Egg, Bacon, + Avocado Bowl

This high-protein, high-fat breakfast bowl will keep you satisfied and focused for hours in the morning. Plus it’s a perfect post-workout muscle builder!

Egg, Bacon, + Avocado Bowl

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Breakfast
Servings 1
Calories 378 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 slices bacon
  • 2 eggs medium to large
  • 1/2 avocado chopped
  • 1 TBSP red onion finely chopped
  • 1 TBSP red bell pepper finely chopped
  • sea salt + pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Prep all vegetables per the ingredients list
  • Fry the bacon until crisp on a non-stick pan. Let it cool slightly and chop.
  • Combine the bacon, eggs, avocado, onion, and bell pepper in a bowl.
  • Season with salt and pepper to serve.

Notes

Per serving:
32 g fat
14 g carb
23 g protein
*For vegan option, replace eggs with meat-free substitute
Keyword Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Low-Carb, Sugar-Free, Vegan

Egg Broccoli + Turkey Muffins

These little savory muffins are full of comfort, without the carbs. They’re gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb, and amazing as a batch-prepped breakfast or snack!

Egg Broccoli + Turkey Muffins

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Breakfast, lunch, Snack
Servings 6
Calories 102 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 head broccoli
  • 5 eggs medium to large
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 pinch chili flakes optional
  • 4 slices turkey from deli
  • 1/3 cup cheddar shredded

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 360°F(180°C).
  • Place the broccoli in a pot of boiling water and cook for approx. 3 minutes. Strain and cut into small pieces.
  • Beat the eggs in a medium-size bowl, add the minced garlic and season with salt and pepper, and chili flakes if using.
  • Grease a 6 muffin tray with oil or butter, and fill the muffin tin with evenly divided broccoli, ham, and grated cheese. Pour the beaten eggs into the muffin tin and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until eggs have set.

Notes

Per muffin nutrition:
6 g fat
4 g carb
10 g protein
*For vegan option, replace cheese with plant-based cheese + replace turkey with meat-free option.
Keyword Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Low-Carb, Sugar-Free, Vegan

Avocado + Egg Salad

This delicious high-fat take on egg salad is a perfect breakfast or lunch, and can be easily paired with whole-grain or grain-free bread for a quick toast or filling sandwich.

Avocado + Egg Salad

Prep Time 20 mins
Course Breakfast, lunch, Snack
Servings 2
Calories 298 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 eggs medium to large
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 avocado ripe
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 TBSP cilantro fresh, chopped

Instructions
 

  • Boilthe eggs (put in warm water and cook 5 and a half minutes after the water hasboiled, then pour cold water in the pot and cool). Once cooled, peel and chop into cubes and put in a bowl.
  • Press the garlic,and addto the eggs.
  • Half the avocado, remove the stone and cut the flesh into cubes. Place the avocado and cilantro the bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil.
  • Season everything with salt and pepper, and gently mix. Garnish with more cilantro.
  • Serve immediately on whole-grain or grain-free bread or on its own.

Notes

Per serving:
24 g fat
9 g carb
11 g protein
Keyword Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Low-Carb, Sugar-Free

Turmeric Poached Eggs

The addition of anti-inflammatory turmeric to these poached eggs adds a subtle spiciness that’s *just right*.

Turmeric Poached Eggs

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Course Breakfast, lunch, Snack
Servings 2
Calories 219 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tsp pine nuts
  • 1 3/4 cups fresh spinach
  • 5/8 cup tomatoes halved
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP white wine vingegar
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 eggs medium sized

Instructions
 

  • Heata dry frying pan and toast the pine nuts for 2 minutes, then set aside.
  • Inthe meantime, heat the oil in a frying pan and stirfry thespinach and tomatoes for 2 minutes on medium heat until wilted. Season withsalt and pepper.
  • Bringa pot of water to the boil and add in the vinegar and turmeric. Turn the heatdown so that the water no longer bubbles. Carefully break in the egg and poachfor 3 minutesrepeatwith the second egg.
  • Dividethe spinach over two bowls, top with the poached egg and sprinkle with toastedpine nuts. Season withsalt and pepper. Breakopen the eggs just before serving.

Notes

Per serving:
15 g fat
12 g carbs
14 g protein
Keyword Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Low-Carb

Raspberry Nice Cream

If you’re looking for a delicious summery treat to cool down, this tart and cool fruity ice cream with a sherbet feel is the best!

Super easy to make, no added sugars (it does have natural sugars in the berries and bananas, but comes with all the fiber goodness), and phytonutrients from these gorgeous raspberries!

*On a side-note, I know lots of readers + clients who aren’t crazy about the seeds in raspberries (myself included). If that’s the case, it’s perfectly fine to sub out the raspberries for blueberries, strawberries, or any other berry that’s frozen and does not have sugar added.

Enjoy!

Raspberry Nice Cream

A submlime and sugarfree sorbet-type ice cream for raspberry lovers!
Prep Time 5 mins
Course Dessert, Snack
Servings 4
Calories 84 kcal

Equipment

  • Food Processor
  • Freezer safe container with lid (for storage)

Ingredients
  

  • 2 bananas frozen, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries
  • 2-3 TBSP milk of choice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Place the frozen bananas and raspberries into the food processor, add the vanilla extract and almond milk. Blend until creamy.
  • You may need to add one or two tablespoons of milk, to achieve a thicksmoothie like consistency. 
  • Serve immediately (soft-serve) or transfer into a dish or plasticcontainer, cover with a lid and freeze for 2 hours. 
Keyword Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Low-Carb, Sugar-Free, Vegan

Omelet with Cottage Cheese + Basil

This Mediterranean-flared omelet is nothing short of delicious!

*Wanna get a more rich flavor? Sub the cottage cheese for feta!

Omelet with Cottage Cheese + Basil

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Breakfast, lunch, Snack
Servings 4
Calories 200 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 6 eggs large
  • 4 TBSP water
  • 1 TBSP butter or avocado or olive oil
  • 1 bunch basil fresh
  • 7/8 cup cottage cheese
  • 12 cherry tomatoes

Instructions
 

  • Beat the eggs with the water and season with salt and pepper. 
  • Heat ¼ oil in a frying pan and bake 1 thin omelet, repeat until you have 4 omelets. Keep them warm under aluminumfoil.
  • Chop the basil finely and mix with the cottagecheese. Seasonwith freshly ground pepper. 
  • Cutthe tomatoes into quarters. Divide the cottage cheese and tomato over theomelets and roll them up. Cut diagonally and serve immediately.

Notes

Nutrition per serving:
14 g fat
3 g carb
15 g protein
Keyword Gluten-Free, Low-Carb, Sugar-Free

How to Do Sugar Detox Successfully in 5 Steps

One of the most important discoveries in terms of health in the last decade or so is that sugar consumption is a huge factor in weight gain as well as a myriad of health conditions and diseases. With that comes the next step: pulling oneself off of sugar… which may not be so easy. As a nutritionist, it’s really important to help people find easy ways to get from point A to B in their health journey using food. That being said, here are my 5 steps to a successful sugar detox.

5 Steps to a Success Sugar Detox

5 steps to a successful sugar detox: How to sugar detox and how it can indicate if you're addicted to sugar.
Author: Laura Brigance, MS, CHC

Instructions

  • PRE-EXPERIMENT WITH SUGAR:
    Knowing how you respond to sugar (emotionally and physically) is a huge first step in detoxing from sugar. Many people go into a sugar detox thinking they can easily get off sugar for a week or so and be fine. Doing an initial experiment with sugary foods BEFORE you start a sugar detox (and with the right tools to guide you through, like the 'Sugar Detox Experience' free sugar detox offered on the TRUEWELL site) will help you understand how you respond to sugar, and if you may be addicted to it.
  • GET IN THE RIGHT MIND-FRAME:
    Go into your sugar detox with the correct mind frame. Are you starting this to kickstart weight loss, manage a condition, or just adopt a more healthy lifestyle? Know your high-level goals, then dig in to really get to the bottom of your big 'why' for your sugar detox.
  • SHOP + PREP FOR MEALS:
    Having a sugar-free meal plan that is specifically designed by a nutritionist is KEY to completing a successful sugar detox. This is because (especially if you've been on a really high-sugar diet for a while), it can be hard to go sugar-free cold turkey. A meal plan like the one offered for free in the Sugar Detox Experience by TRUEWELL actually pulls you off higher-glycemic foods gradually, giving you the best chance possible of avoiding cravings.
  • FOLLOW THE MEAL PLAN:
    It's very important to follow the meal plan for your sugar detox. Many people *think* they know what foods are sugar-free or safe to eat if they've failed to plan. However, this is usually how they ended up in the situation of needing a sugar detox in the first place. Make sure you follow the meal plan while on your sugar detox! (It has the perfect options for fruits, veggies, and grains while detoxing from sugar!)
  • BE READY FOR SIDE-EFFECTS + BE PREPARED:
    Side effects of coming off high levels of sugar can be rough if you don't know what to expect! Several side effects (like headaches, severe exhaustion, and severe cravings) are very likely, and are a major reason people don't complete their first week or two of a sugar detox.
    Be prepared with the free Sugar Detox Experience video guide plus one week meal plan!

