I get it… life gets crazy and sometimes (or, most times), a good pour of red wine feels like the holy grail. After all, red wine is good for us, right? Well, one glass is good, but the effects of alcohol on the body turn quickly negative after that first glass.
Often, my ‘healthy’ one glass slides into two. Plus, if hubby has had a glass, the bottle is nearly gone so I might as well just finish-it-up, right? Ugh. Feels great a the moment, but then I wake-up around 2 a.m. with an anxious mind. Topping-it-off with a slow start the next day. Hangovers were rough as a single girl… they’re brutal as a mama.
Yet, the hangover is just the tip of the iceberg of how too much alcohol can wreck your health. For me, many of the health issues directly sabotage the wellness efforts I’m making on a daily basis.
The Effects of Alcohol on the Body that Have Stopped Me at 1-Glass per Day
Stealing Your Sleep Alcohol is a sedative, which is fantastic at helping you get to sleep faster. However, the ‘unnatural’ impact on your sleep can disrupt your sleep patterns, confusing your brain and causing you to wake up in the middle of the night. For me, this means my mind starts to anxiously spin on unproductive thoughts, making it difficult to fall back asleep.
Killing Your Willpower Folks have joked for years about getting the munchies when you smoke pot. I’m not a pot smoker, but I sure have experienced the downfall of my willpower after a few glasses of booze. “No dessert for me.” quickly becomes, “I’ll make up for it with an extra workout tomorrow.” And of course, tomorrow’s hangover will keep you from actually committing to that extra workout.
Increasing the Risk of Disease According to the CDC, “excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious health problems.” Those problems they list include cancer, heart issues, immune system breakdown, and mental health concerns.
Thickening Brain Fog ‘Mommy brain’ is bad enough, but drinking too much alcohol can make it much worse! Alcohol messes with your brain in so many ways: dulled sensory uptake, short-term memory lapses, and (gasp) according to a 2008 study in the Archives of Neurology, drinking too much can shrink brain volume.
Wrecks Your Skin Vogue magazine has a great article about how alcohol wrecks your skin. They list dehydration and inflammation as the key alcohol-related predators to your skin’s health. The article includes a quote by New York nutritionist Jairo Rodriguez said: “Alcohol is actually one of the worst, most aggressive compounds to destroy your skin.” Ouch.
My Favorite Tricks for Drinking Just 1-Glass of Booze Per Day
Sure, the bottom of just one glass of wine can come-up pretty quickly in your evening. Yet, those nasty effects of alcohol on the body make me think twice about that second drink. I’ve encouraged myself to stop at just one with these wine-distraction hacks:
Non-Alcoholic / Low Alcohol Cocktails – Sometimes, I am just craving something fancy. Many mocktail recipes can help to feed the need without getting too boozy. I’ll add a link below to some of my favorite options.
Herbal Tea – I keep some juicy hibiscus berry herbal iced tea in the fridge. I’ll pour it directly into my wine glass and keep happily sipping away. You can also brew some hot tea to satisfy the same fix.
Dark Chocolate – I ALWAYS have bite-sized dark chocolate in the house. After dinner, I grab one and slowly nibble away. It helps me transition away from alcohol and tames my sweet tooth.
Sparkling Water with Citrus – A little bubble water with citrus can help refocus your appetite. Adding bitters or essential oils can also help make them fun while reducing alcohol.
Herbal Concoctions – Right now, I have a bottle of homemade elderberry syrup in the fridge. Sure, it has a touch of alcohol in it, but not as much as a glass of wine. Actually, it totally tastes like port, so it feels like an ‘after dinner drink.’
I’d love to know… does this post inspire you to cut-back on your own ‘wine mom’ ways? Do the effects of alcohol on the body make you think twice? Are there any of the tricks you’d like to try one evening this week?
One morning, my body rejected my standard bacon and egg breakfast. Yup, I threw up after just one bite. The next morning? The same result. In fact, the idea of eating any eggs or meat disgusted me. That was seven months ago and now, I mainly eat plants.
I’ve been vegetarian (and vegan) before. That was super easy when I was a single girl. My fridge and kitchen pantry were fully under my control. Now, I was a mom of three and working from home. (Oh yeah, I was also a hard-core Paleo in a family full of meat-eaters.)
As a health coach, I know that eating more plants is critical for our overall wellness. Yet, the idea of trying to go fully vegetarian (and even more, vegan) right now scared the crud out of me. How could I possibly make a vegetarian shift while also making meals for my whole family?
My Body Screamed “Eat Plants”
Sure, I’d been trying to eat more plants for some time. I even considered making a plant-based dietary shift but figured I’d deal with that check-list item at a later date. Of course, I would do some research, discover a few new recipes, and stock my pantry.
