Eating outside the “Box”

After Hurricane Harvey, my household grew by seven–my daughter, son-in-law, three grandkids, and two granddogs.  My husband and I are thankful that we have a dry house where they can stay as they recover from the five feet of water that destroyed their apartment.

School has resumed, and my beautiful grandchildren are up at 6:30 a.m. and out the door shortly after 7:00.  Like so many families, mornings don’t allow much time for breakfast, and convenience foods like toaster pastries and granola bars are easy to grab and eat on the go.  These foods are mostly simple sugars, with insignificant amounts of protein and healthy fat, which are needed to give strength and sustained energy for learning, playing, and growing bodies and minds.

When I quiz them about what they have for school lunches, so far it’s been cheeseburgers, pizza, potatoes, etc.  One of my grandson’s classmates felt sorry for him since he lost his home, so he gave him a Honeybun.  That was a thoughtful act of kindness, but you can see that there’s no shortage of refined carbohydrates available to our children.

My mission as grandma and nutritionist is to find creative ways (outside the “box”) to get nutrients into their bodies so they’ll have the fuel they need to meet academic, physical, and social challenges.  It starts with me being present in the kitchen and dialoguing with them about how food affects their brain and body.  We talk about eating outside the “box”.

I appealed to my 12-year-old grandson by telling him that he needs protein to build muscle.  I offered him a snack bag filled with a handful of raw cashews to put in his back pack.  I cooked some organic frozen corn in a little olive oil and organic butter, and he ate a bowlful for breakfast.  This was eating outside the “box” for him.

My other grandson and granddaughter wanted frozen waffles topped with pure maple syrup and hemp seeds (we call them sprinkles).  The hemp seeds add protein and healthy fats, which the brain needs to function at its best.  My granddaughter took raw cashews (good source of calcium) in her snack bag, and my grandson took raw sunflower seeds (good source of vitamin E).

Two of my three grandkids drank some chlorophyll water (we call it leprechaun juice because it’s green).  Chlorophyll is what makes leaves green.  It helps increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.  We use one from Nature’s Sunshine that’s made from alfalfa and contains spearmint oil, which is a natural remedy for indigestion and bloating.  I mix about one teaspoonful into eight ounces of water.

I remind them to drink water in the mornings to hydrate their brains so they’ll be ready to think.  We do a little math to explain the average amount they need to drink each day.  They divide their weight by two to get the number of ounces of water.  Since they often consume water in bottles, we decide how many they need to drink to meet their daily requirement.

I asked one of my grandsons if he would eat dragons’ tails (green beans) or broccoli for breakfast.  He said yes!  I told him that was eating outside the “box”.  Guess what I’m going to serve in the morning?

My grandchildren are helping me experiment with different “energy bar” recipes.  The first one I tried was the consistency of sticky cookie dough, which they enjoyed as an after-school snack and again this morning.  I mixed almond flour (a handful of ground almonds) with collagen powder (protein), raw honey, unsweetened applesauce, coconut flour, vanilla, unsweetened peanut butter, and dairy-free chocolate chips.  They were a hit!

I also try to use meal time to teach them to read ingredients on packaged foods and drinks.  Little by little, we must teach our children to learn to be healthy.  It’s foundational to their success!

Come on over to the Learning to be Healthy Facebook Group and share some healthy breakfast and snack tips or a favorite energy bar recipe!

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need.  Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

 

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Are food allergies and/or food sensitivities affecting your health?

Food allergies usually involve an immediate immune response that can cause potentially life-threatening reactions, like anaphylactic shock.  Other symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the stool, eczema, hives, skin rashes, wheezing, and a runny nose.

On the other hand, food sensitivities and intolerances are toxic reactions to foods that do not involve the immune system.  In addition to those symptoms listed for food allergies, a food sensitivity may also cause fatigue, gas, bloating, mood swings, migraines, nervousness, and eating disorders.

Food sensitivities can cause delayed reactions, making them more difficult to pinpoint.  You can have a negative result from a food allergy test and still have a food sensitivity that causes symptoms.

