How to Find the Right Exercise for You

Finding Your Best Exercise

We all know exercise is important. From preventing heart disease and diabetes to maintaining our physical abilities to boosting self-confidence there are a multitude of reasons to fit physical activity into our weekly lives. But knowing something is important and actually finding the time to do it and enjoy it are totally different things! Many of you have tried to begin an exercise program, maybe multiple times, just to be back at square one a few weeks or months later. It’s very common to “fall off” the exercise wagon so to speak.

how to find the best exercise for you

So how do you find an exercise routine that fits into your schedule, works with your current abilities, and that you actually want to do? Well, the answer is a little complicated. See you are all individuals with different lifestyles, abilities, and enjoyments. No one exercise plan is going to work for every person. Also, it will be a bit of an experiment or trial and error to find the right exercise plan for you. I’ve compiled a list of tips and strategies to finding an exercise program to suit your needs.

Pick Something You Enjoy

This may seem simple but sometimes it takes trying out a few different options to find the type of exercise you enjoy most. There are countless options for physical activity but we often go into this short-sighted thinking we have to either run, cycle, lift weights, or practice yoga. In reality we could choose from 100 of different exercise options. Try to base what you choose off of something you enjoy. Did you enjoy dance growing up? Maybe you could try your hand at Zumba or sign up for a ball-room dance class. Are you a sports fan and pretty competitive? Check out what type of leagues may be available in your area. Does going to the gym fill you with dread? See what type of exercise DVDs your library has or download a home workout plan to try.

If you try to force yourself into doing something you hate you most likely won’t be successful at maintaining your exercise routine. Finding an exercise you enjoy might take some time, but will be well worth it when you actually look forward to lacing up your shoes and heading out the door. Keep reading for more tips on making exercise fun! You can take this fun “exercise personality” quiz to get some ideas on what you might enjoy most.

Find an Accountability Partner

Not only can having a friend to exercise with make it more fun; it also helps you stay motivated and on track. It’s easy to talk yourself out of heading to your fitness class but it’s a lot harder when your friend expects you to be there. An accountability partner can be a great source of encouragement or even competition. Knowing someone is depending on your support and commitment makes you more committed too! Research supports exercising with a buddy to increase your activity. You can also reap the benefits of being more social with an exercise partner as well.

exercise partner

You don’t have to actually workout with your accountability partner. All you need to do is set aside some time each week to check in with each other and update each other your progress. Most of us would rather share that we are making progress instead of failing to make progress. You can do this via email, phone, or even text. Just make sure to pick an accountability partner that’s going to support and push you towards your goals.

Start Small

Many times we over do it when starting an exercise program and that leaves us sore and worn out for the rest of the week, or worse, injured! Take it slow when beginning to exercise. As little as 10 minutes a day can be beneficial and it won’t eat up too much time or energy. Over time, build on the time and intensity of your workouts. If you would like more information about starting small for losing weight check out my 12 week Weight Loss Inspirations Course. Click below to find out more!

 

Try Something New

If you keep trying to make it to that 6:00 am boot-camp and keep hitting snooze instead of getting out of bed; maybe you aren’t cut out for early morning workouts. Try a different time of day! You can also try different types of exercises, classes, or programs. You might really enjoy kickboxing over step aerobics if you give it a go! Enjoy yoga? Try Goat Yoga! Like running? Try interval training or running hills. Doing the same thing for months gets boring and also prevents additional gains from exercise. Make sure you try new things occasionally to keep your interest and challenge yourself.

Determine What You Want from Your Workouts

Exercise for your goals

What are your fitness goals? If you want to build strength, training for a marathon is probably not your best choice! Trying to lose weight? Cardio is more your friend in the beginning. Need to increase your flexibility to reduce pain and tight muscles? Yoga or Tai Chi is going to be a better option than that weight circuit at the gym. When you decide what you are trying to accomplish that can help you make the best choice for your exercise plan. If you are trying to lose weight, diet is more important than exercise, so you might want to check out how to go low-carb the healthy way and just choose the type of exercise you enjoy most for you workouts.

Choose a Sport and Make it Fun

Try getting involved in your favorite sport or activity. Most cities have leagues of different kinds from volleyball to bowling to kickball. Any activity can count towards your overall exercise goals. If you’re competitive by nature use that to your advantage. If you prefer playing just for fun regardless of winning or losing choose a league or activity with a group that feels the same way. Exercise doesn’t have to mean working out in the sense most of us think. Any type of activity can count if you’re moving more and sitting less.

