Debunking Calories: Why You Should Stop Counting

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Are you a calorie counter? At RASA, we emphasize quality over quantity and do not believe in dietary restrictions (this means no calorie counting!). For many, this idea is difficult to grasp. I get it: our diet culture and the accepted weight loss formula eat less, move more is hard to shake. But these concepts, as ingrained in us as there are, don’t work. Obesity is increasingly a major public health concern and whether you’re looking to lose 5 or 50 pounds, for most people, a restrictive eating approach does not offer a long term solution.

So what’s the alternative? In order to lose weight and keep it off, we need to change our relationship with food. When you discover nutrient rich foods that taste as good as they are for you, you will start to naturally favor those options and eliminate the need to diet or reduce intake. And there’s science to back this up too. A recent study showed that people who focused on quality foods, without counting calories or restricting portion size, consistently lost weight and, by developing healthy lifestyle changes, were able to keep it off (1).

Not only is calorie counting a flawed exercise, but it’s also not sustainable. If you’re still not convinced, here are a few other reasons to ditch the practice:

1. Calories don’t take nutrition into account.

The standard American diet is energy-rich and nutrient-poor (2). Think about it: 200 calories of carrots is very different from the equivalent amount of Twix bars. When you consume a balanced diet, you will feel more satisfied by your meals, reduce cravings, have more energy and hopefully get adequate micro and macro nutrients that every cell in your body needs to function.

2. Calories oversimplify how our bodies ingest food

There are many different metabolic signals that influence how we digest, absorb and eliminate the foods we eat (3). Calories are just one of these measurements, and solely focusing on this number is a gross oversimplification of our bodies and our metabolism.

3. A calorie is not a calorie. 

The caloric value of food is determined by the type of food, how it’s cooked, what it’s consumed with, the bacteria in our gut and other factors (4). That means the true number of calories in any given food is a little more fluid than the fixed figure we see on nutrition labels. Plus, we all break down food differently, so 100 calories for one person might be slightly more or less for the next.

4. Long term caloric restriction can slow metabolism. 

Meaning your body will need less calories to function then it previously did, which increases your chance of gaining any weight lost back and makes it harder to lose again when you do. Metabolic adaptation is a biological advantage, essentially lowering our energy requirements in the absence of food (5). When you’re doing this for diet purposes, however, and plan to return to a more caloric eating plan, you will likely gain the weight back—and perhaps then some.

5. Many nutrition labels are just wrong. 

We’re not even counting with the right numbers, guys! Most nutrition labels are based on averages and don’t consider the complexity of the digestion process (4). Plus, how can you know how many calories are in foods when we dine out? These numbers are just not realistic, a guesstimate at best.

6. Restrictive eating patterns can make you eat more.

Evidence shows that people who restrain their eating habits consistently underestimate calorie counts and are more likely to binge (6). Full stop.

If you are a calorie counter not getting the results you are looking for, try shifting your focus from energy to nutrient value. When we eat more nutritious foods and limit energy dense ones (i.e. processed foods, refined grains, sugar and other empty calories), our bodies will naturally regulate without the need to whip out our calculators. Plus, it is an abundantly more enjoyable way to live.

Looking for a jump start? Get in touch for a free consultation or sign up for a RASA Challenge, 10 and 21 day whole foods resets—the perfect way to ignite healthy routines and discover nutrient rich foods you love.

 

REFERENCES: 

1.     Gardner, C. D., Trepanowski, J. F., Gobbo, L. C. D., Hauser, M. E., Rigdon, J., Ioannidis, J. P. A., … King, A. C. (2018). Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association With Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion: The DIETFITS Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, 319(7), 667–679. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2018.0245

 

2.     Drewnowski, A. (2005). Concept of a nutritious food: toward a nutrient density score. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82(4), 721–732. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/82.4.721

 

3.     Jacobs, H. L., & Sharma, K. N. (1969). Taste Versus Calories: Sensory and Metabolic Signals in the Control of Food Intake*. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 157(2), 1084–1125. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1969.tb12939.x

 

4. Dunn, R. (n.d.). Science Reveals Why Calorie Counts Are All Wrong. https://doi.org/10.1038/scientificamerican0913-56

 

5.     Redman, L. M., Heilbronn, L. K., Martin, C. K., Jonge, L. de, Williamson, D. A., Delany, J. P., … Team, for the P. C. (2009). Metabolic and Behavioral Compensations in Response to Caloric Restriction: Implications for the Maintenance of Weight Loss. PLOS ONE, 4(2), e4377. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0004377

 

6.     PsycNET. (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2018, from http://psycnet.apa.org/buy/1983-00242-001

 

Photo credit: Pinterest 

 

 

 

 

WHAT’S IN YOUR MAKEUP BAG? 5 CLEAN BEAUTY ESSENTIALS

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Full disclosure, I’ve never been good at putting on makeup. I‘ve had my moments—there was a weird liquid eyeliner stage and I even once owned lip liner, but thank god neither of those trends lasted long. My makeup bag is small but mighty, and over the past couple of years I’ve managed to switch entirely to clean beauty products (meaning no toxins!).

