Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Family Fun at the Buttonwood Park Zoo

Once again, I’m so glad to have the opportunity to partner with Fidelity & MEFA in support of the U.Fund Dreams Tour. I’ve worked with the brand since Quinn was born and appreciate the relationship since they’re such a wonderful supporter of helping all kinds of families learn more about saving for college. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Since partnering with Fidelity & MEFA nearly 3 years ago, our family has attended a number of events as part of the U.Fund Dreams Tour. These events help parents like us learn more about saving for our children’s future. We had so much fun at the Easton Children’s Museum and even more at “Boo at the Zoo” at the Franklin Park Zoo, we were all about visiting Buttonwood Park Zoo. Qman loves animals (right now he’s really into “cats”), so he was pumped to visit. He even wore his binoculars!

We all hopped in the car, and, about an hour later, we arrived at Buttonwood Park Zoo.

Qman loved checking out all of the different animals at the park, especially the Cougar and Bobcats. He even meowed at them! Haha! The otters were a big hit too. Qman said in his “tiny” voice: “They’re soooo cute.”

While walking through the zoo, I spotted a Buttonwood Farm sign that I thought would make a nice background for a family photo. Before I even stopped to ask someone to snap our photo, a women offered to do it. She even tried to make Quinn laugh, but he was not into it. His face is priceless – I swear, he had a fun time at the zoo! Haha! 🙂

After that, we headed over to the U.Fund Dreams Tour Tent to have some fun and chat with the representatives. (FYI: There are a bunch of U.Fund events on the calendar for 2017, including ones at Wachusett Mountain, Topsfield Fair, Stone Zoo, and more. Be sure to check them out!) Quinn is growing up so fast (HOW is he already three?!), and we know college will be here before we know it, so I’m glad that we’re starting to plan now. With the cost of college increasing more and more every year, we want Qman to have as many doors open to him as possible.

The U.Fund Dream Tour event had all sorts of interactive games to plan, including launching mini stuffed sheep into outer space. Qman was a pro and got all of them to stick!

I mean, he’s had some practice over the years! 🙂 The photo on the right of tiny Quinn catapulting sheep kills me!

And, for doing such a good job, Qman won a brand new astronaut bookmark!

The event also had a neat interactive photo booth where you could make a fun GIF and take the snapshots home with you.

Mal was a teacher, Qman was an architect, and I was a scientist! 🙂

After visiting the U.Fund event, we all took a ride on the carousal, which Qman loved. He had the biggest smile on his face the entire time!

We had such a wonderful time at the zoo, and Mal and I really appreciated having the chance to learn more about saving for Quinn’s college education. We talked on the drive home and brainstormed a few more ways to add even more funds to his savings account (i.e. credit card rebate checks, online shopping rewards).

Question of the Day

Are you saving for your little one’s future? Do you have special accounts opened? What is working best for you? 

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9 Factors That Influence Testosterone Levels

Inline_Factors_That_Influence_Testosterone_09.06.17In the last several weeks testosterone has come up on a pretty regular basis. I’ve written about it before, of course, but there’s something about the novel elements (e.g. solar irradiation for certain choice body parts) in recent conversations that’s kept the exchange going.  I thought I’d pull back from the peripheral findings a bit today and re-center the discussion.

As you know, testosterone plays a pivotal role not just for libido levels (although we won’t leave that out), but also for bone density, protein synthesis and muscle building, hair growth, estrogen production, red blood cell production, sperm production—amid other key functions in the body (for men and women by the way).

So, what are some factors that influence testosterone levels for the better and worse for both genders? What are the mechanisms behind these associations? And how do they relate to a healthy Primal life?

Let’s dig in…

Understanding the Testosterone Spectrum

The first question that always comes up is what “normal” or desirable levels should be. As with many of the measurements and markers we seek out, I tend to trust how I feel more than what a single number in time reflects. It’s one thing to suspect you might have a deficiency based on symptoms, but it’s another to talk lab values.

Are you experiencing low energy, low libido, breast development (in men), expanding waistlines, infertility, erectile dysfunction, bone weakness, genital numbness, depression, or reduced muscle mass? (Assuming poor lifestyle habits aren’t behind these…)

My preference at this point would be seek out something like a 24-hour Dutch test. These kinds of tests, which take both urine and saliva samples across the course of a day, can provide a more accurate picture of your hormonal situation, shedding light on hormonal interplays and recognizing that the relationships between testosterone, estrogen, cortisol and certain other hormones matter.

