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How To Get More Protein In Your Diet Without Eating More Meat

Finally, protein is getting its much-deserved attention. For decades, most discussions revolving around macronutrients focused on fat and carbs, namely how much should we be eating of both.

But there SHOULD be focus on protein. Protein builds our entire body, from muscles and bones to hormones and other biochemicals. If we don’t get enough protein in our diet every day, our health and well-being are compromised.

Okay, but how can you ensure you are getting enough protein and what if you don’t eat meat at all or are trying to limit meat consumption? Though animal-based protein delivers all of the essential amino acids we need, you can get sufficient protein from plant-based sources.

Here’s how you can get more protein into your diet without eating more meat:

Reach for a Good Protein Powder

Protein powders can be the perfect way to get some more protein in. There are vegan powders on the market as well as powders made from animal sources (whey). They key is to find a powder that offers around 25 grams of protein per serving, is clean and does not come with added sugars or unnecessary fillers. Read those labels to be certain of what you are getting.

Pair Lower Protein Sources with Higher Ones

If you try and eat more foods that offer the highest protein grams per bite, you’re going to be eating a lot of the same foods such as a protein powder, eggs, lentils etc. A better approach, and one that will add variety to your meals, is to pair lower protein sources with higher ones.

So this might look like adding a tablespoon of hemp seeds, which contain 4 grams of protein per tablespoon, to your morning smoothie and adding a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds (10 grams) to your salad and have some almond butter on an apple as a snack (another 4 grams per tablespoon). Right there you’ve added 18 grams of protein to your daily intake.

Eat More Than One Protein Source at Each Meal

Like a good pasta dish with Bolognese sauce? Whether that sauce was made from beef or lentils, there is one single source of protein right there. But what if you now had chickpea pasta instead of regular pasta? You’ve just added a second source of protein to your meal. And what if you add some tofu to your side salad, you’ve now added another source and really upped your daily intake.

If you use these 3 simple but effective tricks, you can ensure you get enough protein into your diet without having to eat any more meat!

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Reasons to Start Working with a Nutritionist In 2021

You most likely know that in order to “be healthy” you’ve got to “eat healthy.” But what does that mean exactly? Everyone has different nutritional needs and everyone also has their own idea of what “healthy eating” looks like. To some, that’s eating no meat, to others it’s eating mostly meat. To some it’s eating a lot of fruits and veggies, to others it’s eating diet bars and diet shakes!

How do you know what you really should be eating for your health and to prevent disease? Well, you have a couple of options:

1) Spend a lot of time researching the internet and Youtube videos hoping you find valid and effective information.

Or…

2) Work with a licensed nutritionist who can develop meal plans tailored to your specific health needs and goals.

I don’t know about you, but that second option seems to be the right choice to me.

Still not convinced? Here are just a handful of reasons to start working with a nutritionist in 2021:

Break Through Barriers

When you are so close to your own behaviors, it’s hard for you to see what is standing in your way of reaching a weight loss goal. A nutritionist can monitor and offer a different perspective and point out what’s working and what’s not. Nutritionists work with all kinds of people and have seen all kinds of scenarios, challenges, and setbacks and can help you troubleshoot whatever may be going on.

More Accountability

It’s easy to set some kind of health goal by yourself because then there is no one there to hold you accountable when you don’t stick with the program. When you work with a nutritionist, yes, you have someone in your corner, cheering you on to reach your goals. But you also have an accountability partner.

You Have a Mentor on Call

How many times have you hit up Google for an answer to a health or nutrition question, only to scroll through countless websites trying to determine what the right answer is? Having a nutritionist in your corner means you can contact them with any food/health questions you may have and get a reliable answer.

These are just a handful of the reasons it makes sense for, well… pretty much everyone to work with a nutritionist this year. Get in shape, get healthy and get your best life with a qualified cheerleader in your corner.

 

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Tips to Manage Anger Around Your Family During the Holidays

For many of us, spending time with family can be a grab bag of emotions. While you may feel love and familiarity, there’s also decades-long dynamics between you and your family members that may not be the most healthy. Your family might treat you like the teenager they remember, and you might revert to that role when you’re around your family without even realizing it.

There could be many things that make spending time with family a challenge. Old family conflicts, harbored resentments, and spoken or unspoken disagreements can make you dread seeing them again. If you have trouble managing your anger when you’re around your family, read on for some tips on how to keep your cool.

Define How You Experience Anger

People experience anger differently. Some might get more aggressive, some might withdraw, and some internalize the anger. By being aware of how you experience anger, you can better recognize when that emotion is starting to develop inside you so you can take control of how you respond.

