WHAT IS INSULIN RESISTANCE AND HOW IT CAN AFFECT YOUR WEIGHT

I’ve had my own issues with hormones. I was eating right, exercising regularly, but no matter what, I couldn’t lose weight. I was even gaining weight and looking puffier.

I was doing everything right, but something just wasn’t clicking with my body. The weight just stayed put.

So, I started doing research on my own. A lot of it.

I focused on learning more about leptin (the “starvation hormone”) and insulin and what happens when your body becomes resistant to them.

I needed to discover what could cause my body to stop losing weight when I was working my butt off to lose it. What I discovered completely changed my approach to weight loss. And I now realize just how important hormones are in maintaining and healthy body and a healthy weight.

Here’s what I learned about insulin resistance and weight gain, how it can affect your body, and what you can do to reverse it.

WHAT IS INSULIN RESISTANCE, ANYWAY?

Before we dive into what insulin resistance is, you first need to understand what insulin does.

Insulin is a hormone responsible for regulating your body’s blood sugar levels. Insulin moves sugar into your fat cells to protect your body from high blood sugar levels.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced in your pancreas. The pancreas releases insulin every time you eat. But, insulin secretion is the highest when you eat food that is full of sugar.

If you’re constantly eating a high amount of sugar, insulin levels will remain high, and your body will eventually become resistant to insulin.

Your body stops responding to insulin and your body cannot burn fat for fuel. Instead, it causes you to store more and more fat, causing you to gain weight.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF INSULIN RESISTANCE

Everyone’s body is different and the way excess insulin impacts you may be different to how it affects your friends.

However, there are some common signs and symptoms that suggest you might have an insulin resistance problem.

YOU CAN’T LOSE WEIGHT NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY

The most obvious and common sign that you have insulin resistance is the inability to lose weight. No matter what you try, you can’t seem to shake those extra pounds. And the weight will mostly be concentrated around your belly.

If a healthy diet and regular exercise routine is not doing the trick, it’s best to see your doctor or naturopath. They’ll be able to test your insulin levels to see if this is the problem. They’ll also be able to see if you’re leptin resistance – the two often go hand in hand.

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

When you’re healthy and everything is working right, your blood pressure should be around 120/80. This means your heart is delivering the right amount of pressure to your blood vessels.

If your blood pressure is higher than 120, it means those blood vessels are under a lot of pressure. They’re not built for this and high blood pressure can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks and even stroke.

Insulin resistance creates a sodium imbalance in your bloodstream. This leads to an increase in the volume of blood rushing through your veins. The larger the blood volume is, the more pressure gets put on your blood vessels.

Have your blood pressure checked and if it’s higher than normal, ask your doctor to check your insulin levels.

OTHER SYMPTOMS

Other symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Sugar cravings
  • Feeling sluggish
  • Dizziness when fasting or when you go too long without food
  • Feeling irritable when you are hungry

HIGH TRIGLYCERIDES AND CHOLESTEROL

Triglycerides are the fats that get stored in your body, to use for energy—eventually.  When they’re high, it means that your bloodstream is storing too much fat instead of burning it for fuel.

In most people, this results in both weight gain and higher cholesterol. When your insulin levels aren’t breaking down blood sugar and fats in the bloodstream, they start to build up.

This results in high cholesterol levels and needs to be taken care of as soon as possible. Why? Because high cholesterol and high triglycerides increase your risk of heart disease and heart attacks.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INSULIN RESISTANCE AND WEIGHT

Which comes first, weight gain or insulin resistance?

If you lead an unhealthy lifestyle (eat too much sugary food, don’t exercise, don’t manage your stress properly), your fat levels will increase. Then the fat that your body stores, especially around your abdomen, can trigger insulin resistance.

How so? Well, abdominal fat releases a considerable amount of chemicals called adipokines. And, apparently, those chemicals counter the effect that insulin is supposed to have on your body.