And while I’d like to say you could interpret these results yourself, it’s probably best not to rely solely on that. Consider enlisting the help of a holistic practitioner or Primal Health Coach to guide you through the process of looking at the full picture. This way, you’ll have support for making change that works for you individually, and I don’t have to make troublesome sweeping statements of what a “normal” testosterone level would be for a man or woman of X age. The truth is, it’s almost always more complicated than that. A study out earlier this year attempted to clarify the question for men at least, but as you’ll note—it’s not about hitting an exact number by any stretch.

What Impacts Testosterone?

Back in the day, ancient Greeks were known to knock back a goat testicle or three to boost stamina and athletic performance, while ancient Chinese remedies for impotence continue to prescribe the consumption of various unfortunate animals’ reproductive organs. 

But while feasting on the testicles of a goat or the penis of a tiger won’t result in any appreciable gains, certain social, dietary and physiological changes can.

Vitamins and Minerals

While nothing beats a well-rounded Primal eating regime, there’s certain vitamins and minerals that play a distinctive role in T levels. Of course there’s vitamin D, one of the most critical vitamins in the human body (and something most Americans are deficient in). Whether you synthesize it from sun exposure or pop a couple quality, high-potency supplements each day, some research suggests that increased circulating vitamin D in the body correlates to elevated T. Other studies suggest otherwise, but there’s certainly no harm (and a lot of benefits) in getting a bit more D in your life.

Animal testing also suggests that getting adequate levels of vitamin C each day could boost testosterone. A study that gave male rats either 500 or 250 mg/kg ascorbic acid per day found that epididymal sperm concentrations and plasma testosterone were both significantly increased compared to the control group. Another study found that both vitamin C and E were beneficial for improving rabbit semen quality (and by association, testosterone), and that vitamin E appeared even more effective than C.

And then there’s zinc. I’m always a little hesitant to supplement with this trace mineral as it’s easy to go overboard (and needs to be balanced with copper intake), but zinc appears to modulate serum testosterone to a notable degree. A deficiency likely means a drop in T, while supplementing up to normal levels can restore healthy levels. Stick to zinc-rich foods like oysters or grass-fed beef and you should be just fine.

Too Much Green Stuff, Not Enough Meat

This one will come as no great surprise to those of a paleo or Primal inclination: red meat consumption supports healthy testosterone levels. Not only is it an excellent source of zinc, it’s also the most potent source of the amino acid carnitine, which has been linked to improved fertility. The high saturated fat content of the likes of beef and lamb, along with a decent omega 3-6 ratio in pastured versions, doesn’t hurt either.

With those kind of stats, it’s easy to see how a diet lacking in red meat might spell danger for testosterone. Veering away from meat consumption can also result in a calorie deficit for some who aren’t paying attention, which may in turn contribute to reduced T synthesis.

Resistance Training 

As you well know, I’m a huge fan of lifting heavy things, one reason being it’s beneficial influence on testosterone levels. As this 2017 study shows, the rise in T activity following an intense bout of resistance exercise is temporary but significant, the effects of which can be felt several hours afterwards.

Generally speaking, the heavier you lift the better, with research suggesting that resting 90 seconds between sets may promote the greatest T mobilization. Another study found that professional rugby players’ testosterone levels responded best to a workout consisting of 5 sets of high pull, bench press, squat and chin-ups at 15 reps each, this time with a 1-minute rest. There remains a lot of variation between studies, so play around with different resistance regimes and see what works best for you.

Sprinting

My other great love when it comes to exercise is sprints, and these too can work wonders for your ailing T levels. The beauty of these short, sharp bursts of energy is their ability to keep cortisol, testosterone’s arch-nemesis, to a minimum. A 2016 study found that 5 bouts of ten-second sprint cycling promoted a significant rise in T compared to control groups, for both men and women. Interestingly, those with higher pre-test T showed a smaller T response to the sprints. Another study indicated that athletes who exhibit good sprint capacity tend to have a higher basal T level.

Overtraining

On the other hand…here’s another reminder to ditch the chronic cardio and not shortchange recovery. A study that followed a professional soccer team over the course of a competitive season found that testosterone levels steadily declined over the course of the season, with corresponding increases in cortisol. Unsurprisingly, the soccer players exhibited a decrease in muscle mass and increase in fat from overtraining and overexertion—not ideal for professional athletes or anyone.