Ready to start your free 1-week Sugar Detox Experience? Get yours below! 👇

how to do a sugar detox, 5 steps to a sugar detox successfully
how to do a sugar detox, 5 steps to a sugar detox successfully

The Sugar Detox Meal Plan to Help You Break Free of Sugar

Can a sugar detox meal plan really help you quit sugar for good?

Well, that depends. As a nutritionist, I help people get off sugar for a ton of different reasons. Some of these include a diagnosis of diabetes or prediabetes, having inflammatory conditions, or simply needing sustainable energy all day that doesn’t require hits of food just to make it through the day.

When people decide to do a sugar detox, they have an end-goal in mind, whether that’s to kickstart weight loss, manage a condition, or simply enjoy energy from healthy fuel instead of multiple Starbucks runs a day.

Now whether or not the sugar detox is successful in keeping cravings and binges at bay is another story.

There are usually several camps of people that start a sugar detox meal plan in an attempt to quit sugar:

  1. Those who can quit it and forget it,
  2. those who crave it and can’t resist it or quit it once they’ve started (bingeing),
  3. and then a range of in-betweens.

You usually know where you’re at on that spectrum by the time you get to a point of wanting to do a sugar detox in the first place.

So as a nutritionist, it’s extremely helpful to put meal plans out there that are specifically designed for coming off sugar in a particular way. Which is what the Sugar Detox Experience one-week meal plan is (grab it below!)

Most people that do a sugar detox complain about 2 main things:

1- The side effects, and

2- The cravings not really going away.

This sugar detox meal plan is designed to help you gradually come off sugars and higher carb foods to avoid the side effects. But it’s also designed to help you understand the cravings and binges with the bonus video training.

The people that see the MOST SUCCESS with a sugar detox are the ones who:

  • Are honest about their level of dependence on sugar
  • Make the commitment to start with a reliable sugar detox
  • Stick to sugar-free meals going forward to help reset their bodies and brains

The best time to quit sugar is NOW, and the best way to do it is with a nutritionist-designed sugar detox meal plan and guide to help you understand the hold sugar may have on you, and how to beat it for good.

So go ahead and grab yours now below!! 👇

sugar detox meal plan
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The REAL Reasons Why You Should Quit Sugar

Why you should quit sugar and going sugar-free has certainly been a hot topic of the last several years. One group of ‘health gurus’ will claim that the body needs carbohydrates and that sugar is just one of many that are harmless. And yet another will claim that sugar is killing everyone.

What’s been lost in translation here are several factors when it comes to what sugar and carbohydrates do in the body. But also, the way that different forms of carbohydrates determine that.

Firstly, every single person is different. Their genes are different, their living situations, their lifestyles, and their diets are all different. Some claim that sugar doesn’t affect them adversely at all, while others swear that carbohydrates make them bloated, foggy-headed, and gain weight. And yet others feel they’re chained to it, unable to resist the calling for sugar and unable to quit once they’ve started.

One key puzzle piece here, however, is the fact that the body–regardless of all its differences from person to person–will attempt to adapt to survive. (Which is why people on diets ‘plateau’ at some point.)

So where some end up on low-carb and keto diets with very little carbohydrate and zero sugar and feel great, others can do plant-based or vegan dietary styles with much higher carbohydrate content, and also feel fantastic.

But the constant dispute has revolved around sugar and carbohydrates and whether or not they’re bad for us.

So first and foremost– sugar is a carbohydrate. Our bodies get energy from carbohydrates. There are MANY carbohydrates, however, and the ones that are refined (ie, table sugar, the various millions of ‘renamed sugars’ put on packaged food labels, and refined flours) are the key ones that are dangerous. Here’s why.

why you should quit sugar

Sugar and Processed Foods

The first point I always make as a nutritionist is that when foods have sugar, fructose, or the thousand-and-one various ‘new names for sugar’ created by food companies, they will also invariably lack fiber.

Fiber is the thing in fruits and vegetables that prevent our body’s sugar-management system from going into overdrive. Fiber helps blunt the impact of sugars, which is why eating whole fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, is healthy, whereas eating refined sugars and refined grains is not.

What I mean is that the lack of fiber in processed foods, with the addition of extra (added) sugars, normally go hand in hand.

Sugar and Inflammation

Inflammation tends to be lower on the list of concerns for anyone that doesn’t seem to have a condition related to inflammation. This is a huge mistake, as chronic inflammation is the cause of a myriad of diseases, as well as other conditions like depression and anxiety.

And a key contributor to inflammation in the body is sugar. Even after studying the effects of several different types of sugar, reviews of multiple studies show that one isn’t necessarily worse than the other: ALL sugars contribute to chronic inflammation.

Sugar and Your Skin

As a teen, I was told peanut butter could be contributing to my acne, only to read a year or so later that foods don’t affect your skin. As a nutritionist, I now know this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

What you put in your body determines how your body functions. And since your skin is the largest organ, this especially holds true for your skin.

Research has shown that sugar produces advanced glycation end products, which cause a severe slowing of cell turnover rates for collagen and other proteins. The end result is much faster aging on the skin.

Sugar and Aging

Just as sugar produces advanced aging mechanisms for the skin, it also accelerates the same process in all other tissues in the body. This means that your skin will begin to reflect what’s happening to everything inside your body.

Sugar and Insulin Resistance + Metabolic Syndrome

Yet another thing that added sugars do is creates insulin resistance, which causes metabolic syndrome, which leads to diabetes.

Sugar and Heart Disease

Although dietary saturated fat has been traditionally thought to cause heart disease, studies have shown that sugar is actually a major contributor. This can also be attributed to the relationship with metabolic syndrome, as stated above.

Sugar and High blood pressure

High blood pressure is yet another condition traditionally blamed on excess sodium. It has been found, however, that sugar plays an equal role in high blood pressure.

Sugar and Sleep

Although a generally less-researched field, the connection with a high-sugar diet and sleep are steadily mounting. Many don’t realize that there is a connection with your insulin and circadian rhythm. The fluctuations in cortisol and melatonin affect how your body processes insulin while you sleep (much less effectively) which creates a higher blood sugar level during sleep.

If you’re diabetic you probably already pay attention to this as you check your fasting blood sugar levels upon waking. But people that aren’t diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes should be conscientious of this as well:

High blood sugar levels throughout the day will carry over into our sleep time, creating higher blood sugar while we sleep–even for people that do not have diabetes.

Higher blood sugar levels during sleep have been shown to create less quality sleep and shorter sleep. And the reverse is true as well, less quality and time sleeping creates a worse insulin sensitivity in the body–which becomes a vicious cycle.

Energy Rollercoaster

Aside from the conditions listed above, keeping added sugars out of the diet helps keep you on a steady energy plane all day. I don’t know many people who don’t have too little time during the day for work, family, and home life.

Staying on an energy rollercoaster sets the stage for anxiety, depression, and a vicious cycle of loading up on unhealthy foods that give a temporary energy hit just to crash later and go back to the same foods for another boost just to get through the day.

My advice is to start with a sugar detox to get off added sugars altogether and see how good you feel every day with energy from healthy fuel instead!

Get your free Sugar Detox meal plan + 5 Steps to a Successful Sugar Detox below! 👇

why you should quit sugar

Sugar Detox for Diabetes

As obvious as it may seem, some don’t consider a sugar detox for diabetes. Maybe because it’s been touted as a ‘wellness’ trend in the past. But the truth is, many people with this diagnosis got there because they consume too much sugar and have a hard time getting off it.

One of the most common but disconcerting diagnoses of our time is that of diabetes or pre-diabetes. Disconcerting, but not shocking. As of 2019, over 70% of adults in the US are overweight, and with that comes other conditions that include diabetes. In fact, current statistics show that a full one-third of adults in the US are prediabetic.

This makes it surprising, as primary care physicians should request A1C testing for patients that are overweight at standard annual visits since reversing diabetes is way more possible if caught early in the pre-diabetic stages.

Regardless of timing or diagnosis, many in this situation are seeking out a way to ‘detox’ from sugar to help control their blood sugar levels, and then go sugar-free to manage their diabetes. This, a sugar detox for diabetes is a great way to get started in this new journey.

Sugar Detox Side Effects + How to Manage Them

With every good healthy change comes its own set of challenges. And unfortunately, doing a sugar detox out of love and appreciation for your body and health also ungraciously comes with its challenges–usually referred to as “sugar detox side effects”.