Unfortunately, many modern and name brand beauty products are full of chemicals and dyes that are not only harmful to our skin, but are also endocrine disruptors that accumulate in our bodies and can be detrimental to our health. Gross. Whether you're already on the clean beauty train or are looking to make the switch, here are a few of my tried and true favorite products that even my more makeup-inclined friends swear by.

1. Ilia Mascara

When Laney from The Moment tells you to get something, you get it! I had tried a few different non-toxic mascaras, they got the job done, but none of them were amazing. Ilia’s Pure Mascara is different—its non-toxic formula of aloe extract and avocado oil nourishes your lashes and is as strong as any on the market.

2. Kosas Lipstick & Cream Blush

Fun, vibrant colors are probably not the first thing that come to mind when you think of a non-toxic lipstick or blush, but Kosas has managed to produce just that. With a variety of bold colors and chic packaging, these lipsticks and cream blushes are great for everyday or a night out.

3. Juice Beauty CC Cream & Concealer

Made with organic ingredients that tout anti-aging benefits, Juice Beauty’s CC Cream (with SPF 30) is perfect for everyday protection and coverage. The concealer—made of pure coconut oil—is great for any imperfections and blemishes.

4. Maya Chia Highlight of the Day

These little bottles of shimmery goodness are great for adding a little glow to a no-fuss makeup routine. I use the “After Hour” shade for a bronzing effect, but they’re all glorious!

5. Cap Beauty The Anointing Oil

When your perfume doubles as a mood booster, you know you’ve found your scent. I bring my roll on bottle with me everywhere because it smells as good as it makes me feel.

 

 

Why You Should Keep A Food Diary

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The very first activity I ask all my clients to do—yes, before hitting the gym or the farmer's market—is start a food diary. I like to understand someone’s eating patterns, likes and dislikes before making any suggestions, but I actually find journaling to be even more helpful and eye opening as a personal exercise.

The best way to change behavior is to pay attention to your actions. Studies show that self-monitoring (like food journaling) consistently leads to weight loss and more sustainable lifestyle alternations. Just writing down what you eat gives you more discipline and makes you more mindful and aware of your food choices, which leads to results.

When keeping a food diary, it’s important not to shame any of your choices, but instead interpret and learn from them. Did you do deep dive for the bread basket at dinner because you hadn’t eaten anything since lunch? Do you tend to crave sugar all day when you have oatmeal for breakfast? Do you eat more when you take a 6am spin class or have a bad night sleep? None of these things are “bad”. It’s actually really good to take note of where your food choices are not serving you and find productive ways to improve them without having to sacrifice too much of your lifestyle.

Often what we eat is less important than why or how. If we can better understand the nuances behind what drives what we eat, we can start creating more sustainable habits the promote healthier foods that support our wellness goals. 

How to start? You can get an app, take notes on your phone, or keep an old school journal. Here is the template that I use with my clients. Try it for a week and get your friends and family on board. Sharing your food diaries also helps keep you accountable. Feel free to share/tag me on Instagram (@the_rasa_life) if you want any feedback or have questions.


FOOD DIARY TEMPLATE

Breakfast

Time:

Food/Bev:

Lunch

Time:

Food/Bev:

Snack

Time:

Food/Bev:

Dinner

Time:

Food/Bev:

Questions/comments

How do you feel today?

What is one thing that went well?

How did you sleep last night?

Exercise:

Comments/notes:


Photo credit: Diana Davis Creative

 

Intermittent Fasting 101

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There's been a lot of hype around Intermittent Fasting lately. So, what is it, how do you do it, and should you try it? Read on to find out if incorporating an Intermittent Fasting routine might work for you.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

If you sleep, you fast. Unless you get up in the night to eat, we’re all practicing intermittent fasting every day. That’s actually where the word breakfast comes from. You’re literally breaking your fast.

Intermittent fasting is kind of the opposite of dieting. While I always recommend following a healthy, balanced diet, you actually do not need to restrict food quantity or count calories to get the benefits of fasting.

While it’s become a trendy topic in the wellness scene as of late, fasting is not new. In fact, many cultures have a long history of fasting; Lent, Yom Kippur, Ramadan, and other religious holidays also incorporate fasting into their rituals.

What Happens When You Fast?

Your body needs a constant supply of glucose for brain, muscle and cellular function. In a fed state, this comes from the food we eat. When you fast, your body uses up all the dietary glucose, then it hits up your glycogen stores, and then dives into your fat stores to create ketones that fuel your brain, muscle and all the other tissues and organs that need energy. Ketones are incredibly efficient fuel source and don’t effect blood sugar levels.

Fasting is also like a daily detox for your body. The time and energy you’re not expending digesting food allows your body to work on eliminating toxins and cellular repair.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

The benefits and experience of Intermittent Fasting are going to be different for everyone. Here are just a few of my observations drawing from personal experience, my client work and scientific journals on the subject.