Set Some Goals

Consider where you want to be 6 months from now? Are you trying to lift a certain amount? Run a particular distance? Sign-up for a challenge or a race. Having a date to work towards can focus your attention on improving your fitness levels. Think about doing a 30 day fitness challenge or another type of fitness challenge. Some online challenges will even send you a medal like Will Run for Bling and Charity! You can also sign up for fun events like midnight runs or muddy obstacle courses to keep you on track.

Make Exercise a Family Event

Exercise with the Family

Include the kids in your exercise plans. Maybe you can plan weekly or monthly hiking trips where you live. Sign them up for the 1 mile kids dash offered by your 10k race program. Play flag football or ultimate Frisbee with the neighborhood families. Whatever floats your boat – just get the kids involved and the whole family can have some fun burning calories.

Fit it in Where You Can

Yes it’s optimal to have about 20 minutes set aside 3-4 days per week to get active, but maybe your schedule is really tight right now and you aren’t able to commit to that. Can you commit to a 10 minute walk on your lunch break 2 days? What about another 10 minutes after dinner 1 or 2 nights each week? Start sneaking in extra activity when you can and before long you will start noticing a difference in how you feel. Research supports benefits from small amounts of exercise. Obviously you get greater benefit with more exercise but why not capitalize on what you can achieve and not worry as much about what’s out of your reach at the moment?

Prepare the Day Before

Prepare for exercise ahead of time

Lay out everything you need the day before. Your clothing, snacks, shoes, and whatever else you need to make your workout a success. Place your gym bag in your car if you plan to hit it on your way to or from work. Have everything ready to make exercising as easy and smooth as possible.

Make it Count

12 minutes of interval training is all you need for a successful and meaningful workout (click here for more info). So if you are limited in time, make up for it with intensity! Really work towards putting in the effort when possible and increase other areas of activity as you are able. A short, powerful workout can be just as effective or possibly more effective than a longer, more moderate intensity workout.

Take the Path of Least Resistance

No I’m not talking about choosing the lightest weights at the gym. Make it easy on yourself to exercise! This might mean lacing up your tennis shoes for a run in your neighborhood instead of driving to them gym for time on the elliptical or it might mean doing a body weight strength training routine on nights you leave work late instead of hitting the gym and waiting on the machines you prefer to be available. Reduce the barriers that come up for you by planning ahead. Your exercise plan should reduce stress – not create it! Choose options that help keep you energized and calm. If you’re always rushing to your workouts, or worse, through your workouts – you’re going to be more likely to quit.

Hire a Professional

Hire an Exercise Professional

If you’re not sure where to start or would like to hit the gym but don’t know how to use the machines; you can always consider hiring a certified personal trainer. They can help lead you in the right direction based off your fitness goals and can show you how to do the exercise correctly and efficiently. Some trainers will even do group sessions – so bring your accountability partner with you! Paying your hard earned money is another way to make yourself accountable to your workout plans and keep you motivated to reach your goals.

Make a Plan

No matter what type of exercise you choose to do, you need a plan to implement it. Write it on your calendar, in your planner, or your bullet journal. Choose what days, what time, and for how long you will be exercising. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail – so make an exercise plan! You might want to check out these meal planning tips as well while you’re at it and knock out both your meal plan and your workout plan at the same time.

The Best exercise for you

What Exercise Will You Choose?

Leave a comment with your favorite exercise type below! Consider signing up for my newsletter for more weight loss, exercise, and nutrition tips delivered to your inbox. If you’re reading this because your trying to lose weight, check out these 25 weight loss tips to help improve your progress.

Anti-inflammatory Rainbow: Red Foods

Anti-Inflammatory Food and Colors

The foods that help fight inflammation come in all different colors. Each color has special properties that help fight inflammation and provide a myriad of other benefits to our body. These special properties are often referred to as the large category of “phytonutrients” which is basically a fancy word for plant nutrients. There are over 100,000 phytonutrients in the plants we eat! You can learn more about phytonutrients here. The anti-inflammatory nutrients make up hundreds of those phytonutrients. The color of a plant tells us some things about which phytonutrients and which anti-inflammatory nutrients that plant contains. It’s vitally important that we get a variety of colors in our diet to make sure we are getting in the wide variety of phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds that we need for optimal health. This post is all about the red foods and how they benefit our health.