Surely you’ve read the myriad of unpleasant side effects that can happen once you decide to detox from sugar. (Here’s why you should quit sugar.) Your coworker, friend, or sister have had this thing or that happen when they detoxed. Which makes it plausible to have questions.

And here’s the truth of the matter:

Sugar can be a giant asshole. It makes you crave it, it makes you gain weight, it ages you incessantly, and it creates a cycle of binging-guilt-cravings. And also–it’s gonna give you hell if you decide to quit it.

sugar detox side effects headache cravings

Here are the main side effects of breaking up with the food you hate to love and love to hate, and how to manage.

Headaches

Headaches can be a two-fold thing when it comes to sugar detox side effects. On one hand, your body is trying to adjust to a new energy source–including your brain energy.

Secondly, a little-known secret is that carbohydrates hold water in the body like salt can. So reducing it can make you dehydrated.

Solution: Get the largest water bottle you can find, and guzzle all day long!

Mega Cravings

One of the nasty things sugar can do is make you feel like your going into a withdrawal situation physically. And when this happens, your body and brain are working together to find some homeostasis. Again– your body is adjusting to a new energy source, but there are also some reward-system responses from your brain at play here as well.

Solution: When mega cravings hit, a really good way to combat this is to start out with deep breathing to calm yourself. Then find a healthy snack that is sugar-free but has a higher fat (and preferably protein and fiber) content.

Crazy Mood Swings

As anyone beginning on a diet can tell you, the crazy mood swings will repel your loved ones (and coworkers) like nobody’s business. This is (again) from your body trying to readjust to a new energy source. This causes blood sugar swings, which can make you feel moody and emotional, unfortunately.

Solution: Make sure to have a balanced snack and eat every 2-3 hours during this detox period. But also take some breathing time every day to decompress. Remind yourself what a fabulous thing you’re doing for your body and mind, thank yourself, and breathe deeply until you’re ready to take on the rest of your day with some semblance of having your ish together. 🙂

Want the full gamut of a SUCCESSFUL SUGAR DETOX–including help for the rest of the side-effects you may experience?

Get the 1-week meal plan and video guide “The Sugar Detox Experience + 5 Steps to a Successful Sugar Detox” below! 👇

sugar detox side effects headache cravings

Herby Breakfast Sausages

When you need a savory protein kick to get your day started, these breakfast sausages loaded with herbs do just the trick!

Herby Breakfast Sausage

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Breakfast
Servings 4
Calories 56 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 9 oz ground pork
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 TBSP sage fresh, chopped
  • 2 TBSP basil fresh, chopped
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil

Instructions
 

  • In abowl, mixtogether thepork with salt, pepper, sage, and basil. Combine well and shape into eightsausages.
  • Heatthe coconut oil in a large non-stick frying pan and cook the sausages overmedium heat until well browned and thoroughly cooked.
  • Serve hot or store in the refrigerator for later.

Notes

Nutrition per piece:
3 g fat
2 g carb
7 g protein
Keyword Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Low-Carb, Sugar-Free

Is Sugar Addiction Real?

is sugar addiction real

One of my lowest moments was being about 25 pounds overweight, constantly ‘saying’ I wanted lose weight, but hiding out in the pantry, terrified of being caught, while I shoved cupcake after cupcake in my face because I literally could not control myself.

So if you ask me, personally… Hell yes, sugar addiction is real.

If you ask my husband, who’s always been able to just have a bite or two and walk away… well, he doesn’t really know. But he can tell you that he feels that way about potato chips.

As a nutrition specialist, I now know that there is mounting research supporting ‘food’ being addictive, including sugar.

For some, sugar alone is what will get them. For others it could be the salt, or even the combination of the flavors like fat + sugar, or fat + salt. Food companies have spent billions of dollars figuring this out. And make no mistake: their interests lie in making sure you keep coming back for more.

As a nutrition specialist and recovered sugar addict (and mom), I get asked this question over and over: Is sugar addiction real? Like really real?

And although the answer has taken many forms over the past several years, my answer to the question is a resounding YES, sugar addiction is really real. And I’ll explain why.

My relationship with sugar started as a kid from the south whose family knew no bounds of cooking with sugar and white flour. This meant dessert after many a meal, and the biggest, sugary-est birthday cakes you’ve ever seen. I loved the sugar and butter combination (or sugar and shortening), and by the time I was a teenager would always request the piece of cake with the absolute most icing flowers on it.

I never knew the damage all the sugar was doing to my gut bacteria, nor that it could have an effect on my moods, hormones, and definitely not my neurotransmitters or immune system.

I developed asthma around 12 and had terrible hayfever that I never really shook. By my teen years, I had terrible acne, was constantly irritable, and forever anxious.

It wasn’t until adulthood when I started studying nutrition that I really took a step back and thought through my constant depressive symptoms as a teen and young adult, and put a few pieces together for the ups and downs of my moods, skin, and hormones.

But it wasn’t until after having gestational diabetes for 2 out of 3 pregnancies (type 2 seems to run in my family) that I noticed that I felt a thousand percent better when I nixed the sugar.

But quitting sugar wasn’t as easy as just saying ‘no thank you’.

Every birthday was a struggle (and it sometimes still is). I’ve been in the throes of postpartum depression 3x where I would hide in the pantry to stuff as many cupcakes in secret as I could into my face before anyone could see. I’ve binged for hours, alternating sugary and salty snacks, in secret when my husband was out of town for work.

I know that I can’t eat more than a bite or two of anything like that without falling back down that slippery slope.

So I can attest first-hand what it feels like to be addicted to sugar. No matter what kind of logic your brain tells you about how crappy you’ll feel the next day (physically and emotionally), that crazy part of your brain takes over and mutes the logic.

is sugar addiction real, sugar detox

The Science Behind Sugar Addiction

While in my master’s program we had to do many projects on various topics that all require peer-reviewed studies to back our answers. Part of the studies I sought out revolved around sugar addiction. At the time one professor pointed out that the only study thus far involved rats that preferred sugar over cocaine.

Also at the time, the book of diagnostic codes contained mental health diagnostics for food addiction, but not specifically sugar. The reasoning was that they, at the time, couldn’t definitively prove that sugar itself was physically addicting, further confusing the ‘Is sugar addiction real?’ question altogether.

I personally have a problem with this, because many people (including myself) have felt the withdrawal symptoms of coming off sugar. These side effects are definitely not imagined, and some have described them as feeling like having a mild case of the flu.

The clincher of sugar is that when consumed, it occupies the same receptors in the brain as drugs like cocaine and heroin. It gives a dopamine hit, which makes you feel good. So it activates those reward systems in the brain and essentially ‘programs’ the brain to want more and make you think you need it.

And once you keep eating it, cravings will start for it.

From that point, it can be very difficult to satisfy the craving and keep yourself from seeking anything to replace it until you completely get off it.

Another thing that happens is that you build tolerance. This is when the brain receptors get a lot of the dopamine hits but eventually adapt and need more to get that reward response.

This tends to be one of the hallmarks of a definition of ‘addiction’, but again– the issue is whether it specifically is sugar, or is another component of the food you’re eating, or even a combination of components. These possibilities need more research before the medical system will consider giving a specific diagnostic code for sugar, specifically.

Do sugar detoxes work?

The last few years have seen a rise in people doing sugar detoxes to get off sugar in hopes of kickstarting weight loss, beginning a diet to manage conditions like diabetes, or simply wanting to eat more healthy in general to feel better and manage their daily energy. Many have questioned if these actually work to help control the cravings.

In my experience, the answer is yes. But there are a few things to know:

  1. You have to be vigilant about staying off sugar. If you’re one of the people (like me) that truly feel an addiction to it, it can be really hard to take ‘just one bite’ of anything and quit. You need a plan, and probably an accountability partner for things like birthdays.
  2. You have to know what qualifies as sugar. You’d be shocked at what the food industry has done to get around the term ‘sugar’. They’ve done their best to trick us into not knowing what we’re eating. But they need sugar for taste and that addiction factor so you’ll keep buying. So educate yourself on all the hidden terms.
  3. Know that grains (especially refined ones) can react the same way in your body that sugar does, kicking off that dopamine hit and reward response. For this reason, many experts recommend quitting anything with grains in it. This includes breads, pastas, pastries, etc. This part can be tough, but when you see the benefits of how you feel, you’ll figure out how to make it happen consistently.

Bottom line is that, although studies are slowly catching up, it’s a very real thing.

There is also evidence of a genetic component to some people feeling addicted to sugar. The gene that controls the dopamine receptors in our brains can have mutations that impair the reward system in the brain, thereby triggering some people to show addictive behavior toward sugar.

Given the current research, it’s just a matter of time before the studies come out to give more definition to the specific addictive properties of sugar, as well as the food combinations that food companies already have the data to back up.