1.     Manage Cravings

Fasting eliminates feelings of hunger that result from low blood sugar. Breakfast foods—think oatmeal, cereal, muffins, fruit, even smoothies (gasp!)—are often carbohydrate-heavy and cause a spike in blood sugar levels. When you’re blood sugar levels raise early in the day, your body starts to ride a rollercoaster of sugar cravings all day to try and maintain those elevated levels.

2.     Become More Aware of Hunger Cues

Often times, we perceive feelings of thirst, fatigue, boredom or perhaps even a stomach growl as hunger, but we’re actually not hungry. Biologically, we were made to withstand weeks without food (btw I don’t recommend this). Compared with dieting, which studies show to increase hunger and cravings, fasting can help you get in touch with your hunger cues, have more willpower, and become more satisfied with your meals so you don’t overeat. 

3.     Cell Maintainance

During a fed state (i.e. when you’re not fasting), your body expends over half of its energy digesting food. That’s a lot of work! When you’re fasting, your body can allocate those resources to other functions. This is important for reducing oxidative stress, eliminating toxins, keeping your immune system healthy and improving biomarkers for disease.

4.     Regulate Hormones

Fasting can help increase insulin sensitivity, which regulates hunger and fat storage, and also increases the amount of HGH (human growth hormone) that you produce. HGH helps build muscles, burn fat, increase bone density, improve your sleep, elevate your mood and reduce signs of aging (yes, please!).

5.     Weight Loss

Intermittent fasting has been shown as an effective weight loss tool, without the need for dieting. Also, when you crave less sweets, are more in tune with your hunger cues and have healthy hormone levels, you will naturally lose weight (if that’s your goal) without any tedious calorie restriction/counting.

6.     Brain Function

Fasting has been shown to improve and preserve learning and memory function.

 

How to fast?

There are many different methods of intermittent fasting. Here are a few of them in detail:

Time restricted fasting. This means an overnight fast of a minimum of 12 hours, but up to 18 or 20 hours of fasting. This works for me and many of my clients, and is relatively easy. Eat dinner earlier and breakfast a little later. There's a good chance you already do a 12 hour fast a few times a week (dinner by 8pm, breakfast at 8am). You can experiment with different fasting periods a couple of days per week, or you can go on a 16:8 or 18:6 eating schedule, which means 16 or 18 hours in a fasting state and 6 or 8 hours in a fed state. 

Alternate day fasting. This means severe calorie restriction (under 500 calories) two non consecutive days a week. In my opinion this is too hard for most people, and the idea is not to be starving, grumpy, or hangry, but to find a way where fasting can seamlessly integrate in your normal life.

Daylight only. This means only eat during daylight hours. I like the idea of this, but I also like to go out to dinner after 6pm, so for me, this is no go.

What can you have while you fast?

I’ve seen some conflicting literature on this, but I go by the under 50 calorie rule. That means, black coffee, tea/matcha (with water), a little kombucha (check labels for sugar content!), bone broth and water. You could even put a pinch of stevia or a splash of milk in your hot drinks. Bulletproof coffees, while great for many reasons, do not count as fasting.

Working out in a fasted state.

Can you work out while you’re fasting? That’s a resounding YES. You’ll be surprised how much energy you have, especially when you are fueling your body with adequate protein and healthy fats. Depending on the type of exercise you do, you may feel like you don’t get as strong a workout in a fasted state, but everyone is different.

You can also take BCAAs to give your muscles an extra boost. Make sure to read labels, as a lot of the BCAAs are full of artificial sweeteners. I like THIS brand, which is stevia sweetened. You can also find a raw one, but the taste is a little harsh.

Who shouldn’t fast.

Pregnant women, anyone with fertility issues or who have experienced disordered eating should not fast. The most important thing is to listen to your body. If fasting makes you a hangry a-hole, don’t do it. And if you’re not sure, ask your doctor.

The bottom line.

There are lots of different fasting methods, but it all kind of boils down to this: eat well most of the time, indulge occasionally and give your body ample time to rest by fasting a couple of times a week. If you’re interested, try it! You certainly do not have to do it every day.

Start with 12 hours and see how you do. I’ve found that it gets easier the more I do it. But, as with all things nutrition, it works for some people, and not for others.

Xx Mia

 

Clean Beauty. Are You Ready To Make The Switch?

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Your skin is your largest organ. You've probably heard that before, but what does it mean? Basically, what you put on you goes in you. We care so much about what we eat, why wouldn’t we focus this same energy on the beauty products we use?

If you’re not sure if your makeup and skincare products are non-toxic, they probably aren’t. Most cosmetic companies use ingredients that can build up in our bodies to toxic levels or are so strong they kill all the good bacteria living on and around our skin.

