31 Days of Health. Day 31: Give Yourself a Break!

Ahhhh! It’s the last day of 31 Days of Health!! Amazing. I’ve noticed some consistency with the folks liking these posts – thank you. I hope there have been some positive rewards for you as a result of following the thoughts I have to share. In a day or two I will get into a recap of these 31 days, and what to look forward to from Fabulous Nutrition. For now, let’s devour this last healthy action!!!

Today isn’t necessarily about, “Hey, put your feet up and relax!” Of course if you need a reason to do so, please, put your feet up and relax! Today is more about accepting imperfection. I’ve thrown a lot out there this month to help you move toward a healthy lifestyle from including certain healthy foods in your diet to practicing healthier habits. There are even more things you could do to carry out a healthy lifestyle. And you know what? It’s not all always going to be easy.

Life happens. Some days you’ll be a little short on time, short on patience, short on sleep, or short on all three together! Don’t stress it if you slept in even though you went to bed planning otherwise, or had good intentions to avoid added sugar but couldn’t resist a cupcake, or tried to start your day on a positive note but your children have truly tried your patience today.

What matters most is your persistence over time. Think: progress over perfection. In fact, all the good and bad, right and wrong, ups and downs…that is perfection! We can’t know and appreciate success without knowing and experiencing failure.

Be patient with yourself. Appreciate your successes. Appreciate your failures! Give yourself a break! And when you do fall, intend to get back up.

Happy Day 31! You made it!!!

Alyssa

31 Days of Health. Day 30: Make Vitamin A Part of Your Day

I was interested to find that only about one third of Americans consume enough vitamin A Daily. I’m definitely biased about the vitamin because I adore the foods that it is rich in. Tomatoes, lettuces, hearty greens like kale and collards, and carrots are among my favorite foods. I am lost in the winter-time without deliciously ripe, juicy tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, truffle oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and freshly ground pepper!!

It’s pretty easy to know which foods are high in vitamin A. Carotenoids, a group of vitamin A nutrients, are orange in pigment, giving the vegetables and fruits they exist in their bright orange and red colors. Lettuces and hearty greens are also excellent sources of carotenoids. Here are several examples:

  • Sweet Potatoes (1 cup – 250% Daily Recommended Intake (DRI))
  • Carrots (1 cup cooked – 147% DRI)
  • Spinach (1 cup cooked – 105% DRO; 2 cups raw – 40% DRI)
  • Kale (1 cup cooked – 98% DRI)
  • Romaine Lettuce (2 cups – 45% DRI)
  • Bok Choy (1 cup – 40% DRI)
  • Cantaloupe (1 cup – 30%)
  • Red Bell Peppers (1 cup fresh – 25% DRI)
  • Broccoli (1 cup – 10% DRI)

Vitamin A is also present in some animal foods, such as shrimp, eggs, salmon, tuna, and chicken. These are retinoid, or active forms of the fat-soluble vitamin. Synthetic forms of vitamin A are fortified in cow’s milk, yogurt, and other processed foods. It isn’t necessary to consume animal products for the purpose of obtaining adequate vitamin A, as carotenoids are capable of being converted to the active form in your body.

Be sure to include plenty of the red and orange veggies along with the leafy greens to support your immune system, reduce inflammation, support beautiful skin, strong bones and sharp eyes! Also include some healthy fat and protein with vitamin A rich foods, as these nutrients will support its absorption.

Enjoy!!
Alyssa

31 Days of Health. Day 28: Prep Fruits & Veggies

You know what I love and hate all at the same time? Being prepared.

Being prepared is SO fricken fabulous. I can’t tell you the amount of times I have felt nervous about not having this or that ready for when I need it, then to my surprise, I actually had exactly what I needed! I fascinate myself most often. And here’s why…

Being prepared is one of my biggest weaknesses. Seriously. If I’m on my way to your birthday party, I’m picking up your card and gift on the way. Sorry :-/

Wednesdays tend to be very busy for me. I don’t start my work day until about 1:00. I actually don’t eat breakfast until 8 or 9 AM, even though I’ve been up since 5:00 – going through a more relaxed morning routine. Depending on how early I did eat, I might eat a little snack around 10:30. So my belly is content at 11:00, around the time when I am leaving the house with my daughter. Food is not on my mind. Often, once 1:00 hits, I have no time and limited options to grab food until roughly 6 or 7:00. So, yeah… about nine hours without food. Not good!

You might ask, “Why not just get something ready that morning?” Please, do not ask. I haven’t even begun to try to understand why preparing for Wednesdays is so complicated. (Perhaps it would help if I explain that my schedule on the other four weekdays are way more flexible, and that this business on Wednesdays is new for me. It’s a transition?)

