Greetings from Long Beach, CA!
Normally when I’m flying somewhere, I pre-prepare a whole bunch of meals and snacks for the plane, since I usually can’t eat a single thing there. But this time, I spent the whole morning and night before moving out of my apartment and into a new Brooklyn apartment that I didn’t have a second to spare. So I had to use my creative skills to work to find a way to fuel myself on this flight. Fortunately, JFK is a pretty resourceful airport, so here’s what I was able to find.
JAMU Pineapple Juice
While a green juice would have been preferred, this juice was a pretty good option under the circumstances. During flights a lot of us tend to have indigestion, so I wanted to make sure I had something that would be able to prevent it. Pineapple is perfect for this reason because it has a great deal of enzymes that help in breaking down foods and curbing bloating. The juice also had curcumin and ginger, which also help with indigestion. In addition, this juice was extremely hydrating, which is important since flights can also contribute to dehydration!
A Huge Bottle of Water—very important because we all know that those little cups are definitely NOT sufficient.
A Desperate Salad Turned Delicious
Desperate times called for desperate measures. Here’s how I can usually find a meal almost anywhere.
- Get a plain packaged salad. I was lucky to find kale, but any type of lettuce will do.
- Throw out the dressing (if there is any) I can guarantee you it’s soy, sugar-filled, garbage.
- Find an avocado. I looked around the food court to see which restaurants had avocado-containing dishes. Then I went to the manager, put on my sweetest smile, and asked for an avocado. And I got one. In addition to a few laughs. 😉
- Bring a plastic fork and knife onto the flight (they likely won’t give you one unless you purchase food) and mash the whole avocado into your salad to make a dressing. VOILA!
Brad’s Kale Chips
I was very luck to find these in the airport! These chips are dehydrated and sprinkled with raw nuts and spices to make a delicious and satisfying snack that beats the Lay’s and Planters snacks that are on the plane.
I hope this goes to show that eating a healthful, vegan diet can be done under ANY circumstance and even with little planning!
“A Journey of a Thousand Mile Begins With the First Step” –Lao Tzu
I frequently get the question from friends, family members, and blog visitors—“Alana, I’m ready to get healthy. Tell me how to eat like you.” The truth is, I would never advise anyone to switch immediately from the typical American diet to my diet— a nearly raw, vegan, no refined sugar, and gluten-free lifestyle. Getting there takes time, and transitioning too abruptly can have serious side effects on your body. But what I can recommend is that you take five easy steps to getting there. Perhaps these steps will lead you to an even greater dietary change, or maybe this will define your new lifestyle. Either way, it’s all about what feels right for you. Here are the first steps I took when transitioning my diet.
Listen to Your Body
Everyone’s body is different. The only way you can know what you should be eating is by listening to yours. Eat your meals very slowly, chewing each piece with intention, that way you can notice how it makes you feel and you can truly recognize when you are full. When you are done, set a one-hour timer on your phone reminding yourself to assess how you feel once you have fully digested. Once the timer goes off, do a personal inventory of your body. Do you feel tired? Gassy? Bloated? Energized? You will be surprised at the things that make your body tick, and be more inclined to get rid of them once you are more aware.
Slowly Replace Processed Sugar
In my ideal world, processed sugar would be thrown into a pit to be used to make punching bags! Processed sugar has been proven to cause diabetes, candida, and a myriad of other health conditions. To make things worse, it has addictive qualities similar to those of tobacco. However, getting rid of processed sugar altogether–particularly given its addictive qualities–can be extremely difficult and lead to withdrawal (I experienced it myself when first transitioning). I recommend spending one day counting the amount of sugar you eat normally. Track it on the website myfitnesspal.com if that makes it easier. Then, try cutting that number in half, or even by a fourth if that’s too difficult. Stock up on stevia, which is a low glycemic natural sweetener made from the stevia leaf, and start using it as your go-to sweetener for teas, drinks, coffee, etc. Keep some in your bag in case of emergencies. Look for products in the grocery store that use coconut nectar, stevia, or dates as their base for sweetness instead.
