Wellness Scout

What's Your Excuse to Packing Lunch!? 10 Tips to Tackle Lunch Packing Challenges

School has started. The 4th Quarter is underway. Both equates to more projects and longer hours, thus less time at home. Preparedness is key especially with meals such as lunch! It is the second most important meal of the day and can be problematic for busy employees and children. Am I really equating children’s lunches with executives, managers and worker bees? Yes I am, because they have two problems in common – time and what to pack. Parents packing kids lunches have numerous conveyor belt of projects dominating their minds with lunches often falling to the wayside. Plus, picky eaters don’t help. Employees, tired after long days and unmotivated to creatively fwhip up something interesting, often leave packing lunch to the morning, which 90% of the time leads to no lunch.

Employees at least aren’t picky eaters, sometimes :-).

Below are 10 tactics for packing lunches whether for your child, your spouse or yourself. The biggest difference between these groups is the types of food. Although these tips focus on adult lunches, they can be applied to packing kids’ lunch especially if your kid is eating variations of your own food. Just remember that making food entertaining is for your kids…not you.
  1. The Lunchbox: Scrambling for a container to pack your lunch in doesn’t ease the already time sensitive situation. Buy one or two lunchboxes that keep the food cooler, are easy to insert in your work/school bag and are leak proof. There are so many options out there. I love U Konserve for their eco-friendly and durable packs. We use the REI Lunch bag (currently unavailable but they have other options). 
  2. Tupperware/Containers: Form fits the function, but don’t let finding the perfect lunch container delay your efforts. I use the plastic Tupperware we store our food in at home (the glass ones are too heavy) and designate three sizes that fit into our lunch boxes. My husband doesn’t mind if his food mushes all together – he likes, as it adds flavor. However, if you like to keep your food separate, pack separate smaller containers or invest in portioned Tupperware.
Okay NOW you are ready to make lunch!

3.  RE-Purpose food: I have several clients who just aren’t into leftovers. I sigh. It’s challenging to eat and cook economically if you refuse to eat left overs. However, second best is “re-purposing” cooked food. Before cooking chicken for dinner according to your recipe, portion out some for your lunch the next day.  Add a simple pesto sauce, cheese, or cooked vegetables or even wrap it up in a tortilla. Cook a casseroleor shepherd’s pie type dish for dinner. For lunch, break it up and top a salad, wrap up in a tortilla, or even as a quesadilla. Or top a piece of the casserole with a fried egg. Whenever you are making dinner, take some of the main ingredients to make your lunch with the next day. How?

4.   Simplify: Don’t make it fancy, or complex. Simplify. Lunch typically is never more than an hour and sometimes at your desk or in a rush, so don’t make it a gourmet meal. The goal is energy, sustenance and fulfillment. Also simplifying makes it easier to repurpose from last night’s dinner. Fill these requirements: protein, veggies, and carbohydrates in grain form or whole wheat tortillas. So if you cooked fish last night, save some of it and mix with some mayo/yogurt, capers and relish for a fish salad. Save some of the cooked chicken (seasoned or unseasoned) from dinner and top a salad, fold up in a wrap, toss with some broccoli, beans and feta, drizzle pesto or stir into cooked quinoa. Add a piece of fruit for sweet otherwise dark chocolate. Need help with cooking efficiently in the kitchen? Contact me for my simple 3 session program!

5.  Finger foods: As mentioned in #4, keep it simple by also making foods that do well as grab and go with little mess. Cook once, eat up to three times. Meatballs, beanand veggie patties, hearty dips – these are finger foods that everyone even the kids can eat. Make a batch plainer for the kids and for the adults add a sauce or condiment to spice up the flavor. Often I add a fried egg over bean/vegetable patties with the runny yolk as the sauce. One of my favorites is Quick Quinoa Pork Meatballs. For vegetarians, omit the pork and add mashed beans or tofu.

6. Dietary restrictions: For vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, gluten free or any other dietary restrictions, follow the steps above and focus on the finger foods. Homemade fish salad (tuna or cod with ½ and ½ yogurt and mayo for the base). Salmon patties or burgers; omitting the bun and topping mixed greens or couscous for variety. Smoked salmon, bean patties, hummus are just a few options. Don’t forget nuts, seeds and dried fruit – they are the superfood snack with lots of energy and can even be used in lunches. Envision your lunch as a meze or tapas meal! Use grains such as farro, amaranth, quinoa, couscous, as your base and add your salad bar of toppings from frozen peas, corn, and edamame to almonds, walnuts, cheese and arugula. A chickpea salad is versatile, tasty and easy as a main or side dish.

7. When to pack? From the first few steps, you can infer that I will suggest packing your lunch in the evening. Although tired from the day and not even thinking about the next day’s meal, having your lunch ready to go in the morning will lead to a higher success rate. I’ve done it both ways and even as a “morning person”, packing the lunch in the morning leads to a more chaotic and an “oh crap, I need to make lunch” morning. Even if you pack half of the lunch – an apple, a yogurt, a pack of hummus, some nuts or cheese - you have SOMETHING for the next day. Also, if you follow steps 3 and 4, creating lunch from dinner reduces helps the clean-up process.

8. No Refrigerator at work! Don’t let the lack of a fridge stop you from bringing a lunch. Many foods don’t need to be cooled until lunch time with the exception of fish as the smell may not go over well with coworkers.  This also ensures foods aren’t too cold and instead at a savory room temperature. If you are really concerned, don’t pack foods that require fridge storage such as yogurts, fish, and yogurt/mayo based items OR add a cooler ice pack. Note, if you end up not eating your lunch make sure you finish it that evening or promptly put in the fridge at home.