How to start? Luckily, there are now many retailers and companies that exclusively make and sell non-toxic beauty products at various price points. Stores like Credo and Cap Beauty do the work for you. Everything is clean and the staff are always super knowledgeable and helpful. I began my collection of non-toxic beauty products by replacing old products as they ran out. I now am proud to use 100% non-toxic products and my skin has never felt better.

Some of you might be following my takeover last week with clean beauty sight The Moment, but for those of you who missed it, here are my favorite non-toxic beauty products.

 

SKINCARE

Marie Veronique Oil Cleanser: Removes makeup and dirt without stripping your skin. Also feels super silky. Apply to dry face and neck, and rinse with warm water.

Marie Veronique Eye Repair Serum: Protects the delicate skin around your eyes and prevents signs of aging.

Odacite Eye Contour: My other favorite eye serum. Really soothing, especially for tired eyes. Baobab oil is rich in Vitamins A, E and F.

Vintners Daughter Active Botanical Serum: The holy grail of clean beauty products, this company only makes one product and they make it really well. Worth the investment.

Tata Harper Boosted Contouring Serum: Lifting, firming, toning, tightening, basically all the things that matter when you hit 30+.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask: One of my favorite products. Super effective without being messy. I use this three + times per week.

Osea Advanced Protection Cream: Like La Mer but better, cheaper and non-toxic (no, La Mer not a clean beauty product!). Feels really luxurious on your skin.

Sun Potion Shea Butter: Serious food for your skin. So serious, in fact, that they don't even bother to scent it. Use on everything: cuts, burns, acne, scars, dry skin, wrinkles, hair, the works.

MAKEUP

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular CC Cream: A little SPF, a little coverage, a little anti-aging magic, this is my all in one and I use it every day. 

Juice Beauty Ultra Natural Mascara: It's hard to find a clean mascara, but I think this one is the best.

Juice Beauty Perfecting Concealer: Made of pure coconut oil and perfect for covering up spots and discolorations. 

Vapour Foundation: Because sometimes I go out and want to feel a little extra special.

Kosås Cream Blush: Natural highlighter and cheek color that is super easy to put on.

Kosås Lipstick: The best long lasting colors.

HAIR

Innersence Beauty Shampoo and Conditioner: Great for taming, cleaning and conditioning my unruly locks.

Abhati Sacred Hair Oil: I use this for shine and as a mask the night before I wash my hair. Plus, it smells amazing!

Reverie Milk: For frizz. Enough said.

SCENTS

Cap Beauty Anointing Oil: A magic potion that makes you smell and feel good.

xx

 

10 Reasons to START THE YEAR WITH A Detox

 Photo: Diana Davis Creative

Photo: Diana Davis Creative

Many of us start the year with a detox because we feel guilty about all the Christmas cookies and cabernet we indulged in over the holidays. But when you actually do a detox, weight loss is just the cherry on top. Here are some other reasons to start the New Year off with a good reset:

 

1.     Set intentions.

What do you want to accomplish this year? Whether it’s a new job, a new home or running a half marathon, setting goals and an action plan will get you there. And if you’re not sure what you want, taking some time to yourself will help you get clarity.

2.     Get organized.

Purge old things and make room new stuff. Clean your sock drawer, get a new calendar, dust behind the couch. It feels good to start the year fresh.

3.     Get back into the routines you love.

Have you fallen out of your healthy habits during the holiday rush? Whether it’s a meditation practice, a spin class or even just having a lemon water in the morning, take the time to reestablish your favorite healthy routines.

4.     Save money.

You might be shocked to find how much money you save when you’re not buying lattes, cocktails and going out for all (or as many) of your meals.

5.     Kick a bad habit.

Smoking, too much coffee, chewing gum, midnight snacking, we all have them—use this time to get over it.

6.     Try something new!

Have you always wanted to check out Reiki, take a pottery class or see a nutritionist (ahem!)? Use your free time and extra pocket money to check a box off your bucket list.

7.     Chill out!

Treat your detox like a staycation and do all the things you never have time for: Go to bed early, sleep in late, take a nap…or a bath, watch a movie, all seven seasons of Game of Thrones, read a damn book.

8.     Clear your foggy brain.

Wake up in the morning feeling fresh and ready to tackle the day; be more focused and productive at work and at home. Sounds simple, but trust me, it’s magical.

9.     Feel happier and more confident.

Did you know over 95% of our serotonin is in our gut? Taking time to eat healthy over a consistent period of time will make you feel better about yourself. Full stop.

10.  Fit into your jeans again. 

Ok ok, it's in here. A lot of us are motivated by weight loss, and that’s not a bad thing. 

 

This year, instead of setting broad, unattainable resolutions while we’re at our lowest (tired, hungover, anxious, cranky), let’s take some time to reset and reconnect with ourselves, so we can create tangible goals and muster the motivation needed to pursue them for longer than a few weeks. 

Who’s ready? Sign up for the RASA Challenge here.

