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Check out my latest article at Gluten Free Connect:

https://gfreeconnect.com/food-as-medicine-healing-your-gut-with-homemade-soups/

Please welcome a guest post from avid foodie and traveler Cole Millen! Cole says ” I have recently been looking into how it is increasingly difficult to maintain a nutritious diet when indulging in cuisines across the world from my travels. As more folks like myself begin trending towards a healthier travel experience, I think it would be great for your readers to learn some tips and tricks of the trade that I have learned in my own experiences of traveling and staying healthy”

Eating healthy while you’re on vacation can be tough. Travelers are surrounded by deep fried, sugary temptation everywhere they look. If you don’t want to pack on the pounds, make sure you have a game plan for your trip before you even arrive at the airport.

Arriving at the Airport and on the Plane

When you first arrive at the airport, you’ll notice the familiar smell of French-fried everything. Don’t start your vacation off on a bad note! Not only will you feel guilty, but flying with a stomach full of greasy food is also a bad idea. Think about how small those airplane bathrooms are. Instead, opt for healthy snacks that are slow burning like raw almonds, fruits, or vegetables. A small bag of almonds will help you stay full on a long flight.

Eating and Exercising at Your Hotel

Staying healthy at your hotel can be easy if you take the time to pay attention to what you are doing. Firstly, just say no to the minibar. They very rarely contain healthy snacks and the expensive items inside cut into your souvenir budget. If a continental breakfast is offered in the morning, be sure to take advantage of whatever healthy options the hotel has. Things like fruit, yogurt and eggs are a great way to start a day of sightseeing. Sugary breakfast cereals and greasy meats do nothing but make you feel sluggish.

Finding a health friendly hotel can often times be difficult. Make sure to search for hotels in the area where you’ll be staying, and check out their amenities. Remember that hotels make it a priority to make your stay as comfortable as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask about additional services when you’re booking a room. I have also found consumer reviews to be extremely helpful. On my last trip I found a great site that listed reviews for all of the top hotels in Las Vegas regarding not only their amenities, but also the restaurants in the area and things to do as well! This made it so extremely easy to find a great place to stay and to plan ahead to ensure that I would be eating right and remaining healthy.

Most hotels have some sort of gym available. Some will even bring a treadmill and other workout equipment into your room for a small additional fee.Planning a short workout in the morning will help you stay energized throughout your vacation. Even if your hotel does not have workout facilities, just taking a short walk in the morning will keep your energy up.

Choosing a Restaurant

Just about every restaurant has a menu online these days. Researching your chosen restaurants on the Internet will help you make good choices when you arrive. If you expect to eat at a large chain, they are also likely to have a calorie counter on their website.

If you want to eat healthy, delicious food at a restaurant, there is one simple rule to follow. All you have to do is focus on eating whole foods. You want to aim for foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. This means avoiding things with breading and sauces. Dishes such as fish and steamed vegetables are a great choice.

As long as you stick to whole foods, you never have to worry about the ingredients of your meal. You can see everything that went into your dinner without taking the time to pour over the menu.

Thanks Cole, those are great tips. I also want to add that one way to manage eating out and buffets is to always focus on veggies first and lean protein second! Also, don’t skip meals planning to indulge later. Maintain balance wherever you are. You can still enjoy some delicious treats, but aim to stick with a healthy diet 80-90% of the time. While it is commonly believed that vacation is a time to gain weight, interestingly enough, I have seen a fair number of people who actually lose weight. Most likely this is because they are less stressed and often walking more. Whatever your travels bring, don’t blow off all your hard work and keep your goals in mind.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 30,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 7 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Serving Sizes for the Average Woman

Follow-up from my video segment

Hi,

If you’ve made it to this blog post, likely you followed the link from my video from Bootique Fitness San Diego. I’m writing this post to give you a resource to follow up on the information I provided there.

An important point to consider is that you may need different recommendations based on your individual needs and goals.  If you have blood sugar control issues, are having trouble losing weight, or want to follow a more “paleo” style diet, these carb  guidelines may not be individualized enough- you will need to see your dietitian or nutritionist for more specific recommendations.

Carbohydrates

Most women with weight management and fitness goals should aim to eat not much more (and in many cases, less) than 30 grams of overt, starchy carbohydrate per meal. 30 grams is about “fist-sized”.

You can use food labels to identify serving sizes and carb content, measuring cups to serve yourself at home, and “eyeballing” a fist-sized amount when eating out.

