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Coffee Was My Lifeline. Why Did I Give It Up?

For over 20 years I have maintained, “Coffee is my medicine.” Imagine the shock when I realized recently, that, in fact, coffee has been playing havoc with my health.

Shock. Horror. Dismay.

Here’s the backstory: From the time I was a toddler I have suffered from migraines. As a young adult I went to the Montefiore Headache Clinic in New York City. I was put on a strict diet, eliminating every known migraine trigger, including coffee since too much caffeine creates “rebound” headaches. Once my system was “trigger-free” for several weeks, trigger foods were added back one-by-one to see what I reacted to.

With one exception: Coffee.

Coffee replaced all medications: One cup of coffee early in the morning, one cup of coffee around 2pm.

My mantra for the last 20 years has been: I can’t give up coffee! Coffee is my medicine! Doctor’s orders!

This came to a crashing halt recently. You see when I committed to the 14-Day Whole Life Detox, I decided to follow Dr. Blum’s plan exactly as outlined. That meant no coffee for 14 days.. The week before I started Whole Life Detox I reduced my coffee consumption from 2 cups to 1 cup.

Then one Day 1 of Whole Life Detox, the reckoning: No coffee.

What happened next shocked me! After completing the detox I decided I would add coffee back into my morning routine. I bought fresh beans, ground it to fill the kitchen with that delightful smell, and brewed the perfect cup of coffee in my French Press. I could not wait to taste it.

Oh, that coffee goodness! Full body, lovely bouquet, chocolatey, caramel flavors.

And then? A big, fat case of the shakes!

What? How can this be? I even tested it two days later to see if I was right. Yep, same response.

And the reality is …. several weeks later … I have less headaches without it.

So here’s the thing: We hold on tightly to the things that cause us pain.

I challenge you: What do you think you can’t live without? Sugar? Bread? Cheese? Meat? Whatever it is, drop it for a week and see what happens.

Looking for an easy 14-day detox to reduce your toxic load, and jumpstart weight loss & healthy choices? Check out the Whole Life Detox. It’s a great place to start. Show Me Whole Life Detox

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

 

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9 Easy Ways To Boost Your Health This Summer

When it comes to summer health care we often hear about the need to apply sunscreen, wear sunglasses to protect our eyes, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

But the longer days of sunlight and warm weather create an opportunity to buoy our health in ways that impact our lives well into the Fall. Check out these summer health tips to deepen and expand the health of your body, mind and spirit.

9 Easy Ways To Boost Your Health This Summer

  1. Enjoy Summer’s Seasonal Bounty – Oh, the ecstasy of summer foods! Cherries, watermelon, peaches, tomatoes, corn, arugula, rhubarb, melon, berries — it is a feasting bonanza. Take a walk through any farmer’s market and delight in all the produce summer has to offer. Get it while you can!
  2. Deepen The Spiritual Awakening of Spring — We commonly “Spring Clean” our lives, cleaning out the cobwebs physically, mentally and spiritually with greater attention toward renewal. Deepen this “awakening.” For instance, did you declutter any part of your home? Think about the emotional and mental impact this had and delve into how incorporating a “no-clutter” attitude, replete with loving every item in your home, amplifies your overall wellbeing. Or, did you perhaps “Spring Clean” your body? Think about how well you felt after the cleanse and consider adapting a cleanse-like mentality to your everyday nutrition.
  3. Take Advantage of the Weather — In other words … be outside every moment you can! Don’t sleep away your weekends. Get up, get active, and enjoy every moment of the gift of long warm days.
  4. Try Something New — It’s a great time of the year to try out an abundance of activities. Landscape painting, trapeze school, any number of outdoor sports (have you always wanted to know how to play lacrosse? Join a summer beginner’s league.), surfing, bicycle touring, or whale watching. Make a list and go!
  5. Slow Down — Summer is chock full of delights for the senses. Meander through a botanical garden, plant an herb garden (even on your window sill!), or enjoy your local farmer’s market or take a sunrise walk before the hustle bustle of the day starts. See, smell, taste and the joys of summer. Take the time to notice the seasonal changes from day to day.
  6. Experience Nature — Research shows that walking in green spaces reduces stress and increases calm, creativity and productivity. But beyond the health benefits connecting with nature allows us to connect with the Earth. It serves as a reminder of our joined destiny, our interdependence, that we are connected to the trees, the plants and all the little creatures big and small that share it with us.
  7. Relax and Breathe — Create the time to hang out in a hammock, sit on a beach, find a shady spot under a tree in your favorite park and mindfully breathe. There’s something about summer that makes it particularly easy to cultivate a breathing practice. Breathe, stretch, read, write — all great ways to spread your wings, find your voice and connect to your source.
  8. Visit A Farm — Farms are aflutter with life! Baby animals, growing plants — visiting a farm gives us an opportunity to connect with our life source! We are accustomed to food arriving on our plate without giving thought (or thanks!) to its origin. When we become aware on a conscious level, our relationship to the food we eat changes. We slow down and appreciate all the work that went into the food we are about to consumer.
  9. Volunteer — With so many hours of daylight it’s a great time of the year to volunteer out of doors. Walking trails, nature trails, community gardens, farms, and conservancy organizations would all welcome your help. Meet other like-minded people, give back to your community and experience the boost in mood and wellbeing that service provides.