Hopefully by gaining a little insight into my crazy life, you can rest, assured, that perfection is unattainable. The blessing of being human!! 😃🙄

So today’s healthy challenge is totally a team effort!! Let’s take some time today to prepare some fruits and veggies for ourselves. I’ve got five simple suggestions:

  1. Wash fresh, whole fruit so it’s ready to bite or cut into.

  2. Wash fresh vegetables so they’re ready for slicing and dicing.

  3. Cut fresh fruit or vegetables to have ready for snacking, cooking, or slapping on a sandwich. Store in ready-to-go containers or baggies. *Cut only as much as you will consume within two days*

  4. Roast, broil, bake, steam, poach, braise, or sauté veggies. Then store to reheat later or throw cold onto a salad.

  5. If part of the issue is just getting the produce into your house and you can afford any one of these conveniences: try a grocery delivery service, like Instacart; meal kit service like Blue Apron or Hello Fresh; or a trusted local store that offers *healthy* prepared foods. Here in Buffalo, Wegmans offers perfect vegetable and fruit options.

We got this!!!

alyssa

31 Days of Health. Day 27: Be B-Vitamin Smart

Today’s healthy action is about understanding the B-vitamins. B-vitamins are a class of water-soluble vitamins, meaning they must be in the presence of water for your body to absorb them. Altogether, there are eight different B-vitamins. You may recognize the term, “B-complex” which collectively refers to these eight micronutrients:

  1. Thiamin (B1)
  2. Riboflavin (B2)
  3. Niacin (B3)
  4. Pantothenic Acid (B5)
  5. Pyridoxine (B6)
  6. Biotin (B7)
  7. Folate (B9)
  8. Cobalamin; or more commonly known as “vitamin B12”

Without any one of these vitamins in your diet, essential functions and processes within your body would not take place. The B-vitamins are involved greatly in the metabolism of the macronutrients – carbohydrates, protein and fat. Each vitamin certainly has a role of its own. Some additional functions this class of vitamins provide aside from metabolism include antioxidant protection, cardiovascular support, production of red blood cells, prevention of birth defects, blood sugar control, skin health, nervous system support, DNA production, and liver detoxification.

What is unique about water-soluble vitamins, is that whatever the body does not need, it will excrete out through the urine or feces (with the exception of B12 which can be stored in your liver). Have you ever noticed that when taking a B-complex supplement your urine is bright yellow?? There’s all your riboflavin! This does, however, demonstrate the importance of getting enough each day…

I think the simplest message to take away in regards to getting enough B-vitamins is to eat a varietal diet. These vitamins are widely distributed in most foods. Some are found predominantly in plants, whereas others are found more in animal foods. For example, folate is found in great quantities in green leafy vegetables, whereas vitamin B12 is not present in most plant foods (only fungi and fermented vegetables as the exceptions), but is high in animal foods including fish, poultry, beef, yogurt and cow’s milk.

So, while the headline reads “Be B-vitamin Smart,” what I truly suggest is to include an assortment of foods in your daily eating patterns. Refer back to Day 17 – Get Adventurous! If you are used to eating the same things every day, be courageous and try something new. I even recommend re-visiting Day 12 – Meditate. I feel that I run into many people who are concerned they are not getting enough nutrition, and so they supplement with pills. Supplementation has its place, but I definitely recommend that if you are concerned you’re not getting enough, first give yourself a few deep breaths and reconnect with your body. Sometimes that little reminder that you are alive and well is all you need. Then, talk it over with a dietitian-nutritionist, or other healthcare professional you trust (I’m trying not to be biased).

Send me a message if you’ve got any questions. It’s my mission to help you feel less-confused and confidently healthy!

Have the most fabulous Sunday ever!!!

alyssa

31 Days of Health. Day 23: Eat Some Kale

I am extending a bit from yesterday’s healthy action. Yesterday I talked about ensuring you are including vitamin K in your diet; and vitamin K is found in all sorts of green vegetables, especially the leafy types. Kale is one of those green, leafy vegetables with the most amount of vitamin K per volume… that’s an average of 1,400% of your daily requirement in 1 cup cooked!

Not only do I want you to add some delicious kale to your life today because it is high in vitamin K, but it is a generous source for so many other nutrients including vitamin A (100% DV), and vitamin C (about 70%); and together with vitamin K, these vitamins deliver antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, along with a healthy immune system and beautiful skin! You can also get a good dose of manganese, copper, iron, and vitamin B6 from kale. Collectively, these are supportive in bone health, energy production, prevention of free radical damage, blood sugar control, lowering cholesterol, metabolizing carbohydrates, detoxifying the liver, and promoting a positive mood!

The nutrient richness doesn’t stop there either! Kale also contains fiber, B-vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid; vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc, and even omega-3 fatty acids!! Additionally, kale has over 45 flavonoids that fight against cancer, and a high concentration of lutein – a type of carotenoid that protects the eyes from damage caused by light and oxygen. Other carotenoids present in kale protect your body from oxidative stress and problems related to it such as cataracts, glaucoma, atherosclerosis, COPD and cancer.

