Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category

For years, people would routinely pose the same question me “so what are you?” Pretty sure that people are clear that I’m a brunette, a female, even that I’m a dietitian (though sometimes they confuse that with a nutritionist – sorry folks, I have a license and the educate years and internship to show for it). So since the question usually came amidst a conversation about food choices, I would presume they were asking about my eating habits. And for years, I wouldn’t really have an answer. I had been a vegan, a pesco-tarian, a person following a macrobiotic diet and later Westin Price’s protocol; I had dabbled with Atkins out of curiosity (and the promise of daily lattes with half and half), the Body Ecology diet (despite not having a yeast problem, call it ‘professional curiosity’) as well as other “plans”. But I stopped in my tracks when the question now came to me.  It was about me and my eating for sure, but also recognizing that it came with undertones of obviously if I was doing it then that must be the plan I endorsed for others. It got me thinking – what protocol or plan do I endorse?


Around the same time I had the good fortune to vacation, truly vacation, as in no cellular service once we hit the seventeen miles of dirt road that took me to the ranch, as in no cell service while I was casting, wading, or glaring at the bank in search of snakes, and as in not eating a single thing from a package.  During that trip, a ranch hand cooked dinner for me one night, a fly fishing guide brought me lunch daily, and a group of women invited me to their gathering where I sampled some of their amazing treats. Yet, I was in Montana – and in Montana they eat meat, and not just meat but game. I haven’t eaten meat in years  (like 15) after a rather memorable experience with some veins in a supposed chicken breast in my college campus café almost sent me right into the hands of my frozen yogurt-loving, bin-food candy eating friends. While that didn’t work out to well as fuel for college requiring energy, the no meat part lasted. But back to Montana, at first I declined to eat antelope, to taste have bison, or any other meat and said no to the dairy from the cow I could see eating the grass as I looked out the window. Then, someone said to me “so what’s your objection? Is it animal cruelty, taste, or what they might be fed, cause I can tell you I treat these animals like they are my kids – no hormones, plenty of grass…” and then he chuckled and looked at his grown son “and I do kill them when it’s time – I guess that’s where it’s a little different than my kids.”


“So what was my objection,” I pondered.


I object to animals fed food they wouldn’t eat in nature, to the medications used to treat them when develop illness related to eating the wrong foods; I object to artificial ingredients, chemical combinations made in a lab to look like things in nature but that don’t chemically resemble what’s in nature. I object to genetic modification of plants (and certainly of animals) so that we can speed growth up or get more of something when what nature provides should be plenty. And I object to making claims about components of foods when tone doesn’t have anything nice (or worthy) to say about the rest of the food or product. Thus, I realized, I had no objection, other than what my palate may or may not enjoy, to the meat being presented to me in Montana. And further, thus, “Qualitarianism” was born.


Being a qualitarian, is, I believe, the solution to our health issues today – all of them. We wouldn’t have the quantity and intensity of health issues (mental and physical) if we ate better quality foods exclusively.  And if we all ate better quality foods, they would cost less resulting from greater demand for food coupled with lesser need for advertising money to be spent to counter the poor quality food products. If we all ate better quality food, better quality food would be more available, too.


What does it mean to be a qualitarian? It means, first and foremost, that you choose to be the gatekeeper for what goes into your body. That you don’t feel deprived but rather empowered when you turn down a veggie burger with genetically engineered ingredients or hexane and enjoy one made from organic quinoa and mushrooms or a wild salmon burger or a grass-fed burger. It also means saying no to a ready-to-eat salad of chemically sprayed lettuces in favor of cooking your own organic broccoli (great to start with frozen too). And it means taking pride in being smarter than the front of a package or a commercial. Yes, you are smarter than both of those; yes, you are. You are smarter than the package that tells you what it wants you to know but doesn’t tell you the rest of the story. Or what about the commercial, do you think whoever made it feeds that food to their kids or eats it themselves?  So just as you wouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, get to know the whole story before you buy and certainly before you eat.


