Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Clean Eating Thursday Recipe Linkup – Holiday Food Gifts

Clean Eating Thursday Recipe Linkup - Holiday Food Gifts

I know. It’s not even Halloween yet and I’m already posting about holiday gifts. But the truth is, many people start planning long before this, so I figured the timing was actually just about right.… Read more →



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Wired To Eat: Coming Soon!

Hey folks!

It’s been a long time in the making (or has felt like it to me anyway) but we are getting closer to the release of my second book, Wired to Eat! The official release date is March 21, 2017 but since we are close to finalizing the cover and a few other details I thought I’d do a quick post to let you know where this project is.

What is Wired to Eat?

In the past ten plus years of working with people and helping them to change their eating and lifestyle I have fortunately seen and played a part in a lot of incredibly positive and inspiring change. If you check out some of the testimonials we’ve received or spent a bit of time on social media you have likely seen some incredible transformations. But not everyone gets the “brochure” experience when changing diet and lifestyle. For some folks they either can’t get going on these changes or (more often) they make some solid progress, only to spin out a few months down the road. I’ve talked to a lot of people, done a lot of thinking as to why this happens and what I’ve noticed is a destructive ”self talk” that consistently derails folks. When people get into the thick of change they are struck by the difficulty of the whole process. They think there is something wrong with them, that they have some kind of moral or constitutional failing. If they could “only be better, stronger, have more willpower, etc.” everything would be “ok.” This thinking misses some key points that are literally cooked into our genetics. If you find navigating the modern world of hyperpalatable foods tough, you should NOT be surprised. We are genetically wired to eat more and move less; it’s no wonder most people fail to achieve health and weight-loss goals.

Wired to Eat is my attempt to explain this story in a way that defuses the guilt and morality around changing our eating and lifestyle habits. I talk about the neuroregulation of appetite and how hyperpalatable foods cause us to eat more than we otherwise would. I cover some of the latest research surrounding the gut microbiome, ketogenic diets/fasting, and how depending on certain life events some of us are better suited to higher or lower carb diets.

This is a pretty big (long!) book and I bring in sleep/photoperiod, movement (exercise), and community in addition to nutrition to establish what I call the Four Pillars of Health. I look not only at how these topics affect the neuroregulation of appetite, but also our overall, happiness and wellbeing.

There is a lot of “why” in this book, the science geeks will not be disappointed. Building on the “why” is a step by step program to help readers easily rewire their appetite, control blood sugar, and determine the foods that work for them (turns out we’re unique snowflakes after all). As to recipes and chow, Charles and Julie Mayfield of Paleo Comfort Foods put together amazing meal plans ranging from autoimmune to ketogenic and everything in between. 

Where can you get it?

Wired to Eat is available for pre-order everywhere books are sold. If you are feeling frisky and want to pre-order, I’m including a few handy links to do so below. If you want to support your local bookseller, you can also order early from them.

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As we get closer to release I’ll update you on more details of the book, the release schedule and some special offers we will have in the all important pre-release campaign. Thanks again for the continued support!

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How to Combat Holiday Weight Gain

Merry as they may be to many, for those of us who try to eat healthy and keep our weight under control, the holidays can be brutal. We step on the scale, cookie crumbs barely brushed from our lips, and watch as the pounds tick up into the danger zone. Ho-ho-how did this happen to us again this year?

Of course, we know how it happened. We made a few too many trips to the snack table, drank more eggnog than we knew was good for us and indulged a little too enthusiastically at family dinnertime. The good news is that it all tasted delicious and we enjoyed it in the company of family and friends. The bad news is that feeling festive as we eat those holiday delicacies doesn’t make them any less fattening — for proof, just look at Santa.

Sure, we’ll resolve to be better next year: “Lose weight and eat healthier” is penned in at the No. 1 spot on our New Year’s resolution lists every year. But what if we could do something to start the year without all the disadvantages of those holiday pounds?