So, your weight gain can cause insulin resistance which then results in insulin resistance causing more weight gain.  One of the best programs I found has been our Ultimate Portion Fix.  This program works to regulate portion sizes, keep blood sugar steady throughout the day and boost your metabolism.  If you are tired of fighting an uphill battle alone, reach out.  I would love to help you!

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Eating Healthy On A Budget

If you compare the price of organic meat to non-organic, or a bag of almonds to a candy bar, you would think that healthy eating is only for the rich and famous. But when you look at the big picture, eating healthy is much more affordable than you might think.

Tips for Keeping Your Grocery Bill Down While Eating Healthy

The first, and possibly most important, step to eating healthy on a budget is to plan your meals and snacks. The second is to write a grocery list and then stick to it. And the third is to prepare your own meals as much as possible.

Those three basic principles will take you far, but we’ve got a bunch more tips to keep your food and your finances healthy.

D.I.Y. Making Homemade Waffles

1. D.I.Y.

To get the most bang for your buck, tap into your inner Martha Stewart. To begin with, cook your own dinners and pack your lunch instead of eating out. Next, think outside the box — figuratively and literally.

I’m not suggesting you churn your own butter or make your own pasta, but a lot of packaged foods can usually be made more cheaply and healthfully at home — like popcorn. Instead of buying the portioned-out bags of microwavable popcorn, just buy a container of loose kernels, dump a couple tablespoons in a brown lunch sack, fold it over, and pop it in the microwave for two minutes. It’s still convenient, and quite a bit cheaper! You also have full control over what you add to it. Olive oil and sea salt is definitely a healthier option than a chemical-laden artificial butter.

Other examples:

  • Instead of buying frozen waffles, make your own.
  • Skip the packaged cookies, and bake your own instead, using healthier ingredients.
  • Make your own salad dressings and dips.

Buy Whole Foods Mom Buying Greens

2. Buy Whole Foods

A tip you may have heard before is to shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That’s because most of the processed/prepackaged foods are stocked in the middle aisles, while the healthier foods are kept in the outer aisles.

The whole foods you’re looking for include:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Dairy

Buy Foods Whole Woman Cutting Apples

3. Buy Foods Whole (Not Pre-cut)

Buying whole fruits and veggies is much cheaper than buying them pre-cut. This also applies to meats and cheese. Buy of a block of cheese, and shred it or slice it yourself. Buy a whole chicken, and prep and freeze it instead of buying individual chicken breasts. Buy grains in bulk (brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, etc.).

Choose Less-Expensive Protein Options Variety of Beans Foods

4. Choose Less-Expensive Protein Options

Meat is not the only source of protein. There are a lot of healthy protein options that are much less expensive than meat, like:

  • Beans
  • Cottage cheese
  • Edamame
  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Peanut butter
  • Quinoa
  • Tofu

Stock Up on Canned Frozen Foods Frozen Peas

5. Stock Up on Frozen Foods

Frozen fruits and veggies are still just as healthy — as long as no sugars or other unhealthy ingredients have been added. You can stock up on it when it’s on sale and, unlike fresh produce, you won’t find yourself throwing half of it away when it turns moldy in your refrigerator. Money-saver all around.

Choose In-Season Produce Variety of Vegetables

6. Choose In-Season Produce

It’s economics 101 — supply and demand. The fruits and vegetables that are in-season are easier to get, so they’re less expensive. Don’t know what grows when? Check out this seasonal ingredient map. You can also consider growing some of your own fruits, veggies and herbs by starting a container garden.

Make the Most of Your Leftovers

7. Make the Most of Your Leftovers

Don’t throw away leftover food at the end of a meal! Pack it for lunch the next day. Freeze it, and have dinner for another night. You might even want to invest in a vacuum sealer like FoodSaver® to keep your leftovers fresher, longer.

