Keeping Your Mind Sharp With Food – and yes, Wine!!

I would say my diet is a cross between Paleo and the Mediterranean diets. I do eat cheese but in moderation and I don’t eat red meat. I also fast intermittently. This works for me. The fasting seems to keep the dreaded brain fog at bay and kicks up my metabolism quite nicely. Since I started this way of eating, I’ve dropped 14 pounds and am much leaner than before.

And…my 86 year old Mom’s Neurologist told her to keep her mind sharp, she should be eating the MIND diet – leafy greens, nuts, berries, beans, seafood, olive oil and yes, wine.

Red wine pouring into wine glass, close-up

The beauty about eating habits is it’s completely bio-individual, meaning, if it works for you – keep doing it!

I found this article about the Mediterranean Diet on Thrive Global:

The old saying “you are what you eat” extends to your brain. According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Societyfollowing the Mediterranean or MIND diets could help protect your cognitive abilities as you age.

Researchers surveyed 5,907 adults from the United States with an average age of 68 years old. They asked participants to share information about their diets and measured their performance on memory and attention-focused cognitive tests. The researchers found that those who followed the Mediterranean diet were 35 percent less likely to score poorly on the cognitive tests than those who didn’t follow the diet. They also found that people who only moderately followed the diet were 15 percent less likely to perform poorly on the test, according to the study’s press release. The results were similar for participants who followed MIND-style programs.

Heavy on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and olive oil, the Mediterranean diet suggests you steer clear of red meat, butter, cheeses and the majority of sweets, but does allow for wine. The MIND diet, a variation on the Mediterranean diet, focuses on ten foods considered to be “brain healthy,” according to the press release, including leafy greens, nuts, berries, beans, seafood, olive oil and yes, wine.

There are many reasons to prioritize a healthy diet, but this study adds to the already significant pile of evidence showing that when it comes to your brain, what you eat really does make a difference.

Which diet do you follow and why?

A Country Without McDonald’s

While many fast-food chains are rapidly expanding throughout the globe, there’s one country in South America where McDonald’s did NOT survive. What??

In Bolivia, people prefer their traditional foods to Big Macs and french fries. Citizens still love hamburgers, but they prefer to buy them from indigenous street vendors called cholitas. The fast-food chain closed all locations in 2002 because it was simply not profitable. Can you imagine that?? The failure piqued the interest of filmmakers, who made a documentary in 2011 called, “Why did McDonald’s Bolivia Go Bankrupt?”

“Fast-food represents the complete opposite of what Bolivians consider a meal should be,” according to the blog El Polvorin. “To be a good meal, food has to have been prepared with love, dedication, certain hygiene standards and proper cook time.”

What I find most fascinating about Bolivia is that it’s a culture where community values prevail. Bolivia’s population values their food systems, food producers, and their ecosystems, so much so that food sovereignty laws continue to pass in the government to ensure that they preserve their food traditions and put less economic pressure on commodity crops. The country’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales, even called U.S. fast-food chains “a great harm to humanity” at a United Nations General Assembly meeting in 2013. Bravo!! I wonder what would happen in other countries if more of the population embraced longer, slower meals made with love rather than quick, convenient, unhealthy foods.

What worries me most is not so much adults who choose to eat at McDonald’s but children who get sucked in by the advertising, the hype, the ‘happy’ boxes with bright colors and a toy inside and their parents who appreciate the convenience of it. I too, when my boys were younger, would cave every once in awhile and do a quick ‘drive through’ so that I knew my boys would be eating something in between soccer and football practices. I too succumbed to feeding my boys crap so that they had full bellies. But here’s the ironic aspect of all of this; we grab the unhealthy fast food, feed it to our children thinking we’re doing them good, when in fact, their growing bodies would be better off not eating a meal at all! Ok, ok, I’m venting – I know.

A country without McDonald’s – one can only dream.

We’re becoming walking zombies

No doubt you’ve experienced an afternoon energy crash, uncontrollable yawning or the simple desire to close your eyes and rest. It may be hard to stay awake and it usually hits around 3pm, but it’s even tougher to manage the information we receive about sleep, the best way to get it and most importantly, how much we really need. And it seems we’re a sleepy bunch, a recent Gallup poll shows 40 percent of us get less than the current recommendation of seven to nine hours. Is that how much we really need?

