If We Are What We Eat, Shouldn’t We Know Exactly What We’re Eating?

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Think about the first thing you ate today? Can you remember? Was it a bowl of oatmeal with blueberries and a glass of orange juice or was it a coffee you bought at Starbucks drive-thru in the morning and a smoothie you picked up at lunch time because you were running late to work and had a busy morning? How much popcorn did you mindlessly munch on while you were watching the newTwilight movie? How many ounces of steak did you eat for dinner or did you compromise dinner because you stayed late at work and had drinks with co-workers instead? Most of us keep track of our finances, we know exactly how much we have in the bank and exactly how much we have to splurge on a new pair of shoes or a new gadget at Brookstone, yet we don’t keep tract of the very essential thing we put in our bodies every single day: food!

One of the first and most important pieces of information I gather from a client looking to improve their diet and health is a three day food journal. A three day food journal is simply a record of every morsel of food that a person puts into their mouth for three days, however, for most people (myself included the first time I kept a journal), is not so simple. What do we eat, how much do we eat, and why do we eat when we eat are all important questions that many of us have never thought about before yet can be very enlightening for us when we take the time to track it. Studies show that keeping a food journal has one of the largest impacts for weight loss in women. In fact, women who kept food journals consistently lost about 6 pounds more than those who did not.*

It is difficult to make dietary changes when you do not know what your eating in the first place. If you are looking to make changes in your diet I urge you to record everything that passes your lips for 3 days ( 2 weekdays and 1 weekend). Some tips for a successful food journal are as follows:

-Be honest: You don’t need to impress anyone with your food journal. Don’t be ashamed of what you ate or did not eat. This is meant to assess your “typical” eating pattern so that you can make improvements in your health and well-being.

-Be accurate: Measure or weigh portions if you have to (oz., cups, grams). Be aware of how food was prepared (grilled, baked, steamed, fried), read labels and ingredients, and pay attention to the use of condiments.

-Be consistent: Write down what you eat as you eat it in your paper food journal or electronically on your phone or tablet. Sometimes we are unaware of the “grazing” or nibble here nibble there so this is the time to bring awareness to food patterns. Below is a link to iPhone/iPad apps that make it easier to record food and count calories. It is surprising how many hidden calories are in restaurant meals however this link will make it easier to track. http://gigaom.com/apple/ipad-app-roundup-food-diaries-and-calorie-counters/

The intent of a food journal is to bring awareness to patterns in your diet (do you tend to skip meals, mostly eat out, etc), the type of eater you are (informative, emotional, social), and the areas you can make improvements (eat more vegetables, eat complex carbs instead of refined, cut back on soda). In a recent study as stated earlier, weight loss can be attributed to not skipping meals and limiting the amount of dining out for lunch. Perhaps you can wake up earlier to eat your yogurt and fruit bowl instead of running on coffee alone, prepare a lunch the night before instead of eating in the food court, or perhaps  you can substitute one of those steak dinners for grilled fish. You may be surprised how quickly your body, energy level and mood will positively respond! For a more detailed diet analysis assessing macro and micro nutrients, email your  3 day food journal to christinenjimenez@gmail.com for a free diet analysis.

“We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.” Adelle Davis

* Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “Want to lose weight? Keep a food journal, don’t skip meals and avoid going out to lunch.” ScienceDaily, 13 Jul. 2012. Web. 14 Jul. 2012.

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Superfood of the Week: Spirulina

Foods that have an incredible array of health benefits that go well beyond just their nutrient value are considered ‘super-foods.’

What is Spirulina: The blue-green algae spirulina is one of the most primitive forms of life on the planet. This algae is known for its extraordinary survival adaptations. Spirulina is considered a superfood due to its unique level of nutrient density.

Spirulina is a single cell blue green algae. Under the microscope it looks like long thin spiral threads. Spirulina has a completely unique combination of phytonutrients – including chlorophyll, phycocyanin and polysaccharides, that can help cleanse our bodies.

Where is it found: Spirulina is found all over the world in fresh water, saltwater oceans & natural springs. It thrives in pesticide free environments with plenty of sunlight and moderate temperatures. Spirulina was renowned for its healing properties and was a staple part of the North African and Aztec Indian diet many years ago. Today, natural health experts all around the world revere spirulina for its potential as a whole food mega-nutrient and natural medicine.

 Why is it good for you? Spirulina has countless uses as a supplement for health and preventing disease and is often deemed the most nutritionally complete of all food supplements, containing a rich supply of many important nutrients, including protein, complex carbohydrates, iron, and vitamins A, K, and B complex. It also has a high supply of carotenoids such as beta carotene and yellow xanthophylls which have antioxidant properties. It is also rich in chlorophyll, fatty and nucleic acids, and lipids. Spirulina is the richest beta carotene food known, 10 times more concentrated than carrots. Twenty years of research proves eating beta carotene rich foods and vegetables gives us real anti-cancer protection. Beta carotene is good for healthy eyes and improving vision. It is also packed with antioxidants that are anti-aging.

Not only is Spirulina rich in beta carotenes but it also has the highest content of B-12 and rich in iron which is especially important for vegetarians and vegans.

About 60% of spirulina’s dry weight is protein, which is essential for growth and cell regeneration. It is a good replacement for fatty and cholesterol-rich meat and dairy products in one’s diet. Every 10 grams of spirulina can supply up to 70% of the minimum daily requirements for iron, and about three to four times of minimum daily requirements for vitamins A (in the form of beta carotene), B complex, D,and K. By itself, it does not contain vitamin C, but it helps maintain this vitamin’s potency.

With its high digestibility, spirulina has been proven to fight malnutrition in impoverished communities by helping the body absorb nutrients when it has lost its ability to absorb normal forms of food.

Another health benefit of spirulina is that it stimulates beneficial flora like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria in your digestive tract to promote healthy digestion and proper bowel function. It acts as a natural cleanser by eliminating mercury and other deadly toxins commonly ingested by the body.

Spirulina also increases stamina and immunity levels in athletes, and its high protein content helps build muscle mass. At the same time, it can curb hunger that may develop during the most demanding training routines. Thus, it indirectly acts as an effective way to maintain an athlete’s ideal body weight.

Spirulina’s ability to reduce the bad cholesterol LDL in the body helps prevent the onset of cardiovascular diseases, such as hardening of the arteries and strokes. It also helps lower blood pressure. While not clinically proven, spirulina may also protect against allergic reactions and liver infection.

How do you take it? Spirulina is now commercially available in tablet or powder form. Some health tonics contain spirulina as part of their ingredients. A simple daily regimen for spirulina involves taking a 500 mg tablet four to six times daily.

Are there any risks/ side effects from taking spirulina?

While it has a very high nutritional value, spirulina may also cause some side effects. Some individuals may suffer from allergic reactions to this algae, including rashes, hives, and difficulty breathing. Some commercial versions of spirulina supplements may have also been contaminated with toxic substances during production. It is therefore absolutely critical to buy spirulina only from reputable sources.While spirulina may appear safe at large doses, healthy adults should seek a doctor’s advice for the right dosage. Children and pregnant or nursing women should also consult a doctor before taking spirulina.

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Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/034809_spirulina_allergies_exercise_recovery.html#ixzz1p6YLYUEK