Coconut Oil: It’s Back In Favor!!

I’m back on a coconut oil kick since I found a great sale and bought a few jars. I do love anything coconut!

Once maligned as a cholesterol-raising, artery-clogging, waist-widening ingredient to be avoided, coconut oil has made a surprising comeback among health enthusiasts.

While the science of nutrition has long been recognized as volatile and fluid (e.g., Are eggs healthy or not? Is soy good or bad? Margarine or butter?), there’s been an unexpected change of coconut oil from a demonized “bad” food to the purported “cure-all” for a variety of health ailments. The nutritional composition of coconut oil remains the same, namely, about 90 percent saturated fat, so I started wondering why it was back in favor.

The growing interest in coconut oil seems due to at least two factors. First, scientific understanding has evolved regarding the effects of saturated fat (the main ingredient in coconut oil) on heart health. And second, a growing number of people who either avoid animal fats or are looking for a new flavor have discovered that coconut oil, among its other purported benefits, can transform a bland dish or baked food into a culinary masterpiece.

As science has evolved, the villains have become less villainous!

The next few paragraphs contain some thorough scientific information. If you just want the bottom line, skip ahead and go to the key recommendation section.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association recommendations for optimal heart health advise consumers to avoid saturated fats and restrict intake to less than 10 percent of total calories consumed. Physicians, nutritionists and other health experts have long warned patients and clients of the risks of a diet that contains too much saturated fat. Primarily, they are talking about a sharp rise in low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as the “bad” cholesterol.

As a reminder, saturated fats typically are solid at room temperature. Saturated fat comes in primarily four forms in the food supply: lauric acid, myristic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid. Animal fats such as red meat and full-fat dairy products contain mostly palmitic and stearic acids, while tropical vegetable oils such as palm and coconut oils contain primarily lauric and myristic acids.

As you might imagine, the different types of saturated fat have different effects on cholesterol. Compared to other saturated fats, stearic acid exerts a beneficial effect on cholesterol, in that it decreases LDL cholesterol and decreases the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Lauric acid and myristic acid cause a much greater increase in total cholesterol than palmitic acid.

While lauric acid, the main saturated fat in coconut oil, causes a large increase in cholesterol, the increase comes mostly from increasing the high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the so-called “good” cholesterol. This differential elevation in “good” cholesterol (and thus a decrease in the total cholesterol:HDL cholesterol ratio) is one reason that many health enthusiasts are embracing coconut oil with such enthusiasm.

While coconut oil is mostly comprised of lauric acid, it does contain other types of saturated fat that raise the “bad” LDL cholesterol level.

However, even though saturated fat raises LDL levels, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that saturated fats may not be quite as bad as previously believed.

Last year, the Journal of the American Dietetic Association published a series of short articles written by leading nutrition experts that summarized what they called “The Great Fat Debate” (Zelman, 2011). Overall, the debate provided these key recommendations and findings:

  • It is not the amount of fat intake, but rather the type of fat that is important for health. With that said, fat is more calorically dense than carbohydrates and proteins, and consumers should be careful to balance calories consumed with calories expended.
  • The evidence against saturated fat is “not as strong as the dietary guidelines may have interpreted,” but polyunsaturated (especially) and monounsaturated fats are clearly healthy.
  • Saturated fats should not be viewed as “good for you,” but a healthy, balanced diet can include saturated fats.
  • Replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat (like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) is beneficial for overall health and cardiovascular disease-risk reduction.
  • Trans fats are unhealthy and should be avoided.
  • Remember that dietary fats are never purely one type of fat, and thus the goal should be to eat a balance of food types, rather than focus on specific nutrients.

So what does all of this mean in the case for or against coconut oil?

Virgin coconut oil may exert a modestly beneficial effect on blood lipids (through elevation of HDL cholesterol) and its regular consumption probably will not lead to harmful cardiovascular health outcomes.

However, oils that are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (e.g., safflower, poppyseed, flaxseed and grapeseed oils) and monounsaturated fatty acids (almond, avocado and olive oils) probably provide greater health benefits. Note that partially hydrogenated coconut oil is detrimental to health due to its high trans-fatty acid content.