Look for Discounts Cutting Coupons

8. Look for Discounts

Discounts are everywhere; you just have to look:

  • Participate in your store’s customer loyalty savings program and use coupons.
  • Check out your local farmer’s market, where prices can be as much as 50 percent less than stores.
  • Look into rebate apps, like SavingStar®.
  • Check out online retailers, like Thrive Market. They can offer up to 25 to 50 percent savings.

Make the Swap Yogurt Cup

9. Make the Swap

Sometimes it’s just an even swap. Instead of buying white rice, buy brown rice. Instead of buying regular milk, buy a non-dairy option. Instead of buying regular yogurt, buy Greek yogurt. A lot of times, the prices are about the same for the healthier alternatives.

Eat Out for Less Father Daughter at Restaurant

10. Eat Out for Less

It’s easy to save money at restaurants when you eat healthy. Stick with water instead of pricier, and often calorie-loaded, alternatives. Skip the appetizers and desserts. You can even order just an appetizer instead of a pricier entree. Or order a big meal, and share it with someone else.

How to Help Your Diet Become a Way of Life

Many weight-loss attempts start out with grand intentions — “I’m going to lose weight and eat better (this time will be different, I swear!)” — only to revert back to old eating habits within a week or two. So how can you give your desire to eat healthy and lose weight some sticking power? Try these five tips to help turn your weight-loss plan into a strategy for healthy eating for the long haul.
1. Don’t give up your favorite foods.

You shouldn’t have to say goodbye to your favorite foods. In fact, having a small treat may help you stick with your diet. The key to fitting your favorite foods into your eating plan is to find clever ways to incorporate them. One way to do this is to make lower-calorie versions of foods like French fries and brownies. Another trick is to be mindful of your serving sizes when it comes to more indulgent foods. Love pasta? Try adding vegetables to bulk up your serving instead of doubling up on pasta. Of course, your diet should be full of mostly healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains—but make room for some of your favorite, more- indulgent foods too.

2. Eat foods that keep you satisfied.

If you feel hungry all the time, it’s going to be hard to stick with a healthy-eating plan. Research shows that when you’re hungrier, you’re more likely to eat too fast at your next meal. Eating too quickly can lead to consuming extra calories because your body doesn’t have time to register feeling full. While portion control is super-important for losing weight (and keeping it off), you shouldn’t hear your tummy grumbling all day long. Two nutrients that can help keep you full are protein and fiber. Good protein sources include plain Greek yogurt, chicken breast, tuna, tofu and almonds. And to get more fiber, munch on whole fruits and vegetables. Not only is produce high in fiber, but it’s also generally low in calories. That makes it filling and diet-friendly—just what you’re looking for when you’re trying to lose weight and keep it off.

3. Start with small changes.

There’s no need for dramatic shake-ups, like eliminating whole food groups. Instead, start with tiny diet tweaks that over time can become permanent changes. Think of doable things, like packing a wholesome afternoon snack, such as carrots and hummus or an apple, instead of hitting the vending machine. Small changes add up and can help you make healthier eating a way of life, rather than relying on short-term crash dieting.

4. Don’t try to be perfect.

We often have grand ideas about implementing a new diet—like the promises you make about eliminating sugar, never taking from the breadbasket or always having vegetables at dinner. Instead of trying to be perfect, be realistic.  Make your eating plan one that you can actually stick to. You don’t have to eat perfectly to lose weight; you just have to eat well. Set a goal for the week, like adding a serving of vegetables to dinner, or packing a healthy lunch one or two days—and go easy on yourself if you slip up. Eating indulgences are bound to happen. And when they do…

5. Get right back on track.

If you have a diet slip-up and go overboard on chocolate or pizza, don’t beat yourself up! Just get back on track again as quickly as possible. Remember that one meal doesn’t undo all of your healthy efforts—but when you give up your diet entirely because of one slip-up, that’s when the weight can start to creep back on. If you have a minor setback, understand that it’s one small blip on the radar. Get right back to your healthy eating habits and right back on track for long-term success.

