as fat (9 calories per gram) to provide a calorie cushion for the inevitable snackage that ensues after a night of drinking.

Create Healthy Meal Prep Options
Speaking of creating a caloric cushion, keeping breakfast and lunch protein and veggie-heavy frees up a little macro cushion for later in the day (as well as keeping us fuller, longer). Among men and women, alcohol consumption is associated with a decline in total diet quality, apparently due to higher energy intake from alcohol as well as other differences in food choices.

Keep food quality high both before and around the time of drinking. Having healthy meal options on hand makes it easier to make healthier food choices, especially if alcohol has a tendency to diminish your willpower. Remember to stay hydrated well enough for the body to absorb all the right nutrients before alcohol enters the system.

Choose High-Quality Bubbly
In order to keep the entire night high-quality, both food and alcohol should be top-tier. This ensures nothing extra or unwanted goes into our bodies. As well, it may be best to avoid mixing alcohol with sugary drinks and juices.

Researchers from Northern Kentucky University found that mixing alcohol with other diet soda-like beverages increases blood alcohol concentration. Researchers explain the effects of alcohol are mitigated if consumed with nutrients like sugar because it slows the entry of alcohol into the small intestine, where it is absorbed by the body.

Feel free to swap out the sugary diet drinks with Zevia, Kombucha, or simply sip each drink on the rocks.

Set a Drinking Bedtime
While 2-3 drinks before bedtime initially promote sleep, the effects are diminished with consistent use. Sleep researchers have performed experiments with healthy non-alcoholic subjects to study these effects. It turns out, alcohol begins to inhibit REM sleep in those who ingested high doses within an hour of bedtime.

Chronic REM sleep deprivation is linked to a greater risk of obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, dementia, depression, and more. As well, insufficient REM sleep may be the cause of all those hangover migraines. To combat this, set bedtime and stop drinking at least 3 hours prior.

Putting Together the Game Plan
Using the following strategies is a great start to finding freedom in drinking and improving performance/physique goals. Through proper education and understanding, we can accordingly game-plan the frequency of alcohol in our lives while minimizing the damage done. It’s certainly okay to snag a few drinks on occasion, and it’s likely not going to completely derail our progress — when planned out.

However, for those struggling to achieve results, it may be best to minimize alcohol consumption as much as possible to see if that was the limiting factor.

Delicious and healthy food doesn’t have to be burdensome and LoCal Foodz was established for just that reason! We want to make it convenient for you to enjoy healthy meals while making your life easier. Our goal is to free you of the stress and headache of nutritious meal planning, so you can focus on simply enjoying your food.

Undoubtedly, some areas in your life can benefit from the convenience of easy, healthy, pre-cooked meals. Whether you are looking to save time and money, reduce your stress, track your macros easily, or even keep yourself and family safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, LoCal Foodz provides countless ways to make your life a little easier and a little better.

1. SAVE TIME. LOTS OF TIME.

Whether you are a working professional, student, parent, athlete, or some combination thereof, so many of us find there is never enough time in the day to do all the things we need to do. And the more time we spend on obligatory chores or responsibilities, the less time we are left with for the things we WANT to do like hobbies, physical activity, or even just relaxing.

Have you ever stopped to think about how much time you are spending every week simply feeding yourself or family? First, there’s the time spent planning out meals for the week. Then, you’ll likely find yourself researching recipes. Of course, once you’re done planning, then you’ll have to head to the store to shop. Once you’re back at home, even unloading your groceries takes time. And we haven’t even touched on how much time you spend prepping, cooking, and cleaning up each meal. It’s probably safe to say if you were to calculate all the time spent on planning, prepping, and preparing meals each week, it’s taking up hours of your valuable time.

Eliminate most of the time spent preparing meals by ordering delicious, healthy, premade meals. All you have to worry about is ordering your favorite LoCal Foodz meals online, picking up your fresh premade meals (or waiting for your delivery to arrive), heating for a few minutes, and then ENJOYING!

2. SAVE MONEY.

It’s no secret that fresh, quality food isn’t cheap. And if you are someone who likes to focus on quality, flavorful ingredients, you know firsthand just how expensive your grocery bill can get.