Likewise, professional basketball players, for example, tend to show a steady decrease in total testosterone over the course of a season. Another basketball study found that the higher the average playing time of each player over the course of a season, the lower their T.

When we look at endurance-type exercise and sports, the same holds true. A 2014 study that examined the hormonal impacts of ultra-marathons in men found that testosterone levels were markedly decreased post-race, with those depleted T levels still apparent a day later. Even in considerably shorter endurance runs, it appears that testosterone levels tend to take a bit of a dive.

Continue training if you must, but be sure to prioritize good overall Primal health and ample recovery. You may also consider supplementing with stress-alleviating supplements like certain adaptogens.

Stress

As I’ve already mentioned, when cortisol is elevated, testosterone is diminished—that’s why exercising too frequently or too long is bad news for T. When both are in balance, they complement each other nicely—cortisol promotes muscle wasting and fat gain, while testosterone facilitates muscular hypertrophy and development of lean mass.

But with your hormonal balance out of whack, cortisol can reign supreme. When the body is in a state of chronic stress (physical, emotional, or both) it can be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve those testosterone gains you’ve been striving for. The solution, then, is to stay well away from stress wherever possible.

Add to this mindfulness and meditation for alleviating stress (and therefore elevating T) and getting plenty of sleep. You know the drill…. It doesn’t matter how healthy your habits are—cortisol will remain elevated and T deflated if you’re in a constantly sleep-deprived state.

Healthy Fats

Research shows that low-fat diets are a poor choice for maintaining healthy T levels. Ironically, much of the research demonstrating this principle was conducted in the 1980s, when the low-fat craze was building steam. 

Those studies may be old, but they were relatively conclusive in their findings. One published in 1983 showed significant reductions in total T concentrations after switching healthy middle aged men to a low fat diet. Another, published a year later, demonstrated that cutting men’s fat consumption from around 40% to 25% reduced their T levels significantly, but that this drop could be easily reversed simply by upping the fat content once more. A similar 1987 study found that testosterone exhibited much the same response in women after switching to a low-fat diet.

And while it’s more than a little difficult to ferret out the influence of different types of fats on T levels, the limited available evidence certainly supports the argument for healthy fats over typical polyunsaturated forms. This study, for example, found positive correlations between both monounsaturated and saturated fats and T levels, while pro-omega 6 polyunsaturated fat consumption showed a negative correlation. Another study showed that consumption of monounsaturated fat-rich argan and olive oils resulted in significant T increases.

Considering the average Primal diet is rich in both these fats, you should be just fine on this front. If you’re employing keto as a tool in your Primal arsenal, that works great, too. The higher healthy fat intake may offer a boost. Just be sure you’re not chronically low in total caloric intake (those who are trying to lose weight don’t need to worry and can prioritize the weight loss, which can have its own positive impact on testosterone). 

Estrogen

The influence that estrogen holds over testosterone ideally deserves its own post, but (for the sake of this already-lengthy piece) I’ll keep it brief. In most scenarios, excess estrogen (i.e. estrogen dominance) means diminished testosterone, a condition that affects both sexes but is far more common in women.

At this point, we can turn our attention to one of the leading culprits of hormonal imbalances and low T in women: oral contraceptives. On average, most oral contraceptives are 600 times more powerful in stimulating the synthesis of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) than the natural estradiol produced in our bodies. SHBG binds to sex hormones like testosterone, meaning oral contraceptives can dramatically lower both free T and total T in those women.

Of course, there’s plenty more environmental estrogenic overloads to blame here. Xeno-estrogens, synthetic compounds that mimic estrogen in the body, come from a myriad of sources—most notably from plastics like PVC or the inner coating of cans. While there’s a host of BPA-free plastics now on the market, your best bet is to stay well away from plastics in general.

Other contributors to high estrogen include poor liver function, which otherwise facilitates the excretion of excess estrogen from the body, and weight gain, which increases conversion of testosterone into estrogen

Competitive Behavior

Testosterone influences aren’t limited to the physical. A 2015 study set out to examine the theory that societal expectations of gender influence testosterone production in both men and women. Researchers conducted tests designed to measure whether the act of wielding power, a decidedly masculine role in most societies, could actually elevate testosterone in both sexes. Turns out it could. They concluded that “cultural pushes for men to wield power and women to avoid doing so may partially explain, in addition to heritable factors, why testosterone levels tend to be higher in men than in women.”