Anti-Inflammatory Red Foods

The benefits of the red food include anti-cancer, ant-inflammatory, immune boosting, DNA protection, prostrate health, natural detoxification, and vascular/heart health.  Keep the skin on foods such as red apples and radishes to reap the benefits. Watch out for dried fruits such as raisins, dried cranberries, or dried cherries – these often contain added sugars that may negate some of the health benefits. Strawberries are high in folic acid and Vitamin C – both powerful nutrients in their own right. Cranberries have anti-bacterial properties that have been useful in both our gastrointestinal and urinary tracts. Red or pink grapefruits have cholesterol fighting compounds. Most red foods are also high in fiber, especially berries and stone fruits, fiber fights inflammations and helps us maintain a healthy gastrointestinal and cardiovascular systems.  You can read more about the health benefits of red foods and how to get more of them in your diet here.

Red Foods List:

anti inflammatory red foods

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY RED FOODS COMPOUNDS

Red food anti-inflammatory compounds include anthocyanins, astaxanthin (found in pink/red seafood), carotenoids (also found in orange foods), ellagic acid, flavonols/flavonoids, lycopene. As you can see below these compounds provider a wide variety of health benefits.

Lycopene:

High in cooked tomatoes, watermelon, and even pink grapefruit, lycopene helps protect against prostrate, breast, lung, and skin cancers. You can also reduce your risk of heart attack by consuming more of these foods. Because lycopene requires fat to be absorbed by the body make sure to include a healthy oil such as olive oil or some nuts and seeds to your meals with these red foods. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has more information on lycopene here.

Anthocyanins:

Anthocyanins are anti-oxidants and/or phytonutrients that help protect the heart and brain. They have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks and significantly help lower blood pressure. Other help benefits include: improving memory and cognition, fighting liver disease, and reducing the age-related decline in brain health. Anthocyanins have a strong role in preventing and/or managing many chronic conditions related to lifestyle habits such as heart disease and diabetes.  Read more about anthocyanins here from Today’s Dietitian. You can also find more about anthocyanins in this research article.

Flavonols:

Flavonols help fight and prevent coronary heart disease, stroke, and the damaging effects of LDL cholesterol. Found in apples, cherries, and cranberries these phytonutrients have been shown to reduce the risk of asthma, diabetes, cancers, and heart disease. U.C. Davis has a great fact sheet about flavonols here. Flavonols have been shown to reduce C-reactive protein – a laboratory marker of inflammation levels. They may even benefit athletic performance, although it appears the jury is still out on that topic, find out more here. Quercetin is the most common flavonoid.

Tips for Increasing Red Foods in Your Diet:

  • Add berries or pomegranate seeds to salads
  • Use marinara sauce (red) instead of alfredo or wine sauces on pasta
  • Use red onions in a tomato and red pepper salsa
  • Roast tomatoes with other vegetables for a side dish
  • Eat red foods such as red applies or plums as snacks
  • Choose dark red kidney beans for soups or bean salads
  • Consider adding radishes, beets, and red bell pepper to fresh salads in addition to tomatoes
  • Choose pink/red grapefruits over white ones

Recipes to Boost Red Foods Consumption:

Triple Berry Salad from Chelsea’s Messy Apron
Homemade Crock Pot Marinara Sauce from Life Currents
Beetroot Crisps from Nicky and Max
Skillet Red Beans and Rice from MyRecipes
Charred Green Beans with Garlic and Pomegranate Seeds from The Healthy Maven

anti-inflammatory red foods

How to Eat to Fight Inflammation

Just eating a few red foods each week mixed in to your normal intake of fast-foods and sweets isn’t going to get you the benefits you are after. Check out my Ultimate Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet to make sure your following the full plan for optimal results. If you’d like to not only fight inflammation and gain health; but lose weight as well, check out How to Go Low Carb the Healthy Way. You can combine the anti-inflammatory diet and low-carb meal plans together for optimal health and weight management results. Sign-up for my newsletter below to get even more tips on following the Anti-inflammatory meal plan.