Writing in the Washington Post, nutrition expert Jae Berman offers 11 (count them!) tips for keeping the pounds at bay over the holidays. Her suggestions include eating a small balanced meal before you go to a holiday gathering and eating your vegetables and drinking water once you’re there. Savor every bite, don’t drink too much alcohol, bring snacks in your bag to make sure you don’t get super hungry between meals (and then go crazy heaping your plate when dinner is served), she advises, and don’t forget to exercise.

Possibly Berman’s most-important piece of advice? Don’t beat yourself up for the moments you fall short. “Be kind to yourself and give yourself a break,” she writes. “Acknowledge the successes.”

Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., Healthy Eats contributor and author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen, agrees that eating healthy over the holidays is an entirely achievable goal. In fact, she says, the danger of overindulging in the calorie-rich foods that abound during the holiday season makes it especially important to stick to your healthy eating and fitness plans. “Deciding that you can ‘cheat’ from Thanksgiving through New Year’s can lead to unwanted weight gain,” she warns.

Amidor advises taking care to eat a well-balanced breakfast and lunch, with healthy snacks in between, on a day you’re planning to attend a holiday party or dinner. Going to a party hungry, she says, “is a sure way you can end up overindulging.”

And when you arrive at the party, Amidor recommends, stick to “Toby’s Two-Tablespoon Rule.” That is, “Scout the party or dinner for two or three dishes that you absolutely must have (including dessert), and take two heaping tablespoons of this food.” That way, she notes, “you can enjoy a small portion, which, combined with other healthy fare, can help keep weight gain at bay.”

As for exercise, Amidor suggests making it “a family affair”: Go outside and throw the football around with your kids, or toss on your sneakers and do “a few extra laps at the mall” while holiday shopping.

Then maybe you can hit the food court … for a salad, people. A salad!

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish.



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A Primal Take on Cannabis

Medicinal cannabis with extract oil in a bottleToday I’m taking on a mammoth in the living room so to speak. Based on the emails I’ve received and the string of developments around the issue, it’s maybe a long time coming.

As of November 11, marijuana is legal for recreational or medical use in 26 states. Recreational use is even legal in the nation’s capital, Washington DC. Despite the DEA declining to recognize the therapeutic potential of marijuana, formal medical research proceeds in labs and clinics, while millions of consumers in states like California, Oregon, and Colorado are running informal n=1 personal experiments. Usage has doubled in the last ten years. A recent Gallup poll found that 1 in 8 American adults “say they smoke marijuana.” Pretty much anytime legalization is up for a vote, it passes.

It seems there’s more weed out there than ever before and more people willing to consume it. They’re eating it, applying it sublingually, vaporizing it, and smoking it. Meanwhile, “pro” and “con” claims mount on both sides. 

And while hippies, burnouts, and trustafarians might be the popular face of marijuana culture, the modern cannabis consumer will surprise you. A few stats:

Nearly half of all California cannabis dispensary customers are over the age of 30.

By some accounts, Silicon Valley tech firms run on weed.

More Colorado adults are consuming cannabis, while teen usage has gone down.

Middle-aged parents are more likely to smoke weed than their teenage kids.

Cannabis never really left, but it’s definitely shifting out of the counter-culture and into mainstream society. For better or for worse.

So, which is it, Sisson? Better or worse?

Cannabis commentators, both detractors and evangelists, deal in anecdote.

“The pot heads I knew in high school ended up in dead-end jobs. Half didn’t even graduate!”

“Everyone I knew in college smoked. The smartest dude on my floor—an engineering student—grew the stuff!”

It really seems to depend on the individual, the type of cannabis, the (mind)set and setting, and a dozen other factors. It’s complicated and contextual.

In keeping with that point, my goal here isn’t to pass absolute judgment but to highlight the benefits, risks and myths.

First off, there’s some very promising research into the medical and health benefits of cannabis.

Pain: Purified THC has no effect on chronic pain. It doesn’t help postoperative pain, either.

