Hi folks, today we’re back for another edition of Ask a Health Coach! Erin is here sharing her strategies for making good health a priority during the pandemic, plus what to do when you feel like you’re putting in a lot of effort without a lot of reward and what she eats in a typical day. Got more questions? Keep them coming in the Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook Group or in the comments below.
“I love the way I feel when I eat clean, but meal prepping always takes a backseat to all the other things I need to do, especially now that I’m working, parenting, and homeschooling. How do I carve out time to eat healthier?”
You’re not alone in feeling the pressure of doing it all. With all of our waking hours being consumed by work and family responsibilities, making time for the non-essentials like exercise and eating well (which I would argue are essential), seems nearly impossible.http://jamesmahmudrice.info/Time-Pressure.pdf‘>2 It turns out that their time constraints were an illusion.
The pressure of what we have time for and what we don’t has more to do with the things we assign value to rather than how many hours there are in a day.
That being said, everything we do in life is a choice – what we eat, say, and do, where we spend our energy and our money – they’re all choices. And, as you might guess, there are consequences of those choices.
There’s no doubt that your life is busier than ever right now. You’ve probably never worn more hats in your life, but instead of looking at food as an afterthought, or telling yourself you “don’t have the time,” I suggest you try giving it a little more attention.https://www.globalwellnesssummit.com/2020-global-wellness-trends/‘>4 But I get it. You’re diligently putting in the work, day after day, and not seeing the outcome you’re looking for.
There could be a few different factors at play here, but one you might want to consider is a phenomenon called discounting, which basically means that the more effort you put into something, the less valuable the reward becomes. In a study published in Cognitive Affective, and Behavioral Neuroscience, researchers had participants do two simple tasks that would be rewarded with a cash prize.https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Effort-discounting-in-human-nucleus-accumbens-Botvinick-Huffstetler/567db1262529ec7b9144269695314fe0f9e76b32‘>6 It’s the part of the brain that’s in charge of the reward circuitand is based on two essential neurotransmitters: dopamine and serotonin. So, in a nutshell, it’s just how we’re wired.
Does that mean you shouldn’t put in the effort? It depends. In general, I don’t subscribe to the typical diet culture where everything is weighed, evaluated, and overanalyzed. I opt for teaching my clients to have an effortless relationship with food where they eat satiating, satisfying, nutrient-dense meals when they’re hungry without micromanaging every detail.
But if you take pleasure out of reading labels and managing your macros as you’re doing, keep doing it. I’ve found that in situations where people actually enjoy the effort they put in, the journey ends up being more rewarding than the destination itself.
“I’ve been following Mark’s diet for several years and I love seeing posts about what he eats during the day. But what does your day look like?”
Let me start by saying that knowing what works for you and your body is nutrition gold. It really is. You can read every nutrition book in the world, follow dozens of “healthy” food bloggers and influencers, and copy Mark’s diet (or mine) to a tee, but since every human is unique — and responds differently to different foods, it’s important to know what works for you.https://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-the-best-diet-no-such-thing-2019-6.‘>8 Most nights you’ll find me with a grilled ribeye and plate of steamed veggies smothered in butter. Maybe a square or two of dark chocolate. But sometimes, I’ll have an evening where I partake in some good old-fashioned carbs and dairy. For me, nothing beats delighting in a few perfectly crispy, salty roasted potatoes accompanied by a thick dollop of rich, organic sour cream.
I know exactly how my body responds to foods like these. And armed with this information, I can choose to treat myself without any fuss or worry. I encourage you to find what works for you too. When you start your day with eggs and bacon do you feel satiated or starving? When you drink coffee are you wired or alert? When you indulge in carbs do you get sleepy or energized? Like I said, everyone’s different and no amount of researching how other people eat will give you the same answers as listening to your own body.
Got thoughts? Share ‘em in the comments below.
The post Ask A Health Coach: How’s Your Relationship with Food? appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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Love your weekly cheat meal? Got picky eaters in your family? Or maybe you’re high-tailing it to get the perennial favorite, the PSL as we speak. This week, PHCI coaching director, Erin Power is here to answer the pressing question: how bad is it really? And you might be surprised at the answers. Remember, you can ask your questions over in the MDA Facebook Group or below this post in the comments section.
