Tag Archives: nutrition

There’s Nothing Wrong with Bread

Be honest. You love bread. Everybody loves bread.

However, for a number of reasons, many people are avoiding bread and other wheat products completely these days. While I’ll concede that many folks consume a bit too much starch, bread is actually a delicious and nutritious food that deserves a place in most of our diets.

One Important Caveat

There’s a lot of things labeled as bread at the market and unfortunately, as is often the case with food, all of these products are not created equally. The bread that I’m promoting up here on my soapbox, is handmade using traditional fermentation methods and is often composed of a variety of fresh-milled whole grains and seeds. Simply put—and I know this label can be nebulous as well, I’m standing up for artisan bread products baked with quality ingredients, not commercially-produced mass market products that are delivered to shelves without many of the benefits outlined below.

The Gluten Scare

We all know there is no “one-size-fits-all” diet out there and not every body digests gluten very well. In fact, some digestive tracts are quite sensitive to gluten, sounding the alarms with a number of autoimmune reactions upon its consumption. Celiac disease is a very real thing and I am by no means suggesting that those suffering from this begin to consume foods that contain gluten. However, true celiac disease is quite rare and because of some very clever marketing and “hype” many people have chosen to go “gluten free,” perhaps, unnecessarily. My sense is that going gluten free feels better mainly because oftentimes folks are transitioning away from a standard American diet that is packed full of high fat, starchy foods, thus replacing gluten containing products with more fruits, vegetables, legumes and quality proteins, which will of course vastly improve the way one feels. Whatever the case, for those that feel healthy and satisfied without artisan bread and other gluten containing foods, keep doing what you’re doing. You know your body best! However, those curious about the potential of integrating some crusty, chewy, delicious bread back into their diet may find this information useful.

A Fermented Food

Your average sliced bread found on the grocery shelves is a quick-yeasted bread that uses refined yeast that raises dough incredibly fast. This process is efficient, allowing for more bread production in a shorter amount of time. Unfortunately, the faster process leads to inferior nutrition.

Historically, bread is produced through a fermentation process known as souring. By inoculating dough with a culture, bacteria begin to digest the raw ingredients. The byproduct of this process is carbon dioxide and lactic acid. The former being the air bubbles that cause dough to rise and the latter contributing a somewhat sour flavor. Beyond its contributions to texture and flavor, souring breaks down bran and predigests many of the carbohydrates and proteins found in wheat, which has been shown to naturally reduce gluten levels present in the final product. Enzymes also develop during the fermentation process that often remain active even after baking. Artisans bake at high heat for short durations (like a properly prepared steak) to create a product with a crunchy crust and chewy interior, and that chewy interior does not get hot enough to deactivate enzymatic activity. Mark Sircus describes all of this in depth in his article “Sour Dough Bread and Health.” Simply put, the natural fermentation process that sours artisan bread creates a final product that is far easier to digest, thus the body can assimilate more nutrition without aggravating the intestinal tract.

Whole-Grain Nutrition

While many artisan bread products integrate a variety of grains into recipes, wheat flour is almost always the main ingredient in bread. Most understand the benefits of eating whole-grain wheat flour over standard white flour. White flour products are created by sifting out bran and germ from the processed wheat, which makes the flour easier to work with, but also robs most of its potential nutrition. However, as bakers rediscover traditional techniques along with wheat varieties that lend themselves to whole grain baking, some incredible whole grain breads are being created.

Those that can source fresh baked whole grain bread from a local bakery are in luck. Turns out they’re getting a lot of more than a “carb fix” from these products. Whole wheat actually contains quite a bit of nutrition, including a substantial amount of B vitamins, manganese, magnesium and phosphorus. Of course, with the bran left in the flour, there is also a hefty dose of dietary fiber available in whole wheat.

The Middle Path

See? Bread ain’t so bad after all! The rub here is the same as it usually is though. Those that seek out a handmade product using high-quality ingredients will enjoy something equally delicious and nutritious. Additionally, remember that you can have too much of a good thing, so do enjoy bread as a part of a balanced diet. See how you feel. You may just rediscover an old friend.

from Beachbody Blog


3 Simple Ways to Lose Weight


Let’s cut to the quick. Do these things and your diet will get better. Probably much better.