What summer health tips would you add to this list? Let us know!

Are you feeling the effects of too much summer fun — weekends full of parties, BBQ’s and cocktails? At about midway through July many people feel heavy, bloated and blah. Join our 10-Day HealMyGut Summer Reboot — it’s exactly what you need to bring your intestinal flora back into balance. Relief is on the way! (And, it’s on special for the month of July!) Get the Special Price Now

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

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Is Summer Eating Making you Feel Heavy, Bloated and Blah?

Summer is full of fun — parties, BBQ’s, cocktails — and about midway through July many people feel heavy, bloated and blah. It’s an easy time of the year to slowly, or for some, not so slowly, slide back into old ways.

For some, (like me!) you have a hamburger bun and three days later think, “Well, I had a hamburger bun and nothing happened so I’ll eat another one today.” Before you know it hamburger buns and white bread become the norm.

Or, for some, you eat the hamburger bun,  feel like a complete failure and go right back to your old way of eating.

(By the way, this is exactly why we created the 10-Day HealMyGut Summer Reboot for the month of July. We know how hard it is to stay on track and this will reset your system and make the rest of the summer easy as pie. Learn more and get the limited time offer)

Here’s the good news: It is possible to navigate summer eating fun AND stay on track with health goals.

The trick is to rewire the way we think about summer eating and to understand that making healthy choices begins WAY BEFORE the actual event.

Think about it: How possible is it to show up at your best friend’s BBQ — full of hot dogs, hamburgers, potato chips, cold slaw, macaroni salad, cheeses, charcuterie, baguette, beer, cocktails, and pie — and think that you will only eat salad? Not likely! In fact, I would say impossible.

Besides, what fun would a BBQ be if you only ate salad?

On the other end of the spectrum, who wants to over-indulge on everything and then feel crappy physically and feel crappy about themselves?

The great news is that there is a way to find a middle ground to enjoy these food events, and even indulge, without a food hangover, shame, guilt and defeat.

10 Ways to Enjoy Summer Eating Without the Side Dish of Guilt

  1. Eat throughout the day — This goes for everyday, of course, but this is particularly problematic during the summer. Many people skip meals, or skimp on meals, thinking they will “save up” for the event —this backfires every single time. We end up eating more then we would have had we nourished and fueled our body during the day. When we skimp on nourishment our blood sugar drops and our body goes into starvation mode. We end up not only over-eating, but also eating foods we probably would not have found so tempting.
  2. Stock Your Fridge with seasonal foods and partake in extra servings of fruit and veggies leading up to the event. I find it helpful to have an extra smoothie or a green juice. Not only is it nourishing but it serves as a reminder that you are committed to treating your body with love and care.
  3. Exercise first thing in the morning — even if it’s just a walk. It revs your metabolism, reinforces healthy habits and sets a healthy tone to the day.
  4. Visualize yourself at the event — Let’s say you know you are going to a beach wedding in two weeks. Don’t wait until the last minute and start fretting about food. Every morning sit silently and envision yourself at the reception. Visualize yourself having fun, feeling great in your clothes. Visualize yourself being choosy when you take hors doerves. See yourself asking for fish and filling your plate with healthy, delicious food. See yourself having just a few bites of cake with a generous helping of berries. In other words … PRIME YOUR BRAIN!
  5. Plan in advance, Part 1: — Going to a BBQ and not sure what the pitfalls will be? Call or email your friend and ask what she/he will be serving.
  6. Plan in advance, Part 2: — Ensure there will be something you like to eat? BRING IT!
  7. Place everything you eat ON A PLATE — Eating mindlessly out of the potato chip bowl is a recipe for disaster.
  8. Plan for alcohol in advance — Planning on two drinks? Sip slowly and drink a full glass of water between drinks. Pace yourself and drink with awareness.
  9. Be aware of your surroundings — Are you eating because you are choosing to eat OR are you eating because you are mirroring someone else’s eating?
  10. Walk away! — If you feel like you are unhappy with the choices you are making …. walk away. Cognitive psychology demonstrates that when we change our environment we disrupt the behavior and can change the behavior in that moment. For instance, can’t stay out of the potato chip bowl? Grab a friend and go for a walk.