Instead, my body decided to make an immediate change without actually consulting me first.
This certainly wasn’t how I would have planned to eat more plants, but it was decided and I was along for the ride. It was actually pretty interesting to go through the experience. The food I ate just days before disgusted me. Now, I had to shift my intake or just not eat. If you know me… not eating wasn’t an option.
My immediate focus was making sure I was able to get enough plant-based protein in my diet. Sure, I could eat dairy products, but I’d limited them in my diet years ago due to sensitivities. When I’d make teriyaki beef for my family, there was always rice and a vegetable as well. Now, I’d add tofu to the mix and build myself a tofu teriyaki bowl.
I started exploring easy plant-based protein add-ons to include in our pantry: tofu, lentils, beans, soy milk, nuts, quinoa. At the same time, I wanted to make sure that I would truly be eating a bunch more nutrient-dense plants and not just bread, crackers and chips. So, beyond just adding more veggies to my shopping cart, I made sure to have things like hummus, avocado/arugula pesto and grilled onions in the fridge.
In seven months, I still struggle with eating eggs and meat. I’ve had a muffin cooked with eggs, so I’m not strictly vegan. Plus, I still have a palate for fish and sometimes add cheese to things. At least 95% of what I eat is plant-based; an easy dietary change that I’m truly happy about. Of course, I still prepare meat, eggs and dairy-based meals for my family. Plus, I won’t give you the evil side-eye you across the table at a BBQ. However, I can truly recommend making a shift toward a higher plant percentage diet.
4 Reasons I Embrace My New Diet
Of course, ‘eat more plants’ is a dietary dictum that we have heard for years. That sounds great, but for many, the thought of bacon and eggs in the morning sounds even better.
I enjoyed eating Paleo since before it became a common food label banner. In fact, I attribute eating Paleo to helping my ‘you’re never going to be able to have a baby’ body successfully reproduce. (that’s a whole other blog post) Even as early as seven months ago, I enjoyed grass-fed and finished ground beef in my weekly tacos. When ordering Chinese food, I was always the one adding dry sauteed string beans to the order. Our eggs came directly from our own happy, snuggled hens.
If asked, I might have said I was a ‘conscientious meat-eater.’ Sure, I ate meat, but I tried to stay away from big factory-sourcing and my plate included lots of veggies. Yet, clearly, my mind & body felt differently based on my conscious’ boycott.
There’s a litany of publications and books about the health benefits of eating more plants. A Harvard Health Publishing article has a quote that provides a great summary:
Here’s a list of why I’m actually happy with my new mainly plant-based eating pattern:
Disease Fighting & Longevity – my health coach education, constant research/reading, and obsession with ‘natural foods’ stores have all pointed to the benefits of eating a plant-based diet. With cancer in my immediate family and dealing with my own autoimmune issues, I embrace the phytonutrients that plants give us.
Simplicity – it is even easier than I imagined to eat plants… regardless of what the rest of my family wanted to eat. I still make the same family meals, but just make sure to have vegetarian (or, pescatarian) alterations for myself. Plus, having more plant-based on the table get my six-year-old to try new foods. (My teens are dicy, but I hope the exposure will help drive future eating choices.)
Indulgence – Yup, you read it right… I find eating plant-based to be quite indulgent. Just yesterday, I have a HUGE salad overflowing with greens, beans, onions, seeds, and nuts. Of course, doused with olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar. I felt like I was gorging myself, yet once finished, I felt satisfied not stuffed.
Reduced Cost – Since I live in an area with a good supply of fresh produce via farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and my own garden, a healthy plant-based lifestyle is great for the budget. Please note that this is not the case for everyone. That’s why I’ve become a member of a Los Angeles Food Policy Council working group to help make an impact on the ‘healthy food deserts’ in my local area.
More Humane – As mentioned above, when I ate meat, I made an effort to select more conscientious options. Yet, at the end-of-the-day, I was still eating animals. Now that I mainly eat plants, I feel better about my personal dietary decisions. Yes, my family still eats meat… and I have to prepare it. However, I am one less person consuming animals in this world. If every family had just one less, that could make quite an impact.
Trust me, I’m not here to tell you to just eat plants overnight. Heck, I still eat fish and dabble in eggs and cheese from time-to-time. Yet, my goal is to get you to think about it. If you could start with just one plant-based family meal per week, that could make a huge difference.