A trip into the grocery store can not only become expensive as you add each item to your cart, but there are countless opportunities to be enticed by impulse buys around every corner. Every unnecessary purchase is quickly driving up your grocery bill in a big way. In fact, did you know that “up to 20% of the average household’s grocery bill comes from items that were purchased on impulse alone?” That’s some significant money being spent on unnecessary purchases.

Aside from the temptations of impulse purchases, excess groceries and unused leftovers are another culprit of wasted money. Despite the best efforts of even the most organized person, it’s inevitable that at some point you’ll find yourself throwing away food. Whether it’s produce that didn’t stay fresh long enough, leftovers that never got eaten, or a recipe that simply didn’t need the whole two-pound bag of potatoes, you’re bound to find yourself throwing your hard-earned dollars away. In fact, it’s estimated that “a four-person family loses about $1,500 a year on wasted food.

Browse our Signature Entrées and pick the portions right for you.

One of the beauties of our perfectly portioned, individual meals is that there is no excess. You can customize your meals so you are receiving the portion size appropriate for you. This means you’re only paying for the food you know you’ll be eating. Spend the rest on other areas of your life instead of wasting it on unused groceries.

3. REDUCE STRESS.

Worrying about what to cook week after week, day after day can be incredibly draining. Life is already stressful enough, you deserve to make it easier in the areas where you have some control. We’ve taken the stress out of mealtime by providing you with meals that are healthy, affordable, and delicious.

Gone are the days where you spend so much of your time and energy trying to plan out a menu and shopping list. You don’t have to fight your way through the grocery store after a long day at work. You don’t have to stress over the macro makeup of your dinner – we’ve done all this for you!

LoCal Foodz strives to make mealtime easier and more convenient for you. The less you have to worry, the more you can enjoy. And isn’t that what life is ultimately all about?

4. TRACK YOUR MACROS. ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS.

Many of our clients are interested in being able to easily and accurately track their macros. If you are someone who has dietary or body composition goals, LoCal Foodz makes it easy for you to stay on track.

All the nutritional information for our meals (even those that you’ve customized) is readily available online and printed out on your meal packaging. Having this information easily accessible saves you precious time from having to do the calculations yourself and even risk bad math.

We’ve even taken it one step further to make attaining your goals easier. Our Meal Plan Menu removes the guesswork and gets you on a plan based on your preferences. Meal Plans include keto, low-carb, low-calorie, high protein, or balanced options. You can sign up for three, five, or seven days worth of meals and you have several options for your daily caloric intake. Simply sign up for the plan that supports your goals best and we do the rest! You’ll have fresh, tailored meals delivered to you (or available for pick up) that help you meet your macros.

The less time you spend worrying about what you’re eating, the more time you have to focus on your training and recovery. A few minutes more in the gym every day or a few minutes of active recovery every session can add up to big results. Focus your efforts where you can have the greatest impact and let us do the number crunching for you.

5. REDUCED COVID-19 EXPOSURE.

Right now, we have found ourselves in the middle of a historic, global pandemic. One where the simplest act of going to the store for our basic necessities puts us at risk. By ordering with LoCal Foodz, you can limit your exposure to COVID-19 by limiting the time spent in crowded grocery stores or even staying out of them completely.

The average length of the typical American grocery shopping trip is 44 minutes. With the COVID-19 pandemic, any time spent in an indoor space, especially 44 minutes in a crowded grocery store, is increasing your exposure and risk of contracting the disease.

With LoCal Foodz, you can order your food for a quick pick-up. Head into a pick-up location, grab your bag, and go. Limited time inside, limited exposure.

Want to reduce your exposure even more? You can have your meals delivered directly to your door. No contact, no additional exposure.

During a time where all our decisions matter, let us help keep everyone safe by keeping you out of crowded stores. 

LoCal Foodz can help you gain more control of your life in the areas that YOU need it most. Free yourself from unnecessary stress and allow yourself to ENJOY your meals. If there has ever been a time to enjoy the little things in life, it’s now. With a global pandemic, social unrest, and so much uncertainty, there’s one thing you can count on – delicious healthy meals from LoCal Foodz that will only make your life a little bit better and a little bit easier.