Research is growing that connects food sensitivities to nutrient malabsorption, leaky gut, acne, irritable bowel syndrome, joint pain, ADD, ADHD, anxiety, depression, brain fog, dizziness, and autoimmune conditions.  There is also accumulating evidence that food sensitivities can increase the severity of symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and other diseases normally not considered food related.

How do you know if you have a food sensitivity?

Start by keeping a written journal.  Record what you eat, how you feel, and poop observations.  Pay special attention to how you feel within an hour after you eat.  Do this for at least two weeks, and then see if you can make any connections.

Another way to check for a food sensitivity is the pulse test.  Take your resting pulse for one full minute, and record that number as beats per minute.  Eat some of the food that you want to test, and then wait 20 minutes while resting.  Retake your pulse, and record the beats per minute.  If there is a rise in your pulse rate by six or more beats per minute, you might suspect a food sensitivity.  Make sure that nothing else was responsible for the rise in pulse, like moving around or becoming excited or stressed.

If you need to go a step further, there are newer blood tests that are reported to be very accurate in determining food sensitivities through Cyrex Labs.  Check with your doctor to see if they do this type of testing and, if not, look for a doctor who does.  A functional medical doctor, naturopathic doctor, or some chiropractors will most likely do this type of testing.

Feel free to share your discoveries and ask questions in the Learning to be Healthy with Lisa private Facebook group.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need.  Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

Love Your Liver May 17 Challenge!

My grandson, Levi, was born with a diseased liver and had a transplant before he was one year old.  We remember that day, May 17, with prayers of gratitude, along with prayers for the donor family who lost their loved one.  Without a liver transplant, our precious 6 1/2-year-old Levi would not be alive today.

The liver is the largest and hardest working organ in the body.  It must filter and cleanse the bloodstream of toxins, which protects the immune system from overload.  Many people who have auto-immune conditions may have an underlying liver problem.  Reducing the liver’s workload can strengthen the immune system, helping to reduce allergic reactions and digestive problems.

The liver is also a major fat-burning organ.  It helps to regulate the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, making it important for weight loss.

Some signs that may indicate that your liver needs to be strengthened and cleansed include:

Inability to lose weight

Belly fat and/or abdominal bloating

Fatty liver

Gall bladder problems

High blood cholesterol and/or triglycerides

Hemorrhoids/constipation

Easily overheated

Skin problems like rashes or brown spots (“liver spots”)

Bad breath and/or coated tongue

Dark circles under eyes and/or red, itchy eyes

Allergies and/or other immune problems

Advanced signs include yellowing of eyes and skin (jaundice)

Some factors that can influence liver health include:

A diet high in refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats, which can lead to a fatty liver

A diet deficient in fresh and raw fruits and vegetables

Toxic food and beverage additives

Alcohol and/or drug abuse

Side effects from prescription drugs

Viruses like hepatitis A, B, and C

Auto-immune disorders (chronic inflammation)

Negative stress and emotions

On May 17, in honor of Levi’s liver transplant, I challenge you to love your liver by choosing foods to help support and cleanse it.  The following list includes foods to help you get started:

Dandelion leaves

Spinach

Parsley

Garlic

Cruciferous vegetables:  cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, horseradish, mustard greens, radish

Apples/apple cider vinegar

Lemons

Beetroot

Carrots

Grapefruit

Artichokes

Fennel

An added bonus is that these foods can help stimulate the liver to burn fat, making them beneficial for weight loss and cases of fatty liver.

Choose at least one fruit and one vegetable from the above list to include in your diet on May 17.  Afterwards, make a plan to add something from this list to your daily diet.  Don’t get in a rut by eating the same foods every day.  Variety is key to a nutrient-dense diet.

Some supplements that may improve liver function include milk thistle, dandelion leaf and root, beetroot, artichoke, turmeric, and lecithin.  Ginger contains lecithin and is anti-inflammatory.

You can find many of these supplements in tea form.  Be sure to choose organic to keep from introducing additional toxins for your liver to filter.

Nature’s Sunshine makes a supplement called LIV-J that contains dandelion leaves, horseradish, beetroot, parsley, fennel, and other herbs to help nourish and cleanse the liver.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need.  Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

God’s Pharmacy–Ginger

Ginger is commonly found in gingerbread, pumpkin pie, and as a condiment to sushi.  Not only does it add spicy flavor, but ginger contains properties that may benefit your health in more ways than one!

