6 Health Habits That Changed My Life

Hi, my name is Ali Boone. I'm a Registered Dietitian and Owner of Nourished Abundance, an online nutrition counseling business dedicated to making nutrition easy. While I am a dietitian, I haven't always lived a healthy life. 

Let me tell you a little story about the old me.

The me that used to let daily pressures and expectations of others consume me. The me who always asked for permission and opinions, because I was afraid of making the wrong decision. The me who hardly allowed myself to think freely and constantly worried whether I was “right” or “wrong”. I was anxiety-driven, that is until I decided to stop ignoring the anxiety and started to face it head on. 

I never prioritized sleep and relied completely on caffeine to get me out of bed in the morning. I snacked every 1 to 2 hours, and the second 4pm rolled around, I reached for the coffee again. I need to get through this workout, I always thought to myself, and the only thing that’s going to get me there is this coffee. I relied on stimulants – caffeine and sugar were my drugs of choice. 

You may be laughing at this. Coffee and sugar? How is that an addiction? Well, it was my reliance on coffee and sugar that ran my adrenals into the ground. My energy levels constantly ebbed and flowed. I was tired in the morning and wired at night. I became irritable, anxious and self-conscious. My ability to concentrate or focus on anything continued to decline. 

I exercised almost every single day, sometimes twice a day. Gym before, late evening soccer games at night. I’d go to bed on an empty stomach, wake up feeling exhausted. 

Ironically, I was advising people how to live healthy lives, yet I was hardly following my own advice. 

Sure, my meals were all pretty healthy, but was I actually taking care of myself?

I constantly thought I wasn’t good enough and always put myself down. I wanted change, but I was afraid of it.

I became so caught up in the stories I was telling myself that I forgot to realize my value. I forgot to focus on ME..but I mean really focus on me. It wasn’t that I needed to stop drinking tons of caffeine and sugar – It was that I needed to look at WHY I was eating it.  

So the question became -what if we stopped to consider that 'hunger' for food was actually hunger for more life, love, connection, friendship, and passion? 


That’s when I started asking myself for the first time – What is Ali hungry for? 


I stopped making excuses, looked at what I needed to change and began a new chapter in my life – a chapter of renewal, growth, connection, community, and joy. 


While most people expect they have to make major restrictive changes in order to lose weight, be fulfilled, or feel confident again, I actually couldn’t disagree more. 

Here’s what I did to finally find a healthy balance I so needed (and deserved). I promise, if could do it, so can you. 

 

1.    Prioritized Sleep

I made sleep a priority. Getting at least 8 hours of sleep became a non-negotiable. I turned off the tv, my phone, my computer - any stimulating light by 9 or 10 pm. If I couldn't sleep, I either read or meditated. 

I’m serious when I say prioritizing those 8 hours could change your life.

Lack of sleep is very hard on the body and hurts our cognitive processes in many ways. It impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem-solving. The health consequences related to lack of sleep include weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and memory loss.


2.    Stabilized My Blood Sugar

One of the keys to stabilizing energy levels is stabilizing your blood sugar. Limiting refined sugar intake and relying more on proteins, healthy fats and carb-dense vegetables (like sweet potatoes, yucca and winter squashes) helped keep me fuller for longer. I looked to natural forms of fat like organic butter, pasture-raised eggs, coconut oil, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, and grass-fed beef.

Adding healthy fats to your meal does not cause your blood sugar to fluctuate and actually plays a vital role in stabilizing your blood sugar. 


3.    More Reliance on Water and Less on Caffeine

I never drank coffee past 12 pm and always, always replaced my caffeine intake with at least 1.5-2 times more water. Coffee, juice, tea, alcohol and soda are all diuretics, which means they are depleting your body of water. 

Water plays a considerable role in our overall health and well-being and should never be underestimated.

If you are someone who literally needs caffeine to start your day, you might want to consider taking a month hiatus. Caffeine stimulates your adrenals and the production of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which is the same stress response that your body signals when you are in physical danger. With an occasional cup of cup, your adrenals will be able to react quickly. Several cups of coffee throughout the day can lead to overstimulation and a weakening of the adrenals. 

The main purpose of the adrenals is to enable your body to deal with any internal or external stressors, but they also manufacture different hormones (cortisol, estrogen, testosterone) and modulate the function of every tissue organ and gland in your body during times of stress. 

When your blood sugar spikes after consuming foods high in sugar or carbs, the hormone insulin is released to help carry your blood sugar into the cell to be utilized as energy. However, often insulin overcompensates and drops your blood sugar to dramatically low levels. This action facilitates the adrenals to kick in and help raise your blood sugar. 