Have you hit your weightless wall yet? Yup, that wonderful 40+ point in life where our bodies decide to start hoarding extra weight. It’s even worst when the holiday feasting season begins. Such a gift… especially if you’ve had kids after entering these glorious years. The once-successful efforts of our 20’s and 30’s are totally bunk now. (Thank you hormones.) The one thing that’s worked for me so far? Intermittent fasting for weight loss.
Yes, intermittent fasting has been all-the-rage lately. There are tons of articles out there detailing the pros and cons of this trend. Healthline has one of my favorites.
Honestly, I have both good and bad experiences with this [non]eating trend. The worst comes from being a mom and having to keep the rest of your family fed while you’re essentially not eating. Try sitting in a movie theater with your whole family chomping away on warm, buttered popcorn and Milk Duds while you sip water. Or, preparing multiple meals during the day while a hunger headache builds.
Note: I have pulled the ‘Mama’s fasting so she can’t cook’ card with much success.
Yet, it doesn’t have to be so hard. There are multiple versions of intermittent fasting that you can test out and see what works best for you. After each attempt at intermittent fasting, I feel lighter and more energetic. Yet, some efforts can bring out ‘monster mama’ a bit too much for my liking. Here’s my good, better, best on this trend.
24-48hr Fasting for Weight Loss
Good: It works, but beware of the Mommy Monster while fasting.
I’ve done multiple versions of the whole-day fasting effort. Typically, leveraging Isagenix Cleanse for Life to get through the process and keep my body nourished. These hardcore fasting days are said to provide the greatest benefits: extra hormone regulation, increased fat burning, cellular repair and disease protection. Yet, they can be challenging to get through.
When doing a day-long fast, I typically have to hand-over the food prep efforts to hubby and seclude myself from the aromas of pizza and popcorn that fills the house. I get tired. I get bitchy.
The day after a fasting day is the best! I wake up energized and feeling svelte. My first meal of the day is heavenly and I swear I can make it through another fasting day the following week.
Even as I type this, I’m telling myself “Gee… I should try another fast this week.” Yet, I then quickly remember how challenging these types of days are as a mom.
5:2 Diet: Micro Calorie Days
Better: I tried this method after giving up on 24hr fasts
This strategy focuses on ultra-low calories days twice a week to give your system a break. A focus on eating lots of veggies, whole grains and lean protein is also a great way to get a nutrient boost to-boot.
I actually stumbled on this method as an alternative to 24hr fasts. The full-out fasting days were rough (see above), but I knew that smaller meal days focused on cleansing foods could be helpful. A big container of beet, arugula and quinoa salad in the fridge can get me through any day.
Greens, broccoli, beets, cauliflower, squash and herbs help you sail through. No-matter-what, you’ve got something to chomp on. Pair healthy veggies with unsweetened herbal tea, coffee and water and these days are quite do-able.
You can include healthy whole grains like farro, quinoa or rice if you keep calorie counts in check.
By adding in tofu, feta, egg or other easily digested lean protein sources, you can boost satiety. Just be wary if you have any sensitivities to eggs or dairy. These days are about giving your system a break, so keep true to that focus.
Honestly, using the 5:2 strategy as a foundation for everyday healthy eating is a good choice. Just boost your calorie count on non ‘fasting days,’ but continue to focus on these uber-healthy ingredients.
My Favorite: The 16/8 Method
Best: Simply reduce the hours you eat to feel lighter
I’ve tried the 16/8 method recently and so far, it’s my favorite fasting for weight loss strategy. Simply pick eight hours of the day that are most convenient for you to eat. For example, you can have your first meal at 10 a.m. and simply stop eating by 6 p.m.
A common hack is drinking black coffee in the morning to help stretch yourself through the morning without eating. This is where the popular Bulletproof Coffee recipe comes in handy. Add 1-2 tsp of ghee, and 1-2 tsp of MCT oil to black coffee in a blender. Gives you a creamy and filling cuppa joe to get you through the morning. The science-driven part of this focuses on only consuming fat (no protein or carbs) during the fast to painting your fat-burning state of ketosis.
My cheater method that has worked recently is to add 4 tsp of freeze-dried (soluble) black coffee to a jar with about 10 oz unsweetened soy milk. Shake like crazy and sip through the morning. Certainly, you won’t be in the scientific state of ketosis as you get with Bulletproof coffee. Yet, it’s tasty, easy, and keeps me going through crazy distanced learning mornings.
The rest of my ideal day includes fruit, veggies, healthy protein, and whole grains. I top-it-off with some dark chocolate and a glass of wine around 7 p.m.
I say ‘ideal day,’ because we all have mess-up days when it comes to trying to eat right. We’re not perfect and need to give ourselves a break. Yet, if I focus on limiting the total hours that I eat, like in this 16/8 method, I find that weight loss efforts are easier.
