It’s a brand new month and its time for a brand new challenge. On Monday, July 6th we will be starting a No Sugar Challenge and we’d love for you to participate.
Does the idea of giving up sugar seem overwhelming? Are you worried that you can’t make it 7 days without sugar? You’re not alone. Sugar has become an insidious drug for most of us. It has the same addictive properties as tobacco and alcohol, meaning the more you eat, the more you need to be satisfied. And when you start reading labels you quickly discover that sugar is in almost EVERYTHING.
When I first decided to begin this challenge, I considered doing it gradually. Then I did a bit of research and discovered that the best way to end sugar cravings is to cut sugar all at once. Why? Since sugar is essentially an addictive drug, going cold turkey is the most effective method, otherwise the addiction center in the brain continues to get triggered. So the “slow and easy” strategy is NOT the way to go.
So let’s DO THIS! It’s only 7 days. you can do ANYTHING for 7 days. And if after that time you decide to go back to sugar then that’s totally OK. Giving up sugar, even briefly, will increase your energy level, may help with weight loss, stabilize your moods and end your obsession with food.
You’ll receive your first challenge on Monday morning, July 6th (EST). We are going to totally rock this challenge!

road trip

Planning a road trip in the near future?  One of the big rules of clean eating is to ALWAYS bring food with you if you’re going to be away from home and in the car for awhile. But are there any acceptable quick car food type snacks that won’t wreck your waistline? Here are some places to get relatively healthy meals and snacks while on the road:

  1. Gas stations: Surprisingly, you CAN find relatively clean food at gas stations. You can almost always find some sort of fresh fruit at the register. Beef jerky, nuts, dried fruit and trail mix are all acceptable snacks. I’ve even occasionally even found decent protein bars at gas stations!
  2. Grocery stores: Going to the store doesn’t tend to cross your mind when thinking of a quick meal. However, all of them are have a section with fresh produce and fruits. Places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods often have ready-made sandwiches and salads that you can grab on-the-go with nutrition information attached. This is my favorite thing to do when I travel, because most grocery stores now are carrying organic products.
  3. Fast food: Fast food places are an absolute last resort. Having said that, there are a few rules to follow if this is truly your only option. First, select meat that is grilled, not fried. A grilled chicken salad (dressing on the side) is usually a pretty safe option. Watch out for condiments! Fast food condiments can add a lot of fat and calories — like mayonnaise and oil based sauces. Use a little ketchup, mustard, marinara, or BBQ sauce instead of creamy sauces and spreads. Half a packet of BBQ sauce or honey-mustard sauce from most fast-food chains, for example, will add about 23 calories, no fat grams, and about 80 milligrams of sodium. Another thing to watch out for is side items. Avoid french fries and onion rings! If you need something to keep your entree company, look for fresh fruit cups or side salads. One last point about fast food places is to avoid drinking your calories. Sodas, sweetened tea, lemonade, and fruit drinks all give you calories with absolutely no nutrients.

Eating on the go doesn’t have to be an unhealthy situation. Choose wisely and you’ll look and feel better all summer long!



7 delicious smoothie recipes

Who doesn’t love a smoothie? NO ONE – that’s who! Here are 7 of my most favorite recipes for smoothies.

  1. Spinach Blueberry Smoothie – A delicious way to eat your greens!
  2. High Protein Smoothie – The perfect pre workout meal.
  3. Kiwi Berry Smoothie – Yummy and refreshing, this smoothie makes a tasty snack.
  4. Banana Chocolate Smoothie – Tastes just like a peanut butter banana milkshake!
  5. Oatmeal Smoothie – This one is a great way to have “breakfast on the go”.
  6. Cherry Chocolate Smoothie – So rich and creamy, you’ll forget you’re eating clean!
  7. Pumpkin Smoothie – You’ll love this one – tastes just like pumpkin pie.

skull and crossbonesBy now I think we all know to avoid the artificial sweetener aspartame. But did you know that the manufacturer has recently come up with a new name for aspartame?  NutraSweet and Equal are both aspartame but the manufacturer’s latest name for this toxic substance is AminoSweet.

So what exactly is aspartame?

Here’s the science bit:  As the name “AminoSweet” suggests, aspartame is a non-saccharide sweetener derived from amino acids. Specifically, it is the methyl ester of aspartic acid and the dipeptide of phenylalanine, a molecule consisting of two amino acids coupled by a single peptide bond. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid and a precursor to tyrosine, a signaling molecule that stimulates the synthesis of the skin pigment melanin and certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine. Got that?

The history of aspartame

Aspartame was approved for use in the U.S. by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1981. Not long after, researchers began to find evidence that aspartame was a possible carcinogen. The controversy surrounding the safety of this substance arose and has persisted to this day. In July 2005, the European Ramazzini Foundation of Oncology and Environmental Sciences (ERF) published a carcinogenicity study in which the researchers concluded that aspartame causes cancer, namely lymphomas and leukemias in male and female rats.  In April 2007, the FDA released a statement announcing that the agency did not find sufficient evidence to support the ERF’s conclusion. In addition, the FDA maintained its position that the use of aspartame is safe.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) notes that a 1996 report showing an increase in the incidence of brain tumors between 1975 and 1992 correlated these statistics with the introduction of aspartame in the U.S. Later, the results of a 2005 laboratory study in which rats were fed high doses of diet soda sweetened with aspartame once again suggested a link to an increase in lymphomas and leukemias.

What does all of this mean for you?

First, it means that no one really knows if aspartame – or other artificial sweeteners, for that matter – causes cancer or not. However, if the question of toxicity exists, why use the stuff at all? What is certain is that some people do have a sensitivity to aspartame. Even the FDA concedes that excess levels of free aspartic acid in the body can trigger migraines, asthma attacks, anxiety, depression and other reactions. In addition, because this amino acid impairs glucose uptake in the brain, it may cause fatigue and memory loss.

So what is the solution? 

The best thing to do is to stick to natural sweeteners like raw honey, turbinado sugar and coconut palm sugar.