Spend less of your time and money. Focus more on your goals. Reduce your stress and COVID exposure. And maybe most importantly, enjoy your food – you deserve it.

Our bodies thrive off food. So what if there was a way we could give our bodies more of what they want while still keeping our slimmed-down shape? Pssst… there is…

How often are we told that in order to slim down we must cut calories and increase exercise? Well, while this fact is true 90 percent of the time, it is not the only way to stay trim.

Many times, we continue to diet well past what our bodies can handle, causing a plateau or no progress. So, we decide to slash more calories or up to our exercise routine… but still nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero progress.

It’s times like these that call for a Reverse Diet.

Understanding Reverse Dieting

You may have heard this buzzword flying around a lot lately. But what exactly does it mean? A Reverse Diet is the process of slowly going from a low-calorie (or dieting) state back to maintenance calories. If you have recently finished a diet cycle, aren’t seeing any more results, or accidentally under-eating, a Reverse Diet is for you.

Reverse dieting is basically the opposite of dieting. During a diet, calories are slowly reduced over time to elicit fat loss. The body no longer stores excess food during a diet. However, with a Reverse Diet, calories are slowly increased back to maintenance, or an adequate intake to keep the body running optimally.

To clarify, bodies don’t run optimally during a cutting/diet phase. And if you continue to eat low calories beyond 12- 16+ weeks, you’ll likely force your metabolism to a screeching halt. This is known as Metabolic Adaptation.

Also known as an extreme plateau, we may no longer see fat loss on low calories if we are metabolically adapted. After dieting for a while, slowly dial-up to maintenance calories to avoid Metabolic Adaptation and let the body restore health.

How to Reverse Diet

Before you can begin a Reverse Diet, it’s important to know where you are at. Take 1-2 weeks to track your current calorie intake, using a log like Cronometer or MyFitnessPal. Once you know where you’re at, it’s time to figure out where you need to be.

While both Cronomete and MyFitnessPal will calculate your calories, here’s a quick tool to help calculate your maintenance calories: https://www.mindpumpmedia.com/macronutrient-calculator.

If you’re nowhere near maintenance, consider starting with a 20% increase in calories. Then slowly increase by about 100 calories every 2-3 weeks. As you get closer to the estimated maintenance calories, the more conservative you will want to be to avoid gaining excess body fat. Consider only adding about 50 calories every 2-3 weeks at this point. For example:

  • Current Average Calories: 1,000 calories per day
  • Estimated Maintenance Calories: 2,000 – 2,200 calories per day

For this Reverse Diet, focus on hitting protein and calorie goals first. Let fats and carbs fall where they may filling in the rest of your calories after protein.

  • Jan 1st: 20% increase from 1,000 calories = 1,200 calories
  • Jan 15th: +100 calories = 1,300 calories
  • Feb 1st: +100 calories = 1,400 calories
  • Feb 15th: +100 calories = 1,500 calories
  • March 1st: +100 calories = 1,600 calories
  • March 15th: +100 calories = 1,700 calories
  • April 1st: +100 calories = 1,800 calories
  • April 15th: +100 calories = 1,900 calories
  • May 1st: +50 calories = 1,950 calories

…and so on.

A reverse might only take 3-6 months, but it could take as long as 12-18+ months. It took a while to drop weight by cutting calories, and it may take twice as long to earn all those calories again. But it will be well worth it!

As well, understand you shouldn’t instantly drop calories again once you’ve completed a reverse. Spend a minimum of 3-6 months (if not more) at maintenance before worrying about changing up your food goals and intake. This will ensure your body feels safe and comfortable enough to drop weight again.

**Just because it’s “time” to consider an adjustment doesn’t mean you have to. There is literally no such thing as “too slow”  — If the scale or body comp is bouncing around, feel free to hang tight an extra week or two.**

What to Expect on a Reverse Diet

A reverse diet can produce 3 potential outcomes: weight loss, weight gain, or no change in scale weight/body composition.

  • Weight Loss: It’s almost as if our body is SO hyped it’s finally being fed it stops “clinging” to every morsel of food we’re giving it.
  • Weight Gain: a common and necessary outcome in order to restore health and metabolism especially after extensive dieting.
  • No Change: in this outcome, you are able to go from NO food to ALL the food. And almost all biofeedback (gym performance, recovery, mood, sleep quality, etc) gets better with more food.

