When in Italy…Eat like the Italians

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We all know of the Italian grandmother who makes you eat and eat and eat. What if you ate like that and lost weight?! Guess what? You can!

Recently, I traveled to Italy and it was oh-so-amazing! The contrast between the way they eat and the way (most) Americans do, has really inspired me to keep ardently educating people about the importance of eating fresh, wholesome food, like the Italians do!

Let me tell you about what I ate in Italy—I indulged to say the least!

Our trip to Italy started in Florence….can you say gelato? There were gelato stands about every 50 feet and it was the most delicious thing you have ever tasted! My favorite was the Nutella flavor.

As we walked through the beautiful city, we stopped and had freshly cut prosciutto with buffalo mozzarella and perfect cherry tomatoes with the absolutely best house wine!IMG_1805

We then ventured down to Siena where we had margarita pizza, octopus, and gnocchi. We also had more phenomenal wine called Brunello. It is grown in Italy and was so delicious.

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Lastly, we went to Cinque Terre (five villages on the sea). As we got off the train, we smelled something astounding! It was fresh calamari, shrimp, fish, and crab being served at a beach stand. Unbelievable! So good, so simple, and so fresh!

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The most shocking thing was that with all that food and wine, my boyfriend and I both lost weight!

You see, when you eat food that is fresh, there are no preservatives. There is no junk to quite literally weigh you down.

And then of course we walked 8 to 14 miles a day. I know that it is not realistic to walk that much in your everyday life and you probably shouldn’t gorge even on fresh food every day. However, I do encourage you to choose fresh food like I did in Italy for most of your food and truly savor it. Don’t count calories. Often low-calorie food is so junky and will not satisfy you!

Opt for the homemade ice cream from your local ice cream stand, not the chemical-induced soft-serve ice cream from the ice cream truck! If you live in the Finger Lakes like me, try some of our local wines and not wine that has traveled from across the world. Buy free-range eggs from a local farmer. When it’s taco night, make your own corn tortillas (they’re actually easy). Skip the frozen meals and make your own (Google “easy fresh meals;” you’ll find tons of five-ingredient recipes from popular publications like Bon Appetit and Cooking Light).

Choose fresh whenever you can and try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day! Your body will thank you today and for years to come. Fresh food isn’t great for weight loss alone; it’s great for helping to prevent the chronic illnesses that plague so many people throughout o

Take the Five-Week No White Flour Challenge with Me!

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Like many of you, my schedule can get jam-packed. I love what I do, delving into nutrition education at corporations, in magazines, on TV, and with my individual clients, but sometimes I slip with my personal nutrition. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I feel awful! I had an epiphany this week about this.

After a busy day with clients and a big presentation, I had to eat my lunch quickly. I looked for the boxed Panera lunch that they gave us at the presentation. Included with the lunch was a great big Panera cookie. Ordinarily, I would not eat one of these, but it was packed for me and surely I wouldn’t want it to go to waste so I indulged. It tasted so good. The problem is that later that evening, I went to a pasta dinner fundraiser. When I returned home, my stomach was in knots and I had a splitting headache—I had eaten more processed carbs in one day than I usually have in a week!

And then I thought, “What if people who eat like this regularly feel awful all the time like how I feel right now? I wouldn’t wish this feeling on my worst enemy!” So many people I have worked with change their dietary lifestyle to lose weight or to treat health ailments like diabetes, but it’s not too often that people want to work with me for the main reason of FEELING better!

Do you feel lethargic, unmotivated, stressed, and TIRED? Do you feel bloated, experience frequent stomach cramps or headaches? Boosting your nutrition and ditching processed carbs can make you FEEL WAY, WAY, WAY BETTER! I promise!

So, here’s what I dare you to do: JOIN MY FIVE-WEEK NO WHITE FLOUR nutrition challenge with me! I am going to be posting recipes, tips, and secrets to maintain this type of lifestyle.