4 Easy Ways to Sneak in More Vegetables

Pop quiz: How many vegetables do you eat in a day? If you’re well below the two to three cups that doctors recommend, well, you’re in a very crowded club. A 2017 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nine out of 10 American adults are missing the mark, when it comes to eating their veggies.

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That’s an especially hard stat to swallow when you consider that “vegetables are the most nutrition-packed food group,” said Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, a registered dietician in Chicago and nutrition consultant for the Chicago Cubs. “They have fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemical plant compounds that can protect us against all kinds of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.”

Does eating salad feels like a chore? Chomping on carrot sticks feel like a snore? Instead, try adding vegetables to dishes you already eat regularly, suggests Wendy Bazilian, PH, RD, a San Diego-based nutritionist and author of The Superfood Rx Diet“This approach is kind of like playing a game: finding new ways to put together a dish so you can have a delicious meal — and well-lived life.” And as you eat more vegetables in familiar dishes, you may grow to love their tastes and textures — and eat them even more, she says.

Be a Sneak! Think your fave foods can’t be veggified? Try these 4 tips:

1. You crave: fried rice. Reach for: cauliflower.

Any trip through the grocery store will confirm that, when it comes to subbing in veggies, cauliflower is king. The versatile veg is easy to mash, roast and — yes — even rice. After washing and drying the head of cauliflower, simply chop it up either by hand or pulse in a food processor until it resembles rice, says Blatner. Every serving of this cruciferous vegetable packs almost half of your daily value of Vitamin C, as well as a healthy dose of fiber and protein.

Recipe inspiration: Fried cauliflower rice with carrots, cashews and corn or rainbow cauliflower rice bowl recipe

2. You crave: burgers. Reach for: mushrooms.

You’ve seen mushroom burgers on plenty of menus, but did you know that you could put diced mushrooms directly into the meat patty? “Even the heartiest meat lovers rarely notice the difference,” says Bazilian, because the mushrooms add both moisture and umami. For most recipes, you can swap about one-third of the meat for diced mushrooms without having to make any major changes, Bazilian says. And that sneak will lower the burger’s saturated fat and calories, while upping its fiber.

Recipe inspiration: Beef and mushroom burgers

3. You crave: pasta. Reach for: zucchini.

Zoodles are all the rage these days — with reason, says Blatner. Spiralized zucchini has a spaghetti-like quality that’s versatile enough for most pasta dishes. Yet it’s less calorically dense than traditional pasta and won’t give you the usual blood sugar spike, says Bazilian. It also boasts a good amount of potassium, which can help control blood pressure and may lessen your risk of stroke. You can find zoodles in the freezer aisle at the grocery store or, to make the shape at home,  use a mandolin or spiral vegetable slicer to cut the squash into ribbon-like strips.

Recipe inspiration: Asian sesame zucchini noodles or zoodles and turkey meatballs

4. You crave: mac and cheese. Reach for: butternut squash.

This comfort dish usually gets its richness from a double whammy of cheese and butter. But subbing in some pureed butternut squash can add a similar silky creaminess — with far fewer calories and less saturated fat, says Blatner. Butternut squash is also high in fiber and potassium, and it lends a subtle sweetness to the dish. “It’s really phenomenal,” she says. Subbing in some pasta made from chickpea, lentils, or black beans can add some fiber and protein.

Our latest program, The Ultimate Portion Fix, has over 300 pages of recipes to incorporate your favorite foods and healthy alternatives the entire family will enjoy.  Send us a message if you are ready to change your nutrition!

Healthy Summer Snacks

Summer time is a fun filled time with barbecues, baseball games, pool time, and beach fun.  Grabbing a bunch of processed snacks to hit the road is less than healthy and can get expensive.  Here are some great snacks for the whole family to enjoy without feeling guilty.

Cucumber and Apples

I love to chop up pink lady apples and cucumbers and store them in a baggie or container so the flavors mix together.  It gives a great compliment to both fruits.

