What’s the Deal With Artificial Sweeteners?

artificial sweeteners
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We have all heard some scary facts about the intake of sugar and the risk for obesity, diabetes, and other lifestyle related diseases. So many people turn to artificial sweeteners and diet foods in an attempt to make a healthy choice- but is it really healthier?

A quick google search for any of these artificial sweeteners will launch you into a war between experts on both sides. On one hand, these lab created artificial sweeteners are accused of causing everything from cancer and neurological disorders, to weight gain and depression. On the other hand, the FDA and other government agencies insist that they are safe. But one thing is certain, artificial sweeteners are controversial and have not been around that long.

Most Common Artificial Sweeteners

Sucralose (Splenda)
Aspartame (NutraSweet,Equal)
Saccharin (Sweet n Low)
Acesulfame K (Sunett)
Stevia (Truvia, PureVia, SweetLeaf)

My Top 4 Takeaways on Artificial Sweeteners

    1. Most of the studies on artificial sweeteners were done on animals, which may or may not relate to the safety (or lack there of) of these compounds being digested in humans.
    2. All of these products were discovered or created in the 1960s and 1970s, therefore knowing the effects of consuming these for your lifetime is impossible to know. They just haven’t been around that long.
    3. Most of the “pro” studies have been funded by the companies themselves, so there is a conflict of interest in many cases.
    4. They all have an established upper limit where they would be considered toxic (poisonous) to the human body. Yes, even stevia.

My Recommendation

Stay away from them as much as possible, but don’t lose sleep if you have them occasionally. Artificial Sweeteners are used in many products like gum, yogurts, protein bars and powders, juices, sodas, dressings, etc.

Many of the negative symptoms like headaches, bloating, depression and weight gain are associated with frequent use of artificial sweeteners. If you are one to frequently drink diet sodas or sweeten your beverages, start to cut back or eliminate them from your daily routine.

Lastly, eat unprocessed foods like lean meat and fresh produce as much as possible and read the nutrition label of the products you buy so you are at least aware of what’s in there. (Read my article on reading nutrition labels)

Over years of working with clients, I have found that people are drawn towards artificial sweeteners because they think it’s a way to cheat the system and indulge without the consequences of sugar. If you are constantly looking for something sweet or craving a sugary drink like soda or a fancy coffee, try to get to the root of the problem instead of looking for the quick fix of an artificial sweetener.

Cravings for sugar are a pretty good sign that something is off in your diet, and you’re reaching for sugar to fix it. Sugar cravings increase when you aren’t eating enough protein, when you eat mostly processed food, when you are overly stressed, or when you are not getting enough sleep. Correct these problems and you will likely find that cutting back on sweets is no longer an issue.

Resources

The Harmful Effects of Splenda
The Dangers of Saccharin and Aspartame
Artificial Sweeteners Don’t Fool Your Brain
Sweetened Beverages and Depression Link
The Potential Danger of Sugar Substitutes
Artificial Sweeteners and Cancer
The Safety of Saccharin
Aspartame Facts and Myths
Battle of the Sweeteners

Question: Tell me what you think! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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photo credit: PunchingJudy via photopin cc

How to Take Control of Your Time

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I don’t have time to…. Those words come out of everyone’s mouth from time to time, particularly when we are trying to justify the fact that we fell short on a commitment. How often do you excuse your missed exercise routine, or the fast food run to a lack of time? Today I will share some simple tips on how to take control of your time so that you can fit everything in.

Before I dive into that though, a little disclaimer is necessary. Most of what you are about to read is pretty basic, but sometimes getting back to the basics are exactly what we need. :-) Don’t make the mistake of thinking that a new tool, or iPhone app will be the solution. This is another form of procrastination and after all, you don’t have time to waste.

6 Tips for Tips Management

how to take control of your time
Reduce your commitments and prioritize what’s important.
How many people and things rely on you? Now how many are really important? I am NOT suggesting you become a flaky person and bail on all of your commitments, but you DO need to stop yourself before you pile on any more. If you are a people pleaser and tend to take on more than you need to, start to perform “commitment triage.” Decide what is truly important in your life and start doing what you need to do to get to where you want to go. I highly recommend Today Matters by John C Maxwell.

Minimize distractions so you can focus on what is important.
Do you have the TV on and Facebook open while you’re talking on your phone and trying to make your grocery list? Multitasking is a myth that only leads to inefficiency. When you have something to do focus on it, and you will get a lot more done in a lot less time. I recommend The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

Set a time limit for tasks.
We’ve all gotten lost in our email inbox, or sucked into Facebook. Setting a timer for fun things like internet browsing as well as work tasks will help you to stay focused. When it’s time to work, work. When it’s time to play, play.

Stay organized.
Have a place for everything. Your shoes, your keys, your purse, your incoming mail, your bills, your laundry- EVERYTHING. Yes, it takes time & effort upfront to get systems in place. Some will work and others won’t, but keep trying until you find a system that works for you and then use it. The time and stress you save yourself will be well worth it in the long run.

