Why Intuitive Eating Might Not Work for You

Intuitive eating is one of those weight-loss fads people swear by, but is it actually effective? Like so many weight loss methods floating around out there, it may work for you or it may not. I know, that’s so noncommittal. But let me explain.

Intuitive eating isn’t a diet. It’s a method of eating that gives its users a great degree of freedom of what and how much they eat. Some people experience success with intuitive eating and are able to use the technique to lose excess weight. But unfortunately, not everyone responds well to this dietary strategy. In fact, it can cause some people to gain even more weight!

So how can you tell if intuitive eating is a good strategy for you to try, or if it will cause you to fall back even further on your weight-loss journey? While you won’t know for sure unless you try it, here are a few indications that intuitive eating might not work for you (even if it worked for your sister, best friend, or cousin Harry).

Understanding How Intuitive Eating Works

Before we dive into the pros and cons of intuitive eating, let’s review what it is and what it isn’t, shall we? Intuitive eating is a pretty simple idea, and its main principles were developed in 1995 by two dietitians (Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch).

The main idea behind this type of eating is to come to peaceful terms with all different types of foods. You’re not supposed to refer to any foods as bad or off-limits when you adopt this way of eating. Instead, you do the following:

  • Listen to your body and consume what feels right in the moment

  • Eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full

  • Select foods that make your mind and body feel good while satisfying your health needs

  • Respect your emotions and seek treatment for them instead of engaging in emotional eating

Some people may lose weight with this eating strategy, but many others may not. Here are a few indications you may not want to try intuitive eating.

Indications Intuitive Eating May Not Be Right for You

Here are a few indications that intuitive eating may not work for your situation:

  • You have certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Consult with your doctor to see if there are certain foods you should add or cut out of your diet completely.

  • You don’t know how to recognize your body’s hunger or satiety signals. Eating intuitively sounds great in theory, but what if you don’t trust your body’s intuition? For some people, counting calories is a more reliable way to avoid overeating (or undereating).

  • You have a hard time losing weight. If you already struggle to lose weight, you may plateau or even gain weight by eating intuitively. Some people have higher ghrelin levels than others (that’s the hormone that triggers hunger), and they’re more likely to gain weight if they always eat until they’re full. For people like this, tracking calorie and macro intakes is essential for weight-loss success.

  • You’re addicted to sugar. Yes, science shows that it’s possible to become addicted to sugar. And if you follow the intuitive eating mindset, you can eat sugar if you really want it. As you can imagine, this can lead to over-indulgence for people whose relationship with sugar is out of control. It’s generally best to stay away from sugar or severely limit it in your diet rather than allow yourself to eat it “intuitively.”

So there you have it. If any of the above bullet points sound like you, intuitive eating may be something you want to skip (especially if you are trying to lose weight).

The 3 Best and Worst Drinks for Weight Loss

Have you ever had someone tell you “don’t drink your calories”? I know I have. It can get a little annoying because I like to enjoy my beverages without judgment. But I did decide to see what all the commotion is about and check out the nutrition and calorie content in some of my favorite drinks. What I discovered surprised me, so I decided to share my knowledge with you.

If you’re trying to lose weight, some drinks can derail your progress (or at least slow it down significantly). But other drinks can actually help you reach your weight loss goals! The key is being able to differentiate between them. Now that I’ve got your undivided attention, here are the three best and the three worst drinks for weight loss.

DO Drink These!

Ready for the list of top beverages that can help you reach your weight loss goals? Here you go!

1. Water

Before you get disappointed by the first beverage on the list, I promise you that water doesn’t have to be bland. I have a few great tips for making plain old H2O much more appealing. They include:

  • Pour your water into a fun, brightly-colored bottle (yes, this really can make it more fun to drink!)

  • Drink your water with ice to help you feel refreshed and hydrated.

  • Put slices of lemons, cucumbers, strawberries, and any other type of favorite fruit into your water. This lends a subtle flavor to the beverage and looks pretty, too!

  • Squeeze some water-flavoring products into your water bottle each day.

Water has zero calories and it hydrates your body, so it deserves its spot as the #1 best drink for weight loss.

2. Green Tea

Green tea is practically bursting with antioxidants and other nutrients. It’s also been shown in studies to decrease both body fat and body weight. Those are both causes we can stand behind! In addition to antioxidants, green tea also contains caffeine, which helps boost energy and exercise performance.

3. Ginger Tea

Did you know ginger tea can potentially reduce your appetite while helping you expend more calories? According to one study involving 10 overweight men, ginger tea consumption increases satiety and decreases hunger.  

