How "Everything in Moderation" Ruined my Day

 It's not an easy thing to look at, is it?? Hmmm

It's not an easy thing to look at, is it?? Hmmm

You’ve heard this phrase before, usually during a discussion about a favorite junk food, or maybe out with friends at a restaurant. Someone decides they are going to indulge in an obviously unhealthy dish, announcing that they usually eat better, but this restaurant has the best cheesecake in town. “Everything in moderation!” they happily announce, and their order is settled. Or maybe it’s the well-meaning family member who defends their choice, and uses the phrase as a statement against those health extremists who don’t eat dessert.

Maybe you’ve said it recently, even if just in your own mind. “Just this one personal pizza, it’s just quick and convenient, and then I’ll eat better”. We all do this on one level or another, but let’s be real, after 8 times of “just this once”, it’s time to re-evaluate. I bring this up because I believe “everything in moderation” is one of the most harmful health myths out there. I get very uncomfortable when someone says this, then they wait for a response. I feel obligated to agree and not start a negative conversation, so I often just smile and hope the subject changes. Replying with, “Are you saying I can do heroine in moderation?” doesn’t usually go over well. (Stay tuned to next week’s blog for my mental answers to the most absurd health comment’s I’ve heard.)

Let me share what brought this topic to mind, an incident that occurred just a few days ago. My lovely roommate had a big life event this weekend, and her family brought a cake to celebrate. Now, this was no ordinary ordered-from-Walmart cake. This was a Macedonian layered cake with decadent crème, nuts, and spices, beautifully decorated. The family kindly offered me a piece (they knew I loved it) and next thing I know, I am cutting a piece, saying to myself “one piece won’t hurt!” Keep in mind, I have been gluten-free for a couple years, because of my autoimmune thyroid disorder which happens to be aggravated by gluten. I had also been on one detox for a month, followed by a strict sugar detox for the last 2 weeks. A recipe for disaster, but the beauty of the cake clouded my judgment. Long story short, the cake tasted great, I started to feel weird shortly after, and felt strangely sick and extremely fatigued for the following two days. I was transported right back to the way I felt a few years ago before I changed my diet: like crap! I had to nap, my mood was terrible, and I was too tired to do much meaningful work, let alone have the motivation to exercise! Maybe I needed a reminder like this to keep me committed in the future. I can now think back to how bad I felt, and how good the cake tasted, but for how short a time, and make a better decision. 

You may be thinking, “I don’t feel any different, no matter what I eat, and I don’t have any medical conditions that keep me from eating a particular food.” That very well may be! Many people are blessed to not have food affect them immediately. I would have said the same thing years ago, but now that I have cleaned up my diet, I feel so much better, and would NEVER have known that unless I changed my nutrition long term! If you have low energy or digestive issues, would you be willing to be disciplined for just a few months to potentially feel dramatically better for the rest of your life?

And then there is the food addiction piece. This is the part I am sad to admit. Last month I co-led a 4 week series on sugar and its addictive qualities, and how to live “Sugar-free and Satisfied”. We then led a 2-week sugar detox. I had been feeling great, no crashes, no cravings. And then one little piece of cake changed all of that. In the three days that followed, I turned into an addict. I have swiped Justin’s peanut butter cups off the grocery shelf so fast I could barely see my hand. I have walked into Godiva for a free piece of chocolate and came out with a nice little bag which I proceeded to eat for dinner. That’s right, FOR DINNER! And then I did the unthinkable and raided my roommates’ candy stash, only to feel guilty and put it back just the way it was. I feel like a drug addict looking for my next hit. This, dear reader, is why “everything in moderation” is a lie. For me, and millions of other food addicts, just one exposure can dramatically alter our otherwise healthy lifestyle. Food, and most specifically sugar, followed by dairy and bread, is highly addictive. You wouldn’t do just one line of cocaine and expect to never indulge again. 

1.    Know yourself, respect your history. If you’ve been lactose intolerant for years, a large ice cream cone is not going to be a treat, even if it is for everyone else. It’s just not worth it!
2.    It’s ok to say no, both to others and to yourself. There is power in sticking to your convictions, and in this case, a lot of benefit to be had. It’s better to feel good than to comply. 
3.    Sugar IS addictive. If you don’t think you are addicted, then I dare you to cut it out completely and see what happens. This means that we cannot play around with sugar. One coke, one Snickers, one cheesecake, and our brain and body will call for more sugar. The only way out of this loop, to avoid cravings, crashes, and binges, is to just cut it out completely and enjoy fruit- nature’s dessert. 
4.    Some foods can be an occasional treat, and some should not. You must have a good understanding of your biology and nutritional science to know the difference. 
5.    For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction: for every food ingested there is a consequence, either positive or negative. Find out what your trigger foods are! If you need any guidance in this, let me know. Exploring the way you are uniquely made is an exciting and beautiful process, leading to lots of smiles and energy!