9.  Plan ahead: It’s challenging to plan ahead. I know. I find myself at the grocery store more than I would like. I keep a running list in a draft email. A notes app on your phone or even a piece of paper works. When you find some idea or recipe you like, write it down and refer to it when making your grocery list. Set aside a consistent time weekly to make that grocery list. Doing so will save you time later and make your stomach happier. Start small.  Plan to bring your lunch two times this week no more.

10.  Offensive on mindless snacking: Don’t add chips if your downfall is 3pm mindless snacking. Add bean or lentil based chips, carrot sticks, popcorn, roasted chickpeas, for that craving time.  Don’t hesitate adding a snack if it will prevent you from eating that 3pm cookie or oversized Frappuccino. Always have a “staples” list as part of the grocery list so that you can supplement your lunch with health snacks. For kids, the snack time can be the treat time. Maybe a packaged health bar such as KIND, 88 Acres or Larabarfor kids especially. These packaged treats can satisfy the desire for their friends’ foods.

Lastly, there are numerous sites with information on Bento lunches. What’s a bento lunch? Check out my recent newsletterhighlighting Bento lunches. Remember you don’t have to follow these exactly; instead, use to spurn food ideas and simplify with the steps above.

Overall, lunch should be the most nutrient efficient meal of the day. It replenishes you from the morning rush and re-energizes you for the rest of the day. Contact me for more habit changing methods. And stay tuned for an online meal planning “Pack Your Lunch!” program to learn grocery tips, cooking efficiency and more in four easy weeks!

Here's lunch with last night's grilled balsamic vinaigrette chicken with polenta squares. Complemented by grass fed ground beef sauteed with peppers and onions and a raw veggie salad. 

Wellness Scout

Did you have a Sugar Hangover this morning?

Have you ever had a Sugar Hangover ?

Do you even know what one is? It’s when you are unable to wake up easily—you feel parched, lethargic and fuzzy headed. A sugar hangover may cause you to skip your morning workout and go for that large latte with three shots if espresso instead. Does this remind you of how you feel after too many martinis only without the craving for fried foods? If so, this is a sugar hangover-- when you eat more sugar than your body normally processes, causing your body to produce an inflamed and toxic response.

A couple weeks ago, I posted a picture of a wonderfully delicious Vegan Chocolate Sea Salt Tart.

It was dense and rich, but not heavy since it was made with coconut oil and agave syrup. However, it was intense. After indulging in a nice-sized piece in the evening, the next morning I had a sugar hangover. Seriously. My husband even asked me “why are you so tired?” as I lay groggy eyed in bed with our 17 month-old who was anxious to start the day. Not fun. I shuffled downstairs muttering about motivating myself to do one of my self- directed workouts. I was tired, lethargic and my stomach was achy. I decided to test my hypothesis. The next two nights, I abstained from the cake and instead had some peanut butter on rice cake and a piece of dark chocolate. The result? No sugar hangover the next two mornings. It worked without fail. I was able to get up without difficulty and I slept well each night.

So why did I get a sugar hangover? Not because the cake itself was too sugary, but because I had reduced my sugar threshold at this point. Ever since my husband and I joined forces to complete a food based detox, we had reduced our nightly dessert intake and vowed to eat only homemade desserts on occasion. I now make 95% of our desserts and I do it using less sugar. I can’t imagine what a mass produced, high sugar cake would have done to our system or my morning.

Why does sugar have such an effect on us? It’s because sugar is addictive.  As  kid, candy was one of my favorite foods. My first job after college was the Assistant Manager of the Candy Department in a specialty food store. To this day, I MUST have snack/”dessert” after dinner and usually something “sweet” after lunch. If you asked me what would I bring to a desert island – cake or fried chicken – I’d choose the cake without a second thought.

However, when I cut or reduce sugar, I’ve noticed the following: clearer, younger looking skin, less facial lines, a stronger stomach, less bloating, little moodiness, less cravings and an overall better bill of health.

So how does one address a sugar hangover?

  • Sugar can have the same effect as alcohol on your body.
  • Reduce your sugar threshold and you’ll notice that you will crave sugar less.

  • If you love dessert – move it to the afternoon. Your body will burn some of it off and it won’t impact your sleep.
  • If you have dessert at night, eat two hours before bedtime. Otherwise, skip it.
  • Choose low sugar or fruit based desserts. Berries, watermelon, or nuts. Peanut or almond butter on a rice cake. Avoid baked goods, intense chocolates and tarts with lots of sugar.
  • Drink water when you feel the urge to nosh.
  • Slowly wean yourself off the by having lower sugar items. Try having toast with Nutella and some jam. Or peanut butter and jelly on rice cakes. Even berries with plain yogurt is a great snack that will satisfy your sweet tooth just a little.
  • Rather than having a cut off time and gorging up until that point, have your snack, be done with it, and drink tea or water.
  • GO TO BED EARLIER and read.
  • Be wary of sugary alcoholic drinks. Sugar is a byproduct of fermentation, so adding more sugar to a cocktail or mixed drink more doubles the effect of the sugar/alcohol hangover.

Aside from desserts, sugar is everywhere, especially in processed goods. So be aware, be conscious, and stay committed to your goals. The energy in the morning, improved sleep and reduced aging effect on your body will be well worth it. Contact me if you need help conquering sugar! 

Wellness Scout

Healthy Eating Travel Series Part 3: Tips for fighting the wellness battle on the road with ease!

