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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. 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.