“I can’t resist those pumpkin spice lattes. Tell me they’re not as bad for me as I think they are.”
Who doesn’t look forward to a good ol’ PSL? The cinnamon, the nutmeg, the whopping 50 grams of sugar. While it’s true that sugar is linked to so many things you don’t want, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity1 to say the least, it’s not actually a hill worth dying over. At least not for me.
Get your fall spice fix with Primal Kitchen® Chai? ?Tea? ?Collagen? ?Keto? ?Latte? Drink Mix
A lot of my clients have been trained to panic when they see the sugar grams start to creep up. They ask me how many grams they should aim for per day. Or they want a suggestion to replace the sugar in their favorite *treats* with a more natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup or a non-caloric one like monk fruit.
But here’s the deal, sugar is sugar. And assuming you’re not sucking down seasonal drinks like this every single day, the calories you ingest aren’t going to make-or-break the metabolic bank. That’s what’s so great about our bodies. We can train them to freak out when we eat something that we think we’re not supposed to even look at, just as easily as we can have a knowing trust that our bodies have the metabolic flexibility to handle it.
If you haven’t heard me say it before, our bodies are miraculous organisms. We are designed to constantly respond and adapt to changes in our environments, thriving in some instances and effortlessly course-correcting in others.
I’m not saying that sugar isn’t highly addictive. It absolutely can be.2 But there’s a difference between having a few squirts of PSL syrup in your every-so-often latte and regularly consuming overly processed frankenfoods that are not only loaded with multiple types of sugar, but also industrialized oils and preservatives that your body doesn’t even recognize.
Plain and simple, I just can’t get too worked up over sugar. And my *official* recommendation is that you shouldn’t either. Especially around something that will be gone (at least temporarily) before Thanksgiving rolls around.
“I know cheat meals are supposed to keep you on track, but I’m always massively hungry the next day. Any advice?”
Honestly, I cringe when I hear the phrase cheat day. It’s a term that’s rooted in diet culture and reinforces the labeling of “good foods” versus “bad foods.” But for the purpose of answering your question, I’ll move past my own issues.
For those who don’t know, a cheat meal is one that’s typically higher in calories and carbohydrates than you’re used to eating. Basically, it’s a meal where you can eat whatever you want without worrying about it falling into your macro split or fitting inside the Primal Blueprint food pyramid.
And yes, scheduled cheat meals can have benefits. They can help you replenish your will to stay the course, breaking up a potentially monotonous protein-and-veg-rich diet. There’s even some proof that they can kickstart your metabolism and keep your weight loss going by increasing leptin levels and restore thyroid function – two things that often get compromised during a prolonged caloric restriction.https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevent-type-2/type-2-kids.html‘>4
Here’s the good news though. It’s possible to change your kids’ preferences for certain foods. Studies doneat the University of Alberta showed that children who were involved in the preparation of foods were actually more likely the make a healthier choice at mealtime.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17592956/‘>1 Fat adults experience street harassment and job discrimination.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6311448/‘>3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4381543/‘>5
Of course we want our children to grow up healthy and happy, liked by their peers, and accepted by society. We’ll jump at the chance to help them avoid pain whenever possible. Parents who operate from a place of fear usually try to fit their kids to the cultural ideal, which is just as unrealistic for most kids as it is for adults. The better, more sustainable option is to operate from a place of love and acceptance, helping your kid feel good in their current body.
What if I am Really Concerned About My Child’s Health?
If you are genuinely concerned that your child is developing unhealthy habits, please seek out expert guidance from childhood nutrition and movement experts who are also versed in childhood eating disorders. A lot of eating disorders start in childhood when well-intentioned parents put their kids on diet and exercise programs in the name of health.
Body Image is Always a Work in Progress
Prepare yourself for many bumps in the road. As kids grow and their bodies change, they will come up against new challenges. Their peers’ bodies will change at different rates and in different ways than theirs. Even if you try to innoculate them early, they will confront unreasonable beauty standards and diet talk as they engage more with media and as their friends do the same.
