In a world where health, sustainability, and compassion are taking center stage, plant-based eating has emerged as a powerful movement. The benefits of adopting a plant-based lifestyle extend far beyond personal health, encompassing the environment and animal welfare as well. Let’s delve into the remarkable advantages of plant-based diets, explore common myths, and discuss tips for plant-based eating.
Benefits of Plant-Based Eating:
Nutritional Impact: Plant-based diets are rich in essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds offer a wide array of nutrients that support optimal bodily functions and help prevent or treat chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
Environmental Advantages: Through reducing or eliminating animal products from our plates, we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint and conserve precious natural resources. Plant-based diets promote the farming of a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes which can help nourish the soil. In addition, organic options will support farming practices that do not utilize pesticides which can be harmful to the environment.
Ethical Values: For some, choosing plant-based foods is an embodiment of compassion towards animals. Factory farming practices often involve overcrowded and inhumane conditions for animals, causing immense suffering. Through choosing plant-based products, consumers often feel that they are supporting companies that align with their ethical values.
Plant-Based Myths Busted: Addressing Concerns and Misconceptions
Despite the numerous benefits of plant-based eating, misconceptions and concerns still linger. Some worry about protein intake, nutrient deficiencies, and limited options. With proper planning, a well-balanced plant-based diet can provide all the necessary nutrients and delicious alternatives. However, plant-based individuals need to be extra mindful of including foods that provide enough protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin B12.
Practical and Delicious Tips
Transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Start by incorporating more plant-based foods into your meals gradually. You can start slowly by substituting meat with plant proteins such as tofu, tempeh, or beans a few times a week. Finely chopped mushrooms and lentils make a great substitute for ground beef on taco or pasta nights.
Experiment with new recipes that highlight the flavors and versatility of plant-based ingredients. From hearty lentil stews to vibrant veggie stir-fries and decadent dairy-free desserts, the world of plant-based cooking is a delightful adventure waiting to be explored.
If you are interested in learning more about plant-based eating or are looking for support as you transition into a plant-based lifestyle, book a call with one of our nutrition coaches by clicking here or check out our DIY guide below.
In this 24-page guide, you’ll find strategies for success, nutrients you will need, and exactly what to stock up on to make your new plant-forward lifestyle easy-peasy.
Must have items in your kitchen
Nutrients to go nuts over
10 mouth-watering recipes!
PLUS A BONUS VIDEO RECORDING:
How Your Friendly Dietitians Eat More Plants and Less Meat.
Maintaining a healthy diet can be challenging, especially when you’re on the go.
Traveling often leads to irregular meal patterns, changes in eating patterns, and added stress which can suck the fun out of vacation.
Luckily, with a little planning and conscious decision-making, you can achieve balance even while exploring new destinations.
To help, we’ve compiled 5 essential tips to help you eat healthy while traveling, allowing you to nourish your body and enjoy your journey to the fullest.
1. Plan Ahead and Pack Smart:
One of the keys to eating healthy while traveling is being prepared. Take the time to plan your meals and snacks in advance, especially for long journeys.
If there is a kitchen available at your destination, perhaps bringing some items from home and cooking a few meals throughout the trip can provide balance.
Ahead of traveling, prepare a variety of healthy options such as:
fruit and raw veggies
whole grain crackers with nut butter
homemade energy bites
These portable and nutritious choices will come in handy during flights, train rides, or long drives. Additionally, consider packing a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout your journey. Pro tip: a cooler can come in handy
2. Research Your Destination:
Before embarking on your trip, spend some time researching the local food scene and identifying healthier dining options.
Look for restaurants that prioritize fresh ingredients, whole grains, lean proteins, and vegetable-based dishes. By knowing where to find healthier choices, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious meals without compromising your dietary goals.
Is there a grocery store nearby?
If there are not a lot of options available, bringing along some fresh, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables to snack on throughout the day is a great way to incorporate produce without having to stress.
3. Remember the Well Balanced Plate:
While traveling, our regular eating habits are sometimes left at home. Practicing mindful eating and using the Well Balanced Plate is a great way to incorporate some balance.
When dining out, aim to have a protein, starch, and veggie on your plate. Other options include:
Ordering a salad for the table to share
Opting for vegetable side-dish
Splitting the meal and/or dessert with a loved one
Moreover, listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, as it’s essential to nourish yourself adequately, which is easier when we don’t let ourselves get too hungry. And remember, it’s all about balance, so don’t forget to enjoy the yummy options too!