Traveling for work may sound sexy at first with corporate dinners, frequent flyer miles, happy hours and the excitement of client visits or urban full service hotels. But it’s often fraught with long travel delays, grueling hours, too much dining out, and most of all havoc to managing your weight, your sleep, and your gut health. Yes, travel affects all these aspects and can eventually lead to faster aging, less mobility, and a host of health related challenges – heartburn, chronic inflammation, IBS, eczema, insomnia, hormonal imbalances and more.

Are you sure you want to travel for work? Well sometimes we don’t have a choice. Here’s 8 tips to combat the effects of Road Warrior eating challenges. Although there’s so much to tackle in regards to sleep and exercise, this blog will just focus on the dietary aspect. Need help in the other areas – contact me.

  1. Run offensive with Clean Eating: This means eating “clean”, freshly made foods, in their original form with little to no additives – whenever possible. Clean foods don’t require a box, plastic container or some snazzy transportable package. Of course there are exceptions – i.e. yogurt, bag of plain almonds etc. A way to weed through the exceptions are by following the 5 ingredient rule. If the item contains more than roughly 5 ingredients OR you can’t pronounce or recognize the ingredients, then reconsider eating. Clean eating isn’t as much as an issue with fine dining, but keep in mind to choose items that have the least amount of sauces as who knows the restaurant’s ingredients and whether using canned or processed sauces. 
  2. BE PREPARED Part 1 Bring supplies: So one of my clients has a bag of bars. We discussed which were best for him – high protein, low sugar, few ingredients/all natural. I love KIND and 88 Acres as they are either nut protein based or provide a low sugar snack within reason for cost. I love some others, but honestly, they do get pricey. If you can, there are GoMacro Bars that are vegan and GMO free. Other than bars, there’s a list of things to bring such as hard boiled eggs, veggies (carrots, peppers, jicama) and hummus, almond butter or even coconut butter packets, unsalted mixed nuts, nitrate free beef or bison jerky, raw milk and/or full fat cheese, roasted chickpeas, and even cans of water packed salmon.  Some of these may seem a stretch, but try for at least the first day of travel to kick-start your trip.
  3. BE PREPARED Part 2 Research: The night before you leave or on a brain break at work or maybe while waiting for your flight at the airport, conduct a quick search of your destination’s foodscape including restaurants and hotel dining options. See if a Wholefoods is accessible or find the location of the nearest grocery store. For corporate dinners, review the menu in advance and select a meal that meets your wellness needs versus choosing when under social duress or low blood sugar. Good food is hard to find with temptation everywhere. Combat temptation with thoughtful preparation either through your own food or making decisions before the critical moment when temptations override. This will keep you convicted to stay on track.
  4. Time management: Some people manage their time better when on the road with less home life distractions. However, there are also a lot more distracting temptations – happy hours, long work dinners, hot cookies at check in, poor workout conditions, long stretches of sitting and family time check-ins that can impact sleep and poor nutritional intake. Set a realistic intention and stick with it such as exercise for 30 minutes one morning and sleep in the next. Don’t set yourself up for failure with overly ambitious goals.
  5. Wise Choices: Think before you eat. Literally. Before choosing off the menu, think to yourself what does my body need today? What will energize, nourish and replenish it. Did you have a vegetable rich salad? Did you refuel with enough protein?  Having some basic knowledge about what foods fuel you up without weighing you down will keep your weight in check, your energy levels high, and your cravings at bay. Forget the latest fad diet or what the cover of the checkout magazine says – learn your body. Wise choices will inhibit poor caloric intake, skipping meals and thus binge eating later. Need help deciphering your body – contact me!
  6. Convicted and Committed: What motivates you? What keeps you committed? Find out and stick with it. Is it putting on tight clothing for dinner? Is it laying your workout clothes on the bed to encourage an early rise versus that additional glass of wine? Remember your goal and that sustainable goals are reached with long term commitment and consistency. Show up to your wellness plan every day and you will have success. What tips ensure you stay committed – post it notes on bathroom mirrors? A drawer stocked with low sugar, high protein bars? Tighter clothes? A good bar of dark chocolate in your room versus that oversized restaurant dessert? Networking and socializing are the strongest deterrents from our diets. Leave time for indulging so you won’t feel denied with checks in place to ensure you survive.
  7. Routine amidst the chaos: The downside to work travel is that it interferes with the home life routine. So plan for the unexpected. Create a routine at home that you can easily jump back into. Have workout clothes and an extra pair of shoes specifically for travel. Have a list of travel snack staples that you restock upon your return. If regularly traveling to the same location, spend the first trip acclimating to the area. Find the nearest grocery stores, get to know the staff so they can meet your needs and practice steps two and three from above. Have rules of conduct meaning when at home eat as clean as possible with home cooked meals and aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.  
  8. Food Deserts:  Is good food inaccessible? Sometimes it’s about making do with what you have. Do you like sushi but fear it won’t fill you up within your per diem? Remember quality over quantity and that you can supplement with other items – miso soup, protein bar, yogurt as a snack. Rural areas pose the most difficult in food accessibility. If that’s the case, try to bring your kitchen sink salad from home for the first day on the road. Focus on high quality snacks – nuts, high fiber fruits, and even protein bars to get you through the days. Keep your blood sugar level to ensure you don’t crash and binge later.
These may seem like a lot of tips. So implement ONE per business trip. After you feel you have successfully ingrained this tip (usually taking 3 trips) then add an additional step. You want the first step to be natural and easy before tackling another. Rush to accomplish all at once and you may set yourself up for failure.