Would it have been more convenient for me to say what kale does not have and what it can’t do?? All the hype kale had gotten in the past few years was definitely warranted. This is one of those foods I have to say, you’re crazy if you don’t even try to like it!!!

One of my favorite ways to cook kale is to roughly chop it after a thorough wash, keep the leaves wet and toss them into a pan over medium heat gently tossing and steaming them for a few minutes. I then toss in some garlic – crushed or minced – with olive oil, and sauté until the leaves are tender. Sprinkle with some sea or kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Sometimes I’ll squeeze a touch of fresh lemon juice in there too. I also love adding cubed baked sweet potato tossed with a little butter (yup), cinnamon, and sea salt. Now THAT. Is feel-good food!

Bon Appetit!
Alyssa

BTW – you can follow along the shorter versions of these posts on Instagram @fabulous_nutrition. AND if you’re looking for some one-on-one work with me to propel your life forward in health and success, head over to the Fabulous Nutrition page or Contact Me directly. Thanks for being here!

31 Days of Health. Day 22: Kick in the Vitamin K

Kick in some vitamin K today!

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble nutrient, meaning, in order for your body to absorb it, it needs to be in the presence of fat. So grab a quick refresher from Day 15 to tie these two together and maximize your nutrition!

Vitamin K was named after what it is known best for: koagulation (German for….. coagulation 😊 Gott ich liebe die deutsche Sprache!). This nutrient plays a big role in the process of blood clotting, an important mechanism in the occurrence of bleeding – in case your first thought went to clots in blood vessels: one cause for strokes. Vitamin K is still present in that process too, however.

An exciting role research is finding out about vitamin K is that it may play a significant role in supporting bone health. Its involvement is believed to be in preventing osetoclasts from pulling minerals out of bones, and in another process that increases bone strength by means of increasing bone density. Consuming enough vitamin K may decrease the risk of fracture, even for women who have gone through menopause and have begun to experience decreased bone density. This certainly can give hope to all who have placed exclusive focus on calcium!

Vitamin K may also reduce the risk for arthritis, and bestow antioxidant effects upon our cells!

Here are some of the best sources for vitamin K – the percent daily recommended intakes (%DRI) are in reference to 1 cup cooked:

  • Kale (1,400% DRI)
  • Baby Spinach (1,200%; 1 cup raw: 360%)
  • Collard Greens (1,000%)
  • Beet Greens (over 900%)
  • Swiss Chard (760%)
  • Turnip Greens (700%)
  • Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts (300%)
  • Asparagus (120%)

Pretty incredible, right!? And the vitamin is present in just about every other green plant; herbs included. Not in as large quantities though. By comparison, 2½ stalks of celery contain 40% the DRI, 1 cup sliced cucumber ­– with the skins ­– contain 20%, and just 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil (my absolute fave) contain 30%! Vitamin K’s presence is so common in green vegetables because it is required in green plants to carry out photosynthesis! Science is so much fun.

Eat up!

31 Days of Health. Day 20: Reduce Starches

Reduce your starch intake is the name of the game today!

To understand starch, you must first understand glucose. Glucose is a single unit of sugar or, carbohydrate, and it is the most used source of fuel by your body and brain. When one glucose unit bonds with another…
…and another…
…and another…
a large chain of glucose is formed – this is called starch. Starch is stored energy for both plants and humans. For example, when glucose is unavailable for fuel in your body, such as during a period of fasting, or increased physical activity, starch is obtained from the liver to be broken down into glucose for energy use.

Plants that are known for significant starch content include potatoes, peas, corn, legumes/beans, and grains. A higher starch content = higher carbohydrate content = higher calorie content. But it’s not exactly the calories that are a concern. It is the carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are the most readily digested macronutrient. Why? Because they all break down to glucose, and your body needs this simple sugar to keep you alive! Once glucose is obtained, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and used by cells to carry out all sorts of processes constantly happening throughout your body and brain. However, there is a cap on how much glucose is needed at one time. Excess glucose is stored in the liver in the form of starch; or in the adipose tissue as fat.

Heavy intake of starches leads to frequently elevated blood sugars, and/or increased storage of fat. Therefore, a higher intake of starchy foods may lead to reduced insulin sensitivity (as a result of having frequently elevated blood sugars), and weight gain. As you may recall from Day 7 (Avoid Sugar), excess fat mass is inflammatory, which can lead to several chronic diseases and other ailments.

Don’t get me wrong, starches are not on the No-No list. Many foods that contain starch also contain a good dose of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and sometimes even protein! Balancing them with other non-starchy foods, including healthy protein and fat sources, is the ideal way to incorporate these foods into your diet. I do, however, recommend choosing starchy vegetables over grains most often as vegetables will offer a greater range of nutrients; and when choosing grain foods, choose whole foods over processed types more often (i.e. bulgur wheat over whole grain bread).

So for today, plan to eat less potatoes, peas, corn, legumes, or grain foods such as rice, pasta, bread, and cereal.

Enjoy!