I’m definitely more of a grazer — eating a little lighter and more frequently throughout the day. For body weight it doesn’t matter. Others have told us it’s too time consuming to think about eating 5 or 6+ meals each day. But for us it works.
What about you? Here’s a scenario I hear about time and time again.
You’re at work. It’s 2 PM. Your eyes are starting to roll to the back of your head and your stomach is starting to "yell" at you.
It’s the vending machine "calling." Obviously you have to cave, right? WRONG!
Finding a great option in the vending machine is like finding a needle in a haystack. But here are a few snacks to satisfy your salty, sweet, or crunchy cravings!
Sure, some, but not all of them would work at the office, but that same snack calling can come at home too.
Got a craving for salty foods?
Try any of these:
Sliced cucumber with a pinch of salt and black pepper
Toasted chick peas (drain and rinse canned chick peas, toss with 1 tsp olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and chili powder. Toast in a pan over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until crispy)
KIND Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt – it’s convenient, has ingredients you can pronounce and combines a little dark chocolate goodness with a hint of salty flavor. I love keeping these in my bag and desk, so I’m never without a quick, easy, smart option.
Craving sweet foods?
Sliced melon with a squeeze of lime juice
Grilled pineapple with a drizzle of melted chocolate
Grilled plum with a scoop of Greek yogurt (a personal favorite)
Craving crunchy foods?
Baby carrots with hummus
Wasa Crispbread (LOVE this) with a slice of tomato, avocado & smoked salmon
Apple slices with pieces of Cabot seriously sharp cheddar cheese mini bars
There you have it — 9 different snacks to attack your salty, sweet, or crunchy cravings head on!
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And these are horrible for you. Even the “whole wheat” Krispy Kreme that is an embarrassment to anything remotely healthy.
On the flipside, garlic, cauliflower, onions, oats, oat bran, white button mushrooms, chick peas, and shallots are also white carbohydrates. They’re just not refined white carbohydrates.
So, I admit – I’m a fraud. I have told you in the past that “white carbohydrates are bad for you.” But now I’m here to back peddle a bit and reframe my statements.
Those white carbohydrate based foods have unique properties that can literally save your life!
Obviously blanket statements in nutrition don’t work. Even “trans fats” are bad can be misleading, as there are many different types of trans fats. But let’s stick to the topic at hand and explore how these unique foods can help you reach your goals.
Oats and oat bran are great sources of a particular fiber called beta-glucan. Beta-glucan basically absorbs fat like a dry sponge in a glass of water. This is why data suggest including these foods regularly can slash your risk of heart disease, by decreasing dangerous lipids (blood fats). They’ll also fill you up more than junk carbs, so give these a try.
Garlic has health properties second to none – data show it can boost immunity, acts as an antifungal agent, wards off the common cold (and the common neighbor if you go overboard), and may even lower the risk of heart disease. And, let’s focus on basics – it adds a ton of flavor and nutrition with virtually zero calories. Mohr Results Tip – slice garlic and let it stand exposed to the air for at least 10 minutes. Doing so will open up the “healthy cells” that are inside the cloves (they also are what give it its unique smell and flavor).
Cauliflower is known as a cruciferous vegetable, super high in fiber, but also other unique cancer fighting nutrients that are otherwise difficult to get from the diet. Try this: wash it, break it apart to smaller pieces, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle a pinch of salt and a pinch of nutmeg. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees until tender. Voila! Or, make mashed “potatoes” with it – follow this video to see how!
Chick peas are a great source of soluble fiber, protein, and are high in vitamins and minerals. They’re also the base of a great food, hummus – try hummus as a snack, as the first layer in a wrap, or just a side with some raw veggies.
White button mushrooms offer a ton of health properties. In fact, a study published in the journal, Appetite, showed that when two groups were given the same volume of food in a meal, either from mushrooms or meat, those who included the mushrooms lost more weight! Now, you may be thinking, “of course they lost more weight, they ate less calories” – but the key was they rated their “satisfaction” with hunger and eating just as high as the other group. Take home point – less calories, but they didn’t overeat to make up for it. Some data also suggests mushrooms are a unique source of vitamin D, and may have immune boosting properties as well. Sauté them with some chopped garlic and you’ve got a winning combination.
Shallots are in the same family as onions and garlic, sharing some of the same health properties, but with a more mild flavor. Mix them with eggs, salad dressing, or sautée22d with veggies.
Next time you hear a blanket statement about nutrition, take it with a grain of salt – and if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
By the way, refined white carbohydrates ARE horrible for you, so don’t use this as an excuse to stop at the nearest Krispy Kreme shop for a bite to eat — even if you do order the “whole wheat” option.
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I grew up on cereal. And not just the occasional bowl for breakfast. I mean eating the stuff morning, noon, and night when my brother and I would line up the boxes on the table, mix and match pounds of the various flavors, and down these overly refined carbs by the spoonful. And raise your hand if you’ve ever purposefully poured extra milk into the first bowl with the sole intention of knowing you’d need extra cereal so you wouldn’t “waste the milk.” (Every true cereal eater does this.)
