Now that the winter hibernation is over, it's time to get moving and back into a healthier routine. Enlist your friends and family and pledge to start healthier habits. With their support, you'll be more accountable and you'll have a lot more fun! Here are some of our tips to start Spring off right:
Looking for ways to make your holiday treats better for you? This super easy no-bake recipe features a SimplyProtein Bar® crust for a delicious, gluten-free and vegan option!
Yield: 1 9-inch pie, 8 servings
You will need:
- 9-inch pie dish
- Food processor or blender
- Parchment paper
- 2 cup pecans
- 1 cup dates
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 SimplyProtein® Double Chocolate Bar
- 1-1/2 tsp Virgin Coconut Oil
- 1 can pure pumpkin puree
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- ½ cup walnuts
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1. In a food processor, blend crust ingredients until crumbly.
2. Take a piece of parchment paper and press into pie dish.
3. Take crust mixture and spread on top of parchment paper. With your hand, press the mixture into the pan until it is an even thickness.
4. In a food processor, blend the filling ingredients.
5. Carefully pour the filling into the pie dish with crust mixture.
6. Optional: Spread or pipe your favourite whipped topping over the surface of the pie for a festive look.
7. Refrigerate to allow crust to firm and hold.
8. When ready to serve, remove the parchment paper and enjoy!
It’s no secret that the holidays are filled with sugar-coated, guilt-inducing and devilishly tempting treats. We have you covered with the top tips for avoiding falling off the low-sugar wagon!
1. Avoid alcohol
Wine, beer, liquor and cocktails can all be unexpected filled with sugar. Instead of a cocktail before, during, and after dinner, decide when you want to have your drink and stick to just one.
2. Explain to your friends and family
Don’t feel pressured to eat heavy, unhealthy foods because you’re afraid to offend somebody. Explain what you’re doing and ask that your friends and family respect your choice to cut back- more for them!
3. Bring a light, healthy dish
Bring a healthy option to share with others and keep yourself on track. A light and refreshing dish like this Farro Stuffing with Butternut Squash and Almonds will be welcome amidst all the heavy and hearty offerings!
4. Don’t settle at the food court
If your holiday shopping has got you hungry, resist the urge to get a carb-heavy burger or plate. There are healthier options such as soups, salads and wraps.
5. Consider skipping the holiday baking
Avoid placing yourself in temptations way- instead of holiday cookies and candies, try spending family time making holiday crafts or playing in the snow!
6. Drink water
When you feel a sugar craving coming on, fill yourself up with a full glass of water. This will make you feel more full and energized, which might be what your body really wants!
7. Eat natural sugars to curb your craving
Fruits and sweet vegetables such as apples and sweet potatoes contain a high fibre content which acts to counteract the negative effects of sugar.
8. Don’t deprive yourself
Sometimes you just need to indulge! If you have chocolate cravings, keep a high-quality 70% cacao chocolate bar around and have a piece when you feel the cravings coming.
Sick and tired of the 3pm sugar slump? Take back control of your energy- we have you covered with tips on decoding and uncovering the sugar hidden in your favourite snacks!
- How to Expose Disguised Sugars
Sugar comes in many tricky forms. Learn to recognize ingredients under different names, but have the same impact on your health as sugar.
• Ingredients ending in “ose” or with the word “syrup"
• Natural sweeteners such as agave nectar, rice syrup, and honey aren’t much better—our bodies can’t tell the difference between natural and processed sugars!
2. Always read the ingredients list!
Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight—meaning the first ingredient makes up more of the product than the second, and so-forth.
Watch out for long lists that list sugar or disguised sugars in the first 5 ingredients.
3. What Nutrition Facts to Look Out For
Look at the Protein. Is there more protein than sugar? Protein helps to fill us up and keep us full, so choose a snack that has a substantial amount of protein.
Look at the Fiber to Sugar Ratio. Good, whole foods have less or equal sugar to fiber—a 1:1 ratio. Unfortunately, the average American consumes closer to 12:1 sugar to fiber in their food every single day.