 

Pantry Clean Out: What To Toss And What To Stock

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One of the easiest ways to stay healthy and sane is to simply eat well at home. We can’t really control what oil is used in restaurants or how much sugar they add to their salad dressing. Of course, we can be smart in making restaurant and menu choices, but it’s no fun to be obsessive about it and let's be real: sometimes you just want to eat a basket of fries. Instead of feeling guilty about it, balance out your indulgences by having the healthiest foods you can on your own time and in your home.

Food marketers are savvy and find sneaky ways to hide sugars and processed oils into our foods to make them cost less, last longer and harder to put down (once you pop, you just can't stop). Even seemingly “healthy” food companies and grocers are guilty of stocking these products. Fortunately, there are good products out there, we just need to know what to look for!

So, what can you do? Spend an hour or so in your pantry and fridge diligently looking at the labels of your nut butters, milk, crackers, chips, granolas, condiments, cookies, etc.

Don’t be fooled by fancy terms on the box, like gluten free, no added sugars, or no trans fats, and get rid of the following products:

 

Processed Vegetable Oils 

I’m talking about those highly processed and tasteless vegetables oils, like canola, corn, soybean, safflower or sunflower oil. They are a major cause of inflammation, which leads to a variety of unwanted issues. Staying away from these oils will help you avoid processed foods in general. Note: some food companies are using non-GMO vegetable oils in their products, which in small amounts are not a huge deal.

Refined  Sugars and Artificial Sweeteners 

Get rid of cane sugar, products with high fructose corn syrup, sugary cookies and treats. Anything  with Splenda, NutraSweet, sucralose or aspartame should also go in the bin. These are chemicals.

Franken-Ingredients

Anything you cannot pronounce or that sounds like a chemical: Buh-bye.

Really Old Stuff

Condiments, spices, anything in the freezer that has frostbite. The general rule of thumb for spices is two years. Check expiration dates on everything else, and when in doubt, give it a whiff.

After you have detoxed your kitchen, take an audit of what you need and make a shopping list! Here is a quick list of pantry essentials that will ensure that you can always make a satisfying and healthy meal at home.

 

Good Fats & Oils 

Coconut oil, ghee, good quality butter, olive oil, avocado oil. When cooking, a quick rule of thumb is to cook hot foods with fats that are solid at room temperature and use oils, liquid at room temperature, for non-heated applications (like a salad dressing or garnish).

Vegetables and Herbs

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to eat a plant-based diet. Make plants the cornerstone of your diet. Adding variety in your meals will automatically increase your nutrient intake (and add flavor!). Shop the periphery of the grocery store or head to your local farmer’s market. And don’t forget the herbs too: parsley, basil, dill, cilantro—spice things up!

Good Quality Proteins

Find a local butcher or a grocery store where you can get organic, grass fed meats, free range poultry, pastured eggs and sustainable fish. 

Healthy Dried Goods

These items have a long shelf life and can make for easy snacking and quick meals. Examples include, coconut flakes, nuts and seeds, steel cut oats, beans and legumes.

Spices

Make sure to keep plenty of healthy and anti-inflammatory spices on hand. Some favorites include, turmeric, ginger, cayenne, cumin and cinnamon. Getting high quality spices and storing them properly (away from heat and bright lights) is important too. 

 

Before you hit the store, do some research. Take your time to find products and brands that use good ingredients. Once you figure out what you like, it will be quicker and easier to shop. A few of my favorite brands to look out for:

If you find one or more of your pantry staples on the toss list, don’t freak out! Try to replace it with something a little better and consider moving that item from an everyday item to an occasional treat. It's all about balance and finding alternative products you enjoy just as much (if not more!).

Xx Mia

 

Anxiety Fighting Foods: What You Eat vs. How You Think

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Anxiety is rampant these days. It’s an epidemic, and even if you recognize that your anxious feelings are irrational and unproductive, they can still be hard to shake. If you’re plagued by those Sunday scaries or have a nagging feeling that just won’t go away, it might be worth taking a look at your diet for an answer.

Promising studies suggest that your gut flora, that is, the microorganisms living in your digestive tract, has a strong influence over your emotions. This implies that a happy tummy can lead to a happy mind (and vice versa). So how do you create and maintain a healthy gut flora? A few simple tips:

 

Decrease inflammation: Inflammation is both a symptom and a cause of poor gut health. To combat this, you should not only eat anti-inflammatory foods, but also limit consumption of pro-inflammatory foods.

Balancing your omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acid ratio is a great start. That means eating more omega 3-rich foods (salmon, eggs, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds) and less omega 6’s (vegetable oils). We need both, but Western diets tend to be heavier on the 6 and lighter on the 3, so just try to balance it out.

You can also flavor your meals with anti-inflammatory spices, like ginger, turmeric, cayenne and cinnamon, and cook with coconut oil instead of processed vegetable oil. 

Incorporate probiotics into your diet: Good and bad bacterial both play a role in gut health, but it’s all about ratio and you want more of the good than the bad. Probiotics are essentially the good guys. Some probiotic-rich foods include pickles, yogurt, kombucha, dark chocolate (yes!) and miso.