Meanwhile, whole plant cannabis reduces Parkinson’s-related pain, neuropathic pain (even low-dose), and diabetic neuropathy.

Curiously, men seem more sensitive to cannabis-induced pain relief than women. Sorry, ladies.

PTSDMedical marijuana shows great promise in PTSD therapy, with one study seeing a 75% reduction in symptoms.

Cancer: Most research into cannabis and cancer has focused on its ability to ameliorate chemotherapy-induced nausea. And in vitro and animal studies do show some interesting effects on cancer cells and cancer, but lots of plant compounds do that. We have a ways to go before oncologists are handing out joints.

Weight loss: We don’t have any good intervention studies in people, but we do have evidence from animal and in vitro studies that isolated cannabinoids can trigger formation of new fat cells and generally impair metabolic health. We do have fairly consistent findings from observational studies showing that regular cannabis users tend to have lower BMIs than non-users, better metabolic markers (fasting insulin, waist circumference, and insulin resistance) than non-users, and lower rates of metabolic syndrome.

Tough to say, but I lean toward the totality of the observational studies. If cannabis is so bad for metabolic health, why is its use so consistently associated with better metabolic health?

Intake of other drugs: People with access to legal marijuana end up drinking less alcohol (one reason for the generally beneficial effect of weed on body weight) and using less opioids.

Type 1 diabetes: There’s limited (read: animal/in vitro) evidence suggestive of a protective or therapeutic role for cannabis in type 1 diabetes (CBD reduces pancreatic inflammation and slows down T1D progression).

What about the negatives?

Filling your lungs with hot smokeWhile it probably isn’t “good” for the lungs, the “accumulated weight of evidence” shows that “even regular heavy use” of cannabis smoke confers “far lower risks for pulmonary complications” than the “grave pulmonary consequences of tobacco.”

DependencyAddiction recovery counselors claim cannabis addiction rates of 10%, which pale in comparison to cocaine, heroin, alcohol, and tobacco addiction rates but exceed the 0% addiction rates weed enthusiasts commonly tout. 

And I’ll head off the inevitable cries of “it’s just psychological dependence, not physiological!” before they arrive. Psychological is physiological. The brain is the body. It’s physical and tangible. Cannabis may not create physical withdrawal symptoms, but heavy use can create dependencies via the brain reward systems just the same.

Mental healthHeavy cannabis users with the right (wrong) genetic variants tend to be at higher risk for various mental health disorders, like psychosis and schizophrenia. Furthermore, the earlier in adolescence you start smoking, the higher your risk of psychosis as an adult.

Causation hasn’t quite been established here. Put another way, people with psychosis and schizophrenia may be more likely to be heavy cannabis users. But if your brain is still developing, whether in the womb or during adolescence, avoid cannabis. You really don’t need it, and you’ll be better equipped to handle it as a full-fledged adult.

Sleep: Many people use cannabis to sleep. It certainly can make you sleepy, but it also affects REM sleep, even going so far as to reduce dreaming. Heavy users show evidence of sleep disturbances. You all know how important sleep is.

Plus, an older study shows that smoking cannabis increases melatonin secretion. That’s a good thing at night. This could be trouble if you smoke during the day, however, as melatonin isn’t supposed to be elevated when the sun is up.

Now some things to keep in mind when deciding to try cannabis or not…

Whole plant is safer than isolated cannabinoids.

Whether you’re talking about medical benefits or recreational use, using the whole plant has better effects than using an isolated component. There is no one active component. There are many, and isolation is going to miss them.

Foremost are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). If THC provides the “high,” CBD smooths it out. THC targets the CB1 receptor, CBD gets in the way and blunts some of the effects. Why is this important, and why shouldn’t I just get the stuff with the most THC?

Well, the whole plant compounds are synergistic:

A high-CBD cannabis whole plant extract reduces gut inflammation and damage in a mouse model of inflammatory bowel disease. Purified CBD does not.

