healthy eating

A Guide to Mindful Eating for a Healthy Weight

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Maintaining a healthy weight doesn’t mean that you have to go jump on every diet bandwagon that comes in and out of popularity. Diet fads are always coming and going, but all you really need to do to maintain a healthy weight Is to keep mindful eating habits. Being aware of everything you put into your body is the quickest way to keep yourself on track.

Stay aware of what you are eating

One of the best ways to keep yourself on track is by staying self-aware and holding yourself accountable. Start out by keeping a food diary. Writing down everything that you eat and drink; at the end of the day look over everything you ate and how many calories you took in, along with how many calories you burned for the day. This will help keep you self-aware, and before you know it you will begin thinking through everything you eat before you eat it.

Think Before You Eat

When something looks delicious and is tempting you; take a moment to think it over.

  • Are you really even hungry or does it just look good?
  • Is it healthy or something you will regret later?
  • Have you splurged yet today?
  • Is it an emotional need that I can meet in a healthier way?

Thinking before you eat will help you make healthy eating options. Moderation and self-awareness are always key. Keeping a mindful food cycle means always considering how much, why, when, what and how often you are eating.

Don’t Make Your-Self Miserable

Being mindful of what you eat doesn’t mean that you have to restrict yourself to the point of being miserable. If you continuously limit yourself and never indulge, even in the slightest, eventually you will reach a breaking point. Binge eating and overindulging to recover from a diet fad disaster is far worse than the occasional mind-full indulgence.

Make Time for Food

With so many things distracting us from food, convenience food is taking over. But convenient food is rarely ever healthy food. Take the time to eat healthy meals and snacks. Put down the cell phone or whatever you are working on, sit down and consciously enjoy a meal rather than shoveling it in behind a screen.  Make it a point in your home to sit down at the table to eat dinner every night, without distraction. Take the time to think about what you are eating, where it came from, what’s in it, and how much you are eating.

Is Edamame Paleo?

Edamame photo
Photo by Magic Robot

Is Edamame Paleo? More importantly, like many people, you hear the word edamame and ask, “Eda-what?”

Edamame, which is the Japanese word for “twig bean” (eda=twig, mame=bean), is—you guessed it—a kind of bean. Basically, you can think of edamame as boiled green soybeans, and their healthful benefits have been touted far and wide ever since Faith Hill started snacking on them backstage during concerts. But is edamame really a healthful Paleo option?

Edamame are the babies of the soy family—young, and still in the pods—but that doesn’t make them any less of a soy product. So for those following the Paleo lifestyle, where soy and its toxins are well-known and completely unwelcome, edamame is already down by a few points. Soy contains powerful toxins, especially phytoestrogens (note the term “estrogen” in that word). These toxins interact with estrogen receptors in the body, which can throw off hormones and lead to a whole host of unwanted side effects; one study discovered a possible link between phytoestrogens and irregularities in the prostate, including cancer.

Additionally, edamame is unfermented, meaning that toxins like phytic acid and gluten have not been broken down by the fermentation process. All of these toxins contribute to general inflammation and intestinal irritation, so knowing that we can find them in edamame is yet another strike against these little beans.

However, it may be too early to throw edamame out of the race just yet. Compared to other sources of soy, edamame has a clear advantage: the fatty acids are mostly monounsaturated (which is great!) and compared to mature soybeans, edamame’s phytoestrogen levels are quite low. The beans also have a decent amount of magnesium and folate, a B-vitamin that helps our body to replicate DNA and divide cells properly. That’s pretty important!
Since edamame have both toxins and helpful nutrients, it can be difficult to know just where on the Paleo spectrum these baby beans fall.

What do the Paleo gurus say?

Mark Sisson says: “Not Primal, but don’t stress over a couple handfuls at a sushi restaurant. While I wouldn’t make it a regular part of my diet, edamame appears to be relatively benign as an occasional snack. Just don’t eat bucketfuls, don’t make it baby’s first food, and don’t get into edamame pancakes or some silliness like that.”

