Tummy Tamers

Gas, bloating, discomfort…embarrassment. All too often, we face stressful situations or the backlash from a gluten-filled or highly acidic meal and experience these troubling tummy issues. Avoiding foods that cause these symptoms – such as fried foods, dairy products and highly acidic fruits – may keep the discomfort at bay, but when it’s too late and you’ve already done the damage, other types of foods and spices can ease stomach pain.

San Francisco Bay Area Physician, Elizabeth Kocot, M.D. recommends the “BRAT” diet for periods of upset stomach.

BRAT Diet

This specialized diet includes the following simple foods:

B – Bananas: Bananas are high in the electrolyte potassium, which will help if you have become dehydrated from vomiting or diarrhea. Their soft texture makes them easy to eat and digest.

R – Rice: Plain white rice is bland and gentle to help coat the lining of the stomach and ease digestion.

A – Applesauce: Plain or cinnamon-spiced applesauce is  easily digested, relieves diarrhea, and is soft to eat when consuming more food is the last thing on your mind.

T – Toast: The final component of the “BRAT” diet is plain, un-buttered toast. The carbohydrates and fiber will help soak up any acid and provide soothing relief for easy digestion.

In addition to this diet, a few other spices help soothe an upset tummy when you’ve overdone it on some not-so-healthy indulgences. These include:

Ginger: Ginger – in raw form, capsules or ginger ale – contains chemicals that work in the stomach and intestines to reduce nausea and inflammation.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon naturally improves circulation and energy flow in the abdomen, circulates energy to the rest of the body, and has a warming effect that soothes the tummy. When you’re especially gassy, bloated or feel nauseated from intestinal discomfort, eating or drinking products with cinnamon helps to prevent flatulence and intestinal cramping.

Peppermint TeaPeppermint: Finally, peppermint is known to have a cleansing and strengthening effect on the digestive system. Drink peppermint tea or chew on a peppermint candy to soothe your stomach, relieve flatulence and promote the flow of bile.

Next time you overdo it at your favorite local Chinese Restaurant or kick back a few too many cocktails at a friend’s party, put these tummy tamers on the top of your food list for ultimate comfort and relief!

Edible Endorphins

An Edible Epiphanies community member recently told me how great he felt after a workout. The feeling of happiness, relief of stress and boost of energy was enough to send him into a euphoric state. I was quick to share this same enthusiasm, as I am a huge fitness fanatic, but I was also eager to get down to the science of WHY exercise makes you feel this way. The simple, one-word answer to this phenomenon: ENDORPHINS.

When you exercise, your brain releases these feel-good chemicals, leading to reduced pain, feeling of euphoria, enhanced immunity, and several other powerful health benefits.

But the good news is you don’t have to endure hours of sweat-inducing exercise to experience all the advantages endorphins provide! You can enjoy the benefits of this natural high by consuming what I like to call “Edible Endorphins.”

According to Reader’s Digest, certain scents and foods provide a variety of different endorphin-producing effects, including:

vanilla and lavenderVanilla or Lavender: Sniff a vanilla or lavender-scented candle, perfume or potpourri and you’ll enjoy reduced anxiety, decreased depression and help with insomnia.

Chocolate: Savor a square of chocolate to release endorphins like anandamide, which is a chemical that promotes relaxing effects.chilli peppers

Peppers: Feel like adding a little spice to your meal? You will after you learn that spicy foods such as chillis, which contain capsaicin, release endorphins and boost your spirit.

Protein: Not only is this food group one of the most important for a healthy body, but it also ranks high in providing benefits for a healthy mind and spirit, too! High-protein foods such as meat, fish and legumes naturally send out endorphins to raise dopamine levels, which help you feel more focused and alert.

Whether you feel like signing up for your city’s next 5k or sitting down to a protein-packed lunch, think about the effects your activities have on your mind, body and spirit, and make good choices to improve your health!

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Which Whey Should I Go?