Need more help implementing long term solutions or maybe you know what choices to make, but you aren’t making them. The latter is sometimes more important than the former. Contact me about coaching sessions that will help you manage working on the road without sabotaging your wellness goals.

Wellness Scout

Fat is back!! Check Out Why and How to Incorporate into Your Day!

Does your diet affect your mood? Do you feel lethargic if you’ve had a big sandwich or ravenous after a simple green salad? Are you drawn to morning Dunkin Donuts and coffee or an afternoon M&M cookie to perk up?

The body processes foods in ways that affect our energy, brainpower, and mood differently. Eat too much bread and/or refined carbs and we fall asleep in that afternoon meeting. If we eat too much sugar, it is hard to focus. The roller coaster of blood sugar highs and lows coupled with caffeine can significantly impact your mood and make you irritable—not a good demeanor for the office or home! Fortunately, there is a solution. Your focus at work can improve, you can see increased engagement and better endurance to help you muscle through the day. It’s all related to your diet and with one nutrient incorporated wisely - fat.

Yes fat.

Fat doesn’t make you fat. Fat can increase happiness, keep you satiated longer, regulate hormones, improve metabolism, and boost your immune system. “Good fats”, are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of heart disease, depression, dementia and arthritis. Foods rich in Omega 3s include, salmon, avocado, walnuts and olive oil, to name a few. No longer is guacamole an indulgence or walnuts on your salad a splurge. Doses of saturated fat can also be beneficial – those from quality full fat dairy, grass-fed meats, eggs, organ meats and coconuts. This does NOT include trans-fat, those from processed foods and refined oils (canola, palm oils). Those packaged cookies, crackers, cakes and even jarred sauces. It’s time to become educated about fat! 

Check out five benefits not commonly known that supports incorporating “healthy” and moderate doses of saturated fat into EVERY meal, yes EVERY meal. 
  1.  Satiation. How many times are you hungry a couple hours after you eat? Have you noticed when it was? Does it often happen at 11am and 3pm—a few hours after breakfast or lunch? Do you find that you go for that quick energy fix of a sugary trail mix or baked chips in an effort to be “healthy”? The next time you feel that way, evaluate if you’ve had any “fat” in your breakfast or lunch. Cravings decrease when fat and fiber are eaten in a meal. Fiber keeps the blood sugar level and fat keeps you satiated - feeling complete. With more fat and fiber in your diet, you’ll have the energy to make it through your day without caving in for that Starbucks Frappaccino and to muscle through that two-hour afternoon meeting.
  2. YUM factor. Fat tastes good on the tongue. Some love it. Some hate it. Some yearn for it. Just be wary of the fat, sugar combination. Having a healthy, tasty item can help you curve your cravings and ensure you won’t overindulge later.
  3.  Fat soluble vitamins require it. Vitamins A, D, E, and K require fat for absorption in the body. Taking a Vitamin D supplement and eating more greens for Vitamin K is pointless unless you incorporate some fat into your diet to help to absorb them.
  4.  Vitality and Motivation: Because fat has more calories, it provides more energy. Yes, your body will turn too many UN-USED calories into fat.  Not all calories are created equal and your body will use the calories it needs for building muscle, regulating hormones and replenishing energy. Knowing this and given a choice, which of the following will provide you with long-lasting energy: pretzels, handful of walnuts with full fat cheese or a Dunkin Donut?
  5. Brain power. Your brain consists of 60% fat. It’s necessary for cognitive development and cellular function and it serves as a mood enhancer – serotonin. Phrases such as “fat and happy” didn’t originate from nothing. Eat your fat to improve your mood. For that next afternoon meeting or weekend party, try supplying some sliced avocados, nuts, dark chocolate versus bagels and chips. Or try some hummus and guacamole dip with veggies or lentil/quinoa-based chips.
  6. Skin Health. Every notice how your skin complexion and tone can change with not only stress and smoking, but with what you eat and drink? Overly sugary diets increases those wrinkles and those with too little fat lead to gaunt features and less supple skin. Fight aging with diet! Skin health is reliant on elasticity and hormone regulation. Eating high quality, healthy fats with omega 3s, biotin and more can can reduce blemishes, spots and the signs of aging. 
I am not saying go hog wild on those fats – just don’t fear them. It’s not about an easy, one fix answer. It’s about an intelligent combination of all the parts your body needs. Spread some grass-fed butter or sliced avocados on your Ezekiel bread (einkorn toast) or homemade tea bread. A full fat yogurt cup is plenty with some nuts and seeds. Even try smoked salmon or dark chocolate with nuts as an afternoon or mid-morning snack. Or try these avocado brownies for a decadent, but low-sugar, vegan and gluten free snack.

Do you think fat could improve your mood? Happiness doesn’t mean bribing your employees, your family, or yourself with Dunkin Donuts. It means providing yourself the space and the support to indulge. Happy employees are less cranky, more motivated and better engaged.  Happy families are less argumentative, more cooperative and involved. What could be more important than that?

Wellness Scout

Are You REALLY on Vacation? 3 Ways to Ensure You Check Out Completely!