Ginger is affective against influenza viruses and has killed staph bacteria and salmonella in test tubes.

Many find ginger to be a helpful remedy for nausea, vomiting, and motion sickness.  You might want to carry some ginger capsules or tea bags when you travel.

Warm ginger tea is helpful for reducing mucus congestion in sinuses, throat, and lungs.  You can use organic ginger tea bags or ground ginger spice, but fresh ginger root is even better.  Peel and grate or chop about 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger root.  Add to 2 cups of boiling water, reduce to simmer, cover, and steep for 30 minutes.  Drink a cup of warm tea every 2 to 3 hours.

Ginger tea or capsules make good digestive aids to help soothe digestion, especially in cases of nervousness, stress, or illness.

Ginger contains lecithin, which helps break down fats, making it useful for the cardiovascular system and weight control.

Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, making it beneficial for headaches, joint pain and stiffness, musculoskeletal aches and pains, etc.

Enjoy a cup of warm ginger root tea to help overcome a chill and increase circulation.

Tip:  Ginger is warming and peppermint is cooling.  Combine these two for a nice balance.

Add ground ginger to pancake batter, oatmeal, soup, baked goods, smoothies, and stir-fries.  Use fresh ginger root to spice up fish, chicken, and beef dishes.

Caution:  Avoid ginger if you have peptic ulcers.

One of my favorite reference books:  20,000 Secrets of TEA by Victoria Zak.  I found mine for $5 at Barnes & Noble.  Here’s a link to one on Amazon:

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need.  Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

Synthetic Food Dyes–the Toxic Truth!

How can something so pretty and colorful be so bad for you?  Synthetic dyes, also known as artificial colors, are made from coal tar and petrochemical residues.  Thousands of foods and drinks contain added colors.  These toxic chemicals can also be recognized by their numbers, like FD&C #5.

Food dyes are proven carcinogens, and some people are more sensitive to their effects, especially children.  The following conditions could possibly be triggered by artificial colors:

attention deficit disorder (ADD)

learning/behavior problems

migraine headaches

colds/flu (the body’s way of detoxifying)

sinus and respiratory problems

joint problems

joint pain

irritability

fatigue

depression

seizures

Those with asthma seem to be particularly sensitive to food dyes, with many fatal and near fatal reactions reported.  Yellow Dye #5 (also known as tartrazine) seems to be the main culprit.  It is a coal tar derivative that belongs to the aspirin family, proving especially dangerous for those with aspirin sensitivity.

The accumulation of these dyes over time can lead to chronic disease, including cancer.  Eating a whole-foods, unprocessed diet can help detoxify and protect the body against damage from toxic chemicals.  Including six or more daily servings of a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is a good natural defense against disease.

Eat a rainbow of colors found in nature–green spinach, yellow squash, oranges, purple eggplant, red beets, blueberries, and white onions.  These colors contain God’s pharmacy of nutrients to detoxify, repair, and build our health.

Read the ingredients on all packaged foods and drinks!  You’ll find artificial colors in an enormous number of products:

pickles/relish

ice cream/frozen treats

chips/crackers

candies/cookies/snack bars

frozen and canned foods

cereals (especially those marketed to children)

salad dressings/sauces

cake mixes/frostings

sports/energy drinks/sodas/fruit punch

supplements/medications

chewing gum/mints

puddings/yogurt/gelatin

some butter and cheese products

breads/biscuits

pie fillings/canned fruit/maraschino cherries

For more information:  List of food dyes to avoid

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.learningtobehealthy.com/30-day-healthy-start-challenge.html

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

 

Your Brain on Sugar

Refined sugar creates inflammation, which decreases blood flow to the brain.  This can trigger anxiety, depression, fatigue and headaches.  Studies done by Johns Hopkins University have even implicated sugar as a trigger for seizures!

Sugar lights up the brain’s dopamine pathways similar to that of drugs and alcohol.  Research done by Dr. David Kessler found that rats worked much harder for a milk shake high in sugar and fat, and the more sugar that was added, the more they consumed.

Stress increases cortisol levels, which can increase appetite and cravings for sugar.  Lack of sleep (less than six hours a night) contributes to stress and signals the brain to release hormones that increase appetite and sugar cravings.