Ever felt that shaky, hangry feeling after an hour after eating something high in carbs or sugar? That’s your blood sugar dropping. Generally, we reach for something that’s going to provide us with an immediate source of energy, which unfortunately is more carbs and sugar. In turn, this action of high blood sugar levels and dramatically low levels becomes very cyclical and very stressful for the adrenals.  

So if you are someone who relies on caffeine or sugar frequently throughout the day, be aware that both will continue to fatigue your adrenals and leave you less able to combat or manage any stress your body experiences. 


4.    Less Frequent, More Efficient Workouts

You do not need to spend hours in the gym to get the body you desire. An interval workout that’s no more than 20 minutes can be more effective than 60 minutes of doing any form of cardio. I encourage you to look up 20 minute at home interval workouts if you don’t have a gym membership. Or feel free to check out some quick workouts I posted on a past blog here

Studies comparing calorie expenditure and fat loss in young adults show that although shorter workouts burn less calories than during steady state cardio (i.e. elliptical, jogging), interval training produced more fat loss than steady-state exercise did overall. 

If you are continually sacrificing sleep to make it that 6 am workout consider how much your body will love you if you take time to catch up on some sleep. If you are always aching and constantly feeling the onset of injury, PLEASE promise me you will take a break.  


5.    Made Time for Self-Care

Meditation, journaling, dancing, yoga, long walks outside, reading, exercise, sports. What fills you up with joy? What relaxes you? What completely recharges you and brings you back into a higher energy? 

Whatever it may be, try to dedicate at least one hour of interrupted time where you are focusing on nothing but yourself. This is not selfish, it is not greedy or strange. In fact, it is a practice that is entirely underemphasized in our culture.

Self-care can help you manage stress, get you out of your own head and stop comparing yourself to what others are doing. This practice has seriously changed my life. 


6.    Became Part of A Tribe/Community 

When I moved to DC I joined a female leadership called Inner Glow Circle. I have never found more community than I have with these group of women. To have a support system that is there when you need it is incredibly invaluable. 

So who is your tribe? Who do you go to for advice and to lift you up when you’re feeling down? Surround yourself with those people and leave the negative ones behind. You will thank yourself in the long run, I promise. 

 

Change can be gut-wrenchingly painful or we can look at it as an opportunity to grow, to learn, to expand, to make new friends, and develop new skills. But before you overhaul your whole life for a fad diet or juice cleanse, what change do you wish to see? How can ONE SMALL change affect the way you show up as wife, husband, mother, father, coworker, friend, student?  

The bottom line is - It doesn't have to be as painful as we all make it out to be. 


I hope you all found this information helpful. If you have any questions or comments, please post below! 


In Abundant Health, 
Ali 

 

The #1 Most Underemphasized Healing Agent

Water

 

Up to 75% of Americans are dehydrated to the extent that it effects their health and vitality.

Have you ever thought about how much water you drink per day? 

Did you know that the adult body is at least 60% water and before birth it’s an even higher percentage? 

You can survive 8 weeks without food but only a couple days without water. Often people think they are hungry, when it’s actually just that they are thirsty. 

The main cause of daytime fatigue is simply lack of water.

 

SYMPTOMS OF DEHYDRATION: 

Symptoms of dehydration are thirst, dry skin, dark colored urine, and fatigue. These symptoms can also be associated with conditions such as: 

 

  • Digestive Disturbances such as Heartburn and Constipation
  • Urinary Tract Infections 
  • Weight Gain 
  • Premature Aging 

So knowing all these statistics and symptoms, what role does water play in our bodies? 

 

Water Plays a Role In: 


•    Improving Oxygen Delivery to Cells
•    Transporting Nutrients
•    Cushioning Bones & Joints
•    Regulating Body Temperature
•    Removing Waste
•    Flushing Toxins
•    Lubricating joints
•    Improving Cell-to-Cell Communication
•    Empowering the Body’s Natural Healing Process by Improving Wound Healing
•    Releasing Excess Body Fat
•    Normalizing Blood Pressure
•    Stabilizing Blood Sugar & Insulin Levels

It’s interesting how water has all these beneficial properties, yet as a society we are so heavily dependent on soda, coffee, juice, and alcohol.  

 

Diuretics - How We Can Become More Water Depleted

All these forms of liquid are diuretics (even tea). This means that these liquids are pulling water from our bodies and dehydrating us even more. While I’m not sitting here telling you to completely give up your tea/coffee or a drink with a friend, I do want you to consider how dehydrating these liquids are and to keep this recommendation in mind

For every 8 oz of diuretics you consume, drink 12-16 oz of water. 