You’ll be working on “body stuff” for as long as you parent. Keeping the lines of communication open is one of the best ways to help your kid navigate their way through tricky body image issues. Let them know they can come to you with their insecurities and fears, confident that you will listen without judgment.
Give Yourself the Same Gift of Working on a Healthy Body Image
No parent looks down at their precious newborn and thinks, “I can’t wait to pass all my hang-ups and insecurities on to you.” Somehow, we believe we can instill a healthy body image in our kids, then turn around and hate on our own bodies. That’s some magical thinking right there.
You have to walk the talk. Do you trust your body’s signals and allow yourself to respond with food, rest, or movement as needed? Do you move for pleasure or punishment? Do you speak to yourself with kind words or harsh criticism?
Put on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else, right?
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Feel like you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders? I can totally relate. If the struggles of living in an overly busy, stressed out society weren’t enough, the fear of navigating it all mid-COVID is the proverbial icing on the cake.
Whether it’s the overwhelm of managing day-to-day tasks or deciding to get a handle on your mental or physical health, it can be hard to go it alone. Which leads me to the question: why do we feel compelled to do it all ourselves?
Do You Have a Do-It-All-Myself Mentality?
I ask my health coaching clients this question anytime I can feel them slinking back into their old patterns of avoiding asking for help. We sort of live by this notion that we should all be able to handle anything that comes our way. And if we can’t handle it ourselves, well, that’s a sure sign (at least in our own minds) that we’re weak, incompetent, or somehow unworthy of achieving success in that area. New health diagnosis? Sure, no problem. Relationship problems? Got it all under control. Global pandemic like we haven’t seen in our lifetime? No freakin’ sweat.
The trouble is, asking for help can bring up similar, uncomfortable feelings. Research done in the fields of neuroscience and psychology confirm that there really are social threats involved in doing so. In fact, researchers found that an emotionally painful threat activates the same parts of the brain as physical pain does — which of course gives us even more reason to avoid asking and continue struggling in silence.
Reasons You Avoid Asking for Help
You may avoid asking for help for several reasons:
- You’re unsure where to turn
- You don’t want to be seen as weak
- Fear of being rejected
- Showing vulnerability
- Not sure how to ask
- Feeling like a burden
- Worrying people won’t like you
- Relinquishing control
- Admitting you can’t do it all
- Feeling like your problems are less significant
- You grew up with a pattern of being let down in childhood
There’s no shortage of reasons why it feels hard to ask for help, but here’s where it gets wild. Studies show that people actually like helping other people — they get a huge benefit from it.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26575283/‘>2 Physiological responses like heart rate, blood pressure, salivary alpha-amylase, and salivary cortisol, as well as self-reported stress were collected and measured throughout the experiment. They found that participants who had written the supportive notes had lower sympathetic-related responses than their counterparts who just wrote about their routine.
Asking for help makes people like you more too. This concept is called the Benjamin Franklin effect and is based on cognitive dissonance theory,https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5998056/‘>1
- Exhaustion, e.g., “I feel completely run down by my role as a parent.”
- Contrast with previous parental self, e.g., “I don’t think I’m the good father/mother that I used to be to my child(ren).”
- Feeling fed up, e.g., “I feel like I can’t take any more as a parent.”
- Emotional distancing from one’s children, e.g., “I’m no longer able to show my child(ren) how much I love them.”
By this definition, burnout is more than just stress, worry, or fatigue, which all parents experience sometimes. It’s a deep, deep weariness that drains your ability to parent effectively, leaving you empty and unable to connect to your kids. Left unchecked, it can lead to parental neglect and violence. Burnout also correlates with depression, sleep disturbances, and addictive behaviors, though it’s unclear if burnout causes those issues or vice versa.https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2017/11/27/parents-now-spend-twice-as-much-time-with-their-children-as-50-years-ago‘>3 We’re overscheduled and overcommitted, which means we’re overstressed.https://academic.oup.com/sf/article-abstract/98/1/31/5257458‘>5
The pressure to live up to the ideal is intense, and it’s both external and internal. A study of 1725 Finnish parents, mostly mothers, revealed that the biggest risk factor for burnout was “socially prescribed perfectionism,” especially when coupled with self-expectations of perfectionism.https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10826-012-9615-z‘>7
How Common Is Parental Burnout?