Forget calories for a minute—let’s talk about blood sugar. It’s the glucose found in your blood, and insulin is the stuff that allows glucose to enter your cells for energy. You may already know that blood sugar ebbs and flows throughout the day depending on what you eat, and letting it drop super low can leave you irritable, shaky, and fatigued.
But here’s a nugget worth writing down: Keeping your blood sugar stable could help you lose weight, says Stephanie Clarke, R.D., a nutritionist with C&J Nutrition in New York City. “When your blood sugar is balanced, you’ll feel more energized, less hungry, and you may not cave to cravings, which can help you lose weight by lowering your overall calorie intake.” Keeping your blood sugar in check can also help prevent insulin resistance, which can lead to weight gain by minimizing frequent spikes. In short, it's a crucial part of getting your weight-loss game on point.
The crash and burn that comes with low blood sugar (called hypoglycemia) isn't hard to detect: It can make you feel sweaty, weak, dizzy, annoyed, or even lead to a rapid pulse, says Clarke. You can have a blood sugar crash after not eating for a long time, or after eating a big meal packed with processed carbs, like white pasta or bread, which causes it to shoot up and then drop quickly.
Blood sugar that’s too high, called hyperglycemia, can lead to thirst, headaches, and blurred vision. But these symptoms don’t usually show up unless it’s through the roof. If this happens to you, see a doc to rule out diabetes.
With all of that out of the way, here's how you can level out your blood sugar to crush cravings, feel energized, and tackle weight-loss sabotaging hanger.
Watch the Clock
After three or four hours of not eating, hypoglycermia can kick in, says Clarke. To keep this from happening, set an alarm so that hunger doesn't creep up on you while you're busy at work. Eating small, frequent meals every three to four hours is clutch for keeping your sugars in a healthy range, she says.
Pick Worthy Snacks
Aim to include at least two of the three major nutrient groups—carbs, protein, and fat—in each snack, she says. For example, one snack might include a healthy fat, like peanut butter, and a high-fiber carb, such as a whole wheat English muffin. Another might include protein and healthy carbs in one, like edamame.
Skip Simple Carbs
Breads, pastas, sweets, even juices are super-low in fiber, the nutrient that helps control blood sugar spikes by delaying how much sugar your body absorbs. You can get a better dose of fiber in less processed carbs like whole grains, squash, and sweet potatoes.
Protein-packed foods, like lean chicken, turkey, fish, quinoa, legumes, nuts, and seeds, are also slow to digest and key for glucose control. Bonus: They will keep you satisfied much longer than processed carbs.
Slip In Healthy Fats
Good fats work like protein to keep your blood sugar levels stable, as long as you watch your portion sizes. Avocados, nuts, olives, and fish are all great sources for any meal—and cooking with olive oil or avocado oil helps, too.
Hit the Gym
Working out allows your body to burn stored glucose for energy, which leaves you feeling like a happy camper for longer.
(Source: Keeping Your Blood Sugar in Check Comes with a Bonus Prize: Weight Loss by Kristen Dold - December 15th 2015)
If winter weather triggers carbohydrate cravings, you're not alone. Many people snack more on carbohydrate-containing foods in winter, sometimes in an unconscious effort to boost their mood, says Judith Wurtman, PhD, a former scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of The Serotonin Power Diet. How can you tell if your seasonal carbohydrate cravings are in the normal range or a possible symptom of winter depression?
Think sugar is your only concern? Think again! People who eat three slices of white bread a day are 40% more likely to be overweight or obese than others.
A Spanish study found graduates who ate three slices of white bread per day were 40% more likely to be obese or overweight five years later when compared with people who ate it once a week. The study found that total bread consumption was not linked with obesity, but when they looked at people who ate only white bread, it was found that those who ate two or more portions per day, or 60g, were 40% more likely to be overweight or obese five years later compared with those who had one portion or less per week. The research may suggest that people who eat a lot of white bread have unhealthier diets overall.
Lead author Professor Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez from University of Navarra, said:
"Refined grains such as white bread start to taste sweet in the mouth almost as soon as you eat it, that is the starch being broken down into sugar. It is this feeling that leaves you wanting more. When white bread is a staple food, eating at one or two main meals a day then this is a lot of extra calories on a daily basis. The message is clear, go for whole grains instead of white bread when eating your meals."
