What’s on Your Plate?

Last year the USDA food pyramid was changed to a plate with recommendations of 1/2 the plate consisting of vegetables and fruits, one quarter for whole grains and one quarter for protein.  Dairy was off to the side in a glass.  Honestly if you add a salad to that, make the half plate all veggies, 86 the milk and that is pretty much my usual dinner.

Not everyone can tolerate the same foods though.  Some people can’t tolerate gluten, some can’t tolerate dairy and others have trouble with certain vegetables.  Added to that there are a bunch of different dietary theories with conflicting ideas.  It’s confusing and it’s hard to know which theory is correct. 

The thing is no one diet works for everyone.  It can be both frustrating and a relief to hear that.  Some people really do need to eat less carbohydrates and others really do better on less protein.  I do best with less sugar, minimal dairy, a lot of greens and a balance of whole grains and protein.  I only know this through experimenting and the elimination diet.  (which is not as creepy as it sounds, you give up a certain group of food for 10 days and then add it back in. to see how you feel). 

Do you know which foods give you the most energy, leave you feeling satiated and not bloated, and have you powering through your day?  And, on the flip side, do you recognize which foods leave you feeling sluggish and too tired to go on without some sort of boost from caffeine or sugar?  It can really help with your day to day life as well as any sports or competitions that you participate in.

Helping people figure this out is what I do.  I’m available for in person consultations as well as phone and email.  Send me an email, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, or leave a comment if you’re interested in learning more.  I’d love to hear from you!

Some Foods to Try

What do you think when you hear the term superfood?  Do you think oh, something I must try!  Or ar you more:  oh, now what?  Honestly, I tend to lean toward the latter.  I think certain foods become the darling of media attention and then we find that maybe they’re not all they have been purported to be or that they become so popular that less scrupulous versions of the item start coming out. 

Take coconut water.  I love it and I do think it’s good for rehydrating after a good run or a hard workout.   I like to incorporate it into green smoothies as well.  It has some electrolytes in it and, as long as you’re buying the unsweetened variety, it’s relatively low in calories. Do I think it should replace water?  No.  Water has no calories and is hydrating enough for most work outs.  I do think it’s better for your body than most sports drinks on the market.  As an fyi:  It’s also good for a hangover. 

Below are a few other superfoods that you may not be aware of.  I am comfortable recommending to my clients and I use them myself.  They are all tasty and easy to incorporate into your diet. 

Cacao Nibs:  partially ground cacao beans.  An unsweetened chocolate that gives you an energy boost without caffeine.  They are high in antioxidants as well as trace minerals magnesium and iron.

Bee Pollen:  made from bees as they go from flower to flower.  It’s high in vitamins, protein, minerals and amino acids.  It’s recommended in the Beauty Solution by Kimberly Snyder.  She also recommends it when drizzled with unrefined coconut oil, it’s definitely an energy boost.  Note:  if you are allergic to bees do not use!

Unrefined Coconut Oil:  This oil consists of 90% raw saturated fat – a rare and important building block of every cell in the body.  Unlike long-chain saturated animal fats, coconut oil contains healthy, healing, medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).  MCTs support the immune system, the thyroid gland, the nervous system, the skin, and they provide fast energy as well. 

Chia Seeds:  Yes, this is what chia plants are made of.  Chia has a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids which keep joints supple.  Chia also provides a good amount of fiber, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, niacin and zinc.  They are a bit gelatinous and thicken up smoothies or can be used to make pudding.

Maca Powder:  Maca root is native to the Andres of Bolivia and Peru, where it’s been used to increase energy, combat stress, increase stamina and to boost libido.  It contains plant sterols, essential minerals, amino acids and healthy fats.

Raw Honey:  Anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal.  It’s tasty, sweet, and a little goes a long way.

A few ways to incorporate these foods are to add them to your morning oatmeal, to yogurt or in a smoothie.  There are a bunch of recipes that call for these ingredients as well so be creative and feel your energy soar.

If you are interested in learning more please leave a comment below, email me at janinemchale@empoweredplate.com or visit my website:  http://empoweredplate.com/.  I am happy to work with you in your journey toward a healthier lifestyle. 

In Praise of Tea

I have another low-level cold and I cannot stand the taste of coffee when I’m congested.  I don’t drink much coffee anymore and right now it tastes like dirt, which is not appealing in the least.  Tea, on the other hand, tastes delicious right now.  And there are so many different varieties and flavors that I can keep myself happy.

I love tea and I love the fact there doesn’t seem to be a a health risk for drinking it. Black tea has about half the caffeine of coffee, oolong has a little less than black tea, green tea has a quarter of the amount of caffeine in coffee and white tea has about an eighth.  Herbal tea, made from fruit; herbs; seeds; and roots, does not contain caffeine.  They are considered a tisane as they do not come from the same plant as the other teas.

Tea is shown to:

     Reduce the risk of cancer by deactivating cancer promoting cells

     Prevent stroke by reducing blood clots

     Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol

     Theanine, an amino acid uniqe to tea, helps fight bacterial & viral infections

     Helps the digestive system  (where 70% of our immune system resides)

     Protect agains the affects of aging with its powerful antioxidants

I keep my caffeine down by having one or two cups of black or green tea in the morning and then switching to herbal varieties in the afternoon.  The herbal varieties help me cut down on treat cravings.  A cup of rooibas chai tea is tasty enough that I don’t feel the need to have something sweet along with it. 