Ready to get off sugar for good? Grab your 1-Week Sugar Detox Meal Plan + 5 Steps to a Successful Sugar Detox below! 👇

is sugar addiction real, sugar detox

3 Strategies to Stop Letting Sugar Fuel Your Day

Sitting in the line at CVS bawling my eyes out over everything in my life was definitely NOT how I imagined my life at 37 years old. I was totally fine (for the moment) as I pulled into the drive-thru.

The things on my mind were:

  • pick up the antibiotic for my middle kid,
  • get dinner going in the next 2 hours even though I had no clue what we were eating,
  • feed the baby in the back seat with the little milk I had left,
  • oh yeah—and get the five blog posts edited and scheduled that were sitting in my queue.

I had it mostly together that day. Sometimes I even felt proud that I could do everything I was doing trying to raise our 3 kids nearly as a single parent due to extensive travel my husband’s job required, all while desperately trying to build a business (my one thing, it felt, for myself.)

I patted my leg, giving myself a pep talk as I circled CVS and then stopped in my place in line.

And that’s when I felt it: bumps. Lots of bumps.

I looked down and saw that my legs were covered in welts. And then the panic hit, because that’s what I did—I had anxiety attacks.

I did a mental check to make sure my throat wasn’t closing up even though I’d never had an anaphylactic reaction before. Then I tried to remember if I had any Benadryl with me. It wouldn’t matter anyway, I reasoned, because I was driving and it makes me sleepy.

So I did some deep breathing as the urge to flip the hell out bubbled into my eyes and down my cheeks.

And I sat there crying until it was my turn in line.

Times like this had proven to me that my ability to properly lose my shit and say and do unreasonable things were valid enough to find more healthy outlets for the stress.

Like walking (when I had the time), or journaling (when I had the time).

But now was not the time—forget that I never actually ‘had the time’. Because I was in the process of re-lactating because the baby started developing a rash on her entire body from formula. And ignorance and lack of an ounce of empathy from the doctor’s office had sent me on a journey of my own. A really hard one, on top of everything else life was throwing at me.

When I got home, I covered my legs in cortisone cream and sat down to realize I was pushing having a full-on nervous breakdown. I had zero support, too much on my own, and a severe lack of self besides being a mother.

I grabbed a bag of chocolate drizzled popcorn and downed the whole thing to make me feel better.

sugar productivity focus

How did other women do it? How were they successful with kids this little? How the hell was I even doing what I was doing all day? I certainly didn’t eat right. But I knew… Because this little voice in the back of my head that’d always been there was nagging at me again.

It was the voice of the snacks and the cakes and chips and pasta and every other little thing I’d ever turned to my whole life to make me feel better.

Basically: sugar.

The thing was, with my family’s history of type 2 diabetes, I knew I shouldn’t eat this way. And it was only after completing my master’s in nutrition that I got the full-on gravity of eating that way my whole childhood and early adulthood. It was only by luck that I’d always had a fast metabolism.

But my thirties were quickly catching up with me, and the sugar was sending me on a rollercoaster of emotions and energy all day long that not only made me believe I was being productive, but it also damaged relationships I had because of the Jeckyl and Hyde emotions that plagued me all day. (Not to mention the terrible allergies—hello hives!—and horrible skin that I’d developed through the years.)

But here was the problem: I’d always had sugar, and I’d always craved it. So when I decided to cut it out, it didn’t go nearly as smoothly as I expected. I had severe crashes if I didn’t have any carbs, and my easy answer was to grab something sugary to help ‘balance’ it. My frustration with quitting sugar was growing as I grappled to manage the rest of my life seemingly alone.

My dad getting diagnosed with prediabetes gave me a really powerful insight though. He said that once he got out of the cravings period of eating low-carb for a few weeks, those crashes went away. He could feel the difference of balanced blood sugar just by cutting out the sugar and being consistent.

So I finally sat down with myself and created a real action plan to fight the cravings so I could free myself.

This wasn’t easy, mind you—I’d spent years hiding in the pantry to eat as many cupcakes as I could after every kid’s birthday party before somebody caught me. But this time I was determined.

That willpower helped make sugar feel ONLY like a last resort some days, but for the most part I knew it was always sitting on my shoulder trying to tell me it had a hold on me that I’d never be able to shake, like a crack dealer just waiting for things to blow up so I’d come around for another hit.

At first my focus and productivity were about as dialed-in as walking around blindly inside a cloud. I felt angry, irritated, hopeless, and sad all within a matter of minutes some days. And my energy levels were nonexistent. The only reason I made myself get out of bed is because the kids needed me. But my Dad’s insight reminded me it was a process. And besides, I’d made a plan, and I was sticking to it.

My grand plan involved things like meal planning to make sure there were never any last-minute questions or eating out unexpectedly. I had learned to read food labels in my formal education and understand which wording clued me in that sugar was added to anything packaged. And I fully embraced swapping out vegetables to fill me up instead of rice or pasta.

The more I came off sugar and simple carbs, the better I felt.

I started to (finally) notice I was immensely more productive. I started preening my to-do list to only include things that mattered or made movement in my small blog.

Another really cool thing was that I was able to take a step back and breathe through the impulse I’d usually let take over to snap at the kids or my husband about things. This was huge because I’d basically turned into momzilla (and most days thought nobody wanted to be around me.) My husband and I started communicating. Like, really communicating.

And another great part? I started losing the baby weight I couldn’t shake before. (I even got confident enough to get back into a bikini!)

The thing is that most people don’t realize some things about sugar:

  • It’s addictive—like, legit addictive.
  • It makes your body hold onto fat.
  • It makes you believe you have energy, only to give you a crazy straight downhill crash.
  • It makes your emotions go completely berserk.
  • It actually ages you faster. And it shows up on your skin resembling the plague for some.
  • And then it does its thing and makes you come back for more, because either you don’t know any better, or because you crave it so bad you can’t help yourself.

I’ve been on the addiction side of it. I actually call myself a ‘recovered sugar addict’ because I’ve been through the severe cravings, complete lack of control around it, tolerance of it, and physical withdrawals.

But I made the conscious decision to live as intentionally as possible by getting off of it. It controlled nearly all aspects of my life and made me think I had to have it to function.

The truth I found was that it was wrecking nearly everything.

Thankfully I had some moments of complete clarity to be able to, firstly, recognize I had a problem, and secondly, create a plan of action to get off it for good.

There were 3 major things that helped me to truly cut the sugar out of my life:

  1. Being prepared by meal planning, having backups and lists of healthy stuff I could eat,
  2. Understanding the crazy huge emotional connection, and
  3. Breathing through the cravings so I could make healthy choices

Even now I struggle when my emotions are especially turbulent. A funny(ish) thing my husband and I do is yell, “Intervention!” to each other if either of us feels we’re spiraling into a binge. I also do daily mental and emotional check-ins to manage stress and responsibilities. This helps me keep ahead of any potential feelings to bury my emotions in sugary foods again.

These days my life is lived with an intention of goodness and love, productivity and ambition. And I know the way to keep at that is to keep my diet clean, because it’s my fuel for this beautiful ride that I don’t want to miss.

Want the full gamut of a SUCCESSFUL SUGAR DETOX–including help for the rest of the side-effects you may experience?

Get the 1-week meal plan and video guide “The Sugar Detox Experience + 5 Steps to a Successful Sugar Detox” below! 👇

sugar productivity focus

Exactly What is a Sugar Detox?

You may be wondering exactly what is a sugar detox? When most think of ‘detox’ they definitely don’t think of a food product. But in light of recent research as well as anecdotal reports of feeling addicted to sugar, it’s no surprise we now see the term ‘sugar detox’ as a form of improving our health.

Many begin searching for a sugar detox in hopes of getting off sugar to kick-start weight loss or help go sugar-free to manage a condition. But there are several nuances to getting off sugar and defining a legit answer to, ‘what is a sugar detox?’

Sugar Addiction

Well, starting out with recent research, we’ve seen that sugar can be especially addicting. There are definitely controversial indicators at play as to what different professions consider ‘addictive’. The mental health community considers it a mental health issue, as sugar triggers area of the brain that respond like drugs. But from a nutritionist stand-point, it’s very unhelpful to categorize this as strictly a mental issue when sugar can trigger cravings and binge-eating for life.

Research has also shown that there is a tolerance that builds so that things sweetened may taste less sweet over time of consistently eating sugar-filled foods and beverages, which is a hallmark sign of addiction.

So while there will be controversy on the technical definition of ‘sugar addiction’ (as well as controversy over how it can be diagnosed), there is no argument that some people cannot resist it.