Of course, coconut-oil lovers like me value it for much more than its health profile. While some mono- and polyunsaturated fats may be healthier, they do not have the same desirable cooking characteristics of coconut oil, such as the stability to withstand high temperatures, the sweet texture or the rich taste, all of which make it ideal for cooking.

While many of the purported benefits of coconut oil have not been rigorously studied, some people report improvements in weight, diabetes, chronic fatigue, Crohns disease, irritable bowel syndrome, thyroid conditions, and skin health. One of my favorite uses for coconut oil is on my skin. It feels great to moisturize my face with coconut oil. As research evolves, these claims may be substantiated or proven incorrect. We’ll wait and see.

In the meantime, it may be time to give the illustrious coconut oil a try.

Best 5 Tips So You Have GREAT Energy All Day Long!

How would you like to add four more hours to your day? Do you wish you had more time in the day? No, that’s not a trick question and yes, I know we all have the same 24 hours in a day, so here’s my point.

If you have more energy and get more done you’ll feel like you have more time in your day. I experience this feeling often. And of course I’m suggesting increasing your energy naturally…..this is no Red Bull!

Here are five tips. Pay attention to them on a daily basis and watch the time in your day feel like it’s expanding with all you’re getting done. Keeping your energy levels high maximizes your time!

1. Include a healthy protein source into every one of your meals (this includes snacks as well).

If you’ve been reading these MMMM’s over the years, you’re probably not surprised to hear me saying this. Healthy sources of protein and good fat slow down the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose (sugar) in your blood stream, keeping your blood sugar stable throughout the day. Many times the “crash” people feel after lunch or breakfast is their blood sugar spiking high and then “crashing” really low because they ate a meal that was carbohydrate dense and not balanced with enough protein.

Adding in a healthy protein source like organic eggs, natural meats or poultry, wild fish, and raw nuts can ensure your blood sugar doesn’t go on a rollercoaster ride every time you eat. So instead of grabbing pretzels from the vending machine in the afternoon, go for some raw almonds and a piece of fruit and that will keep your energy levels sustained for the rest of the afternoon.

2. Stay hydrated all day.

Most people know they should be drinking water, but what they don’t know is that it directly affects their energy levels throughout the day. Consider this: your brain is approximately 80% water. Staying hydrated helps you maintain mental energy while avoiding fatigue and headaches. Water also plays a vital role in your body’s ability to flush toxins. Organs have to work harder when you don’t have enough water, causing fatigue.

3. Be cautious with caffeine intake.

I am not suggesting you completely eliminate your morning espresso or your breakfast tea. But many people take their cup of coffee and turn it into a pot of coffee! Yes, caffeine will give you a quick boost in energy, but will almost always send you crashing just a few hours later.

Caffeinated beverages will also dehydrate your body, and dehydration will cause you to feel fatigued (tip #2). Try to keep your caffeine beverages to a maximum of 1-2 per day. I would also suggest drinking those before 1pm as drinking caffeine any later than that can disrupt your ability to fall asleep at night.

4. Beware of “white” carbs.

“White Carbs” (breads, pastas, cereals, baked goods) break down quickly causing a fast spike in blood sugar. You’ll feel a quick rush of energy, but then a big drop, causing your energy and mood to drop along with it. Also, when too much sugar floods the system all at once, your body can’t use it all for energy and converts it to stored fat.

While it is correct that carbs give you energy, too many carbs at once will actually lead to fatigue and lethargy. I suggest keeping the “white carbs” to a minimum and eating healthier, fibrous carbs like oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes, and a variety of fruits and vegetables. And always be sure to eat those carbs alongside a healthy protein (tip #1).

5. Do a quick 5-minute mini-exercise circuit at any point during the day.

Yes, even a quick 5-minute exercise routine is enough to get your blood circulating, sending more oxygen to your muscles and brain and giving you a boost in energy. Quick bursts of exercise will also increase your metabolism, not only helping you keep the excess pounds off, but giving you a burst of energy as well.

If I start to feel the “afternoon energy crash”, I will go for a short walk or go up and down my stairs a few times. Any movement will help. Dance and sing, or skip rope……move around.

If you aren’t already using the 5 tips, give them a try. Having great sustained energy all day long is wonderful, no matter how you choose to use all that energy!

Do You Know Which Foods Have The Most Fiber?

