More ways to make healthy eating affordable

mark-dziuban-healthy-eating-affordable

A healthy lifestyle is a commitment in many ways, as it requires a fair amount of discipline, will power, and accountability. Making changes to your daily routine can be difficult at times, but these challenges are what will ultimately shape you (maybe figuratively and literally) into a fitter, happier individual.

Where dieting is concerned, one consistent challenge is the price of eating healthier meals on a regular basis. Healthy foods can, at times, reach lofty prices — regardless of where you are shopping. However, there several under-utilized, if not entirely overlooked techniques that can be adopted to make healthy eating less of a financial burden.

Here are three more easy ways to make healthy eating affordable.

 

Don’t buy it, grow it

When it comes to healthy eating, you cannot beat homegrown foods. Many wholesome items, especially fruits and vegetables, are capable of being planted and grown at home in a garden or greenhouse. Figure out which of these foods you consume the most, then find out how to effectively plant and nurture it so that you can produce it yourself. The process may be slow and a little time-consuming at first, but it should pay off in saved money and peace of mind knowing you are eating as naturally as possible.

 

Buy in bulk

Bulk buying can be a huge money saver in many aspects of grocery shopping, and it is just as effective when applied to a healthy eating regimen. You can buy almost any healthier food options in bulk, including grains, meats, fruits, and vegetables. Namely, items like breads and smaller fruits like berries and apples stand as ideal bulk choices thanks to their larger quantities. This approach will save you time otherwise spent on periodic weekly shopping trips, and it should also cut down on general costs (assuming you effectively divide your high-volume purchases into logical portions).

 

Freeze and refrigerate meals

I previously discussed how meal plans can be a huge asset to affordable, healthy eating, as they allow you to plan out healthy meals and apply them to the constraints of your weekly grocery budget. However, you can take this approach a step further by actually preparing your planned meals in advance and freezing or refrigerating them. Depending on the food in question, you should be able to quickly thaw out your food for an at-home meal or a packed work lunch without the present effort of throwing it together on a time schedule. You may even find yourself less stressed as a result of the latter notion.

Exploring popular superfoods

Mark Dziuban

Throughout your dietary endeavors, you have probably come across the term “superfood.” This term is a bit ambiguous in a way; clearly it has a positive connotation, but why?

In reality, “superfood” is a marketing term used to refer to foods that present nutritional benefits. While the term is pretty broad in its most basic meaning, the foods it encompasses do consistently prove to be healthy for a variety of reasons.

Here are some of the most popular superfoods, and the reasons they are seen as smart eating choices.

 

Almonds

While most nuts are known for providing a variety of nutritional benefits, almonds are consistently found to be one of the most nutritionally dense nuts on the market, offering the “highest concentration of nutrients per calorie” of any nut, according to Greatist.com. Additionally, almonds are found to be high in potassium, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium.

 

Watermelon seeds

Watermelon itself is sometimes grouped in the superfood category, but the fruit’s seeds appear to be what has the most nutrients. Seeds are commonly spit out or thrown away in favor of the sweet, juicy parts of the melon, but you should refrain from following this approach, as the seeds are found to provide magnesium, amino acids, good fats, iron, zinc, and B vitamins, among other important nutrients (according to Rawguru.com).

 

Avocados

Avocados are unique in a lot of ways, from their distinguishable shape to their specific nutritional value. One characteristic that sets avocados aside from most fruits is that they are high in good fats, whereas most fruits are rich in carbohydrates and low in fat. They also provide 20 different vitamins and minerals, including vitamins K and C, and actually contain more potassium than bananas.

 

Eggs

The nutritional value of eggs has been debated for a long time, but the latest verdict is that their health benefits outweigh their potential flaws (they are high in cholesterol, but are not found to negatively impact blood cholesterol levels). According to AuthorityNutrition, a single large boiled egg contains a reasonable percentage of vitamin A, phosphorus, selenium, and folate, in addition to a variety of other vitamins and minerals. Eggs are also loaded with protein, healthy fat, and omega-3s (the latter depending on how the eggs are prepared and enriched prior to being sold).