You can achieve the body you want without killing yourself. But it requires taking care of your body, hormones, and health and being smart about your nutrition. Spending the majority of your time living at maintenance calories is non-negotiable for feeling your best and staying as healthy as possible.

Common Concerns on a Reverse Diet

When starting a Reverse Diet for the first time, many individuals have concerns regarding how to cope with eating more food. Here are the most common experiences Reverse Dieters have when first starting their journey back to maintenance:

Excessive Hunger

Hunger is a good sign! It’s the green light to keep adding more food. Your metabolism is basically telling you to keep doing what you’re doing.

BUT, many things can affect hunger. Make sure that you’re eating enough fiber, drinking enough fluids, sleeping 7-8 hours at night, and that you’re consuming well-rounded healthy meals. Dropping the ball on any of the above will likely leave you hungry. If all are in check, then keep adding calories!

Necessary Exercise

If you’re already active, exercising more would defeat the purpose of eating more food. Stick to your usual routine and see your performance in the gym begin to skyrocket.

If you are not working out regularly, then you may certainly find a workout routine to start. The body was made to move, and exercise provides so many mental and physical benefits. Just like with the Reverse Diet, start out slow and build your way to 3-4 times a week.

Appropriate Calories

Knowing when you’re at maintenance (and when to stop adding calories) can be tricky. So pay attention to your body.

You are likely at maintenance calories when you feel good inside and outside the gym. Your energy and mood are great, sleep is uninterrupted, and you’re no longer dealing with cravings all the time.

If the scale starts to slide up as you near estimated maintenance, you MAY be reaching a caloric threshold. This means your body is at maximum efficiency at this number of calories. But you also may NOT be at maintenance here.

It’s not uncommon for someone to need to surpass this threshold and actually GAIN 5-20+ lbs in order to restore health. If this is happening to you, hang around that caloric threshold for a few more weeks to notice any changes in mood, sleep, energy, etc. before ramping up calories again. If you’re still feeling sluggish, hangry, and more it’s time to keep bumping up calories and expect to see the scale creep up with it.

The Reverse Diet can be just as daunting as a traditional diet… especially when going in without a plan. Luckily, now you have one! Follow the tips above to finally eat more and keep the weight off. And if you need some extra accountability and help, our Balanced Meal Prep delivery options can help support your calorie goal of the week. Just tap your goal and how many days a week we can provide you with delicious healthy meals to support your Reverse Diet journey!

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

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

What Is Intermittent Fasting?

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

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

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

Why Fasting Might Not Be as Hard as You Think

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

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

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

What Are the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

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

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

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

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

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

Is Intermittent Fasting for You?

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

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

What Foods Should You Eat When Practicing Intermittent Fasting?

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

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

A new year is on the horizon, and with it comes many lofty goals and aspirations from people all around the world. But what separates those who succeed from those who don’t? It’s all in the plan…

As December comes to a close, many of us reflect on the previous year to set goals for the approaching year. And, man, what a year it was! We’ve been put through the wringer over and over again… and what once started out as a year full of hope and resolutions has turned into a circus act of staying sane and employed.

We are so ready for a new year.

A fresh start. A clean slate to pursue our self-improvement and actualization. That’s what our New Year’s Resolutions are for! According to a ComRes poll, 71% of New Year’s resolutions revolve around weight loss and fitness. A close second (47%), and falling under a similar category, many resolutions focus on improving physical health and better nutrition. Learning new skills and hobbies, practicing self-care, and spending more time with family and friends follow at approximately 15% each.

Unfortunately, many resolutions are set up for inevitable disappointment and eventual burn-out. Especially when faced with obstacles like what we saw in 2020. On average, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February.

There are many causes of these resolution failures. All of these reasons, however, fall under the same 5 categories. Read below to uncover what your resolution weakness is to combat and finally succeed!

1. GOAL SETTING

How you frame your resolution matters. When making resolutions, people often frame them using negative language. “Stop eating junk food” isn’t as effective as “Choose healthy meals” Thinking about avoiding behaviors inevitably leads us to think of those behaviors, creating a craving for something lost. BUT, when we frame resolutions positively allows our action-oriented thoughts lead us to the desired outcome.

