Lack of Sleep Makes Us Go Ga Ga for Junk Food

I just read an article yesterday about a new study showing how sleep loss adds to weight gain because “a sleepy brain appears to not only respond more strongly to junk food, but also has less ability to rein that impulse in.”

I am a firm believer that there is a strong correlation because I’m a long time sufferer of sleep deprivation. I even woke up this morning after two nights of poor sleep craving caffeine and sugar. Why I’m not sleeping well is still a mystery, but I know it started with stress related to work, which led to my passion of helping others create work + life balance. I also know constant lack of sleep contributed to my weight gain over the last two years. I would be so sleepy that I barely could make it to work on time and rarely did, started drinking coffee and soda to stay awake during the day so I could function, and then was still so tired that I stopped exercising, including rarely practicing yoga (one of the things I love the most!). I know that 5HTP helped me start sleeping again, but getting my sleep back in order has been a real challenge. I’ve been off the 5HTP for a few weeks because it’s not recommended to be on it for extended periods of time, but now I’m having trouble sleeping again. The underlying cause of all this? STRESS. Take care of yourself now!

On another note…here’s a hearty breakfast recipe. It’s easy to make this ahead of time and eat during the week. I ate some this morning with Traders Point Creamery’s new single serve yogurt. They are in stinkin’ cute and reusable/recyclable containers.

Black Bean Vegetable Hash

Serves 4

2 cups diced red potatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup diced Spanish onion
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon mild paprika
¼ cup frozen corn kernels
¼ cup small diced green bell pepper
1 cup medium diced fresh tomato
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Place the potatoes in a steamer basket and set in a pot with enough water to reach the bottom of the basket. Bring to a boil, cover, and steam until tender, but still maintain their shape, 8 to 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onions and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder, and paprika and sauté until spices release their aromas, about 1 minute.

Make sure pan is still over medium heat. Add the potatoes and let brown on all sides. Do not stir continuously but flip potatoes as they brown. Add corn, peppers, tomatoes, and beans and gently stir to combine. Stir in the salt and continue to sauté until vegetables are tender and heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Serve garnished with the cilantro.

From Kripalu

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Spicing Up Last Night’s Leftovers – Southwest Omelette

ImageI’ve been trying to figure out how I can make more time for the things I love, such as yoga, biking, cooking, and writing. Plus, I know that when I get my new doggie this weekend I’m going to have to wake up at the same time each day because she will have to pee. It makes sense to me to get up earlier in the morning, get my yoga practice in and cook breakfast at home instead of making something half-ass at the office and eating it at my desk. Now this means possibly shifting my meditation practice to the evening, but I’m still playing around with that schedule.

So, this morning I woke up and practiced a 30-minute shoulder opening sequence led by Jason Crandell on Yogaglo. Practicing with other teachers provides me with inspiration for my own classes. This week I wanted to work on helping my students with repetitive shoulder and wrist issues, especially the ones at my corporate warehouse site in Stringtown.

After practicing and planning this week’s Vinyasa class, I decided I wanted an omelette. This weekend I chopped up zucchini from my parents’ garden and some onion to have available for quick cooking in the morning. I started to pull it out when it struck me that I could experiment and use last night’s taco mix instead. Why not? I still

Southwest Omelette

-1 tablespoon of pure olive oil
-1/4 cup zucchini, chopped (or any other veggie)
-2 eggs
-pinch of salt
-pinch of pepper
-1/2 cup of the taco mix from last night’s dinner
-1/4 cup black beans
-1/4 avocado
-cheese (optional)
-hot sauce or salsa (optional)

Heat small saute pan on medium heat and add olive oil and zucchini. Saute a few minutes and set to the side. Crack the eggs and whisk in a bowl. Cracking on a flat surface rather than the edge of the bowl works best. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture into pan and work it around so it gets the edges.

In the meantime, I just heated up the taco meat and beans in the microwave, but you could add a tiny bit of water and do it on the stove in another saute pan.