Anti-inflammatory Rainbow

I’ll be sharing information on orange foods, green foods, blue and purple foods, white and brown foods, and yellow foods over the next few months. Check back often or sign-up for my newsletter so you don’t miss a thing! Eating a rainbow of natural colors is the best way to ensure a highly anti-inflammatory diet that includes the broad spectrum of phytonutrients we need for optimal health.

What are your favorite red foods and/or recipes? Post in the comments below!

Meal Planning Tips

Meal Planning Tips to Help You Stick to Your Nutrition Goals

Meal planning is a must for those looking to lose weight, manage chronic conditions, or stay healthy. But sometimes it’s boring, overwhelming, frustrating, or all of the above. Here are some tips to keep your meal planning organized and on track with a little variety and fun along the way.

Meal Planning

Follow the Plate Method for Meal Planning

The plate method gives you a guide for how your plate should look. When meal planning make sure you’ve got all 5 food categories present: non-starchy vegetables, fruits, proteins, starch/grains, and healthy fats. I’m a big fan of Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate (below). You can read more about Harvard’s plate method here. I especially like that it focuses on water instead of milk as your main beverage. If you would like more information on following the plate method you can read my Ultimate Guide to the Anti-inflammatory Diet where I discuss each of the food groups in more detail.

Copyright © 2011, Harvard University. For more information about The Healthy Eating Plate, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, www.thenutritionsource.org, and Harvard Health Publications, www.health.harvard.edu.

Lose Weight by Meal Planning

Meal planning helps you stick to your nutrition plan and prevent excess snacking or extra calories from sneaking into your day. Make a plan and stick to it so you know how many calories are coming in and what foods will fit in your day. For additional weight loss advice check out these 25 weight loss tips. If you are serious about losing weight consider enrolling in my 12 week Weight Loss Inspirations Course!

Start Small

You don’t have to plan an entire month or even an entire week to get started. Consider just meal planning your dinners for practice; you can even just do 2-3 to start with. As you refine your meal planning strategy you can increase the number of meals you plan each week or month. I use PepperPlate to plan my meals. You can use an app, calendar, or notebook. Find a system that works for you and keep at it. If you’d like to download my basic meal planning worksheet (pictured below) sign-up for my mailing list and I’ll send you a PDF for free at your request.

Meal Planning

Use Ads for Meal Planning Ideas

Check out the weekly circular for meal ideas. Purchase sale items for budget friendly meals. Ads are a great way to get the ideas flowing. If roast is on sale you can consider a slow-cooker roast recipe or if salmon is on sale you might add that to your weekly menu plan. Ads also help you find out what produce is in season which helps your budget and your health; see the next point for more info.

Stick to Your Dietary Needs

Meal planning allows for you to meet your dietary needs without feeling overwhelmed or forgetful. Need to go low sodium to manage your blood pressure? Add recipes with limited salt. Aiming to manage your diabetes? Go low carb the healthy way and keep your starchy foods to one-fourth of your plate. Aiming to lose weight? Keep portions under control and pair higher calorie main dishes with lower calorie sides. Any dietary needs can be met by meal planning ahead of time and keeping your needs in mind.

Seasonal Simplicity in Meal Planning

Aim to eat vegetables and fruits that are in season. This can help with sticking to your budget as well as getting in a variety of foods throughout the year. Seasonal foods tend to be a better option since they are often grown locally and fresher when purchased. Seasonal produce tends to be a better price option since the store doesn’t have to pay extra for extravagant shipping requirements or special growing conditions. Meal planning based on the season can also help you get a range of nutrients each season and throughout the year.

Meal Planning

Weather Appropriate Meal Planning

Speaking of seasons. Hot weather may call for cooler meals such as smoothies and salads. Cold weather tends to lead us to soups and chili. Consider how eating a certain food may affect how you feel or function that day. Hot soup on a day you’re working out in the yard may not be the best choice but would be perfect after playing in the snow! Meal planning with the weather in mind can help you relax and appreciate your foods in a new way.

Stock Essentials

Keep the freezer, fridge, and pantry stocked with essential items you use consistently. Things you should always keep on hand include: healthy oils, nuts/seeds, frozen vegetables and fruits, peanut butter, brown and wild rice, oats, salt and pepper, canned tuna, frozen meats, canned beans, tortillas, breads/pastas, eggs, etc. Basically always be able to throw together a simple snack or meal if your originally planned option falls through. Any time you finish off one of your essential items it goes directly onto the grocery list. This also helps you prevent running out of an essential item in the middle of your week after you’ve already completed your meal planning and grocery shopping for the week.