New Year's Resolutions
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Another common pitfall of goal setting is which goals to focus on. While we all want to improve all areas of our lives, taking on too much at once can be daunting. The best way to combat this is to create one to two goals for different areas of your life, then rank them in order of importance or simplicity.

Focus on the top priority goal to keep your resolution achievable. However, by setting goals in all areas of your life, you’re bound to see a ripple effect in every area as you work towards one.

2. MAKING THE PLAN

Resolutions that aren’t written down are destined to fail quickly. So write them out, making a list of some things you would do to achieve that goal, and noting any obstacles that might stand in your way. Writing these aspirations down makes your goals real and helps prepare you to reach them. But, don’t just write these goals on a sticky note and forget about it.

Keep your list of New Year’s goals in a place where you will see them regularly, so you can review your progress and recommit on a consistent basis. Examples include taping your goals to your bathroom mirror, fridge, or screensavers.

This stage is critical for success. Not only does it allow you to reflect on an effective strategy but also prepares you for the obstacles sure to come your way. This way when things get difficult, you can deploy the strategies you wrote down to stay on the path toward success.

3. MEASURING PROGRESS

How can you know if you’re on the right track to achieving your goals if you have no way to measure them? In order to stick to those New Year’s resolutions, you need to be able to see you’re on the right track in a consistent way. The best way to do that is to set measurable goals.

New Year's Check-Ins
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For example, if your goal is to choose healthier meals, set a number of meals per week that will be “healthy.” Write down something like, “I’ll meal prep a healthy dinner 5 times a week.”

This way you’ll have something to check off daily. And eventually, you can build off those achievements, adding more meals the more consistently you hit your goals.

As well, consider keeping a resolution journal. Here you can write about your successes and struggles. This is an excellent way to measure progress as well as make any adjustments to get you back on track.

4. EXECUTING THE PLAN

Trying to do too much too quickly is another common reason why so many New Year’s resolutions don’t make it past February. Dramatically slashing calories, overdoing it at the gym, or radically altering your normal behavior are just a few of the ways to make reaching your goal exponentially harder. Instead, focus on taking small simple steps toward your goal.

For example, if you are trying to eat healthier, start by replacing the common “junk food” items in your house with more nutritious foods. You can even choose from our a la cart menu to start! While it may seem slow, these small changes make it easier to create and stick to new habits as well as increase the likelihood of long-term, sustainable success.

Another strategy for keeping your New Year’s resolution is to not make the exact same resolution as last year. After trying and failing, success may be harder to come by. However, if you do choose to reach for the same goals, spend some time evaluating your previous strategies.

Ask yourself questions like which strategies worked best, least, and what else prevented your success can help mitigate frustrations. As well, when evaluating these goals, write down the reasons you are working toward this goal again. Coming back to your “why” during stressful or undermotivated times is crucial to keep you moving forward.

5. THE REWARD

Finally, the pay off! The thrill and reward of accomplishing something we’ve worked so hard for are critical in keeping us reaching for new goals in the future. Just make sure your reward doesn’t make it harder to accomplish any of your other goals. If one of your financial goals is to cut back on debt, rewarding yourself for better nutrition choices with an extravagant trip may not be the best reward choice.

New Year's Reflections
Click here to download

If you haven’t quite reached your goal yet, don’t fret. Those unhealthy habits that you are trying to change probably took years to develop, so how can you expect to change them in just a matter of days, weeks, or months?

It may take longer than you would like to achieve your goals, but this is not a race. Self-improvement is a marathon. Once you have made the commitment to changing a behavior, it is something that you will continue to work on for the rest of your life.

SOME FINAL TIPS

Get Support From Your Friends and Family

While you’ve probably heard this advice before, you may not have thought to do it like this before. When writing down your goals, think of someone who may have a similar goal (or who has already accomplished this goal). Explain what and why you have this goal to that friend or family member when asking them for help.

Having a solid support system can help you stay motivated. For additional support, join a group or class that shares your goal. When facing challenges like those found in our New Year’s Resolutions, together is always better.