There are so many amazing resources out there today to help you on the journey to becoming a qualitarian. I have added one more – the Ashley Koff Approved lists – so that if you don’t know what questions to ask, don’t have the time, energy, or even don’t care to do the work, you can feel comfortable that I have asked the questions and have evaluated the products for you. Why should you trust me? Because I became and remain a registered dietitian to address my curiosity, which can be at times relentless, about what is actually good quality in our food system. That, and because I am not paid to evaluate any products – the Ashley Koff Approved stamp of nutrition for optimal health can’t be bought, it’s earned.

I hope you will join me in becoming a qualitarian and please email me (aka@ashleykoffapproved.com) questions and follow me on facebook at the Ashley Koff Approved fan page or on Twitter @ashleykoff for daily tips and discoveries on being a qualitarian.


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Whether you overdid it or not, the New Year seems to spark the desire in everyone to clean up their act. But what of the cleanses we read about – are they healthy, do they work, what if I don’t have the $500 a week or more to go to one or have one delivered to my home? I hear you, so last year I developed the AKA New Year Cleanse and this year I’ve updated it. Keep in mind, I am still a fan of places like We Care or deliveries like IzoCleanse, Paleta cleanse, SoCal Cleanse, Blue Print and many others . The AKA Cleanse is a way to DIY and just because it says New Year doesn’t mean you can’t start this week or pick this up again in April – it’s a rebalancing tool. For those of you who are more visual and /or want to see specific product recommendations, watch my video on the components of the AKA Cleanse at http://fitperez.com/2010-12-26-the-411-on-cleanses/?from=PH . For product recommendations see the AKA lists at http://www.ashleykoff.com/approved/index.html

Before you begin your cleanse a few things to keep in mind:
1) This isn’t about weight loss (yes you will likely lose weight and inches) but rather setting your body up for a healthier year (and if your goal is weight loss that falls under the ‘healthier’ umbrella);
2) you HAVE to move your bowels daily – regularity is just that, meaning that you need to make sure you are not just stirring toxins up out of their resting spots but that you are actually eliminating them too – and that doesn’t mean rely on laxatives or even colonics …it means including fiber, the right kinds, and magnesium to aid motility;
3) Enter and Exit GRACEFULLY: I have blogged about this before but it deserves additional attention. The body needs to feel supported and nourished both as you enter into a cleanse and leave one – so the idea of cleansing from Christmas until New Year’s Eve then blowing it out with alcohol and food on New Year’s…very very bad idea…same goes with pre-wedding, pre-event cleanses. Give yourself at least a week between the conclusion of your cleanse and any planned event;
4) Sweating it Out: Yes you should! Whether it’s an infrared sauna, jogging with a hoodie, boxing, yoga etc you can incorporate it all into your cleanse but pay attention to your body. Make sure to hydrate and consume sufficient fuel prior to working out, during, and after. While cleansing can trigger headaches (especially if coming off caffeine), headaches are a usual sign of hydration and / or slowed motility (i.e. constipation) so follow the tips to address both and plan ahead. In terms of how much activity, that’s going to depend on your body and your normal routine as well as things like your menstrual cycle and how different the cleanse is from your norm;
5) The NO’s: It isn’t my goal to tell you what you can’t have but rather what you should have during the cleanse. The idea is that these foods and supplements will encourage detoxification and encourage renewal optimally. So you don’t see comments about caffeine, energy drinks, alcohol and sugar. My best advice is to use this as a time to “Come off” anything on which you depend or that makes you feel imbalanced.