 

Kiwi

An occasionally overlooked fruit, kiwis are loaded with antioxidants. They are found to bring a variety of unique and interesting health benefits to the table, ranging from aiding in digestion to serving as a light sleep inducer. Factor in high amounts of fiber and vitamin C and you are left with a fruit that truly lives up to “super” status.

Healthy Substitutes for Guilty Pleasure Foods

Adhering to a strict diet is tough, and many people do not realize how difficult it is to stay the course until they have already committed to it. The benefits of a healthy diet are well documented, but there are always cravings that pop up. By making health-conscious substitutes, it is still possible to enjoy your guilty pleasure foods without neglecting your diet.

Black Beans for Flour in Baking

Most people could benefit from consuming less flour in their diets. If you have any type of gluten insensitivity or are following the Paleo diet like myself, then flour is not an option in your diet. Luckily, black beans make a great flour substitute for baking. Swap out a cup of all-purpose flour for a cup of washed and pureed black beans the next time you are craving brownies. Aside from eliminating the flower, you also add extra grams of protein to the mix.

Spaghetti Squash for Noodles in Pasta

There are plenty of pasta substitutes on shelves in the grocery store, but the best one I’ve found so far is a baked spaghetti squash. Cut the squash in half and spread a layer of oil on the open halves along with some salt and pepper for taste. Lay them open-half up in a baking pan with some water and cover the pan with foil. Bake at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until the inside of the squash is easily removed with a fork.

Coconut Oil for Coffee Creamer

Most coffee creamers are packed with sugar and dairy, both of which can be detrimental to your health. Add a tablespoon of coconut oil to your coffee in the morning and blend it to get a smooth, velvety consistency. Research has also shown that MCTs in the coconut oil help provide longer lasting energy that creamer cannot match.

Avocado for Butter

Someone somewhere had the idea to swap a 1:1 ratio of avocado for butter in baking, and that person should receive a medal. While butter is not awful, it cannot compare to the nutritional benefits of an avocado. Next time you are craving chocolate chip cookies, try swapping out the butter for avocado, and I bet you won’t even taste the difference.

Sticking to a nutritional plan should not make you miserable, and you should be enjoying the foods you are eating. By making these healthy substitutions, you can stay the course and enjoy every meal.

Excess Carbs, not Fat, Make you Fat

Mark Dziuban - Fat and Carbs

One of the most common misconceptions among Americans is that eating dietary fat will result in bodily fat gain. Fat is nothing more than a fuel source for our bodies, along with carbohydrates (sugar), and protein, although protein is not a primary fuel source.

The main culprit in fat gain has almost nothing to do with fat and almost everything to do with sugar. Any carbohydrate you eat will inevitably break down into glucose (sugar) and get absorbed into your bloodstream. When blood glucose levels rise, insulin is released from the pancreas to bind with the glucose and deliver it to the cells as fuel. This glucose is either used immediately as fuel, or it is converted to glycogen and stored in our muscles and liver to be used as fuel later. That glycogen storage system is the basis behind endurance athletes carb loading before races or long training sessions. Fat accumulation starts occurring when the body takes in more sugar than it can store, and it begins converting it to fatty acids for storage.

The human body has a finite amount of fat cells, and those cells will grow and shrink depending on the amount of fatty acids in the cell. Once inside a fat cell, three of those fatty acids will bind to an alcohol called glycol to form one triglyceride. While fatty acids flow freely in and out of fat cells, triglycerides are bound to the fat cell where they were formed until they are broken down. The accumulation of these triglycerides in fat cells is what translates into excess stored body fat.