Ditch refined sugar and processed foods: Sugar is food for the bad bacteria, and processed foods are hard to digest, which causes inflammation and throws off this whole ecosystem of gut health. Cutting out processed foods will automatically lower your sugar and omega 6 fatty acid intakes.

Craving a cookie? There are good options out there with unrefined sugars. Check out my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Be mindful of alcohol consumption: Alcohol is processed in the liver. Your body likes to get rid of it fast, so alcohol gets prioritized and cuts in front of all the other foods your liver has to process. This can cause some digestive dysfunction and—you guessed it—inflammation.

Before you panic, the operative word here is mindful. A glass or two here or there might not throw you off, but 10 drinks on Saturday night could be the cause of your Sunday anxiety. Listen to your body. Also, when you drink too much, you run the risk of doing or saying stupid s***, which certainly doesn’t help. It’s okay though: we’ve all been there.

Avoid foods you cannot digest: Food intolerances wreak havoc on your digestive system and can cause anxious feelings. We are all different, so taking the time to learn more about your unique and amazing body can help and empower you to make the better food choices.

 

The good news is that you have nothing to lose by trying one or all of these tips, because they not only help with anxiety but overall wellbeing in general. There are other ways to mitigate anxiety as well: yoga, exercise, meditation, massage, taking a bath, hanging out with friends and family. Pair your healthy diet with some of these activities and you could be anxiety-free in no time.

If you’re looking for a jump start, try the RASA Challenge or get in touch with me about coaching packages. Consultations are always free.

xx

 

How to Stay Healthy and Still have Fun on Vacation

Summer isn’t over yet! If you have one last vacation in you before the leaves start to fall, you’re going to want to make it count. But the only thing worse than the end of summer holidays, is feeling like you have to start all over with your wellness routine.

There is a healthy balance binge eating and binge health; you don’t want to go overboard eating and drinking everything in sight–that’s not going to feel good, but at the same time, you want enjoy and indulge a little. Here are a few tips to living it up on vacation without totally blowing your whole healthy vibe.

 

1.     Pack healthy snacks. Make sure you don’t find yourself in a situation where you’re starving and there’s no healthy food around. Bring easy to pack, high fat snacks that will keep you satiated and energized when traveling. Try homemade trail mix with raw nuts, seeds, coconut flakes and cacao nibs, or Vega One protein packets.

2.     Skip the breakfast buffet. Experiment with intermittent fasting, so you can indulge, while also giving your body time to rest, digest and reset.

3.     Stay active and plan workouts in advance.   Try to fit activities into your itinerary. If you’re going somewhere outdoorsy, try hiking, surfing, kayaking…whatever is available. Or, if you’re planning a city getaway, walk everywhere, rent bikes, try out a local yoga studio, make it a part of your trip. And if neither of these options work for you, get yourself some booty bands and a jump rope. They will fit in your bag and can guarantee a killer workout anytime, anywhere.

4.     Don’t use your holiday as an excuse to eat junk food.  Just because you’re going to loosen your “gluten free” belt for a few days, doesn’t mean you have to eat airplane peanuts and ketchup flavored chips. Make your cheats count and save your indulgences for really good food. Quality, not quantity!

5.     If you want to try something naughty, wait until your last day. That afternoon gelato run or morning chocolate croissant is a slippery slope; once you have the first one, you’re going to want it every day. Instead of denying yourself completely, just have it on the last day and you won’t have to worry about coming home with a waistline of souvenirs.

6.     Drink lots of water. Drink more water than you normally would. It’s summer, it’s hot, you’re moving around, trying new foods, help your body flush it out!

And what about when you get back? If you gained a few pounds, it’s probably a lot of water weight and your body should self-regulate, so just get back into your normal routine as soon as you can. If you want to kick things up a notch, try no sugar, fruit or grains for a few days or sign up for a RASA Challenge or RASA Lite.

Xx Mia

 

HOW TO BOUNCE BACK FROM A BOOZY WEEKEND

We all know that post-holiday weekend feeling. You let it rip on the Tostitos, pizza and rosé for a few days straight and then reality sets in; Puffy, tired, a little thirsty, you’re dreading going back to work and slightly panicked about putting your jeans on.  

A weekend of indulgence shouldn't completely derail your wellness regimen, but it can definitely make you feel that way. That “puffiness” is most likely a combination of inflammation and bloating, aka temporary weight gain (cue sighs of relief).

What you might not realize is that your body is still dealing with Friday night on Monday morning (which is why cheat days don’t work, but that’s another story), so give yourself a break and your body a chance to reset. Here are a few tips for bouncing back:

1.     HYDRATE.

Drink lots and lots of water to flush out whatever is in your system. Adding a squeeze of lemon will also help you detoxify and de-bloat.

