Chorizo Made Me Do It.

Confession: I ate terribly today. Actually, I’ve eaten terribly this week. Healthy habits will ebb and flow. The key to optimal health is your resiliency from the slippage. In other words, making poor nutritional decisions once in a while doesn’t destroy our health; continuously making poor nutritional decisions does.

my top two strategies for getting my shit together after a nutritional nightmare of a few days.png

Here’s my raw, honest food diary for today. Drumroll please…I had a 16 ounce latte (half the syrup, thanks) for breakfast in lieu of healthy, chewable, real food; then for lunch I had a gut-bomb of a chorizo-egg-cheese burrito at our local authentic Mexican dive. I know, it sucks. I let emo-eating get the best of me. I chose my fav comfort foods thinking they would cheer up a sucky couple days. However, unsurprisingly, I ended up feeling worse. Why do we do that? Why do we consume things that make us feel so physically/mentally unwell? Well, we seem to mind-dump these feelings in between our gut-ache and the next time we make the same. exact. choices.

I’ll now share with you my top two strategies for getting my shit together after a nutritional nightmare of a few days.

First, it is the recovery that matters. Often when we go rogue in terms of food choices, we have a tendency to be “all or none” about it. We tend to think “well, the day is shot; might as well keep it [making bad choices] going.” Wrong. It’s never too late to recover the day to some extent. After eating that huge burrito for lunch, I honestly felt like I could go the next 2 weeks without eating. What a cinder block of food in my gut. Blah! But, I had a beautiful kale/Brussels sprouts/cabbage/pumpkin seed/craisin/sunflower seed salad for dinner. I don’t want to be all dramatic about it, but I already feel better and that was an hour ago. It’s not about trying to “detox” the day (that’s not how it works), but rather hitting the reset button and jamming some much-needed nutrients into my veins.

Second, it’s forcing yourself to lock this memory into your rolodex (do kids these days even know what a rolodex is??) so you can make better future decisions. In other words, really sit and take a quality assessment on exactly how you feel. For me, I have a raging headache (something in chorizo really gets to my skull), and I feel bloated and super tired. I knew that was going to happen today, but forged ahead with poor decisions anyway because I’m a flawed human. However, more often than not, I have success practicing what I call the “10-second rule.” The 10-second rule entails forcing yourself to truly think about the food or beverage you’re about to consume before you consume it. Think about how you are going to feel after you have it. Think about how it either helps or harms the progress you hope to make with improving your health, losing weight, etc. Really, really, think about it hard for at least 10 seconds before making a choice. You might just find that it increases the success rate on passing up the junk.

You’re a human. So am I. We are inherently flawed, and we’re programmed to do what feels good rather than what’s always the right thing to do. Practicing quick recovery and the 10-second rule can strengthen your resiliency muscle and gradually improve your habit reconstruction. It is a journey that doesn’t have a clear destination. Embrace that. Try harder, don’t get too down when you get off track (like I did). Get to it.

xoxo – Casey

Ps – Have you read my book yet? Check it out here!

Is Sodium Against us and PhosFORus?

IMG_7076

Nope and nope. Both sodium and phosphorus are essential for survival. Just a teensy glimpse into sodium’s pretty important jobs includes maintaining your body’s fluid balance and transporting nutrients across cell membranes. Just a couple of the things phosphorus is best known for include producing energy and building bones. Are we getting too much of these nutrients? There is more to the story than what you might think.

salt1

Sodium, which you may know from its most famous role, table salt, has become a word to be feared by us, especially with regard to blood pressure (BP). The thing to know is that while too much salt can be detrimental to our health, so can too little salt. Yeah, yeah…most would argue that too little salt is unheard of in our Standard American Diet. However, the BP-raising amounts determined by many studies to be “excessive” are also far outside what the average person consumes.  Furthermore, not much (if any) evidence exists to support the stringent recommendations for the masses to restrict sodium to 1500 mg/day or less.

Furthermore, is sodium guilty by association? When we take a look at observational data, we see that those who consume too much sodium tend to have high BP. But just as often, those who eat too much sodium are doing so by way of heavily processed, packaged foods and/or fast foods; AND they aren’t eating much in the way of vegetables or fruits. Many processed, packaged, and fast foods contain high amounts of phosphorus in various forms because it can be a useful preservative. Many types of soda, especially cola, are also a huge source of phosphorus in the diet.

Therefore, in what could be considered a “poor diet” consisting of very few (if any) fruits or vegetables and lots of packaged/pre-prepared/fast foods and soda, sodium and phosphorus are almost always consumed in excess of recommended amounts. Additionally, excessive phosphorus intake has begun to enter the spotlight as a contributor to heart disease. Eating or drinking too much phosphorus tricks your body into deteriorating your bones, which is NOT GOOD. So is it the sodium that’s harming us, or is it the phosphorus? Is it both? Is there more to the story? Yes.