A human study tested the cannabinoid content of hair plucked from a group of regular smokers. Those with more THC in their hair were more depressed and anxious than those with CBD in their hair. They also performed more poorly on tests of visual and verbal recall, while those with higher hair CBD were better at recall and had fewer psychosis-like symptoms.

Normally, THC impairs short term memory. It’s famous for it. This is why people (like me) stumble over their words after consuming cannabis. In one study, giving CBD alongside high-THC weed mitigates this THC-induced memory impairment.

CBD may even show efficacy against schizophrenia, which makes me wonder if higher CBD/THC cannabis strains have the same relationship to mental health issues as the strains higher in THC and lower in CBD.

The superiority of the whole plant could explain why observational studies find improved metabolic health and body weight in users versus non-users and animal studies using the isolated cannabinoids find the opposite.

Whole plant cannabis isn’t perfect, though. The THC/CBD ratio has been increasing over the years as consumers chase ever more “potent” strains. The average sample of street cannabis was 4% THC in 1995. In 2014, it was 14%. In the same time frame, CBD content dropped from 0.28% to 0.15%. 

What’s great about the legalization push is that you no longer have to buy an unlabeled baggie of random cannabis from a seedy dealer. You can enter a clean, well-lighted place, chat with an expert, and choose from dozens of strains labeled with THC, CBD, and other cannabinoid levels to obtain the desired effects and thus bypass the lopsided ratios of street marijuana.

Don’t take cannabis lightly.

It’s a powerful plant, technically a psychedelic. Many ancient cultures used cannabis as a sacrament and spiritual ally. You don’t have to chant or burn incense or anything, but pay it the respect it deserves if you plan on using it. 

It can have paradoxical effects.

To some, it’s the best way to take the edge off a bad day or a stressful situation. You light up and the stress melts away.

To others, it increases anxiety. You light up and get sucked into a paranoid thought loop. You might even have a panic attack.

Some people can’t focus on anything after consuming cannabis. It scatters their mind and makes following a plot or conversation impossible.

Others use cannabis as a focus aid. They’ll create art, read books, consume film and music, and generally be more productive.

Use others’ experiences as a rough guide, but know that it’s not the final word.

Don’t use it to defeat boredom.

It’s often said that cannabis is a mood-enhancer. It won’t “make you happy.” But if you’re in a good mood, it will likely enhance it. The same goes for a bad mood.

Don’t do it if you’re bored. Don’t do it because there’s nothing else to do. Perhaps you’ll make life mildly more interesting for a couple hours, but man, what a waste.

It shouldn’t be a habit or crutch—or an excuse to not go out and grab a life you want to live…

Careful with the edibles.

Widespread legalization has ushered in an incredible range of edible cannabis products, from olive oil to butter to coconut oil to caramels to baked goods to lollipops to spaghetti sauce to entire restaurant menus. Since cannabinoids are fat-soluble, anything with fat is fair game.

Eating cannabis is very different from inhaling it. Smoking it provides delta-9 THC, which hits fast and dissipates relatively quickly. When you eat it, your liver converts the delta-9 THC into 11-hydroxy THC and you feel the effects of both compounds. It lasts longer, too—5-6 hours compared to 1-2—and feels stronger and more psychedelic. Edible cannabis can get downright overwhelming, especially since most people don’t expect it.

Oh, and that pot brownie better be gluten-free or you’re excommunicated.

That’s about it folks. As I said earlier, I recognize the therapeutic effects and medical potential of cannabis all while acknowledging the apparent risks and cautions.

Now I’d like to hear from you, especially those who use cannabis. How does it affect your Primal way of life? Does it help or hinder your pursuit of health?

Thanks for reading, everyone.

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Re-Examining the Health Benefits of Fitness Trackers

Do you wear a fitness tracker, a doohickey that counts the steps you take and/or the calories you burn every day? If so, you’re in good company. An estimated 21 percent of U.S. Internet-connected adults — yep, more than one in five — use some form of wearable technology, according to research firm Forrester.