Taking sugar out of the diet

As is the case with any detox, removing it from the body through diet allows the body to rid itself of the substances that are creating metabolic chains of events that affect our health negatively. Sometimes this is the constant reinforcement of the addictive loop, and sometimes it’s the spike in insulin and consequent hormones. Therefore a sugar detox is the act of ridding your body of sugars to sort of ‘reset’ it.

what is a sugar detox

Different levels

While some people are fine just eliminating added sugars and eating sugar-free from there on out in a clean, healthy way, others have more of a challenge. Some feel that the total sugars even included in fruits should be temporarily eliminated. Another food category that contributes to the continuation of cravings and binges is the ‘grain’ category, which is no surprise since these carbohydrates also raise blood sugar and notoriously make people feel more hungry shortly after.

That being said, it really depends on the total amount of sugars someone has been consuming regularly. But a step further would be the level of health issues trying to be managed in conjunction with the level of ‘addiction’ that person feels is happening any time they consume sugar or grains.

What’s the point of a sugar detox?

The point of the whole process is to get rid of sugars and foods your body metabolizes like sugar so that your brain, taste buds, and insulin response can ‘reset’ itself to behave more closely to normal.

Food companies have figured out how to hijack our brains into ‘needing’ whatever it is they’re selling, and they’ve spent billions of dollars doing this.

Many people pose the question, “Isn’t this level of stripping food freedom away unhealthy?”

Actually, it’s the other way around. The food companies have done a very good job of getting you hooked on those foods. If you initially knew a food was SUPER unhealthy before you even knew what it was, would you automatically say, ‘Yeah, I want that NOW!’ ?

Nope.

But if you knew it was a food you’ve experienced that dopamine rush for, you would.

Most people with that addiction feeling end up choosing the taste and dopamine (sugar-filled) over a healthier food option. That’s not food freedom. It’s not being able to control yourself and make healthy choices.

When you pull yourself out of that addictive state, you’re able to make smarter choices, which is what gives you REAL freedom.

Get started on your sugar detox with the free one-week meal plan + video guide: 👇

what is a sugar detox

8 Ways Daylight Savings Time Affects Your Health and How to Handle It

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Ask any parent about Daylight Savings Time and they’ll groan and roll their eyes. Especially when you have kids, these two times of the year are extremely challenging, to say the least. Sleep schedules are a big deal for parents to get established, so disruptions like these can cause larger stress loads than normal. But many are asking two other very important questions regarding daylight savings time: 1) How does daylight savings time affect your health? and 2) How does it affect your sleep?

To start off with, it can take a week or more for your body to adjust to daylight savings time. In this week, studies have shown 8 or more serious negative affects of daylight savings time:

  1. Sleep cycles being thrown off,
  2. which results in higher stress,
  3. Shifts in eating patterns from hormones being disrupted,
  4. Anxiety,
  5. Depression,
  6. Higher occurrence of heart attack,
  7. More traffic accidents,
  8. And more workplace injuries.

All these add up to some pretty significant shifts in our health that could be avoided. To get a better idea of what this all means and how we should approach it, I asked sleep coach and consultant Sheryl Guloy, PhD for her expert opinion:


Have you heard that there is a discussion on doing away with our annual springing forward to daylight savings time (DST) and falling back to standard time? About a month or so ago, all of this talk reached my neck of the woods, up North…way up to and past the Canadian border, with a beeline to Montreal. The idea of doing away with this time change goes far beyond my city and probably extends or will extend to yours.  In fact, this discussion is international in scope and proposals to end this practice is currently ongoing across North America and Europe. It is a hot topic in several states, such as Massachusetts, Washington, Tennessee, and Texas.

While it may seem normal for us to spring forward and to fall back every year, toggling our sleep between standard time and daylight savings time, research on the effects of springing forward reveals just how detrimental to health one hour of sleep loss can be. In Autumn, however, falling back to standard time has been found to result in more positive gains as people’s sleep becomes better (keep this tidbit of information in mind because there’ll be more on this later). Taken altogether, sleep experts, including myself, believe that keeping time consistent throughout the year is best for our health. 

Should Daylight Savings Time be Abolished?

The first reason for keeping our time consistent has to do with sleep loss, which we know negatively affects health, mental health, and performance. When springing forward in springtime, our body misses out on an hour of sleep. The second reason is that our bodies run on a biological clock, entrained to the 24-hour day. It’s from this relationship to the day’s cycle that the biological clock gets its formal name, circadian rhythm.  In particular, we have circa, meaning around or approximately, and dies, meaning day, in Latin. The biological clock influences when we become sleepy or become hungry. Specifically, it plays a role in metabolic function and homeostasis as well as in immune response, recovery from mental and physical fatigue, emotional regulation, learning and creativity, and memory consolidation. 

Keeping your circadian rhythm consistent is important for the regulation of all of these functions. Research on the effects of switching from standard to daylight savings time has revealed a spike in strokes, heart attacks, and car accidents soon after springing forward. Consequently, policymakers have begun holding discussions on whether the practice of switching between standard and daylight savings times should be abolished, with some places having already chosen to end the practice. 

Now, while doing away with the time change is something that is applauded by many researchers and sleep experts, the concern that has arisen in some areas where this policy change is being contemplated has to do with which time would become the default. In particular, the concern has to do with whether an area chooses to select daylight savings time as the “new” standard time. 

Why does it matter whether or not we choose daylight savings time?

Well, it matters because our circadian rhythm takes cues from our environment to keep it on track, such as sunlight; temperature change; and eating schedules; among other things. So, this means that our environment and lifestyle affect our biological clock and, consequently, sleep. What happens is that even though we may believe that we should eventually adjust to the time change, the negative effects of springing forward can last throughout the period of daylight savings time for some people.

How the body reacts to daylight savings time

Like I mentioned, not only do our bodies like consistency, but the circadian rhythm is tied to the day, which means that external cues such as daylight and temperature play a role in its regulation. Now, imagine what happens to night owls, for instance, who are already genetically predisposed to going to bed later and are already at greater risk of experiencing sleep deprivation. Imagine what happens to them in the summer when they are exposed to brighter light later in the evening. 

Essentially, sunnier evenings delay the circadian rhythm and, hence, the time that people actually fall asleep. Yet, most people still have to wake up at the same time for work throughout the DST period. It’s pretty easy to see how the risk of experiencing sleep loss increases. Right? Remember that night owls will not be the only ones affected. Everyone will be affected but to varying degrees. 

Okay, let’s make this even more concrete. What would you expect to happen if we kept standard time versus if we kept savings time? 

First, let’s assume a regular 9-to-5 work week, regardless of the time of the year (not factoring in any COVID-19 effects on your work schedule, like working from home). Also, let’s say that you get 7 hours of sleep every night, falling asleep at 11:00 pm and waking up at 6:00 am. 

If daylight savings time becomes the new “standard”, how would cities be affected?

To help you see what would happen in very real terms, I’ve created Table 1 to show the effect on sunrise and sunset times in cities across North America, with Houston, Texas, being at the most southerly location, and Edmonton, Alberta, up here in Canada, being at the most northerly location. 

Table 1. Standard Time Versus Daylight Savings Time (Sunset/ Sunrise)

In Table 1, I’ve included the actual recorded times for June 21, 2019 in daylight savings time. Notice how late the sun sets in the summertime. This translates into delayed bedtimes because a significant number of people will find it more challenging to fall asleep at earlier times. While the sun sets pretty late in Houston, at 8:25 pm, notice when the sun sets in Seattle and Edmonton. Imagine what it would be like if the sun were to set at around 9:10 pm or 10:07 pm where you live. Personally, I know exactly what it’s like because I used to spend quite some time in Alberta. It feels like it’s only around 5:30 pm or 6:00 pm when it is, in fact, already 9:00 pm at night. No wonder, then, that many do suffer from sleep loss throughout the DST period.

How about during wintertime? What would happen if daylight savings time were to become the “new” standard time? Well, first of all, notice how late the sun would rise in Houston. Basically, the sun’s rays would only begin to appear at around 8:12 am. Now, look at the other cities, where the sun will rise even later. Imagine what it would be like to be in Seattle, where the sun would only rise at 8:54 am. In Edmonton, it would only rise at 9:48 am; that’s only 12 minutes shy of 10:00 am…or mid-morning! Wow. The thing is that bright light in the morning plays a critical role in keeping the circadian rhythm from being delayed too much at night, which is especially important in helping night owls keep their sleep-wake times aligned with the regular 9-to-5 hours that they’ll still be expected to keep.

These examples bring to light some conditions that make daylight savings time problematic if it were to be selected as the default time. Policymakers are essentially proposing that DST be selected as the default when it has been shown to contribute to health, performance, and safety concerns. Unfortunately, daylight savings time is being proposed as the new standard in states like Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington. Meanwhile, in Canada, cities like Toronto are also pushing for daylight savings time. In Texas, however, discussions seem to be veering toward keeping standard time as the default, which I believe would be the wiser and healthier choice. 