Lastly, have fun! Summertime is all about fun. Wear sunscreen, stay hydrated and eat all the summer produce you can before it’s gone — watermelon, peaches, berries, green beans, sugar snap peas — load up before it’s sweet potato time!

Looking for a quick way to reset the gut? Try our HealMyGut Summer Reboot to bring your intestinal flora to a state of robust health and diversity. Relief is on the way! Get Our Special Summer Reboot

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters. You can learn more about coaching with Melissa Here

 

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Protecting Your Skin from the Inside Out

It’s no secret that the summer sun takes a toll on our skin. Of course, it’s important to wear sunscreen, protect your skin and eyes, take cooler showers, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate (a little more on that later!).

But did you know that what you put on your plate is as important as what you put on your skin?

In fact, your food choices affects your skin at the cellular level, and since skin is your largest organ, you want to pay close attention to the foods you eat to support and protect your skin.

Here are some of our favorite summer foods to help protect your skin and give you a healthy glow:

Blackberries, Blueberries and Strawberries  — Packed with antioxidants, researchers¹ have found these three fruits in particular protect the skin from free-radicals that damage skin cells. Berries have the added benefit of being a superfood and, in fact, help with weight loss and sugar cravings.

Flax Seeds, Walnuts, Salmon, Sardines, Mackerel — Omega-3 Fatty Acids are one of the keys to healthy skin. Our bodies do not produce these “essential fatty acids” — we only get them from the foods we eat. Essential fatty acids are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes, which hold in water. The stronger the barrier, the better your cell walls will hold moisture — resulting in, yes, hydrated, plumper, and younger-looking skin.

Avocado — Avocados are full of healthy fat, vitamins C and A. Add them to just about anything — they enhance your complexion and fight aging skin. Pass the guacamole please!

Spinach, Kale, (as well as all dark leafy veggies), Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Cantaloupe — Yes, the dark leafy veggies and the orange veggies and fruits are loaded with beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. These powerful antioxidants improve skin color, reduce wrinkles and other signs of aging — particularly damage by the sun, pollution and smoking.

Eggs and Tuna — Some people’s bodies have a hard time converting beta carotene into vitamin A. Get some of your vitamin A directly from the source with eggs and tuna. (Tip: Be sure to buy skipjack tuna as albacore and regular tuna tend to be high in mercury.)

Bell Pepper, Papaya, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Strawberries, Pineapple, Oranges, Kiwi, Cantaloupe, Cauliflower, Dark Leafy Greens — These are the fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of vitamin C. Usually equated with cold relief, vitamin C is essential to the production of collagen, a protein that provides the framework for our skin and gives it elasticity and strength.

Watermelon and Tomatoes — These fruits are two of the best sources of the anti-aging antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene, the phytochemical that makes tomatoes watermelon and tomatoes red, helps eliminate skin-aging free radicals caused by ultraviolet rays. (Tip: Your body best absorbs lycopene when tomatoes are cooked.)

Sesame seeds — These tiny powerhouses are chock full of good stuff for the skin. They have a high concentration of copper, a trace mineral with anti-inflammatory properties, and a necessary component of collagen production. They also pack in zinc, another essential mineral for producing collagen, and selenium, an antioxidant mineral that helps protect the skin from sun damage and maintain firmness and elasticity.

And last but not least ….

Water, water and more water — About 60% of your body is made up of water so it makes sense that water would play an important role in your body’s function. Think about a houseplant … what happens when you don’t give it enough water? The leaves start to droop, and ultimately without proper hydration they start to discolor and dry up. Same with our skin and as the largest organ in our body it needs water — anywhere between 4-10 cups, depending on your climate, activity level and what works best for you.

You can also get an extra dose of antioxidants with our Multivitamin with Antioxidants. This is a great way to combat the toll of summer fun — protect your skin with antioxidants and fill in the nutritional gaps left from typical summer eating!  Get it Now

 

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

 

 

Resources:

 

  1. Huang W, Zhang H, Liu W, et al. Survey of antioxidant capacity and phenolic composition of blueberry, blackberry, and strawberry in Nanjing. Journal of Zhejiang University. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3274736/.
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One of Our Favorite Detox Recipes

In cultures all over the world the advent of Spring signals rebirth — the grass and trees turns green, a burst of color transform the landscape and the earth starts to give us Spring produce. Hooray!