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DON’T Drink These!

Now that you know what drinks are great choices for losing a few extra pounds, let’s talk about the three worst drinks for your weight loss journey.

1. Soda

You can’t say you’re particularly surprised about this one, can you? Soda has no redeeming qualities, and it can actually harm your health in the long run. Every time you choose to indulge in soda (whether it’s a regular or sugar-free variety), you’re pumping your body full of artificial flavorings and colorings. Soda is also acidic, which can negatively impact your gut microbiome and make it more difficult for you to lose weight.

2. Energy Drinks

While some caffeine has been shown to aid in weight loss, too much caffeine can stress your body and cause a wide variety of health problems (such as nausea, nervousness, and increased blood pressure). When you’re not feeling good, you’re less likely to exercise and take care of your body. So it’s best to consume caffeine in moderation (400 mg or less is ideal for most people).

3. Specialty Coffees

A simple cup of coffee won’t derail your weight loss goals. In fact, it may help you reach them. But stay away from specialty coffees! A 12-ounce cafe mocha, though delicious, contains nearly 300 calories! Compare that to a simple cup of black coffee, which contains just three calories.

How did you do with the above lists? Do you drink primarily the beverages in the “DON’T drink” category or the “DO drink” category? The great news is that you can change your habits today to optimize your weight loss journey by indulging in drinks that can help you reach your goal.

What You Should Know About Eating Yogurt for Gut Health

Hey there! Are you ready to talk about gut health for a little bit? I know, it’s not the most riveting topic, but the health of your gut is directly related to your overall physical and mental health. I’ve learned over the years that most gut imbalance issues don’t resolve themselves on their own. In fact, seemingly minor things such as occasional heartburn or excessive gas often turn into bigger problems down the road if you ignore them while they’re small.

Whether you have occasional digestive issues or you’re constantly fighting abdominal pain and other unpleasant symptoms, there are things you can do to restore the balance of your gut bacteria. One of those things is incorporating quality yogurt into your regular diet. Here’s what you should know about eating yogurt for gut health.

What Yogurt Can Do for Your Body

If you look at a spoonful of yogurt, you might think to yourself “this doesn’t really look that special.” But you’d be wrong! Hidden in that unassuming bite of delicious goodness are a bunch of microscopic bacteria known as probiotics. While the thought of little squirmy things on your spoon might make your stomach feel a little queasy, just know that the little guys inside yogurt are your friends. Think of them like microscopic superheroes getting ready to plunge into your stomach acid and beat up all the “bad guys” in there.

If you still need a little convincing that yogurt should become a regular part of your plan, here are some of the best things about yogurt.

  • It’s high in protein. Your body needs protein to maintain muscle mass, regulate your appetite and control your weight.
  • It’s good for digestive health. The key, though, is to look for the types of yogurt that contain probiotics. Otherwise, you’re missing out on one of the most important benefits yogurt can provide.
  • It has a lot of nutrients. Quality yogurt contains B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D (in fortified versions). These vitamins can help your body feel and function great.
  • It may prevent osteoporosis. Thanks to its calcium, phosphorous, potassium and protein content, yogurt is great for your bones. It can strengthen them and help you stave off unpleasant diseases such as osteoporosis.
  • It may enhance your immune system. Did you know many of your immune system cells are found in your gut? That came as a surprise to me. So if you want to build your immunity, you should start by giving your digestive system the probiotics it needs to thrive.
  • It could help you maintain your weight. Foods that are high in protein tend to reduce levels of hormones responsible for appetite. Additionally, there are several studies that show eating yogurt is associated with lower body fat percentage and body weight.

There’s a good, long list showing why you should start eating yogurt today. For best results, though, you need to stay away from the more sugary versions. Instead, opt for yogurt that is low in sugar and provides you with plenty of probiotics. You can even go with a plain version and add berries or fruits to sweeten it without all of the added sugar.

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Considerations for Those Who Are Lactose Intolerant

Some people are lactose intolerant, which means they can’t consume dairy products without experiencing unpleasant symptoms. If you are one of those people, you may be able to get some of the benefits of yogurt by simply consuming probiotics in supplement form.

Additionally, some people with mild lactose intolerance are able to consume kefir, which is a yogurt-like drink that contains lots of probiotics. The bacteria within kefir break down much of the milk, and some brands of kefir claim to be up to 99% lactose-free.