 

So How Much Water Should I Be Drinking? 

While the mainstream recommendations is to drink 8 glasses a day, you would be surprised to know 

There no factual research or evidence to support the recommendation to drink 8 glasses per day

It's easy to simplify the recommendation with an "8 glasses a day" mantra, yet you simply cannot create one universal requirement for water intake. The recommendation should be individualized and dependent on weight, activity level, climate, and diuretic consumption.  

With that being said, I recommend consuming 50% of your body weight in ounces. 

SO wait, Ali, I weigh 120 pounds and I’ve only had 20 oz of water today so does that mean I have to consume 40 oz all by tonight?

The answer is no. I recommend increasing your water intake gradually (1-2 oz everyday over the course of several months)

 

Tips to Increase Hydration: 

 

1.  Bring a Water Bottle With You Wherever You Go

Are you someone who is constantly on the go? Bring a water bottle with you in the car, while your running errands, working out. Keep that water on hand as a reminder. If you know the ounces in the water bottle, even better! 

2.  Increase Fruit and/or Vegetable Intake

Up the veggie and fruit content, and it will help increase your water intake. Watermelon, tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, pineapple, berries, radishes, broccoli, etc. These are just a few of the fruits and vegetables that contain a very high percentage of water.

Shoot for at least 1-2 servings of fruits and vegetables at each meal. 

3. Consume Sea Salt

If you’re urinating frequently (every half hour or so), keep in mind that your body is extremely efficient. Your kidneys will excrete any water that isn’t needed.

When water is excreted through your urine, so are minerals. This action can actually dehydrate you even more.

If this is you, I recommend adding a pinch of sea salt to your water to replete your body with the necessary minerals and electrolytes it needs. This is also a beneficial practice for anyone who sweats a lot or is very active. I also recommend checking out Wellness Mama's Natural Sport's Drink as an alternative to commercial sports drinks laden with sugar and chemicals. 

 4. Exercise

Although it may sound counterproductive seeing as exercise increases water loss, movement increases circulation and improves your body's ability to utilize electrolytes and get nutrients into the cell. Whether it's strength training, interval training, yoga, sports, walking - find something to get active and move! 

5. Drink Quality Water

While this is a larger topic to discuss, my best recommendation would be to avoid tap water. It's laden with so many chemicals and pollutants that increase your risk of pollutants (aluminum, arsenic, prescription drugs and fluoride are just to name a few).

While bottled water may seem like a better option, it is reported that 40% of bottled water is tap. Not to mention, plastic can leech into your water and water bottles attribute to a considerable amount of our waste. 

Filtered tap water or Spring Water is best. A reverse osmosis system is even better! 

 

So there it is guys, if you're going to make one big change, let it be something simple like increasing your water intake. 

How do you stay hydrated? What are some of your own daily practices that help you keep your water intake up? 

I hope you all found this information helpful! Feel free to message me at Ali@NourishedAbundance.com if you have any questions! 

In Abundant Health, 

Ali 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tips to Eat, Drink, & Enjoy Your Fourth! Plus, a short, bonus workout!

It's my last day of bringing you Tips to Eat, Drink & Enjoy Your Fourth!

Be sure to check out yesterday's post on Drinking Tips & Cocktail Recipes and Friday's post on Nutrition Tips & Easy Recipes

How many of you spent hours in the gym only to feel like you wasted a ton of time trying to figure out what to do and how to do it? This is why  today I have two short 20 minute bonus workouts you can easily do on your own! Both workouts are AMRAPs, which means you repeat the series of exercises As Many Rounds As Possible. AMRAP's are short, effective and get the job done. If you don't have time to fit a workout in, these are great go-to options when you're in a bind, especially on a day like today when you'd rather be with family and friends!

Disclaimer: These two workouts are not meant to be completed one after the other. I included one workout with weights and one without weights, so you can decide which is better suited for you!

Keep in mind, these also great workouts to do with a friend, and since it's time based it also helps ramp up the competition and intensity. You can also easily make them up on your own. General tip: I typically make them full body. Make sure you're including arms, legs and maybe some ab/core exercises, so you're not just taxing one muscle group.

 

20 Min AMRAP (With Dumbbells)

10 Box jumps 

10 Thrusters (Squat Overhead Press)

10 Pushups

20 Alternating V-ups 

100 m Sprint 

Repeat! 

 

20 Min AMRAP (Without Weights)

20 Squat Jumps 

15 Sit-ups 

10 Dips 

5 Burpees 

100 m Sprint

Repeat!

