Put an End to Your Food Sensitivities – FOR GOOD!

It was a Friday afternoon. I had just finished up early at the hospital and I was headed back to Madison for a weekend. I ate some leftover cheese ravioli and slammed a big glass of milk as I rushed out the door to the weekend that awaited.

I got on the road and called my mom just to chat. Then, about 30 minutes into the drive…it happened.

The panic, the cold sweat, and the flipping stomach. I HAD TO POOP!

I flew off the interstate at 90 mph, flew into a Kwik Trip parking lot, parked across 2 spots diagonally, and ran in pinching my cheeks as hard as possible.

I will spare you the details from here.

This was the last time I drank milk. Spring 2014.

Since then, I have realized a few other foods thats don’t hit me THIS hard, but lead to some unfortunate results.

How about you? Do you have issues with certain foods? Do you feel lost, frustrated and confused as to what you can eat and what you can’t? I know how you feel.

I felt this same way once – before the “incident” that “woke me up” – but what I found now is that by investing a little extra effort and time into solving this issue, I can now live mostly gut issue free!

Let’s start with the simplest tactic: awareness.

Like anything else that matters to you, you need to be aware of the fact that you are doing it or not doing it. “I have no clue why my kid resents me?” – maybe you are unaware that you never play with them… “I have no clue why I always get bloated and gassy after certain meals” – time to become aware.

Take mental, or better yet, physical notes on what’s going on! See if you can pin down the food that is causing the issue. For me – nearly crapping my pants was the final wake up call I needed to know milk probably wasn’t the best option.

Also, I noticed that every time I ate a raw fruit with a pit, my throat got scratchy. So guess what, I stopped eating them.

So many people decide to throw in the towel on their food and say “this is just how it’s going to be…”. Well, that’s not me, and that shouldn’t be you.

Once you find awareness, it is time for acceptance. 

Milk wasn’t a hard one for me to give up. But other dairy products that I love have been.

However, none of them give me as bad of a reaction as milk, so sometimes I choose to live with them…and this is part of acceptance. Either accept the fact that something makes you feel so crappy that you are okay with avoiding it, or accept the fact that you are going to live in denial and just continue feeling crappy.

For me, I have accepted my choice to avoid milk, and to limit the other stuff to special occasions – and accept that I might be a little gassy and bloated – and I’m ok with that once in a while.

What if you cannot pinpoint the culprit?

Food sensitivities can be brutal, and hard to pinpoint. Some common issues that maybe don’t seem so common are:

  • asthma and allergies
  • autoimmune disorders
  • skin conditions
  • arthritis
  • atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases
  • neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia
  • mood disorders
  • ADD/ADHD
  • narcolepsy
  • addiction
  • migraines
  • kidney problems

(via Precision Nutrition)

If you feel like you cannot pinpoint what is causing your issues, I suggest running an elimination diet. Yes, don’t get a test done – they are often inaccurate, and will just end up telling you to do an elimination diet anyways.

So here we go again, something that seems “hard” and most people won’t do this. But the freedom that this might bring you, and the pain and frustration it might prevent should motivate you to do this!

The Elimination Diet Protocol

First Three Weeks; follow these guidelines – via Precision Nutrition

Yes, this sounds tough, but again – worth it. Buckle down, own up, and make this happen.

After 3 weeks:

You want to pick ONE group that you eliminated and introduce it back for ONE day. Then cut it out for 2 days again – and look for any weird symptoms:

  • Gi Issues
  • Worse sleep
  • Joint pain
  • Sinus issues
  • Skin issues

Then reintroduce another food group and repeat the process with everything you cut out – one group at a time.

It might look like this:

  • Weeks 1-3 – Elimination Diet Protocol
  • Week 4- Monday – Add coffee back (yes, this would be the hardest for me too)
  • Week 4 – Tues – Wed – Cut coffee out (note any issues)
  • Week 4 – Thursday – Add citrus fruits back
  • Week 4 – Friday -Saturday – Cut out citrus (note any issues)

Repeat this with everything, and when you DO have that 2-day stretch where something seems to feel funky – you NOW have you suspect! Good work!