It also signals Spring cleaning — our homes and our bodies. Here at the Blum Center we are all about detoxing our bodies in Spring to rid ourselves of the Winter heaviness, and to reduce the toxic load we carry from the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breath — not to mention all the chemicals used in our homes and in our cosmetics. It’s cathartic and a powerful way to celebrate the reemergence of life, and longer, warmer days.

In fact, you can join us to Detox! Our 14-Day Whole Life Group Coaching Program begins Wednesday, May 30th at 8pm. Sign Up Now

In the meantime, try out this delicious and easy detox recipe developed by Blum Center Executive Chef Amy Bach. We love using both red and yellow beets — it adds such beautiful color to the dish.

Roasted Beet, Walnut & Baby Kale Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium-sized red and/or yellow beets, quartered  
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil  
  • 8 cups organic baby kale OR one plastic pre-packaged container (a baby kale and greens blend is fine). Bonus: for those short on time the prepared blend are usually pre-washed!
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees  
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine prepared beets, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Place on a cookie sheet and place in preheated oven.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes or until beets are fork tender. Remove beets from cookie sheet and let cool.
  4. Toast walnuts on another cookie sheet in the same oven for 7 minutes. Remove and let cool.
  5. While the beets and walnuts are cooling, prepare the Apple Cider Vinaigrette, below
  6. Place salad greens in large bowl, top with beets, and dress with Apple Cider Vinaigrette, to taste.
  7. Enjoy!

Apple cider vinaigrette:

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • ¼ cup raw apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Serve over your favorite salad.

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

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10 Ways Women Can Reduce Holiday Stress

Fact: Holiday stress is disproportionately felt by women.

Why? Because women do the holiday “heavy lifting.” According to research by the American Psychological Association (APA), women shoulder the majority of the family burden for shopping and holiday celebrations (think cooking and cleaning), and they feel particular stress from the time crunch of getting it all done.

Many women during the holidays put stress management practices, such as daily meditation, yoga or walks, on hold while cramming too much into too little and turning to comfort foods as a way to cope. This leads to arthritis flares, increased symptoms of autoimmune disorders, such as fatigue and chronic pain, increased anxiety and depression and for some, weight gain.

Here’s how holiday stress impacts women, according to the APA study:

  • 44% of women report that their stress increases during the holidays
  • 69% of women feel stress from a lack of money
  • 51% of women feel pressure to give or get gifts
  • 69% of women feel stress from a lack of time
  • 41% of men strongly agree that they feel like they can relax during the holidays while only 27% of women feel this way
  • 41% of women eat for comfort during the holidays
  • Women are twice as likely to report that they cook, shop for food, and clean.

Many women also struggle with the stress created by the double shift of work and family of responsibilities. The worries of weight gain, the stress of so many social commitments (another holiday party?), family, friends, and the ever-shrinking bank account can all build up to feel like one giant pressure cooker. After all, food is always around, and with all the running around to get stuff done women will drop their fitness routines in order to just sit for a while.

“Women in particular need to be mindful that their responsibilities may have more stressful consequences than they realize, and that they are reacting to the stress in unhealthful ways, like eating and not permitting themselves to relax,” according to the APA.

Ladies, it’s time to bring down the holiday stress level several notches!

10 Ways To Beat Holiday Stress & Create a Healthier, Happier Holiday:

  • Take a daily walk with no phone, no agenda. Unplug from the world. Twenty minutes every morning makes a huge difference in how you face the day.
  • Stick to your routine and schedule your priorities first. Do you usually workout on Monday, Wednesday and Friday? Go to your book club on Thursday evenings? Do something special on Friday nights? Go! Put these on your calendar in pen!
  • Cut down on emotional eating. Identify exactly what you’re feeling before you take the first bite. Are you hungry? thirsty? tired? stressed? sad? happy? Give it a name, and then choose to eat it. Choose each bite. It takes the “power” away from the food.
  • Say “No.” We go overboard to please others. Accept the commitments you want. Period.
  • Ask for help and delegate. Accustomed to doing it all? Most of the people in your life are accustomed to you doing it all too, and most likely, they don’t realize you need help. They aren’t mind readers. Ask for help, and be ready to assign a task.
  • Create a nightly tranquil self-care routine rather than plopping in front of the television. Consider taking a hot bath, and surround yourself with fragrant candles and your favorite music. You might even “unplug” from all electronics. Gasp, I know!
  • Simplify — ask yourself, “How can I make this easier?”
  • Downsize meals — consider less dishes, or host a community meal where everyone brings their favorite dish. This creates inclusion and connectedness.
  • Reduce gifting — Set boundaries and limits early, and stick to them. Decide for whom you are buying presents, and decide on a quantity. When we give with overabundance to the people in our lives we desensitize them to the meaning of the gifts.
  • Simplify plans with close friends Save the holiday get-together for after New Year’s. For now, get together for coffee as a respite from the holiday flurry.