Keep separate lists for tasks and projects.
Whether you prefer physical notebooks and a filing cabinet or something more high tech like Evernote, keeping your TO DOs for various projects separate will help you to remain organized. Getting Things Done by David Allen is a must read for anyone who is busy and has many responsibilities to manage.

Ask for help & delegate things that you do not need to be doing.
There are some things that only you can do, and then there are things that you can delegate. This may be as simple as asking your spouse for help around the house. You can not do it all, so stop trying to.

We all fall short of our goals from time to time, but continually working to improve our time management will keep you growing both personally and professionally. Keep working at it, we are all in this together.

If you this information to be helpful please SHARE this post to help spread the message of healthy living. Thank you for reading!

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Fat Burning Superfoods for Fall

Seasonal Fall Foods
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The fall months are like another January to me. It’s a fresh start. Summer is coming to a close and it’s time to get everything back on track. The autumn weather also brings some of my favorite flavors into season. Eating seasonally will give you the opportunity to try new things and keep your healthy eating exciting.

3 Reasons to Eat Seasonal Foods

  • It saves you money. When you buy seasonal produce in your grocery store, you are buying food when it is the most abundant, and thus the least expensive. If you buy straight from the source (say a farmers market) you get the added benefit of saving money by cutting out the middle man.
  • The flavors are at their peak. When produce is allowed the proper time to ripen on the vine, you are able to get the best possible version of that product. In season, local produce also tends to have a longer shelf-life since it didn’t need to be picked early and shipped over long distances.
  • It adds nutrient variety to your diet. Eating seasonal foods will effortlessly give you more nutrition since the produce you’re eating is at it’s peak (having reached it’s maximum antioxidant potential) and it keeps your diet exciting (since you’re eating something new every few months).
  • My 5 Favorite Fat Burning Foods for Fall

    Fat Burning Super Foods

  • Apples are high in fiber and low in sugar making them a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth. Enjoy them by cutting them into 1 inch pieces and microwaving on high for 60 seconds. Sprinkle with cinnamon and stevia to taste & enjoy!
  • Brussels Sprouts are a good source of folate which is essential for heart and brain health. Enjoy them by sautéing in olive oil & sprinkling with a flavorful cheese like parmesan or picarino.
  • Parsnips are a great way to add variety to your diet and can replace any starch in a meal. They are rich in fiber and potassium. To enjoy, slice them lengthwise in quarters, toss in olive oil, season with salt, pepper and garlic and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.
  • Butternut Squash is high in beta carotene which is great for eye health and high in the antioxidant Vitamin C. Like the parsnips, butternut squash is great simply cut into cubes, lightly tossed in olive oil and baked at 400 for 20-25 minutes.
  • Pomegranates are well known for their high antioxidant content, are loaded with vitamin C and packed with flavor. Pomegranate seeds add a great flavor and sweetness to any salad. My personal favorite is to serve them with kale, goat cheese, and pecans.


  • As you can see, the autumn months offer a plethora of delicious and healthy foods that will keep your taste buds entertained and the pounds off your waistline. If you this information to be helpful please SHARE this post to help spread the message of healthy living. Thank you for reading!

    Question: What’s you’re favorite fall food? Tell me about it in the comments! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    photo credit: Sharon Mollerus via photopin cc

    The-30-Minute-No-Gym-Bodyweight-Workout1_13
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    No time for the gym today? No worries! This 30 minute workout doesn’t require any equipment. Here are 3 reasons I LOVE body weight workouts.

  • They are efficient. Body weight exercises combine the benefits of both strength training and cardiovascular training.
  • They promotes balance and coordination. Body weight exercises require more body awareness than traditional machine exercises which will help increase your balance and coordination while you burn calories.
  • They are FREE and great for travel. There is really no reason to miss a workout when you are armed with a great body weight routine. Find a little open space on the floor and go to work!
  • If you this information to be helpful please SHARE this post to help spread the message of healthy living. Thank you for reading!

    Question: What’s your favorite body weight exercise? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Healthy Choices at Fast Food Chains

    Fast Food
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    Let’s face it- you’re probably going to have to eat at a fast food restaurant at some point in your life, despite your best efforts not to. ;-) The trick to not throw in the towel and give up completely, you can make a healthy choice at pretty much any restaurant if you choose to.

    My Top Healthy Fast Food Picks

    McDonald’s: Premium Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken and low-fat balsamic vinaigrette.

    Subway: Oven Roasted Chicken Salad with tomatoes, green peppers, onions, olives, and cucumbers with honey-mustard dressing or 6 inch Turkey & swiss on wheat loaded with vegetables and mustard only.

    Starbucks: Chicken & Hummus Bistro Box (hummus, grilled chicken, grape tomatoes, cucumber, skip pita bread and have an apple or banana instead) or the Zesty Chicken & Black Bean Salad Bowl (grilled chicken, black beans, roasted corn, jicama, tomatoes, feta, greens, and quinoa with chile vinaigrette).