A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology reported that consuming sugar forms harmful molecules (AGEs) that can damage the brain, as well as the collagen and elastin that helps keep skin firm and supple.

Refined sugar comes in many forms.  Packaged foods often contain several sources of sugar.  Some of its many names include:

Sugar/Invert Sugar

Lactose/Maltose/Galactose/Dextrose/Fructose/Glucose (words ending in “ose”)

High-fructose Corn Syrup/Corn Syrup

Maltodextrin

Dehydrated Cane Juice/Crystals

Sucanat (better form of refined sugar)

Malt Syrup/Barley Malt

Turbinado Sugar

Honey/Agave (unless raw, it may be refined)

Beware of how much sugar you’re getting from all sources–sauces, dressings, cereals, crackers, nut butters, snack foods, etc.  Even if you’re eating a “health” food, check the ingredients!

Whole carbohydrates contain fiber, which decreases inflammation and cholesterol, which improves blood flow to the brain.  Fiber reduces how quickly blood sugar is elevated and helps release steady fuel to the brain, preventing sudden “crashes”.  Always check the labels of packaged foods for fiber content.  Aim for a minimum of 25 grams of fiber in your daily diet.

Replace liquid sugar (soft drinks, energy drinks, sweetened tea, etc.) with water, green or herbal tea, or lemonade sweetened with raw honey or raw stevia.

Only consume fruit juice in moderation.  Instead, eat whole fruit, which contains fiber.

When consuming an occasional sweet treat, add some fiber to it.  Top your ice cream with nuts.

Subtract the number of fiber grams per serving from the number of carbohydrates per serving to see how actively the food/beverage will raise your blood sugar.  Try to keep this number between 15 to 25 grams, especially if you are trying to lose weight or have blood sugar challenges.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist I& Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.learningtobehealthy.com/healthy-start-30-day-challenge.html

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

 

A healthy brain is made of healthy fats!

A healthy brain is key to making healthy choices.  The brain needs good blood flow, and inflammation can decrease blood flow and increase the risk of disease, including memory loss and dementia.  Diet plays a key role in reducing or increasing inflammation.

Healthy fats build healthy brains.  Our brains are 60% fat.  Bad fats increase “brainflammation,” and good fats decrease “brainflammation”.  Inflammatory fats cause plaque to be formed in our arteries, decreasing blood flow to the brain.  Plaque can also form in the brain as a result of inflammation.  This can set the stage for memory loss, anxiety, depression, ADD, etc.

Many studies show the benefit of a diet rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, including a decreased risk of dementia, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and memory loss.  Those with ADD and depression are often found to have low levels of omega-3 fatty acids.  Conversely, diets rich in these healthy fats tend to improve mood and emotional well being.

Eating one or two servings of wild-caught fish per week can help improve your omega-3 levels.  Farm-raised fish contain less omega-3 fats than wild-caught.  You might also consider taking a fish oil supplement that is certified mercury free.

Other sources of foods rich in omega-3 fats include flax seeds, flax oil, walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, chia and hemp seeds, egg yolks (from pastured chickens), avocados, spinach, winter squash, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, and organic edamame (soybeans).  Add a handful of raw nuts and seeds to your daily diet, and eat two or more servings of vegetables at each meal.

The worst inflammatory fats are man-made fats known as “trans-fats”.  These include “hydrogenated” and partially-hydrogenated” oils, margarine, shortening, and even refined vegetable oils that have been overly processed.  These are the kinds of fats found in most packaged foods and used in fast-food restaurants.  Always read the ingredients, because a product can contain up to half a gram of trans-fat and legally claim to have no trans-fat.  It all adds up!

Omega-6 fatty acids can increase inflammation.  The American diet is loaded with omega-6 foods.  Corn oil, safflower oil, and soybean oil all contain omega-6 fatty acids and are found in most packaged foods like chips, crackers, baked goods, and frozen foods.  Animal protein also contains omega-6 fats.  Eat twice as many vegetables as meat to help reduce inflammation.  Replace unhealthy fats with healthy ones.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com                                                                                                             (Free download: 10 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Healthier You!)

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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.