2.     GO GRAIN FREE FOR A FEW DAYS.

Easing up on grains (not just gluten) will give your digestive system a little rest, because hey, it deserves a vacation too!

3.     REDUCE SUGAR, EVEN THE NATURAL KIND.

Sugar is inflammatory and breeds bad bacteria in your gut. Laying off sugars (refined, unrefined, even fruit!) will give your body an extra hand so it can heal and reestablish a heathy ratio of gut bacteria.

4.     SWEAT IT OUT.

Get back to the gym as soon as you can. And while you’re at it, spend some time in the steam room or an infrared sauna, if that’s available to you.

5.     SLEEP.

Go to bed early and try to get a solid 7-8 hours to allow your body to reset.

 
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Before you head out for the holiday weekend, pack some healthy snacks: protein packets, raw nuts, carrot sticks, maybe an avocado. And if you want to plan your post-fourth of July reset, check out our new 10-day Challenge: RASA Lite.

Have fun, friends! 

Xx Mia

 

SIX SIMPLE WAYS TO DETOX THAT DON’T INVOLVE FOOD

Detoxing is not just for January or before your birthday. Your body works hard to eliminate toxins every day. Unfortunately, we live in a world that is totally toxic; there are chemicals in almost everything (air, water, food, etc.) and your body needs as much support as it can get to ensure that the toxins you are exposed to don’t become a part of you. 

The good news: there are lots of things you can do to limit your toxic exposure and prepare your body to eliminate those which you cannot avoid. You can go on a literal “detox”, in which you abstain from certain foods for a fixed period of time. I recommend doing a detox (like The RASA Challenge) at least 1-2 time per year. But what about the rest of the time? 

Here are five simple ways to detox every day that don’t require giving up your morning coffee or your beloved glass of Sauvignon Blanc. 

 

1. Take care of your teeth.

Your mouth is full of bacteria (gross but true). Just like in the bacteria your gut, some are good, and some are not so good. Overgrowth of the bad stuff in your mouth not only makes your breath stank and causes issues like gingivitis and cavities, but it affects your whole body and can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even low birthweight in babies.

Unfortunately, you can’t floss your gut, but lucky for us, you can floss your teeth! Studies show that consistent brushing and flossing significantly decreases the bad bacteria in your mouth. Aim to brush three times a day (preferably with natural, non-toxic toothpaste and an eclectic toothbrush) and floss twice daily. If you really want to impress your dentist, try oil pulling (put about a teaspoon of coconut oil in your mouth and swish it around for 10-20 minutes a day or even just a few times a week) and tongue scrapping. But if that’s just way too much for you right now, just start with brushing and flossing.

3. Get a plant.

This is a double whammy, friends. Plants look super cool in your house and they help clean the air. So, if you live in New York City like me (or anywhere, really) and are concerned about pollution, plant some trees in your living room! Some of the best plants for cleaning the air include, Boston ferns, palm trees and (my favorite) rubber trees.

5. Invest in non-toxic beauty products.

Do me a favor and take a look at the ingredients in your dry shampoo. Then throw it out. You do not want those chemicals anywhere near your face or head. Fortunately, non-toxic beauty, skin and haircare products have become a thing, so there are plenty of options to look good without slathering yourself with chemicals. I love my Tata Harper skincare products and basically everything at CAP Beauty—they even have non-toxic dry shampoo. Problem solved.

2. Get a new bed.

Have you ever noticed the scary tag on your mattress? You know, the one that says UNDER THE PENALTY OF LAW THIS TAG NOT TO BE REMOVED. Ever think why? BECAUSE IT’S FULL OF CHEMICALS (sorry for yelling, but it’s important). I only recently learned this, so if you’re shocked right now, trust me, I was too.

Under US law, all mattresses must be flame retardant, which means that they use flame retardant chemicals, in addition to all the chemicals in that polyurethane foam (WTF is that?!). Mattresses off-gas these chemicals over time, meaning that they leak out and end up on (and in!) your body. You spend about 1/3 of your life in bed, so let’s at the very least ensure that you’re not consuming toxins while you sleep.

When buying a mattress, look for GOLS (for latex) and GOTS (for textiles) certifications. At least 95% of these mattresses must be made of certified organic materials and the other 5% of the materials are also restricted.

4. Throw out your Brita filter.

Filtering your water is great. Big fan, but please don’t let it sit in plastic after that. If you don’t have a home filtration system, try something like the Berkey or using charcoal in a glass pitcher.

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6. Go to an organic dry cleaner.

It is widely known that PERC, a chemical that 85% of dry cleaners use, is toxic and thought to cause cancer. Sadly, people who work in dry cleaning tend to have a shorter lifespan, which may be linked to chemical exposure. Fortunately, eco-friendly organic dry cleaners are on the rise. Do a little Google search to find one near you. It might be a little more expensive, but worth the investment in your health.

90% of illnesses are caused by environmental factors. Only 10% are genetic. You have the power to fend off disease and live a longer, happier, healthier life. More on this topic soon! 