So what do you think?
Will you try one of the intermittent fasting for weight loss strategies I talked about above?
16/8 Method: Simply reduce the hours you eat to feel lighter
5:2 Diet: Micro Calorie Days for Weight Loss
24-48 hr Fasting: Drinking water and some low-cal (no carb/protein) drinks
If you’re interested in trying all three, I’d recommend starting with 16/8. It gives you some easy control of a fasting window. Then, perhaps pick a few days to do the 5:2 semi-fast with lighter calorie loads. (If anything, that gives you a great foundation for a long-term clean eating menu.)
Finally, pick one day for a full 24 hour fast. Make it a day where you have NO responsibilities. (Your partner, family, or local mom friend can help here.) Plan an at-home spa day… magazines, fruit water, lots of fun facial / mani-pedi supplies, a bath, a trashy novel, and Hallmark movies. You can even lock yourself in your room to avoid passing through the kitchen.
Would love to hear which ones you’ve tried, or which seems the most interesting. Let me know in the comments!
Have you ever tried eating foods to make your skin look better? Essentially, eating food for healthy skin. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend that you focus on eating skin-friendly foods for a week and see what happens. Game?… then this blog post is for you!
There was a year where once a month I’d eat salmon for an entire week. Every. Single. Day. My goal was to get the healthy skin benefits of the essential fatty acids and nutrients found in salmon. It really seemed to work… my skin looked better and honestly, I felt like I’d had spa food for a week! Yet, eating salmon every day can get expensive and honestly, a bit boring.
Recently, I turned 49-years-old (gasp). I’ve been on the path to menopause for several years now, causing me to see dramatic changes in the appearance of my skin. Sure, I could try a bunch of new skin creams and treatments. But darn, those get sooooo crazy expensive.
Looking More than Skin Deep
We all know that food can make a huge impact on your health. How about eating things that specifically help your skin to look better? Heck, you gotta eat anyway, am-I-right? Plus, what’s the worst thing that can happen… you get used to eating a bunch of super healthy ingredients? Darn, what a bummer. (ha ha)
So, I dove-in and spent WAY more time than I probably should have to research a list of food for healthy skin. There were a ton of articles that happily gave me a list. Yet, I wanted to learn more about why these foods were good for my skin, so I chewed through a bunch of scientific papers and articles. As I streamlined all the data, I saw three main categories of nutrients to help your skin health:
Photo-Protective: targeting the effects of UV/sun exposure
This post will give you the 411 on how your skin can benefit from these categories of foods. I give you the ‘why’ behind each. Yet, if you just want the actual lists of foods… look for “Here’s the List:” within each section and you’re set.
But First… What Skin-Wrecking Foods Should You Avoid?
The terrible three for your skin are alcohol, sugar, and dairy. (Sorry to pop your party food bubble.) In general, you should limit the consumption of these foods for overall health. An extra incentive for limiting them is the harm they can cause your skin. Here’s a quick summary of why:
Alcohol Vogue Magazine has a great article about how alcohol wrecks your skin. Not surprisingly, they list dehydration and inflammation as the key alcohol-related predators to your skin’s health. The article includes a quote by New York nutritionist Jairo Rodriguez, who said “Alcohol is actually one of the worst, most aggressive compounds to destroy your skin.”
Sugar Much like alcohol, sugar causes inflammation within your body… a no-no for skin health because it breaks down collagen and elastin. In addition, when sugar is digested, it starts a process called glycation, which can increase acne and rosacea.
Dairy It is believed that the added and natural hormones in dairy can trigger an increase in acne and breakouts. Lactose sensitivity is also a potential factor for dairy-related skin reactions.
Categories of Food for Healthy Skin
Let’s get to the juicy details on food for healthy skin. (Literally juicy, as so many are fruits and vegetables.) As I mentioned before, there are three different benefits that an ingredient/food/drink can provide to your skin. Not surprising, Salmon and other types of oily fish land on each list! (If you love salmon, you’ve gotta try my favorite salmon pasta recipe.)
Did you know that 80% of facial aging is due to UV-exposure? (ncbi) That’s crazy-town, right?
Well, there are foods that provide you photo-protective nutrients to help to prevent facial aging due to UV-exposure. Beta carotene, astaxanthin (blue/purple/red pigment), vitamin C, lycopene and green tea polyphenols can all be thanked for providing your that valuable protection.
Here’s the List: The top foods that fall within this category are carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mango, microalgae, yeast, salmon, crustacea, tomatoes, papaya, watermelon, guava, blackcurrant, citrus fruits, rosehip, berries, parsley, and green tea.