Theme Nights for Meal Planning

Consider having theme nights to keep your cuisines rotating and your planning on track. Meatless Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, and Fish Fridays are popular options. Obviously you don’t have to have tacos every Tuesday, but something Mexican or a similar flare would work with the theme night and help when you trying to come up with options. This is also not something you have to stick with at all times. Consider it more of a guide or idea generator instead of a rule book. It can keep your meal planning organized but can sometimes feel limiting. Remember you’re ultimately in control of what goes on the menu that night.

Meal Planning

Love Leftovers

To prevent wasting food – plan leftovers into your week. One strategy is to eat leftovers every 4th night or you can plan to have leftovers on your busiest day of the week. Another option is to have leftovers as your lunch meals all week.  Try giving leftovers a little twist. For example: Chili can be eaten alone the first night and then over a potato as lunch or the next night. This helps keep things new and fresh and prevents feeling like you’re always eating the same things. When meal planning for the week or month just write in “leftovers” for the meals you plan to use them; that way you don’t forget!

Meatless Mondays

Aim to go vegetarian at least one day per week. There are countless health benefits to a plant-based diet. This doesn’t mean you need to eliminate meat completely – just eat less of it! Having one day a week meatless also makes some room in your budget. Meatless meals tend to be very budget friendly! It also doesn’t have to be Mondays or even a full day. One strategy I implement pretty regularly is having plant-based/vegetarian breakfast and lunches and only having animal products at dinner time. Incorporate meatless options into your meal planning strategy.

Meal Planning

Back-Up Options

You need a back-up plan. This should be 2-3 meals that meet the following requirements: 1) You can keep the ingredients on hand at all times, 2) take less than 15 minutes to throw together, 3) You enjoy eating. These may include something like a simple shrimp stir-fry made with minute rice, frozen precooked shrimp, and a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables or easy tuna salad sandwiches. These meals are not to be written into your meal plan. Instead, they are planning ahead for the unexpected. Your back-up plan is for those days when you’re running 2 hours behind by the time you finally make it home or your crock-pot dies along with your plans for dinner. This will help keep you out of the drive through and eating home-cooked, nutritionally balanced options instead.

Slow Cookers for Busy Days

If you know you’re going to be away from the house all day but don’t want to break the bank on restaurant meals; get a slow-cooker.  I love my slow cooker. I typically use it once a week. Look at your schedule for the week and choose slow cooker meals for days when you’ll get home late or you know you’ll be extra tired and not feel like cooking. Meal planning is vital for those busy days and prepping ahead before you leave the house will make you extra grateful for meal planning when you arrive home to an inviting smell wafting from the slow cooker.

Prep Ahead

Have a prep day. Pick a day of the week you can set aside 30-60 minutes to do some chopping, slicing, marinating, etc. Prepping for the week can reduce your cooking times and help increase productivity in other areas. Prepping your lunches can keep you away from the vending machine and improve your bank account balance as well. Pre-cut vegetables and fruits will increase snacking of these items instead of junk foods because you’re improving the ease of access.

Make a Big Batch

Batch cooking saves so much time! Double or triple recipes and then freeze them. You can freeze after cooking for quick meals for the next week or month or freeze prior to cooking and place into a disposable casserole dish. Freeze in either single serve (for lunches) or meal sized containers. You can add your frozen dinners to the menu when meal planning for the next month. If you batch cook a few times a month you’ll have several meals each month you don’t have to cook! Just heat and eat. I like to double recipes during the week so I only have to cook twice. We will often eat the same meal Monday/Tuesday and a second meal Wednesday/Thursday. Weekends I’ll cook additional meals when I have more time.  There are several ways batch cooking can make meal planning easier and efficient.

Meal Planning

Prevent Boredom by Meal Planning

You want to make sure you keep things interesting and vary your options for optimal nutrition. This doesn’t necessarily mean having a new recipe every night! You can change things up simply by using different vegetables, seasoning it a new way, or using different cooking techniques. For example, salmon can be paired with asparagus or broccoli, seasoned with garlic and lemon or teriyaki marinade, and can be baked or grilled. These variations can keep things interesting but also consistently keep your favorite foods on the menu.

