Category Archives: Food

Survive, Revive and Thrive Through Your Coffee Breakup

Here’s Melissa’s second cup of tips to help you take a break from coffee and the side effects of caffeine.

If you brewed some inspiration from our recent blog on Managing Your Cup(s) of Coffee which was designed to help you take a break from coffee or even break your coffee habit for good — you will be happy to know that we’re following up here with some great tips and life hacks to help you survive the withdrawal, revive your energy and thrive through your coffee break.

It’s really all about avoiding the withdrawal symptoms!

The symptoms of caffeine withdrawal can sometimes be so overpowering that you can easily give in to your body’s need for a caffeine shot or two. Despite all the benefits of quitting caffeine, it requires a lot of will power to persevere through the common symptoms of headache, dizziness, constipation, irritability, lethargy, low concentration, confusion, and even depressed mood.

Here is what you can do to ease the withdrawal symptoms:

  1. Drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. Replace your favourite coffee mug with a new favourite water bottle that you can refill with water or herbal teas to refuel your energy and eliminate headaches caused by dehydration.
  2. Bullet Chicory Tea: This was my own saving grace on days 5 to 15 and continues to be my morning kick-starter!Recipe: Brew some Chicory Dandelion Dark Roast tea. In a high-powered blender, blend 1 tablespoon MCT oil with ½ teaspoon PURICA Cordyceps or PURICA Chaga powder with 1 cup strong brewed tea to increase energy and help regulate bowel movement.
  3. Sleep Better, Perform Better. Giving up caffeine might initially cause fatigue but with time, your sleep will improve along with your energy, mood, digestion and clarity of your skin. As you become less dependent on caffeine to boost your energy, your nervous system will recover from being constantly stimulated into overdrive and start feeling more energetic from better quality sleep and lower cortisol levels and inevitably, your performance will become better than before.
  4. Move it to lose it. Light exercise like walking and running can work wonders to boost your energy levels, improve mood and curb your caffeine cravings. You can also reduce your stress levels with healthy activities like yoga and meditation.
  5. Eat regular meals instead of gulping acidic coffee as a means to fill your stomach. Having low sugar, high fibre protein based meals and snacks will prevent your blood sugar level from falling dangerously low and help you thrive throughout the day. My clients love the new PURICA Purola granola bars and the equally new PURICA Power Vegan Protein Powder infused with Chaga mushrooms, which makes for great shakes and even simple water smoothies. They’re both great to use to replace mid-morning and afternoon coffee to revive their energy between meals.

The good news is the physical withdrawal period is relatively short. Based on your daily consumption of caffeine, the withdrawal symptoms may only last between 2 and 15 days to resolve. It can be tough, but it’s worth it!

Managing your cup(s) of coffee

Here’s a news flash: Caffeine is one of the most widely used drugs in the world. If you’re like many who adore it via a delicious cup of coffee, I’m here to share with you some reasons why you may want to kick your coffee habit…or at least cut back on your caffeine intake.

I know it’s a sensitive topic because so many of us drink coffee as routine and we’ve done so for years. Yet only through eliminating coffee was I able to see the effect it had on my mood, energy, weight management, sleep and skin. Sometimes it’s hard to connect the dots between food and mood until you commit to an elimination and replacement nutrition plan. The good news is that the benefits of quitting caffeine become evident soon after you restrict your intake.

Here are a few ways in which saying goodbye to caffeinated foods and beverages can help you…

Balance Your Hormones

A bad diet is a key reason for hormonal imbalance. Caffeine causes the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Taking caffeine out of your dietary regime can help lower blood cortisol levels, increase the circulation of HGH and prevent insulin resistance. Balancing your hormones improves your overall health.

No More Headaches

Caffeine is one of the most common causes of headaches. Sometimes it’s hard to connect the dots around what causes you to have a headache, anxiety or an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure. In my experience over the past 15 plus years as a wellness coach has shown me that most people don’t drink enough water. Since coffee is a diuretic, it isn’t so much the removal of caffeine but the increase in water that helps reduce and in some cases eliminate headaches, lower blood pressure, heart rate and feelings of anxiety. Drinking more water will also help with weight loss and improving the health of your skin!