A recent study from the American Dietetic Association revealed that even though two groups of individuals ate the same amount of calories, individuals who ate 30% more of one particular nutrient had low levels of body fat while the other group was clinically overweight and/or obese.

Any guess as to what this nutrient is?

I’ll give you a few hints. It’s found in foods like:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Berries
  • Beans
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • 100% Whole Wheat Pasta
  • Brown Rice
  • Artichokes
  • Oatmeal
  • Peas
  • Broccoli
  • As well as many other foods.

The nutrient is fiber. Are you getting enough fiber? Thirty grams a day? I hope so because the benefits are too good to pass up.

  • Slowing digestion and gastric emptying to support stable blood sugar levels and decreased insulin output (this means more fat loss)
  • Signaling the release of hunger crushing hormones, which supports feelings of fullness and appetite control
  • Promoting weight control independent of calorie intake (as the ADA study revealed).

Fiber is one of those super nutrients that you should be consuming with every meal. It’s found in abundance in most fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, so stock up and fill up your plate with fiber.

Are You Reading Food Labels Correctly? Or Even Reading Them At All?

Reading food labels is an essential step in maximizing your health. You are, after all, what you eat!

It also helps you select high quality products for your diet. In fact, I consider it so essential that I take my classes into food stores and we go up and down the aisles discussing foods and reading labels. It’s actually quite fun!

It may seem simple, but often I find people neglect to take into account nutrition facts as a whole. It’s easy to fall victim to the flashy marketing on the front cover, or go immediately to checking the macronutirent breakdown (protein, fat, carbohydrate). Often though, you’ll end up selecting foods that seem like better choices than they are, and discard many good choices you believe to be “unhealthy.”

So, how should we read the labels?

First, make sure you look to see how large a single serving is. This is often the most deceptive part. Many foods advertise calories per serving. However, a single serving will be much smaller than what you think. Even products as small as a 16oz beverage or single nutrition bar will show a food label that is representative of a single serving, not the total amount within the package or bottle. Interesting, huh? And I don’t know too many people who would only drink a single serving of a beverage or eat only a small portion of a bar once they start eating.

So don’t skip the first line; make sure you know how big a serving is, and how many servings you are buying in all.

Next is the most popular part of the label: the middle portion. Here you will find information on calories, protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Additionally, you will see information on sodium content, as well as how many grams of fat come from different fatty acid profiles, and how many grams of carbohydrates come from sugar and fiber.

These are obviously important considerations, but view them within the context of the product as a whole. And remember to view these within the parameters of a single serving. For example, many canned products will provide an entire day’s worth of sodium!

Moving down the label, vitamins and minerals are featured next. This is important for everyone, and a good gauge of how nutrient dense a product is. You should be filling your diet with as much nutrient dense foods as possible. The bigger the numbers you see here, the better.

Last, but surely not least, is the ingredients list. I usually start with this part! Why? Because many items can be okay until this piece of information. As a general rule I like to limit ingredients to five or less, and I look at the order of them as well. When sugar is the second ingredient after water, you can be pretty sure that you’re about to consume sugar.

I hope this gentle reminder about reading labels will keep you in the label reading habit, or get you started again. And if you eat really healthy foods, you won’t have many labels to read at all!!

Why You Should Be Putting Salt On Everything You Eat!

Would you be surprised to know that I put salt on everything I eat? Well, not in my morning smoothie, but just about on everything else!

People are often shocked. But here’s why I do that. Salt is good for you!

So for you “salt shakers,” here are some facts to consider.

The human body cannot survive without salt (which is why you get a saline drip when you are in the hospital). Sodium is an essential nutrient that your body can’t manufacture on its own, therefore it must be consumed.

Here’s the problem though. Most people are eating the wrong kind of salt. The only way to receive all the benefits of salt is to eat unrefined sea salt, NOT processed table salt.

The reason why salt has gotten such a bad reputation is because 99% of the world’s salt research has been done on commercial table salt, the only salt most people know about. Some of the best scientific research on the healthy properties of unrefined sea salt are written in French, German, and Portuguese.

So that’s the first clue; it must be unrefined sea salt.