Does white bread fill an important role in your daily meal? If so, try a number of these healthy alternatives:
Available in many supermarkets, puffed rice cakes are an excellent alternative to bread, particularly if you enjoy your white bread with peanut butter or jam. Rice cakes are lower calorie and typically gluten-free. Opt for brown rice cakes when available, as they are typically more nutritious than the white kind.
Healthy and high in fiber, corn tortillas are an excellent replacement for your typical protein and veggie type sandwich. Corn tortillas, unlike the wheat kind, are gluten free. Most supermarkets should carry them under popular brands, but you will also likely find them in any South American themed grocery store, or can even easily make your own.
While not gluten free, Ezekiel bread is an excellent alternative to white bread. Ezekiel bread is composed of four types of sprouted whole grains and two types of legumes. Sprouted seed foods contain more nutrients and are easier to digest than unsprouted.
(Source: "Three Slices of White Bread a Day Linked to Obesity" Published on: 30 May 2014 by Rebecca Smith)
It's self-improvement season, but you may find yourself losing motivation. Follow these tips to stay motivated in your diet plan, and achieve your goals.
Set Realistic Expectations
You can pick any diet you like, but if you expect to see any significant results in a day, a week, or even a month you’ll set yourself up for failure. When you start restricting what you eat, it feels like you’ve made major sacrifices and deserve some sort of payoff—or at least an indication—that your hard work will make a difference.
Unfortunately, you won’t get that kind of immediate satisfaction. All diets take commitment and you won’t see results quickly. But if waiting three months or so to see a significant change seems like a lot, think about all the years you’ve spent trying to meet your goals. Consider the diets you’ve tried and the cumulative time they took. You probably spent quite awhile on plans that didn’t work. Sticking with one that you like for a few months likely adds up to a fraction of that “wasted” time.
Pick a Sustainable Program
You can’t approach a diet successfully without knowing how you relate to your food. You need to understand what you like, what you don’t, what you expect to crave, and so on. Your personal needs play an enormous role in the way you’ll react to the healthy changes you want to make, so you have to know yourself well in order to pick a program you can sustain. Bellatti suggests that you ask yourself a few questions to find out what may or may not fit:
“Don't approach this as "choosing a diet", but rather "choosing an eating style." Unlike a diet, an eating style is sustainable, can be done for the rest of the life, and implies more flexibility. Ask yourself: "Can I eat this way the vast majority of the time?". If the answer is "yes," you've made a good choice. If the answer is "no," choose something else. If this way of eating requires you to live beyond your means, rely on ingredients/foods that are not easily accessible, or inconveniences your daily routine, it's unlikely you'll be able to stick with it for long."
Choose a Diet That Creates Good Habits
If you’ve found an “eating style” you think you can sustain, you’ve whittled down your options to the best. Before you choose one, however, you ought to consider a few more things. As Bellatti explains, habits are key:
“The whole purpose of choosing a better eating style is, usually, to improve health, and the best way to do this is with consistent habits. Don't look for a way of eating that is so strict and limited that you can only stay sane if you do it for two weeks every four months; that isn't a recipe for meaningful results.”
Of the habits you create, Bellatti suggests you ought to get used to cooking more:
“Above all, a healthful way of eating is low in processed foods. It should have you in the kitchen preparing food, as opposed to purchasing ready-made meals, pre-made shakes, or processed snack bars. Additionally, if you become dependent on "diet foods", what happens the day they are no longer sold? That said, choose a way of eating that enables you to still have a social life. You should be able to go to most restaurants and order something—even if just an appetizer and a side dish—that meets your needs.”
Don’t Forget to Exercise
You don’t have to spend tons of time exercising, but you can’t ignore physical activity because you’ve chosen a healthier diet. The two go hand-in-hand. You can’t simply work out and live off of donuts. Dr. Stewart agrees:
“Make sure that any weight loss program you consider is partnered with a solid and consistent amount of physical activity. If the program you're considering looks good but doesn't contain any specific exercise information, consult your doctor to design a safe and comprehensive exercise program.”