4. Choose Nutrient-Dense Snacks:
Snacks can make or break your healthy eating routine while traveling.
Opt for nutrient-dense options that provide sustained energy and keep you satisfied between meals. Some excellent choices include:
Veggies with dip
Hummus + whole wheat pita
Nutritious snacks help prevent intense hunger or dips in energy!
5. Prioritize Local Produce and Cuisine:
Exploring local food markets and trying traditional dishes is an exciting part of traveling.
Embrace the opportunity to experience new flavors and include locally sourced fruits, vegetables, and traditional dishes in your meals. Not only will you get a taste of the local culture, but you’ll also be more likely to consume fresher and healthier ingredients.
Take the chance to ask locals or food vendors about their favorite healthy options, and you might discover hidden gems that align with your dietary needs.
Eating healthy while traveling is not an impossible task; it simply requires a bit of planning and mindful decision-making.
By incorporating these 5 tips into your travel routine, you can stay on track with your health goals without feeling restricted or deprived.
Remember, it’s about balance and making the best choices available to you in each situation. So as you embark on your next adventure, nourish your body with wholesome foods, and savor every moment of your travel experience. Bon voyage and bon appétit!
May is National Mental Health Month, giving us the opportunity to discuss how food impacts mood.
Nutrition and mental health are closely intertwined. Studies have shown that what we eat can have a significant impact on our mental well-being. In this blog, we will explore the relationship between nutrition and mental health, and provide some tips on how to improve your diet to support your mental health.
The Link Between Nutrition and Mental Health
The gut is often referred to as the “second brain”. A vital component of gut (and overall health) is the microbiome. The gut microbiome is defined as the trillions of microbes (such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi) living in our intestines. Gut microbes produce substances (hormones, messenger molecules, neurotransmitters, etc.) that enter our blood vessels and travel to the brain, impacting our mood. These microbes act as messengers, interacting directly with the central nervous system and the communication between the two is commonly referred to as the gut-brain axis. Just as the gut influences the brain, the brain influences the gut. Our mental state can play a huge role in digestion and motility. During times of heightened stress or anxiety we may experience an upset stomach or constipation.
But, how is food connected to this? Our food choices determine the type of bacteria in our gut which in turn influences the messages sent to our brain, thanks to the gut-brain axis. If we eat foods that promote healthy bacteria, our gut will communicate messages to the brain that improve our mood and vice versa. But, it doesn’t stop there. Certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants, are essential for the production of neurotransmitters in the brain, which regulate our mood, emotions, and behavior.
Nutrition Tips That Will Support Your Mental Health
1. Eat a Balanced Diet The best way to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients your body needs is to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of different foods. The saying “eat the rainbow” has never been more accurate. Aim to incorporate a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. A diverse microbiome is a healthy one, and a healthy gut promotes a healthy brain.
2. Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health, and have been shown to be particularly effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. You can get omega-3s from fatty fish like salmon and tuna, as well as from nuts and seeds like walnuts and flaxseed.
3. Get Enough B Vitamins B vitamins are important for the production of neurotransmitters in the brain. You can get B vitamins from a variety of different foods, including whole grains, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and lean proteins.
4. Limit Processed Foods Processed foods (candy, hot dogs, certain frozen entrees, etc.) can contribute to inflammation in the body, which has been linked to mental health problems. Try to enjoy these foods in moderation, focusing on whole foods as much as possible.
5. Add in Fiber Fiber is not digested by our bodies, it is digested by our gut bacteria and they love it! Fiber ferments in our gut, producing short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SFCAs are important for our hormonal health, immune system, and brain behavior. High fiber foods include legumes (beans, peas, lentils), broccoli, nuts and seeds, berries, pears, apples, avocado, carrots, artichokes, whole grains, and much more.
6. Enjoy Fermented Foods Fermented foods can benefit the microbiome by optimizing its function by supplying and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. Examples of fermented foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, and miso.
If you are looking to implement any or all of these 6 strategies to improve your mental and physical health, your friendly Well Balanced dietitians are here to help.
1. Elizabeth Pennisi. May. 7, 2020. “Meet the ‘Psychobiome’: the Gut Bacteria That May Alter How You Think, Feel, and Act.” Science, American Association For The Advancement of Science , 11 May 2020, www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/05/meet-psychobiome-gut-bacteria-may-alter-how-you-think-feel-and-act.
April is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) Awareness Month, so we couldn’t miss the opportunity to discuss one of our favorite topics: gut health.