Don’t Drink During Meals
While water is extremely important, you should be using your time in between meals to drink as much water as you can. During meals, you should minimize your water intake so as not to dilute the production of digestive enzymes. You want multiple enzymes to be produced while you are eating so that you can fully digest your food, feel full, and reap all of the nutritious benefits of your food. So keep the water intake to a sip or two during meals and save your big gulps for afterwards.
Monitor Your Meat Consumption
Several studies have proven the harmful effects of meat—acidity, heart disease, obesity, cancer—the list goes on. While I understand that a completely vegetarian diet is not feasible for everyone, I recommend taking at least one day a week to eat vegetarian. On that day, try a new vegetarian restaurant. Some great restaurants in the NYC area include Quintessence, Caravan of Dreams, Blossom, and Peacefood, among others.
Read and Research
When I first decided to change my diet, I became largely inspired by the writings of nutritionists who were able to teach me how to do it safely. These nutritionists taught me that a proper diet is not only a cure for weight-gain, but also for skin-diseases, aging,cancer, and fatigue. Check out Kimberly Snyder’s the Beauty Detox Solution and Alejandro Junger’s Clean Program. Also check out some blogs filled with recipes and transitioning tips, such as living maxwell, food babe, and kimberly snyder.
I hope this helps you on your journey towards getting your body on track!
We all know the feeling. You went to mom’s house, your boyfriend/girlfriend made you a huge, delicious, and fattening meal that you couldn’t refuse, or you were caught in the only restaurant that you could find off the freeway. Or maybe you just had a craving and couldn’t resist. And now here your stomach is, in pain. Not to fear! There are answers to make the pain, bloating, and “Why did I do that?” feeling go away!
Stop Eating and Start Chewing!
Sometimes after a big meal, it’s easy to say, “I already blew it, it won’t make a difference if I keep going.” It does make a difference. Your body will have a great deal of difficulty digesting if you don’tstop eating because it will have the joint job of digesting the heavy food you’ve just eaten and the food you are continuing to eat. So chew something else instead, like sugar-free gum (If you can find it at a health-food store, try a brand that only uses xylitol) or an even better option, fennel seeds, which are great for digestion and keep your mouth feeling clean.
Drink Peppermint Tea with Ginger, Lemon, and Cayenne Pepper
All of these ingredients—peppermint, ginger, lemon, and cayenne—are great for digestion and overall health. I also drink this when I am sick, as it acts as a great immunity boost and detoxifier. Ginger acts as a natural antibacterial and will help to soothe any uneasy feelings in your stomach. Chop ginger into pieces and put into a tea-pot before boiling it. Then pour the tea into a cup and add lemon and cayenne pepper. Lemon is extremely helpful in getting rid of bloating and gas, while cayenne pepper helps to speed up the metabolism. Wait for the tea to cool down before squeezing some lemon and adding a few shakes of cayenne pepper on top.
I know, I know, it sounds weird, but doing a yogi squat can really help! The malasana pose helps to open hip joints, strengthen the back, and support the digestive system. Place your feet hip-length apart andsquat so that your butt almost touches the floor. Make sure to take deep breaths will doing this pose, as breathing will also help the flow of the digestive system.
Always Carry Digestive Enzymes
If you get one takeaway from this post,let it be this: Digestive enzymes are your best friend. Our body naturally produces various enzymes to digest fats, proteins, and vegetables. However our bodies were not naturally designed to digest the mass-produced junk that we throw into our bodies on a daily basis. Lucky for us, someone invented multi-enzymes. These consist of various enzymes—including lactose, which helps to digest dairy—that will better help to digest large meals. Try and remember to have them before the big meal, but taking them directly after will work too.
Water will help the food to move through your digestive tract and will also help you to feel a little bit more refreshed after a huge meal. Make sure you wait to drink at least twenty minutes after eating though, as you don’t want to dilute any digestive enzymes.