Make Meal Planning Easy

Consider how to make your life easier while you’re meal planning. A good rule of thumb is 30 minute or less for recipe times during the week. Experiment or do longer cooking recipes on the weekends when you have more time available. Salads, sandwiches, soups, and casseroles are easy and simple options that don’t take a lot of time or energy. Give yourself a break and buy frozen, pre-cut vegetables, canned beans, and premixed salads as needed. Just because someone else did the work for you doesn’t automatically make it unhealthy. Just stick with whole foods with minimal processing.

Meal Planning

Reasons to Repeat

Some people really enjoy certain meals and there is not reason to avoid repeating if you love it! Rotating menus can be great for busy families in fact. Consider coming up with about 25 different meals that you can rotate through each month. You can implement a rotating menu where you basically repeat the menu each month if desired. Utilizing the rotating menu option can really cut down on your meal planning time; saving you time and energy. Swap out dishes occasionally as seasons change or you find something new. This can keep your favorites in steady supply but also allow for some variation from time to time.

Organize Your Recipes

Create a recipe organization system that works for you. You can go the old-fashioned way keep them in a tin if you want to write each one on an index card. You can print them or cut them out of magazines and place in a binder. Other options include organizing your pinterests boards just right or using an app designed to organize your recipes. Honestly how you organize them doesn’t matter. Just have a way to access your go-to recipes so you can easily find them and get dinner on the table.

Grocery Lists are Part of Meal Planning

Once you have your meal planning completed for the week or month, the next step is to write out your grocery list. Add all the ingredients you need for each meal down on your list. Then cross off or delete items you currently have in your pantry. Make sure you take your list to the store and stick to it!

meal planning

Make sure to sign up for my newsletter to receive additional healthy lifestyle and nutrition advice delivered straight to your inbox. You can request the FREE meal planning worksheet as well by replying to the welcome email.  I look forward to hearing from you!

Anti-inflammatory Rainbow: Orange Foods

Anti-Inflammatory Food and Colors

The foods that help fight inflammation come in all different colors. Each color has special properties that help fight inflammation and provide a myriad of other benefits to our body. These special properties are often referred to as the large category of “phytonutrients” which is basically a fancy word for plant nutrients. There are over 100,000 phytonutrients in the plants we eat! You can learn more about phytonutrients here. The anti-inflammatory nutrients make up hundreds of those phytonutrients. The color of a plant tells us some things about which phytonurients and which anti-inflammatory nutrients that plant contains. It’s vitally important that we get a variety of colors in our diet to make sure we are getting in the wide variety of phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds that we need for optimal health. This post is all about the orange foods and how they benefit our health.

Anti-Inflammatory Orange Foods

Orange compounds help protect our eyes, skin, and immune system. Additional benefits include anti-bacterial effects, anti-cancer, and reproductive health. The healthy orange compounds include: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, bioflavonoids, carotenoids, cucuminoids, and naringenin. The orange foods come in a wide variety of starchy vegetables, non-starchy vegetables, and fruits. Some orange foods are starchy; pair those with a compete meal to prevent blood glucose spikes. The starchy orange foods include winter squashes and sweet potatoes. Tangerines and Oranges, among other citrus fruits, are high in powerful phytonutrients and provide many health benefits so make sure to incorporate them into your weekly intake. Check out this post to find out more benefits you can gain by eating citrus fruits. Carrots make a great, easy addition to snacks and meals. Baby carrots are a healthy convenient item to keep on hand in your fridge for quick access. Keep reading to learn more about the orange foods.

Orange Food List:

anti-inflammatory rainbow orange foods

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY ORANGE FOOD COMPOUNDS

Beta-Carotene:

This phytonutrient founds in orange foods turns into vitamin A. So in-turn beta-carotene helps maintain healthy vision, promote cell growth, supports healthy reproduction, and supports our immune system. Cooking foods like carrots helps us absorb the caratenoids more efficiently. Also, beta-carotenes are fat soluble – meaning they need some healthy fats to be absorbed. This emphasizes the importance of balanced meals for optimal health. Check out the anti-inflammatory plate method to ensure you are balancing your meals correctly. The University of Maryland Medical Center has some more information on beta-carotene here.