It’s hard to know how many parents experience burnout according to the academic criteria described above. Studies suggest it’s anywhere from 1 percent to 20 percent, depending on where the study is done.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5974116/‘>9 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19912139‘>11
You might not reach the official threshold for Parental Burnout with a capital P-B. Still, most of my fellow parents can probably relate to sometimes—or often—feeling exhausted, like you have nothing left to offer at the end of the day. A March 2020 survey asked more than 3,000 American moms, “In the past month, how often have you felt ‘burned out’ by motherhood?” Thirty-five percent of respondents said they frequently do, while 6 percent said always.
That’s a lot. Only 14 percent said they rarely or never feel this way. That doesn’t mean these moms don’t find parenting to be rewarding and enjoyable overall, but it reinforces just how demanding modern parenting is.
What about Fathers, Can’t They Experience Burnout?
Definitely. However, parenting and burnout research focuses mainly on mothers. On average, mothers spend more time than fathers on parenting activities, and by and large, mothers bear the brunt of societal and self-imposed pressure to live up to ideals of parenting perfection.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24635763/‘>13
Of course, there are standards for fathers, too, and those standards continue to rise. Fathers who feel overwhelmed by them, or who expect too much of themselves, can absolutely succumb to burnout. According to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, equal numbers of mothers and fathers said that parenting is extremely or very important to their sense of identity, but working fathers are especially likely to feel that they don’t spend enough time with their kids.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5298986/‘>15 Another study published earlier this year found that while mothers were more likely to experience burnout, the consequences were more severe for burned out fathers.https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2020/stress-in-america-covid-june.pdf‘>17
Coping with Parental Burnout
In case it’s not perfectly clear, you can feel burned out without experiencing “parental burnout” in the academic sense. Whether or not you hit that threshold, which is admittedly a bit murky, the following practices are worthwhile.
Focus on the positive
It’s easy to get sucked into a negativity spiral when you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Plus, self-deprecation is the norm nowadays. We’re much more likely to say, “I’m a hot mess, send wine,” than “I did some A+ parenting today and am feeling great about my kids.” That’s no good for parents already on the verge of burnout.
Experts recommend taking the time each day to focus on what went right. This might mean going around the dinner table and each naming something that made you happy, or writing a simple gratitude statement in your journal each night. Even on the worst days, it’s usually possible to find one small ray of sunshine.
The usual self-care stuff
Taking a bath or getting regular exercise isn’t a cure-all for burnout, but it can’t hurt. All of us parents should be taking the time to fill our own buckets whenever possible.
Lower your expectations
This is a big one: actively reject the intensive parenting ideal. Remind yourself it’s ok if the laundry isn’t done, your kid is five minutes late to soccer practice, you forgot to brush their hair on school picture day, and the Tooth Fairy failed to pick up the tooth last night.
This is not an overnight process, but it helps to realize that a lot of burnout stems from buying into societal standards—standards that you don’t have to live up to to be a kind and loving parent.
Here’s the real kicker: It’s not even clear that putting ourselves through all this stress pays off in terms of having happier or more successful children.https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0146167212445599‘>1 The self-compassionate group also reported that they had more motivation to view their struggles in a positive light when they practiced self-acceptance, which is a key part of self-compassion.
Go With the (Motivational) Flow
Like I said above, it’s your own perception of a situation that drives motivation. So how do you cultivate that internal positivity? Below we’ll look at 5 ways you can create your own intrinsic and extrinsic motivators so you can start taking action right now.
- Find Your Why. Your Why is a belief, cause, or purpose that drives your behaviours. You might currently be working from someone else’s Why (could be a spouse that wants you to start exercising; a parent who thinks you should be thin; a belief that this is what you shoulddo). But your Why can only come from within you. And without figuring out what yours is, your motivation will likely fall flat, especially when obstacles start to pop up, which, by the way, they always do.
ACTION STEP: Think about what reaching your goal will give you. Is it the pleasure of having joints that don’t ache? Or the joy of being a role model to your kids? Or the freedom to finally get off your meds? Take a minute and jot down a few reasons (that truly resonate with you) why you feel compelled to take action.