Lipolysis is the breakdown of fats that involves the hydrolysis of triglycerides back into glycerol and three fatty acids. Lipolysis is induced in the body by a number of hormones including glucagon, epinephrine, norepinephrine, ghrelin, testosterone, growth hormone, and cortisol. When the body is fasted, there is an increase in lipolysis-inducing hormones, most notably norepinephrine, that jumpstarts lipolysis. The most common time for triglycerides to break down is actually while we sleep, which is one of the reasons so many different diets require you to not eat so many hours before bed. Another way to increase these hormones is through exercise. By exercising, you increase testosterone and cortisol levels therefore stimulating lipolysis and “burning fat” as most people will call it.

Education is the first line of defense to combat obesity.  The cycle of carbohydrate consumption leading to fat storage is something that millions of Americans struggle with. Understanding how that cycle works and taking the steps to correct your diet will have your burning fat in no time.

The Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Mark Dziuban - Bone Broth

Bone broth has been a widespread remedy for sickness for years, but before it was a remedy, it was a staple of our ancestors’ diets. Since no part of the animal could be wasted, our ancestors would boil down anything that could not be directly consumed (bones, ligaments, etc.) into a broth that was much easier to digest. Research is now showing that bone broth has multiple health benefits, and it could make its way back into our diets as more than just a cold remedy.

Joint Health

The natural aging process of humans results in wear and tear on our joints. This wear and tear is more evident in athletes as they often put more stress on their joints. This wear and tear causes cartilage to break down and degrade. Bone broth is quite possibly the best resource of natural collagen in the world. The simmering of bone broth causes the collagen from the bone to bind to the broth and become easily absorbed into the body where it can repair and restore damaged collagen. Bone broth also contains high concentrations of gelatin, which is the body’s natural lubricant allowing bones to glide and pivot freely without friction. Researchers at Penn State University ran a 24-week study on athletes who consumed bone broth regularly, and the majority of those athletes saw significant improvements in bone and joint comfort resulting in greater athletic performance.

Gut Health

The same gelatin that helps lubricate your joints has also been found to be beneficial to gut health while having a positive effect on wheat and dairy food allergies. These allergies are usually associated with intestinal inflammation that causes the symptoms associated with allergies like Celiacs Disease and Lactose Intolerance. The gelatin combats these allergies by restoring the gut lining, helping with the growth of probiotics, and most importantly regulating and supporting healthy inflammation levels.

Skin Health

Collagen is the main building block of the compounds that are responsible for a youthful, radiant skin. Studies have shown that the presence of high quality collagen, like that found in bone broth, reduces the sign of wrinkles, decreases swelling, and maintains the elasticity of skin. When women between 35 and 55 years old supplemented with 2.5-5 grams of collagen, they found an increase in elasticity and moisture along with a decrease in transepidermal water loss and skin roughness.

Immune Health

Bone broth has been found to be the best natural remedy for Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut is caused by undigested food particles seeping through tiny openings in the weakest parts of the intestinal lining. The particles make their way from the intestines into the bloodstream causing the immune system to overreact in two ways: inflammation and the release of large amounts of antibodies into the bloodstream. These antibodies end up attacking healthy tissue, which in turn wreaks havoc on the immune system. The collagen, gelatin, and amino acids in bone broth strengthen the intestinal lining, which can ultimately cure Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Along with the above mentioned benefits, bone broth also contains many key micronutrients giving it the title “nature’s multivitamin.” Add bone broth to your diet once a week to capitalize on all of these great health benefits.

Crushing Paleo Cravings

Peanuts

When it comes to dieting, there always seems to be the looming question of how to prevent cravings.  The truth is, you can’t completely prevent cravings.  They’re our bodies natural “push notifications” to let us know that we are deficient in one nutrient or another.  The problem with cravings stems from curbing them with unhealthy food from an early age.  The most intense cravings usually come when you first decided to go Paleo since your body is not used to running on Paleo fuel. Once you understand what your body is craving, it becomes much easier to eat a Paleo-friendly alternative.