Renew Your Motivation

During the first days of a New Year’s resolution, it’s easy to feel confident and highly motivated. There is no real discomfort or temptation associated with changing your behavior, and making this change might seem all too easy at first glance. But…

After dealing with the reality of dragging yourself to the gym at 6 a.m. or racking your brain for meal ideas, motivation will probably start to dwindle. When you face such moments, look back on what you’ve written down. What’s your why? What strategies did you plan to use in such moments?

Just Keep Swimming

Encountering setbacks are the most common reasons why people give up on their New Year’s resolutions. If you suddenly relapse into a bad habit, it’s not a failure. Instead, view them as learning opportunities. If you are keeping a resolution journal, write down when the struggle occurred and what might have triggered it. By understanding the challenges you face, you will be better prepared to deal with them in the future. Click here for a downloadable PDF to help you start planning, preparing, and executing your New Year’s Resolutions in the coming year!

Are you already anticipating a turkey-day dietary torpedo that’s going to decimate your carefully plotted eating plans? Listen, it’s only natural to splurge a little on Thanksgiving. However, you may be wondering if overindulging on ONE DAY is enough to derail your goals. Let’s take a look at what going a bit “overboard” on Thanksgiving means for your healthy intentions.

How Many Calories Does the Average Person Consume on Thanksgiving?

It’s time for a moment of truth! Be prepared to be a little bit shocked when you discover just how much we’re all eating on Thanksgiving. According to data from the Calorie Control Council, the average person consumes 3,000 calories in a single Thanksgiving meal. We’ll do a breakdown of exactly where those calories are coming from in a minute. First, let’s run a comparison on what those 3,000 calories are equal to in real-world terms using some research provided by USA Today. Here’s what you could eat to equal one typical Thanksgiving meal:

  • Six Big Macs from McDonalds’s.
  • 10 Caesar salads from Panera.
  • 12 servings of Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream.
  • 14 strawberry-iced donuts from Krispy Kreme.

The truth is that 3,000 calories for a single meal is no small thing. The current dietary guidelines for adults show that many of us are going over our total calorie counts for an entire day with one meal on Thanksgiving. Based on recommendations, adult men should be consuming between 2,000 and 3,000 calories per day. The range is 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day for adult women.

Where Do Thanksgiving Calories Come From?

Where are those 3,000 calories coming from when we sit down for Thanksgiving? The good news about Thanksgiving dinner is that it provides many opportunities for lean proteins and vegetables. This is where portion control can work to your advantage because “tasting a little bit of everything” can help you stay within a more reasonable calorie range without feeling deprived. According to the Calorie Control Council, here’s what the breakdown for a typical Thanksgiving meal might look like for the average American:

Appetizers/Dips/Snacks

  • Cheese ball with nuts (2 tablespoons): 246 calories/20 grams of fat.
  • Crackers (serving of 10): 177 calories/7 grams of fat.
  • Potato chips (serving of 10): 150 calories/10 grams of fat.
  • Dip (2 tablespoons): 60 calories/5 grams of fat.

Main Dish

  • Skinless roasted turkey (4 ounces): 190 calories/6 grams of fat.

Side Dishes

  • Cornbread (1 square): 15 calories/5 grams of fat.
  • Bread stuffing (1 cup): 355 calories/17 grams of fat.
  • Gravy (1/2 cup): 178 calories/13 grams of fat.
  • Sweet-potato casserole (1 cup): 276 calories/6 grams of fat.
  • Green-bean casserole (1 cup): 143 calories/8 grams of fat.
  • Cranberry sauce (1/2 cup): 209 calories/0 grams of fat.
  • Carrot-raisin salad with dressing (1 cup): 319 calories/30 grams of fat.

Beverages

  • Sweet tea (1 cup): 37 calories/0 grams of fat.

Dessert

  • Pecan pie (1/8 of a 9-inch pie): 456 calories/21 grams of fat.

Extras

  • Butter (1 tablespoon): 102 calories/11 grams of fat.

Now, your meal may look a little bit different depending on your family traditions and personal holiday favorites. However, this breakdown gives you a good look at where you can easily add some checks and balances to your Thanksgiving meal. For instance, the surprising “danger zone” appears to be a seemingly healthy dish like carrot-raisin salad. However, there’s no doubt that the dressing can put a dish like that over the edge for calories and fat. You can also see just how many calories you can wipe from the scoreboard if you skip the cheese-and-cracker plate in favor of waiting to begin chowing down until you get to your main course.