Weight Loss

If you load your coffee with cream and sugar or regularly order blended coffee drinks, the average number of calories per cup ranges between 250 and 650 calories (depending on what you’re loading into your drink)!  These hidden sugars lead to an increase in body weight and a drop in blood sugar levels, which in turn will typically zap you of energy and increase cravings for a second cup. By cutting down on these caffeinated sugar bombs, you can attain your ideal fitness goals faster than you thought.

Clearer Skin

If you think caffeine might be affecting your skin adversely, you’re probably right!

Caffeine increases your body’s stress levels and triggers the fight or flight response to the adrenal glands to pump out stress hormones. Increased levels of cortisol can cause acne and breakouts. Replacing dehydrating coffee with pure water and fresh lemon will help hydrate the skin and purify the liver to clear your complexion from the inside out.  Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your skin.  Simply replace your morning coffee with a bottle of water and when you sit down to start working at your desk, reach for water instead of a second cup of coffee and you will notice an improvement in the texture of your skin within the first couple weeks.

Quitting caffeine is not easy, but it is possible. My next Blog will cover how to avoid irritability and depression that can come with withdrawal so you can persevere and see the benefits of quitting caffeine kick in.

Your Metabolism and a Healthy Lifestyle

Contrary to popular belief, your metabolism doesn’t have to slow as you age.

It’s true that we experience a decline of between 2 and 4 percent in our resting metabolic rate with each passing decade after the age of 25. On average, we drop about five pounds of lean body mass per decade from age 25-65.

Yet it’s also true that these declines can be prevented by changing a few simple lifestyle habits. That’s because a slow metabolism is not age related; it is lifestyle related.

A decreased metabolism simply stems from a decrease in activity. That means an increase in activity can help increase your metabolism.

By making physical activity part of your daily regime, along with other smart lifestyle choices, you can rev your metabolism, keep your energy up and maintain an optimal weight and body composition late into life.

The more lean muscle mass you have, the better, especially later in life. When it comes to building and maintaining lean muscle mass, think of the saying “use it or lose it”. Performing a weight bearing routine 3-6 days per week stimulates your metabolism because muscle is metabolically active. You are not made to sit all day; so start moving and don’t blame weight gain on a slow metabolism.

It’s also smart living to support your active lifestyle with a balanced whole food diet. Many people are in fact undernourished and overstressed with fast food. If you’re feeling exhausted, rather than reaching for a caffeine or sugar fix to push through, try slowing down and supporting your cardiovascular system with some deep breathing before your meal to support proper digestion and micronutrient absorption.

The bottom line is: Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.

Do your best to stop filling up on empty calories and start loading up on alkaline and nutrient rich whole foods. If you have cravings, it’s because your body is starving for vitamins and nutrients. The quickest way to add vitamins to your diet is to eat produce.

If a food comes from a plant eat it. If it is made in a plant, don’t.

NOTE: I recommend you consider taking a metabolism-supporting supplement. High on my list are Carnitine and natural formulations such as PURICA Trimactiv Weight Control, PURICA Vitality Adrenal Support and PURICA Provascin Cardiovascular Support.

3 Ways to Avoid a Snaccident

Ever roam the aisles of a drug store looking for a protein bar or healthy snack that taste good, is satisfying, or will fuel you up for a workout, and isn’t full of mystery ingredients? It’s a scary scavenger hunt most of us have been on that results in an ugly snaccident! When you eat the wrong thing or opt to skip a meal altogether the end result isn’t pretty. As a Fitness Trainer, Pro Athlete and Nutritionist I have learned to create an arsenal of perfect on-the-go snacks to pack in your gym bag to fuel a busy day. Here are three of my favorites!