Of course, this isn’t to say that if the exact same societal expectations were placed on both sexes, everyone would have relatively similar levels of testosterone. Biologically speaking, that’s wouldn’t make sense. What it does suggest is that “wielding” a sense of strength in our own lives may influence our testosterone levels. This isn’t an endorsement of narcissistic power games or chauvinistic attitudes. For me, competitive sports (especially individual ones) seem the logical answer, and research supports that choice. Failing that, one could always explore the murky waters of financial risk-taking. As for me, I’ll stick with a game of Ultimate.

But don’t expect these findings to be reflected in contemporary testosterone treatments any time soon. An article published a few months after the power-wielding study raised serious questions about the validity of that study, pointing out discrepancies in gender groups sizes, confounding factors with control conditions, and potential issues with the way in which they measured T. Still, while the findings are by no means cut and dry, the overwhelming consensus is that competitive behaviors very much play a pivotal role in testosterone production.

Nonetheless, there are two sides to competition as everyone knows with the potential for negative as well as positive responses. How we incorporate competition into our lives in healthy ways is an intriguing and personal question, but the takeaway here for me is an invitation to play more than power. What say you?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Thoughts, questions, requests for follow-up information or commentary? Share them below, and take care.

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Healthy Meal Plans For Looking And Feeling Your Best!

It’s a very complicated food world out there. Many of you have emailed me… confused… angry… scared… unsure how to make the right food choices. You tell me you want to lose weight, have clearer skin, and the energy to do the things you love to do. You know that eating healthy whole foods will help you achieve your goals, but don’t know where to start. There’s so much information about food being thrown at you, it’s hard to know what to believe and what really works. Whether you want to fit into your old size again or wish you had the energy to chase your kids at the park…

I want to empower you and help you succeed. 

As a reader of this blog, you’re on the right path. I’m showing you how to become the smartest consumers out there. I want you to be in charge of your health, and the health of your families. I want to show you why you may be struggling with your weight and what really works. I want to show you how to stop being hijacked by all the processed foods out there that look better – but really aren’t. And to eat whole, real foods that will give you the most amazing health of your dreams.

My team and I developed a plan for you to follow.

It’s now been over 4 years since we first launched the Food Babe Membership Program, and the success stories are phenomenal! Nothing gives me more joy than to help people – that’s what this life is all about. And, I want to help you too. Just look at some lives who have changed forever…


Joe & Sue: “We felt so much better eating healthy and avoiding all the processed food, junk food, and all unhealthy foods. Our bodies felt lighter, not bloated, and the healthy habits make us feel so great!”

“We started out with being very concerned about all the additives and preservatives that food companies are ALLOWED to put in our food and we did a lot of research on what they are doing to us everyday we eat those foods. We were determined to make a change in our lives and help those around us to become more aware.

Then we found Food Babe. Food Babe was the person who was going to help us complete our mission: To live a long healthy life together! We wondered how we would make such a drastic, BUT IMPORTANT, change with there being so much information we needed to understand about additives, preservatives, going organic, reading labels, looking for symbols and numbers, etc… We always say it is like learning a new language.

Then we saw the Food Babe membership and it provided all the information we needed to transition by providing us with a Starter Guide AND it provided us with a Monthly Eating Guide, which helped us when going to Earth Fare. THIS MEMBERSHIP IS THE BEST MONEY SPENT! Our health is priceless and this membership is our Bible.

Since purchasing the annual membership and transitioning to a more healthy lifestyle, we feel so much better and we have both lost 15 pounds each! Not only are we living a healthier life because we are eating better, but we are decreasing the chance of developing ailments!!!

We felt so much better eating healthy and avoiding all the processed food, junk food, and all unhealthy foods. Our bodies felt lighter, not bloated, and the healthy habits like lemon water and dandelion tea….they make us feel so great! Between the healthy food and healthy habits, we lost so much weight! WE believe there is a reason for everything and why people come into our lives, why Food Babe came into our lives.” ~ Joe and Sue


Kimberly: “All three of my boys ages 10, 7 and 3 ate the burgers the other night and I was so happy when they asked for seconds. It was the best night ever for me!”