Examples of ~30 grams carbohydrate

  • 1/2 cup of pasta and 1/2 cup of green peas
  • 2/3 to 1 cup of beans
  • 1 cup of sweet potatoes or 1 small to medium potato
  • 1/2 cup oats and 1 cup berries
  • 1 small piece of fruit and 1 piece of toast
  • 6-8 oz of unsweetened yogurt and 1/2 cup chopped fruit
  • 2/3 cup of quinoa or brown rice
  • 1/3 cup rice and 1/3 cup beans
  • 2-3 corn tortillas

Make your carbohydrates “low glycemic“, these are primarly whole foods that come in nature’s packaging. As always, make sure your plate is full of colorful vegetables, sufficient protein, and healthy fats. This will provide valuable nutrients and help keep you full and satisfied.

Protein

Most women require about 50-70 grams of protein daily and some current research shows that 90 grams daily is ideal for improving health and preventing chronic diseases  such as obesity, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and sarcopenia.

I recommend  15-20 grams of protein before lunch. Whether you get all of those grams at breakfast or mix it up with a mid-morning snack, getting a solid dose of protein earlier in the day will balance your blood sugar and help to keep cravings and fatigue at bay.

Eating at least 15 grams of solid protein 3 times daily will assure that you are meeting your needs.

When choosing animal sources of protein go organic for your dairy products and pasture/grass-fed for meats. Choose products without additives or preservatives. One of my favorite brands is Applegate Farms.

Examples of ~15-20 grams of protein:

  • 2 eggs or 1 whole egg + 1 gg white
  • 1/3 cup beans and 1 egg (Huevos Rancheros! watch those tortillas….)
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter + 1 string cheese
  • 3  slices of turkey, 1 slice of organic cheese
  • 2-3 ounces of chicken or chicken sausage
  • 2 slices of bacon/turkey bacon + 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese + 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 8 oz Greek yogurt + 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 cup unsweetened soymilk (or regular milk) + 1/4 cup nuts or seeds
  • 1/4 cup almonds (about 1 handful) and 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup lentils and 1/4 cup seeds
  • Most protein powders provide between 15-20 grams per scoop

Again, always always add color and fiber to your meals with a variety of vegetables and low-glycemic fruits. Some of my breakfast favorites are greens, red peppers, mushroom, avocado, tomato, berries, and apple or pear.

English: Alaska wild berries from the Innoko N...

English: Alaska wild berries from the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We buy our pork from a rancher in WA state. For the past couple of years we have ordered hams as part of our package. While we order our bacon uncured, I felt less confident about turning a hunk of pork into a ham successfully without ending up with just another pork roast.  Therefore, we ended up with about 3 hams per year that were traditionally, chemically cured.

While there remains much debate about the pros and cons of nitrates, it appears that it is prudent to limit your intake of chemically preserved and processed meats.  Nitrates and their metabolic compounds are thought to contribute to cancer risk, though it may be that having sufficient stomach acid and high vitamin C intake (eating it with the meat in question) can mitigate the dangers.  Some people have a food sensitivity to nitrates or nitrites and must avoid them in the chemical and sometimes natural forms to avoid provoking migraines, rashes, and other symptoms. Nitrates occur naturally in foods such as celery, beets, lettuce, spinach, greens, radishes, and eggplant and are even found in some public water. Be aware that your “uncured meats” may use nitrates naturally occurring in “celery extract” and the nitrate concentrations may be quite high!  On the bright side, un-concentrated, naturally occurring nitrates can be quite useful. A recent study found that nitrates from beet juice improved endurance and oxygen utilization during exercise via production of nitric oxide! Read about it here, maybe you’ll try a beet juice before your next race.

While the evidence remains mostly contradictory, I think it is prudent to avoid chemical nitrates and limit your intake of even “naturally cured” meats (and of course support digestive strength and get a lot of vitamin C!). However, these preservatives do find their way into my diet occasionally. Yearly consumption of couple hams among the family and the occasional bacon when eating out seems like a pretty low intake of chemically added nitrates. But the brilliant pinkish hue of our cured ham was putting me off and I knew there had to be a better way.

When I first started researching the brining process, it seemed like a huge project! I wanted something that wasn’t going to be too complicated or require constant surveillance and temperature monitoring. I used primarily one recipe I found on the internet (link below)  but changed the brine slightly to have less sugar and I marinated it for much longer. The resultant ham turned out beautifully the first time and was a big hit, even for the most particular ham eater of all! It was no contest, he even liked it much better than traditionally nitrate-cured product.

Our hams are about 3-4# each.

Brining

A 2 gallon bucket- I bought a plastic one with a tight lid from the hardware store, washed it well with hot, soapy water, and sanitized it with bleach water

1 ½ gallons of filtred water

1 ½ cups Kosher Salt- 1 cup for every gallon of water

¾ cup Brown Sugar- amounts called for vary, but I used ½ cup for every gallon of water.

10 Bay leaves

1 head of Garlic, crushed

¼ – ½  cup of Peppercorns, crushed

Make the brine in the bucket.