Just as with your diet, you want an exercise routine that you can sustain, grow with, and even enjoy. Don’t try too much too fast. Take your time and let your confidence build as you grow stronger. As with all health goals, you can’t achieve them overnight. Aim to continue to better your physical health and wellness with every step, and the rest will follow.
Consult a Professional Before You Jump In
You have a unique body with its own set of dietary issues. One great diet that works for many of your friends may not work so well for you. Before you dive in, Dr. Stewart recommends that you talk to a professional:
“Many of the structured diets advertised these days are gimmicks and nothing more, and some can actually damage your health. In order to make the best choice, it's important to put some thought into it and consult professionals. To begin with, speak with your primary care physician. Discuss your situation in depth; what your particular health issues and goals are and how to select a diet that will best address these.”
This post offers advice but you should never make major changes that affect your health solely based on something you read online. Talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian before you significantly change the way you eat.
(Source: Lifehacker – “How to Create a Diet Plan That Doesn't Suck and Actually Stick to It” by
Adam Dachis, Published on 9/23/2013)
Throughout the year, vegans can be faced with a variety of societal hurdles, many of which can come to a boil during the holiday season. In the past, many vegans have received confused looks and prying questions from less-than-sympathetic friends and family around the dinner table. As vegan lifestyles and menu options become more common, there is greater social acceptance and understanding.
Although the cultural and culinary challenges for vegans are fewer and less stressful than they have been in the past, the holidays are still a time when issues can arise. Many vegans can attest to the fact that traditional holiday meals – turkey, ham, cookies, gravy and stuffing, can either be based around animal ingredients entirely, or can be subtly non-Vegan by containing bone-char bleached sugar, honey, or even margarine.
The good news is that well prepared vegan meals rival (and often beat) even the best non-vegan ones. For those nostalgic for the appearance and texture of meat specifically, a number of protein-filled meat analogues are available such as TVP, seitan, quorn, tempeh and tofu.
Welcome to our Holiday Survival Guide
Despite the fact that rejecting animal products is often a simple and straightforward choice, vegans are still human and aren’t impervious to the many stresses of the holidays. We hope our tips make your holidays less stressful and more about the important things in life: family, community, and having a good excuse to party.
1. Tell Your Hosts That You Are Vegan
When invited to a gathering with family and friends, inform them of your dietary needs as early and politely as possible. Most hosts will be supportive and offer vegan options. If you feel that your needs may inconvenience your host, consider bringing a meal for everyone (including you) to enjoy, like this festive holiday hummus. Alternatively, host your own gathering and feed your guests entirely plant based meals.
2. Be As Prepared As Possible
It’s never a bad idea to pre-eat if you suspect the event you are attending or your host may not be vegan-friendly. It may also help you if your host underestimates what constitutes a filling vegan meal, and presents you with a plate of salad. If you are cooking, research common holiday dishes, read recipe books, surf the internet, and experiment with recipes. The internet is a monolith of vegan information, and don’t be afraid to use it.
3. Stay calm
Resist the urge to panic and do last minute shopping, and take the more relaxing route of early shopping, making your own gifts, and online purchasing. Get plenty of rest, fresh air and exercise, particularly if you enjoy wintertime sports like skating and skiing. Don’t feel pressured to visit everyone, and remember that the best gifts can be simple if they come from the heart.
4. It is okay to indulge
Don't punish yourself if you "enjoy" a bit too much! Some of the best vegan food is based around sugary sweetness or fatty goodness. The holidays are a time to indulge, much like the New Year is a time to get yourself back into shape from all the holiday meals.
5. Forgive yourself
Families and friends can be our harshest critics, and holiday gatherings can sometimes feel like walking into a firing squad. Your family may not even criticize your eating habits specifically – they may instead pick on your appearance, career, and relationships - but veganism can be a popular target for those ignorant of its merits. Always remember that you can say no to any situation, particularly those in which others may attempt to challenge your personal choices. The holidays are short and you shouldn’t feel the need to compromise on the way you live the rest of the year.
Most of all, the holidays are best spent focusing on the things that bring us together, instead of those that divide us. Have fun this holiday season with your family and friends enjoying holiday activities and festivities. Take the time to catch up with some of your favorite people, and make some memories to last you over the next year.