There are so many varieties of tea that there is definitely something for everyone.  Most of the avid coffee drinkers I know enjoy a mate vana or a barley roast to get them through their coffee cravings.  Not sure that you’ll enjoy it?  Stop by Teany on the Lower East Side, an Argo Tea Cafe or a Teavana to ease your way in to different flavors and varities.

Valentine’s Day and Another Reason to Wear Red

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Today is the day for red, hearts and cupid.  It’s also the month of heart health awareness and what better day to celebrate the muscle that beats and gives you life?  You want to remember to get your annual check ups and to take care of yourself.

Exercise most days of the week to keep yourself functioning properly.  I don’t care if you walk, run, go to the gym, dance to your Ipod or go on a cleaning spree.  Just move for 30 minutes, break it up into chunks of time if you have to.  Every minute and movement counts.

Eat foods that help your heart function at it’s best.  Foods rich in Omega 3’s, vitamins, fiber, phytoestrogens, phytosterols, antioxidants, B complex vitamins and vitamins C and E all work to keep you in optimal health.  It sounds like a daunting task but these are in some very basic and common foods.  Happily red wine, berries, walnuts, almonds and chocolate are in the top 25 heart healthy foods. You can have a lovely Valentine dinner and still take great care of your heart. 

The nutrients and what they do:
Omega 3’s – found in salmon, walnuts and flaxseed.  The boost the immune system, protect against blood clots and heart attacks.
Phytoestrogens – act like a weak version of estrogen and are found in flaxseed.  They lower the risk of blood clots, stroke and arrhythmias. 
Phytoesterols – seem to lower cholesterol in the body.  All nuts, seeds and wheat germ have them.
Polyphenols – a type of antioxidant that reduces blood pressure, lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and protects blood vessels.
Antioxidants – found in most colorful fruits and vegetables.
B complex vitamins – protects against blood clots and hardening of the arteries.
Vitamins C & E – protects cells against free radicals.

My dinner tonight is going to consist of:  shrimp, broccoli, walnuts, red peppers, and asparagus over brown rice.  There will be red wine and dark chocolate.  My husband, my heart and my tastebuds will all be happy and taken care of. 

Are You a Fitness Nut, Couch Potato or Somewhere in the Middle?

I have friends and clients all over the map with this one.  Some are training for marathons, triatholons and 1/2 marathons and then there are those who don’t exercise at all.  Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of this.  We workout and maybe we have some goals that we want to reach or an amount of time we want to workout for. 

I’m for any activity. I feel as long as you are moving your body it’s good.  I like variety to keep from getting bored but maybe there is something you do regularly that invigorates you.  I know people who’ve run or biked for years and really have no interest in anything else.  There are also those who only want to strength train.  To prevent injury it’s good to mix cardio, strength training and stretching.  It keeps your muscles and joints working properly and lessens the threat of pulls, tears and fractures.  When I train for a 1/2 marathon I make sure to include strength training twice a week and yoga almost daily.  Sun salutations are an excellent way to warm up for a run and to cool down after one.  All the muscles you used get stretched and lengthened.

You should be exercising most days of the week and the most avid trainers still need at least a day of rest.  If you are currently not doing anything figure out what excites you and start doing it.  Try 10 – 15 minutes three times a week.  Once you start you will feel better.  Your mood will improve, your immune system will be strengthened and  your body will remember what it was made to do. 

Take a minute and share you favorite exercise.  Maybe you’ll inspire the rest of us to try it out!

Need help getting off the couch?  Then send me an email for a complimentary consultation.  Together we can figure out a plan that works for you.  I can be reached at janinemchale@empoweredplate.com or http://empoweredplate.com/.

Weight Loss in the News – Again…

I had the news on briefly and the headline was: Weight Loss is acheived through cutting of calories, it doesn’t matter what foods you eat. I can’t tell you how crazy that makes me. Yes, it’s true: cutting calories will help you lose weight, no matter what those calories are. The real points to consider are: Will you keep the weight off? Will you feel your best? Are you going to be hungry or looking for snacks?

I could eat a donut and have coffee or soda every morning for breakfast. I’d be in the calorie guideline for a morning meal. And by 10:30 a.m. I would have a raging sugar crash going on and be looking to eat more and have more coffee. Not really how I want to spend my morning. I’m far more productive when I’m on an even keel. For me this means: a veggie egg scramble with whole grain toast, oatmeal with nuts and fruit or a smoothie made with fruit, greens, almond butter and unsweetened almond milk. Your go-to healthy filling breakfast may look a little different. It just needs to keep you satisfied and powered up to face the day.

Similarly I could eat a carb laden lunch and fall into a food coma afterward. I’m sure that’s just what every boss wants to see in her employee! Then comes the need for coffee to stay awake and get through the rest of the day. It’s a vicious cycle of energy crashes and quick “fixes.”

I am suggesting that you can lose weight, eat foods you enjoy and have energy for the things you have to do as well as the things you need to do. There isn’t one magic solution that works for everyone but everyone has a formula that works for her. It doesn’t have to be about deprivation (which never works for long anyway) but it should be about feeling great.

Leave a comment and let me know what works for you?

If you need help in figuring that question out please send me an email at janinemchale@empoweredplate.com or visit my webstie at: http://empoweredplate.com/.  I am happy to help you find out what foods will help you feel and look your best.