1. ORGANIC: this tops the list because you can’t be effective or efficient at removing toxins from the body when you are putting them right back in. Simply put, certified organic food, teas, supplements are your best bet for the least amount of residues and no additional toxins.
2. Greens / Greens Powders: whether you have them juiced, raw, sautéed, steamed make sure that greens top your list during a cleanse. Daily and several times daily, greens will help to remove toxins, provide energy, and alkalinize your lower digestive system – all ideal for optimal cleansing and health.
3. Lemons: these deserve their own bullet point because they play such a key role in cleansing. Whether it’s the juice, the skin, or both lemons will help alkalinize, transition flavor away from sweet cravings, and purify the system.
4. Hydration: true hydration is more than water. That said, you need adequate water [equation: half your body weight in pounds gives you the minimum ounces of water (160 pound person would be 80 ounces or 10 8 ounce glasses of water)] remember that water used for your protein drink or a soup or a tea counts and water-based veggies are an added bonus. But back to true hydration, you need potassium too to get the water into the cells – so choose plain coconut water as an ideal source.
5. Fiber: The right fibers like chia and flaxseeds, psyllium, rice and oat bran among others will help to pick up the toxins from your digestive tract and remove them from the body.
6. Sweet sans sugar: ideally you don’t want to have any sweets during a cleanse. This is a great way to rebalance your palate which often sways so far in the direction of sweet. That said, we don’t want to miss out on valuable antioxidants and fiber so I recommend using organic fruits (see tip #1) especially those like organic blackberries and plain acai which have little to no sugar in them.
7. Vegetarian proteins: Cleanses DO require protein. While some popular cleanses promise better results without protein they miss the boat nutritionally. Proteins are used in our hormones, for our lean body mass, and to stabilize blood sugar – a cleanse that eliminates protein threatens an imbalance of these during the cleanse and potentially thereafter. But what type of protein and how much? I recommend organic vegan sources for all (unless allergies, intolerances or other personal nutritional issues warrant otherwise). Hemp and quinoa top my list as well as other protein sources like seeds, grains, and isolated rice or pea proteins.
8. Spices: are you aware of that spices are one of your best detoxifying and supporting components of a diet. Spices help fight off bad bacteria and their other benefits range from stimulating metabolism, helping you sweat out toxins, calming the digestive tract, and oh yeah, adding flavor naturally.
9. Regularity Aids: As mentioned above, it’s imperative that you “go” regularly. Many cleanses use tools that the body can become dependent on and thus don’t encourage the body to regulate itself. Hydration, fiber and motility are the keys to regularity and thus far I’ve addressed the first two. In terms of motility, we need the mineral magnesium. Magnesium relaxes the body and helps to encourage normal and optimal motility. We get magnesium from whole grains and many vegetables but you may also benefit from a supplement during the cleanse. The body may need a gentle boost (Here I recommend Smooth Move tea but not for more than 3-4 days in a row) if these other remedies don’t work.
10. Immunity: keep in mind that if you are sick or if you are immune-compromised a cleanse is not for you. Why? The body needs to harness all its energy to heal itself and that is not what a cleanse does. A cleanse stirs up toxins that are tucked in fat cells and other parts of the body to eliminate them. That’s a lot of work for the body and it can leave a healthy person feeling fatigued and even slightly flu-ish. To support your immune system during a cleanse I recommend all of the above as well as a good quality probiotic and to consume mushrooms like maitake, shitake and others or to take a good quality supplement.

Putting the AKA Cleanse into Action:

1. Sleep: Aim to get as much sleep as possible – that includes naps but ideally means going to be a little bit earlier than you normally do.
2. Eat regularly: Consume eating (or if doing liquids: drinking) occasions about every 3 hours. The goal of a cleanse is not to starve. It is okay to feel hungry but starving means the body will go into a shocked / storage / hibernation mode which defeats the cleanse.
3. Consume nutrient balanced eating occasions: – see the AKA menu worksheet for more on this http://www.ashleykoff.com/services/resources.html – but the idea is to have a carb + protein + healthy fat and unlimited vegetables at each eating occasion; here are some samples:
a. The ProHydrator: Coconut water + greens powder + hemp protein + healthy fat (flax, chia oils)
b. Quintessential BreakFAST bowl: quinoa + greens + seeds + few berries or lemon juice and avocado
c. Organic applesauce with cinnamon + hemp seeds and oat bran
4. Regularity aids: everyone is different but I often find it best to take the magnesium supplement at night, to consume fiber during the day, and to hydrate with teas like detox and ginger during the day as well as the coconut water.
5. Immune support: take a probiotic on waking or consume coconut water kefir or cultured vegetables during the day and add mushrooms to your meals as well as taking a supplement either morning or night.
6. Liquid versus solid: there are different schools of thoughts on this but my advice is to do what’s best for you. The benefits of a few days of liquids include digestive system getting some time off, as well as mentally separating from a reliance on food (what am I going to have, where am I going to go get it) as well as not going out to dinners which can mean you are home earlier and to bed earlier.
7. Medications and supplements: Before beginning any cleanse, if you are taking medications or supplements prescribed by a healthcare practitioner check-in with them so they can advise you how to adjust.

Send me your questions or tweet them @ashleykoff

More AKA posts on cleanses:



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Winter is here. We see it in our skin, hair and nails – the dryness, and the resulting little cracks that will prove to be excellent entrance ways for bad bugs that can lead to winter colds.

How do we spell protection against winter dryness and colds? HYDRATION

Sometimes hydration is only thought of as a summer issue – we are hot, we sweat, and so we remember to drink lots of water and eat water-based foods. We wear hats to shield our hair and skin from the sun and we lather on the moisturizer.

Habits change in the winter. We change from water-based vegetables to winter’s more starchy and less water-based vegetables; we trade raw salads for warm soups; and our iced teas often become hot tea with milk, hot cocoa, and hot cider which translates to: less water, more sodium = DEHYDRATION. Furthermore, we often forget our skin under all those clothes and while sun exposure may not be our issue (though winter sun should not be ignored), heaters/heating have a powerful, drying effect on our skin.

What to do? Follow these tips to improve winter health by way of HYDRATION:

1) Potassium intake: make sure to include potassium-rich foods and beverages which help bring water into our cells for hydration: coconut water (see this video to learn more about coconut water’s hydration benefits: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWOV_WRvVdc), bananas, potatoes, avocado, and even try supplement Ultima Replenisher for travel or in your workout bottle.

2)Sodium intake: be careful with excess sodium which keeps water outside our cells (dehydrating). Make your own soups or look for low-sodium options; use spices versus salt; and when using salt aim for a sea salt that contains an array of minerals; avoid canned and packaged foods where salt is used as a preservative, and choose fresh and frozen options (sodium can still be an issue in these packaged foods so read labels). In general, sodium should be less than 250mg PER serving but in some foods like soups it’s likely to be higher versus others like frozen vegetables where there should be zero. Check the Ashley Koff Approved lists on my site for good choices and always compare products in a category (i.e. cereal, soups etc.). http://www.ashleykoffapproved.com/approved/index.html.

3) Water – yes, you need it…8 glasses or take your weight in pounds and divide it in half and that will give you your daily ounces requirement (if you wight 150 pounds then that’s 75 ounces and there’s 8 ounces in a cup so you need between 9 and 10 cups daily).

4) Oil Up – when you get out of the shower or after you wash your face add some oils like coconut oil or argan oil to your skin to lock in moisture. Also, you can spray a hydrosol on your face in the day and reapply a dot of oil to the nose and lip areas which tend to get dry the quickest. Choose alcohol-free skincare products to avoid extra dryness.

5) Shroom ‘n Good Bugs: Yup, adding mushrooms like maitake and shitake to the diet or taking a daily supplement like LifeShield from New Chapter are great ways to boost your immune system. Also, consume probiotic-rich foods like coconut water kefir and cultured veggies as well as taking a supplement (I recommend and work with Align).