Sheryl Guloy, PhD, is sleep coach/ consultant, researcher, and educator. Her interest in sleep began with her own sleep troubles and her realization that she is a true night owl. She co-founded a sleep initiative, Somnolence+, through which she aims to make sure that more people know about their own sleep and have strategies and tools to help them sleep well. 

You can find her blog at: www.sleepwellblog.org

Or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/sleepwellpage

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The Mental Load Women Take on That’s Creating Resentment with Husbands

Tips and checklist for how to talk to your husband (or wife) to ease the stress and replace resentment of the female mental load women inevitably take on in your household.

One of the most frustrating arguments I can have with my husband revolves around this topic. Not because I feel it’s taboo, or because I believe the whole ‘women’s chores’ BS (I grew up in the South where unbelievably demeaning attitudes involving gender inequality in household work, among other things, still exist heavily.) I think it’s because I could never quite put my finger on what “it” was for a long time.

One of our biggest blowups involved going to a kids birthday party one Saturday. I am always expected to be the one who knows the day and time, has bought the gift, gift bag, and card, and then prepped everyone for the party, in addition to picking outfits, making the kids get dressed, and then doing hair for 4 females in the house. That doesn’t count me getting myself ready either. And one day I’d had enough.

My husband, after lounging on the bed watching TV during the whole ordeal of us getting ready without his help, couldn’t understand why I was fuming when he didn’t remember to grab the darn gift on his way out the door. And I lost it. (Please know that I have a short fuse, and up to this point I had exercised extreme patience with this whole situation…or maybe not patience, but holding my sh!t together, minimum.)

What is *The* mental load for women

I had to explain that this wasn’t an isolated occurrence. This kind of thing happened on a daily basis with literally any family or household thing going on. I realize I’m a SAHM, but when he honestly doesn’t even put a single thought into anything regarding the kids or family, that’s where I’d drawn my line. And I just could not, for the life of me, put my finger on what the real issue was.

He’s repeatedly said to me, ‘Tell me what to do and I’ll do it!’ So from the outside, it should look like he’s totally innocent and I’m the nastiest Momzilla that ever lived. (Or maybe Wifezilla.) But what had been festering for years finally made perfect sense when another mom with the same issue gave it a name: The Female Mental Load women take on in nearly every household.

It was the mental load.

The overbearing, heavy, unmovable mental load of moms everywhere.

The mental load women take on of having to remember everything, coordinate everything, plan everything, buy everything, assemble everything, and do everything–which smothers me with the stress of it all. It was a lack of initiative from him in any one single part of all those things. He didn’t want to have to think about anything. So he left it all to me.

I already ran the household by myself, especially since he’s gone for work so much. That means I’m already a single parent the majority of the time. So I had that plus the mental load of all of it. All to myself.

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Guilt steps in…as always

For a while I felt guilty; I mean, I am the one staying home instead of working outside the home. But one day I snapped. Ya know, the birthday party day. Yes I stay home with the kids, I’m not at a job outside the home. But I thought back to when we both worked full time. And it finally dawned on me… things were the same way back then.

And I don’t think it’s an on-purpose thing for him (or any male partner.) It’s just, for one–we think differently than men. But I think a little of it is that they don’t want to have to think about anything. (It is for my husband anyway.)

And this happens in soooo many households even though we’re supposed to have evolved from this whole ‘traditional’ attitude of the woman doing everything involved with the kids and household. That whole gender inequality in household work thing. Many friends have told me they feel it’s come from how their husbands were raised. Meaning: we have to be very direct and communicate the fact that they’re not guests in the household (nor are they king of the 7 realms that sits on the iron throne.) They’re our partners. Plain and simple. A partner contributes to running and maintaining the household and children you BOTH have.

So in all this hefty load-bearing, we’ve come to use these 4 ways to work through the communication of the whole issue, to help the load get split more evenly and, hopefully, relieve some of the resentment from the mental load I’d taken on by myself for far too long.

Open a conversation about it

One of the first things I always have to remember in this is to NOT start our conversation while in attack mode. Using ‘I feel’ statements to communicate the burden you have makes a huuuuge difference. Maybe even make a list to give examples. And reiterate that he is one of two parents here, and half of a couple.

Let him know how much you feel this is on you. Maybe even talk about how this kind of thing puts you in a bad mood, stresses you out, and makes sexy time feel so-NOT-sexy. (It does for me anyhow!) Open up about your feelings and let him know that you shouldn’t have this entire load to yourself.

Then make a list of all the things you handle and anything he handles, then split it up. Be very clear that you will each be responsible for those things without the other’s help unless necessary.

The whole point is for you to not have to remind + direct when it’s time to do each thing.

Be calm and listen to both sides regarding the mental load (BOTH of you)

Lord help me this one was hard. I felt like this was so one-sided forever that the years of resentment and trying to figure out how to talk to my husband about the mental load when I couldn’t even define it created this huge storm in me that was a Cat 3 hurricane bout to level our marriage.

But through the stack of books I’ve read and therapy (yes go do this even when you don’t ‘think’ you’re having problems!) I’ve been able to learn the skill of stepping back and putting myself in his shoes for the sake of seeing the other side to be able to put my own resentment to rest. It’s hard. It’s really freaking hard. But it falls in line with the whole ‘forgive someone else for YOU not them’ mentality. This is for your sake.

The other side of the coin is that he has to be able to also be calm and step back himself (or herself) and see your side as well. That’s the whole point of this, and if you don’t have a receptive partner, you’re wasting your breath. So I won’t lie and say this will be easy. It may take extra steps to get into the correct listening mode for both of you.

Tips for collaboration

Make sure you’re planning ahead, first and foremost. It’s super simple to either set a timer, or create a system for something. For example, if his new responsibility is to do one load of laundry a day, ask him to set a timer on his phone, or ask that he throws it in while dinner is going.

Reminders are always going to be your friend (well, actually his since you already remember this stuff.) But using things like lists, sticky notes, and reminders on phones are always really helpful.

Make sure you’re dividing things up by either skill level, or what one or the other likes to do. My husband actually really likes to cook. So when he’s home–I don’t have to cook! 🎉🙌 I don’t mind doing floors, so I sweep and vacuum. (Also, we delegate stuff to the kids as well, and they have chores. If your kids are older, make sure they’re doing their parts, too–sometimes we forget how capable our kids actually are!)

Reversing roles

Don’t feel like specific tasks need to go to one or the other based on gender. My husband likes mowing the yard, but I used to do it as a teen at my dad’s house, and actually loved the peace and quiet. And what mom couldn’t use that, right? 😂 So I’m absolutely not opposed to doing the yard in lieu of him taking something I do inside.

I also got a big wakeup call on this after my brother got married and had their first kid. His wife was in the Navy, and he was a ‘military mom’ for years because she was out of the country on tour. Since her being back for months at a time, he’s never handed over the roles he started out with. He still takes the kids to school and daycare, picks them up, and does all afterschool activities. They both work full-time. It’s actually been refreshing to see him in that role–especially since we both grew up in a traditional, patriarchal community. Honestly it makes my heart smile. 😍

Learn to let go

If you have a real problem with things getting done a certain way because you’ve always done it that way… you’re gonna have to just let some things go. Trusting that it’ll get done–even if it’s not exactly how you do it–is gonna be huge in letting some stress fall away from your shoulders.

If it’s a matter of it being done properly (either by your partner or your kid), that’s a different animal. Take some time to teach how it’s done correctly, whether it’s the hubby or a kid, then move on.

The biggest takeaway here is to understand that your house doesn’t have to look like a Pottery Barn catalog all the time. People actually live in it. So if the tasks that have been handed out don’t get done the minute you think they should, you’re gonna have just step back a little. Leave the load on the other person. That’s why you handed it over in the first place, right?

How’s your female mental load, women friends? Have you had this discussion in your household? How did you go about splitting it up? (Let me know in the comments!)

Need more relaxation and less stress in your life?

Check out the TRUEWell hub for stress management HERE.

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The 15+ Amazing Best Kitchen Tools for Meal Prep that I Use Every Week

These are the best kitchen tools for meal prep that I use and LOVE in my household and recommend to others!

*As an affiliate, I may receive a small portion of proceeds of any items you buy through these links, at no extra cost to you. However, I only recommend products I know, use, and love.

Meal prep isn’t just a trend, it’s really a revolution of efficiency. But truthfully, it gets even more efficient when you have the proper and best kitchen tools for meal prep. As a nutrition specialist and health coach, some of the first things I discuss with clients are the roadblocks to making healthy eating happen, whether it’s general healthy foods or sticking to a dietary style for weight loss or food intolerance. Lack of time is usually the biggest reason named, but it doesn’t have to be (which is what I work through with clients).

My philosophy is to always merge healthy + efficient to make these healthy habits doable on the daily.