2. Evaluate the Pros and Cons. When you have as many motives for why you want to reach your goal as motives for not reaching it, you create an inner conflict that basically keeps you stuck. You may want to eat healthy (and have a solid Whyto fuel your actions) but you might worry that you’ll never be able to eat anything “fun” again, so you sabotage yourself. Or maybe you feel great when you work out every morning, but the thought of getting unwanted attention from strangers once you lose the weight is a total turn off.
ACTION STEP: Consider how making these changes will impact you. First, write down the pros of this change. How will it affect you in positive ways? Now do the same for the cons. Write down how it will affect you in negative ways. Read though your list and cross off any cons that feel trivial or insignificant – or if they’re not really true for you. The secret to resolving inner conflict is to have more reasons why you want it, than reasons you don’t.
3. Put an End to Procrastination. You’re not always going to feel like getting up early to work out or planning a protein-packed breakfast, but there are tactics you can use to do it anyway. There’s a strategy called the 5 Second Rule that says you have 5 seconds to act on an instinct (that’s out of your comfort zone) before your brain shuts it down in an effort to keep you safe. Act within 5 seconds of the thought and you override its protective hold on you. Another strategy from habit guru, James Clear suggests eliminating distractions by making them more difficult to do. For instance, if watching TV keeps you from doing yoga, unplug it or hide the remote. Can’t stop hitting the snooze button? Put your phone in the other room while you sleep so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
ACTION STEP: Try the 5 Second Rule technique by counting backward from 5 the moment you have an instinct to take action. Once you hit 1, get moving! For James Clear’s strategy, think about the things that cause you to procrastinate, then make them more difficult to do by removing the temptation.
4. Reward Yourself. Sometimes big goals can feel intimidating, making it harder to get motivated. For a simple work-around, try creating smaller goals and then rewarding yourself when you reach those goals. You might lack the motivation to start exercising because you have 60 pounds to lose, but consider breaking it down into 5- or 10-pound increments and rewarding yourself with a new workout top or healthy dinner out every time you reach one of your mini goals.
ACTION STEP: Jot down the big goal you’d like to accomplish. Then create smaller goals (if necessary) and write down how you’ll reward yourself when you reach them. Just make sure your rewards don’t sabotage your efforts. Rewarding a tough workout with a few beers or plate of nachos is kind of counterproductive.
5. Visualize your Success. Used by everyone from athletes to entrepreneurs, visualizing your success is a proven motivational tool — especially when it’s paired with an elevated emotion like joy or excitement. When you paint a clear picture of what success looks like in your mind, it becomes less abstract and more obtainable. Plus, when you spend time on the things you want (looser fitting clothes, better sleep, chasing your kids around without stopping to catch your breath) versus the things you don’t want (feeling bloated, tossing and turning, and sitting on the couch missing out) your brain becomes more receptive to finding opportunities that align with your goal.
ACTION STEP: Every morning before getting out of bed, take 2 minutes to visualize yourself as if you’re already successful. Imagine what it would feel like to have achieved your goal, and pay attention to the positive feelings that automatically come up when you do this exercise.
5 Ways to Get Motivated Now
Remember, when you tell yourself that you should be doing something, you’re really just reinforcing the idea that you’re not doing it. So, first, wipe the word should from your vocabulary, then dive into these 5 ways to cultivate your own sense of motivation:
· Find your Why
· Evaluate the Pros and Cons
· Put an End to Procrastination
· Reward Yourself
· Visualize Your Success
What’s worked for you? Tell me how you get motivated when you’re not feeling it.
The post Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation, How to Get Going When You Don’t Feel Like It appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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When Mark asked me to write a post about the toll the pandemic is taking on mental health and relationships, I didn’t want simply to detail the ways it’s hard to live through a pandemic. Nor did I want to throw a bunch of statistics at you about how many people are having a difficult time. You know that it’s like living in the world’s least entertaining Groundhog-Day-meets-dystopian-thriller film.
If you’re like me, you’re sick of kvetching about 2020. The fact is, though, that I don’t know anyone, myself included, who isn’t struggling in one way or another right now.