 

Greek Yogurt PB Dip and Apples 

Combine your favorite greek yogurt with either Peanut Butter or PB Powder and serve with red and green apple slices.

  • 1 6 oz. container of Greek Yogurt (plain, honey, or vanilla is best)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of natural Peanut Butter, plain or crunchy
  • If you want to add a little more flavor: add honey, vanilla, or cinnamon.

Chickpea and Avocado Salad

My family loves this dip and we eat with celery, bell peppers or pita chips.  Mix all together and enjoy!

  • 4 cups cooked chickpeas, or 2 (15-ounce) cans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • Zest of 1 lime and juice of 4 limes
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced (for less heat, remove the seeds)
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 1 avocado, coarsely chopped

 

Homemade Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats 110 g
  • 1 cup puffed brown rice cereal I prefer Arrowhead Mills brand which you can find at most health food stores for about $3/bag., 20 g
  • 1/2 cup unsalted chopped almonds 80 g
  • 1/2 cup roasted and unsalted pumpkin seeds 80 g
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup medjool dates packed, (9-10 dates 195 g) , pitted
  • 1/3 cup honey 60 ml
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter 100 g
  • 1 TB pure vanilla extract homemade

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: rolled oats, puffed brown rice, chopped almonds, pumpkin seeds, and a pinch of salt.
  2. Place the pitted dates in a food processor bowl, or you can do this step with a knife but it will require more time. Slowly pulse the dates, pausing between pulses, until the dates are chopped into pieces. Ideally the dates shouldn’t form a ball, but if this happens you can separate the dates into smaller pieces with your hands. Add the dates to the dry ingredients, and then combine the ingredients with your hands (it helps to wet your hands first!). The mixture should feel sticky once the dates are incorporated in the dry mixture.
  3. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, combine the honey and peanut butter. Stir the honey and peanut butter until smooth and creamy. You may need to use a whisk to combine the ingredients. Turn off the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract (yes, 1 tablespoon).
  4. Pour the sticky honey and peanut butter over the dry ingredients. Stir to combine the ingredients, making sure the honey and peanut butter covers all the dry ingredients.
  5. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper. Press the granola down into the pan. I like to use the back of a measuring cup (you’ll want to wet the back of the measuring cup first) to level the top of the granola and make sure it’s packed tight in the baking dish.
  6. Freeze the granola bars for 30 minutes. Remove the granola bars from the freezer and cut into even bars. Place the bars in a freezer-safe container or bag. Freeze the granola bars until you’re ready to enjoy. I like to pull a granola bar from the freezer, and let it warm up at room temperature for about 1 minute before enjoying.

Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies 

Ingredients

  • 8 TB butter softened
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose einkorn flour whole wheat pastry flour may work for a substitute.
  • 1 cup shredded carrots about 2 medium-large carrots
  • 1 cup finely chopped apples I like sweet apples: Fuji, Gala, Jonagold., about 1 large apple
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand-mixer (you can also use a large bowl and wooden spoon), on medium speed with the paddle attachment, beat together the honey and butter until creamy. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds, until the eggs are incorporated into the butter/honey mixture.
  3. Now it’s time to add the remaining ingredients: rolled oats, einkorn flour, shredded carrots, chopped apple, chopped pecans, shredded coconut, ground cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Over low speed, combine the ingredients until the dough is wet and sticky.
  4. Scoop the cookie dough onto a cookie sheet. I use an ice cream scooper to create the perfect size cookies. Dust the back of a spoon with flour or grease with coconut oil or butter. Flatten the cookies (versus just a round ball of dough) with the back of the spoon.
  5. Bake the cookies for 13-15 minutes until golden brown. Sprinkle with extra shredded coconut, if desired. Allow to cool before serving.

 

Fruits and Sliced Veggies are always a huge hit and can be taken pretty much anywhere.  Have fun and let your kids make kabobs for easy carrying and quick projects to keep little ones busy.

Hope you enjoy these and would love to know your thoughts on what your favorite go to snack is in the summer.