Whether you choose to get your probiotics from yogurt, kefir or supplements, you’re making a wise decision. Your gut and your health will thank you!

The Art and Science of Foods That Fill You Up

A big part of healthy eating is filling up on the right foods. The problem is that trying to avoid cravings can feel crazy sometimes. Some people eat lunch and feel hungry again an hour later. What’s up with that?

The Science Behind Feeling Full

The reason you feel full after eating something is all in your head, literally. As your stomach digests your meal, it sends signals to your brain telling you that you’re not hungry anymore. Your body takes time to break down food into nutrients, releasing hormones that help you feel full and content.

Even your emotions are involved. Have you ever noticed how happy and satisfied you are after eating a meal that you love? On the other hand, when you’re stressed or depressed, you probably feel hungrier than normal. This is all because of hormones.

The Reason Some Foods Make You Feel Full Longer Than Others

Why are some foods more filling than others? One reason is that they take longer to digest. The more time your stomach spends processing food, the less time it has to feel hungry. Here are a few things that can make any meal more filling:

  • Fiber: Foods that are high in fiber take longer for your body to digest. Fiber turns the things you eat into a kind of gel, slowing them down as they move through your intestines. Another benefit of fiber is that it balances your blood-sugar levels, basically telling your body that your energy levels are good so you don’t need to eat anything else.
  • Protein: When you eat protein, your body releases specific hormones responsible for feelings of fullness. High-protein foods are the best snacks for calming the munchies. Eggs have a lot of protein, and so do nuts and different types of fish.
  • Water: Getting enough water with meals is a great way to calm your appetite. Not only does water have zero calories, it contributes to fullness. Fruit that naturally has high water content is very filling, such as a slice of watermelon or some fresh pineapple.

Other foods help you stay full longer because they have a low energy density. In other words, they have a lot of volume but not very many calories. You feel satisfied without feeling guilty.

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The Best Foods for Calming Hunger

The munchies can make cutting calories from your diet easier said than done. To have success with your weight loss goals, reach for these foods at meal time:

  • Soup: Cooked veggies and protein with plenty of water are the perfect recipe for a filling meal.
  • Greek yogurt: This healthy treat has a lot of protein and probiotics to calm hungry feelings.
  • Vegetables: Did you know that broccoli is 90% water? Leafy greens are packed with fiber, too. Carrots are another filling choice.
  • Fresh fruit: Apples, bananas and oranges have plenty of fiber and water, and they’re super-fast to grab on the go.
  • Potatoes: Boiled or baked potatoes are among the most filling foods on the planet. Scientists think they have a special protein that suppresses appetite.

My personal recommendation is to add a salad to everything (but skip the ranch dressing). If you’re making spaghetti for your kids, make some salad, too. That way you eat fewer calories but still feel satisfied. This helps calm nighttime snacking temptations a lot.

How To Make a Weight-Loss New Year’s Resolution That Will Actually Stick!

Measuring Tape

We open up a shiny new year by declaring all the things that will be different this year. We'll eat better. We'll exercise more. In reality, though, our resolutions last maybe a week, and then it's back to the same old thing, right? What if there was a trick to making a new habit stick? What if this trick worked even for habits you had tried (and failed) to cultivate many times in the past? News flash: There is such a trick, and it really does work. (Spoiler alert: It's actually not a trick at all. It's science.)


Remember Your Why

Take a bit of time to dig down into why you want to lose weight this year. Get specific. Don't settle for a vague feeling of nostalgia. Instead, write down the personal and health benefits you want to gain by losing weight. Focus on outcomes, such as playing with your grandchildren without getting winded or being able to climb stairs without knee pain from the extra weight on your joints. Post your "why" somewhere you can see it often.


Set Specific Goals

Now that you know exactly why you want to lose weight write down what that will look like for you when you've accomplished it. Will you be down a certain number of pounds or pants sizes? Will you know you've hit your goal when you can walk a set distance without feeling like you need a nap? Write it down, whatever it is.

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Focus on Habits

After completing the two steps above, you've got your resolution. Now comes the part where you make it all happen. You already know how to lose weight. Although the details may vary depending on your health and other circumstances, it basically comes down to eating better and moving more. What new habits do you need to incorporate into your life to make weight loss happen for you? Create two category headings: one for food and one for movement. Under each heading, write down one or two habits to start with. One could be about filling up on fruits and veggies, and another could be about doubling your average daily steps. Try to choose new habits that are slightly out of reach but don't feel impossible.