Rehearse Responses

It’s very common for family to ask intrusive or inappropriate questions. You might have a busybody aunt who always asks about your relationships, or maybe your sister is constantly bugging you about starting a family. Come prepared with rehearsed responses so you won’t be caught off guard.

Set Boundaries

It’s important to set boundaries with family. If a family member is aggressive or rude to you, or is always making you the butt of their jokes, your silence acts as approval of their behavior. Because you don’t protest, they think what they’re saying or doing is fine with you. Furthermore, pretending their bad behavior is acceptable only gives them more room to continue the bad behavior, or to get worse. Set boundaries with family and let them know when things they’re saying or doing is not okay with you.

Cut the Visit Short

Sometimes the best option to keep the family peace (and your sanity) is to spend less time. If your family tends to have snacks or drinks before dinner, show up just in time to join the family for dinner at the table. You can also opt to skip dessert or coffee and leave a bit early.

Family relationships are complex and deep-rooted, and family are often the ones who know best how to push your buttons. While managing your anger can be challenging, learning to maintain control over your emotions is a healthy act of self-love. It will not only keep you sane, but it will keep your family relationships unharmed and intact.

If you’re having difficulty navigating complicated family relationships, a licensed therapist can help. Give my office a call today and let’s schedule a time to talk.

Coping with the Holidays After Loss

For many people, the holidays are about spending time with loved ones. But for those who have suffered a recent loss, the holidays can be painful and isolating.

Here are some ways you can cope with the holidays after a loss:

Recognize You are Not Alone

It’s easy to feel as though you are the only one experiencing great pain during the holiday season. Everywhere you turn, people seem to be happy, putting up decorations, buying gifts and making holiday plans. It’s important to recognize the truth right now, and that is that you are not alone. There are people all over the world who have experienced loss, some perhaps very recently.

Honor Your Pain

No one expects you to feel joyful and in the holiday mood right now, so don’t feel as though you must pretend for others’ sake. It is very important that you honor whatever emotions you may be experiencing, whether it’s sadness, anger, regret or a combination.

Take Your Time

The holidays are usually a busy time for people. There is much to accomplish and many events to host and/or attend. You do not have to keep your normal schedule this year. You simply will not have the mental or emotional stamina for it. So take the time you need. If you don’t feel like attending many (or any) events this year, that is fine. People will understand.

Help Others in Need

One of the worst parts about losing a loved one is the feeling that we no longer have any control over our lives. Loss makes us feel helpless. One way to fight this feeling is to help others who are in need. As a bonus, connecting with others who are hurting can often be a salve on our hearts as well.

When Don’t These Guidelines Apply?

If you have children, it’s important to understand that they are looking to you right now to know what life will be like from now on. To a child, the loss of a parent or sibling can frighten them terribly. Though you may not at all feel like celebrating the holidays, doing so helps your child know that life does go on and that there is space in your life to feel joy along with sadness.

 

If you have experienced loss and would like to explore grief counseling, please be in touch. You don’t have to suffer alone.

3 Things That May be Keeping You from Losing Weight

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight you know it can be challenging! You think you’re doing everything right: You’re cutting calories, upping your water intake, and exercising, yet you’re still not getting any real kind of results.

It’s very possible that, though your efforts are commendable, you’re following outdated or just simply wrong advice and it’s stopping you from finally losing that weight.

Here are 3 things that may be keeping you from losing weight:

1. Focusing on the Scale

A lot of people focus too much on the number on the scale. It doesn’t go down quickly enough for them, and so they quit.

But that number doesn’t tell the full story. If you are exercising, which you should be, then without question you are putting on some muscle. Obviously, if you are actively weight-lifting or resistance training, then you are putting on quite a bit of muscle, though you may not be able to see it yet if you have a layer of fat.

Muscle weighs more than fat. So you may be losing fat but putting on muscle, and so the number on the scale may go up at times. Better to look at your overall body composition and pay attention to how your clothes fit than focusing on the scale.

2. Over-Exercising

You may think if you go at it hard 7 days a week at the gym, that you’ll lose weight faster. In theory, this may be true, but in actuality, over-exercising can cause problems and hamper your weight loss efforts.

Studies have shown that excessive exercising is not only unsustainable for the long term, but it can also lead to too much stress on the body as well as impair the production of adrenal hormones that regulate stress response.

Simply put, forcing your body to burn more calories by exercising too much is neither effective nor healthy. It is a better choice to lift weights and do some cardio 3-4 times per week.

3. Not Getting Enough Protein

You’ve probably heard that protein helps you lose weight because it makes you feel fuller longer. And this is true. It also helps your body build new lean muscle, and that can increase your metabolic rate.