It all boils down to choosing whole, fiber-full foods over processed foods and keeping yourself ultra hydrated. Are you ready to join the challenge? Follow this blog, my Facebook page, my Twitter feed, my Instagram feed, and my Pinterest page for support along the way.Also, check out awesome recipes on my website. Feel free to email me at kspringer@kellyschoice.org and let me know how it’s going!

Drought-Friendly Food Choices

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Read, watch, or listen to any major news source and you become very aware of the fact that we are in a drought. It’s ironic that I have been telling you to drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration, while we are in a drought, right? I am not going to take those words away; it is crucial for you to prevent dehydration these scolding hot summer months. However, I will tell you some things you can do to be conscientious about the shortage in water supply when you consider your food choices. And guess what? All the food choices I recommend are healthy!!!

  • Eat less meat! I’ve said this before with the reasoning being related to the mounds of research with evidence that a primarily plant-based diet is way healthier. When it comes to a drought, eating less meat is important. It takes tons more water to produce meat than it does plants. The amount of water you use in a daily shower for six months is pretty close to the same amount of water it takes to produce one pound of beef. I was shocked when I learned that statistic.
  • Eat plants that require little water to grow; American cucumbers, eggplant, chard, and a variety of tomatoes are the examples that immediately come to mind. Mother Earth has a handy list that also included different grains and seeds that are heat tolerant.
  • Eat less processed foods. This is something I’ve said many times before for several reasons; processed foods do not keep you satiated and they pack on the pounds. In terms of our drought, keep in mind that a lot of water is used in processing the food and packaging.

Hopefully, we will get some rain showers to help alleviate this drought (ideally while we slumber through the nights). Meanwhile, try to keep my tips in mind when making food choices; they’re good for the earth during this drought and they’re good for you too!

Women’s Health Month Wrap-Up

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As Women’s Health Month comes to a close, let’s examine the most powerful foods and nutrients that prevent dozens of ailments specific to women. The two biggies are omega-3s and fiber.

Omega-3s:

I cannot stress this enough— omega-3s are natural anti-inflammatories! They essentially help prevent every disease condition, and you learned this month, that they help prevent breast cancer, interstitial cystitis, PMS, and menopause. You also learned that they are essential for prenatal health.  So load up on the following:

  • Wild-caught salmon
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Basil
  • Oregano

Fiber

Fiber is essential to maintain a healthy weight. You also learned this month how fiber helps ease menopause, PMS, and may help protect you against breast cancer. Beans, legumes, and a lot of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are important here. Here are some top choices:

  • Oats and oat bran
  • Lima beans
  • Adzuki beans
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Navy beans
  • Raspberries
  • Sweet peas
  • Acorn squash
  • Pears
  • Prunes
  • Avocados

Fiber and omega-3 are very central to the Mediterranean Diet. So, if there were any one diet I’d recommend, that would be the one! It also stresses limiting processed foods, which is imperative in order to achieve optimal health.

Apply these health tips and watch your health improve exponentially.  If you combine these nutritional tips with regular exercise and stress management prioritization, you will feel fantastic—that I can promise you!

Nutrition Tips to Diffuse Stress

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So many health problems stem from stress; stress is inflammatory and we know that inflammation is the precursor to almost every disease. As women, our many commitments and expectations cause us to feel frantic at times, anxiety-ridden, stretched, and stressed. Did you know that there are nutritional approaches to reducing stress, to uplift your spirits when you are depressed or overwhelmed? Follow these five simple tips to reduce your stress and the risk of dozens of resulting health ailments.

  1. Say no to Processed Food. Processed food steals your zest and energy; it can result in lethargy and lack of motivation.

 

  1. Limit Alcohol Consumption. Alcohol is a depressant.  Many women I know turn to wine whenever they are stressed to the max. A glass or two is completely acceptable; just don’t make it the number-one go-to whenever stress gets to you.