You must add sea salt to your diet because:

  1. Sea salt aids in balancing blood sugar levels and is needed for the absorption of food particles through the intestinal tract.
  2. It can help prevent muscle cramps, is needed to make bones strong, and regulates and normalizes blood pressure.
  3. It increases energy levels, helps regulate the metabolism, helps maintain proper electrolyte balance, and supports the immune system.

What salt should you buy?

Look for unprocessed, unrefined sea salt. My favorite brands are Celtic Sea Salt, Redmond’s Real Salt and Himalayan Sea Salt (but any unprocessed, unrefined brand is great.) Trader Joe’s also carries a sea salt, but I once poured a whole jar of it, by mistake of course, into my blender while I was making hummus, so be careful with that one!!

And if it doesn’t mention unprocessed and unrefined on the label, assume it is not sea salt.

And yes, avoid refined white table salt.

So the next time someone tells you to take it easy on the salt, tell them Shelli just sent me this great article about the benefits of sea salt and forward them this article! They’ll be glad you did.

Recipe For Homemade Chocolate!

Who doesn’t love chocolate, right? Well I guess some people don’t, but I haven’t met them yet! And we’ve discussed the health benefits of chocolate many times.

So I wondered what it would take to make my own chocolate, and thanks to my colleague John Berardi, here’s the recipe I’m going to use.

See what you think.

Remember that the type of chocolate we benefit from is the really rich, high quality, low sugar chocolate that contains 85% or more cocoa.

The First Step – Raw Cocoa

Raw chocolate is made from cocoa beans which haven’t been roasted. You see, roasting changes the molecular structure of cocoa beans, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value.

Unfortunately, commercial cocoa (and the chocolate made from it) is made from roasted cocoa beans. So, this recipe includes raw cocoa rather than roasted. And you’ll notice a huge difference between the two.

The ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cocoa butter
  • 1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup (raw) organic cocoa powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup agave syrup for sweetening (organic honey, stevia or raw cane sugar is okay too; or you don’t have to use any sweetener at all)

Now, the basics above form the foundation of your recipe. However, if you want to jazz it up a bit, here are some ideas for what you can add.

  • lucuma powder (sweetener, also makes the chocolate more milk-chocolate like)
  • berry powders (blueberry and buckthorn berry)
  • purple corn powder (high antioxidants)
  • cocoa nibs
  • goji berries
  • dried berries
  • raisins
  • dates, chopped
  • crushed nuts, almonds, seeds
  • chili powder
  • maca
  • green tea extract
  • carob
  • or anything else you like!

Here are the steps for making your own raw chocolate.

Step 1.

Grate 1/2 cup of the cocoa butter. It will melt easier when it’s grated. Measure also 1/2 cup of coconut oil.

Step 2.

Place cocoa butter and coconut oil in water in a small, heat safe cup or bowl. Then place the cup or bowl in a shallow pan containing a small amount of warm (not boiling, but nearly) water. Stir the oil and butter occasionally until it’s smooth.

Step 3.

Measure 1/2 cup cocoa powder. If you’d like to add any other dry ingredients, measure them out now and stir them together with the cocoa powder. Note: in this recipe, I used 1/4 cup lucuma powder and 1 tbsp maca. Natural vanilla or vanilla extract would work here also.

Step 4.

Pour the dry ingredients in the bowl with melted oil and butter. Stir continuously until smooth.

Step 5.

If you want to sweeten your chocolate, pour 4-6 tbsp agave nectar into the mix and stir. If not, skip this step.

Step 6.

Have someone check the quality This means go ahead and check if the chocolate is sweet enough. You can also add the rest of the additions at this point (like chili/cayenne, dried fruit, nuts, etc.)

Step 7.

Pour the melted chocolate on a pan / plate / ice cube tray. You can also throw some of the additions on top of the chocolate. It looks nice. Place the chocolate for 30 minutes in the freezer or 60 minutes in the refrigerator.

Step 8.

Here’s the hardest part! Enjoy in MODERATION with good friends or family. The more you share, the more you enjoy. I can assure you your friends will be astonished by how delicious REAL chocolate is!

Please let me know when you try this recipe. And send me some samples!! Thanks……..

True Confession! I Drink Coffee…….Don’t You?