Final Tips

Yes, I know this doesn’t look easy. But again – are you willing to work to improve your well being and health?

Look back to the list above of what foods you can eat. Toss out anything that isn’t on the list – or the stuff that is on the elimination list. Then, use it as your shopping list. Go grocery shopping and buy only these foods, and find ways to prepare them.

It actually doesn’t look all that bad…

So much so that if this post gets 10 shares, I will run a full elimination diet and document the whole process for you! Game on!

Take your health back, invest in the process, and feel better in just about a month and a half…doesn’t sound all that bad, does it?

 

Would you like more guidance on taking back your life, learning to love food again, and getting life long results along the way? IF so —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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Stay healthy my friends,

 

When Diet and Exercise are NOT Enough

I exercise, and I eat well – yet I still DON’T SEE RESULTS!

First question – what results are you after?

Second: Do they align with what you are doing?

Third: Do they align with what you do 24/7/365?

These are the three biggest questions you can ask yourself right now when it comes to the overall lifestyle that you are currently choosing to live. By taking a deeper dive into these questions, you may come to some harsh realizations that you did not want to accept, or you may come out completely “woke” to a different viewpoint.

What Results Are You After?

9 out of 10 people are going to start with “weight loss” as their answer. That’s a fact.

I encourage people to dive deeper. Weight loss could be accomplished just taking a giant dump, or chopping off a limb. Yet, we still give SO MUCH power to that silly little number on the scale.

“Hi, my name is Mike, and I lost .8 pounds in a year – sign up to work with me :)”

Not the most impressive sales pitch, huh?

Good thing “weight loss” wasn’t my goal.

My goal was to add muscle mass without putting on fat while being able to cut back to 3 days of lifting per week, enjoying more time with my family, and building my business. Now that is a specific goal!

If you look closely at the weight trends you can see when I was doing a small “massing” phase, and when I was doing a small “cut” phase…but thats beside the point. The point is – what are your REAL goals, that are not confined to a number on the scale.

Sure, you may have 50 pounds of body fat to lose, but I still want you to dig deeper than “lose weight” as a goal. Figure out why that 50 pounds needs to come off, and also find some other parameters to measure, because the weight will drive you nuts.

  • Measurements
  • Body Fat %
  • Performance Numbers
  • Fit of Clothes
  • Reduction in Medications
  • Blood markers

These things can all provide MUCH more insight than a number on the scale.

Do Your Desired Results Align with Your Current Nutrition and Training?

If I wanted to get super strong in the deadlift, it wouldn’t make much sense to train like a marathon runner.

If I wanted to lose a bunch of body fat, but keep all my muscle and stay “jacked” looking, it wouldn’t make much sense to go on a starvation diet.

There is much more to “diet and exercise” than eat less – exercise more, or eat more – exercise less.

It takes TIME to build muscle, and patience (or high dose anabolic steroids). It takes time to rebuild a broken metabolism.

If you want to maximize your muscle-building potential, training once per week will not cut it.

If you want to lose maximal bodyfat, eating 1000 calories per day will not end well.

If you want to become a more confident version of yourself and create a newfound level of happiness – losing body fat and looking sexy might not cut it…

We give these misconceived images to our goals and imagine that once we are at our arbitrary goal, we will find our result (leanness, happiness, etc.) However, we often miss the mark on taking the best path to those goals AND enjoying the journey.

If you are not happy, fat loss won’t make you happy.

If you are not confident, building muscle won’t make you confident.

They may help, but to get these kinds of results you must dive deeper, seek out different avenues to work on, and stop thinking that your body determines your persona.

Do Your Desired Results Align with What You Do 24/7/365??

No, this doesn’t mean that you need to obsess over diet and exercise all day, every day. Quite the opposite.

You become a walking version and representation of what you do on average, over and over again.

Maybe you crush it in the gym 4 times per week and follow a rigid diet 4 days per week…

But Friday-Sunday you party hard, booze it up, become sleep-deprived, and eat so much hangover food that you feel like Jabba the Hutt.

You likely are not going to become a bikini model, or be mistaken for Pre-Endgame Thor any time soon.