“I have been using the menu plan for over a week and I love it even my family is eating most of the recipes which makes me sooo happy!!! All three of my boys ages 10, 7 and 3 ate the burgers the other night and I was so happy when they asked for seconds. It was the best night ever for me!! Every morning this week I have made a green juice or smoothie before having breakfast and I feel amazing. I love how some of the recipes make enough that I can eat for a couple of days which is awesome. And I love how simple the recipes are, if you have all the right ingredients…actually preparing the recipes is surprisingly easy!! I’m so excited about this new journey for better health and my family will be following suit!” ~ Kimberly O. 


Ina: “I have tremendous energy. The recipes simplify my eating.”

“I’ve started the Eating Guide program and it’s going well. I have tremendous energy. The recipes simplify my eating. My husband is also following the program mainly with lunch and dinner and the occasional green juice or smoothie and breakfast. We both enjoy starting our day with our lemon and cayenne pepper water daily habit. The recipes are very tasty and satisfying. I enjoy the fact that the recipes include ingredients I may not have normally eaten. I am looking forward to continuing the plan beyond the three months I signed up for.” ~ Ina W. 


Dan: “My family loves the variety of healthy meals that expands our menu each month. I feel better and can think more clearly. I am better able to perform at the high level my career demands.”

“Like you, I was disappointed by the way we have been deceived by the food industry and their allies in the federal bureaucracies that purport to exist for our safety.  As a pilot at a regional airline based in Charlotte, NC, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be tough. Our meal options are especially limited by the small amount we can carry and keep up with, airport security restrictions, and meal choices in the airport and near our overnight hotels. I know you enjoy traveling and hope that one day you’ll be on one of my flights so I can personally thank you for the work and research you put in to educating consumers about their health. I have enjoyed your articles about how to travel and still eat healthy, and I bring along healthy options each and every trip!

I just became a member this year in order to get the Healthy Eating guides each month.  My family loves the variety of healthy meals that expands our menu each month.

I fly with a different crew almost every week.  I am constantly encouraging my fellow crew members to make positive changes in their diets and lifestyles.  I send them to the Food Babe website for resources because you have well-researched articles and provide the source documentation.

When eating a healthy diet I feel better and can think more clearly. I am better able to perform at the high level my career demands.” ~ Dan W. 


Are you ready to change your life too?

The Food Babe Membership Program is strategically designed to help you look and feel your best. It will make life easier, less complicated and help you achieve your goals. I’ve got a special offer with tons of bonuses available this week just for you. Here are all the details.

You’ll immediately gain access to…

The Food Babe Starter Guide:

  • “The Terrible 20” ingredients that keep you from losing weight, where to spot them and what to eat instead.
  • Top organic budget tips and organic shopping priority list.
  • Strategies on how to curb cravings and stay on track in the face of temptation.
  • How to avoid bad advice that can sabotage your weight loss goals.
  • How to adopt a routine that will help you accomplish your health goals without even thinking about it.

Monthly Meal Plans:

  • 19 new delicious recipes every month (breakfasts, lunches, family dinners, salad dressing, and green drinks)
  • Meal calendar outlining daily menus.
  • Detailed grocery list and approved brands.
  • You’ll receive a brand new meal plan every month while you’re a member!

You’ll also receive…

  • Food Babe Pantry List: How to remake your pantry and stock it for success (with recommended brands!)
  • Substitution Chart: We’ve got you covered if you have an allergy, or don’t have an ingredient available and need a substitution. Helpful ingredient suggestions for food allergies or picky eaters. Variety is the spice of life, learn new ways to use ingredients for recipes on the fly.
  • Success Journal: The ultimate tool to hold yourself accountable and keep yourself on track. Proven to deliver results!
  • Exclusive Member-Only Forum: Get support from the Food Babe team and other members on the program. This is where you can cheer each other on and share your success!
  • All the guides are downloadable and ready to view on your smartphone, computer or ipad instantly.

Members get to attend live online check-ins with me where you can ask me anything! Our next live member check-in is only a couple weeks away and you’ll get an exclusive invite after you join. It’s a very fun and interactive way to spend time with members.

