Is Wealth in your Health?

Is Wealth in your Health?

Why Should Women be Healthy?
Expert’s Name:  Suzanne Monroe


What’s Your Why?

What’s your why for enjoying a healthy diet? Determining your true motivation for why you want to be healthy adds feeling and emotion to your goal, making it easier to achieve. Most people are not motivated my numbers on a scale, but they can picture themselves having more energy and feeling great. Focusing solely on your weight will leave you always stepping on the scale and analyzing the results with your calculator. How boring, right? Health is so much more than a number! Here are just a few very important reasons that might make your personal “Why Be Healthy List”. Can you connect with any of these?
Why Be Healthy List
  • Increased energy to do what you love.
  • A sense of balance and awareness with your life.
  • Ability to choose what you eat, instead of being controlled by cravings.
  • Feeling more comfortable in your own skin.
  • Serving as an example to others.
  • Living longer and with more joy.
The Key to Healthy Eating During Menopause

Counting calories doesn’t work! It’s just another way to fit food into the “numbers game”, but you’ll miss the bigger picture. Food is your fuel, not a mathematical equation. Food nourishes you on a deep level and goes far beyond a point, an ounce, a calorie or a fat gram. Learning to listen to your body and discover what truly nourishes you is the key to healthy eating. Freeing yourself from the endless cycle of number crunching, willpower and deprivation is the way to truly balanced eating. And once you get there, you’ll never look back. Take it from me, I used to be a calorie counter. Now I know how to choose food in a whole new way that gives me energy. When clients come to Real Life Food to lose weight, they soon discover their true motivation was something else – the weight was just a side effect of the real motivation to increase energy, end menopausal weight gain and symptoms, curb late night cravings, learn how to manage stress, or achieve balance in life – just to name a few!

Menopause is a time for not only physical changes, but emotional changes as well. When our emotions are out of balance, be it irritability, sadness, anxiety or stress, we may be led to make poor food choices. The fuel you choose can either alleviate your emotional state, calming you, grounding you, giving you long lasting energy; or it can aggravate and intensify your emotional state. Once you understand own personal “Why” you can use it as motivation to overcome any emotional or physical obstacle that may be trying to keep you from your health goals. Start with determining your own Why and let that serve as the foundation to help you reach your goals. It’s so much more fun and meaningful than dieting and counting calories!

Nutrition Labels: What Really is Important

Nutrition Labels: What Really is Important

The Keys to Food Labels
Expert’s Name: Lisa Enslow

Ladies, get out your reading glasses and keep them handy at the supermarket. Reading labels is the best way to make sure you are eating the most nutritious and health promoting foods you can. At first glance, a standard nutrition label looks like information overload. Focusing on a few key points in the nutrition label will help you quickly decide if that particular item is right for you. The goal is to be better informed and healthier, not to spend all day in the supermarket reading labels! This is also a skill that improves with practice. The more you do it, the better you will get at judging the quality of an item quickly. It’s also a great behavior to model for your children. Have them select a yogurt based on the criteria you’ll learn in this article. It’s never too early to get the kids involved in making healthier choices for themselves.

Focus on These Points

*Serving Size and servings per container: All of the nutritional data refers to amounts in a single serving. In many packaged foods the serving size is MUCH smaller than you would imagine. That Snapple Iced Tea that you grab from the cooler at the deli actually has 2 servings in it. Boxed cereal serving sizes are also often much smaller than any person would pour into the bowl.

*Dietary Fiber: Fiber helps fill you up, slows down the metabolism of sugar, and helps in your digestion and elimination. Look for foods with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. You’ll find a huge variety of fiber amounts in bread. There are many types of bread available today with 4 grams of fiber per slice, which is great!

*Fat: Beware of foods with trans fats, as these are promoters of heart disease and interfere with your metabolism. Saturated fats should be limited as they are not as heart healthy as unsaturated fats.

*Sodium: Current recommendations are for less than 2300mg of sodium per day, and 1500mg for those with health problems or family history of hypertension. Canned foods and jarred sauces are often high in sodium. A comparison of different brands will lead you to choices with less sodium. In addition there are some items being sold as “low sodium” such as soups.

*Sugar: The less the better. Choose foods with less than 5 grams per serving. Again, comparing labels among different brands is very enlightening. You can spend 10 minutes in the yogurt section alone!

*Ingredient List: Ingredients are listed according to their ranking in the product by weight. The first item is the main ingredient. Look for products with ingredients that you recognize as food, not chemicals. And in general, the shorter the ingredient list the better the food.

Food with No Labels!