Being in the health and fitness profession, people watch what I do, watch what I eat, and watch what I drink. It’s an occupational hazard! Those of you who have met me in person know I walk my talk, do what I suggest you do, and drink coffee. Oops, did I say I drink coffee?

Yes, I’ll admit it. I drink coffee. Did I just hear you say……

What? Shelli drinks coffee?

Not only does Shelli drink coffee. She LOVES coffee and is quite the coffee snob.

I drink coffee almost every morning, sometimes with cinnamon, and I enjoy every minute of it.

I’m not exactly here to tell you that coffee is good for you. If I did, I would be telling only the good side of the story and that would make me a politician, not a health educator!

So, I’m here to give you the good and the bad and tell you how you can incorporate your favorite coffee or tea into your healthy meal plan.

The Ugly Side of Caffeine

Most coffee and tea contains a lot of caffeine. This is usually the primary reason people make coffee their drink of choice in the morning. Caffeine is a drug like any other and comes with a long list of side effects. Have you ever tried not having your coffee in the morning? Occasionally I’ll go without coffee for a month just to see what it feels like. The headaches that come on when you try and kick this habit can be brutal (just like with other drugs). Creating a dependency and addiction like this is harmful to the body.

Second, coffee is extremely acidic. Our bodies function at optimum levels when they are slightly more alkaline (the opposite of acidic). It is best for us to greatly reduce any foods that will drive our body’s pH to be more acidic and eat more foods that are alkaline (like fruits and veggies). An acidic body pH is a magnet for all kinds of illnesses. Also, an alkaline body has a much stronger immune system, making illness much less likely.

Last but not least, the caffeine in coffee and tea is abusive to your adrenal glands. Your adrenals release your “fight or flight” hormones, giving you a nice energy boost when needed. Unfortunately, people who drink coffee all day long are consistently beating on their adrenals. This is a really bad idea.

The Pretty Side of Caffeine

Coffee tastes great.

Many studies have shown that coffee can help in the prevention and treatment of diseases and illnesses as varied as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, liver disease, skin cancer, Parkinsons’s disease and more. Although I don’t believe coffee would be the cure all to any of these diseases, many ancient cultures did rely on the coffee bean to cure a long list of ailments. Also, SMALL doses of caffeine can increase performance and mental focus.

Green tea is also a great drink and has a long list of benefits. If nothing else, green tea is a wonderful source of antioxidants which are important in cancer prevention. Green tea has even been found to raise metabolism and aid in fat burning. Before you go take a green tea bath though, its effects are really minor when compared to the effects of sound nutrition and exercise plans. So please don’t think you can eat poorly and just wash it down with green tea!

What is a coffee and tea drinker to do?

  1. Limit your coffee and tea intake. TWO 8 oz cups per day. Any more than that is considered too much and means you’re likely a coffee addict.
  2. If you are currently dependent on a lot of caffeine each day, replace 1 or 2 cups of coffee with green tea. Green tea has much less caffeine than coffee and will help handle the ugly detox symptoms.
  3. Do not build up your coffee beverage with sugar, milk, syrup and whip cream. Skip Starbucks altogether! Use stevia or xylitol to sweeten and avoid all the empty, harmful calories. A teaspoon of half and half won’t hurt either. No flavored creamers.
  4. Make healthy food choices. Avoiding other acidic foods like sugar, artificial sweeteners and processed foods will lighten the acid load on the body.
  5. Make sure the coffee you drink is organic. Conventional coffee is filled with pesticides and chemicals and should be avoided at all costs.

Am I going to give up my coffee? Not likely. Probably not. I keep my intake moderate and enjoy my morning coffee. And I also do the five things on this list!

Don’t Feel Like Working Out?

Here’s a silly question for you.

Have you ever gotten started on a workout program and then all of a sudden stopped?

I said it was a silly question. Who hasn’t gone through that stopping and starting.

Trust me, it happens to the best of us. Yes, even me.

So the question is: How do you get yourself started again when, quite honestly, you just don’t feel like it?

Don’t we have enough stuff to do in one day without throwing in one more time consuming task on our “to do” list?

Complaining only goes so far, so let’s figure out a good solution!

I was having a conversation with a good friend who just recently got himself back to the gym. After just the first 2 days of getting back into his old routine of going to the gym after each work day he said:

“I forgot how great I used to feel after a workout. All that time I spent dreading going back into the gym was really just a waste. Once I got in there, it was no big deal. Why did I waste all that time?”