 

Tips to Eat, Drink, & Enjoy Your Fourth! Plus, a short, bonus workout!

I often have clients that ask me what's the best alcohol to drink on a vacation or holiday. I'm all for for kicking back and having a few drinks, but you I also feel like you have to draw the line somewhere.

This is why I wanted to bring you drinking tips to beat the belly bloat and chronic intake of empty, unwanted calories.  Don't forget to scroll to the bottom to get two bonus drink recipes that allow to skip the artificial ingredients and go right to the good stuff! 

Also be sure to check out my Fourth of July Nutrition Tips & Recipes here! And come back tomorrow for a quick workout to fit in before the preparation for your Fourth begins! 

 

1. Watch Out For the Light Beers  

You may think opting for lighter beers means less calories. However, most of those beers are very low in alcohol content. As a result, you can actually end up drinking more than you bargained for just to feel the buzz.

Not to mention most of these commercial beers (i.e Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors, Coors Light, Corona, Michelob Ultra, New Castle, etc) are made up  of ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, various food colorings, MSG, animal based clarifiers, and the list goes on. 

But the bottom line is, alcohol is one of the only substances that completely bypasses the digestive system, metabolizes in the liver and goes directly to the blood stream. Unfortunately, all of the ingredients listed above further overload the liver.

So next time you opt for the lighter beer, remember to think about the quantity at which you will end up drinking that beer.

Bottom Line: If you don't have a sensitivity or allergy to gluten, I recommend opting for local brews with less additives and higher percentage of alcohol to keep your intake down. 

2. Avoid the Drinks You Can Put Down Easily

I know you may be tempted to opt for your favorite cocktail, but if it's something you know for a fact you can drink pretty quickly and easily, mix it up with a different drink. 

 

3. Pass on the Sugary Drinks 

If you like liquor drinks, mix it with seltzer water instead of the high sugar substitutes like soda or tonic. If you find seltzer to be tasteless, try a more flavored all-natural seltzer like La Croix or add a splash of cranberry juice or orange juice.

Squeeze a fresh piece of lemon or lime. Muddle some berries, oranges, maybe some fresh mint or basil in the bottom of your drink.

Drink red wine over white so you're consuming less sugar or opt for the dryer sparkling wines like prosecco. 

Above all else, opt for natural over artificial. There are many different options that are far better than turning to refined sugar substitutes. 

 

4. Be Conscious of Drinking Water

Making sure you're drinking water in between drinks will help you stay hydrated and of course lessen the potential hangover. Knowing this may be jam packed day filled with sun and fun, be sure to start your day off with at least 16 ounces of water. 

My rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight of water in ounces. Remember, if you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated, so try to keep the glass refilled with water throughout the day. Water plays a key role in digestion and detoxification, so keep that in mind when you're eating or drinking way more than you would on a typical day. 

Check out some drink cocktail recipes below! 

 

Cave Women Cafe's Citrus Rosemary Mojito

Serves 1

mojito.jpg

Ingredients: 

2 tbs simple honey syrup (see directions below for making your honey syrup)

2 tbs all-natural orange juice or grapefruit juice 

Few slices of grapefruit or orange juice 

1.5 oz rum or vodka (I recommend Deep Eddy's Grapefruit Vodka)

Club soda 

Instructions: 

1. Simple Honey Syrup - heat 2 tbs honey and tbs of water on the stove. Once melted add to glass.

2. Add rosemary, orange or grapefruit and then muddle it (by pounding it into the glass with a wooden spoon) 

3. Add your alcohol. Then fill with ice and top it off with club soda

 

Paleo Girl's Kitchen Strawberry Daiquiri

Serves 4-6

Ingredients: 

2 cups frozen strawberries 

2 cups ice cubes 

1 lime, juiced

1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

1/4 c honey

8 ounces rum 

1/4 cup water 

1 fresh strawberry (for garnish)

Instructions: 

1. Blend frozen strawberries, ice cubes, lime juice, orange juice, honey and rum on high until smooth. If you're having a hard time blending, you can add an additional 1/4 cup water. Add sliced strawberries for garnish 

 

If you don't plan on drinking alcohol, who says you can't make these drinks without it!  Hope these tips help! Feel free to leave a comment in the box below if you enjoyed them! 

 

In Abundant Health,

Ali 

 

 

 

Balanced Nutrition Tips To Actually Enjoy Your Fourth! (Plus easy recipes!)

Let's be honest, we all want to enjoy the good food and drinks on holidays spent with family & friends, especially on the Fourth of July. 