Although some pricier wearable fitness trackers promise complicated analytics, most people use wearable fitness trackers to count steps or track distance “with a weight loss goal in mind,” says nutrition consultant, registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and Healthy Eats contributor Dana Angelo White.

A clinical trial conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, however, suggests those wearable fitness trackers may not actually help us lose weight. In fact, the study indicated, just the opposite may be true. The devices may actually backfire, prompting people to eat more and undercutting weight-loss efforts. “It’s somewhat common for people to use exercise as an excuse to overindulge,” White notes.

The study’s research team put 471 overweight study participants on a low-calorie diet and urged them to exercise more, providing them with support such as group counseling. All began to lose weight. After about six months, half the study cohort was asked to self-report their diet and exercise behaviors; the other half was given wearable devices to monitor them. Two years later, both groups remained active, but those who were using the fitness trackers lost less weight than those who were not, prompting the researchers to conclude that “devices that monitor and provide feedback on physical activity may not offer an advantage over standard behavioral weight loss approaches. 

Don’t toss that Fitbit (or Jawbone or Apple Watch or whatever) in a drawer and forget about it just yet, though, because another new study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology and cited by The New York Times, suggests that people who wear activity monitors and use them to ensure they get about 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week have about a 35 percent lower likelihood of premature death than those whose activity trackers indicate they get less exercise than that.

In other words, a wearable fitness tracker may not help you lose weight — but wearing it and using it to make sure you get about 30 minutes of exercise most days a week could help you live longer.

The bottom line, White says, is that while avid exercisers often meet their goals without fitness trackers, others may find the devices helpful in boosting motivation — and anything that gets people to move more is a great thing. “If you’re a competitive person, I think they work especially well,” she says, but she advises trying something basic to start — “nothing too fancy or expensive.”

Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish.



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New Year Cheer Holiday Cards & Minted Giveaway

New Year Cheer holiday cards

I almost didn’t do holiday cards this year, especially not New Year Cheer holiday cards. As many of you know, it’s a transition year for us. But I didn’t want to be totally silent either, so I was frozen with indecision. Minted reached out and offered to help us with holiday cards, and that got the ball rolling. I had the idea to do New Year cards, and our confetti photo shoot with Cramer Photo fit the theme perfectly!

Also: rose gold foil!!!!!!

New Year Cheer holiday cards

Here is a link to the New Year Cheer holiday cards we got, including a photo on the back and a message to our friends and family. They have quite a few codes to get 10-15% off on the site right now through the weekend, and it’s not too late – especially for New Year Cheer holiday cards!

I have THREE $100 gift certificates to Minted to give away! Click here to enter!

USA only please. Giveaway runs through 12/11/16. Three random winners will be selected and notified by email. 

New Year Cheer holiday cards

This year I had a little help getting them in the mail! Mazen loved carefully tucking the New Year Cheer holiday cards into the envelopes, licking them (a first!), and placing the stamp on the corner.

Whistle while you work

New Year Cheer holiday cards

We played mailman for a while afterwards too!

New Year Cheer holiday cards

Since many of you asked for a day’s worth of meals in one post, here’s what I ate that day!

Breakfast was a pumpkin donut (made from pumpkin waffle batter and baked in a donut pan!), pumpkin yogurt, and grapefruit.

New Year Cheer holiday cards

Lunch was tuna salad made with greek yogurt, mayo, and pickle relish (my new thing!) plus lots of crunchy carrots and Whole Foods’ everything crackers.

New Year Cheer holiday cards

Snack was an apple and a few Christmas M&Ms!

And dinner was turkey, bean, and kale soup with parmesan on top and a slice of Great Harvest rye bread! Plus a glass of wine.

New Year Cheer holiday cards

Happy early New Year!

Minted purchased our New Year Cheer holiday cards in exchange for this post.

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