I couldn’t agree more. I know this isn’t going to sound like revolutionary advice, but when you fall off the wagon, you just need to get back on! That’s it.

Just walk back into the gym one time, break a sweat, feel the burn, check out your own muscles in the mirror, whatever it takes. Chances are you will be right back on track. Yes, that fast. Whether or not your exercise is done in the gym or somewhere else, the same principles apply.

Or you could just start with something simple. Anything goes. A walk. Some pushups. Bench press your dog food bag. Yes, anything. The goal here is to get yourself back to the point where you’re feeling the wonderful effects of exercise and you actually don’t want to miss your workout.

Imagine that. So get back on your routines and you’ll be feeling like my friend felt…….I promise!

How To Stop Cheating On Your Diet: 6 Tips!

I don’t advocate following any traditional diets, per se. But I do recommend that, to stay lean and healthy, you avoid certain foods and stick to fresh fruits and veggies, lean protein, and low-glycemic carbs.

Of course, it’s not always easy. I get that.

One of the biggest roadblocks to losing weight is the temptation to cheat on your healthy eating program and indulge in those delicious but dangerous foods, like sugary snacks, pizza, and perhaps French fries. But if you plan ahead, you won’t succumb to temptation. Here are six simple secrets to losing fat. These will help you stop cheating on your diet and cheating yourself out of a fit and healthy body.

Stop Cheating Secret #1: Script your week.

Set aside 15 minutes on Sunday to plan out your entire week. Write down what time you need to get up each day, what you’ll eat for breakfast, when you’ll do your workout, what foods you’ll have for snacks, lunches, and dinners.

By planning ahead, you’ll know exactly what you should be doing for fat loss and healthy living. That way you won’t have to make snap decisions on the spot, and you won’t give into temptation.

Make a plan and stick to it and you will lose fat! When it comes to success in any endeavor, I believe that those without a plan won’t come nearly as close to succeeding as those WITH a plan.

Stop Cheating Secret #2: Identify, in advance, potential obstacles to your healthy eating plan. Then come up with two ways to overcome each one.

For example, if you know you have meetings most of the day on Wednesday, and then a business dinner after work, you also know that you’re going to be hungry before you get a chance to eat a proper meal. You’ll be tempted to use the vending machine.

How can you overcome that obstacle? Maybe you’ll eat before the meeting and then have a healthy snack ready to go in the car.

Stop Cheating Secret #3: Shop once.

The more trips you make to the grocery store, the more chances you have to give in to the call of the pastry counter. Since you’ve already planned out your week, you’ll know exactly what to buy. Stick to your list, and buy it all in one go. Even if you use different stores, shop on the same day.

Stop Cheating Secret #4: Prepare your food in advance.

This ties in with Secret #1. Set aside time once a week to plan your meals, do your shopping, and prepare as much of your food as possible. (Cut up vegetables, batch-cook chicken breasts, etc.)

Planning the entire week, scripting out the meals, doing the shopping and some of the food prep is an essential part of sticking to a diet. If you want to have great results, adopt this mindset.

Stop Cheating Secret #5: Get social support.

I can’t recommend social support enough. You can’t stick to your fat-loss diet on your own. You need help from others. At the very least, you need a nutrition buddy who will encourage you to stick to your eating plan and also hold you accountable when you fall off the wagon.

People you work with can be supportive, but they’re also going to be the source of many of your obstacles. There are those who, trying to be nice, will bring in donuts and homemade cookies. Then there are those who will tease you about your diet, though they should know better. You just have to plan for those people.

It goes back to Secret #2: identifying potential obstacles to your healthy eating plan and coming up with ways to overcome them. That means being prepared for the donuts and cookies, and knowing, ahead of time, that you’re not going to eat them. It also means staying away from anyone who treats your fat-loss goals like a joke. Instead, seek out a nutrition buddy who is supportive of your goals and eat lunch with them.

You also need social support at the gym. Look for somebody who seems to be knowledgeable about diet and exercise. People like that are usually happy to help you stick with your plan.