Don’t Kick Yourself
At the end of the day, bad food is everywhere and it is impossible to avoid it one-hundred percent of the time. Whenever I start to get upset with myself after a big meal, I just remind myself that I’m only human, and that life is too short to cry about it. Plus, getting upset will only upset your body even more, which will delay your digestion. So just relax, drink a cup of tea, and remember that tomorrow is a brand new day.
When you think of sugar, what is the first food you think of? Chances are, you’re thinking of chocolate, sour-patch kids, or lollipops. Perhaps you only consume one of these things a day—or maybe you stay away from them altogether. But that doesn’t mean you’re completely in the clear. Sugar is everywhere. It comes in most pasta sauces, ketchup, yogurts, granola bars, and even dried fruit. If you’re not careful, you could unknowingly consume it in unhealthy quantities, creating serious health risks, such as obesity, impaired immune functioning, and indigestion. So what can you do? Here are some tips for being smart about your sugar consumption.
Become a Label Expert
Just because it doesn’t say “sugar” doesn’t mean that it’s not in there. Sugar can come under many disguises—malt extract, molasses, cornstarch, dextrose, maltodextrin, corn syrup, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane-juice, sorghum syrup—and these are just to name a few. Personally, if I see a foreign ingredient on a label while grocery shopping, I avoid it altogether until I’ve found some research proving that its safe. I highly suggest you do the same–you are the only one in control of what goes in and out of your body!
Avoid Flavored Drinks
A lot of people on diets think that turning to 0 or low-calorie drinks is a safe and effective way to lose weight. However these drinks tend to be the biggest sugar bombs of all! Take Vitamin Water, for example. The drink boasts only 50 calories, but the primary ingredient is crystalline fructose, which is basically the same thing as high-fructose corn syrup. Other flavored drinks, like Chrystal Light and Coke Zero contain harmful sweeteners such as aspartame (or as Coke Zero calls it,”sweetener 951″) which increases sugar cravings. You’re much better off sweetening water with a citrus fruit and stevia!
Make Your Own Pasta Sauce
Pasta sauce is one of the biggest sugar offenders. But who wants pasta sauce with tons of sugar anyways? I know when I think of pasta sauce, I think of freshly grown vegetables blended together outside of an Italian garden; not man-made table sugar! Here are two pasta swaps I use.
Don Bruno’s Marinara Sauce: This stuff is great! Its ingredients are whole peeled tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, olive oil, tomato paste, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, black pepper, and sea salt. I can pronounce every single one of these ingredients and no sugar!
Homemade pasta sauce: Place six tomatoes in boiling water for one minute. Chop two of the tomatoes and mix the rest of them in a blender, without the skin. Cook garlic, onion, and peppers in oil (I recommend avocado oil). Then mix all of the ingredients together with basil, oregano, and parsley and leave it under low heat for about 10 minutes. Flavor with sea salt and pepper. Buonissimo!
Swap out Store-Brand Dressings
Most dressings will list sugar as one of the first two or three ingredients, which means that it makes up the majority of the recipe. Fat-free dressings tend to be the biggest culprit of this. Get rid of them and make your own instead! Here’s one of my favorites.
Mix tahini, soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari) olive oil, apple-cider vinegar, 1 garlic clove, and lemon juice in a food processor or blender. Add sea salt and pour over your favorite salad.
Use Frozen Bananas To Make Your Own Fro-Yo
Although bananas do have sugar, they are a much better option than the refined sugar you will find in “healthy” frozen yogurt options. Their have lots of fiber, which prevents spiked insulin levels and are full of essential vitamins and minerals, whereas refined sugar is depleted of all these in the manufacturing process. Just take one frozen banana and spin it in a food-processor. Add cinnamon and a bit of almond milk if you want to make it creamier, and you’re done! Much better than tasti-d-lite!
Once you realize how present sugar is in all of our food products, it can be very annoying to realize just how many swaps you need to make! Just remember to stick with it, and feel free to ask me for any further sugar-swap suggestions here or by email. I am happy to help. Good luck and happy eating!