Many of the most famous “diets” such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and the Mediterranean eating style have proven to help people reduce BP and improve many other risk factors for heart disease. The thing is, they seem to do so independently of sodium or phosphorus counts. Why/how do diets like DASH or the Mediterranean eating style improve BP and heart disease risk? Among the many attributes of the DASH diet or the Mediterranean Eating style, both of these ways of eating largely emphasize a significant increase in whole vegetables and fruits.

salt2

When we shift focus toward increasing nutrients and antioxidants via whole vegetables and fruits (rather than ordering salt-free French fries), a number of risk factors will naturally improve:

  • BP often goes down thanks (in part) to increases in potassium aiding in the fluid regulation mechanisms in our body and also from antioxidants in the fruits/veggies helping to soften and widen our arteries.
  • Weight improves because we are eating less (despite a potentially larger volume of food thanks to veggies!). A loss of weight also can improve BP by decreasing the work the heart has to do to pump all that blood through the body.
  • Cholesterol is often improved because of a decrease in omega-6 fats (often prevalent in processed/packaged/fast foods), coupled with an increase in fiber from all that produce.
  • Physiological processes can begin to work more efficiently. Without adequate magnesium, for example, insulin cannot be used properly in our bodies. Guess what has magnesium? Vegetables.
  • Energy levels. The top contenders for the factors most likely to promote jubilance instead of fatigue are:
    • Sufficient hydration
    • An adequate amount of good-quality sleep
    • A regular, consistent meal pattern
    • Balanced meals
    • Getting enough vitamins/minerals from WHOLE FOOD SOURCES, not supplements

Here’s the deal:  eating all the same crappy foods in “salt-free” versions WILL NOT IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH.  Salt-free French fries are not suddenly a salad, and low-sodium soy sauce is not suddenly “healthy.”  However, please don’t lose sleep over counting anything, including sodium or phosphorus.

IF you eat a Mediterranean style diet rich in fatty fish, lean meats, lots and lots and lots of vegetables, healthy fat, some fruits, whole grains, and calcium-rich foods, you will most likely be consuming the proper amount of sodium and phosphorus. You will also likely improve about a million aspects of your health and well-being. Don’t forget to drink lots of water, limit sugary stuff, and be as active as you possibly can no matter what that entails for you.

Love ya, mean it.
xoxo – Casey

The Devil Uses Coconut Oil

www.lettucetalk.blog-2

Just kidding.  Coconut oil isn’t “bad.”  The devil probably eats white-bread-JIF-peanut-butter-and-crappy-jelly-sandwiches.

An article from USA Today demonizing coconut oil has essentially gone viral on social media. So, although my Saturday to-do list is a mile long, I feel ethically and morally compelled to write a little something about it [the article].

Sigh. So many things wrong with this I don’t even know where to start…

  1. The article being referenced reviewed ONLY SEVEN trials. SEVEN. If you are unfamiliar with research and/or literature reviews, this is NOT ENOUGH evidence from which to make a solid stance regarding anything…ANYTHING.
  2. Yes, coconut oil is mostly saturated fat; and yes, saturated fat will raise your LDL-cholesterol. However, they seemed to be shy to mention that it (saturated fat) also raises your HDL-cholesterol. Therefore your total cholesterol will go up, but you are not at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) or mortality.
  3. The most current ACC/ACH (American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association) guidelines—a reputable doctrine by which clinicians set therapeutic targets for lipid management—state that the ratio of non-HDL:HDL is far more predictive of CVD risk and/or mortality than focusing on lowering LDL alone.
  4. When LDL increases secondary to increasing saturated fat intake, it does not automatically “clog your arteries.” Rather, this type of saturated fat actually increases the “large fluffy” LDL particles in your bloodstream. Large, fluffy LDL are relatively resistant to oxidation (the process that leads to plaque formation and artery clogging).
  5. When LDL increases secondary to a high consumption of refined carbohydrates (white bread, sugar, etc.) and/or trans fat (Crisco, JIF peanut butter, etc.), it increases “small, dense” LDL particles. These small, dense LDL particles are the most likely to oxidize in your arteries and collect in damaged areas (aka clogging).
  6. The real problem in artery clogging is that people with CVD often have a high degree of systemic inflammation. Many lifestyle and nutrition factors influence the degree to which systemic inflammation occurs. However, saturated fat does NOT INCREASE INFLAMMATION. Some things that do increase inflammation are refined carbohydrates (sugar, white flour products), trans fat (anything with hydrogenated oil in the ingredients list), smoking cigarettes, and many more.
  7. I actually laughed out loud at the comment “it is almost 100% fat.” No shit! So is olive oil! DUH…I can’t even…
  8. By far the most powerful section of this article is, the following excerpt:
    1. “Before you trash your coconut oil, know that saturated fat is a loaded term. While the AHA warns against it, people who cut saturated fat out of their diet might not necessarily lower their heart disease risk, a 2015 BMJ review suggested. That’s because some people fill the void with sugar, white flour and empty calories. Also, some fat is important to help bodies absorb nutrients from other foods. Many have said butter has gotten a bad reputation.
      (visit https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/16/coconut-oil-isnt-healthy-its-never-been-healthy/402719001/ for the full article)

To summarize, please visit my previous post on dietary fat. But the best types of fat to use are canola oil, extra-virgin olive oil, peanut oil, butter, and coconut oil. Any “added fat” is second only to whole foods (fatty fish, nuts, etc.) first. Extra-virgin olive oil is actually best for you when NOT heated (i.e. homemade salad dressing, drizzled on cooked veggies, etc.). For actual cooking/heating, the other oils are better.

Also, although this deserves an entire post in itself (stay tuned), the MORE IMPORTANT factor here is reducing trans fat (it’s in lots of things, including JIF peanut butter and microwave popcorn), reducing refined carbohydrate intake (swap white bread for 100% whole grain and reduce the amount), and reducing added sugar intake (soda, desserts, nearly every packaged food, etc.).