Here are the best kitchen tools for meal prep that I feel are the most efficient in their own right to make meal prep happen with the least amount of frustration.

best kitchen tools for meal prep

Ninja all-in-one system

This Ninja system has everything you need to chop, dice, spiralize, blend, cream, and so much more! It comes with a bullet-sized smoothie cup, large blender, crazy-sharp blades that are absolutely amazing, a food processor bowl for chopping and ricing, and the smaller attachment for grating and spiralizing. It also includes a dough blade! This system eliminates the need for 3 different appliances, and also has preset functions so you can push the button and walk away while it does its thing!

Instant pot 8-quart 9-in-1

This larger 8-quart Instant Pot has the size to cook larger or smaller amounts, and eliminates the need for a separate slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, saute pan, and more! You can sear meat right in the pot before setting to slow cooker, you can use as a pressure cooker and even cook meats that came straight from the freezer (anyone forget to thaw something for dinner??), and it has settings for different types of meats, rice, eggs, yogurt, potatoes, and so much more. It seriously eliminates the need for multiple different cooking devices! It even has a function for sterilizing! (Baby toys or bottles, anyone?) My feeling, especially if you have a lack of space, is that the best kitchen tools for meal prep can multi-task.

(I like the larger size because it can fit so much more or cook less.) And if you really wanna get high-tech crazy, there’s even a “Smart Wifi” model!

KitchenAid Stand Mixer

The KitchenAid stand mixer is another amazing all-in-one. It obviously mixes hands-free, but it comes with dough hook attachment AND whisk attachment. But it also has a MILLION AND ONE add-ons! For example, meat grinder, spiralizer, pasta maker, juicer…. honestly the list goes on! The Aqua Sky color is the most popular, but check out the link below to explore all color options!

Silmat set

Ok, this may sound crazy, but this Silmat is amazing and eliminates the use of oil sprays or coatings when baking! I love that I have the option of cooking oil-free and know that it won’t stick! I also love that this set has multiple sizes since not all baking sheets are the same size. These can be used in baking sheets (whether baking, cooking, or roasting) or on the countertop for rolling out doughs WITHOUT the use of extra flour! The best kitchen tools for meal prep will also help eliminate extra ‘stuff’ you have might otherwise have to buy, like parchment paper, oil, flour, etc.

Baggie Stand holders

Baggie stands are something I never knew I needed until I used them. Like something in my head told me this would be incredibly helpful, but having them makes my life so much easier when I meal prep!! (Ever have a biggie fall over while pouring liquid in? 😭

Yeah…no bueno.) With these baggie stands– PROBLEM SOLVED!

Reusable Storage Bags

If you’re a serial MEAL PREPPER like I am, or even WANT TO BE— these reusable storage bags ARE FOR YOU! I use a TON of baggies in meal prep!! We also send berries, chips, granola, etc in baggies for the kids to school because we either make our own stuff, or buy the large bag and divide for cheaper snacks. These reusable bags eliminate the overwhelming amount of plastic being thrown away, but also the overwhelming amount of baggies I’m buying every month!

Glass Food Storage Containers

Whether you do weekly meal prep or not, getting rid of plastic food storage containers is a MAJOR upgrade for your health! I love these glass storage containers because they’re dishwasher safe, microwave safe, oven safe, and even freezer safe! They’re extremely versatile! Perfect for meal prep. Perfect for leftovers. Without the icky BPA. Also, they don’t melt in the dishwasher. All the plastic meal prep containers you can buy will eventually lose their shapes (sometimes sooner, depending on the water temperature in your dishwasher). The glass meal prep containers are good to go forever.

Silicone Muffin Pans

Silicone muffin pans are a dream for bakers and meal preppers alike! No more rusty pans. No more muffin papers. No more sticking or using non-stick sprays. Oh yeah, and no more washing silicone muffin wrappers individually!!​ HUGE time saver for me!! (Remember: healthy + efficient!)

Saute Pans + Skillet

In case you’re been under a rock the last decade, you already know the reason Teflon isn’t normally used on skillets any more. And although that non-stick surface was hella useful, it’s crazy toxic. Next best non-stick thing? Ceramic-coating! (If you have an induction cooktop, make sure to confirm the cookware works on it before purchasing!)

Enamel Coated Cookware

If you love the versatility of being able to go from cooktop to oven, or even fridge to cooktop or oven, then enamel coated cookware is the way to go! The only ‘con’ I have to these is that they are very heavy because they’re cast-iron on the inside, and that means my kiddos can’t feasibly handle them, and also it means it’s nearly impossible to hold the skillets at an angle to pour contents out. Otherwise, these pieces should last for years (and many high-end brands like Le Creuset should last a lifetime). Plus you can get them in a ton of really preeeetty colors! 🌈

Good Knives

The best kitchen tools for meal prep will always include a quality set of sharp knives. A good sharp set of knives can mean the difference between beautifully and quickly sliced foods and an urgent trip to the ER. Invest in some really good knives!! Better knives cost more, but they last longer and are more durable. Plus if they get dull, you can sharpen them!

Mixing Bowls

This may sound like silly advice, but coming from someone who VALUES minimalism these days, a really GOOD, DURABLE, POURABLE, and STACKABLE set of mixing bowls that only takes up a SINGLE shelf in my kitchen is a mega win!! 🏅

Not to mention that this specific set has graters and a slicer you can attach right on top of the bowl!!

Proper Labeling Tools #1: Sharpies

When doing meal prep, the gold standard for labeling baggies is the good ole’ Sharpie. And while I LOVE me some colored Sharpies, unfortunately teal and lighter colors just won’t cut it. Use BLACK, DARK BLUE, PURPLE, or RED.

Proper Labeling Tools #2: Dry Erase Markers

Guess what—DRY ERASE markers aren’t ONLY for a dry erase board!! They’re PERFECT for labeling FOOD CONTAINERS when you’re meal prepping or have leftovers!! 🤩

THESE dry erase markers are my favorite, because they have a fine tip, are black (same importance as the Sharpie situation), and they have a magnet, so you can keep it on the side of the fridge for easy access when labeling leftover containers! *And a tip–although you may be super tempted to use the wet-erase version (usually Vis-a-Vis brand), DON’T! If any moisture gets on the container, the words will smear right off onto your hands and then take 17 days to get off… speaking from experience.)

Meal Prep Cutting Board

Ok, so I’ve saved the BEST for last. I never realized how much of a pain it was cutting up tons of veggies and fruits for meal prep until I started. This is my FAVORITE thing ever! A cutting board with containers for what you’ve chopped under it! Eeeekkk! There are a couple of other options for meal prep cutting boards, but this one is by far my favorite!

So there ya have it! My list of the 15 best kitchen tools for meal prep! Keep in mind it’s not a dire situation if you don’t have these or can’t afford them right now. They simply make it easier to meal prep.

Got any more suggestions? Let’s hear them in the comments below!

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The Effects of Forest Bathing That Will Blow Your Mind as a Mom

How Moms Can Use Forest Bathing for Stress Management + Anxiety Relief

What is Forest Bathing?

Ok, I usually don’t subscribe to the latest ‘trend’ when it comes to health, UNLESS it’s super science-backed + super cool, so when I first heard the term ‘forest bathing’, I immediately thought you sought out a lake in a forest to actually bathe. (Ew.) This, however…THIS–is so much better than a weird bath in a questionable lake with God-knows-what nipping at your body.

Forest Bathing is actually a practice (sometimes referred to as shinrin-yoku) where you immerse yourself in a forest (specifically trees) and just….be. You basically empty your mind and use your senses to be very mindful of the things around you and what you’re experiencing right then. It’s sort of like meditation, but where your eyes are open and you’re focusing on the nature that surrounds you.

“Ok-so why the heck would I bother seeking out a forest to do this, then?”, you may be asking…. and since I advocate merging healthy + efficient for doable daily healthy practices, you may also be asking how in the world forest bathing would be efficient. The long and short of it is that taking purposeful breaks during your day boosts your patience, creativity, and productivity. So that, combined with all the health benefits, is where the magic ✨of forest bathing comes from.

how to do forest bathing and the benefits of forest bathing near me

What are the Benefits of Forest Bathing?

The things that Forest Bathing do to your body, mind, and soul are absolutely incredible. It invokes calm and peace, sure–but it actually does all these physiological things to your body that are crazy therapeutic! Like INCREASED: parasympathetic nervous activity, positive feelings and feelings of well being, and even a boost in the immune system from the essential oils in the trees and plants that are emitted to protect themselves from germs and bugs! And don’t forget the DECREASED stuff, like: lowered cortisol levels, lowered pulse, lessened feelings of depression and negative feelings,   and even stress and hostility!

Honestly, the benefits are overwhelming–and totally worth it. And–this is the best part–it’s not just for adults. Kids are totally benefited just as much–especially kids with ADHD! This study determined that as little as a 20-minute visit to a nature setting could increase attention performance in kids with attention deficits. In fact, they compared the results to being as effective as recent formulations of ADHD drugs that fall under the brand names Concerta, Daytrana, Methylin, Ritalin, and Aptensio. That’s pretty incredible!!