They might be obvious yet, in my experience, many people have trouble following the basics. I guess we’re all wired differently and, thus, we vary in what clicks for us mentally when it comes to instruction. But I can’t tell you how many diets I’ve analyzed that weren’t “working” that were focused on, say, gluten or Paleo or some other trend-of-the-year but weren’t focused on these three simple components.

If you want to lose weight, adopting these three methods is absolutely vital no matter how you’re eating, be it high protein, high carb, high fat, or high fruit.

1. Drink more water
Most people overeat because they’re dehydrated. Drink two glasses of water every morning and keep on going throughout the day. A good gauge is to aim for half your body weight in ounces each day. Or, shoot, just make it an even gallon. You’re unlikely to drink too much, and I’ll bet you drink too little. You’ll be amazed how much better you feel and function when you’re properly hydrated.

2. Cut out (or at least down) on junk
Most of us know where our diets are going south. We eat too much packaged junk, desserts, fast food, and cheap beer. Like, way too much. Stats show we get more than 10% of our calories from soda, fast food is a jillion-dollar industry, ampms are way more popular than farmer’s markets and we drink more beer, per capita, than the country that invented it. Yet, we have an insatiable appetite for answers to our issues that aren’t (quite literally) right in front of our face.  Instead of worrying about eating like a caveman or whether or not you’re allergic to gluten, try cutting the crap out of your diet and see what that does for you. Chances are you’ll never have to suffer through a diet book again.

3. Eat to fuel recovery (aka eat for what you do)
Instead of eating until you’re stuffed, try eating just enough so you recover from your workout, or whatever else you just did. We’ve gotten used to feeling full as our default state, or goal, which is positively bourgeois.  In a survival state, aka a performance state, you’d want to feel light, not full. Get used to feeling light and you’ll push harder during your workouts and you’ll end up eating pretty close to optimally because performance is addictive, too.

Editor note: Check out Steve Edwards’ Blog for more on weight loss, getting fit, and much much more.]

from Beachbody Blog


Chalene Johnson’s 10 Tips for Getting Your Kids to Eat Healthy

kid eating apple

As hard as it is to fight your junk food urges, if you have kids, you probably know that getting Junior to make smart food choices is triple the challenge. It’d be excellent if you could just yell, “Hey, you! Eat your spinach!” But you can’t. As is the case when dealing with most aspects of a child’s life, it takes commitment, patience, and some serious cunning to steer them down the right path.

If you’ve watched the “Healthy Eats” disc of the ChaLEAN Extreme program, you know that Chalene and her husband Brett made a commitment to teach their son Brock and daughter Sierra the benefits of a solid diet. Here, in Chalene’s words, is a little insight on how they did it.

1. Portion control.
Digging into the entire box of goldfish crackers, or any other kid’s snack, is a bad idea. So it’s a good idea to empty out that box into smaller ziplock bags, for better portion control. Do this the moment the treats are pulled from the grocery store bags! This helps children understand what a healthy portion looks like. Meals and portion sizes have increased nearly 40 percent over the last decade. As parents, we have to teach our children that it’s not deprivation—it’s proper nutrition.

2. Sneak in the whole grains.
Use whole-grain pasta and brown rice, but don’t tell your kids. They’ll never know the difference. No one, especially children, likes change when it comes to food. I like to use the “stealth” approach, i.e., fly low under the radar! When I switched my kids from regular pasta to whole-grain, whole wheat pasta, I did it in stages. First, I added just a 1/4 cup of the healthier noodles. Each time I added more, until eventually they were eating the whole-grain stuff and had no idea! They still have no idea! We had spaghetti at a restaurant the other night (the enriched-flour kind), and the kids said the restaurant pasta was “weird…kinda slimy!” How fantastic is that? The key is making the changes gradually and not making a big deal about them.

3. Lead by example.
If you’re giving your kids apples but you’re eating Snickers, it’s never going to work. Following a healthy diet needs to be part of the commitment of good parenting. Never use the “D” [“Diet”] word in front of children. When you do, and they see you eating healthily, they assume that healthy food is something you’re forced to eat as a punishment. Lead by example. Say, “Mommy is eating this for more energy and to be stronger.” Make negative comments about food without nutritional value. For example, when I do have the occasional “treat,” I will often say, “Wow, that piece of cake gave me a sugar crash and a headache. Now I feel so sluggish!” Use positive comments about healthy food without reference to weight. Try, “I feel so much stronger when I eat fruit for a snack!”