In essence, what all of this means is slow down, enjoy the sights and sounds of the holidays, and most of all fill your holiday with joy, love, gratitude and merriment. There’s much to celebrate — including a less-stressed you!

Resource: Greenberg, Quinlin & Rosner, 2006. Holiday Stress Report. American Psychological Association.

Looking for a Detox Recovery Plan after the New Year? If you live in our neighborhood, join me in a dynamic group detox that will not only detox your body, but will also renew your spirit and help dissolve any negative thinking. Join us. I can’t wait to meet you! Learn More and Sign Up

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

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5 Easy Ways To Survive the Thanksgiving Food Fest

Gobble, gobble, indeed! According to research from the Calorie Control Council, the average American may consume more than 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving Day. Whoa! That’s more than double the average person eats on a regular day. That’s pretty shocking.

This is particularly problematic for people with autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or Hashimoto’s, or those who contend with joint pain, reflux or food sensitivities. Underlying conditions almost always flare! Sometimes immediately, sometimes up to two days later.

Why, oh why, do we do that to ourselves?

Of course, you hear the stories of family drama, but it seems to run much deeper than that. It’s as if Thanksgiving has become an overeating contact sport. We start preparing in advance and even start bemoaning the after-effects of too much food well before the actual event. We act as if eating until bursting point is expected and completely out of our control. And just like a football game, Thanksgiving comes replete with the after-game commentary and play-by-play.

We also tend to do what we’ve always done. Overeating on Thanksgiving, in essence, has become a habit!

The great news is: You can change that script. It is entirely possible to indulge in all of Thanksgiving’s deliciousness AND feel satiated, content and even full, WITHOUT having to resort to elastic-waisted pants for a few days.

5 Easy Ways To Survive the Thanksgiving Food Fest

Eat Throughout The Day — Often we approach Thanksgiving thinking that we will forgo food during the day in order to partake more heartily during the main event. Big mistake! In fact, when we skip meals we generally eat more. Choose small, filling meals. For breakfast, have a bowl of gluten-free oatmeal with berries and nuts. For lunch, have coconut milk kefir with nuts and fruit, or avocado toast — think slow-digesting carb with a healthy fat and protein. It will stabilize your blood sugar, keep you satiated, and set you up for a healthy Thanksgiving meal.

Skip the Snacks — One of the wonderful things about Thanksgiving is the home-cooked meal. Mindlessly eating chips, store-bought white breads, and other processed foods, not only is unhealthy and stimulates your appetite, but it’s also not tasty. Stick with real food — fruits and crudite are great choices for healthy snacking.

Forgo The Impulse to Mirror Other People’s Eating — How often do you reach for food when you see someone else eating? Right. Me too. It takes awareness. Every time you start to reach for something at the hors d’oeuvre table, ask yourself, “Why am I reaching for this?” If it’s because someone else is eating, pick up a glass of sparkling water instead.

Eat Your Veggies! — Rather than filling your plate with everything on the table, start with a plateful of salad and vegetables. Most Thanksgiving meals have salad, green beans, Brussels sprouts, and other delicious but overlooked vegetables. Start with them instead of making them an afterthought. Once you’ve enjoyed your veggies, then take a little bit of everything else. In fact, switch your plates. Use the dinner plate for the salad and vegetables, and the salad plate for turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and stuffing.

Slow Down! — Put down your utensils between bites, sip water between bites, and focus on connecting with those around you rather focusing on the food in front of you. Take the time to appreciate your food, smell it, look at it, and savor it.

Oh, and give yourself permission to leave food on your plate!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Do you have a hard time staying on track during the holidays? Or, does holiday stress overwhelm you? Consider working with a Health Coach (hey, I’m one!) who will help you create a stress-free holiday survival plan and stick with it. Learn more about CoachMe.

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

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Try This Hearty Breakfast Cereal for Cool Mornings

As the weather turns cooler you may be wondering how to incorporate a heartier breakfast that’s good for your gut and good for your joints.