Chocolate

A magnesium deficiency is the most common reason we crave chocolate.  Since chocolate is not on the list of paleo diet treats, we find ourselves looking for other ways to combat that craving.  One sweet treat that can boost magnesium levels and leave you satisfied is a frozen banana dipped in raw organic peanut butter.  Bananas are loaded with magnesium, and provide other vital nutrients to help you recover from a workout and stay hydrated.  

Bread

The biggest issue I had when going paleo was giving up bread.  It is a staple in nearly every household in America, and it is difficult to cut something like that out of what you consume each day.  When craving those highly processed carbs, look to something else that is high in nitrogen, which is what you’re lacking during those bread cravings.  Foods high in protein, especially fish, also tend to be nitrogen-rich foods.  Broil a piece of Alaskan salmon with a side of green beans to make your brain forget what bread ever tasted like.  Your body will thank you later.

Dairy

One of the staples of the Paleo diet is swearing off all forms of dairy.  When your mind is craving dairy, the odds are your body is telling you to eat because you are calorie deficient.  There are two schools of thought on when to eat.  You can either eat when you’re hungry, or you can eat throughout the day so that you do not get hungry.  If you believe the latter, you may find yourself between meals craving a cold glass of milk.  Raw nuts are one of the easiest ways to get calories into your body quickly and in the most guilt-free way possible.  A handful of cashews should do the trick to keep you on the straight and narrow.

Starting a new diet can be scary for many people, and they’ll often look to give in to any craving that comes their way.  Think of going Paleo as a lifestyle change instead of a diet, and you’ll start understanding how to better plan for these cravings by stocking your cupboards with the right substitutes for the job.

How to Survive Holiday Party Season as a Paleo Enthusiast

Food feast

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day comfort foods and nostalgic sweets will tempt you wherever you go. When coupled with extra stress, lack of sleep, and too much alcohol, it often seems easier to give way to your cravings and promise to hop back on the wagon after the holidays are over. But you don’t have to give up! Read on for some strategies for sticking to the paleo diet during the holiday season.

1. Be the Host

The easiest way to avoid meals that aren’t paleo is to cook them yourself! Many dinner staples fit the diet, so you would only have to make a few substations. Whip up some cauliflower mash in place of potatoes and bake paleo versions of classic holiday desserts. Your guests probably won’t know the difference. If you are worried about picky relatives, you can always make small batches of “regular” dishes for them; you will be so busy with hosting that sticking to your yummy paleo foods will be easy!

2. Stick to Your Exercise Plan

Work out a little harder during the holiday season in case you do slip up with your paleo diet. Sticking to your routine also gives you a sense of stability during this crazy time of year, so you will feel less stressed, which means less chance of stress binging. You can also work out before your big holiday meal. The endorphins will make you feel so good you won’t want to ruin that feeling with bad foods.

3. Plan Some “Cheats”

Holiday foods are more than just fuel for your body; they are associated with family traditions and happy memories. If skipping your Mom’s pumpkin pie or Dad’s famous ham makes you feel sad and isolated, acknowledge and give yourself permission to experience these emotions. You can also carefully plan one or two “cheat” foods during the holidays to feel like you are involved and make the cook feel appreciated. A few of Grandma’s cookies or a glass of eggnog won’t hurt too much if you have stuck with your paleo diet all year.

4. Bring Your Own Food

If you are worried your host won’t have anything that fits the paleo diet, bring something you can eat. This works especially well for a potluck! Offer to bring a paleo version of the most diet-killing dishes, like dessert. You can also eat before the gathering so you aren’t tempted.

Are you a paleo dieter who’s been through the holiday seasons once or twice before? Send over your favorite tips and secrets to help others navigate this tempting time of year.

A Brief History of Fad Diets (And Why Paleo Is Here to Stay!)