Tie It All Together

Once you have your new habits in mind (and down on paper!), figure out how to tie them to habits you already have. For example, you already brush your teeth every morning. If you want to create a new habit of drinking a big glass of water first thing in the morning, attach the new habit to the existing habit by placing your water glass next to the toothpaste so you remember to grab it and fill it up. If your new habit is eating two servings of fruit at breakfast and you're a coffee drinker, place a cutting board next to the coffee maker and link chopping fruit with waiting for the coffee to brew. Once your new behaviors start to truly become habits, add a couple more, always piggybacking onto something you already do.

Happy New Year

Give Yourself Grace

The true secret to success in anything is never to give up. New Year's resolutions that really stick are those you don't give up on, even when you have setbacks. When you feel like you've failed at keeping your resolutions, dust yourself off and start again. You've got this!

Eat on the Go a Lot? This Is Why You’re Gaining Weight

Take out

Does any of this sound like your daily routine?

  • Eating lunch at your desk
  • Grabbing a toaster pastry on your way out the door
  • Stopping at a drive-thru on the way to work
  • Skipping meals
  • Buying a muffin or donut while you fill your gas tank
  • Eating at weird times of day
  • Ordering fast food over your lunch break
  • Getting your “lunch” from a vending machine

If so, you’re probably noticing that it’s hard to reach that slim waistline you’ve been craving. Rushing through mealtimes makes it harder for your body to burn calories. It adds literal pounds to your waistline. Here’s why:


1. You Eat Too Much

Eating quickly doesn’t give your body time to signal when you’re full. This makes it easy to overeat. Any extra calories go straight to your waistline.

Taking your time to savor your food lets you digest what you’re eating. This balances blood sugar levels and reduces the amount of sugar turned into fat. Plus, relaxed eating prevents that nasty afternoon energy crash that leaves you reaching for caffeine.

Vending Machine

2. You Stay Hungry

Have you ever grabbed a candy bar and looked down to see the empty wrapper in your hand, but you don’t remember eating the candy bar? That’s exactly what happens when you eat on the go. Scientists have discovered that it’s not just your stomach that tells you you’re full; your brain does, too.

When your brain is distracted with something else — walking or working — you won’t feel full even if you’ve eaten enough. You’re going to have major munchies, and what happens next probably won’t make you proud.

2 Minute Ritual

3. Your Body Misses Out on Fat-Burning Nutrients

People who eat on the run often choose foods that aren’t exactly healthy. It’s tempting to grab toaster pastries, donuts, muffins or burgers and call them a meal because they’re so convenient. But they’re also nothing but empty calories that make you gain weight.

On the other hand, fresh fruit fills you up and gives your body tons of energizing nutrients. Many of these antioxidant superstars supercharge your metabolism and help you burn fat.

Eating at work

4. The Portions Are Huge

If eating on the go means swinging through a drive-thru, you have to deal with the massive portions of most fast-food restaurants. DON’T SUPERSIZE IT! Even normal burgers and fries are enough to blow past your daily calorie limits. The gigantic portions of most places can quickly undo any exercise you’ve done all week long.


What Can You Do?

How can you avoid gaining weight if you have a busy schedule? First, understand that eating on the go is dangerous and taking your time is healthy. People who rush through meals are at a much greater risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

If a busy schedule is the problem, cook healthy foods the night before that don’t take long to serve in the morning, such as a fresh berry smoothie. Set aside a reasonable amount of time to enjoy eating, such as 15 minutes for breakfast, and 30-45 for lunch and supper. During this time, RELAX.

If you’re at work, find a nice outdoor spot where you can sit and eat a tasty sandwich or salad. Savor the flavors, talk with friends, or just enjoy the refreshing air. This can help you lose weight, and I guarantee you will feel more productive.

High Calorie Foods That Are Actually Healthy

If you’re trying to eat healthy and watch your waistline, calories may seem like the enemy. It’s a well-known fact that some of the unhealthiest foods are absolutely full of empty calories. But not all calories are bad. In fact, they’re crucial for your health and survival.

Check out this list of nutritious foods that are surprisingly high in calories, and you’ll see firsthand that you can achieve optimum health by including quality high-calorie foods in your diet. Just make sure you eat them sparingly, because any high-calorie food can make you gain weight if you eat too much of it.

1. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is one of the most versatile high-calorie foods out there. You can find it in everything from Asian cuisine sauces to candy bars. It also happens to be good for you. This delectable nut butter provides a decent amount of protein, as well as vitamins and minerals such as zinc, magnesium and potassium.