Beach, road trips, patio dining, swimsuits, barbeques, family gatherings, blue water, mountains – these are words are often associated with “vacation”. A vacation is a fun time to spend with loved ones, friends or maybe just yourself on a solo retreat at home or far away. Whatever the goal, vacation elicits thoughts of taking a break from it all-- unwinding, recharging, and relaxing. But how many of us actually do this and completely check out?  Do you really turn off your device? Not check your email? And by that I mean reallynot check your email (don’t “check in” with the office or convince yourself “I’m just cleaning out my email so it’s not monstrous when I return”)? We as a society are increasingly not “vacationing” the way we should or at least the way we used to. The invention of the smartphone, while incredibly useful has also convinced us that “staying connected” will keep us more organized, more aware, and more successful. Who doesn’t want to be more successful? But at what cost? We have been indoctrinated with the “stay connected” rhetoric to the point that it has become the norm and not the excuse. Personal and work life begin to bleed together.  I hear “I’m on vacation, but I still check email”. Has your family noticed? Are you feeling as recharged as you had hoped when you return from your vacation?

Vacation has several meanings, but the benefits are usually the same-- rest, reduction of stress, broadened perspective, increased happiness, and even improved creativity upon returning to work. Reduce stress and you reduce internal inflammation. Inflammation increases weight gain, fat storage, impedes cellular function, and often results in various types of pain. Does your skin glow after a vacation? Maybe it’s because you destressed and reduced some of the toxic load in your body.

Many are realizing the creative benefits of a real “break” such as one CEO who builds in time for creative thought and connection with family in lieu of the daily to dos, the meetings, the onslaught of social media posts, strategic planning and customer analyses.

A break from anything – your work, your spouse, your kids – allows you the time reconnect to your goals and actually enjoy your family more. Everyone forgets how much a vacation allows for a refreshed focused perspective on one’s current situation—until they actually go on one.

I had a boss once that did not answer any emails on vacation. This provided two lessons: First, I became more self-sufficient and resourceful while he was away. Second, I respected his time and him more for his ability to focus on the present when at work and at home/vacation. In the corporate world, I found that if I replied to one email on vacation, it opened the door for colleagues to expect further replies, work etc.  

Here are three quick ways to fully check out and rest:
  1. Adhere to your out-of-office. Notify co-workers, friends, volunteer committees and anyone who normally demands your time that you are taking a real vacation to focus on yourself, your travel companions, and being in the present to return more recharged. When at work, managers and coworkers want you in the present, and so the same should be respected of you while on vacation. Business owners using a Gmail account should still use their out-of-office. Managing expectations creates more respect than a lack of response.
  2. Turn off your email notifications on your phone. It won’t be tempting to look if you aren’t pinged every hour. If you must look, do so at designated times – first thing in the morning or the evening-- but don’t let those times interfere with your plan for the day. Look and move on. It’s not vacation if you are thinking about that last email reply while climbing the stairs of a cathedral tower, or about to play in the waves.
  3. Use your phone only for navigation or researching local fun spots. Put away the phone. Remember who is around you. You can post those pictures to Facebook when you return. It will serve as an opportunity to remind yourself about the fun you had.

Have you considered a detox? Think of a vacation as a detox for the mind and body. For more advice on corporate wellness balance, check out my corporate wellness services

Wellness Scout

Healthy Eating Travel Series Part 2 – Enjoy, but don’t regret. Tips for healthy eating while traveling.

“So what will we do with the rest of the food in the fridge? Throw it out?” The question my parents asked as we prepared to leave the rented beach condo. Due to the lack of food options in the area and to increase efficiency in finding meals, we had bought some staples (eggs, yogurt, salad items, cheeses, rotisserie chicken etc) to enjoy breakfast on the patio and some dinners or lunches at the condo.  As we packed up, left overs consisted of some cheese, salad greens, salami, rotisserie chicken, English muffins, tortillas, hummus, and fruit. My response. “Heck no!” “I’ll make us some to go items for the return trip”. I re-used the container that we had brought our “Kitchen sick” salad in for our meal on the plane. (“Kitchen Sink” – as it used every last bit of chopped salad ingredients and leftovers). We made wraps for my parents and stored them in the tortilla bag. On the plane, my husband made mini salami cheese sandwiches using the two leftover English muffins. Nice with the complimentary wine the steward gave as sympathy for lap travel with 15 month old for a 3.5 hour flight.

We re-purposed, re-used so on our long travel day we had a homemade breakfast, lunch and thus didn’t feel like we were pushing our health when we ate at JFK before our 9pm flight home.
Why consider healthy eating shortcuts while traveling? Running offensive on your vacation eating plan can help you return to your health regime with less pain and less transition. Enjoy but don’t regret.

How to do it? Think of it as a 3 step process:
  • Start the vacation by eating well as you leave the house. The healthy mindset will linger into at least the first few days. Thus, keeping some of those health intentions high versus saying “What’s the use, its vacation…” and throwing every bit of eating sense out the window.
  • Enjoy but don’t indulge to the point of regret especially when you see those extra pounds, upset stomach and cranky attitude upon your return.
  • Cut the corners – have healthy options on hand. Split a salad every other day or every meal. I’ll elaborate with various scenarios below. 

I’ve tackled a few eating on the road scenarios and this certainly isn’t exhaustive, so please Contact me with your questions.

Air travel: Air travel can be tricky especially if you end up stuck hungry without options. Quick tips below for brown bagging it or choices at the airport. (Stay tuned for my airport eating guide focusing on cutting your losses, energizing meals and staying full without the crash).
  • Bring a Tupperware of all your fridge leftovers. Chopped up cheese or nuts.
  • Focus on what you should have, not what you need to deny yourself. Is the loaded nachos at the brewery house pub worth it? Why not wait until at the resort.
  • Choose the places offering a variety of salad with options to add protein.
  • Even a reasonably sized plain hamburger is better than the loaded fries – and you can omit he bun if necessary.