But what are some ways we can still enjoy the fun, food, and drinks without feeling the guilt? Well I am here to bring you three days of helpful tips have fun and still keep your health & wellness goals in mind leading up to the Fourth! 

Why don't we start by wiping the 'guilt' off the table. It is a holiday after all, and we all should be able to enjoy ourselves!

Read on to learn more about some key nutrition tips to enjoy yourself and avoid blowing your fourth completely out of the park! Check back in tomorrow to read about some easy drinking tips! 

 

1. Eat Before You Go 

Fasting all day like it's Thanksgiving is not a good idea. It will only cause your blood sugar to drop and leave your body craving more. Make sure you get in a well-rounded meal in the morning before you spend the entire day eating and drinking with friends. Keep the protein high (2 eggs + breakfast meat) and be sure to add some kind of fiber (aka vegetables) so your meals holds you over for a few hours.  It's easy to snack all day when you haven't had a meal in the morning, and these snacks tend to add up far more than one meal. 

2. Bring Something To The Party

There are tons of easy healthy, yet tasty options you can bring to the party. Healthy doesn't always have to be flavorless and boring. What's something you often indulge in that isn't quite healthy, but could easily change to be make a little healthier? There's also a ton of great healthy options that you might make only on special occasions (i.e chicken & veggie kabobs, guacamole with carrots & celery) Check below for some recipe suggestions! 

3. Eat Mindfully & Slowly 

Be conscious of how quickly you're eating your food.

If you didn't read my last post on how eating slowly can improve digestion and alleviate bloating,  check it out here.

How often do we inhale our food before we even realize it's gone? I know I've been there.

SLOW. IT. DOWN. Are you taking deep breaths? Are you chewing your food completely?

If we don't sufficiently chew our food, it will overload the digestive system and this will lead to more gas, bloating, and digestive discomfort. 

Trust me when I say, slowing it down will help immensely. However, making sure you are eating a nice balanced meal instead of saving up for your feast will also help you eat more slowly. 

When we skip meals, our blood sugar drops and then we get hangry. This stay of deprivation actually causes your body to go into fight or flight mode and crave the most immediate form of energy aka carbs. There is no "willpower" at this point. 

This is why eating before you go and eating mindfully are two important tips the tendency to overindulge at bay.

4. Drink Water! 

Did you know the recommended amount of water for every individual is 50 percent of your weight in ounces? 

That means if you're 150 pounds, you should be consuming about 75 ounces.

This does not include all the water depleting beverages we drink like coffee, alcohol, soda, tea and juice.

Water plays a role in: 
•    Transporting Nutrients
•    Regulating Body Temperature
•    Removing Waste
•    Flushing Toxins
•    Lubricating joints
•    Releasing Excess Body Fat
•    Normalizing Blood Pressure
•    Stabilizing Blood Sugar & Insulin Levels

These are just of a few of the many benefits of water. I highly recommend drinking at least a 8 oz of water between any beverages listed above. If you're not drinking, it's going to be hot so try to have at least 8 oz every hour.  

Want to read more about the benefits of water? Check out The #1 Most Underemphasized Healing Agent

Recipes

Here's a Great Creamy Coleslaw Recipe: 

Ingredients: 

1/2 green cabbage

1/2 purpose cabbage 

2 cups shredded carrots 

1/4 c white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) 

1/2 tsp sea salt 

1/2 tsp black pepper 

1/2 tsp celery seed

1/2 tsp garlic powder 

1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise

 

Instructions: 

1.   Dice or shred both heads of cabbage 

2.   Place into a large bowl with shredded carrots. Mix well. 

3.   Add in vinegar and mayonnaise 

4.   Add in all seasonings and mix until cabbage and carrots are fully coated

5.   Cover and place in the fridge for an hour. Ready to serve! 

 

Here's a Simple Chicken Kabobs Recipe

Ingredients: 

1-1/2 lbs chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces 

3 tbsp Coconut Aminos (or Gluten-Free Tamari) 

2 tbs raw honey 

1 tbs apple cider vinegar 

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

1/4 tsp garlic powder 

1/2 red onion chopped

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1 bell peppers cut into 1-inch pieces)

Fresh pineapple cut into small pieces 

 

Instructions: 

1.   In a small bowl, mix coconut aminos, honey, apple cider vinegar, ginger and garlic powder. Feel free to make extra if you want to keep half the marinade to pour over the chicken after cooked. Pour the marinade and chicken into a ziploc bag and let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours. (If using wooden skewers, be sure soak in water for 30 minutes)

2.   Pre-heat the grill to medium high heat. Alternate the chicken, tomatoes, pineapple and onion. Brush the chicken with remaining marinade from the bag. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until juice runs clear. Turn skewers occasionally to ensure chicken is cooked evenly. 