A) Trains, Eats Well, Repeats.                           B) Parties Hard 7 Days Per Week

This even goes far beyond diet and exercise. What are you sleep habits like, stress levels like, social interactions, and aspirations to a higher purpose or meaning in life?

Yes, having your health and taking care of your body is one of the most important things you can do, because, without that, you probably won’t be able to do all the other things you enjoy. BUT it is NOT the ONLY important thing in your life – or it shouldn’t be.

Back to my goal – add muscle mass without putting on fat while being able to cut back to 3 days of lifting per week, enjoying more time with my family, and building my business.

Yes, there was still a component of my body in there – and that’s my choice, man. BUT I also didn’t want to live at the gym, or not be able to play with my daughter and wife because “daddy has to train” – and I want to give my family a great life, so continuing to grow the business was important to me without adding tremendous extra hours “at work”.

I can proudly say that I did all of the above, and looking back on the year…did it pretty damn well.

This is over the course of 8 months…not 8 weeks. Time is important my friends.

Goals and results around your body and health are often accomplished more by what you do outside of the gym than what you do in the gym. Read this again.

Even if you train hard 7 hours per week. That leaves 161 other hours for you to do things that either support your goals or go against them. 

This can include so many things outside of food and exercise – so just make sure that your lifestyle aligns overall with what you want to accomplish – and make sure you know what you really want to accomplish.

 

Would you like more guidance on taking back your life, learning to love food again, and getting life long results along the way? IF so —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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Stay healthy my friends,

 

Is Diet Culture Dooming Us All?

As I touched on last week, I firmly believe in distancing morality from food. There are no good nor bad foods – there are just foods, and healthy and unhealthy portions, based on your current situation.

But as a dietitian, a so-called “expert” in the realm of nutrition, how can you NOT say that there are bad foods?!?

This infuriates people. The dieters. The gurus. The zealots.

There are CLEARLY BAD FOODS! Gluten, sugar, carbs, fat, dairy…

People love to give these labels and marry them to a specific ideology around food.

Here is the deal, and the shocking truth – people are different. What may be unhealthy for one person, could be okay or tolerable for another. Gluten, for example, can wreak havoc on someone with Celiac Disease, or a major intolerance… but to someone else, it may be totally fine.

Dairy – especially milk – causes me some super unpleasant side effects within minutes of consuming. While my wife can handle it.

People are different.

While there are some fairly universal truths when it comes to what we eat being a healthy option – vegetables are one – there are STILL outliers. Some people have terrible reactions to peppers, and onions. Some to broccoli (and no, that’s not a legit excuse to avoid eating broccoli if you can).

People are different.

Do you get the point yet?

What about donuts? And pie? And cookies? How can you say that those are not bad?

Again – context matters. What is bad about the dount? The donut itself isn’t bad. It’s frickin delicious. Eating 20 donuts per week…still not bad in itself, but probably not the healthiest decision. Eating a donut once in a blue moon, while being active and balancing your diet with mostly non-donuty foods? Probably 100% totally cool.

So by adhering and perpetuating the diet culture – which is only successful 5% of the time – where has it gotten us? Not very far. Yes, 5% of people who lose weight on a diet keep it off for more than 2 years.

So 95% of people who try to diet, fail?

No.

95% of diets fail people. 

Most diets out there make it so unbearable to continue forever, that after a year, maybe two – life happens and you start back to your old ways. You see, food is pleasurable. It’s not just fuel, or macros, or sustenance to get you to a weight that will make you happy. It is supposed to be enjoyed. We cannot deny that foods bring pleasure.

When these diets deprive us of entire food groups or put us on an insanely low amount of calories, then, of course, we are bound to give up. Who wouldn’t??

So how the heck are people supposed to lose fat, improve their health, or get super sexy 6 pack abs?!?!

Awareness. Acceptance. Time. Consistency. Patience. And Effort.

Awareness as to how you have gotten to your current state, and if it is a state of unhappiness, figuring out why you are unhappy. Will losing weight ACTUALLY make you happier? Solve the root of your unhappiness? If not, then don’t even think about trying to lose weight. Solve the root problem first.

