Food Combining

 I’ve recently tried food combining. I’ve been struggling with pesky digestive issues lately, and by lately I mean the past few years. So I decided to see if this method of eating would help my bloated belly feel better.

Spoiler alert! It did.

What is food combining? It is the belief that protein and starches digest at different rates and, if eaten together, cause a sludgy build up of undigested food in the gut. This build up can lead to an unhealthy gut, bad bacteria, disease and allergies.

There are a few major rules around food combining and here they are:

  • Only eat fruit on an empty stomach, especially melons.
  • Don’t combine starches and protein.
  • Don’t combine starches with acidic food.
  • Try not to combine too many different types of protein.
  • Only consume dairy products on an empty stomach.

The last rule is to wait at least three hours ~ preferably four ~ between eating starch and protein.

This may sound like a lot of rules but food combining is relatively easy, and delicious, once you get used to it. And if you’re suffering from gut issues and their symptoms, it’s so worth putting the extra thought into your meal plans.

It can be as easy as eating that burger wrapped in lettuce “paleo style” or having your pasta dish with vegetable only tomato sauces.

The benefits of food combing is so worth the extra effort. Here are a few:

  • Kick ass digestion
  • Improved nutrient absorption
  • Glowing skin
  • In cases of overweight – weight loss

Who doesn’t want at least a few of these benefits?

Beach Yoga & Choco Energy Balls

Throwing it back this Thursday to last summer’s beach yoga. Practicing barefoot in the mud during low tide took me right back to happily playing in the mud when I was a child.

And what is summer all about if not keeping your inner child happy?

Another thing that keeps my inner child happy is chocolate. Here’s a grown-up, healthy and vegan chocolate snack that will make your inner child smile and do your body good:

Choco Energy Balls

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup

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Watermelon Smoothies

When I feel like practicing yoga in a place where I can sink into the lush green beauty of nature; a place filled with towering trees, pretty pink lily pads, ribbiting frogs, still herons focused on catching a fish for their lunch and ducks gliding through the forest of lilies, I stroll through Stanley Park’s tree lined trails to a little hidden oasis called Beaver Lake.

Beaver Lake is a stunning and serene setting to meditate and practice yoga.

Bird chirps fill the air, frogs ribit happily from their watery home and the calm, peaceful lake is bursting with fuchsia lily pads.

I can easily spend an afternoon soaking up the beauty of the lake, meditating and practicing poses.

And after a few hours of practice, peace and meditation, I head home to replenish and rehydrate with a sweetly simple watermelon smoothie.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 1 T fresh mint
  • Big squeeze of lime

Place all ingredients in a blender, blend thoroughly and enjoy the hydrating and antioxidant ingredients that will do your body good.

Sup Yoga & My Fitness Journey

Here are a few photos of the first couple of time I tried sup yoga.

And these pics also document the beginning of a very happy obsession.

After taking an unintended fitness break for about a year, this class rejuvenated my love for keeping my body fit, healthy and happy. The full body workout of the class feels amazing and core muscles definitely get an intense workout as you try to stay stable on the board during yoga poses.

Sup yoga also sparked a love of regular stand-up paddle boarding (and a summer of sore but happy muscles) and rekindled my 18 year on again, off again love affair with yoga.

My activities this summer have inspired me to finally get my personal trainer certification this fall and I couldn’t be more exited (and scared). I know that studying fitness will take me further along my own fitness journey and I am excited to learn how to keep our bodies healthy and functioning at an optimal level, especially as we age.

I’ve changed the blog name to “Fit Life with Laurel” and future posts will focus on fun ways to get your body moving and delicious, clean food with the occasional scrumptious cheat meal thrown in.

New direction in life?