Here something simple I did for the Fourth last year! 

 

I hope you found these tips and recipes useful! Want to read more tips to enjoy your Fourth? 

Check out my post on tips of drinking over the holiday here!

And if you want some quick, easy 20 minute workouts to get out of the way before your enjoy yourself, check here

In Abundant Health,

Ali 

A Simple Remedy to Daily Digestive Discomfort & Weight Loss

While nearly 75 percent of Americans report experiencing gastrointestinal discomfort (i.e. indigestion, gas, stomach cramping, bloating), most are quick to ignore these symptoms or resolve them with antacids or proton pump inhibitors. 

What if I told you there was a very easy resolution to most of the discomfort you are feeling? 

Have you ever stopped to think how long it takes you to eat a meal or considered how many tasks you're completing all while finishing your lunch? Or perhaps you're finishing your next meal in the car, sitting in traffic, and trying to make it to your next meeting on time (which is of course impossible in any major city unless you leave an hour early). Panic sets in. You're not going to make it your meeting on time. You're not going to reach that deadline for your assignment so naturally, you eat your meal faster. 

I ask these questions primarily to help you realize how fast the average American consumes breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner. 

We never stop to breathe. Take several bites of our food and make sure it is adequately chewed before we swallow. I am willing to guess the average American takes anywhere from 4-10 bites of their food before they take a big swallow. 

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

While our digestion is meant to break down food so it can be absorbed for nutrients and fuel,  not chewing your food adequately can wreak considerable havoc on your digestive system.  

Food is not broken down sufficiently before entering the digestive tract, which in turn leads to your digestive system having to work significantly harder. 

 

Parasympathetic vs. Sympathetic Nervous System

What we must also consider is the two modes to which our autonomic nervous system (ANS) operates. The ANS regulates our bodies visceral functions (i.e. functions of organs such as the heart, stomach and intestines). Our ANS operates in parasympathetic and sympathetic state. 

Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) - 

  • Controls homeostasis and our body at rest
  • Internal temperature is maintained
  • Blood pressure decreases
  • Heart rate decreases
  • Saliva production increases
  • Stomach movement and contraction increases

Generally speaking, this state restores our body to a state of calm. In other words, the parasympathetic nervous system puts our bodies in a "Rest & Digest" state. 

Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS)-

  • Mobilizes our body to react in a fight-or-flight response
  • Muscles contract
  • Blood pressure increases
  • Heart rate increases
  • Saliva production decreases
  • Digestion stops
  • Cortisol (aka stress hormone) production from our adrenal glands increases

This sympathetic state is the state at which our body operates when we are rushing to finish a meal. Instead of simply feeling rushed, our body will automatically sense a threat is eminent and switches into survival mode. Digestion ceases until the perceived "threat" is no longer present.

 

Weight Loss

It takes 20 minutes for your body to feel full. While I do not suggest drastically cutting down your calorie intake (especially if you're eating a healthy diet), you could potentially be consuming considerably more calories than your body needs. 

Being more conscious of your eating habits can also help lower cortisol levels, and therefore promote weight loss. It can also improve nutrient absorption and lead to a more happy, energetic self. With greater energy, comes more desire to increase physical activity and enjoyment in daily activities. 

 

So ask you this, How many bites are you actually taking? 

In order for your meal to be sufficiently masticated, it's recommended to chew your food between 20-30 times. While that might sound like a lot, I urge you to be mindful of how quickly you're currently finishing a meal. 

If 20-30 bites sounds like a lot, here are some: 

 

Ways To Ease Digestion and Be Mindful of Your Eating Habits

 

  1. Practice putting my fork down in between each bite

  2. Drink warm water with meals - it will help ease digestion

  3. Eat sitting down in a calm, relaxed state - sometimes sitting on the floor can help (don't laugh, try it first!)

  4. Consume lemon juice or apple cider vinegar with meals - either can be added to your water or in homemade salad dressings 

  5. Focus on your breath- take deep breaths in between each bite

  6. Meditate - if you often experience stress or anxiety in your life, I highly recommend looking into opportunities to meditate. There are tons of guided meditations on YouTube. You can also try the phone application Calm

  7. SLOW down - remember, it takes 20 minutes for your brain to signal to your body that you are full

  8. Make Time For Your Meals - focus on eating and eating alone. Don't let other activities get in the way. Only focus on sitting down, relaxing and enjoying your meal

  9. Consume fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi - 1/2 cup with each meal will help increase hydrochloric acid production (an enzyme in the stomach that helps with break down protein)  

Of course, there are conditions beyond just slowing down your eating habits that require specific supplementation and/or specific nutrition protocol. If this is you or you may have any other questions related to this post, I urge you to reach out to me at Ali@NourishedAbundance.com

As you sit down to eat today and everyday, I invite you to be more mindful of your eating habits. How can you continue to remind yourself to slow it down and truly enjoy your meal? 