Unfortunately, you won’t reap the health benefits of peanut butter if your daily serving comes from a candy bar or cookie dough batter. Instead, try smearing a tablespoon of smooth and creamy peanut butter into the crevices of fresh celery stalks. The peanut butter will help satiate you and the celery will delivery a powerful punch of vitamins and minerals (plus, it has an incredible crunch).

2. Nuts

Nuts are amazing snack foods  because they fill you up so effectively. This is partially because of their high calorie content (which tops at a 190 calories per ounce for some varieties). But don’t let that scare you away.

Nuts are rich in protein, fiber and various essential nutrients. Try substituting a small handful of nuts for your favorite unhealthy crunchy foods, such as chips or cookies.

3. Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) is a funny-looking grain that hasn’t yet become popular in many American dishes. But if people realized how nutritious this little grain is, they’d want to eat more of it every day! Quinoa is one of the few complete proteins in this world (which means it contains 9 essential amino acids). It’s also high in omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, which are both great for controlling diabetes. Be careful to eat it in moderation, though, since a single cup of the cooked stuff contains 222 calories.

4. Olive Oil

There are some types of oil that have a bad reputation for a reason. Low-quality oils such as vegetable oil or canola oil are full of omega-6 fatty acids, which can be harmful for your body if consumed in large amounts. Olive oil, on the other hand, has a much healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. It also has strong ant-inflammatory properties and may help you manage your blood pressure. Who knew?

Olive oil has just under 120 calories per tablespoon, so try not to go crazy with it. Just a teaspoon here and there will do you good. Try drizzling a bit on a fresh salad or using it to cook your vegetables and meats.

How To Create Cheap and Healthy Meals for Your Family

How To Create Cheap and Healthy Meals for Your Family

Many people think that “healthy” is synonymous with “expensive,” but I love proving them wrong. With a little forethought, you can save money each month while still providing your family with nutritious and delicious meals every night (or as often as you want to cook).

Here’s how to create cheap and healthy meals you can proudly feed to your family.

Set a Budget

Listen up. Eating healthy isn’t going to cost you an arm and a leg unless you don’t set a budget for your groceries. The very first step you should take when creating a healthy meal schedule is to figure out how much you can spend on groceries.

Once you have a number, you can look for recipes that fit within your budget. This will take you a little bit of time, but it’s absolutely worth it.

“Healthify” Your Favorite Meals

You don’t have to completely change your palate to enjoy healthy foods. Instead, take recipes you already know you like and make a few tweaks here and there to “healthify” them.


Here are some of the top ways to make the most delectable unhealthy recipes a lot healthier.

  • Make one or more healthy substitutions. Use fat-free milk instead of whole milk, trade enriched pasta with whole-wheat pasta, or cut the meat content in half and add more vegetables.
  • Reduce the amount of salt, fat and sugar. Too much salt, fat and sugar aren’t good for your health (not to mention your waistline!) Here are some easy ways to limit the amounts of these ingredients in your meals.
  • Salt - To cut back on salt, try using other seasonings to flavor your food. Thyme, cayenne, allspice and oregano can all add great flavor to your food and can reduce your need to use salt.
  • Fat - To make sure your baked goods are still deliciously soft while cutting back on fat from butter, just use half the butter. You can replace the other half of the butter with mashed banana, unsweetened applesauce or prune puree.
  • Sugar - To limit your sugar intake, add up to ½ less sugar than what’s called for in your favorite recipes. You can make up the difference by adding other sweet ingredients, such as nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice or cloves. Flavorings such as almond or vanilla extract can also add the most delightful hint of sweetness.
  • Make your portion sizes smaller. One of the easiest ways to cut back on calories is to simply make portion sizes smaller. This will not only help you save money, but it may save your waistline, as well!

Figure Out What Ingredients Your Kids Will Eat

A little experimentation with healthy foods can help you figure out what your kids love, hate and tolerate. Remember to be creative. Your kids may think they hate carrots, but might change their minds if you puree some cooked carrots with a bit of olive oil, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Kids Meals

Once you figure out what healthy components your kids like, you can rotate them into your meals regularly.

Take It a Week at a Time

Making nutritious meals can get overwhelming if you think too far ahead. While some people thrive on creating month-long dinner schedules, most people do best when they take it a week at a time.

Every weekend, take a few minutes to figure out your meal and grocery needs for the next week. Pick up all your groceries in a single trip, if possible. This will save you precious time and stress.

Healthy Breakfast