The easiest and most healthful way to shop is to buy food that has no label to read! A banana, a bunch of broccoli, brown rice or quinoa from the bulk grains section of the market…these items do not have a nutrition label at all.   Making sure that the bulk of your shopping cart is filled with non-labeled items is a great way to save time and eat more healthfully.
Raw Food – Is it Right for You?

Raw Food – Is it Right for You?

Diet and Menopause – Raw Vegan
Expert’s Name:  Robin Pruitt

It is well known that antioxidants are beneficial to our health. Antioxidants significantly decrease effects of free radical damage, which accumulates with age. Specifically, research has revealed evidence that free radicals contribute to menopausal symptoms, so bolstering our antioxidant defenses may prevent or minimize some of those symptoms.

Raw Food and Antioxidants

A diet with a high percentage of raw foods provides a wealth of antioxidants. An easy way to increase your supply of antioxidants from whole food sources rather than relying on supplements is to adopt a habit of making a meal out of a salad. A well constructed salad delights the palate, provides abundant nutrition and has enough substance to be satisfying and to see you through to the next meal.

Leafy greens provide the base for a good salad—no surprise there. But the first step to building the perfect salad is to rethink the lettuce. Forget about iceberg lettuce; it has inferior nutritional value and flavor compared with other varieties. Instead, choose darker green varieties—that vibrant green color is nature’s way of pointing us toward the most nutritious choices. Romaine lettuce is a great start for the Perfect Salad, but avoid the prepackaged hearts of romaine—they’re paler and therefore likely to be less nutritious, and don’t save any labor since they still need to be washed. Go for the darker outer leaves of individual heads of romaine.

Next, layer on a rainbow assortment of shredded or chopped vegetables; use possibilities that are beyond the usual tomato and cucumber include shredded beets, zucchini, red cabbage and carrots, as well as radishes, green onions and red bell peppers.

Raw nuts and seeds add protein and healthy oils along with textural contrast and staying power to your Perfect Salad. Nuts and seeds don’t need to be roasted to be delicious. When raw, their delicate healthy oils are undamaged by heat and oxidation. Walnuts and pumpkin seeds are great choices. Both supply alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Additionally, pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, which supports healthy thyroid function.

To me, there is something deeply satisfying about a salad with avocado. A few slices of avocado can add substance without heaviness and a creamy texture that contrasts well with the crispness of most other salad ingredients. The healthy fats and high fiber content of avocados provide a satisfying richness and help give the salad staying power.

Fresh or dried fruit helps to brighten the flavor and add vitamins and phytonutrients. Raisins, currants, grapes, dried cranberries, dried apples, dried pineapple chunks, sliced strawberries or pears, mango or papaya cubes, mandarin orange slices—the list goes on. When the salad is dressed and tossed, the fruit will release juices and flavor that add another dimension to the dressing.

You’ve now constructed a very colorful salad—proof that your salad provides a bounty of the powerful antioxidant carotenoid. But guess what: you’ll get almost none of their benefit if your salad is fat-free! That’s because some fat must be present to release and help assimilate the carotenoids and fat-soluble vitamins in the salad. For a simple dressing, just use a high-quality olive oil and balance it with an acid element, either citrus juice or the vinegar of your choice. Experiment with the many flavored vinegars that are available. If you prefer an oil-free dressing, be sure to include some nuts, seeds or avocado in your salad as a healthy fat source to ensure the full absorption of nutrients.

As a final touch, you can sprinkle in some additional seasonings. Possibilities include Italian seasoning blend, cayenne pepper, kale or dulse powder for micronutrients, nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor and a source of vitamin B12, and of course salt and pepper to taste.

I have found that magic happens when I toss the salad and dressing together in a large mixing bowl, and then transfer it to a serving bowl. That way, all the salad ingredients can mingle and become united by the dressing. Letting the tossed salad sit for just a few minutes before eating will allow the flavors to blend to perfection.

Yum! Now I’m hungry for my own Perfect Salad. I’ll see you in the kitchen…

Meals on a Shoestring

Meals on a Shoestring

Quick Budget Meal Ideas
Expert’s Name:  Suzanne Monroe

In recent months, grocery prices have skyrocketed, right alongside gas prices. That’s because the cost of transporting food must be figured into the price.   Here are some tricks to pinching pennies at the grocery store while still enjoying nutritious and delicious food:

Eat more beans – Beans are wildly economical and versatile. You can make bean salads, Cajun dishes, Indian dishes, vegetable soup, chili, Mexican bean dips, stir them into whole-grain pasta—the list goes on and on. Your family will never catch on to the fact that they’re eating beans most nights of the week. Beans are high in protein and fiber.