After a lot of reflection, I’ve concluded that a big reason why 2020 is so draining is that our usual coping strategies don’t work like we want or expect. Most are aimed at reducing the source of our distress or dealing with the emotional aftermath. This pandemic is ongoing. We’re stuck in the middle of it, with no end in sight, and no way to speed the process along.
That doesn’t mean we’re helpless, though. Personally, I’m a huge believer in practicing self-compassion as a means of coping, almost no matter the situation. I’m talking a formal practice of self-compassion, as outlined by Dr. Kristin Neff and others.https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2770146‘>2 https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/‘>4 https://richarddehoop.nl/upload/file/self-determination.pdf‘>6
It seems to me that most common coping strategies address competence (developing mastery) or relatedness (connecting to others). However, loss of autonomy—the freedom to control our own actions—is undoubtedly a primary reason we’re struggling.
The problem is, there’s not much we can do about that. The best option is to focus on controlling the things we can control and accepting those we can’t (major serenity prayer vibes, here). I’m not suggesting that we should be reasserting our autonomy by flouting the rules and doing whatever we want, virus be damned. No, the point is to understand why things still feel hard even when we’re trying our best to practice self-care so that we might give ourselves grace.
Questions I’m asking myself:
- Am I meeting myself where I’m at, or am I using generic coping strategies that, while well-meaning, aren’t really what I need?
- Am I blaming myself or feeling guilty for struggling, instead of accepting that the pandemic is hard in ways that are hard to cope with directly?
What Can We Learn from People Who are Doing Well?
I’m fascinated by people who are actually doing better now than before. Some kids are thriving at home, free from the social and academic pressures of traditional schooling. Lots of adults are realizing that they are happier and more productive working from home.
Getting back to the topic of this post, when I started to dig into the data on how the pandemic is affecting relationships, I expected to find dire news. I didn’t. While it’s logistically harder to see friends or travel to visit distant relatives, many people have seen their close relationships improve.
FThe Behavioural Science and Health Research Department at University College London is conducting weekly surveys looking at the psychological response to the pandemic, along with other socioemotional and behavioral variables. More than 90,000 people have responded. As of writing, data are available for the first 23 weeks here.
In July, week 16, the researchers asked about relationships. The majority of respondents said the pandemic had not changed their relationships with spouses, friends, family members, or coworkers. More people felt that their friendships had suffered since the beginning of the pandemic, compared to the number whose friendships improved—22 versus 15 percent of respondents, respectively. The data were similar for coworkers. However, relationships with some family members and neighbors were more likely to have improved:
- 27 percent said their romantic relationship got better, while 18 percent felt it was worse
- 35 percent reported their relationship with children living at home had improved, versus 17 percent who said it had suffered
- 26 percent had better relationships with neighbors, versus 8 percent worse
I really wish there was more attention to being paid to those people. Why are they doing better? What’s their secret? It must have something to do with the time we have to invest differently in relationships now, but is there more to it than that? Academics are going to be writing about this for decades, I’m sure.
Shaping a “New Normal”
Since we have no choice about living through a pandemic, I hope we can at least learn from it.
When we go back to “normal,” it won’t be—and shouldn’t be—the normal we knew before. The ways people are suffering and thriving both offer important lessons about human nature, our ability to cope, and the ways we do and do not support one another effectively. That some people are doing better during an arguably terrible time is telling. It says a lot about the challenges and shortcomings of our pre-pandemic way of life.
The question is, will we heed the lessons?
What about you—how are you doing, really? Will you go back to “business as usual,” or have you gained any insights from the past six months that will change how you approach things in the future?
The post The Pandemic’s Toll on Mental Health and Relationships: What Can We Learn? appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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Hey, folks. If you’ve ever wondered if watching what you eat is really worth it, you’ll want to check out today’s post. PHCI Coaching Director, Erin Power is here answering your questions about managing macros, weighing the pros and cons of meal prep, and the value of paying more for your food. We love getting your questions, so keep them coming in the comments below or head over to our Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook Group.