Start the day well with a warm and healthy breakfast cereal. A bowl of hot quinoa cereal on a cool morning is one of life’s simple pleasures and incredibly versatile.

You can use different combinations of spices, toppings, and fruits to customize your breakfast.

Think seasonal: Experiment and try adding autumn fruits, such apples, pears and blackberries. Stir in some of your favorite nuts and seeds, including chia or flax seeds — it’s a great to add fiber and protein! And, consider playing with some warming spices, such as ginger or cardamom. You can’t go wrong!

Use our basic recipe as your starting point:

Hot Quinoa Cereal with Fruit & Nuts

3 servings

  • ½ cup quinoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk, like almond, coconut or rice milk
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¾ Tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp  vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup slivered almond or toasted walnuts
  • Optional: fresh berries, ghee

Directions:

  1. Rinse the quinoa with cold water in a fine mesh strainer and drain.
  2. Put the water, milk and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.  
  3. Stir in the quinoa, turn down the heat to medium low, cover the pot, and simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more milk if needed. The cereal is done when the quinoa is soft and has the consistency of oatmeal.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla.
  5. Transfer to bowls and serve warm or cold with toasted nuts and fresh berries and stir in a teaspoon of ghee if desired.

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

 

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10 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight

Are you trying to lose weight and just can’t seem to get the scale to budge? You may even feel like you’re doing everything “right” to no avail. Some people blame their metabolism or wonder if their age or gender is the issue. Some people go through a life transition like a stressful time or childbirth or menopause and feel like their body has never been the same since. Does this sound like you?

If so, don’t despair. It does not have to be this way. There is usually an underlying reason to stubborn weight loss.

10 Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight

1. Portion Distortion — You might find it hard to believe but portion size alone is often a culprit, particularly in the United States where portion sizes have grown over the years. Researchers have found, for instance, that meal sizes at restaurants have tripled in size since the 1970s¹ and the plates we serve our meals on have also increased in size.2 At every turn, we are encouraged to eat more than we need.

In my health coaching practice at Blum Center for Health, I find that many people overdo it on “healthy” foods. Prime example: Nuts are healthy addition to your diet — they are a healthy fat, a good source of protein, fiber and have anti-inflammatory properties. But, one serving of Brazil nuts, for example, is two nuts. Yes, one serving is only 2 nuts! One serving of almonds is six nuts. If you’re eating nuts like popcorn, you’re not going to lose weight.

While I’m not a big fan of calorie counting, I do think using a phone app, like My Fitness Pal, for a week will give you an accurate view of your caloric and nutrient intake. How much fiber are you consuming? How much sugar, for example? This is important information for weight loss.

2.  The Right Mix of Nutrients — Beyond the amount you are eating, is what you are eating. Are you living on rice cakes and cottage cheese, thinking that low-calorie diet foods are going to help you reach your goal? That strategy is likely undermining your weight loss objective. Weight loss is often about moving away from processed foods and into a whole foods, anti-inflammatory food plan that includes increased fats, ample protein and unlearning the reliance on empty carbs, even the so-called “healthy” ones like gluten-free bread and “nutrition” bars. This will ramp up your metabolism, jumpstart weight loss and teach you to eat for life, rather than going on and off diets continually.

3.  Chronic Stress — Stress is a major player in stubborn weight loss. We live stressful, fast-paced lives. Stress elevates cortisol and adrenaline, hormones responsible for “fight or flight” in what your body perceives as an emergency — something as serious as jumping out the way of a careening car, or something as nerve-wracking as public speaking. Once the event is over, our cortisol and adrenaline levels return to normal. This is a healthy stress response.Chronic stress, however, creates havoc in the body. Cortisol levels, which spike during a stress-inducing event, remain elevated. Think … a stressful job, a stressful relationship or even the everyday stress of “getting everything done.”This rise in cortisol puts a damper on weight loss. In fact, chronically elevated cortisol can cause weight gain!3  And, perhaps even more importantly, as Susan Blum, MD, discusses in her book, The Immune System Recovery Plan, this increased baseline can damage the immune system and prevent it from healing. Ultimately, chronic stress can have a negative effect on the levels of good bacteria in the gut, reducing the ability of the immune system to fight infection and puts us at risk for autoimmune disease.

4.  Lack of Consistent Quality Sleep — Research4 demonstrates that even slight sleep loss boosts cortisol levels and can accelerate the development of insulin resistance. In fact, one study found that getting just 30 fewer minutes sleep than you should per weekday can increase your risk of obesity and diabetes.5 Not getting enough sleep is related to a host of other issues including heart disease, high blood pressure, accidents, mood disorders, depression and decreased productivity.