Now’s the time to jump in. I’m offering a very special deal + bonuses right now…

That’s over a $100 value alone. As an additional gift to you for signing up for a Yearly Membership by Friday, you’ll also receive three bonus guides

BONUS #1: The Food Babe Slim Down ($29.99 value)

  • 50 slimming recipes so you can look and feel your best.
  • Includes favorites from my personal collection of recipes for breakfast, grab-and-go healthy lunches, family friendly main meals, soups, salads, juices, smoothies, snacks and desserts.
  • All designed to help your body shed unwanted pounds and detox naturally.

BONUS #2: Real Food Slow Cooker Guide ($29.99 value)

  • All you need for healthy, easy and delicious one-pot meals that are full of flavor, filling, and can be made in a pinch.
  • No more excuses for not having enough time to make a home cooked meal.
  • Over 50 healthy recipes included!

BONUS #3: Love Your Lunch Guide ($24.99 value)

  • 30 quick and easy everyday lunch recipes to look forward to + 10 basic condiment recipes to spice up any meal.
  • Make ahead options for those busy mornings.
  • Steps for creating a Food Babe approved lunch anywhere.
  • Tips to plan ahead for successful meals that are healthy and keep you full and satisfied all day.

After you sign-up, I’ll teach you all I’ve learned along the way and give you my tried-and-true tricks. You’ll look back and say: “That was easy!…Why didn’t I join this program sooner?”

When I took control of my food, I started living a life I never thought was possible. It’s time to stop being the victim, let go of the fear and take back control of your life. I can’t wait to hear your stories, progress and more…We’ve worked so hard on this program and excited to have you on board!

Change your life when you sign up here.

Xo,

Vani

P.S. The bonus guides + additional 6 months is ONLY available when you sign up for a year by this Friday 9/8. This is an investment in your health. Following the principles in this program has changed my life forever and I want you to experience the same.

 

Posts may contain affiliate links for products Food Babe has approved and researched herself. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same (or at a discount if a special code is offered) and Food Babe will automatically receive a small referral fee. Your support is crucial because it helps fund this blog and helps us continue to spread the word. Thank you.



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Are You a Healthy Snacker?

We have become a snacking nation, but that doesn’t mean everyone snacks healthfully. Snacking on high calorie foods with few nutrients can lead to weight gain and unhealthy eating habits. And mindlessly munching on a bag of chips (yes, even veggie chips!) in front of the TV at night is not a healthy habit either. So how can you tell if you’re a healthy snacker? See how you answer the following 5 questions.

1. Are you having a snack or a treat?

A snack is a mini meal that provides nutrients you may not be getting enough of during regular meals, such as fiber, calcium, vitamin D and potassium. A treat is a food that provides very little (if any) nutrition, but contains a lot of calories such as a doughnut or bag of potato chips.

To become a healthy snacker: Think before eating. If it’s a snack, then enjoy it! If it’s a treat, ask yourself if you really need it and if not, swap it for a healthier choice.

 

2.Do you really need the snack?

Snacks shouldn’t be eaten just for the sake of having something in your mouth or to alleviate boredom. They should be eaten if you are truly hungry, like if you go five or more hours between meals without food (not counting sleep time).

To become a healthy snacker: Pre-plan snack times one to two times per day when you find yourself the hungriest

 

3. Are you carb-overloading?

Although whole grain pretzels or crackers sound like a healthy snack, they’re more satisfying when combined with a protein or healthy fat which helps slow down digestion and keep you satisfied for longer.

To become a healthy snacker: Combine carbs with protein or healthy fat such as Greek yogurt topped with berries, or whole grain crackers topped with peanut butter.

 

4. Are you controlling your portions?

Having the right foods and the right time is important, but you also need to eat these foods in appropriate portions. Some foods are very healthy, but when eaten in large quantities can add hundreds of unnecessary calories to your day.

To become a healthy snacker: Aim to have snacks between 125 to 200 calories each. Review the nutrition facts panel of packaged foods for recommended serving sizes and calories per serving.

 

5. Are you a packaged food snacker?

Many packaged foods aren’t as healthy as they seem. Some may contain few calories…but few vitamins and minerals too. Other can be laden with artery clogging fat and loads of calories.

To become a healthy snacker: Control the ingredients by preparing a few snacks at home. Here are DIY snack recipes to try:

 

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.



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Happy 5th NERFday Mazen

This weekend we celebrated Mazen’s 5th birthday with a visit from his grandparents and a pool party with a dozen friends. Grammie and Pea arrived on Sunday morning and we had a little time to snuggle before heading to the party.