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December, the 12th month of the year…the time when holidays can create a holidaze leaving even the most health committed person saying, “I’ll get back on track in the New Year.” Well, we all know what putting off for tomorrow what we should do today can do for our health, our energy, our skin and our waistlines. So, this year, to help me best help you, I reached out to some of my favorite experts for their advice on how to stay on track through the holidays. These twelve tips are my gift to you – and so I begin with my own favorite tip…

1.            TREAT yourself right during the holidays…the holidays ARE a special time. Wanting to maintain your health regime is no reason to give up on treating yourself a little extra special during this time. But since when does TREAT= EAT…What puts the ‘TR’ in “TREAT” are things like: TRim your hair, TRy a new type of massage (I love Thai massage), TRek with a friend – blow off some work and go for a hike even through the snow, fly through the air on a TRapeze, and TRade your errands (with a spouse, a friend, a child). Enjoy your TReats this holiday season!

2.            From Leslie Goldman, women’s health writer, author of Locker Room Diaries, body image blogger for iVillage, www.lesliegoldmanwrites.com

Yoga can keep you emotionally and physically grounded during holiday food chaos. Feeling overstuffed? Try Warrior Pose. Plank pose keeps you balanced. And any kind of workout will rev up mood-boosting endorphins.

3.            From Veronica Bosgraaf, Pure Bar Founder, www.thepurebar.com

Enjoy Holiday Fruits:

I know you are surrounded by cookies, candies and cakes, but also surround yourself with the sweet and succulent fruits of the season.  I love pomegranate, dried cranberries, sweet pears, oranges with cloves, and baked apples with cinnamon!

Recycle Your Wrap:

Wrapping paper may look pretty but it is a huge source of waste around the holidays.  Instead of buying wrapping paper, I always save colorful tissue paper that is used to wrap clothing in and use it to wrap my gifts.  I also use old patterned bed sheets or tablecloths that you can buy at a thrift shop and cut to size.  Tie with a string and reuse over and over.  Another idea is to use your children’s artwork to wrap presents.  Grandparents especially love this one!

4.            From: Maria Emmer-Aanes, Nature’s Path, Director of Marketing and Communications, www.naturespath.com

The holidays are full of treats, but for us at Nature’s Path, treats mean delicious, organic granola bars in unique and tempting flavors that, at 150 calories or less, won’t pack on the holiday pounds.  Our 100% USDA certified organic bars contain no artificial preservatives, additives, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or synthetic pesticides, and they come in flavors that will make passing up unhealthy holiday goodies easy, including: Pumpkin-n-Spice, Mmmaple Pecan, Berry Strawberry, Lotta Apricotta, Sunny Hemp, Peanut Buddy, Peanut Choco and Chococonut.  They make great stocking stuffers too!

5.            From: Michael J. Balick, PhD, Vice President for Botanical Science, Director and Philecology Curator Institute of Economic Botany, The New York Botanical Garden, www.nybg.org

As the weather gets cold up here in the North, I usually start adding lavender oil to the washing machine. Long ago I gave up fragranced and heavily synthetic washing soaps, and just add a half dozen to a dozen drops of lavender oil to the rinse cycle of the wash. Not only does it leave a hint of summer in the air, but moths seem to hate this essential oil as well. You can add lavender oil to a small jar containing dried flowers and leave it (open) in your closet, where it will help perfume your belongings as well as possibly helping keep moths away (depending how much oil you put in the jar) . Lavender has been used for centuries as a cleansing agent, for example, in bathwater and for washing floors. If you have a tub at home, put a few drops of lavender oil in a hot bath in the evening–very relaxing!

6.            From Kathy Kaehler, Trainer, Spokesperson, Author, www.kathykaehler.net

It is very easy to pack on extra pounds over the holidays.  It seems that preparing for all of the festivities invades our gym time.  To keep your weight

at bay and your energy balanced make your exercise routine a priority.  Keep it in your calendar just like an appointment.  Get it done in the morning

because you will find too many excuses not to exercise later on during the day.  Even if you can’t make it to the gym find things that you can do around your home

that will charge up the calories.  Walk up and down your stairs, power walk around your neighborhood or dust off that old piece of equipment and get moving.