But what you may not know is that if your body does not get enough protein, it will overeat in an effort to get more. This is called the Protein-Leverage Hypothesis (PLH). Studies have found that people subconsciously increase their intake of food in an effort to get more protein BECAUSE the body prioritizes protein over fats and carbohydrates.

So, if you are always feeling hungry, try upping your protein and giving your body what it demands.

While this list of weight loss mistakes isn’t exhaustive, we have found these 3 are the top mistakes people make. If you stop focusing on what the scale says and instead focus on how you look and feel, stop over-exercising, and make sure you get enough protein, you are setting yourself up for weight loss success. And once you taste that first hint of success, it will propel you to the finish line.

 

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Let’s Go for a Walk: How Regular Exercise Can Aid Mental Health

By now, most of us know that exercise offers numerous health benefits. From maintaining an ideal weight, to reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis, moving our body every day improves the length and quality of our lives.

But not all of us recognize just how important exercise is to our mental health.

Beyond Hormone Release

Most of us have had that rush after a hike or trip to the gym. We feel energetic and even happy after we exercise. Of course, we now know that when we exercise, our body releases “feel-good” hormones such as endorphins and enkephalins. These hormones instantly improve our mood and outlook on life.

But is that all exercise is good for? A quick fix? An instant mood pick-me-up via a hormonal rush? Or can exercise effect our brains and mental health on a fundamental level?

A study conducted by researchers from Duke University compared the antidepressant effects of aerobic exercise to the popular antidepressant medicine sertraline, as well as a placebo sugar pill. After four months the researcher found that those subjects who exercised regularly experienced the greatest antidepressant effect.

In other words, exercise was scientifically proven to be just as, if not more effective than prescription medications at relieving symptoms of depression.

How is this possible?

It turns out, regular exercise increases the volume of certain brain regions through better blood supply and an increase in neurotrophic factors and neurohormones that support neuron signaling, growth, and connections.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that exercise leads to the creation of new hippocampal neurons, the hippocampus being incredibly important for learning, memory creation, and emotion regulation.

So, How Much Exercise Do You Need?

Psychiatrist Madhukar Trivedi of UT Southwestern Medical Center has shown that three or more sessions per week of aerobic exercise or resistance training, for 45 to 60 minutes per session, can help treat even chronic depression. The key here is regularity, so it’s important to focus on the kind of exercise you do.

If you don’t like going to the gym, then find another activity. Hike, bike, swim, or dance. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you get your body moving for around an hour a few times per week and you do so consistently.

In order for all of us to be entirely healthy, that means physically as well as mentally healthy, it’s important to incorporate exercise into our every day life.

A Meditation Exercise You Can Do with Your Child

As a busy parent of a young child, you may find it challenging to find the time or space to meditate. One solution is to bring the two together, and have your child meditate with you.

Meditating with Young Children

For children five and under, it will be difficult for them to sit still for any length of time. Even a few seconds might be the most you can expect. Adjust your expectations and try to remain flexible in your approach. Most experts agree that by six years of age, children should be able to sit still for one minute per year of age, so age six would be one minute, age seven is two minutes and so forth.

Kids Will Be Kids

It’s important to be patient as you work on a meditation exercise with your child. It’s normal for children to have difficulty sitting still. They may not be able to keep their eyes closed, they may fidget or wiggle as they sit, and they might laugh or try to be funny because it’s awkward or difficult for them to remain still and quiet. This is completely normal, so maintain a sense of humor and take any challenges that arise in stride. It will take time to teach your child to meditate. If you’re overly strict or discipline your child too much, you will end up making this a negative interaction instead of a calming one.

Meditation Exercises for Children

You’ll want to start with a brief session and try to make it fun. A candle-gazing meditation is an easy way to start. For children, guided meditations are generally the best way to teach them to meditate. There are many guided meditations available for free online that are specifically for children. You can find them through a simple Google search or by searching on YouTube.

There are also apps you can use on your phone, tablet or smart TV that are also completely free. One example is Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame, an app intended for children under five which is available for the Android and iOS. Another example is Wellbeyond Meditation for Kids for iOS.

There are also classes available at some meditation centers that are specifically for children. Do a Google search for “meditation center [city, state]”, then check their online schedule or give them a call to find out if they have meditation classes for children.

 

Are you a parent looking for unique ways to cope with challenging parenting issues? A licensed therapist can provide the support and guidance you need. Give my office a call today and let’s schedule a time to talk.

4 Stay-Fit Tips for People Who Hate Exercise

Hate exercising? You’re definitely not alone.

It seems that each year, millions of people around the country start off with good intentions, committing to an exercise plan, only to quit completely a few weeks later.