Stocking the hotel: Most hotels have a small fridge, but if they don’t, skip to “snacks to go”. This is your opportunity to ensure your blood sugar doesn’t crash as well as preventing overeating at dinner for the fear you won’t have food around.  Just keep those portion sizes in check with the in room dining as well.  Think of it like your fridge at home – don’t raid it.
  • Nuts, seeds and more nuts. Don’t worry about the fat – this is the good fat that will help you stay satiated. Waiting to have brunch? Have a handful to stave off hunger pains. Getting ready for dinner and need a snack – have a handful instead of that beer or glass of wine.
  • Fruit – apples, oranges and pears preferably with bananas as the last resort.  Apples and pears are full of fiber without spiking blood sugar like a banana. Bananas however, are ideal for a pre-workout bite at that hotel gym or morning hike.
  • All –natural, few ingredient bars. KIND and 88 Acres are my two easily found and inexpensive favs. Or if you want dessert later, have one of the chocolate based ones to help with post drinking sugar cravings.
  • Plain, full fat yogurts and cheeses. If you want more substantial meals in the room and have the space, focus on these to provide energy and satiation.
  • More ambitious? Can you pack snacks from home – quinoa semolina spinach cakes, zucchini fritters, meatballs? These pack and store well on trips, with easy single serve portions. These are ideal for food desert locations and when you need to really keep your health in check.

Snacks to go: Beyond what is mentioned above for stocking the hotel, these are quick snacks for short or long road travel or when having that urban adventure.
  • Cut up cheese squares or string cheese.
  • Chia oatmeal
  • Fruit, nuts, seeds.
  • Acai berries, cacao nibs – great for a boost of energy.
  • Low sugar, few ingredient bars. KIND, 88 Acres, Healthy Warrior Chia Bars.
  • Carrot sticks, peppers, radishes cut up.
  • Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter packs
  • Beef Jerky
  • Hard boiled eggs

Dining out:
  • Split appetizers, split entrees and order appetizers as mains (be wary though as appetizers can be much richer and more decadent).
  • Avoid fried.
  • Load up on veggie sides.
  • 90/10 rule. 10% of meal is indulgence, 90% on track. For instance, if you have a glass of wine pass up the dessert or that bread basket. If you have that dessert, split the appetizer or forgo it at all.
  • Review the menu before you arrive and before you are hungry.
  • Think about what your body needs – did you have a salad today? Did you have an intense day of walking and activities so some healthy grains are in order? Do you have an energetic afternoon?Always protein, carb (vegetable or grain preferable), and healthy fat at every meal.
  • Don’t SKIP THE MEAL TO COMPENSATE FOR THE FUN LATER – check out my holiday party preparation blog on why this isn’t the smartest tactic to weight loss. 
So when you return, your diet won’t have been totally derailed and returning to your exercise routine and healthier eating habits won’t seem so begrudgingly impossible.  For more tips on how to re-enter the wellness world post trip with thoughtful preparation, check out my April blog post. Need more tips or a plan to motivate yourself into sustainable goals? Have questions or travel eating challenges? I would love to hear from you! Contact me

Wellness Scout

Do you need a Breakfast Make-over? Recipes and suggestions for revitalizing your breakfast!

Breakfast - I’ve written several posts on this topic because when advising clients on meal make-overs, it’s the meal of choice to start the process. Often breakfast is the easiest meal, the most missed meal, but it’s also the most important one in starting your day with energy. Plus another way to sneak in those vital extra nutrients or even veggies.  Below I provide breakfast alternatives that take into account a range of factors affecting why you may not eat breakfast such as time available, dietary concerns, energy needs, and boredom with options. Now it can’t be entertaining and have a “wow” effect every morning, but an alternative breakfast at least twice a week and one weekend day will not only refresh your taste buds and stomach, but also provide a mental break. Variety decreases boredom with food, which decreases the mindless snacking, hunt for “fun”, processed, sugary food or over indulging elsewhere, while simultaneously increasing nutrient satisfaction with the added variety.

So what’s stopping you from eating breakfast? Time? Bored? Nothing interesting? Don’t like reheated leftovers? No options? Time and no options at work is usually the most common answer. Think of breakfast of the quickest, nutrient packed meal. Savory or sweet this can allow for variety and sustenance. Need to increase vegetable intake throughout the day – throw some spinach into the scrambled egg. Slice some tomatoes and cucumbers with hummus.

Even if breakfast can’t be your biggest meal, it can be the most calorie rich and sustaining one.

Another reason people avoid breakfast is to save calories. Do you say to yourself – “I won’t be able to hold back on the other meals, so I better skip the one I can – breakfast?” We all fall into that habit. Even I have. What happens? Overeating later. Not eating breakfast sets your blood sugar up for a crash and burn reaction. Challenge yourself. Conduct a test. One day eat a bigger, diverse breakfast and listen to your body’s need at lunch and dinner. You may not end up wanting the larger dinner. You may go longer before diving into lunch. Also, your blood sugar will remain level so you aren’t tempted to make the tough choices of a side of fries over barley salad during a blood sugar crash.

So if you want to take the challenge of adding a more nutrient dense, interesting breakfast to your wellness regime then check out some of these ideas for spicing up your breakfast.

Veggie Frittatas – Looking to save time? These are great for those willing to cook on a Sunday and eat “leftovers”. So many options and combinations – asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, chives, greens…full fat cheeses, pancetta, diced chicken….you name it.  Slice and either heat on the stove top for immediate consumption or pack and go – 5 minutes or less breakfast prep!