The team at Whole9 says: “Do not eat legumes. This also includes all forms of soy—soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, tamari and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).”

So is edamame Paleo?

No, but don’t panic if you slip up.

Because edamame has lower levels of toxins compared to other forms of soy, fitting it in as an occasional snack might be fine. It’s not really that bad, but avoiding it entirely is still the best option.

Issue No. 30

Photo by Magic Robot

Is Popcorn Paleo?

Popcorn photoPopcorn is seen by many as a low-calorie way to curb hunger, especially when eaten plain with no salt or butter. And of course, you just can’t watch a movie without grabbing a bag of the stuff, right? However, a lot of questions have been left unanswered—like whether popcorn should be a part of your Paleo lifestyle, or whether it fits into Paleo goals at all.

Popcorn comes from a specific type of maize called, wouldn’t you know it, popping corn. This corn is specifically bred to create kernels that pop, so only popping corn can make that movie theater snack everyone is so excited about. This type of corn is mainly grown in the corn belt of the United States, where most of the world gets its popcorn. Every year, Americans alone consume more than 16 billion quarts of popcorn—that is one major food craving!

So, is it Paleo?

While popcorn is plant-based, low in calories, and contains complex carbs, it’s also packing some not-so-good attributes as well, including toxins. Because Paleo is all about getting the most nutrition with the least amount of toxins, popcorn is going to have to fight hard to find a place in the Paleo diet. Popcorn is a whole grain, and we know that grains (and especially whole grains) tend to inflame the gut and cause unstable blood sugar levels. Inflammation and insulin issues are the last things we’re aiming for in a Paleo diet!

On the other hand, however, popcorn may not be as damaging as people first believed. This study tested the correlation between diverticulitis (an inflammatory intestinal disease) and consumption of popcorn and found that there seems to be no correlation between whether or not inflammation gets worse and whether or not the patient ate popcorn. And some studies (like this one) cite this snack’s polyphenol content, clocking the antioxidants in at more than what you find in fruits and vegetables. That can’t be a bad thing, right?
The thing to keep in mind is that these polyphenols are found in the popcorn’s hull—that hard part that gets stuck in your teeth. That hull is made of insoluble fiber, which means that your body can’t digest it. And if you’re not digesting that hull, are you really getting any of those good polyphenols?

Because popcorn seems to have both some good and some bad bits, there’s not really a consensus as to whether or not it should be included in a Paleo diet. Some experts in the Paleo community say that popcorn is fine only as an occasional treat, but others warn that it’s a no-go.

What do the Paleo gurus say?

Mark Sisson says: “Not Primal, but it’s not the worst cheat snack you can have. If you’re buying at a movie theater, make sure they pop it in coconut oil and add real butter (not butter-flavored soy oil). If you’re doing it at home, use a good pot with ghee or coconut oil. And stay away from microwaved popcorn at all costs.”

Diane Sanfilippo says: “Corn is a big one that people have trouble digesting, which is why I know people like to snack on popcorn, but popcorn does not digest. And if you eat anything that doesn’t fully digest, it’s not really optimal.”

So Is Popcorn Paleo?

Not really.

In general, the consensus is to avoid popcorn—it’s a no-no for Paleo eaters. If you slip up once or twice don’t panic, but popcorn’s so-so mix of health benefits and too many whole-grain toxins make it one snack food you should avoid.

Issue No. 29

Are Sprouts Paleo?

Sprouts can come from a variety of foods, including legumes, veggies, grains or nuts. This can be confusing when questioning their Paleo-friendliness since a “sprout” can basically come from anything that has a seed.

So, is it Paleo?