Road Trip Food

 Yes, I have been reminded that I'm a bit of a weirdo for packing butter and bacon and sweet potatoes. To each her own :) 

Yes, I have been reminded that I'm a bit of a weirdo for packing butter and bacon and sweet potatoes. To each her own :) 

  Life on the road can be hard. Gas stations abound with quick and unwholesome snacks to trip up any health conscious person. Sure, there are good options at many fast food restaurants, but who can really go all day eating side salads?

  Eating healthy may not be a top priority for you, but feeling and preforming your best probably is. I know vacations are a time to let your hair down a bit and eat differently than normal- but let’s not do so at the expense of feeling like crap. A little planning goes a long way in feeling your best so you can enjoy your trip to the fullest. Your wallet will also be happy you planned ahead.

  I have above average self-control when it comes to making healthy choices, but even I have a hard time in convenience stores when I am starving and see a display of candy bars. Here are my 3 golden rules for healthy traveling-

1.      Eat before you’re starving and lose all reasoning skills

2.      Remember to drink water- even if it means visiting a rest stop

3.      Be prepared with healthy snacks

  This weekend I am off to another state, and have packed up enough food for a couple meals and some snacks for the drive. Call me crazy, but I’m bringing my blender and electric kettle along to make my beloved Bulletproof butter coffee each morning. You may have thought that I am a little piggy to be eating all the food in the photo in a weekend, but my boyfriend will be there too and sharing food with him is my love language.

 A word about this list: it is not comprehensive, but it is what I would bring. I am gluten free, pseudo-paleo, and tend to eat a high fat high protein diet with veggies and the occasional fruit and starch. I eat food as close to its natural state as possible, so I am even very selective with snack bars and always read the labels of packaged products. I would love to hear what else you would bring on your next road trip!

No refrigeration needed (the stupidly simple stuff to bring)

  • Reusable water bottle
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Snack bars
  • Fruit
  •  Veggies
  • Jerky
  • Canned fish
  • Nut butters
  • Protein powder & shaker bottle

Refrigeration needed:

  • Yogurt
  •  Bacon
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Smoothies/ shakes
  • Hummus
  • Smoked salmon
  • Pre-made sushi
  • Grass fed butter
  • Coconut/ almond milk
  • Coconut water

Non-edible must-haves

  • A cooler
    • I have a cooler bag which is made out of ice packs for very perishable items
    • Less perishable items like fruit and veggies I keep in an insulated bag with just one ice pack
  •  Paper towels
    •  For cooking the sweet potato and bacon in a microwave
  •  Plate
  •  Cutlery
  • Spices like salt, pepper, cinnamon, (or for me- just butter!)
  • Zip-lock bags
  • Re-usable water bottle

What else would you bring along?



Why magnesium may be the last mineral you want to be deficient in

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Of all the essential vitamins and minerals, magnesium is both one of the most important and one that most Americans are deficient in. We rely on magnesium for over 300 reactions in our bodies. Nerve function, even in the tiny synapses of the brain, muscle contraction, enzyme processes, acid/base balance, sugar metabolism, and bone strength are all governed by magnesium.

Bottom line, it’s kind of a big deal.

So what do you need to know about magnesium? Humans must obtain this essential mineral from outside sources. The best sources include green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains and milk. If your diet is high in these foods, your magnesium levels should be sufficient, although absorption problems are possible. If you are like most Westerners, your diet alone is not adequate and this is worsened because the magnesium level in the soil has been depleted, causing the plants themselves to have a lower mineral content than in the past. Yikes! This is why it is best to get your vegetables from your own garden, a local small garden, or an organic farm.

The Daily Reference Intakes by the National Academy of Sciences states that men should aim for 420mg and women should get 320mg (reference age 31-50).

My personal experience of magnesium deficiency lead me to the chiropractor complaining of nearly constant muscle spasms in my back. It was uncomfortable and annoying. He suggested taking magnesium, and within 2 months the spasms left and have not returned since. Hallelujah! This experience lead me to research the mineral and add it to my daily supplement stack.

How do you know if you are deficient? I highly recommend a blood test from your doctor to determine the exact level and your ratio of calcium to magnesium. You do not want to be blindly taking a magnesium supplement if your current level is adequate. There are many different magnesium supplements available and they are not expensive. Your doctor most likely has a recommendation. You can do a simple google search to learn about each type of magnesium. Do be aware that taking too many magnesium supplements has a laxative effect. For example, magnesium oxide is one of the fastest on the bowels. If you have a slower digestive tract, this may be helpful. If your bowels are already fast and loose like a Vegas showgirl, then magnesium glycinate, citrate, gluconate or chloride may be a better option. Sorry to disgust, but I want you to be aware of the consequence of an overdose.

Here is a link to my favorite magnesium resource- a video by Dr. Osbourne that goes into detail about causes, symptoms and consequences of magnesium deficiency. He makes an interesting connection between magnesium deficiency and psychological disorders. It absolutely worth 10 minutes of your time.


Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist. I do not aim to diagnose or treat any disease or deficiency. This personal blog is for entertainment and educational purposes only. Always consult your primary healthcare provider when making a supplement change.