 

In Abundant Health,

Ali 

 

8 Tips & Tricks For An Easy, No-Fail Meal Planning

When it comes to meal planning and/or meal prep, one of the biggest complaints I hear from clients is that they don't know what to cook or they don't know how to cook. I know it can be super stressful when you're just learning how to meal prep, but I want to provide you with some easy tips and tricks to get you started and feel inspired again! 

1. Keep It Simple

I can't stress this enough, guys. When you're trying to prep meals and you never have before, don't overcomplicate things! I promise it will only add more stress to your life. Mix & Match the Basics. Take your favorite meats and switch up a couple of the ingredients. Experiment with new seasonings. Cook plain sweet potatoes with butter OR cut them up into wedges for to make a sweet potato fry. No one said you had to be a spectacular chef! I certainly wasn't when I started and still make mistakes in the kitchen to this day. You're learning, so do yourself a favor and use minimal ingredients. and consider switching it up when you're tired of rotating through your basics. 

Or you can fall back on the easy no-fail option - SLOW COOK IT 

2. Utilize Your Healthy Fats

Always include AT LEAST one healthy fat at each meal. Your standard dry chicken breast and bland, steamed broccoli might be what you consider healthy, but you are completely missing out on an entirely new world filled with flavor, tenderness, and satiety once you add in those fats. Butter, ghee, tallow, lard, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, grass fed meats, wild caught salmon. These are all wonderful, nutrient dense sources of fats (that WILL not raise your cholesterol)!

But please keep in mind, the higher heat cooking fats are recommended when cooking on the stove or in the oven. These fats include lard, tallow, butter, ghee, coconut oil. As a rule of thumb - anything that is solid at room temp. Popular oils I strongly suggest only using for non-heated purposes in dressings or condiments like homemade mayonnaise. Cooking olive oil and other oils high in polyunsaturated fats at high heat (anything over 200 degrees F) can actually damage and denature the beneficial properties of the oil. 

3. Get in Your Vegetables at Every Meal

I know it might sound like a lot, but making sure you get in at least a cup or more of vegetables at every meal is SUPER important. If you do not have one bowel movement a day, one thing you'll want to look at is your vegetable and/or water intake. Vegetables not only provide a ton of beneficial nutrients, but also provide fiber, which acts as a bulking agent and can help with digestion dramatically. Although it is difficult for some people to picture vegetables at breakfast, I will remind you of omelets! Perfect place to start adding in vegetables. Egg muffins are also a great place to start, as well as breakfast hashes.

4. Consume 3-6 ounces of Protein at Each Meal  

I typically recommend making sure your protein serving is at least the size of your first or a deck of cards. Protein is our body's fundamental building block. Eating more protein can result in: 

  • An increased metabolism 
  • Increased energy levels 
  • Increase in muscle tissue
  • Regulated blood sugar control 
  • Increased recovery and wound healing 
  • Increased immunity 

If you're tired of eating meat, keep in mind that there are ways you can combine two different mediums to reach your protein goal. For example, canned tuna, 1 hard boiled egg, and homemade mayonnaise can make a healthy tuna salad and add up to over 30 grams of protein.

Also, try looking for quality protein like grass fed, organic, pasteur-raised or wild caught protein. These options are going to be much higher in cancer-fighting conjugated linoleic acid, omega 3 fatty acids, healthy saturated fats, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and vitamins A, B, C, and E. If your budget doesn't allow for it, I suggest sticking with the leaner cut meats and trimming any excess fat, being that the fat is where all the impurities lie. Conventional meat is fed grains, corn, and soy, which is extremely high in omega 6 fatty acids and can contribute to chronic inflammation. They're also injected with antibiotics to prevent them from getting continuously sick as well as hormones to keep them producing more milk. While grass-fed beef does not contribute to high cholesterol, grain-fed beef most certainly does. Be conscious of what you're eating and remember, what they eat, you eat.  

5. EXPLORE SIMPLE, YET NUTRIENT DENSE CARBOHYDRATE OPTIONS 

There are tons of awesome alternatives to bread. There is of course rice and quinoa, but there are a ton of root and/or vegetable carb options as well. I mentioned sweet potatoes earlier. You can also try regular white potatoes, butternut squash (great in a roasted vegetable medley), acorn squash, yucca fries, beets etc. Don't feel like you're limited to just one option.