Wash and clean the ham. I cut a lot of fat off the back, but I don’t think that’s standard procedure. You should leave at least a thin layer of fat so you can cut a cross-wise pattern across it (see link to recipe). Add the ham to the brine; make sure the meat is completely covered by the liquid.  Close the lid tightly and keep refrigerated for at least 24 hours and up to 4 days (maybe longer?).

Some instructions on the internet require strict temperature control- not below 38 F, for example. It just didn’t seem realistic for me to be constantly concerned about the temperature, so I just crossed my fingers and let it sit for 4 days. You refrigerator, of course, should not be above 39F to keep food safe, so make sure you fridge is at a safe temperature but don’t worry too much about maintaining the constant, precise 38°F.

For  the marinade and glaze:

http://imperfecthappiness.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/

Instead of orange marmalade I used my mom’s rhubarb marmalade (I recommend homemade over store bought in any case). Fresh sage and parsley came from the garden.

The ham was a wonderful dinner, plenty of sandwich meat for the week, and one hundred percent all natural! I hope that some of you try this recipe and I hope all of you who are meat eaters are getting your meat from a small ranch with happy, grass-fed animals and a commitment to quality and health.

I wrote this article originally for Gluten Free Connect, a web-based service that provides samples of and coupons for gluten-free products for people newly diagnosed with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance. The article is geared towards people with these conditions, but could apply to anyone with food sensitivities, gut inflammation, and/or malabsorption issues.

Bone health is a complex interplay of factors involving multiple nutrients, lifestyle factors, medications, and certain conditions. Bone is metabolically active and constantly being remodeled. Ideally, bone formation and breakdown exist in a dynamic equilibrium that favors bone growth until about 30 years of age.  Nutrition and physical activity early in life can assure healthy bone density later in life. People with Celiac Disease, especially those who were undiagnosed during the period of bone mass building, are at a greater risk for lower bone density. Celiacs have a higher incidence of fractures and teenagers with celiac disease have lower bone density than their peers without CD. Undiagnosed CD can be a cause of unexplained bone loss or low blood calcium levels even in the absence of digestive symptoms.

A progressive decrease in bone density makes one more susceptible to painful fractures and loss of height. Osteopenia refers to decreased bone mineral density and it can be the first stage of bone loss. Osteopenia is a warning sign and will not always progress to osteoporosis if treated appropriately. A diagnosis of osteoporosis means that bone loss has progressed passed a certain threshold and one has an increased risk of fractures and the pain and mobility issues that accompany.

People with Celiac disease are at a greater risk for bone loss due to malabsorption of nutrients and restricted diets. Nutrients for bone health that are commonly depleted include calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, vitamin K, vitamin D, and protein. Celiacs and other people with gut inflammation often cannot tolerate dairy products and may not have adequate calcium in their diet unless they are diligent about consuming non-dairy sources.

Many people have been told to simply eat or take more calcium not taking into mind the dynamic and intricate nature of bone. While Americans have high intakes of dairy and calcium supplements, we also have higher rates of osteoporosis compared to Asian cultures with low to no intake of dairy products or calcium supplements. Asian cultures eat a diet higher in vegetables, sea vegetables (seaweed), fish, beans, and fermented foods that is richer in the needed nutrients and is over all more alkaline-promoting as opposed to acidifying.

There are some problems with calcium supplements. Taking more than 500mg at one time decreases overall absorption; most people eating calcium sources of food won’t need more than 400-600mg of calcium from a supplement. Total intake of calcium from food and supplements should not exceed the Recommended Daily Intake which varies from 1000-1300mg/ day. Excessive calcium can inhibit zinc absorption.

The form of calcium also matters; calcium carbonate is poorly absorbed and may even be implicated in increased risk for heart disease by hanging out unmetabolized in the arteries.  More absorbable forms are malate and citrate; Vitamins K and D need to be provided in adequate amounts to direct calcium into the bones. Calcium from antacids decreased stomach acidity which is crucial for calcium absorption. Sweet and tasty calcium chews are made with calcium carbonate and full of chemicals and additives.

People belive they only need to take calcium while most Americans have suboptimal intake of magnesium and potassium. Magnesium helps direct calcium; potassium promotes alkalinity in the body allowing calcium to stay in the bone as opposed to being pulled into the blood to buffer an acidic environment.  The minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc have complex relationships with one another and excess of one can cause low levels of another, which is another reason it is not a good idea to take a high dose of a single mineral.

Vitamin D and Vitamin K are nutrients that can be deficient in any person and suboptimal levels are frequently seen in people with malabsorption issues and gut inflammation. Magnesium is an important co-factor for vitamin D metabolism and vitamin K also has a synergistic relationship with D.