Your body will thank you and you hopefully won’t be making that redundant New Year’s resolution again.

7.             From Heide Banks, a nationally recognized relationship expert and frequent contributor to 20/20, The Early Show, Good, Morning America Health, a featured contributor to The Huffington Post. HeideBanks@aol.com

Holidays are a great time to meet new people.  Go out with an open heart and  leave home that sweet but awful sweater you got as a Christmas present.

Alone for the holidays?  Tell friends as soon as possible so they can include you.  And, there are plenty of opportunities to help out your community and serve those around you this time of year.  It’s reach out time.

Wanna take a trip but you’re without a significant other?  Check out the many singles trips that abound this time of year.  Gyms are a great resource for this.

You and your mate always seem to fight more this time of year?  Join the can we just make it to January 2nd club!  Identify your source of irritation from holidays past.  Family?  Bad gift giving?  Overeating?  And talk about it.
You can’t change your relatives but you can change the way you relate to them.  Hint.  Laugh.

Thinking of breaking off a relationship?  While holiday time can be lonely there’s nothing worse than kissing someone at New Years that you have lost affection for.  Give yourself the gift of a fresh start for the new year.

And speaking of New Years, forget the vows.  You’ll feel a lot better if you practice some self-forgiveness for anything and everything that didn’t quite turn out the way you wished in the past year.  The one vow I always make us to be a little bit kinder, gentler and more understanding of myself and those I love in the year to come.

8.            From Myra Goodman, Founder and Owner, Earthbound Farm, author Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook, www.ebfarm.com

While I don’t count calories, I like to know the calorie count of some holiday foods ahead of time so I can portion accordingly. One slice of pecan pie is over 500 calories, and I find I am just as satisfied with half a slice eaten at half the pace, savoring every bite. A whole slice after dinner would most likely leave me feeling too full and a little worried about holiday weight gain – making it less of a pleasure.

9.            From Jovial King, founder and formulator, Urban Moonshine Organic Bitters + Tonics, www.urbanmoonshine.com

This holiday season make sure to have a bottle of herbal bitters within reach at your favorite holiday gatherings!  Bitters stimulate digestion and help to soothe any feelings of overindulgence, including gas, bloating and acid reflux.  But the best part might just be bitters’ ability to stave off that sugar craving.  After a big meal reach for your bottle of (urban moonshine :)) bitters instead of dessert.  It will keep your body feeling great and that waistline in check.

10.            From Erin Schrode, a young ecoRenaissance woman, the “face of the new green generation,” the spokeswoman and co-founder of the United States-based Turning Green campaign, promotes global sustainability, youth leadership, environmental education, and conscious lifestyle choices, www.erinschrode.com

What’s the best way to “eco-ize” any gift this holiday season? Go one step beyond recycled wrapping paper and package up presents in something reusable or repurposed! It makes any gift far more personal and fun. Old maps, newspaper, shopping bags, even plain paper bags (the little ones can go to town decorating with markers!) are perfect for the job. The receptacle itself can be part of the present too… think scarves, towels, totes, and baskets.

11.            From Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, author Cinch! Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches, www.cynthiasass.com

This season simplify your menus. Enjoy season foods as close to their natural state as possible with just a few natural ingredients to enhance the flavor and nutritional value of your meals. For example, core an organic apple or pear, drizzle with a mixture of water, organic pure maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and bake in the oven. Brush sliced root vegetables (carrots, turnips, and beets) with a garlic infused extra virgin olive oil, roast and garnish with sea salt. Melt organic dark chocolate, fold in fresh grated ginger and drizzle over slices of fresh pineapple. Simplifying your menus can free you up to spend more time with friends and family but you won’t sacrifice one iota of flavor.