Now if you take a stroll down the cereal aisle, there are so many options you don’t know where to turn. Grabbing for the boxes with cartoon characters is fine when you’re still living with your parents, but you can get your cereal fix without reverting to childhood indulgences and nutritional train wrecks to start your day. The first rule of thumb is to look at the fiber, sugar, and protein content. The benefit is that fiber and protein help fill you up, curbing your appetite later in the day so you eat less overall. Avoiding heavy sugar will keep you from crashing and craving more. Let’s take a look at some of the worst choices, and offer a better alternative. If you have your spoon ready, let’s go!
Instead of: Golden Crisp: This cereal—marketed to kids with the friendly "Sugar Bear"—has just six ingredients on its food label. Sounds good so far, right? Well, until you find out the first of those six is sugar and the others are wheat, corn syrup, honey, caramel color, and salt. All this adds up to 14 grams of sugar and just 1 gram of fiber.
Try this: Kashi Honey Sunshine Squares
Still looking for that honey sweetness? Try Kashi Honey Sunshine Squares, which pack in 5 grams of fiber, just 6 grams of sugar, and 20 grams of whole grains.
Instead of: Honey Bunches of Oats Raspberry Granola: Though it starts strong with oats as the first ingredient, the next few include brown sugar, oil, corn syrup, and sugar. (Among a few others.) Unfortunately the oats don’t pack much of a wallop, with a 2/3-cup serving packing just 3 grams of fiber out of a total 40 grams of carbs. It also has a decent amount of sugar, coming in at 14 grams per serving.
Try this: KIND Cinnamon Oat Clusters with Flax Seeds
For nearly the same serving size, KIND Cinnamon Oat Clusters will soon pack more than double the amount of fiber—7 grams—and a nice whole grain combo of oats, brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth, millet, and quinoa. Add in the 5 grams of protein and this is great as cereal or as a topper for high protein cottage cheese or Greek yogurt.
Instead of: Froot Loops. InWhen I was traveling to Iceland to speak a few years ago, I had an odd request from our host. "Can you bring some boxes of Froot Loops in your suitcase? It’s not allowed to be sold here because of the food colorings." So not only is the first ingredient on the nutrition panel sugar, the cereal also includes partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat). The ingredients also list and a whole slew of food colorings like red 40, blue 2, yellow 6 and blue 1, which may increase risk for hyperactivity in children, affect allergies, and possibly increase cancer risk, according to some animal studies.
Try this: Cascadian Farm Organic Fruitful O’s
With 3 grams of fiber per serving and zero food colorings, this cereal offers the same "fun" colors without any artificial colors.
Instead of: Trix Don’t fall for the "whole-grain guarantee." Three out of 10 of the ingredients are food colors, it’s lacking in fiber, and sugar rears its ugly head several times throughout the ingredient list.
Try this: Kashi Strawberry Fields
With 5 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and real fruit in the form of freeze dried strawberries and raspberries, this one will also leave you with some vibrant milk at the end from the colors in actual fruit.
Instead of: Honey Smacks. The ingredients of this sugar bomb lists some form of sugar in three of the first four ingredients, followed by partially hydrogenated oil (trans fat), salt, and caramel color. This results in 15 grams of sugar and just 1 gram of fiber in each 3/4-cup serving.
Try this: Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! Honey Almond Flax Cereal
The fiber and protein in this cereal—at 8 and 9 grams, respectively—are impressive. With the hint of sweetness from honey and 500mg of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s a solid alternative to another bowl of Honey Smacks.
Instead of: Good Morenings. Reading through the ingredient list, the second ingredient is sugar, and just a few below that is partially hydrogenated soybean oil (e.g., trans fat). Cereal can be good for one thing and that’s fiber—but with just 1 gram per serving, this isn’t one of the cereals that can make that claim.
Try this: Grape Nuts Vintage
This is old school, and I love it. You can’t get more basic than this ingredient list—just five easy-to-pronounce ingredients like "whole grain wheat flour" and "yeast"—a bowl of this has 7 grams of fiber, just 5 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein in just 1/2-cup. That 1/2-cup adds up quickly, so I always like this as a way to add a nice crunch to my Greek yogurt.
When I was in 8th grade I was overweight. Well, I was overweight for most of my childhood, but it was in 8th grade that I had to make a change.
I played football but always played with the grade above me since I never made weight.
Well, then 8th grade happened and it’s not an option to play with the high schoolers, so I had to lose 20 pounds to make weight and play.
And now 20+ years later I’m even more interested in nutrition than I was then.
I bring this up because when I was losing weight and learning about doing so …
… low fat diets were "all the rage."
So as any smart teenager (is that possible?) I thought if low fat diets were good, well then lowER fat diets were even better. I still have the food diaries from that time and there was a day that I ate just 3 total grams of fat. The entire day.
To put that into perspective, that’s like eating 5 almonds. Total. For the day. And no other sources of any fat whatsoever.
Certainly not the smartest.