Acceptance that you have gotten to your current state because of a cumulative effect of things you have an have no done over years and years. This is not meant to shame, but to just accept ownership of your decisions. You decided to stop working out for 10 years. You decided to stop cooking meals, and eat out all the time. You decide every morning to drink 800 calories from Starbucks. None of these decisions are inherently good or bad, they just are what they are – and they have lead you to your current point. Once you accept that YOU have gotten yourself here, you can also accept that YOU can get yourself out.

Time. It will take time. You didn’t get unhealthy from eating one “bad” meal. You won’t get healthy from eating one “good” meal. Go back to awareness. Why are you here? What got you to this point? Why is it important that you not be at this point? Dig deep. Find the real “why” that will pull you out of the bed each morning, and encourage you to realize that you don’t need food to cope with your stress.

Consistency. Again – one salad, one donut – won’t change much. You need to be consistent. But not OCD. If you give yourself time, you can be more lenient. Enjoy holidays. Enjoy birthdays. But maybe don’t celebrate every taco Tuesday with 4 margaritas. What you do the majority of your time, will lead you to become the person that is a direct result of your efforts.

Effort. It’s simple, but not easy. Most will give up when they don’t see 10 pounds gone in 10 days. Most will want 7 minute abs to be true. Most will want the supplement that their friend scammed sold them on to work now. Truth is, you still need to put in the effort. The effort is needed to move your body, break a little sweat, and challenge yourself occasionally. The effort is needed to not bring foods into your house that you know you struggle with. The effort is needed to not give up when you feel you are doing everything right, but the scale hasn’t moved in weeks (scale doesn’t mean everything – never forget that).

We haven’t failed at diets. Diets have failed us – because what we perceive diets to be are miserable, unsustainable and damn near laughable.

 

Would you like more guidance on taking back your life, learning to love food again, and getting life long results along the way? IF so —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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Stay healthy my friends,

 

Let’s Stop Calling Foods “Good” and “Bad”, Shall We?

I sat down in my office to get to work on some client check in’s for my online nutrition coaching. The first one I opened, BAM! There it was… “I need to call you, I am really struggling”.

I remember my stomach dropped. What was going on? How serious was this? Am I going to need to refer out to someone more suited for this kind of talk?

We got on the phone the next day and I was met with such a sigh of relief. Well, sort of relief.

This client explained to me that she was feeling so guilty about tracking her bad foods in MyFitnessPal because I would see it and shame her. This was our first week working together…

I explained to her that I NEVER shame anyone, especially for what they eat and only maybe for the sports team they choose to support…but the bigger point I made was one that I make often.

Food Carries NO Morals. It doesn’t affect our morality. It doesn’t change who we are as a person. Food is not good, it is not bad, and it doesn’t make us good or bad based on what we eat.

Food is food.

I say that this call was the only sort of a relief because she wasn’t in danger or anything, but this is something I hear all too often – people calling foods good or bad or making them out to be these magical unicorns or evil trolls….it’s food people, that’s all.

The more “power” we give to foods by labeling them a certain way, the more they will affect us at a psychological level. Think about the forbidden fruit story from the Bible. Eat whatever you want, but you better not touch that delicious looking apple! Well…thanks a lot, Eve.

When certain diet gurus or magazines need to make money, they criminalize one food while promoting another. This is usually from some sort of bastardized study that someone in their research department read, and said, “yeah we can stretch this”.

At the same time, you better bet there is a paper trail connecting them to the food or supplement that they are touting as the miracle food of the week.

Food is Food. Nothing else. Don’t give it the power that it doesn’t have, and you will realize that you are more in control of your food “addictions” and impulses than you think!

So what do we call foods then? You can’t tell me that eating Twinkies and HoHo’s is good for you…

If this is you reading this, you are right – I’m not telling anyone to go out and crush beers and ice cream (terrible combo anyways).

We have 2 categories of foods or two ends of the spectrum so to speak.

Calorie Dense and Nutrient Dense

Calorie dense foods are probably the foods that most would label as “bad”. Pizza, cake, ice cream, alcohol, fries, greasy hamburgers, cookies, donuts, etc.

These foods pack a ton of calories, in a relatively small volume.