 

Thinking About Going Gluten Free? Read This!

 via Pinterest

via Pinterest

Everyone’s doing it. Even my dad is now “50% gluten free.” So…should you do it too? Let’s break it down.

 

FIRST, a pop quiz: What is gluten? (Hey, it’s a valid question!)

Gluten is a family of proteins found is wheat, barley, rye and spelt. It makes dough sticky and elastic, and allows bread to rise. Funnily enough, the word “glu-ten” derives from its “glue”-like properties.

There are some people who absolutely cannot handle gluten in any form: they have Celiac disease. While this is increasingly more common (we’ll get back to this), it’s still not the norm. For the rest of us, it’s more of a grey area.

If you’re already on the gluten free train or thinking of jumping on board, ask yourself, WHY?

Are you trying to lose weight?

Replacing gluten with other carbs might not be enough to move the needle. Many packaged foods labelled as “Gluten Free” substitute with ingredients like processed corn and potato starches, which quite frankly are no better for you. However, if it keeps your hand out of the bread basket, it could be doing you some good!

Do you want to get to the bottom of a digestive issue?

Many of us have a certain level of gluten intolerance, meaning it’s difficult to digest and can make you bloated, fatigued, cause skin issues, say mean things to your Mom…the list goes on. This is pretty common, and the degree to which people are effected by gluten varies from person to person. If you want to find out if this is an issue for you, try an elimination diet like The RASA Challenge.

Are you looking to cut out processed and GMO foods?

Unfortunately, wheat is one of the most genetically modified foods on the planet. We are consuming so many wheat products that food suppliers are racing to make them quicker and cheaper. This means that not only is the wheat genetically modified, but it’s not cooked properly. So you are essentially eating raw genetically modified wheat and your body can’t digest it. These genetically modified strands are also contributing to increased gluten intolerances and the rise of Celiac disease.

That said, not all gluten is created equal! There are some solid artisan breads, pastas and other products that do it right, so if you can’t live without a Dutch crunch roll, do your research. Also, other gluten-containing grains are not as widely processed, so you may want to consider going wheat free, but not gluten free.

You’re not sure why, but it just seems better?

Well, kudos to you for reading this. Hope you now have a reason one way or another.

The best way to ditch the g-word is to eat products that are naturally gluten free instead of packaged foods marketed as such. Processed food is still processed food. Don't let the absence of gluten trick you. I laugh every time I see a bag of popcorn, pint of ice cream or bottle of vodka labelled as “Gluten Free”. It’s ridiculous. Educate yourself and don’t fall into the trap!

What do I do? As a general rule of thumb, I try my very best not to eat any refined grains (sandwich bread, white rice, Cheerio’s, cous cous, etc..), but I don’t make a fuss about a few breadcrumbs, sushi rice or a bite of birthday cake (on my birthday). Girl’s gotta live, no?

xx Mia 

The Health Benefits of Gratitude: 6 Reasons To Adopt A Gratitude Attitude

 This year, I'm especially grateful for my husband. 

This year, I'm especially grateful for my husband. 

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday—there’s something about being with friends and family and honoring all the good things in our lives that just makes me happy! Turns out, there’s actually scientific research to back this warm and fuzzy feeling up (and no, it’s not the wine).

The tradition of showing gratitude goes back thousands of years and recent studies have shown that grateful people are actually more satisfied with life than others. But for some reason, being grateful is not always our automatic response to life—it’s far too easy to get absorbed in everyday nuances and many of us have to make a conscience effort to show thanks. If this sounds familiar, here’s some motivation to adopt an attitude of gratitude 365 days a year:

Reduce Stress.

Showing gratitude helps us cope with the challenges of everyday life. From road rage to PTSD, having a more empathetic mind-set will help you manage stress, which can have a major impact on your health.

Improve Your Mood.

Because it just feels good when we show appreciate for others, right? Plus, mood boosting endorphins are released when we smile. This is surely the quickest, cheapest and most effective way to beat the blues.

Strengthen Relationships.

Tell the people you care about that you appreciate them. It will remind them why they care about and appreciate you, and make your bond all that much stronger! Studies have also shown that thanking people you meet helps form new relationships.  

Be Healthier!

Research has shown that grateful people actually feel healthier and are more likely to exercise and eat well.

Boost Your Immune System.

Gratitude plays a major role in your immune health—from the common cold, broken bones or more serious ailments, being optimistic is proven to help us build immune strength and heal quicker.

Sleep Better.

If you’re someone whose mind races all night, practicing gratitude will help you worry less so you can sleep longer and deeper, and better sleep will have a domino effect on your health. 

So, how can you keep this going year-round? Stash a gratitude journal by your bed and write down 5 things you’re grateful for every morning or evening (even just a few times a week will work too!). You can also incorporate gratitude into your daily meditation or mindfulness practice, if you have one.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I’m asking you to share this along with five things your grateful for. Do it for your health!

xx Mia