More ways to make healthy eating affordable

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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.

Diet or lifestyle

mark-dziuban-diet-or-lifestyle

Commonly, when we want to lose weight we go on a “diet”. We often define diet as a reduction in food intake however, the definition of diet, according to the “Concise English Dictionary”, is “Mode of living, now only with especial reference to food.” So, diet is really lifestyle. When we say we are going to go on a “diet”, that carries a negative connotation that one must starve one self in order to lose weight. In fact, what one really needs to do is to make a lifestyle change. A lifestyle change which promotes healthier eating while improving our physical and, subsequently, our mental well being. Let’s face it, nothing improves our mental and emotional well being as seeing our reflection of our ten pound lighter selves.

Before you start your new diet you need to have a general understanding how our bodies convert food into energy and how it stores unused energy for future use. Glucose, or sugar, converted from ingested carbohydrates, is your bodies preferred source of energy, (or fuel), during daily activity. The average adults cardiovascular system has the capacity to maintain approximately 80 calories of blood glucose. When blood glucose rises beyond this level, insulin is released carrying excess glucose back to the liver where blood glucose is converted into it’s storage form, glycogen. Our liver is capable of storing 300-400 calories of glycogen. Once the liver stores are full, insulin carried glycogen is carried to muscles which require glycogen for repair from previous, strenuous activity. The final destination for excess, unused glycogen beyond this point is adipose fat tissue. So, in short, carbohydrates consumed in excess ultimately get stored INSIDE your adipose, or fat tissues as triglycerides.

Now, before you stop ingesting carbohydrates all together and throw on a pair of running shoes to burn off all that excess adipose fat tissue, let’s slow down and talk about this a little more.

We now know ingested carbohydrates are converted into energy. We also know our cardiovascular system stores approximately 80 calories for immediate energy needs. So, instead of ingesting large amounts of carbohydrates three times daily, we should ingest smaller amounts more often so we can slowly replace our depleting blood glucose levels due to daily activity while preventing excess fuel storage in the form of triglycerides which reside in our adipose fat tissues.

So, don’t go on a “diet” and starve yourself. A prolonged, low calorie diet will lead to a slower metabolism and most likely will contribute to weight gain.

In my next blog I will follow up and explain why resistance training is critical to a successful weight loss program which will improve your overall body composition and increased weight loss.

Until then remember, “If you want it, you have to go get it.”

Five foods that might seem healthy, but are not

mark dziuban, foods that may seem healthy but are not

Since the United States first launched into its health craze about a decade ago, countless brands have been advertising that their foods are now “all-natural,” “gluten-free,” and/or “organic.”

Unfortunately, these claims are rarely ever true, as this presumably healthier food is often packed with saturated fats, toxic sugar substitutes, and high levels of carbohydrates.

Here is a list of five foods that might seem healthy, but actually are not:

 

Granola

It is important to note that not all granola is unhealthy, but many brands add unnecessary sugars and oils to their products during the cooking process, giving them a higher fat content. If you are craving granola, opt to make it at home instead. After all, there are plenty of savory recipes that are healthier — and more satisfying — than the usual store bought brands.

 

Flavored yogurt

No matter how lofty yogurt brands’ claims are, their flavored yogurt is not, in fact, a healthy breakfast option. Instead, these small cups are often loaded with more sugar than you would expect, leaving you feeling hungry shortly after tossing the plastic cup into the recycling bin, Make it a point to incorporate plain Greek yogurt into your diet. You can add fruit or spices to give it more flavor and it will leave you feeling more energized for the day ahead.

 

Margarine

Although it boasts a lower level of saturated fat than its classic butter counterpart, margarine is far worse for your body due to how many synthetic ingredients are added during its production. As a matter of fact, margarine is not even naturally yellow like butter is — it is more of a grey color, but it is bleached to emulate butter and steamed to remove any chemical odors. Perhaps it is time to pitch that container of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter! and switch back to butter or a real natural alternative.

 

Instant oatmeal

As unfortunate as it is, packets of instant oatmeal hold little to no nutritional value, especially if they are flavored. Flavored oatmeal has been proven to contain too much added sugar, which, similar to the aforementioned flavored yogurt, will only leave you rummaging around for more food within an hour or so. Instead, opt for the classic instant oats and add in fruit, spices, and other items to add flavor and texture to your morning bowl of oatmeal.

 

Gluten-free foods

This is likely the most shocking item on this list, as gluten-free foods are presumed to be inherently better for you. Unfortunately, that is not the case, as gluten-free foods contain various rice flours, additional sugar, and starches that are not as nutritionally beneficial in comparison to whole grains. So, if you do not have a legitimate gluten allergy, it would be best to avoid gluten-free foods as much as possible.

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.

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

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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.

Paleo Diet: Making the Switch

 

Paleo: Making the Switch

 

In my earlier post, I’ve outlined the basic history and overview of the Paleo Diet. While many of you may find it an interesting topic, you may find yourselves questioning if this lifestyle change is right for you. What are the noticeable differences? How will it affect my life for the better? Most importantly, how will this be different from all of the other diets I’ve tried?

I know first hand how difficult it can be to manage a new exercise routine or diet change. These are significant life changes and they require a large amount of time and dedication. After the initial excitement of embarking on a new journey wears off, what remains? You feel tired. You’re craving your traditional food choices. Worse yet, you’ve committed weeks, maybe even months to the change and you’re barely seeing any results.

 

Plant photo

 

Various diets promise fast results overnight. Don’t believe them. I’m can’t promise that adopting the lifestyle will be easy. What I can guarantee is that in a short amount of time, you will have more energy and you’ll look and feel healthier. The Paleo Diet is different from other fad diets. It prioritizes real food that our ancestors ate millions of years ago. We’re not only biologically built to consume this food, but to benefit from the specific nutrients related to it. Check out the list below as a preview of the awesome new lease on life you’ll receive after making the switch.

 

You’ll look better.

What happens when you consume more protein and fats? You’ll not only lose weight but you’ll develop muscle in its place. By ditching a carb-heavy diet, you’ll be reaching for a richer, healthier palette of foods designed to sculpt your body into a leaner and stronger form.

 

Cherries

 

You’ll feel better.

You’ll not only eat a lot of meat but you’ll also consume a large portion of vegetables. Vegetables are the secret to a healthy and happy digestive system. Strive to eat 2-3 servings of dark, leafy greens for a week and watch what happens. You’ll micro-biome, or your gut’s ecosystem will begin to repair and run at an efficient level. Amazing things happen when your gut is in working order.

 

Sunlight on tree.

 

You’ll sleep better.

Paleo prefers that you exclude coffee from your diet. This can be an extremely hard switch to make. You’ll no doubt feel tired, restless, even depressed. This is what happens when your body detoxes from harmful substances. If you’re serious about adopting a pure Paleo diet, try and stick with the elimination. In a few weeks, your body will begin to adjust to your normal energy levels. Better yet, you’ll have less sleeping issues due to the elimination of caffeine in your system.

 

Cat sleeping

 

You’ll work faster.

Your bones will be stronger. You won’t be reliant on caffeine. The paleo diet restarts your system to run at an efficient level. Another added perk? Say goodbye to the mid-afternoon slumps at work. When you’re no longer dependent on caffeine or sugar, your body will no longer run in spells, dipping when sugar is low. For those interested in adopting a Paleo lifestyle, the rewards are countless. Check back often for more posts on how to live a healthy and active life.

 

Man Hiking