“I don’t know what to eat anymore. I was following a strict macro split of 56% fat, 28% protein, and 16% carbs, but I’m worried that my protein is too high. My goals are to maintain my weight, build muscle, and control my blood sugar since I am pre-diabetic. I know higher protein isn’t good for diabetes as it converts to glucose and then you get an insulin dump and gain weight. Can you point me in the right direction?”
Feels stressful doesn’t it? All the measuring, weighting, counting, and adding — just to get your macros to line up and reach some magical equation that you’ve decided will make everything work out perfectly. Don’t get me wrong, I love that you’re committed to doing what you can to prevent diabetes and reverse your current diagnosis (I wish more people followed your lead here), but I have a hunch it’s sort of ruling your life right now. And it doesn’t have to.
There’s so much great information out there. Unfortunately, that makes it easy to get overwhelmed. Personally, I’ve always hated the fussy factor. That’s why my philosophy is “keep it simple.”
My advice is to ditch the food scale (as well as grains, sugars, and industrialized oils) and focus on eating real foods in the form of vegetables, low sugar fruits, animal proteins, and healthy fats. Start with a protein-forward breakfast like eggs and bacon and eat when you’re hungry, not when your macro-tracking app says you need to squeeze in ten more grams of protein.
Stay on track no matter where you are! Instantly download your Primal and Keto Guide to Eating Out
Sure, some people thrive on adding up their macros. They get a sense of control out of knowing exactly how much protein, fat, and carbohydrates they’re consuming. But if it’s causing you more stress, you’re actually working against your goals of inhibiting an insulin response.
Both physical and emotional stresshttps://www.cnn.com/2020/08/05/business/grocery-prices-rising/index.html‘>2 with meat prices jumping as high as 20%, eggs increasing 10%, and fresh veggies going up 4%.Buy the organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised versions and those costs will be even higher.
So, is it worth it? I’ll break it down for you.
I have clients that only buy organic. I also have clients that, for financial reasons, have to go the conventional route. The thing is, in general, when you buy organic (or grass-fed beef in this case), you’re limiting your exposure to synthetic additives. Other than that, there’s no conclusive evidence that eating this way is better or healthier for you.
But we’re not really talking about nutrition here. We’re talking about produce covered in pesticides and fertilizers. Factory-farmed animals housed in poor conditions and fed grains pumped full of antibiotics. The main issue here is the impact these foods have on your overall health – not to mention the health of our planet.https://www.nature.com/articles/nn.4545‘>1)
A single sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes, during which you move from light sleep, through stage 2, into deep SWS, and back up to REM. Then down you go again, then back up, ideally at least four of five times per night.
Your sleep is also roughly broken into two phases over the course of a whole night. In the first half, you spend relatively more time in SWS. The second half is characterized by a higher proportion of REM sleep.
What does this have to do with nighttime waking?
One possible explanation is that as you transition into lighter sleep — either within a single sleep cycle, or as you move from the first to the second phase—aches, pains, and small annoyances are more likely to wake you up. These can include medical issues like chronic pain, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, or GERD. Soreness from the day’s hard workout, noise or light from your environment, hunger, thirst, or being too hot or cold might rouse you from your slumber.
If you’re waking up multiple times at night, chances are that you’re experiencing physical discomfort that you’re not able to sleep through. Sometimes it’s obvious, but not always.
Was It Something You Ate Or Drank?
While individual studies have linked sleep quality to diet and macronutrient intake (high versus low carb, for example), they are mostly small and the results inconclusive.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3700250/‘>3
Try a teaspoon of raw honey before bed
One hypothesis is that you’re waking up in the middle of the night because your brain gets hungry for glucose eight hours after your last meal. The honey provides some carbs to get you through.
There’s no concrete evidence for honey as a sleep aid, but plenty of people swear by this remedy. I’m not sure it’s likely to be more effective than eating a serving of complex carbs at dinner. That said, even for low-carbers, I don’t think there’s any harm in trying.
I’ll note, though, that fasting studies don’t show a link to sleep disturbances.https://academic.oup.com/ahr/article-abstract/106/2/343/64370‘>5
Anthropological evidence confirms that some modern-day hunter-gatherers around the world likewise engage in biphasic sleeping.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10607034‘>7