Then I went to Penn State to study nutrition. And, still, the recommendation was low fat diets were the best. And even more important was whatever you do, stop eating saturated fat (or at least drastically limit your intake).
Well, a decade or so later, carbs became the villain of choice and fat was embraced.
But although fat was embraced, not many jumped on the saturated fat band wagon.
Imagine gobbling bacon, deep fried in butter without worry. Or replacing low fat dairy with heavy cream, fat free yogurt for the full fat alternative and gnawing the fat off a t-bone like it’s a crunchy carrot stick.
These aren’t our suggestions, just simply referencing a recent paper in the Annals of Internal Medicine that came out suggesting "existing evidence does not clearly support" guidelines to reduce saturated fat.
In a nutshell, this paper examined data from 72 other research studies to see the effect of different types of fat on the risk of heart disease.
What they found, though, is that only trans fats — most found in processed oil based products — were associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
Wow, so what does all this mean?
Is it time to embrace saturated fats? Embrace bacon each morning with eggs that are cooked in butter?
Not quite so fast.
And this is the problem with nutrition.
Nutrition is not all or nothing. It is not an on or off light switch.
The options aren’t to eat bacon daily … or never touch a piece of it for the rest of your life.
Cover all your food with melted butter … or never touch butter again in your life.
While these messages are welcoming for people who enjoy bacon, butter or any other high saturated fat food, the real issue seems to be that when people decrease saturated fats, they make up those calories with junk carbs or dangerous vegetable oils.
After reading the study, we believe it doesn’t quite mean there is zero connection between saturated fat and heart disease; saturated fats are just one piece to the overall diet "puzzle" and they not as responsible for heart disease as once thought.
But let’s not swing the pendulum back to embracing all fats and demonizing carbs again. Or, vice versa, demonizing all fats and embracing only carbs.
We need to think about whole diet, not individual nutrients.
A balance of foods with proper portions is key. Create each meal around veggies, lean proteins (fish, chicken, turkey, beans, cottage cheese, eggs, etc), fruits, healthy fats from nuts, fish, olive oil, avocado, etc and some health grains (rice, quinoa, oats, etc).
This balance is what will give you maximal energy, help manage body weight and reduce the risk of disease.
This media storm talking about how saturated fats are healthy is the reason the pendulum keeps swinging. And it will swing until a new study comes out saying "wait, actually saturated fats aren’t good, this time we are finding out you should eat xyz."
Balance always works.
I actually really appreciate what author Michael Pollan has said "Eat food, not too much, mainly plants."
It’s exactly how we created our smoothie recipes in 101 Simple Smoothies. Pick it up to enjoy the same foods we eat daily for maximum energy.
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Have you ever heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit?
Of course, we all have.
But interestingly, while we’ve all jumped on that 21 day bandwagon and preached it like it was gospel …
…it had no scientific truth or merit whatsoever.
NONE (the real answer is at the bottom of this blog)
Sorry if that disappoints, but it’s just the truth. And there’s actually scientific research to confirm this.
Now, we will say that 21 days is certainly a great start. And every day you successfully work on a habit is another day closer to making that habit permanent.
But according to some scientists at the UK Health Behavior Research Center in London, it actually takes a lot longer.
In their study, they looked at how long it took people to perform an action automatically.
Kind of an odd outcome. Studying a habit. Right?
How Do You Define a Habit?
Habits are behaviors which are performed automatically because they have been performed frequently in the past.
They can be positive, like exercising daily.
Or negative, like smoking.
Either way, they’re habits – actions that are done automatically.
Basically, the repetition creates a mental association between the cue and action which means that when the cue is encountered the behaviour is performed automatically.
Automaticity has a number of components, one of which is lack of thought.
Interesting. Think about your daily habits.
What do YOU do daily? We all have many, many habits of course.
To create a habit you need to repeat the behavior in the same situation.
And as we all know, breaking habits is very difficult.
The easiest way is to control your environment so that you do not encounter the cue which triggers your habit. It is difficult to break any habit even when you are motivated to do so. If you are ambivalent about breaking it then you will be less likely to succeed.
New habits do not stop the old habits from existing; they just have to become stronger influences on behavior.
And the good news from the study is that missing one opportunity to change a habit doesn’t significantly change the habit forming process. But if that one missed opportunity turns into another and another … it’s like a snowball and the people who were very inconsistent in performing the behavior did not succeed in making habits.
Unfortunately it’s not quite known what level of consistency there needs to be to form a permanent habit, but I’m sure we’ll ultimately learn that over time.
The advice the authors did give is that when someone wants to form a habit they should specify clearly what they will do and in what situation and try to do this consistently.
Notice here there is no mention of the endpoint goal but rather the process to reach that goal.
For example, rather than "I will lose x pounds" a process goal would be "I will eat 1 apple with breakfast every single day."
Then, while working on that process goal, you can ultimately add to it. And the more and more positive processes that a person has, the more successful or likely they will be to make a habit permanent.
And the length of time this takes, according to this research?
So work on it for 21 days, then 21 more … and 21 more (plus a couple). And THEN you can officially call it a habit.
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