Finally, get your family behind you. Without support at home, you’re going to have a tough time, especially if you’re the only one with a weight “problem” and everyone else can eat whatever they want. So don’t be shy. They’re not going to know you need their support unless you tell them.

Stop Cheating Secret #6: Brush your teeth after every meal, and whenever you might be tempted to cheat.

Eating right after you brush your teeth isn’t very pleasant, so it helps you control your cravings.

Most people are good about sticking to their diet until about 4:00 p.m. That’s a good time to have a healthy snack and then brush your teeth. Another time to watch out for is after dinner. To keep from cheating, brush your teeth, or chew a piece of gum, or have a cup of green tea. Whatever works for you.

It’s all a matter of developing routines to build your power over food, rather than allowing food to control you.

Implement these six ideas and you’re practically guaranteed to stop cheating on your diet, lose fat, and feel great. But remember, it doesn’t happen overnight. Take it day by day, enjoying every small victory. Make tomorrow better than today.

Should You Be Eating Cheese?

Is cheese an integral part of almost every component of your meals? Could this be a meal at your house: cheese and crackers to munch on, mozzarella and tomato as an appetizer, cauliflower casserole with cheddar cheese, and grilled burgers with the option of melted cheese on top? How about cheesecake as your favorite dessert?

Let’s take a look at cheese and figure out where cheese can fit into our healthy eating plan. Even if the above meal plan didn’t sound like one you’d recognize, this information will be very useful……I guarantee it.

What kind of fat is in cheese?

The kind of fat in a particular cheese is dependent on the source of that cheese. Just as the quality of our milk is only as good as the cow it came from, the same rule goes for cheese.

Conventional cheese from non grass-fed cows is very high in Omega 6 fats. We want to reduce the amount of Omega 6’s in our diet and consistently keep increasing the amount of Omega 3’s.

Cheese that is made from the milk of grass-fed, free roaming cows (without antibiotics and growth hormones) is much higher in Omega 3 fats and conjugated linoleic acid. CLA is an extremely healthy fat that has been found to be a potent cancer fighter. The most abundant source of natural CLA is the meat and dairy products of grass-fed animals. Research conducted since 1999 shows that grazing animals have from 3-5 times more CLA than animals fattened on grain in a feedlot. Simply switching from grain-fed to grass-fed products can greatly increase your intake of CLA.

Is the fat in cheese of the good kind or bad kind? Again, that greatly depends on the source of your cheese. Conventional, non-organic cheese can be quite high in bad fat and laden with antibiotics and hormones and really should NOT be included in our meal plans, whereas grass-fed, organic cheese can be a wonderful and tasty addition to your healthy meal plans.

Also remember that raw dairy is always a better option than pasteurized dairy. Raw milk may be extremely difficult to find in many states but raw cheese can be found at most grocery stores and health food stores all over the world. If you have never had raw cheese before, you are going to be absolutely amazed by the delicious taste. Raw cheese is so much more flavorful than any conventional cheese and makes all the difference in the world, especially when used in recipes.

Certain cheeses should be avoided at all costs. American Cheese out of plastic wrapping…..I think NOT.

Is cheese a fat or a protein?

Whereas many nutrition plans count cheese as a protein, I prefer to count it as a fat option That is because I do not feel that the protein content in cheese is high enough to qualify it as a full protein. With that being said, cheese does have a significant amount of protein, but for blood sugar balancing purposes, it just may not be enough for some.

Listen to your body, though. Some people can have 2 ounces of cheddar cheese and a small apple as a snack and feel great, whereas others may have this same snack and feel lethargic and sleepy just 30 minutes later. Let your body tell you if this would be a healthy option for you as a protein source.

Let’s remember that portion control comes into effect with just about everything and 1-2 ounces of cheese (1 oz is about the size of a domino) can go a really long way in any meal. Think of cheese as a condiment!

Here are some great ways to add cheese into your healthy weight loss meal plans:

  1. Sprinkle some shredded cheese on top of your morning vegetable omelet.
  2. Combine cheese with an apple or pear and some raw nuts as a great 3pm pick-me-up.
  3. Melt cheese over vegetables to get your whole family to eat their veggies.

It only takes a small amount of cheese to add that extra flavor to most meals and recipes. So you see, there is a healthy way to have your cheese and eat it too.