I hosted Mazen’s first four birthdays at my house, and this year we wanted to try something new. ACAC offers great party packs that include a theme, cupcakes, balloons, goodie bags, lemonade, tablecloths, set up, clean up and an on-site person to help with all the logistics. And of course a whole waterpark for playing! (They have indoor options in the Big Room too.)

I loved being able to show up and not have to stress about the party logistics! Our team member, Carter, did a great job keeping the party going. The goodie bags were so cute too!

My mom also brought some animal squirter favors that they kids loved.

Mazen’s theme was NERF (he is really into all things NERF but a little young to have the ‘official’ NERF party that ACAC offers. We did a green and orange theme, and they were so nice to bring a few of their NERF blasters to the party as props too.

The kids had a great time swimming around in the pool for an hour before we came together for cupcakes.

Thomas and I had fun with photos off the diving board!

Happy birthday, dear Mazen!

The cupcakes were great!

5 years old is such a fun age – a whole hand!

More thoughts on the big birthday when he officially turns 5 tomorrow 😉

Back at home, we relaxed and opened a few gifts. Can’t wait to play this one together!

Thomas roasted chicken for dinner, and we made asparagus and rice to go with.

On Labor Day, I went for a run and then mom and I took Mazen up to Target to pick out his birthday gift from Grammie and Pea. They gave him a wallet with some cash so he could pick out his own toy, and he LOVED paying himself at the checkout line! I bought Mazen some new sheets for his bed too – this Vintage Wash Chambray set. They feel so good!

I made salads for lunch with leftovers from the night before plus garden tomatoes, avocado and manchego.

Monday night we walked (biked) downtown for dinner and had a lovely outdoor meal at Hamilton’s.

Pimento hushpuppies!

And yesterday morning Mazen went back to school and got to show his classroom to G+P.

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Homebound All Day

Good morning!

These two adorable boys were both up to school yesterday morning, which left me homebound all day long. We dropped my car off for detailing on Monday night, so I had no means of leaving the house. And, for some reason, I had some anxiety about this fact. I love being home and can totally be a homebody at times, but the thought of not being able to leave at all kind of stressed me out. Ha!

I had my best pug friend with me all day, so we made the best of it.

Once the (human) boys left for the day, I walked Murphy and then broke into my breakfast, which was my usual overnight oats + protein combination with a big scoop of sunflower butter and half of an iced coffee from the day before.

After breakfast, I got right to work. I usually work in my office, but I moved myself downstairs to the living room, so that I had the TV for some background noise.

Around 11:00 AM, I finally got my act together to go running. I definitely waited too long because, holy hell, it was hot outside! I had planned to run 4 miles, but I quit at 3.5 because it was so rough. But, hey, a little something is better than nothing!

Back at home, a furry someone made himself comfortable on the couch on the laundry that still needed to be put away. It’s a good thing he’s cute! 🙂

After that, I headed upstairs to shower. Before I hopped in, I did quick combo mask – I used the Brightening + Vitamin C Mask on my forehead and cheeks where I have the most discoloration/pigmentation and Balancing + Charcoal Mask on my nose and chin where I have more clogging.

Once I got myself ready for the day, I threw together lunch, which was a bunch of leftovers and then brought everything outside.

I ate lunch while listening to a webinar with Dan Martell, our business mentor.

Murphy kept me company – look at that pathetic pug face!

I worked for the next few hours and then took a break to eat a snack and take Murphy for his afternoon walk.

Shortly after that, I received a call from Mal, who said my car was ready and he was on his way to pick up Quinn, so be ready when he got home.

Well I waited, a special package arrived on my front doorstep. Inside was a new lunch insulated bag (now I don’t have to use a Lululemon bag anymore) filled with all sorts of goodies from my friend at General Mills. I’m partnering with them in support of National Whole Grains month. I actually have a blog post coming next week about how I incorporate them into my daily eats, so keep a look out for it!

Inside was a mug and a bunch of mini cereal boxes that Quinn will definitely love. He’s really into anything that is kid-sized. 






P.S. Are you a LOCAL personal trainer with a nutrition background? Designed to Fit Nutrition and KFIT are looking to hire someone to join our staff. If you’re interested in hearing details, drop me an email at tina@designedtofitnutrition.com!

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