Vegetarian Meals – Eat more vegetarian meals than meat-based meals. This is a great time to stock up on your veggies and give yourself an extra dose of antioxidants to boost your immune system and fight free radical damage. But be sure you are still meeting your protein needs for the day. This is different for each person and the amount of protein you need in your diet can be understood when you know your body type.

Chop your veggies – Spend more time than money. In other words, cruise by the convenience foods—even those that you think are healthy. For example, buy a head of romaine lettuce and cut it yourself rather than buying prepackaged salads. A head of romaine may only cost a little more than $1, but prepackaged salads often cost at least $3.50; ditto for all fruits and vegetables, plus meat. Buy a whole chicken and cut it yourself to make it last for six meals, including making chicken stock with the bones.

Buy in bulk – This will save you money over several weeks. Sure, you might spend $20 on a bushel of apples this week, but you won’t have to buy them for three weeks. If you had spent $7 per ½ peck once a week for three weeks instead of buying the bushel, you would have spent $1 more for ½ peck less of apples.

Go local – Buy as many local foods as possible. Produce from local farmers is unbelievably cheap, incredibly tasty, and chocked full of more vitamins since it spends far less time being transported to your plate. End-of-season crops you can get right now include broccoli, cauliflower, beets, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, apples and apple cider. If you eat meat, try to find a local farmer. You’ll save money by buying in bulk, and the meat will contain no antibiotics or hormones.

Cook once, eat twice – One thing we always teach our clients is how to extend your meals. Most people have no idea what’s for dinner tonight and make something that will be eaten just at that meal. If you can plan ahead, your ingredients will go farther. A whole chicken can make up to 4 meals! First meal chicken breasts, second meal chicken stir fry, third meal chicken tacos, and fourth meal chicken soup made by boiling the remains for stock!

Don’t shop while you’re hungry -. You’ll be tempted to stray from your weekly budget with unnecessary items such as potato chips and cookies. Eat a healthy snack like a handful of almonds or a piece of fruit right before shopping.

Menopause and Stress

Maintaining balance and stress levels throughout menopause can be a challenge! For many people, money can be huge stress trigger. If you find yourself feeling anxious, angry, sad or overwhelmed when it comes to household spending try planning your grocery shopping list by using these budget friendly tips before your next supermarket trip. Make the conscious effort to be in command of the stressors that are in your ability to change. You will be eating healthier, spending less and creating balance at the same time.

Colorful Choices in your Menopause Diet

Colorful Choices in your Menopause Diet

Menopause Weight Gain and Balance
Expert’s Name:  Suzanne Monroe

Eat the Rainbow

Do you feel stuck in a rut? Are you always eating the same things every day? Variety of food is an important factor in eating. Studies show that increasing variety of fresh, whole foods helps to round out nutrition and ensure that you get a variety of important vitamins and minerals. Maybe you have heard that you should “eat the rainbow”, enjoying one food from each color of the rainbow every day.

Examples of foods from the rainbow:
  • Red – apples, berries, red peppers
  • Orange – sweet potatoes, carrots
  • Yellow – squash, celery
  • Green – cucumbers, kale, spinach
  • Blue – blueberries
  • Purple – berries, eggplant
Antioxidants and Menopause

By enjoying a rainbow of colors in your diet, you are accomplishing something very important: You are eating an antioxidant rich diet. Antioxidants are natural substances that exist as vitamins, minerals and other compounds in foods. They are believed to prevent disease and aging by fighting free radicals in the body.

What are free radicals? – They form when the body undergoes stress – stress from unhealthy foods, toxins in the environment like cigarette smoke, and even from just ageing, changes in hormones and breathing.

Focusing on antioxidants is great way to stay healthy without jumping on the bandwagon of another fad diet or counting calories until you’re blue in the face. As your estrogen levels begin to drop, your ability to fight off free radical damage lessens, leaving you exposed to additional stress. To neutralize this stress, the body reaches into its natural supply of antioxidants. Because of the additional burden of free radicals during and after menopause, you body’s natural antioxidant reserve may not be enough to get the job done! By eating a colorful diet, you will be supplying your body with more power to fight off free radical damage, keeping it younger and healthier for longer.

If you’re finding it difficult to get started, try choosing one or two colors that are usually missing from the food you eat. Focus on eating foods with these colors for the next two weeks, long enough to create a new habit and notice any change you might feel.

Healthy Lunch Ideas

Healthy Lunch Ideas

Meals to Help Lose Weight
Expert’s Name:  Susan Joyce Proctor


The Lunch Challenge

Lunch, for many of us, seems to be the most challenging meal.