5.  Inflammation — Do you unknowingly fill your body with foods that create systemic inflammation, a slow, quiet disturbance that never seems to shut off?The fact is, If we could “see” the damage, like we can feel and see a swollen ankle, surely we would ban those substances from ever entering our mouths!Systemic inflammation is our body’s immune response to substances it sees as a foreign invader. Over time chronic inflammation can lead to many heavy-hitting diseases, such as heart disease, many cancers and even Alzheimer’s. It is also associated with allergies, anemia, asthma, autism, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, celiac, Crohn’s, fibromyalgia, gall bladder disease, GERD, Hashimoto’s, psoriasis, and more6.

Inflammation makes us feel sluggish, bloated, and gives us achy joints or muscles. It is associated with high blood pressure, blood sugar problems, headaches, depression and anxiety.

And for those struggling to lose weight, inflammation makes you, well … inflamed. You see, there is a very important hormone, called Leptin, that regulates your body’s level of fat by controlling your appetite and metabolism. In healthy people, the production of leptin signals the brain to suppress appetite and speed up metabolism—leading these people to feel less hunger, burn more calories and lose the excess fat. Chronic inflammation, however, impairs the brain’s ability to receive leptin’s appetite-suppressing message.

To put the fire out on inflammation a great place to start is with an elimination diet to determine which foods are triggering inflammation. A program like HealMyGut includes the ever-important elimination diet and all the supplements you need to address shoring up your gut lining and returning bacterial balance to your digestive tract. I just finished it myself after taking antibiotics for a month to treat Lyme Disease. I feel great! Learn More.

6.  Thyroid Dysfunction — The American Thyroid Association7 estimates that 20 million Americans have a thyroid problem, and that up to 60% are unaware of their condition.  Whoa, that’s jaw-dropping! Hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone, is characterized by unexplained weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight. To find out if your thyroid gland is functioning properly, you will a blood test ordered by your doctor. I highly recommend working with a functional or integrative physician who will look beyond whether or not your numbers are “in range,” including lifestyle and mind-body medicine.

7.  Insulin Imbalance — If your blood sugar levels and insulin are off, you can experience carb cravings, difficulty losing weight and excess belly fat. Insulin resistance means your cells can’t absorb the extra blood glucose your body keeps generating from the food you eat, and your liver converts the glucose into fat. Processed foods, including beloved foods like pasta and bread, sugary drinks, and even foods marketed as “healthy,” like granola bars, play a role in insulin resistance. Insulin imbalance can give rise to Type 2 diabetes so it is important to get those numbers under control. Again, I recommend working with a functional or integrative physician who will also address lifestyle factors that contribute to insulin issues.

8.  Estrogen Dominance — Too much estrogen relative to progesterone plays a role in weight gain. Estrogen dominance can cause increased cravings and decrease metabolism. If you are experiencing more cravings, and particularly for sugar, it’s entirely possible to fall into a loop that feels like you have no control over those cravings. Increased cravings combined with a sluggish metabolism is a recipe for weight gain.To learn more about Estrogen Dominance, and its symptoms, check out this article: Do You Have Estrogen Dominance.

9.  Low Testosterone — Research8 shows that testosterone levels in men often drop with age and this can cause an increase in body fat, insulin resistance, heart disease and even certain cancers.  The inverse is also true: being overweight causes testosterone levels to drop even more.  A tell-tale sign of low testosterone is belly fat in the mid-section that is resistant to weight loss.

10.  Toxic Overload —  Everyday you are exposed to chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, hormones, medications and other toxins that create a toxic load in your body. These toxins are found at every turn — in your food and water, household cleaning products, cosmetics, candles and plastics. Even seemingly healthy products, including shampoo and conditioner, face cream, toothpaste and your favorite sandwich bread, can contain toxic ingredients.Toxins affect hormones and can create hormonal imbalances that lead to weight-loss resistance. When you carry a toxic burden, leptin, the hormone that tells the brain to burn fat for energy, does not do its job of informing the brain to burn fat. So, even if you are eating well and exercising weight loss becomes stymied when your body is in a state of toxicity.Personally, I detox at least once a year and use Dr. Blum’s Simply Detox program. It includes everything — a real food detox food plan, detox supplements and daily email. Learn more.