Before you sprinkle those tasty salad toppers, carefully consider the source. Sprouts from most vegetable sources are considered Paleo. When grains are sprouted, the seed germinates and a chute comes out of the seed. This chute becomes the small vegetable that is cut off and consumed, as opposed to eating the seed (in contrast to whole grains and wheat flours that incorporate the seed proteins and starches into the milling process). Once the seed is sprouted, the concentration of lectin (the substance that protects the plant but can be harmful to the body) is decreased within several days, and in several weeks, levels drop to almost none.

One of the effects of sprouting is that it can convert a portion of the sugar in the seed to vitamin C (which functions as an antioxidant). As we do not manufacture our own vitamin C, this can be beneficial.

Sprouting also tends to lower a food’s phytic acid content — also a good thing.

Certain types of sprouts may have particularly healthy effects. Sunflower sprouts have a high cynarin content, a compound known to have antioxidant properties. Broccoli sprouts have also been shown to reduce insulin resistance, decrease triglycerides and reduce oxidative stress in type 2 diabetics.

What do the Paleo gurus say?

Loren Cordain says: “We can consume grain sprouts without fear of anti-nutrients. However, legume sprouts still appear to contain considerable concentrations of saponins – the secondary compounds responsible for increasing gut permeability. Alfalfa sprouts (which are actually in the pea family) have an especially high concentration.

Mark Sisson says: “Primal, depending on the starter seed. I see no reason why sprouted celery seeds, broccoli seeds, radish seeds, or lettuce seeds wouldn’t be perfectly Primal. Lentil, oat, or bean sprouts? Probably not technically.

Conclusion?

Consider their parent and decide. These little guys are surely Paleo if the seed they came from is a Paleo food, such as a vegetable. If the source is a legume or grain, sprouts are a no-go for Paleo. However, depending on individual comfort levels with incorporating non-Paleo foods, there could be room for some other types of sprout in the diet.

Issue No. 17Sprouts photo

Benefits of Zucchini

zucchini photo
Photo by Wildcat Dunny

 

 

Zucchini is versatile summer squash that is delicious and easy to use. Zucchini’s flavor lends itself to both being the star of a dish or being easily concealed as a nutritious filler. Zucchini can be eaten both cooked and raw and is extremely versatile in preparation methods. It is grown in abundance during the summer months and quite easy to come by. Its affordability and ease of preparation make it an ideal choice for a healthy and hearty vegetable. Zucchini contains only 36 calories per 1 cup and 10 grams of the recommended daily value of dietary fiber. Zucchini is also a great source of vitamin c, vitamin A, manganese, and potassium. Zucchini has proven to be both delicious and beneficial to your overall health.

 

 

1  Lower Cholesterol 

Zucchini is rich in dietary fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol. Dietary fiber attaches itself to bile acids created by the liver from cholesterol that is used to digest fat. When the dietary fiber attaches to the bile, it affects the liver’s ability to quickly digest fat causing it to create more bile acid. The liver then uses up more cholesterol to produce the excess bile acid, lowering the overall cholesterol levels.

2  Lower Blood Pressure

The amount of magnesium and potassium found in zucchini promotes lower blood pressure and alleviate stress on the circulatory system. Consuming zucchini on a regular basis can prove to be a great benefit for those suffering from hypertension.

3  Skin Hydration

Zucchini has a high water content that is beneficial to hydrating your skin and flushing out toxins.

zucchini photo
Photo by briannaorg

Zucchini can help restore moisture to your skin and return it to a healthy glowing state. It is beneficial to your skin both when consumed and when used as a topical ingredient in scrubs and washes.

4  Eye Health

As a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene, zinc, and manganese; all of which are crucial to maintaining healthy eyes. The veggie may also be used as an external application to remove puffy bags around the eyes caused by water retention.

5  Prevents Gout

Yes, it is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory carotenoids, which makes it great to counter the effects of gout. Antioxidants work to reduce joint inflammation. Gout can affect both the knees and the feet and often leads to extreme difficulty walking and standing. This veggie works against the uric acid in your joints, helping to remove the pain and inflammation.

Photo by csouza_79