Unlike dinner, when we’re likely to be in our own kitchens and with time to prepare a meal, lunch happens in the middle of the day when we’re usually busy working or doing other things. And most people are away from home at lunchtime, with less control over their food options than at dinner or breakfast.

So figuring out how to feed ourselves a good lunch every single day can get monotonous at best — and feel impossible at worst. But I’ll be sharing some tips to help you overcome “The Lunch Challenge.”


Some Basics

Things are a bit backward in the Western world: although it’s healthier to eat more of our food earlier in the day when we need the fuel, we tend to skimp and then load up in the evening. (I’m sure this contributes to overweight, which midlife women definitely don’t need.)

In fact, we have our greatest digestive strength at midday, and lunch is therefore the ideal time to have our main meal.

To me, the basics for an ideal main meal would definitely include whole, rather than processed, food; at least some good quality protein; and ideally some form of vegetables. Depending on the season and on individual digestive capacity, these could be hot and cooked or raw and cold. And depending on a person’s blood type, grains could also be part of the meal.

And for menopausal women, we definitely want to emphasize nutrient-dense foods, phytoestrogen-rich foods, and calcium-rich foods.

With this as a starting point, let’s get more specific….


Blood Type Specifics

If you’ve read my other articles, you already know that I work with Dr. Peter D’Adamo’s blood type diet, which offers nutritional recommendations tailored for each blood type. Here is a very brief summary, and I encourage you to consider them as you choose lunch options:

Blood Type O: Thrives on protein, including red meat; is OK with healthy fats; doesn’t do well with carbohydrates or dairy. Important foods to avoid: wheat, corn, kidney beans, navy beans, lentils, peanuts, potatoes.

Blood Type A: Does well as vegetarian; doesn’t metabolize red meat, dairy or saturated fats well but is OK with poultry and most fish. Important foods to avoid: potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, bananas, kidney beans, lima beans, cabbage, certain white fish, tomatoes.

Blood Type B: Does fine with meat, most grains, and dairy, but not soy or most beans. Important foods to avoid: chicken, corn, lentils, sesame seeds, peanuts, buckwheat, tomatoes.

Blood Type AB: Does well as vegetarian but is OK with lamb and especially turkey; OK with both dairy and soy. Important foods to avoid: chicken, corn, buckwheat, kidney beans, lima beans, certain white fish.


Time for Lunch

With all this in mind, here are some of my lunch favorites and tips:

Leftovers make great lunches. If possible, plan to make some extra protein and vegetables for dinner, and have those available for lunch the next day, either at home or work. Or freeze leftovers in individual portions for future lunches.

Soup is a great lunch choice, usually nutritious and filling. If lunching at home, you can cook your own and freeze individual portions, or choose high-quality canned soups (read labels carefully avoid high fructose corn syrup). If eating out, choose soups with the best ingredients for you. And if soup is not enough to make a meal for you (it isn’t for me), team it up with something else.

Salads aren’t always substantial enough, especially in the winter and if you’re needing more grounding fare. But they’re a great way to get lots of veggies with a wide variety of protein choices and many, like Salade Nicoise and Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken or other protein, are definitely meals in themselves. Many others can be a great partner with soup.

Sandwichesare traditional lunch choices, but these aren’t the best choices for everyone. (People with the O blood type, for example, don’t really do well with bread of any kind.) If you opt for a sandwich, choose fillings and condiments that are as nutritious as you can, on breads with as much fiber as possible.

Sushiis a great lunch choice if you like it. Not only is fish heart-healthy and seaweed rich in calcium, but it’s quick, easy, and good for all types.

Other ethnic options can be great for lunch. Both Mediterranean and Asian cuisines are generally healthful and use lots of vegetables, and Asian uses rice rather than wheat as the grain (a much better choice). If you’re other than a B blood type, Asian could be a good opportunity to eat soy. Opt for brown rice if you can, which also has phytoestrogens.

“Breakfast” and “dinner” foodscan also be eaten for lunch – there’s no reason to limit you to “lunch” foods. Omelets (especially with veggies) can be good choices, and really, anything you’d have for dinner can also be eaten earlier in the day.

Mix and match any of these suggestions for the most options, nutrition and enjoyment.

Last but not least is my favorite standby. While not a real main meal, it’s a really easy, satisfying light lunch and incredibly nutritious: my Oat Walnut Scone recipe with Greek yogurt, berries and herbal tea.


In Conclusion….

Whatever you do, don’t skip lunch. Skipping meals can imbalance your blood sugar, which is a problem if you want to balance your estrogen. So even if lunchtime can’t always be about nutrient-dense, calcium-rich, phytoestrogen foods, an imperfect choice is still better than no food at all.