This particular breakdown from the Calorie Control Council uses pecan pie as the default dessert. You may be wondering how the count looks if you’re more of a pumpkin pie person. According to the USDA, the average slice of pumpkin pie contains 225 calories and 9.3 grams of fat. That means you’re basically slicing calories and fat in half if you go with pumpkin over pecan.

You may have noticed that alcoholic drinks are absent from this list. Be warned that a few drinks can significantly increase your calorie total on Thanksgiving. If breaking out the spirits is simply part of your holiday tradition, there’s no reason to deprive yourself just because you’re counting calories. However, you may want to try to balance “liquid calories” with solid calories to take into account the calories and carbs you’ll be consuming in the form of wine, beer, or liquor. The average serving of beer has between 142 calories and 338 calories. For wine, the calorie count is 120 calories to 130 calories per 5-ounce glass.

Will Splurging on Thanksgiving Really Derail Your Goals?

So far, we’ve covered what the calorie count looks like for the average Thanksgiving meal. Some people are focused on finding ways to eat less on Thanksgiving to avoid a “splurge.” Others simply want to know if going wild on one day can sabotage their goals and progress. Let’s dive in to dissect that second question.

Our first instinct may be to wonder how many calories we’d need to eat on Thanksgiving to gain weight. However, a person in a health-first mindset should really be focusing on something else. What we need to worry about is slipping into a “Thanksgiving eating” mindset that lasts for weeks or months. With Thanksgiving being on a Thursday, it’s easy to slip into a mode of overindulging with promises of “living it up” for the long weekend before getting back to a more sensible eating plan on Monday. The reality is that every day that passes with loose eating rules is one more day that makes it harder to stick to our plans.

The Secret to Eating Healthy on Thanksgiving: Make a Plan for Friday

Having a plan to return to sensible eating without feeling deprived in the days following Thanksgiving is really what differentiates the successful from the unsuccessful in this arena. Don’t just make a plan to go grocery shopping to stock up on better foods the weekend after Thanksgiving. This is when the temptation to stay in holiday eating mode will be stronger than most people can handle. A better option is to have your fridge pre-stocked with tasty, satisfying meals that you’re going to be happy to reach for when you’re ready to resume post-Thanksgiving normalcy.

What’s the Truth About Being Derailed by Thanksgiving Overeating?

As promised, it’s time cover if splurging on Thanksgiving really can derail your goals. According to Women’s Health, this probably isn’t something you have to worry about. It’s nearly impossible to gain weight “overnight.”

“In order to gain weight, you’d have to eat 3,500 more calories than you typically eat and burn off to maintain your figure,” according to the magazine. That means that you’d have to add an additional 3,500 calories on top of the 1,600 to 3,000 you’re already eating as a man or woman following the standard dietary guidelines. It works out to be 5,100 to 6,500 calories consumed on Thanksgiving Day. The fact that the average American consumes 3,000 calories during just Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t make this impossible. However, it is pretty unlikely.

There’s something important to remember here. That 3,500 calorie figure does not take into account calories burned. That means that every bit of physical activity you do on Thanksgiving Day is added to your forgiveness column. You have every reason to plan a Thanksgiving hike, family walk, friendly dance party, or post-meal flag-football game! Those fun activities can genuinely help you offset your huge calorie spike for the day. They will also give you a nice energy boost that will leave you even more energized to resume your healthy lifestyle the next morning.

Should You Splurge on Thanksgiving If You’re Trying to Lose Weight?

Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving! There’s no reason to put yourself through suffering just because you happen to have some weight-specific goals in mind. Go ahead and eat what you love without guilt if you believe that a little splurging is what makes life worth living. If possible, do your best to make little substitutions along the way during Thanksgiving to help you to enjoy what you love without adding unnecessary calories. The bottom line? It’s more important to focus on your mindset going into Thanksgiving dinner than it is to focus on your calories if you’re in it for the long game. Thanksgiving is just one day. Your mindset for getting back to healthy eating after a lovely day with family or friends is what will ultimately make or break your goals.