Sunset Yoga

Yoga is not just repetition of few postures – it is more about the exploration and discovery of the subtle energies of life. ~ Amit Ray

Yoga is a light, which once lit, will never dim. The better your practice, the brighter the flame. ~ B.K.S lyenga

Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self. ~ The Bhagavad Gita

Namaste

An Enchanted Forest

I love walking through a fall forest, even when our west coast November rain is pouring down and the trees are shrouded in mist. Actually I sometimes love it even more because the forest leaves are glistening with dewy rain drops and transformed into a mysterious, enchanted forest.

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon a persons heart, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.

Robert Louis Stevenson

 

5 Amazing Reasons to Cut Down on Sugar

Sugar, in its many forms, is everywhere and letting it creep back into your diet can be an easy thing for even the staunchest anti-sugar peeps.

Also winter is around the corner and the change of season often means that we spend more time indoors and, as a result, are less active. And being less active can lead to, well, putting on our “winter coat”.

A great way to reduce the chance of this happening is by drastically reducing your sugar intake. Reducing refined sugar intake isn’t necessarily easy as it’s found in virtually all packaged foods, drinks and food at fast food restaurants are laden with it (a large Big Mac meal deal has 85 grams of sugar–236% of your daily allowance). Although it takes a little effort and planning to avoid sugar, it is very worth it in health and wellness rewards.

Here are 5 pretty amazing benefits of eating less sugar:

1. Improved sleep

Insulin levels are regulated when our blood sugar is balanced and one of the benefits of this is deep, restful sleep. Regulated insulin also has a balancing effect on the rest of our hormones as they all work together. This balance helps to improve our energy levels, brain function and, again, the quality of our sleep. A restful sleep gives us consistent and lasting energy throughout the day, increases our ability to focus and makes us less susceptible to sugary afternoon treats to get through the day, helping us to naturally cut down our sugar consumption.

2. Weight Loss 

Did you know that you can lose weight by cutting down on sugar without even reducing calories? This often happens because sugar spikes our blood sugar levels and insulin levels, as well as disrupting neurotransmitters in our brain. All of this increases fat storage. Eating more protein, fiber, fruit, and vegetables increases our metabolism, which then helps our bodies burn calories more efficiently. Losing or maintaining weight isn’t just about the daily calories consumed, but about the quality of foods we eat and the way our bodies process them.

3. Mental Clarity

Expect to feel more focused and clear-headed when giving up or cutting down on sugar. When our blood-sugar levels are consistent and healthy, our brain is more alert and we don’t feel as sleepy throughout the day. Also, too much fructose from foods containing high-fructose corn syrup (many processed, packaged foods) taxes our liver and pancreas. When this happens, these two organs have to work harder to manage all of the low quality sugar in our systems and remove it from our blood stream. While doing this, they exhaust energy reserves which otherwise should have been used for breaking down fat and converting it to usable energy. This can result in an unpleasant cocktail of moodiness, anxiety and even exhaustion.

4. Anti- Aging

Sugar is a primary contributor to the aging process, says Dr. Robert Lustig, a physician who has extensively researched sugar’s effect on the human body. He says fructose, the sweet molecule in sugar, is seven times more potent than the glucose portion of sugar. Fructose (ie. high fructose corn syrup) forms free radicals in our bodies, leading to higher rates of cell damage and death.

In a way, we “rust” as we age, he says. Oxidative stress turns our tissues brown. Overindulging in excess added sugar will speed up this browning process and speeds along the aging process in general.

5. Heart Health

It’s easy to imagine how having excess fat in our blood stream and arteries can lead to heart problems, but less people know about the role sugar plays in cardiac issues. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories per day from added sugars (6 teaspoons) for women, and 150 calories (9 teaspoons) for men for optimal heart health. Unfortunately people now consume 22 teaspoons per day, on average.

A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association has also shown that people who ate between 17 and 21 percent of their calories from added sugar had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with people who consumed 8 percent or less of their calories from added sugar. So less sugar, along with moderate exercise equals a healthy, happy heart.

So, there you have it, some excellent reasons to think about dialing back your sugar habit.

Next post will have a delicious, sugar free dessert to help make living without refined sugar easy and delicious.