12.            From Elisha Reverby, Elique Organics, organic skin care and beauty expert, writer, consultant, salon owner, creator of food based skin nutrition. www.getwaxed.com, www.eliqueorganicskinfood.com

This holiday season share, listen, feel and laugh… do everything you do with passion and zest and let your worries fall to the wayside, trusting and relishing in the love and blessings that surround you. Your skin will naturally glow and you will be the most radiant person in the room. Guaranteed! Merry merry…

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And what did this author get wrong, nutritionally speaking? Check out the LA Times article here: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/nov/26/news/la-heb-diet-20101126

In this article they reference a recent diet study whose results make good nutrition sense. I also wanted to further add support to the article with this video – I had the opportunity to sit down with Australia’s leading dietitian, Dr Joanna McMillan Price, who did her PhD work on this very topic. Here are her thoughts from our interview:


But what the article missed is that the more correct way to look at the nutrition value of glycemic effect of foods is to look at the glycemic load versus the glycemic index. The issue with the index is that it doesn’t take into account the portion control aspect of nutrition. Thus, you will see carrots as seemingly very high, as the article points out, but you would have to eat a lot more carrots than a typical portion to get that high effect. That said, if having carrot soup or carrot juice, because the carrots are processed they will have a higher glycemic effect.

So net net, if you don’t want to follow a list – and perhaps you even want to try a more plant-based diet for all the various health benefits – the best thing to do is to focus on eating the highest quality carbohydrates and eating them in their whole food form. What does this mean? Whole fruit versus dried or juiced – and if you are sugar-sensitive then go for the ones we eat the skin of as opposed to the ones we don’t (think apple versus pineapple) more often. When it comes to grains, eat the whole grain versus the puffed or flour-based product – skip the rice cakes and have a whole grain cracker for example or have a bowl of oats or quinoa versus a puffed cereal. In terms of protein sources, look to quinoa and legumes like lentils but also know that hemp seeds provide complete protein and many of your other nuts and seeds are rich in amino acids. And overall, practice nutrient balance which means aiming for a serving of each – carb + protein + healthy fat – at an eating occasion. You can see how to make the right selections using the AKA menu worksheet.

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Please check out the GMA Health piece here.

A tiny seed, an ancient grain, the next wonder supplement – inquiring minds are wondering what is this seed and why is everyone from athletes to doctors to food manufacturers saying “add some chia to your diet” for optimal health?

Chia comes from a plant (salvia hispanica) in the mint family which grows around the world at latitudes 15 degrees north or south of the equator. Despite having an attractive blue flower which makes chia plants seem appealing, the plant naturally fends off predators and humans alike as its stems are bitter tasting so we harvest the seed instead. The seed, either black or white, contains a good source of fiber, and vegetarian omega 3 fatty acids.

I recently went to Australia where farmer John Foss started The Chia Co. to see how chia grows. Foss picked chia after traveling the world to pick an “it” food to bring back to Australia because he wanted to grow something that could help with Australia’s health issues – obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. And today, five to ten years later, his chia is doing just that. Whether added to already nutritious foods like a spinach egg white scramble, and antioxidant rich berry and Greek yogurt parfait, or notably more nutrient poor – white bread – chia is providing a nutritional upgrade (their white bread now has 4-5 grams of fiber vs the 1-2 of many white breads). (more…)

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In other blogs I talk a lot about prevention tips or healthIER options for Halloween, I want to address a question I get  asked often (and not just on Halloween)- what do I do if I OD on sugar?

Its important to note that there are all sorts of sugar sources – fruit, fruit juice, dried fruit, cane sugar vs organic sugar, sweeteners – artificial or not, legumes, grains, and so on. And that one’s favorites can be very different – candy lover vs pasta queen or fruit-can’t-get-enough-er. Regardless of your preferences though, the body’s response (and what we seek from sugar) is likely to be the same.