Bioflavonoids:

Water soluble phytonutrients found in orange (and yellow) fruits don’t require fat to be absorbed. Together with vitamin C bioflavonoids help reduce the risk of heart attacks, maintain strong bones and teeth, and fight off cancer. Other benefits include treatment or prevention in the following conditions: allergies, atherosclerosis, stress, rheumatoid arthritis, cataracts, lupus, and urinary tract infections. Huntington College of Health Sciences has a fact-sheet on these orange colored nutrients here. Bioflavonoids can help reduce the risk of cataracts, macular degeneration, and surprisingly, emphysema. Overall, bioflavonoids help protect us against inflammation and boost our immunity.

Tips for Increasing Orange Foods in Your Diet:

  • Choose sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes some of the time
  • Cook with turmeric more often
  • Have orange colored fruits as snacks or incorporate into fruit salads
  • Add orange peppers to fajitas or stir-fry
  • Grill peaches or nectarines for a sweet surprise
  • Keep carrots handy for snacks and meal additions

Recipes to Boost Orange Foods Consumption:

Mexican Chicken Skillet with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans by Recipe Runner
Golden Coconut Lentil Soup by Budget Bytes
Golden Turmeric Hummus by Healthy Nibbles and Bits
Mango, Tangerine, Yogurt Smoothie Bowl by Martha Stewart

How to Eat to Fight Inflammation

Just eating a few orange foods each week mixed in to your normal intake of fast-foods and sweets isn’t going to get you the benefits you are after. Check out my Ultimate Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet to make sure your following the full plan for optimal results. If you’d like to not only fight inflammation and gain health; but lose weight as well, check out How to Go Low Carb the Healthy Way. You can combine the anti-inflammatory diet and low-carb meal plans together for optimal health and weight management results. Sign-up for my newsletter below to get even more tips on following the Anti-inflammatory meal plan.

anti-inflammatory rainbow orange foods

Anti-inflammatory Rainbow

I’ll be sharing information on red foods, green foods, blue and purple foods, white and brown foods, and yellow foods over the next few months. Definitely check out the other wonderful colors of the anti-inflammatory rainbow and incorporate them into your nutrition plan as well. Your meals will not only be healthy and tasty, but beautiful as well! Check back often or sign-up for my newsletter so you don’t miss a thing! Eating a rainbow of colors is the best way to ensure a highly anti-inflammatory diet that includes the broad spectrum of phytonutrients we need for optimal health.

What’s your favorite orange food and/or recipe? Post in the comments below!

Low Carb the Healthy Way

healthy low carb

The very low carb keto diet is super popular right now. People have found some weight loss success with it. You could do it and probably lose weight. But you most likely won’t keep the it weight off. Because realistically you won’t follow it forever and you’ll sneak carbs back into your diet. Because most people who lose weight gain it all back (and then some) within 1 year!

So why not use a simple approach for weight loss that you can maintain forever? And avoid the nasty keto flu along with it?  I’d be game. Follow these simple guidelines to go low carb the healthy way.

Low Carb Meal Plan Basics

The plan is to follow the plate method of eating and limit your carbohydrates to 30-45 grams of carbohydrates at your meals. This will keep your blood glucose steady and supply adequate fuel to your body without making it rely on ketones and suffer the negative effects of an very low carbohydrate diet. Why a range of 30-45? That’s just a starting point and you many need to adjust based on your experience. Typically I recommended 30 grams for women who typically are at a lower calorie intake and 45 for men at a higher intake. However, if someone is extremely active they could increase based on their needs. I believe once you have the tools and knowledge you can listen to your body and feed it what it needs.

This is a great example of the plate method.  You can go here to read more about their healthy eating plate philosophy. In the image below fruit and whole grains are the 2 food categories that contain carbohydrate. Be aware that for this low carb plan that beans and legumes and starchy vegetables would also be in the same part of the plate as the whole grains because of their starch content.

Harvard Healthy Eating Plate

Copyright © 2011, Harvard University. For more information about The Healthy Eating Plate, please see The Nutrition Source, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, www.thenutritionsource.org, and Harvard Health Publications, www.health.harvard.edu.