Remember, to pair your carbs with a protein, fat and/or vegetable. Just strictly eating a carbohydrate dense meal or snack can dramatically raise your insulin levels and can promote weight gain.

6. Buy In Bulk 

Now on to the actual logistics of shopping. Cooking in bulk will make your life a lot easier, but also buying in bulk. A lot of people don't enjoy cooking the meal, but what's even more frustrating is when you have to continuously go to the grocery store because you forgot ingredients or ran out. Do yourself a favor, stock up on the staples (i.e seasonings, rice, condiments). Always keep a protein in the freezer to have on hand. Costco sells very affordable organic chicken breasts and thighs, and they also have a great produce selection. The up-front cost might be greater than what your used to, but if you factor out how much time and money you're saving in the long run, you'll be thankful. 

7. Create A Grocery List 

Never leave home without your grocery list. It will make for a much less stressful time shopping for groceries. When I'm creating my list, I usually start with what protein I'm going to make first. I get my inspiration from searching through pinterest. Feel free to check out my page here. I literally create a list from ingredients for each recipe. Then I start with the vegetable, and I try to keep the carb as simple as possible or combine the carb with the vegetable (i.e roasted vegetable medley with butternut squash, soups, hashes). When planning for the week, think about what you meals you plan to eat each day and list it all out. Maybe that sounds like too much overwhelm. If so, then just stick to a general grocery list. Do what works best for you. Try not to overcomplicate it. 

8. Most IMPortantly, Keep Meal PRep FUN!

We often look at meal prep as a dreaded task, but what if we could add a little fun around our food assembly line. Here are some ways I get through cooking when I'm not quite in the mood. 

  • Listen to music
  • Listen to your favorite podcast or audiobook 
  • Find a recipe that excites you! (this may take time, but when you find a good one, you'll honestly look forward to the finished product) 
  • Use quick, easy, and fun tools - blender for dressings or marinades or a spiralizer for zucchini or sweet potatoes, a really great chef knife makes your life a whole lot easier 
  • Get your significant other involved! I promise it can actually be fun and much less stressful
  • Make sure everything that needs to be cooked is right around the same temp. If I'm using the oven, I sacrifice the 400 degree F and 450 degree F difference and just settle on 425. 
  • Share photos of your food via instagram or facebook . You made that food and you deserve some recognition. 
  • Call up a friend or family member 

I know this was a long post, so hopefully I didn't bore you! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me at ali@nourishedabundance.com. Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter on my homepage! Happy meal prepping y'all! 

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The Year I Chose ME

We hear it time and time again.

"I hate my job"

"I'm so tired all the time"

"When will I ever have time for me?" 

The reality is, no one's going to make time for you, except YOU. No one's going to make your job more fulfilling or exciting, except you. Or better yet, no one's going to make the decision to say I can do better than this and actually quit your job. No one's going to give you back those extra hours of sleep, unless you make it a priority.

This is the year I truly began to realize, the decisions and answers to all these questions start with me. I wanted to make a change, but I knew in order to make that change I couldn't do it on my own. I had to make an investment, an investment in myself. 

So for the first time in my life, I started doing just that. I joined a female leadership group called Inner Glow Circle, enrolled in their life coach training program, hired a life coach, enrolled in a very prestigious 9-month program to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (a program I had been looking at for over a year), and most importantly started my own online nutrition counseling business, Nourished Abundance :) 

I realized this was the year I was going to stop doubting my greatness and start living my passion. 

As someone who doubted myself constantly, always had a difficult time making decisions, and frequently found comfort in "playing it safe", I can honestly say the start of this year was the first time a truly stood up for me and what I believed in. Because deep down inside, my true passion and desire was and is to help people reach their health and wellness goals and seize a life full of abundance, I couldn't deny that desire to spread that love and support with all of you. 

So ask you this - What is your passion? What makes you so incredibly happy it brings a smile to your face to even think about it? What are your goals and your desires? What gets you out of bed in the morning? 

If you don't know the answers to these questions, I urge you to truly take the time to figure out what it is that makes you feel alive. Most people would use their first blog post to promote their business, but my real call to action is asking you to figure out your WHY.

Because if you know your why, it will help inspire action, your why will give life meaning, your why will make you want to get out of bed every morning and live the life you deserve. And if you don't know your why, I am always here to support you and help you figure that out ;) 

In Abundant Health, 

Ali