Fried egg over ??? – This is one of my all-time favorites and stand by. Unsure when I started, but it was supported and encouraged by my husband who doesn’t eat the typical American breakfast. He is used to a more savory and vegetable filled start to his day. So I’ll top a fried egg (in coconut oil) over hummus and arugula, leftover roasted root vegetables from the night before, oatmeal with either sweet – cinnamon or savory –pesto, sauces, tomato and cheese. Lentil fritters from dinner, or zucchini/carrot fritters topped with an egg - voila one serving of vegetables is done! Top even lentil soup with it. Put an egg on anything in the morning and it’s officially “breakfast”!

Revitalized scrambled eggs – Love scrambled eggs? Need to add some variety or maybe a few more healthy calories. Adding vegetables to scrambled eggs is the best way to increase your daily intake of vegetable. Anything added to your salad and can be added to scrambled eggs- peppers, spinach, leeks, mushrooms, cheeses, onions, even broccoli and eggplants! Want to be adventurous and need something heartier after an intense workout or before a long day? Try adding some cooked oatmeal or even grass fed ground beef repurposed from last night.

Dinner for breakfast – Just as breakfast for dinner can be fun, try reversing it with dinner for breakfast. Top that black bean chili with a fried egg. Maybe have a cup of that lentil soup warmed up with some crème fraiche. It depends on what you can stomach in the morning, but this option adds variety and nutrients to your breakfast.

Oatmeal with chia seeds – Of course there is the ever filling and hearty oatmeal for breakfast with numerous options such as adding nuts, almond milks, seeds, dried fruit, cheese even and chia seeds. Even top an oatmeal with a fried egg! Oatmeal is a wondrous comfort food perfect for long days or hikes. Need a boost of energy? Try Chia Seed Oatmeal for a natural mental energy boost. Great to make in advance, in batches and for those with little prep time in the morning.

Brunch fun – Some of the following suggestions ways to again add vegetables and variety to your brunch since they require a little more time and may take restraint to not eat in one sitting. Brussel sprouts for breakfast? YES!! Here are two very delicious savory dishes using eggs, vegetables and additional animal protein.  Egg with Bacon Brussel sprout hash, and Brussel Sprout, chicken sausage hash . Fun hosting splurge – try Easy Baked Ham Tortillas topped with guacamole or bring some Mini bacon egg tartsto your next brunch potluck!

Wellness Scout

Healthy Eating Travel Series - What's in YOUR Fridge when you return? Tips to set you up for success!

Travel and healthy eating. Are these two opposing thoughts or complementary possibilities? The purpose, whether business or pleasure, often guides your viewpoint and approach to eating. Do you take travel as permission to eat however, whatever and with abandon? Do you travel for business dreading how to mitigate the damage from hotel happy hours and client dinners? I’ll tackle these questions and challenges that arise from eating on the road in my Healthy Eating Travel Series. I’ll provide tips on how to maintain your health goals without too much denial. So this means you can indulge on vacation? Of course it does. We all need a break and vacation is a time to enjoy, but without setting you back months in your wellness achievements.

How do I know? Cause I’m the person that doesn’t exercise on vacation. That enjoys drinks, desserts and the food of the region without worrying if it fits my personal health guidelines. I take a vacation.

This first installment starts at the end. The return home. Why? Because I was inspired by my own travels and often working backwards helps you plan for the approach. Will you feel more confident about your food choices – whether indulging or conscious – if your kitchen is prepared for your return? A well-stocked kitchen or freezer with healthy meal options, a meal plan ready for implementation, or some short cut resources helps you muddle through until you can replenish your clean eating supplies. This goal is important because you will be able to mitigate any damage done on the trip faster, bounce back into your health routine seamlessly, and decrease the time spent agonizing how to return to your health goals.

Top Travel Tips:
  • Make extras of meals cooked/prepped the week prior to your trip and put them in the freezer. Made too much of that chili? Didn’t finish those lentil patties? Just freeze them the day before you leave and pull them out upon your return. If a late flight back, pull them out to defrost over night for an easy lunch the next day. One of my favorites is Semolina Quinoa Spinach Cakes. Eat some now, save some for later. Put the whole pan with foil or plastic wrap covering it directly in the freezer. Make it simple.
  • Stock the fridge and pantry with easy to prep staples or even packaged if necessary – quinoa, oats, rice, mixed nuts, beans, frozen veggies. Even freeze meats for easy weeknight prep. Grass fed ground beef. Individually portioned chicken breasts.
  • Ensure a grocery store trip is possible within a day or two of your return for at least some staples. Items such as apples, nuts, fish, arugula, veggies for sautéing.
  • The week of your return try to lay low socially. Avoid too many social engagements that will tempt you to eat out and drink more. I use this time to catch up on work, house items; knowing that in a week I will return to my active social life.
  • BUT, make sure you have some fun incorporated so you don’t dread the return – splurge on Wholefoods hot bar or maybe try that new sushi restaurant. Savor that dark chocolate you brought back from your travels. Too rigid rules will lead to self-sabotage. Budget in fun healthy ways to indulge post vacation.
  • If a short trip (2 – 3 night), shop the day prior to your trip for items to cook immediately upon your return. Most things like fresh vegetables, eggs, yogurt, fruit, and well packaged meat will last up to 3 days in a fridge not continually opened.
  • Meal plan before you leave; choosing interesting meals, but with minimal prep. Often when I return from vacation, although I’m inspired from local cuisine or dining out, I don’t feel like cooking. It’s been a nice break! It is easier to incorporate these fun ideas into known dishes then spend time investing in some totally new dishes. Treat the return as a mini-detox.