As you continue to work toward eating healthier, scouring health food stores for gluten-free meal options and integrating more balanced nutrients into your diet, it’s easy to become obsessed with researching all the health trends out there today. Finding every morsel of information about what you’re putting in your body is the best thing you can do for yourself. To truly understand where your food comes from, what ingredients are in it, how those ingredients affect your body, and why you have cravings for certain foods can all be important pieces of data that will help you along your path of healthy living.Cookies & Cream Arctic Zero

It’s critical that you really listen to what your body is craving, and as you know from my recent posts, I am a huge fan of two particular products: Arctic Zero and Quest Protein Bars. After trying several varieties of both, I decided it was time to “look under the hood” to identify the ingredients that were in both products. Lo and behold – they each contained one ingredient in common: Whey Protein.

So what exactly is Whey Protein?

According to Medical News Today, Whey protein is a complete protein that contains all 9 essential amino acids and is low in lactose content. You may have seen this ingredient at the top of the list on products such as protein shakes, powders, bars or supplements, and it provides a number of valuable health benefits, including help for:

  • Weight Management
  • Cancer Prevention
  • Asthma
  • Cholesterol Management
  • Blood Pressure Regulation

If you’re not a “protein powder person” who prefers to obtain their nutrients from natural foods, then you can get Whey protein from lactose-based dairy products, such as:Dairy

  • Cow’s or goat’s milk
  • Cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Ice cream
  • Yogurt

If you are lactose-intolerant, sensitive to lactose or if you’re simply choosing to abstain from dairy in your diet, then I highly recommend Arctic Zero and Quest Protein Bars, as these are both low in lactose content.

Do you supplement with Whey Protein or recommend any great Whey Protein products? COMMENT BELOW!

Unhinge Your Binge

Between awards shows, new seasons of prime time TV episodes and of course, the BIG GAME yesterday, there have been countless occasions on which you may have over-done it on the salty snacks and greasy grub. Even without the excuse of such occasions, I’ve found myself nose-deep in cereal bowl after cereal bowl, only to fill myself to the brim and end up in a belly-up state of extreme fullness. If you’re like me, you probably feel a little guilty after over-indulging, but the solution to a night (or even an entire day) of binging on oh-so-delicious but not-so-great for you snacks is to unhinge the binge the next day!

Typically, a night of ravenous eating is followed by a “food hangover” (more on this later), where you feel like you wish you could undo that last plate of nachos or erase that extra piece of cake. Well, I’m here to tell you that it is OKAY to live a little and eat a little more than usual every once a while. Why not? You exercise regularly, you eat healthy on the daily and you had fun! The trick is to start fresh the next day with some healthful habits and clean food so you don’t continue down the spiral of any damage you may have done.

Chef and Food Network Star, Rachael Ray, recently commented that second to New Year’s Day, the day after Super Bowl is one of the biggest days people kick their diet into full gear and hit the gym to burn off those high-calorie snacks. So, why not start fresh today! My first tip is to have a healthy breakfast to kickstart your metabolism into gear and set you up for a day of good nutrition.

Start with this Healthy Breakfast

One of my biggest suggestions on days like these is to actually eat breakfast. Some people will opt to skip their morning meal after a day of binging on unhealthy foods, but if you want to get your metabolism going and avoid becoming starving and moody by mid-afternoon, then choose a high-protein morning meal like this one:

  1. Coat a pan with coconut oil spray and set on Medium-High heat.
  2. Break three eggs – separating the whites from the yolks – and empty the whites into a small cup.
  3. Add one tablespoon of skim milk to the egg whites and sprinkle a generous amount of pepper into the mix.
  4. Beat and pour into your hot pan. Scramble up these fluffy egg whites and put aside.
  5. To complement your high-protein, low-fat meal, take a quarter cup of nonfat cottage cheese and scoop onto a plate. Slice up 1-2 fresh or canned peach slices and mix into your cottage cheese.