Think Snickers bar here. Pretty small, and packs 280 calories, and not a whole lot of quality nutrients. That is calorie-dense. Not BAD. Not GOOD. But calorie-dense.

Nutrient-Dense foods are on the opposite end of the spectrum. These are foods that are loaded with fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and low in calories per gram.

Think vegetables, fruit, lean meats, whole grains. The foods usually labeled “good”.

Think broccoli here. A full plate = 200 calories. It’s loaded with vitamin C, fiber, and other great micronutrients. Then we have 200 calories of delicious peanut butter…roughly the size of a golf ball. #Sad

But now there is a twist…foods that are both.

Of course, there is a twist…calorie dense AND nutrient-dense foods do exist.

These are your healthy fats – olive oil, avocado, nuts, coconut oil…

Via VeryWellFit – check out the awesome nutrients of almonds! Also, check out how 24 almonds (this is not that many) is 164 calories. Calorie AND Nutrient Dense.

Again, check out avocados. Awesome fiber, and heart-healthy fats…but also 227 calories (or more if you are getting steroid avocados).

These are usually the culprits when people say “I eat clean, and still can’t lose weight!”

You see, you can eat “clean” all you want, but if you are in a calorie surplus…you will still gain weight.

Awareness is the key to success. I’m not here to tell you how to eat, what to eat, or what foods are good or bad. Everyone is different, and everyone has different needs. If you take the time to learn about this stuff, become aware, and make some small changes, I promise you can start moving in the direction that you want to.

Would you like more guidance on taking back your life, learning to love food again, and getting life long results along the way? IF so —> CHECK OUT ONLINE COACHING***

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Stay healthy my friends,

 

Is Your Healthy Diet Obsession Really Hurting You?

The other day I was at the grocery store; I saw a quite thin girl intensely reading a nutrition label on the back of a product. She held it close to her face, scoured the label up and down, made a “yikes” face, and put it back on the shelf. What was she reading? It was a bag of carrots.

The following day a received an email asking about “a serving of almonds”. “I counted out 23, because that’s a serving, but so is 1 ounce, and when I weighed them they were only .9 ounces, what do I do?”

They MUST BE EXACT!!!

Another conversation with a client included, “well, I ate some birthday cake last night, only one piece, but I decided to skip breakfast this morning to make up for it, and because I felt so guilty.”

Whether you are constantly grilling nutrition labels of every food you eat, counting out individual grains of rice, or feeling strong guilt after eating a “bad” food, you may be over thinking your health, and potentially setting yourself up for more harm than good.

Some other habits that seem to come up are:

 

  • Preoccupation and worries about eating impure or unhealthy foods and of the effect of food quality and composition on physical or emotional health or both.
  • Rigid avoidance of foods believed by the patient to be “unhealthy,” which may include foods containing any fat, preservatives, food additives, animal products, or other ingredients considered by the subject to be unhealthy.
  • For individuals who are not food professionals, excessive amounts of time (eg, 3 or more hours per day) spent reading about, acquiring, and preparing specific types of foods based on their perceived quality and composition.
  • Intolerance to others’ food beliefs. (This is another hot button topic for another day – gluten fee, vegan lovers) 😉

Now, I’m not trying to say that reading nutrition labels, occasionally measuring foods, watching what you eat, or eating less after a big meal are bad behaviors. There are just better ways to go about them that won’t keep you feeling obsessed, stressed or guilty.

The following are a few simple tips to keep you on track, without making nutrition an obsession:

1) Don’t Obsess Over EVERY Food Label. I’ll admit it, I’m a pretty boring eater 5 days a week. I eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and the same types of things for dinners. I probably could tell you the nutrition info from each of these meals roughly, but I don’t need to. I have looked up the common foods that I eat, and I also know that I am maintaining my weight goals – therefore I must be eating the right amount of food.

If you are intrigued by a new food, or honestly have no idea what is in the food, then yes, check it out and educate yourself. Please don’t stress over every single food that you eat though, especially fruits, vegetables and proteins.