This category is one that I think of most when I contemplate food for healthy skin… gorgeous, hydrated skin! There are two main categories of foods that you can bank on to help boost your luscious glow: essential fatty acids (EFAs) and hyaluronic acid (HA) producers.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) You’ve most likely heard of EFAs, as they are traditionally a big part of ‘healthy eating’ media. These fatty acids are a fantastic resource for your hair, skin, cell membranes, brain function, hormone production, and circulatory system. Importantly, your body cannot produce EFAs on its own, so it is critical that you consume them daily to help support your system.
Here’s the List: To get your EFAs, focus on oily fish (like salmon and tuna), shellfish, avocado, seeds (chia, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame), plant oils (hemp, soy, canola), leafy greens, and walnuts.
Hyaluronic Acid (HA) So now, let’s take a look at hyaluronic acid (HA). You may have seen this in the beauty aisle because it has become a popular ingredient in facial creams and serums. Rightly so, as HA is naturally occurring in our skin and helps maintain hydration.
The cool thing about HA is that your body can use it directly, plus it can also create HA with nutrients like magnesium, zinc, and vitamin C. Pure HA can be put directly on your skin for absorption, but it is even more efficient to consume HA and the three main HA-creation components listed above.
Here’s the List: Some foods have HA present in them already: bone broth, organ meats, root vegetables, and bananas. Others have great levels of the supportive nutrients your body needs to make HA. Leafy greens, almonds, cashews, soy, oranges, tomatoes, avocados, cherries, grapes, mango, red peppers, dark chocolate, beans, and red wine all contain enough magnesium, zinc, or vitamin C to help your body create the HA.
BTW – bananas are truly the HA star in that they contain HA, and the three key nutrients needed to create HA in your body (again: magnesium, zinc, and vitamin C).
Oxidation & Inflammation
If you were to try to control one major health-hindering cycle in your whole body, it would be the interplay between cellular oxidation and inflammation. Excess oxidative stress can start a cascade of pro-inflammatory reactions. In turn, inflammation can trigger oxidation. Both oxidation and inflammation wreak havoc on your skin (and are the cause of most diseases we face).
Oxidation Our skin cells turn over a ton, with its constant renewal causing ongoing oxidation within your skin. According to a phenomenal article on Nature.com, this high level of oxidation is the underlying cause of skin aging. A natural process within our bodies that happens regardless of our overall wellness.
Yet, by increasing our consumption of antioxidants, we can help to arm our cells with the weapons they need to fight oxidative damage. Because this damage is happening every day, you need to support your defenses with the right foods constantly.
Here’s the List: Foods known to have high levels of antioxidants include citrus fruits, berries, parsley, rosehips, guava, red cabbage, grapes, black plums, and red radish.
In addition, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a significant lipid antioxidant in your system. There are long lists of foods like oily fish, organ meats, and whole grains that contain CoQ10. Yet, the amount of CoQ10 in these foods falls short of what you need. (There is even a question if supplements can be made available to your skin.)
One article explains how researchers have seen an increase in CoQ10 production in your body via the consumption of chlorophyll and exposure to the sun. So, feel free to make a big salad with greens and antioxidants and go relax outside.
Inflammation You’re almost always going to have some form of inflammation within your body. It is a key immune system defense mechanism that helps trigger your valuable healing process to threats.
Inflammation shows up on your skin in the form of occasional rashes accompanied by skin itching and redness, to chronic conditions such as dermatitis (eczema), rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis.
However, because even minor inflammation can cause oxidation, you don’t want to wait to see the topical symptoms mentioned above. Instead, it’s best to proactively add anti-inflammatory foods into your diet.
Here’s the List: A Mediterranean diet does a great job of checking-the-box for anti-inflammatory foods. It includes fruits, vegetables, fish, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Adding in turmeric, ginger, rosemary, garlic, blueberries, grapes, and celery increases the anti-inflammatory punch.
One more way to stop inflammation before it has a chance to flare-up… in your gut. Good bacteria can control immune cells and help to calm your system at the source. Probiotic foods like yogurt, kombucha, and cheddar cheese are fantastic paired with prebiotics like bananas, onions, asparagus, and garlic. (Probiotics are the bugs, pre-biotics are what the bugs like to eat.)
Yes, I know that’s a lot. Just remember that there are three main categories of food for healthy skin. Each giving you some great benefits:
Photo-Protective: Orange, Blue, Purple & Red Fruits & Veggies (targeting the effects of UV/sun exposure)
Take another look at each list… which skin health-boosting foods do you want to add to your meals right away? Let me know in the comments! Plus, if you’d like recipes for specific foods, drop me a note and I’ll get on it.