For those that haven’t heard of it, IBS is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder that affects the stomach and intestines, also called the GI tract. IBS causes a range of symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits.
While the exact cause of IBS is unknown, research suggests that it may be related to abnormal contractions of the colon, which can cause gas, bloating, and changes in bowel movements.
Despite its prevalence, IBS is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed, leading to frustration and anxiety for those who suffer from it. Some people find stress and anxiety will trigger their IBS symptoms making it a vicious cycle of suffering.
Thanks to the internet and emerging research there are plenty of diets and suggested treatment plans out there, inspiring us to break down a few of the most common short-term elimination diets in this post.
What is an elimination diet?
An elimination diet involves removing certain foods or food groups from your diet for a short time. The goal of an elimination diet is to remove potentially problematic foods temporarily to heal and rest the gut, then methodically add them back in to detect which foods are likely triggering symptoms. Though they take time and require professional support, elimination diets can help you learn more about your body and feel more empowered in your choices.
However, it cannot be stressed enough that these are not meant to be used long-term or ongoing as they cut out entire food groups and can lead to further imbalance of gut microbiome (aka the bacteria that make up your digestive system). The support of a dietitian is a useful tool as they are there to help support you, monitor symptoms and progress, and make sure you are still getting all the nutrients you need during the elimination period.
FODMAP is an acronym that stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. Simply put, they are sugars that are not completely digested and absorbed by the body. Examples of FODMAP foods include apples, artichokes, garlic, black beans, cashews, and certain dairy products.
As FODMAPs make their way down the GI tract, they pass through the small intestine attracting water. Then, they reach the large intestine where they are fermented by bacteria. The water and fermentation process causes the intestinal wall to expand because the fermented sugars produce gas. The expansion from gas and water can be a painful process for those with IBS.
A low-FODMAP diet has shown to be effective in reducing general symptoms of IBS in randomized controlled trials. The low FODMAP diet works to reduce these sugars in the diet during an elimination period that lasts 3-6 weeks. This time is thought to help the gut heal and identify if the high FODMAP foods are causing issues for your body. After 3-6 weeks, FODMAPs are reintroduced one at a time to help you identify any trigger foods.
Although this can be a tedious process, your friendly nutrition coaches can help you through it. At Well Balanced we have many resources that make low FODMAP approachable, including a low FODMAP meal planning software that is available as an add-on service to our clients.
According to the website the Whole30 Program is structured in 2 phases: 30 days of elimination and 10 days of reintroduction.
During the first 30 days, you eliminate real and artificial sugars, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, carrageenan, sulfites, healthy versions of treats or junk food, and the habit of weighing yourself.
As for the reintroduction phase, the program states “introduce one food group at a time, then go back to the elimination phase for two days to reset.” The reset time is to monitor your body’s reaction and/or symptoms to each specific food or beverage category.
You’ll reintroduce food groups in order of least likely to be problematic to most likely: gluten-free grains, legumes, dairy, and gluten containing grains. You can also reintroduce added sugars and alcohol; however, these are optional and best to do under the supervision of a registered dietitian.
The Whole30 diet is a non-scientific way to find out if dairy, grains, legumes, or sugar are specific triggers to your IBS symptoms.
LEAP therapy, as described by Susan Linke, RD, MS, CLT, is an effective anti-inflammatory eating plan “that simplifies what used to be a very difficult process by combining the best blood test with a simple but extremely effective method of building a healthy and delicious diet.” So, let’s break it down:
The blood test included in LEAP therapy is called a Mediator Release Test (MRT®). What makes it unique, according to LEAP, is its ability to “quantify the degree of the inflammatory response in sensitivity pathways.” But, what exactly does that mean? MRT® not only identifies the foods that cause reactions, but it also determines different degrees of reactivity to foods giving insight to what foods are friends or foe based on your unique biology.
With these results, and the help of a professional, you can build an eating plan that is rich with the foods you enjoy and free of those that cause symptoms (digestive issues, headaches, brain fog, etc.) making it a valuable tool for those suffering with IBS. With this unique yet accessible science, your life can be more than symptom free, it can be healed by getting to the gut of the problem.
If you are interested in learning more or want to make friends with your tummy and better understand your symptoms, schedule a clarity call with Nutrition Coach Lucy (our gut health guru) today!
March is National Nutrition Month, and this year the theme is all about fuel for our future. Food choices impact more than our physical longevity. The food we purchase has the potential to significantly harm or help our planet, influencing the life expectancy of the environment we leave for future generations.