It seems as though a new fad diet pops up on a weekly basis without fail. You finally know what one is about and maybe decide to try it out when suddenly there’s some new craze in this month’s magazines that’s guaranteed to work better than anything you’ve ever tried before. No matter what the diet is, it seems complicated and like a lot of work, though probably less work than closely monitoring all your meals in addition to exercising on a consistent basis. People want fast solutions, which has caused the rise of fad diets over the last couple hundred years.

Well, one of the newest diet crazes goes beyond a fad; the paleo diet! A nod to our caveman ancestors, this diet focuses on the foods that biology meant for us to consume.

Photo of  a pomegranate

History of Fad Diets

Fad diets have been around as early as the 1820s (though they likely existed long before that). In the 1820s, Lord Byron encouraged people to drink water mixed with apple cider vinegar in an effort to shed weight. At this time, other liquid-only diets were suggested and have stuck around since then. Over a hundred years later, the Grapefruit Diet rose to popularity, which encouraged a low calorie diet and a piece of this fruit with every meal. These relatively harmless diets were followed by others such as the founding of Weight Watchers in 1963, Slim Fast (a diet of mostly shakes with a daily substantial meal) and The Atkins Diet (low-carb, high protein) came onto the scene in the 1970s. In the 2000s, the South Beach Diet (a less intense version of Atkins) and juice cleanses become more popular and caught numerous followers.

In more recent years, the Paleo Diet burst onto the scene. This diet, however, has already proven its effectiveness.

The Paleo Diet

Why has the Paleo diet achieved so much popularity in recent years? To start, people began realizing that we’ve evolved over the last few million years from hunters and gatherers, but that it’s only within the last 10,000 or so years that humans settled onto farms and began producing food that way. Many argue that this period of time is incredibly short compared to the rest of human history and that our bodies have not yet properly adapted to consuming food this way. The root of this argument? Paleo diet is evolutionarily and historically best for the human body.

A main point of the Paleo Diet is cutting out grains, because our bodies haven’t developed to digest these properly, which explains the prevalence of gluten intolerance. Those suffering from celiac allergies are able to cut out gluten and eat a healthy diet through the paleo diet. The paleo diet has also helped reduce people’s symptoms who suffer from autoimmune diseases, along with various other conditions. Some people theorize that a root cause of many diseases lies in our incorrect diet, so switching to the paleo diet can help fix these issues. You’ll also take-in less sugars on the paleo diet, which can fight obesity and many other health issues, such as tooth decay, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Paleo is still gaining steam, but those who follow the diet sing its praises and swear that it’s the best diet for any human.

What are your thoughts? What fad diets have you tried over the last few years (or decades)?

Photo of a steak on a bed of rosemary

Paleo Diet Secrets: 5 Tips to Survive and Enjoy Your First Month

Photo of fruits and vegetables pexels-photo-100801-large

If cutting calories is not an aspect of dieting that you particularly enjoy, the Paleo Diet just may be the diet you’ve been looking for. Based on the types of food our ancient ancestors ate, this unique approach to eating healthier promotes optimal immune function, stronger muscles, and healthy bones through foods like grass-fed meat, seafood, fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, nuts, and healthy oils.

This may seem like a difficult diet to maintain, but with the following tips on how to properly manage your first month, you’ll be able to develop healthy eating habits that could last a lifetime.

Budget your trips to the grocery store

Introducing non-processed foods and organic meats into your diet can rack up a pricey grocery bill. Be sure to write down what you plan to buy before entering the store, and set a price limit. A simple mistake first-time dieters tend to make is spending much more on expensive products because they fall under the category of “what to eat.” Research the least expensive foods that still fulfill your diet needs, and don’t go overboard.

Prepare meals the night before

If you are following this diet while contributing to the working world, first of all, hats off to you. To make your life a little easier, make any lunches or snacks that you plan to eat the next day the night before. This not only saves time but can build a healthy routine that could contribute to the successes of your diet in the long run.