  1. I make my own Chocolate Coconut Energy Balls to keep on hand when I need a boost. They satisfy my sweet tooth and are great for pre- or post-workout. Try this simple, easy to make recipe: 1/2-cup oats, two scoops of Vegan Protein Powder. I use Sprouted Living Vegan Chocolate Maca Protein Powder, one medium banana *mashed, 2-3 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and 1/4 cup honey OR 2 Tablespoons Yacon syrup, mix the ingredients in a bowl, roll the balls in unsweetened coconut and cacao nibs. Done and done.
  1. I am totally on board with having raw nuts-as-fuel, but post workout I suggest pairing them with a serving of Low GI fruit. Almond nut butter with pureed frozen banana is one of my favorite desserts to replace an ice-cream craving. Pre-portioned nut butter packets or ¼ cup portion control container for loose nuts are a great way to make this snack portable and help avoid ‘over-nutting.’ OD-ing on nuts can cause weight gain with just a few quick fistfuls.
  1. After a workout is when I suggest a protein shake. Bring a single serving of protein powder with you to the gym to mix with water, coconut water, or a greens juice to provide a delicious convenient liquid snack needed to reload your muscles. Having a single serve of protein powder in iced coffee or iced tea is a great carry along when traveling or stuck in meetings, and food munching isn’t an option.

Isn’t it great to know healthy snacking doesn’t have to be complicated? You now have on-the-go eating covered and you didn’t even have to cook!

Remember; Keep your Friends close, and your snacks closer.

3 Ways to Say Goodbye to Belly Fat

High levels of the stress hormone Cortisol have been shown to contribute to higher levels of body fat especially deep belly fat. Chronic stress, lack of sleep, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking are a few stressors that can lift cortisol levels and keep the body in fight or flight mode, which triggers the body to hold on to fat in self preservation.

The good news is that you can get rid of deep belly fat by following three simple steps.

1. Proper food combining.

Be sure to include a protein, fat, and carb in each meal with an adequate amount of fiber rich foods. When your meals are balanced, your hormones are balanced and your body will absorb the foods nutrients better increasing satiety and decrease the odds of overeating.

2. Control your portions.

When you need to learn how much is enough, invest in a digital food scale and weigh your proteins, fats and complex carbs when prepping your meals at home to learn what a healthy portion size is for you. In our super sized society what is common does not mean it’s normal. After just a few months of measuring with your scale you will be able to eyeball a portion when eating out and determine if it’s enough to starve, satisfy or stuff your hunger. When you’re really trying to lose those last 5-10 lbs. or drop five percent body fat, portion control is a must!

3. Eat frequently and consistently.

To lose access body fat and build muscle being consistent with your meal timing to help maintain proper blood sugar balance. I support the current recommendation of eating five meals per day rather than two to three large meals. This can be made up of three main meals and two snacks or five to six calorically equal meals to fuel your activity level. In all cases be sure to have breakfast within thirty minutes of waking and time your last meal to be at least two hours before bed to support energy levels and quality sleep.

When you consistently eat nutritionally balance, properly portioned meals you will have more energy to fuel your workouts and decrease the mindless indulgences that caused the access belly fat to accumulate in the first place.

10 Habit Hacks to Achieve Healthy Weight Loss

How can you shape or engineer your environment so that maintaining a healthy weight is easier?

You have to put your mind to it, but the good news is that simple changes made to your home or workspace can help make achieving weight loss easier. The key is to surround yourself with nutritious foods and supportive messages while reducing the number of influences that will challenge your commitment to better health. Make these simple adjustments to boost your chances of weight loss success and improve your health:

  1. In the home, get rid of stuff that you’re likely to eat too much of. Overeating is obviously a leading culprit in weight gain.
  2. One step towards improving eating habits is to change the contents of your shopping basket. If you never buy chips, they will not be in the cupboard to tempt you.
  3. Have a snack before a meal, something such as a small serving of protein. This will help you avoid over-indulging later.
  4. Stay away from alcohol before starting a meal. There’s evidence that alcohol stimulates appetite and leads to overeating.
  5. Serve your dinner meal from the stove or counter rather than serving your plate right off the table. Studies show you are likely to eat 19 percent less food with this healthy habit.
  6. Serve salad first rather than bread at mealtime. You’re three times more likely to eat the first food you see than the fifth.
  7. Replace 12-inch plates with 10-inch ones. People tend to eat about 60 extra calories per meal when they eat off of larger plates.
  8. Avoid the TV and Computer When Eating. It’s easy to lose track of what you’ve eaten when you are not paying attention. Try to remove items that will take your focus off of eating, such as the computer or a television at mealtime.
  9. Celebrate your healthy meal by sitting down, relaxing alone or with family. Take the time to slowly enjoy your food. Creating a special mealtime ritual will help you to feel satisfied with the experience of eating. This is better than looking in the cupboard and fridge before mealtimes or snacks to see what is there.
  10. Physical activity is more important for weight maintenance than for weight loss. What matters most for weight loss is controlling calorie intake. However, doing things such as walking to the local market or parking far from the grocery store door will support weight loss by increasing total daily steps and calories burned. Adding daily exercise is the key to improving your mood, protecting against disease. It boosts energy during the day and improves sleep quality at night.

Home is Where Heart Healthy Cooking is at

It can be difficult to eat right when you’re eating out, ordering in, or eating processed foods. The portions are usually too large and the foods contain too much salt, sugar, and hydrogenated fats. Cooking at home will give you full control over the nutritional content of your meals and can also help you to save money and lose weight, if needed.
Making a quick, heart healthy meal is easier and less time-consuming than you may think. Here are a few suggestions: Continue reading

Are You Denying the Damage of Your Excuses?

Do you have a list of “reasons” aka excuses that are sabotaging your intention to get fit and eat clean? The more you allow yourself to make an excuse and deviate from your intention the more persuasive your sabotaging self-talk will become!

Some Denying the Damage excuses sound like this:

  • I worked out hard today, I earned the extra calories.
  • A few bites won’t hurt me.
  • No one saw me eat it so it doesn’t count.
  • This is the last time I will eat this.
  • It’s just one missed workout.
  • It’s just one bite.
  • I’ll skip dinner later.
  • I will work out twice tomorrow.
  • Just this once I’ll make an exception.
  • I already messed up at lunch so just blow dinner too!
  • Start tomorrow …restart tomorrow…Monday I will really start.
  • There’s barely any left, I’ll just finish it.
  • It’s just one meal.
  • I’m building muscle; I don’t have to watch what I eat.
  • I’m usually really good, so this little treat won’t make a big difference.

How to Bust your Bluffs:

The only way to achieve optimal results is to be honest 100% of the time. All food and physical activity counts. When lies like the list above linger they will derail you from reaching your goals. The truth is you are always in control and responsible for what goes into your mouth and for the level of intensity and frequency you apply to each workout. Your fat cells don’t know the difference between your birthday, vacation buffets or a cheat day! They will always store bonus calories you choose to stuff in your mouth.

I’m not suggesting you will never have challenging days or that there won’t be times when other activities will take priority over a trip to the gym. There are times when legit circumstances will result in alternative choices having to be made.  However you are never so off track that the only option is to binge on junk food. You can always make the best choice of the choices available. If you tend to promise yourself that you’ll make it up tomorrow, take action today. If “Monday” is always your looming start day, ask yourself how much evidence you have to prove that to be true and add a momentum coaching session mid week to help make it through two successful weeks. Swearing you will start tomorrow will only increase your fears of going to the gym or spark the desire to binge on the very foods you are trying to restrict. Tip: self-imposed scarcity diets don’t work. Focus on what you CAN eat to get healthy, not on what you can’t have.

If you are going to get control over your health you have to TAKE Control over your thoughts and actions. One honest choice at a time!

 

7 Habits of Highly Effective Nutritional Programs

Melissa Tucker - PURICA Ambassador
Melissa Tucker
PURICA Ambassador

Melissa Tucker, a training coach and one of Canada’s foremost global fitness competitors, is a member of our team of PURICA Ambassadors committed to providing you with healthy eating and training tips.

Here’s my nutritional adaptation of one of my favourite books “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” written by Steven Covey.  These seven habits are not new techniques that you’ve never heard before, but they are simple, effective, and will build a lifestyle that will last, rather than a fad diet that you will “fall off the wagon” trying to maintain.
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