Low Carb Foods

Animal proteins, fats, and cheeses don’t contain any significant amount of carbohydrate. These are “free” of carbohydrate but still should not be eaten in unlimited amounts when trying to lose weight. This is where Atkins and Keto diets get things wrong. They don’t pay as much attention to the quality of proteins and fats as they should. What type of protein and fat you consume still matters if you want to be healthy and keep weight off long-term. Low carb and healthy should not be considered two separate goals!

Non-starchy vegetables are also extremely low in digestible carbohydrates. I don’t typically count the carbohydrates of these foods when counseling clients on reducing carbohydrates but if you use a tracking app it will probably count all your carbohydrates. If that’s the case, subtract your total dietary fiber from your total carbohydrate intake to get your net carbs. AKA the actual carbohydrates your body can digest. Because fiber is non-digestible it shouldn’t be counted against your carbohydrate count for the day/meal. So even though all vegetables are technically carbohydrates; non-starchy vegetables are still considered low carb.

High Carb Foods

Fruit, grains, legumes, milk, and yogurts all contain carbohydrate. These foods need to be monitored in a low carb meal plan. Additionally sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages also contain carbs. I recommend against sugary beverages, including fruit juice, completely and reducing your sweet intake to about once per week or very tiny portions a few times per week when trying to lose weight. It’s hard to maintain a low carb meal plan and eat a lot of sweets. Sweets are nearly all carbs or they’re carbs and less healthy fats; either way they are empty calories that will hinder your weight loss goals!

Below I have a list of foods that contain carbohydrates in 15 gram carbohydrate portion sizes. Choose 2-3 options below per meal and 1 option at snacks. You can mix and match any way you prefer. Making a smoothie? Pick 2 fruits and a yogurt serving and add a protein powder (sugarless) to balance the meal. Having pasta for dinner? Make all 3 options as pasta (3 x 1/3 cup = 1 cup) with a side salad and meatballs to balance the plate. These will keep you low carb and balanced at your meals.

15 Gram Carbohydrate Serving Sizes: Pick 2-3 per meal for low carb eatingLow carb diet foods to monitor

For items not listed, read the label. Figure our how many carbohydrates it contains per serving and do the math. You can have 30-45 grams per meal so adjust as needed. This is a great starting point for most people who want to lose weight, and bonus: manage their diabetes or prevent diabetes. But like always consult your personal physician or health care professionals before making any dietary changes. Carbohydrates per serving size above were obtained from the glycemic Index or by searching Calorie King.

Low Carb Foods to Eat More Often

What makes my low carb plan a little different than keto or Atkins? Because it’s a little higher in carbohydrates, the protein and fat amounts are more moderate. You shouldn’t go into ketosis on this diet and if you already have diabetes or prediabetes this plan is a lot safer for you than keto. The type of protein and fat also matters. Yes bacon is low in carbs but it isn’t healthy for you!!

The foods below are all low carb and can be eaten in quantities that you decide. They won’t contribute much or any carbs to your intake but you should still be mindful of overall calories and portion sizes. Also, vegetables are technically carbohydrates; but since they only contribute a couple of carbohydrates per serving and are rich in fiber they don’t count against you on this eating plan. There is NO reason to limit non-starchy vegetables.

Low carb food list

Foods to Limit to Stay Low Carb and Healthy

Finally, we have foods you should eat less often. This is where a lot of people disagree, feel deprived, or begin to cheat. There are foods that we should NOT eat on a daily basis. We use the phrase “everything in moderation” and believe that one cup of ice cream per day counts as moderation.  I have a different view. I am not saying my opinion is 100% correct but it will help you lose weight by reducing the calories you eat and keep your body healthy at the same time. Losing weight on an Atkins type diet won’t do you much good if your cholesterol goes up and you have a heart attack. So the foods below should be limited. Not avoided. Just eaten less often.

Low carb diet food to limit

Now you have to tools to go low carb the healthy way. It’s up to you to utilize these tools and start losing weight. Please share these resources with others so they can learn how to obtain a healthy weight without drastic fad diets. Stay in touch to get more information about healthy eating, weight loss, anti-inflammatory foods, and other healthy lifestyle information.

In case you were wondering. You can follow the anti-inflammatory meal plan and go low carb at the same time with AMAZING health benefits! Check out my Ultimate Guide to the Anti-inflammatory Diet for more information.

healthy low carb