Better Strategy:  Tracking calories is a great way to take your physique to the next level, but for starting out and most peoples goals, might be too overwhelming at first. Figure out the nutrition for your top 10 foods you eat, and end there. After that, practice mindful/intuitive eating. Rather than setting calorie limits for every single piece of food and meticulously counting every almond, eat slower and listen to your body. Stop when satisfied, not when you are bursting at the seams and it’s too late.

2) Don’t label foods BAD or GOOD. Yes, some foods may not help you reach your goals very well, but the quantity you consume them in may be the real problem. Once you start labeling food bad or good, you slowly can become more obsessive with labeling foods, and then labeling ingredients, thus completely avoiding foods that may not be as bad as you make them out to be.

Example: That snickers bar is a BAD food (pretty much true – but one Snickers bar in a blue moon won’t completely wreck your body – if you are following a generally healthy eating regimen) –> that snickers bar has a lot of sugar –> sugar is bad –> carbs are sugar/sugar is a carb –> all carbs are bad –> I can’t eat that one carrot because it has 6 gram of carbs. See how this can happen? It’s not as rare as one may think. Also, when you start labeling foods bad, you think about them more, crave them more, and probably end up eating them more than you normally would once you finally “break” and “give in” to the forbidden foods – because let’s be honest, we all want to be bad sometimes.

Looks so good…is having just ONE even possible?

Better Strategy:  Some foods are better for you than others – that’s a fact. Focus on eating the more healthful foods that you already know are good for you and your goals, but at the same time don’t over analyze and critique foods or lump them into super broad negative categories. This will help reduce the rebellious pleasure that comes with eating the “bad” foods, and likely reduce your cravings for them.

Labeling foods as bad can also inhibit your sense of really feeling what the food does for you because you are too preoccupied with feeling guilty or naughty about eating it. Maybe eating one cookie is enough and satisfying, but if you are too busy feeling guilty about it you may never realize this natural bodily feedback and continue to eat past satiety. This is another example of becoming more mindful and intuitive with your eating. Easier said than done, but very helpful in the long run.

3) Stop feeling guilty and beating yourself up over foods, especially on special occasions. This relates to #2. If your child is having a birthday party, eat a piece of cake and move on. You probably physically don’t need a large piece, or several pieces, but allow yourself to enjoy the birthday guilt free. Learning intuitive eating can be a great help in these situations. Once you realize that you don’t eat cake and pizza every day, you can free up your mind from the stress that you are putting on yourself and enjoy the time with friends and family.

Same is true with using food as a reward…we aren’t dogs, so don’t reward with food!

When you break it down, guilt is an emotion about morals. Unless you are stealing the food from a starving person, you really aren’t doing anything morally wrong.

Better Strategy:  Rather than feeling guilty or bad about a food, take a step back and assess the situation you are in. First identify that you are feeling guilty and then change your reaction to it. You can try changing your reaction to “Ok, this is a birthday party, I don’t eat cake on the norm – so I will enjoy this one reasonable piece and move on.”

After eating a previously labeled guilty food, the next step is to get right back to your standard healthy routine. Don’t look at it as “well, my day is ruined, I might as well eat the rest of the leftover cake now” but rather, “I enjoyed that cake, and now its back to my usual dinner of ____, _____ and ____”. End of story. Remember, there are no bad FOODS*, but there can be bad HABITS.

*Pertaining to 99% of people wanting to get healthier and lose some pounds – for people looking to get super shredded or yoked, and take their physique to the top 1% there are definitely bad foods…maybe a future article?

I encourage all my clients to take a step back if they are getting to obsessive about food, counting every morsel, and shaming themselves for eating poorly. Get more in tune with your body, and listen to your natural biofeedback cues of hunger and fullness. If you have foods that you ABSOLUTELY know that you have no self-control with, maybe you should consider avoiding them all together – at least at the start of your new lifestyle changing plan. Focus on establishing a healthy relationship with all foods, and you will start to find that you can incorporate some of your tougher control foods back into your diet.

It all comes down to finding an overall healthy balance in life, with exercise, food and also your mental approach to both.  Stop judging yourself and comparing yourself to others, and live your life with less stress. You may find that the weight starts coming off faster than you may think.

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Stay healthy my friends,