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What is a Nature Bath?

This is just a matter of semantics, as a nature bath is relaxing in nature or a forest atmosphere, the same as a forest bath.

How do you Take a Forest Bath?

Here’s how to take a nature bath or forest bath (with or without kiddos).

Step 1: Forest Bathing Near Me

At the expense of being Captain Obvious, first thing is to actually find a forest. If you already know of one near you, great! You’re on to step 2A or 2B. If not, there are a few resources online to help you locate one. The first is Discover the Forest. This site will locate a forest within a given radius in miles, based on your zip code. It also has a few other pretty cool pages, like the Discover the Urban Forest button. It’ll take you to some cool activities you can do in the forest with kids….which we’ll get to in a minute.

The second resource is the National Forest Locator Map. This option lets you see which national forests are around you, and then has the link to visit each forest’s web page.

The third resource is to just Google: ‘National Forest Near Me’ or even try ‘forest bathing near me’. Just doing this alone pulled up 3 separate hiking trails near my home within 7 miles.

And the fourth option is to find the outdoorsiest person you know and ask them! Seriously–friends/family/coworkers that camp, hike, or trail ride will absolutely know the best and/or closest forests to you.

Step 2A: How to do Forest Bathing Alone

Just FYI, I’m not about to suggest leaving your phone at home for this one. Way too many people have gotten lost in the woods for me to think that’s a good idea. However, I am ordering you to turn the ringer off, and the vibration off. And any notifications, period. Also, I know you want to log these steps on your fitness tracker. But it’s best to actually leave that thing at home. Besides, most have apps that sync with your fitness tracker will track you via GPS anyhow. Just set that to start when you get to the forest and it should sync. Bottom line: NO ELECTRONICS.

What you SHOULD do, however, is get into a purposeful mindset about getting out into nature, in the quiet, away from everything. A cool practice I read about is finding a rock at the edge of the forest, telling it all your worries, then tossing it onto the ground. Your worries should stay with the rock. And when you come back out, pick the worries back up if you want. (Undoubtedly nobody does.)

Your only goal in the forest should be to take note of the things around you. Use your senses. What do you see? Hear? Smell? What do the leaves feel like? (Please look up what poison ivy looks like, like a responsible human being with common sense does, before you go. Coz looking it up on your phone is NOT allowed, Cheater!!)

Step 2B: How to do forest bathing WITH Kids

Obviously it’s going to be a completely different experience to forest bathe with your kids. First you should probably lay down some ground rules. Kids also need explanations for things–otherwise how do they learn?? Explain what this is for–getting in touch with nature, separating from electronics for a healthy mind break, a nice relaxation period to recharge.

Then tell them the rules: no electronics, no running, no screaming, no fighting, hands to yourself. Calm. You can touch things. But think about the things you’re seeing, the things you smell, the way those things feel in your hands. Take it all in and stop to breathe deeply with eyes closed every few minutes just to smell and hear.

Remember that there’s always the chance that the kiddos will go nuts about being in nature instead of cooped up inside in the first place. Some kids need to get all that giddiness out of their systems before they can really get into the mode of just being present.

If you feel your kiddos fall into that category, try the activity sheets from the Discover the Forest site. Print them out and let them do the activities the first few times you take them out into the forest. Then try actual forest bathing after that.

If you go out and they’re calm, but say they’re bored, even after trying a time or two, maybe let them take a book out and read, or even journal or draw. Just being in nature will give many of the benefits of forest bathing while keeping their mind going without the stimulation of electronics. Here are some journals available for books he or she has read, as well as several journals for adventures, bucket lists, and even bird watching!

And let me know how your experience was in the comments below!

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How Blue Light Affects Sleep and What You Should Be Doing About It Tonight

The many direct and indirect ways of how blue light affects sleep every night.

*This post may contain affiliate links, which gives me a portion of the proceeds if you purchase something at no additional cost to you. However, I only recommend things I trust, believe in, or actually use and love.

Oh, what heaven it is to finally, finally get all the kids down for bed, have the kitchen cleaned, me showered, and have some time to breathe in my super soft jammies and warm bed! I love being able to sink down and either watch a good show to wind down or catch up on what my friends and fam are up to on FB or Insta for a few minutes after my bedtime routine.

how blue light affects sleep

The problem I didn’t realize with the TV and phone scrolling is that once you start….it’s very hard to stop. I mean, obviously FB is very good in figuring out how to make it ‘addictive’, as is Pinterest or Insta! But that’s not the only problem. You don’t feel like you need to go sleep at that point because of this little pesky thing in your electronics called blue lights and how the blue lights affect sleep.

And make no mistake, blue light can affect not just your sleep, but also can indirectly start a whole cycle of other problems! Since sleep is so incredibly important for our body and brains to function, this is becoming a huge problem. Sleep can affect our hunger hormones, our energy levels, and even make us feel foggy and lethargic all day if we don’t get quality and enough sleep. My philosophy is to always merge healthy + efficient to make health magic happen ✨. And since bad sleep can be counterproductive to so many of our other health efforts, it’s one of the highest things on my list for clients to fix up front.

Where Blue Light Comes From

Blue light is emitted from pretty much all your electronics with a screen: TV, phone, tablets, game systems, computer monitors. But it also comes from our LED lighting. The thing is, blue light is in sunlight, which we need–but when it’s an isolated short-waved light like we’ve produced in our electronics and the LED lights we fill our homes with, it becomes a different issue. Especially when we’ve got it blaring in our faces all day and night.

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Does Blue Light Actually Affect Sleep?

The answer is yes–blue light does actually affect sleep. The direct effects of blue light are eye strain and disruption in melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone you produce to get to sleep. But the eye strain part is also important. Think about how many people have headaches through the day that are just attributed to ‘sitting at a desk’ or ‘tech neck’. A good portion of this can be traced back to the actual blue light they’re inundated with all day and into the night. Neck pain can cause poor sleep as well.

How Blue Light Affects Sleep Indirectly

How blue light affects sleep indirectly become more tricky. But based on the direct effects, they come in 2 parts: the hormone issue, and the eye strain issue.

1-Hormones— Melatonin is a hormone, and your body kicks the production of it up around 2pm at the same time cortisol should be gradually getting lower. This works in harmony so that by bedtime you’re sleepy with cortisol very low (it gives you energy when it’s high.) But when blue lights are kicking it down when the sun goes down outside, we have a problem. The blue light melatonin connection is why it’s so hard to go to sleep when you’re scrolling on your phone or just. can’t. stop. watching that fave show you’ve been binging.

When you disrupt that melatonin production, you’re disrupting other hormones, too. It’s pretty muck jacking with your circadian rhythm, and keep this in mind: 2 OTHER hormones are at play while you sleep called ghrelin and leptin. These 2 hormones tell your body whether you have enough energy or not. If you’re not getting enough sleep, and the melatonin is out of whack, these 2 hormones will also be out of whack.

Why does this matter? Well, have you noticed if you’ve only had a couple hours of sleep how hungry you are all day? Or that you crave carbs all the time? This is because those 2 hormones are telling your body you need more energy. And when you eat more, especially simple carbs (including sugar), what happens? Yep–you gain and store more fat. (Booo!!)

2–Eye strain— This can quickly develop into greater problems, because those blue lights are shorter waves and actually penetrate your eye all the way to the light-sensitive cells in the retina. This can actually increase the risk of macular degeneration! I don’t know about you, but I already have eye issues. I was SEVERELY nearsighted until I had LASIK. And it was 25 years of misery with contacts. I have no intention of making things bad again!!

And also, that eye strain can–again–contribute to headaches. How much pain medicine are you downing and filtering through your kidneys and liver because of that headache every day/ few days?

How to Be Strategic with Blue Light

One of the best ways to get around this blue light conundrum in our age of digital and tech gadgets is to start setting a ‘curfew’ for the electronics. Our household has a rule of none from dinnertime on. And if the hubby and I want to watch TV after the kids are in bed, we have blue-light-blocking glasses that I snagged off Amazon. (Link below if you’re interested.)

There are also some apps you can use on your computer screen and android or iPhone that will reduce the blue light and put out a warmer tone.

Also, you can get blue-light-blocking screen protectors now for your iPhone or computer screen like these (genius) ones:

But my favorite (because they send you a little blue light and card to test it) are the glasses. They’re just like regular glasses–clear–but they block that light for you, which you can check out HERE.

Bottom line is that we really need to be more vigilant in keeping the blue lights out in the evenings.

How about your household? Do you have a ‘tech curfew’? Have you experienced the effects of blue lights with headaches or sleep disruptions? Let me know in the comments!

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