Flip the omelette over so the other side can cook. Add the filling (zucchini, taco meat, beans) and serve hot. I added a little avocado on top because it’s good for the liver. And I’m a huge hot sauce fan so Frank’s Red Hot is on all of my egg concoctions.

I wouldn’t recommend eating this every day or adding bacon on the side, etc. But I know I feel better eating more healthy fats and proteins and less sugar and breads. Plus, I feel fuller for longer rather than wanting to snack two hours later, and I have more lasting energy throughout the day. Pay attention to your body. Everyone is different.

Sugar Love. A Not So Sweet Story

I was surprised when I saw the cover of this month’s issue of National Geographic was about sugar and why we can’t resist it. So, I grabbed it and read the article this evening. The article is fascinating and real eye opening to the turbulent and greed-filled history of sugar cultivation that led to our current state of sugar addiction. It also touches on the health issues that have occurred as a result of sugar addiction, including a drastic increase in Type II diabetes and high obesity rates. Read the article.

Pseudo Tacos & Chewy Chocolate Walnut Brownie Bites

Today was my first day back on the I Quit Sugar program. In the first week you just try to avoid blatant sugary foods like donuts, cookies, cakes, etc. I didn’t make food yesterday, so I ended up at Harry & Izzy’s for lunch. I wanted bread so bad, but compromised and ate a delicious beet and green bean salad with goat cheese and one filet slider. I’ve found it takes about three days to reduce the sugar and carb cravings. Mine are so strong right now I just had to start from day one again.

For dinner I made tacos with ground beef, seasoned with a packet from Trader Joes that does not include soybean oil. If you’re trying to avoid soy as well, you’ll be amazed how soy is in EVERYTHING. Read your labels.

For dessert, I made local raw food chef, Audrey Barron’s, Chewy Chocolate Walnut Brownie Bites. Every recipe from her that I’ve made has been delicious, including these brownie bites. But a note of caution, use only a true, tiny pinch of salt. I made them way too salty with my overestimation of a pinch. These took maybe 15 minutes to put together and they’re better after being refrigerated.

Pseudo Tacos
(because that’s what my dad calls them when you break up tortilla chips)
-1 tablespoon pure olive oil
-1/2 onion, chopped
-1 lb. ground beef
-1/2 packet of taco seasoning (no soy preferred)
-1 can of diced tomatoes with green chiles (or a real tomato!)
– ½ cup black beans (optional)
-corn tortilla chips or corn taco shells (no soy preferred)
-shredded lettuce
-avocado or guacamole (optional)
-salsa (optional)

Put the olive oil in a saute pan on medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook for 5 minutes. Drain the grease. Return the pan to the stove on low heat and add the taco seasoning and cook for 2 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes.

Crunch up some tortilla chips on a plate. Layer ground beef mixture, beans, lettuce, avocado/guacamole, and salsa. Voila!

Chewy Chocolate Walnut Brownie Bites

Makes 20 to 30 bites if you make them tiny (not like my giant ones in the photo)

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• 2 ¼ cup walnuts
• 15 pitted dates, chop them and soak in ½ cup water

• 6 tablespoons cacao powder
• 2 pinches of salt
• 1 tablespoon granulated coconut sugar

1. Process ¼ cup walnuts and pinch of salt in food  processor until coarsely chopped.

Put into small bowl and mix in coconut sugar. Set aside.

2. Process 2 cups walnuts in your food processor until finely ground. Drain dates

(save water) and add to walnuts and process until combined. Add cacao and one pinch of salt and process until completely combined. Use a tiny bit of the date water if needed to combine in the food processor. Not too much.
3. Roll brownie mixture into small, tiny balls then roll in walnut coconut sugar

mixture.
4. Chill in refrigerator to firm.

These treats are low glycemic, gluten free and free of trans fats and processed

sugars. The perfect healthy chocolate fix! Store in freezer for longer shelf life and for a delicious frozen chocolate treat!

Recipe by Audrey Barron with Be Bliss Healing Therapies: http://www.beofbliss.com/

Hello. My Name is Alyssa and I’m a Sugar Addict.