A higher protein diet benefits bone when there is adequate calcium in the diet. As an acid-forming nutrient, excessive protein without sufficient calcium and other alkalizing minerals can leach calcium from the bones. Alcohol and caffeine in excess can also affect bone health; women should drink not more than 300mg caffeine (1-2 cups of coffee) and 1 alcoholic drink daily.

Stress and hormone imbalances can affect bone density, so having stress relief activities and supporting mind-body-spirit health is essential to keep bones strong. Weight bearing activity such as resistance training, yoga, and pilates create an environment that favors bone remodeling. Studies have shown that moderate to high intensity resistance training 3 times weekly improved bone density in elderly men and women.

Nondairy sources of calcium include: mineral waters, canned salmons, herring,  and sardines (with bones),  oysters, nettle tea infusions (also rich in magnesium and potassium),  dark leafy greens, almonds, hazelnuts,  sesame seeds, soy beans and tofu, blackstrap molasses, and dried figs.

Vitamin D is found in fish, cod liver oil, eggs, cheese, and fortified products including orange juice and milk, and supplements. Be sure to have your vitamin D levels checked.

Potassium rich food sources are apricots, avocados, banana, dates, fig kiwi, nectarine, oranges, peaches, prunes, raisins, artichokes, beans and lentils, dark leafy greens, nuts, potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, tomato, V8 juice, winter squash, yams, pomegranate juice, and prune juice.

Magnesium is found in beans, greens, whole grains, nuts and seeds, potatoes (with skin), raisins, avocado, and chocolate. Zinc is found in seafood, beef, nuts, beans, dairy products.

Vitamin K is found in highest amounts in leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, asparagus, parsley, and green tea. Vitamin K is also synthesized in the gut by populations of healthy bacteria that live there. Promoting digestive health is important for bone health to help the absorption of nutrients and to support the many important functions of beneficial bacteria.

As you can see, bone health involves many different nutrients. Keeping bones strong involves eating a clean, whole foods diet, promoting an alkaline body environment, supporting digestion, taking supplements as necessary, staying active, and decreasing stress.

Please check out my post on making bone broths for a mineral rich, alkalizing addition to your already healthy diet.

Guest Post

Jillian McKee of  the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance wrote this post describing the importance of proper nutrition during cancer treatment. Nutrition is a critical factor during treatment to assure one is feeling as well and treatments are as effective as possible. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with cancer, please find a dietitian specializing in integrative and whole foods nutrition to help guide you. 

“Cancer patients go through many different stages in the healing process. The early parts can be stressful. Invasive treatment can be extraordinarily tiring. Even when a patient is in remission, cancer treatment is not a walk in the park. Given the difficulties presented by cancer treatment, a patient should do everything in his or her power to give the treatment a fighting chance. Part of the equation involves making sure that you get the proper nutrition. Though this will not heal your cancer, it will give your body the best base for avoiding infection and responding to treatment. Perhaps this is just as important as the increased energy levels and quality of life.

One of the best benefits of proper nutrition is a boosted immune system. A tremendous amount of research suggests that proper nutrition aids the immune system in blocking disease and infection. When going through invasive treatments, there is a premium on boosting your immune system. Infections or other conditions can make it difficult for your doctor to properly fight the cancer. These things also make it difficult for you to muster the motivation necessary for tackling the treatments.

Skilled doctors provide you with the treatment necessary for beating cancer. This is only true when your body is able to respond to the treatments given. Things like radiation and chemotherapy depend upon a positive response from your body’s systems. Proper nutrition helps your body come up with this response. It is important to understand that good nutrition is not a magic bullet in healing cancer. Your body needs to be working as efficiently as possible if you want to eventually beat the disease.

One of the most important things for cancer patients is having energy. You have to be willing and able to get out of bed when things seem difficult. Chemotherapy and radiation can take a lot out of the body. A successful cancer fight demands daily energy. Good nutrition has been shown to provide individuals with this energy boost. Your body’s muscles will respond best with the right fuel. This way, you can fight through the difficult times that you will inevitably face during invasive treatments and during remission.

Nutrition for mesothelioma and other cancer patients is important because it provides quality of life. Cancer patients deserve to live as full of a life as possible. Having a disease should not mean that one has to struggle on a daily basis. You should still enjoy the positive benefits that come when your body feels its best. According to a report by Johns Hopkins University, quality of life for cancer patients rises when they have the proper intake of food. That study provides a clear basis for concluding that cancer patients need to take their daily nutritional habits seriously.”

Thank You to our Guest Contributor…….

Bringing a wealth of personal and professional experience to the  organization, Jillian McKee has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at  the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her  time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of  complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer  treatment.

 

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