The result:
  •          Healthy meals after days or week(s) of eating on the road. Clean, home cooked food.
  •          Food to give you energy and sustenance for those post vacation work emails.
  •         Escape the health deficit from eating on the road. Rather than be in the minus, maintain your health goals; facilitating the new progress.
  •          Easier to jump back into the health routine with less withdrawal symptoms.
  •         Confidence and faith in your abilities to maintain health while still indulging responsibly. Ultimately reducing self-sabotage.

Stay tuned for further installments on eating well on vacation, international travel, road warrior’s business travel tips, and family road trips. Have an idea or question? Don’t hesitate to contact me at yourwellnessscout@gmail.com

Wellness Scout

Healthy Doesn't Have to Mean 100% Perfection - What's Your Health Challenge?

Guest Blogger Cheryl C provides us her recent health challenge and solutions. She didn't let a kitchen remodel stand in her way!

We have been renovating our kitchen for three months. Yes, THREE months. When we started the demolition, I thought it would be a three-week project, but one surprise after another has kept pushing our timeline out. We keep an organic garden and generally try to eat healthy and smart, but this has been quite the challenge without a stove, oven, or sink. Here are three tips that have made this temporary situation a little more bearable:

1.      Find any excuse to get vegetables on the plate: Vegetables might taste great when steamed, sautéed, or roasted, but they’re just as good when raw. Not to mention better for you. In some ways, our eating habits have improved sans kitchen because so many of our meals center around vegetables. Salads and green smoothies are almost a daily staple in our diet; a habit I hope we keep when our kitchen is functional again.
a.      YWS Says: Awesome idea and adaptation! Embrace the opportunity to try a new health habit or revisit an old!
2.      The microwave is your friend: Granted, there are risks to frequent microwave use, but there’s no way around it when you want hot food without an oven or stove. I like to buy frozen side dishes from our organic grocery store and jazz them up. One of my favorites is a frozen package of lentils, kale, carrots, and peppers. After heating the package, I top it with a poached egg done in the microwave (super easy!).
a.      YWS Says: If you have a choice, use the oven or stove, but if in a pinch I’d rather use that than eat the packaged 10 ingredient foods. Try thawing the veggies first to reduce the time in the microwave. And love that egg idea –breakfast too!
3.      Don’t feel too guilty about eating out: Without a kitchen, everything is more work. After a long day at work, sometimes eating out is all we have the energy to do. And that’s okay…our kitchen-less house isn’t a permanent situation (I hope), so we allow ourselves to indulge and try to make smart menu choices when doing so. Put that sauce on the side!
a.      YWS Says: Mental health is as important as physical health! The time to unwind and regroup is key for self-nourishment and recharging. Choose wisely - focus on veggies and quality protein and don’t fear the quality fat!

When Cheryl relayed her kitchen experience I asked her to submit her challenge because it exemplifies how we can’t be our healthiest selves 100% of the time. Life goes on. Habits take time to create. And during the habit making process kitchens are remodeled, jobs have crunch times, kids (or you) get sick, friends have parties. The list is endless. But one doesn't have to suffer. The tips here represent one of my main coaching themes- make the best of your situation and choose wisely along the way. She developed some great habits – I’ll check in with her on those green smoothies. She also ensured that accomplishing clean eating during this upheaval time didn’t add more stress. She cut herself a break by smartly eating out!

So I challenge you to make the best of your situation. Find the resources that help achieve health vs adds stress. Do you have a challenging health situation? Do you have tips to share? Or maybe some questions? Let me know! Submit your guest contribution or challenge to yourwellnessscout@gmail.com, comment to this blog, OR post to www.facebook.com/yourwellnessscout

Wellness Scout

Spring Clean Your Mind! - Alternative Therapies

Alternative therapies are any type of various systems of healing or treating a disease that is not included in the traditional curricula taught in U.S. and British medical schools. They have the healing effects of medicine, but do not originate from evidence gathered using the scientific method. They can be very successful based on the healer and the appropriateness of the method used. Common alternative therapies include Homeopathy, Chiropractic, Naturopathy, Ayurveda, Faith Healing, Reiki and more. They can provide numerous immune boosting benefits, preventative health and optimal health maintenance.
Below are the definition of some with many more to research!

A colonic is the infusion of water into the rectum by a colon therapist to cleanse and flush out the colon. It is also called colonic hydrotherapy or colon irrigation.

Acupuncture is key component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) involving thin needles inserted into the body at acupuncture pointsAcupuncture is commonly used for pain relief, though it is also used for a wide range of other conditions.

Reflexology is the application of appropriate pressure to specific points and areas on the feet, hands, or ears. Reflexologists believe that these areas and reflex points correspond to different body organs and systems, and that pressing them has a beneficial effect on the organs and person's general health. 

Aromatherapyis the practice of using natural oils to enhance psychological and physical well-being. Oils are used in everything from direct ingestion to topical use, to drops on pillows and in clothing and can be a great additive to a nightly humidifier. Scents such as lavender are popular for relaxation and peppermint for clearing the sinuses and mind.

Qigong is an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention. Breathing has become more popular to fight chronic inflammation and techniques such as Qigong can focus one’s breathing in a disciplined and useful manner.

Check out one of these today! Maybe there is a free info session at a local health center or maybe your yoga studio is having a demonstration. Many of these practitioners will welcome your curiosity and interest to try so don’t be shy think about how you can expand your wellness tool kit.

It is all about finding what works for your body, to not only heal but also spring clean the mind