I want more ______
Energy, happiness, to not say “I can’t have” and so on…all translate to “I want more sugar” messages

And so, I provide some tips:

The body gets an inflated (but real) sense of energy / even euphoria, but when that drops its going to cry out more loudly for carbs. To address:

  1. Make sure to focus on sleep, yoga, breathing
  2. Try magnesium for relaxation (from foods or I like Natural Calm as a supplement (I work with them)
  3. Don’t go cold turkey the morning after and skip all carbs altogether but go back to portion control, nutrient balance and eating frequency principles (every 3 hrs). See the AKA menu worksheet on my website
  4. Use a crutch- you can use quality lean proteins as a crutch (have an extra portion or grab when you crave sugar) until the intense cravings pass.
  5. Remember not to beat yourself up – that’s mean 😦  but also can contribute to keeping the cycle going (you get sad or frustrated and then have carbs to feel happy).

Happy Halloween! And remember a holiDAY is one DAY which shouldn’t derail any of us if we go back to our Qualitarian lifestyles the next.

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Energy bars, Protein bars, Snack Bars – AKA Discusses Bar Mania with ABC LA’s Food Coach Lori Corbin (8/11/10 at 6:50 am and 11:50 am PST)

Last week, Lori asked me for my take on bars – specifically what people should look for, what do I look for (what’s AKA?) and what are some of the traps that we can encounter with bars. See my thoughts below as well as a blogpost for the Huffington Post Living section who also asked me for my thoughts – seems a lot of people are wondering how to sort through the bars.

  1. When is a bar good for a “snack” versus a “meal replacement”?
    AKA: In my practice, I actually don’t distinguish between a meal or snack but rather use the term ‘eating occasion.’ Why? Too often people get caught up in the thinking that a snack means small, fun, grab-n-go…and a “meal” means large and has to happen at set times.  Our body doesn’t think this way – our body is like a race car, it wants “pit stops” meaning that about every 3 hours we need a “pit stop” for refueling and choosing how large / small based on appetite, availability, and activity levels.
  2. What’s the right amount of nutrients for a bar? (more…)

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VIDEO: GMA Health for Huffington Post Living’s “Total Energy” Makeover

Despite a crazy work and life schedule, Marissa always managed to get her workouts in. She loves yoga and finds so much peace of mind and balancing energy from her home practice and classes at Strala with Tara Stiles. That said, when I talked to Marissa a few months ago, we realized that she’d cut back on her cardio (which she cites as a major stress reducer in her life) and she wasn’t “having any fun” with her workouts. A dancer as a kid, Marissa remarked “now get me dancing – I’d leave work for that!” and when I mentioned boxing her eyes lit up. So I took these remarks to heart and talked with my team at the Huffington Post Living section and they said – we need Pooja! Pooja Mottl of Mindful 21 has taken Marissa under her wing and is getting her to twist, punch, and dance all to work on toning the outside while getting Marissa to have fun, laugh and test her body as she tries new moves. Meeting Pooja is inspiring – she’s calm, funny, and knows her stuff! She’s not going to scream at you ’til you cry but rather takes a mindful approach – helping each person figure out what’s right for them – mentally and physically. She’s the perfect addition to Marissa’s energy makeover team. Now, Marissa isn’t leaving work early – but she’s fitting in her sessions with Pooja, doing her homework, and the results are the biggest smile, confidence that shows in the way she’s carrying herself (thanks to Pooja’s posture moves and Marissa’s continued yoga efforts), and sustained energy that helps her be present for her job, her son, her friends and her suitors!

What can we all learn from Marissa’s progress this month? Sometimes just going through the fitness motions isn’t enough – we need to add some fun, personalize it to what we like, but also test ourselves and our bodies with new activities. You can follow Pooja, Tara and the rest of Marissa’s energy makeover team on the Huffington Post Living section to find tips that you can try at home too.

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