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Recently I self-diagnosed myself as a sugar addict. It took a while to come to terms with it. I know what we eat affects our overall health in so many ways so I was already thinking about changing my diet drastically. But it’s hard to figure out what you should do with all the hype out there. I’ve suffered from digestive issues for at least 10 years. Doctors have told me that I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), but I know it’s more than that and I also think that IBS is a bullshit disease labeled to sell pharmaceuticals. I once asked an old allergist how I would know if I had a food allergy and he just said that it would be obvious. Over five years ago I found a nurse practitioner that better understood food allergies. She did some blood test called an Igg as well as others. I was diagnosed with having little to no good bacteria in my gut and an allergy to turkey, cod, and sesame. Random! She put me on a 30-day allergy free diet and started me on Ortho Biotic probiotics. But I never knew what to do to figure out my allergies once I stopped the diet or how to slowly come off of it. So, I lost 12 lbs. in a month, which was great, but monthly yeast infections started with a vengeance after I began eating a regular diet again. Those yeast infections lasted for years. In fact, coming off sugar has helped them to go away. Another integrative doctor years ago told me to cut out gluten and dairy, but I only cut out dairy because I wasn’t quite convinced that gluten free wasn’t more than a fad. An allergist tested me a couple years ago and I was diagnosed with an allergy to soy, salmon, shrimp, tuna, and scallops. But no allergy to turkey, sesame, or cod. Soy is difficult to avoid, but the shellfish et al was pretty easy. I’ve learned to listen to my body over the years and figured out some things in the process, so I know that the majority of dairy does not process well in my system. But that’s been the most difficult thing to give up.

I’ve also dealt with horrible mood swings most of my life. I’ve tracked the changes in my hormones for a while now and I know that is the culprit. I have no idea how I’ll ever get pregnant since I’m a terrible bitch when I ovulate in addition to regular PMS. My boyfriend can confirm the level of bitchiness. I tried going gluten free for a week and had the most terrible gas, so I gave that up for a while. After discussing what I ate with a friend, we realized it was the vegan cookie I would buy from the coffee shop. It had some processed sugar substitute that my body rejects…in a bad (and totally embarrassing) way.

When my headaches started getting severe these past few months on top of my ups and downs, I knew I had to do something. Acupuncture and herbal formulas were helping and I became more interested in traditional Chinese medicine the more sessions I went to and the more I studied Yin Yoga. After reading more about Qi and speaking with my acupuncturists, I realized that I also needed to change my “quQi” or “grain chi”, the food energy that I consume. During this inquisitive time, I somehow stumbled upon Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar website and 8-week program. When she mentioned that she became a “much nicer person” I was sold. And while I still believe my hormones are a bit disrupted, Sarah’s program made sense. I lasted four weeks on the program and felt great. Then, one night I waited too late to eat and had the tiniest bit of fast food since that’s all that was open and my cravings started slowly coming back. I made the Chocolate Coconut Nut Balls from the I Quit Sugar program and added some stevia as the recipe suggested because they tasted so bland. Then, I didn’t want to throw them out and be wasteful so I ate them every day for a week. They weren’t that great, but they were sweet and it satisfied me. But my craving persisted and then I couldn’t resist some cherry pie at a family gathering. And before I knew it my hands were in my parents’ cookie jar again…my mom just zipped her lips knowing I totally fell off the no sugar wagon.

I know why I only lasted four weeks. Only part of it was beginning to eat some sugar here and there. The other part was not having meals, snacks, etc. prepared. I did well for four weeks, but then I got busy and many of the recipes were so time intensive or asked for tons of different ingredients. I told my boyfriend that if I ever wanted to share this way of life with my parents or others, it’s going to have to be easier to maintain. So, as I begin this program again, I’m going to work on making and/or modifying recipes that take less time, have fewer ingredients, and taste delicious and I’m going to share them on this blog. Maybe by the end of my 8 weeks, I’ll have something that I can share with my loved ones and help them be healthier too.