Losing weight can feel difficult but it does not have to be impossible. Your hard work can pay off. It’s a matter of figuring out the underlying challenges. Not sure where to start? Explore one area at a time and put a plan in place. If you feel overwhelmed, you might want to consider working with a Health Coach (hey, I’m one!) who will help you create a plan and stick with it. Even if it’s not me, (sniff, sniff), a health coach can be your greatest ally, helping you clear away the noise and the overwhelm that often gets in the way of success.
Learn more about CoachMe.

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

 

Resources:
  1. Young, L. R., & Nestle, M. (2002). The contribution of expanding portion sizes to the US obesity epidemic. American Journal of Public Health, 92(2), 246–249.
  2. Wansink, B., & van Ittersum, K. (2006). The visual illusions of food: Why plates, bowls, and spoons can bias consumption volume. FASEB Journal, 20(4), A618.
  3. Moyer, A. E., Rodin, J., Grilo, C. M., Cummings, N., Larson, L. M. and Rebuffé-Scrive, M. (1994). Stress-Induced Cortisol Response and Fat Distribution in Women. Obesity Research, 2: 255–262. doi:10.1002/j.1550-8528.1994.tb00055.x
  4. Leproult R., Copinschi G., Buxton O., Van Cauter, E. (1997)  Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening. Sleep. 20(10), 865-70.
  5. Endocrine Society. (2015, March 6). Losing 30 minutes of sleep per day may promote weight gain and adversely affect blood sugar control. ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150306082541.htm
  6. Marquis, D.M. (2013, March 7) How inflammation affects every aspect of your health. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/03/07/inflammation-triggers-disease-symptoms.aspx
  7. American Thyroid Association. General information/press room. https://www.thyroid.org/media-main/about-hypothyroidism/
  8. E M Camacho, E.M., Huhtaniemi, I.T., O’Neill, T.W., Finn, J.D., Pye, S.R., Lee, D.M., Tajar, A. … and the EMAS Group (2013). Age-associated changes in hypothalamic–pituitary–testicular function in middle-aged and older men are modified by weight change and lifestyle factors: longitudinal results from the European Male Ageing Study. European Journal of Endocrinology, 168 445-455, doi: 10.1530/EJE-12-0890

 

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Savor Spring with Sauteed Spring Vegetables

Green Vegetables to Sautee for Spring

Choosing produce in-season allows you to get the most flavor and nutritional bang for your buck.  These sautéed Spring vegetables can easily serve as a health supportive, and colorful addition to any meal, or even on their own. Pair with cooked quinoa for a quinoa-vegetable pilaf, or roll with red cabbage leaves with a lemon-tahini dressing for a refreshing wrap.  

One of our favorite things about this recipe is how versatile it is. Take a walk through your local Farmer’s Market and add, or substitute, the Spring produce calling your name. In fact, a saute is a great way to try new vegetables — start with a small amount and see how you like it.

Here’s a list of what is in season right now that you can try in your Sauteed Spring Vegetables: Asparagus, beets, beet greens, cabbage, garlic scapes, peas, scallions, spinach, summer squash, Swiss chard, and turnip greens.

Looking for more clean-eating recipes? Check out our BlumKitchen Recipe Book.  Created in our test kitchen, our recipes are free of gluten, dairy, corn, soy and egg to support your anti-inflammatory eating style. Further, BlumKitchen recipes are designed to reduce inflammation, support your thyroid, improve your liver’s detoxification function and heal your gut. 

Bon Apetite!

Sautéed Spring Vegetables

Servings: 8

Serving Size: 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb yellow onion, peeled, medium diced
  • ½ lb leeks, white and lite green portion only, cut in half lengthwise, thinly sliced on bias, washed after sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger root, peeled, minced
  • 1.5 lbs zucchini with skin, ends trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, sliced into ½-inch thick half moons
  • 1 lb broccoli florets, tough stems removed, cut into 1-inch pieces, blanched
  • 1.5 lbs bok choy, leaves and stems separated, leaves rough chopped, stems sliced on bias into ½-inch thick pieces
  • ½ lb sugar snap peas
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Fill a medium saucepan ¾ full with water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer.
  2. In small batches, add the broccoli carefully into the water until it turns bright green and is just fork tender.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the broccoli from the simmering water, to a colander in the sink, running under cold water until broccoli is completely cooled.  
  3. Blanch the sugar snap peas similarly to the broccoli.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and leeks and sauté until just caramelized, about 4 minutes.  
  5. Add the garlic, ginger, zucchini, and bok choy stems and cook another 2 minutes until just tender.  
  6. Add the blanched broccoli florets, blanched sugar snap peas, bok choy leaves, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine until vegetables are warmed through and bok choy leaves are just wilted, about 2 minutes.  

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.