Add your eggs and you’re done! Here’s what I enjoyed yesterday morning:

healthy breakfast

Drink Hot Lemon Water

hot water with lemon

I am a huge fan of guzzling down the H2O. I drink water all day long. Some people have a hard time drinking PLAIN water and need some sort of flavor, carbonation or other hint of something in order to consume the amount your body needs. So when I discovered this SHAPE Magazine tip about drinking hot lemon water every morning, I was eager to try it! The physician in this interview recommends drinking hot water with a squeeze of lemon every day to help detoxify, increase mineral absorption and improve digestion. This is especially important after a day of poor eating.

Get Moving!

Finally, we all know that regular physical activity is not only great for the mind, but even better for the body, so when you need to get out of your slump and burn off those extra calories, get moving! Even a 15-30 minute walk on your lunch break, taking the stairs instead of the elevator up to your office, or parking a little farther from the grocery store entrance to get in those extra steps will do wonders. You’ll not only help your metabolism burn those game-time snacks, but you’ll boost your endorphins and help your mind get over the guilt of over-indulging.

Every new day is a day to start over. Don’t dwell on yesterday, don’t wait for tomorrow. Do it NOW!

Sugar Mama

In my recent post, “Frozen Bliss,” I described the utter joy I feel when sitting down to a bowl of delicious frozen yogurt topped with carob chips and freshly sliced bananas. Well, my somewhat guilt-free enjoyment was recently trumped after discovering “10 Things You Don’t Know About Sugar,“describing the not-so-healthy effects of sugar on your brain and body. While I usually opt for the “no sugar added” or sugar-free variety, unfortunately, this chilly treat can still be loaded with sugar-filled calories. After skimming the dozens of news stories detailing the way sugar can wreak havoc on your systems, I am not surprised that so many high-profile health advocates are publicizing their sugar-free way of living.

Sugar is a tricky little bugger. It sneaks its way into many foods that you wouldn’t expect, including:

  • Instant OatmealInstant Oatmeal
  • Barbecue Sauce
  • Baked Beans
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Coleslaw
  • Ketchup

While I never doubted that my nightly dessert was high in sugar – the carob chips alone add a good portion of calories – when you really start to examine all the foods in your diet, you might be surprised at the sugar content of other foods. I am, in no way, advocating a sugar-free diet, because I couldn’t last a day without some sort of sweet treat, but there are some good alternatives if you are thinking of cutting back. Here are some of my favorite foods to satisfy your sweet tooth without overloading on sugar:

Cottage Cheese with Fruit

Mix nonfat cottage cheese with fresh pineapple, pears or banana slices and enjoy a high-protein, low-sugar treat to combat your craving. These fruit varieties work best for this snack due to their texture and lower sugar content, but you can use almost any fruit – even canned (make sure you buy the canned fruit in water, not syrup!)

Baked Apple with Cinnamon

Take a Granny smith apple (they microwave best but you can choose your favorite variety), and cut out the core or slice it into four pieces. Place it on a plate and microwave it on high for about one minute. As soon as you take it out, sprinkle cinnamon over the top to lightly coat the warm, soft apple. It’s like having a slice of apple pie without the carbs (or guilt)!

Arctic ZeroArctic Zero

Here’s a little gem for you. Have you ever sat down with a pint of ice cream and a spoon, and thought you could easily eat the entire container in one sitting? Arctic Zero is a scrumptious frozen treat that allows you to do just that without feeling guilty! The texture of this frozen treat is not as creamy or thick as ice cream, but it certainly satisfies the craving, and an entire pint will only set you back 150 calories! This frozen yogurt-type dessert comes in Peanut Butter Chocolate, Maple Vanilla, Strawberry, Cookies and Cream (Edible Epiphanies’ favorite flavor), Coffee, Chocolate, and others. I like to mix half a bowl of Breyers No Sugar Added Frozen Yogurt with a scoop of any Arctic Zero flavor, and top it with fresh banana slices and carob chips. This gives you some creaminess with lots of flavor and little guilt!