Look, we understand, exercising is not easy. It’s hard work, but it’s hard work that’s really important for your health and overall well-being. And we want to make sure the next time you commit to an exercise plan, you STAY committed.

So, with that in mind, here are 4 tips that will help you stay fit, even when you hate exercise:

Tip #1: Have Fun

No one says you have to go to the gym 5 days a week and do circuit training. If you hate going to the gym, then find something you actually enjoy doing. Do you like swimming? Hiking? Kayaking? Dancing? Playing basketball? There are PLENTY of ways you can get your body moving, condition your heart while building some lean muscle. Find something you love to do and you’ll actually do it more.

Tip #2: Give Yourself Some Time

The science is out and it says that it takes roughly 30 days for a human being to form a new habit. So you can expect that days 1-29 are going to be challenging to ensure you work out. That’s okay. Just be sure to give yourself adequate time to allow this new habit to form. If you do, you’ll find it does indeed get easier to incorporate exercise into your life.

Tip #3: Build Exercise into Your Daily Life

Some people will swear until they are blue in the face that “they just don’t have time for exercising.” Well, you can easily make time if you build exercise into your life. For instance, if you try and spend time with the family each day, why not get the family to go on a family bike ride after dinner?

If you need to spend an hour each day reading through student papers, why not read through them while on the stationary bike? There are ways you can kill 2 birds with one proverbial stone, so look for ways to do it in your own life.

Tip #4: Take Baby Steps

Too many people make HUGE goals that are simply unrealistic. For example, someone may make a goal to lose 40 pounds in 3 months. Well, that’s not only unrealistic, but it’s also not even healthy.

Someone else may have a goal of running a marathon in 3 months. Well, if you’ve never run a day in your life, that’s also not very realistic.

When starting out, set small goals that you can easily achieve. As an example, your first goal may be to consistently swim for half an hour, three days a week for one month. That’s very doable. And when you reach a goal, it gives you confidence in your abilities and energy to keep going and reach even more goals.

If you follow these 4 tips, you will be able to stick to an exercise plan and see positive results from your efforts. Who knows? You may even learn to LIKE exercising.

 

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Balance Your Mood With Food: How Good Nutrition Supports Mental Health

Our brains are magnificent machines: while the brain controls rudimentary yet complex functions like your heartbeat, breathing and motor functions, it also controls a multitude of other complicated tasks such as creating your thoughts and feelings. A machine this advanced, that runs 24/7, clearly requires fuel to run. The fuel you supply to your hard-working brain is none other than the food and drink you consume.

Like any other machine, the quality of your brain function is relative to the quality of the fuel you put in it. Foods rich in nourishment such as complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants help stabilize blood sugar levels while increasing your brain’s energy. When it comes to feeding the brain, you get back what you put in.

Selenium

Selenium is an important mineral that your body relies on to perform many of its basic functions. Studies have shown that people with a low amount of selenium in their diet have an elevated rate of depression, irritability, and anxiety. While too little selenium causes health problems, too much can be toxic. According to the National Institute of Health, 55 mcg of selenium a day is the sweet spot for adults 19 years of age and older.

Brazil nuts are by far the most selenium-rich food available. An ounce (about 7 or 8) of brazil nuts contains 544 mcg of selenium per serving, so two or three brazil nuts a day is more than sufficient to get your RDA of selenium. You can also get your 55 mcg a day with 3 to 4 ounces of halibut, roasted ham, or shrimp. Cottage cheese, roast chicken, oatmeal, and eggs also contain moderate amounts of selenium, around 10 to 20 mcg per serving.

Folate (Folic Acid)

Studies have shown that an increased intake of folate or folic acid is associated with a lower risk of depression. Folate is found in a wide variety of food, with spinach, liver, yeast, asparagus, and brussels sprouts containing the highest levels. You can also get your recommended 400 mcg of folate with avocado, peanuts, orange juice, leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, and whole grains, among many other foods.

Omega-3

Dopamine and serotonin are chemicals in the brain that are produced by nerve cells. Serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer, and dopamine controls your feelings of pleasure and reward. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties in them, and they effect the transmission of dopamine and serotonin. Omega-3 also has a role in brain development and function, with the ability to stabilize moods. Omega 3 foods include salmon, walnuts, soybeans, and chia seeds.

There are many other nutritious foods that will serve as prime fuel for your brain, helping you perform, feel and be at your very best. Using this list to help change your eating habits for the better is a great step in the right direction.

If you’re struggling with a mood disorder and would like some support and guidance to live a more balanced life, contact my office today so we can set up a time to talk.