Over the years at Well Balanced Nutrition, we have promoted healthy eating and lifestyle habits that promote a healthy mind, body, and environment. These practices include eating local, buying seasonal foods, cart-smart options, and more! However, there is one food group that we particularly love because it not only promotes a long healthy life but it also supports a prosperous planet. That food group is… LEGUMES!
What are legumes?
Legumes are a family of plants that includes beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas. They have been a staple food in many cultures for centuries and are known for their nutritional value. Recent research has shown that legumes may also have a role in promoting longevity.
What is longevity?
Longevity, or the ability to live a long and healthy life, is influenced by many factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and diet. The Mediterranean diet, rich in legumes, has been associated with lower rates of chronic diseases and longer life expectancy.
How do legumes promote a long healthy life?
Here are some ways in which legumes promote longevity:
Rich in nutrients: Legumes are a good source of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, such as folate, iron, and potassium. These nutrients are essential for maintaining a healthy body and preventing chronic diseases.
Lowers the risk of chronic diseases: Legumes have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. This is due to their high fiber content, which helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Reduces inflammation: Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for many age-related diseases, such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and cancer. Legumes contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that help reduce inflammation in the body.
Helps maintain a healthy weight: Legumes are low in fat and high in fiber, which helps keep you feeling full and satisfied. Eating legumes can help you maintain a healthy weight, which is associated with a longer lifespan.
Improves gut health: Legumes contain prebiotics, food for the beneficial bacteria in your gut. A healthy gut microbiome is essential for overall health and may play a role in longevity.
Sustainable food source: Legumes are an environmentally sustainable food source, as they require less water and fertilizers than other crops. Choosing legumes over meat as a protein source can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable agriculture.
Now you can understand why we’re hooked on legumes! They are a nutritious and environmentally friendly food source that can help promote longevity. Including various legumes in your diet can provide numerous health benefits and may help you live a longer and healthier life.
New year, NOT new you. A change in the calendar year does not mean you have to change who you are. Quite often New Year’s resolutions make us feel we are not good enough the way we are.
That’s why we’re here to tell you that you are worthy just as you are right now.
At Well Balanced we believe that resolutions can start at any time since each new day is a fresh start. However, if you like setting new goals in the new year we are here to help! Below are red flags to look for and simple tips for creating a plan that fits your needs.
Resolution Red Flags
Restrictive Whether it is a diet or lifestyle change, if it restricts aspects of your life or foods that you enjoy, then it will likely be hard to maintain. Not to mention it is not healthy to cut out food groups, dramatically reduce calories, or withold things we love. Instead of cutting things out, focus on balance or adding in healthier foods and habits.
Costly Resolutions do not need to break the bank. In fact, many life changing shifts are free. For example, adding in a meditation or gratitude practice costs you nothing financially, but gives you priceless mental gains.
Shaming If a resolution includes negative words that make you feel less than or guilty, then it may be beneficial to rethink or reframe it. Instead of telling yourself to “stop” a certain behavior, ask what you can add in or change. Words matter, so make sure your goals have a positive ring to them.
All or nothing When making changes, it is important they’re flexible and realistic. If you have to completely stop a behavior or cut out a certain food altogether, then it is not sustainable in the long run. Focusing on small reductions or taking baby steps towards cutting something out will actually make the change more sustainable.
Tips for a Well Balanced Resolution
Have a list of values Before setting goals or coming up with your resolution, write down your core values. Setting goals for goals sake is not always beneficial, whereas goals aligned with your values will help you stay connected to yourself and what matters most to you, making it easier to stick to them. If you need help identifying your values, we recommend starting with Brene Brown’s core values exercise.
Make them SMART SMART goals are those that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. The more specified the goal or resolution, the better. For example, rather than saying “I want to workout more in the new year” make it SMART by saying “I will go to the gym 3 times a week for the next 3 months and use a workout plan.” When you specify what exactly you are going to do and put time limits around the goal, you are more likely to follow through.
Visualize obstacles When setting goals, it is important to visualize possible roadblocks in order to equip yourself with the tools to overcome them. When you imagine possible challenges, you weaken the element of surprise and make it easier to stick to a new habit.
Remember: consistency over perfection Resolutions are not about perfecting a certain aspect of you or your life, rather they are about growth and evolution. So when it comes to your goals, remember it is more important (and beneficial) to do something consistently rather than perfectly. The more often you participate in a behavior or do something routinely, the more likely it’ll become a habit.
If you’re not sure how to get started, be sure to book a complimentary coaching call with one of our friendly dietitians at Well Balanced Nutrition!