    Wendy’s: Large Chili plus Garden Side Salad (no croutons) with fat-free French dressing or the Ultimate Chicken Grill Sandwich (without the bun) & apple slices.

    Panera: Any Half Salad with Chicken plus any non cream or cheese based soup (from the You Pick Two Menu) with apple instead of bread.

    As you can see, making a healthy choice is possible in just about any situation if you are intentional about it. That being said, if you have planned for an indulgence and you choose fast food as the cheat meal, then have what you want and enjoy it! Just stick to your healthy eating habits otherwise. ;-) Your waistline will thank you for it! You may also be interested in Eating Healthy When Dining Out and How to Survive Social Pressure When You’re on a Diet.

    Question: What is your favorite healthy fast food option? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    If you this information to be helpful please SHARE this post to help spread the message of healthy living. Thank you for reading!

    Weight Lifting For Beginners

    Beginner workout
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    Going to the gym can be very intimidating, especially if you’re just starting out, and even more so for women. It took me YEAR to feel comfortable working out in the gym. When you’re just getting started, there is this intense fear that everyone is looking at you and scrutinizing what you are doing- but I can promise you that this is NOT the case.

    After you get over the fear, knowing where to start is STILL a big hurdle that many people face. There is so much information out there, and a lot of it is complicated and not so beginner friendly. It’s important to not make the task more difficult than it has to be. You do not have to start in the gym if you don’t want to, you don’t have to do some fancy workout, or do something so difficult that you want to give up within 5 minutes.

    When you’re a beginner just keep it simple, keep it short, and get it done. Within a few weeks you’ll gain more confidence and be ready to take on more of a challenge both mentally and physically. Below I’ll show you 4 exercises to get your started on the right foot. These exercises focus on working the major muscle groups and are very approachable. But first… a little more information on what your strength training options are.

    Body Weight, Free Weight Exercises and Weighted Machines

    Body weight exercises and free weight exercises are a great way to burn calories and maximize your workouts. They do however require a certain level of coordination and body awareness [in order to do them correctly] that may be difficult for some beginners- especially if you have never done sports, dance, gymnastics, etc. For this reason, I recommend starting out on machine weight first to gain an understanding of how to work each of your major muscle groups.

    Another potential issue with many of the popular body weight exercises is that many of them have a ballistic (bouncing) or jumping element to them that is a recipe for injury if you’re new to exercise. It is for this reason that I recommend people start with machines and basic free weight exercises when they are just beginning a workout program. As you progress through your workouts and get a solid 6 to 12 months of consistent strength training under your belt, you can slowly being to work in the more advanced body weight exercises to keep things interesting.

    4 Easy Exercises That You Can Do Now With Little or NO Equipment

    Body Weight Squat: This works your entire lower body! Do it right by sitting back (as if sitting in a chair) and keeping your chest high.

    Modified Push Up: This is a great arm shaping exercise! Keep the hips and shoulders inline and bend the elbows slightly back towards your waist as you lower your chest to the floor (think about your upper arm almost touching the side of the body).

    Rear Delt Fly: This is a great exercise to strengthen the back of your shoulders. Keep your spine straight, sit the hips back, and slightly bend the knees. Move with control.

    Russian Twist: This is great for trimming your waistline! You can keep the feet on the floor if you choose. Make sure you squeeze your abs tight & move with control for each rep.

    How to Make it a Workout

    Step 1: Warm up for 5 minutes by taking a walk.

    Step 2: Pick your Workout space (this can be your living room, bedroom or any open area where you can move around and have 20 minutes of uninterrupted time. **For many of us, the best time is in the morning BEFORE everyone else in the house is up. :-) Extra bonus: you have the satisfaction of knowing that you got your workout done for the rest of the day.

    Step 3: Get a set of light dumbbells (3-5 pounds would be a good place to start).

    Step 4: Perform each exercise 10 times (starting with the first exercise and working down the list). Once you have completed one round- do another, and another working up to 5 rounds or “sets”. Start with 1-2 rounds in your first workout and gauge your recovery. You should be a little sore over the next few days, but not so much that you can’t get out of bed. :-) It is important that you challenge yourself, so keep increasing the intensity as you become more comfortable with the movements.

    Step 5: Repeat this workout 2-3 times per week on non consecutive days for 4-6 weeks (example: Monday, Wednesday and Friday). After that, change it up a bit by choosing different exercises, increasing your weight, or doing more repetitions per set (up to 15) or all of the above. For more information on designing your own workout routine, check out by previous post here.)

    As you can see, beginning an exercise program doesn’t have to be a scary thing. Keep it simple and get it done. You’re energy and confidence will increase each day. Good luck!

    Question: Tell me what you think! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    If you this information to be helpful please SHARE this post to help spread the message of healthy living. Thank you for reading!

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