4. Make food fun.
Taste is something that changes over time. Our taste buds actually change as we age; this explains why some children will eat broccoli and green beans and others find the smell and taste worse than starvation! Continually introduce healthy food and find unique ways to introduce the food in stages. For example, your children might try a small amount of broccoli mixed in with their mac and cheese. Once you’ve gotten them to accept that as a regular staple, transition to broccoli with a creamy cheese soup. Eventually, your children may acquire a taste for steamed broccoli! Can you imagine the day? But starting right out of the gates with a big plate of steamed broccoli in front of a child who doesn’t eat green things is asking for a battle! Baby steps!

5. Don’t pressure kids to eat.
Present the food, but don’t force kids to eat it. Making demands will just polarize your kids, while letting them eat healthy foods on their own terms leads to healthy habits. If your first attempt doesn’t work, don’t take it personally or assume that this is a life-or-death situation. Take a deep breath, let it go, and try it again another day—try serving those healthy foods prepared in new ways. It often takes several times before your child will decide to try something new. Oh, and I don’t know if this works for everyone, but I find that my children will often try new food with their grandparents and at their friends’ houses, foods that they won’t try with me! Ask what new foods they tried and then offer to prepare them, and get excited about their willingness to try new foods.

6. Be careful what you say.
Everything a woman says about her body is like writing on the slate of her female child’s self-esteem. I volunteer to teach exercise to children of all ages in the public school system. I have personally heard children as young as 6 say, “I’m fat!” Or, “I have a big belly like my mommy.” Or, “My mommy doesn’t want you to see her because she got fat.” Seriously! Not only do kids hear what you’re saying on the phone to your girlfriend, but they are projecting those negative images on themselves. It’s unhealthy for you and your young children to be thinking anything other than positive thoughts about this amazing body that God gave you! Do your best to serve as a positive role model by speaking lovingly about your body and your journey to health!

7. Relax!
Food shouldn’t be a source of angst for your family. Try to get your kids to eat healthier, but be creative, consistent, and calm. The bigger you make the issue of eating healthy foods, the more resistance you may feel. Play it cool. There are many studies proving that you can place salad on the table 10 to 15 times before a child will decide to try it. Remember that “insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.” If it didn’t work the first time, try a different approach, a new way to prepare and disguise the food, and, again, remember the importance of doing this in slow, small steps.

8. Get kids involved.
Let them help cook meals and learn to read food labels. Teach them what’s too much sugar and what’s an appropriate amount of fat. Teach your children what purpose carbohydrates serve in moderation and what they turn into when we eat them in excess. Pick one item and just find that on your labels. For example, this week my children have been looking at the sodium content on labels. They get a kick out of trying to find the canned soup with the lowest sodium content or shocking each other by reading a label with an off-the-chart level of sodium. Food shouldn’t be a mystery. I meet adults every day who have no idea how much sodium, carbs, or protein they should be consuming, let alone how many calories. Let’s create a more educated generation when it comes to food!

9. Think daily.
Young children have shifts when they are hungry. A child will not starve himself or herself. We are so focused on eating huge portions three times a day, but naturally, most children will eat one full meal and graze at other meals. Avoid the bad habit of saying, “One more bite,” or, “Clean your plate.” These phrases teach our children that they are good if they eat more, when what we want to teach our children is to respond to their bodies when they feel full. Young children eat to provide themselves with energy. Eating to soothe sadness, eating to stuff ourselves, or eating because it’s simply that time of the day are all bad habits we pass along to our children.

10. Read up on nutrition.
Read books about food. Explain where it comes from. I highly recommend Eat This Not That! for Kids!: Be the Leanest, Fittest Family on the Block! It has giant pictures of common kid foods. It’s fun to make a game out of learning which foods are best! Also, check out MyFitnessPal.com, which lists the calories for most every food you can imagine, not to mention the nutritional information for nearly every restaurant in America!

from Beachbody Blog