Snack in between meals

Cutting carbs and dairy products out of your typical diet commonly leads to feeling hungry more often in the early stages. Luckily, the Paleo Diet allows you to eat a snack in between breakfast and lunch, and again before dinner. Your best choices for these mini-meals could be sliced lean beef, seasonal fruit, sliced apples, or raw nuts.

Exercise

The best way to see results faster from this diet is to exercise on top of it. In addition to improving results of the diet, this is an extremely healthy lifestyle habit to develop. Even if your day is a little too busy to squeeze in a quick workout, exercising just three to five times a week is sufficient.

Get creative!

Just because you’re dieting doesn’t mean every one of your meals must be bland and tasteless. Take advantage of all the foods you are able to eat, and find some fun recipes online, or come up with your own. Your options are endless!

Though starting a diet can seem like a dismal process, it is a practice that you will not regret. The Paleo Diet is an effective and easy way to improve your daily eating habits and can build healthy routines along the way. Once you begin to see results, the rest will come naturally.

Fact or Fiction: 4 Myths Associated with the Paleo Diet

In my previous article, I discussed “The History of the Paleo Diet”. Now, I’d like to address some common myths associated with the paleo diet. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about what the paleo diet is or isn’t, which can sometimes scare people away from trying a diet that could greatly benefit them!

 

Myth #1 – You won’t get enough calcium

The paleo diet calls for dairy to be cut out. For a lot of people, they may be concerned that this fact means they won’t consume enough calcium, because they believe the only way to get calcium is from dairy products. There are plenty of other foods containing calcium, with the added bonus that they aren’t full of hormones that can upset your system. Some of these foods include: kale, spinach, seaweed, salmon, sardines, nuts, dates, and olives. Also look at this list for other foods with calcium and the amount. Getting 10-15 minutes of direct sunlight every day is also important to your calcium absorption. You’ll get Vitamin D from the sun, which helps your body absorb calcium.

 

Myth #2 – You’re more likely to get heart and kidney disease from all the protein

Many people fear that they’ll develop heart or kidney problems later in life from following a paleo diet. It is possible to have kidney issues when consuming high levels of protein, but the paleo diet suggests protein balanced out with other types of food. Paleo is by no means a high protein diet; it recommends moderate amounts of healthy protein. Paleo ranges “from low protein (about 10% of calories) to high protein (25% of calories) depending on individual needs. (As a reference, the average protein intake in the U.S. is 15% of calories.)” Like other types of protein, eggs are also healthy. For years, eggs were blacklisted as an unhealthy food that will raise your cholesterol, but it’s lately been discovered that’s not true. Eggs are a wonderful source of nutrients and can actually raise your good cholesterol.

 

Myth #3 – Paleo is too expensive to follow

While the paleo diet does encourage purchasing organic and naturally raised foods, you can shop smart and minimize your grocery bill. If you normally buy the cheapest processed foods available at the store, then the money you spend on groceries will rise, but you’ll save money on medical visits. By no longer purchasing junk food, snacks, and unhealthy drinks, you might realize you’re actually saving money. Other ways to save is through research. Look at The Clean 15, so you can familiarize yourself with the food you can buy conventionally, then shop local! Head to a farmers market or stand near you, because organic produce is usually much cheaper at these locations. You can also make purchases in bulk of some paleo foods, or buy healthy meat in bulk and freeze it.

 

Myth #4 – There aren’t any nutrients in the paleo diet

The paleo diet abounds in nutritional sufficiency, because the foods consumed in the diet hold deep nutrition, which benefits our bodies the most. The foods are rich in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, while also lacking the unhealthy toxins that so many processed foods contain today. Grains don’t have great nutrient benefits; those nutrients (and more) can be found in vegetables, fruit, and grass-fed, natural meats. So many health issues in our world today are caused by a nutrient deficiency or the lack of one specific nutrient. Instead of consuming grains and processed foods that are rich in empty calories, carbs, and sugars, many people could benefit by switching to a paleo diet that allows them to get the nutrients they desperately need. Check out these paleo-approved foods.