 

  1. Reduce your Sugar Consumption. Sugar can mess with your mood the same way processed food does. The first thing to rid is soda. For natural sugars found in fruit, balance it out by eating some protein like nuts or seeds whenever you eat fruit.

 

  1. Eat Nuts and Seeds Nuts. Speaking of nuts and seeds, they are awesome mood boosters. When you desire to reach for a processed-food snack like chips, crackers, or cookies, press the pause button and turn your attention to raw nuts and seeds.

 

Walnuts for example, which literally look like little brains, are made up of 15 to 20 percent protein and contain linoleic (omega-6 fatty acids) and alpha-linoleic acids (omega-3 fatty acids), vitamin E and vitamin B6, making them an excellent source of nourishment for your nervous system. A healthy nervous system results in clearer thinking and a happier mood.nuts2

Cashews are high in magnesium, which is also known for calming the mind and stress. Almonds are also high in magnesium and they are rich in phenylalanine, an essential amino acid necessary for the production of dopamine, one of your feel-good neurotransmitters.

 

  1. Consume Fermented Food

Do you know that your gut is connected to your mental health? Many neurotransmitters are created in your intestinal tract and in order for that creation to take place, your gut needs to have a healthy flora balance.  Fermented foods are loaded with probiotics, which will exponentially increase the “good” bacteria in your gut. Try adding kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, and kefir to your diet. Kombucha is a tasty carbonated beverage (a great alternative to soda). Tempeh is great in stir-fries and who doesn’t love a bowl of miso soup?

Kefir is my favorite fermented food; it’s like a drinkable yogurt and it’s as delicious as a milkshake!

 

Okay ladies; don’t let stress get the best of you. Follow these nutrition tips, get plenty of rest and exercise and you will notice the stress melt away!

 

Fix your Gut Health and Thrive

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probioticsChances are, at some point in your life, you have experienced digestive discomfort (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation). And you are not alone! Over 100 million Americans have intestinal health problems, ranging from chronic constipation to Irritable Bowel syndrome (IBS). These discomforts are signals that you need to improve your gut health and get this? If you mend your gut (intestinal) health, you are doing way more than aiding your digestion—you are improving your overall health! How?

Your gut is actually responsible for 70-90% of your immune system. You need your gut to be healthy in order to assimilate the nutrients you need to be healthy overall. And do you realize that a healthy gut can improve your mood? Consider your gut as your “second” brain; its nervous system actually has more neurotransmitters (mood boosters) than your brain!

Your intestinal tract is home to 100 trillion microorganisms—there are 10 times more bacteria in your gut than there are cells in your entire body! In order to establish a healthy gut, you need to make sure that the healthy bacteria in your intestines are thriving and the unhealthy bacteria are not. Sadly, many factors in today’s lifestyle contribute to the production of unhealthy bacteria, including: antibiotics, stress, processed food (particularly refined grains and sugars devoid of fiber).

So the first step to improving your gut health is to improve your diet. Try the 90/10 rule, making sure that 90% of your food is wholesome and nutritious and allowing yourself some not-so healthy treats from time to time. A diet comprised of plenty of vegetables, lean proteins, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fruit will make your digestive flora happy. Fermented foods will even further boost your healthy gut flora; try kefir, miso, tempeh, kimchi (a delicious Korean delight), or sauerkraut. Also, keep your stress levels in check; consider yoga, tai chi, or meditation. And the best way to assure that your healthy gut flora thrive is to take a probiotic along with your healthy, wholesome food plan.

My favorite probiotic is Just Thrive. Many of the probiotics on the market do not survive in your intestinal system so they aren’t all that helpful. With Thrive, 100% of the healthy flora, in their capsules, survives and hence, you thrive quite literally. Since I have been taking Just Thrive probiotics, I feel more energetic and ready to take on any challenge! I have also noticed that I rarely catch colds, even when I am surrounded by people who have nasty bugs that are swarming around.

Get your gut health in order and you will thrive!