 

The truth is it depends. You’ve heard me say this phrase before but it’s all about bio-individuality. It depends on you and your individual sleep needs, which are determined by your age, your health, your stress level and most critically, how you feel with different amounts of sleep. I usually need about 8 hours of sleep. And if it’s only 9:30pm and I’m exhausted, I listen to my body and get to bed. Sleeping ‘in’ has always been an issue for me. My internal clock wakes me between 5:30-6:00 every morning but that seems to work for me.

 

Sleep needs, explained. Think about sleep and the amount you need like a bank account. Each of us has a basal sleep need, which is the minimum amount of regular sleep our bodies need for ideal functioning. Compare this to the amount of money you need in your bank account to maintain your lifestyle. We also have a sleep debt, or an accumulated deficit of sleep lost to late nights, early mornings or poor quality sleep. In the financial world, sleep debt equals credit card debt. If you maintain a basal amount of seven to nine recommended hours most nights but don’t pay back your debt, you’re in arrears. Research shows basal need and debt interact, causing us to feel less alert and more sleepy at various times throughout the day that correlate to natural circadian dips, or biological signals that tell the body sleep needs are accumulating.

 

Sleeping longer. Now, if you’re thinking you’ll just find a way to sleep for longer periods to catch up, don’t hit the snooze button just yet. Early research shows sleeping longer than nine hours may actually carry increased risk of illness, accidents and even death. The jury is still out on whether or not other factors, such as socioeconomic status, are involved.  More studies are warranted to be sure.

 

sleep

Sleeping less. Although we don’t yet know the exact implications of long sleep durations, studies show more definitively that shorter sleeping lengths of four to five hours have negative effects, both physically and neurologically.

 

Determine what’s best for you. Because of individual needs, there is no magic number for recommended hours of sleep for everyone. To determine what’s best for you, make your sleep a priority. Try different sleep durations, taking notes on how you feel in the morning, throughout the day and at bedtime. Always follow recommendations for good sleep hygiene and zero in on sleep amounts that result in optimal energy levels throughout the day. And if you have questions, reach out to your doctor, health coach or a sleep specialist for help.

 

 

 

 

Are You Doing What You Can?

I’ve committed to making changes for good in the world. Some say it’s a pipe dream but I don’t care. Doing something is always better than doing nothing at all.

Small Choices – Big Impact.

I hope this short hummingbird story will capture your heart and make you stop and think.

Raw Food, Harmful or Healthy?

When I moved to Las Vegas in 2008, I learned about eating Raw from a new friend. She loved how it made her feel so I decided to try it. You’ll find with me, experimenting on new ways of eating healthy – to give me more energy and vitality – I’ll try anything once.

After 1 week of eating Raw, I crashed and burned! I was lethargic and didn’t have the energy to open an envelope let alone get my butt out of bed and go to work. I called my Dr. and told him what I was experiencing. His advice was, if I was committed to giving the Raw Diet a chance, to give it 2 weeks for my body to adapt to this new way of taking in foods and nutrients and see what happens. He reassured me I wouldn’t die. I stuck with it and to my surprise, I had more energy than ever before, my skin glowed and I felt amazing! I could conquer the world while munching on a carrot stick!

Young-woman-biting-carrot-smiling

But for me, trying to sustain the Raw way of eating was insane. Going out to restaurants and trying to order everything uncooked – the wait staff would look at me as if I’d lost my mind. The prep work at home of constant peeling, chopping, juicing, storing fresh, raw veggies and praying they didn’t go bad in the fridge was just too much for me.

And, as always, depending on who you talk to, raw is either THE ONLY WAY TO GO – according to David Wolfe (look him up, he’s a blast to listen to) or Dr Weil, MD, and his opinion, (Is The Raw Food Diet Healthy or Harmful) you need to make your own choices on a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Have any of you tried the Raw Diet? I’d love to hear your experience – comment below 🙂

Ravioli Pillow?

I have to share this story with everyone…it made me laugh out loud.

Both my hubby and I are following a low-carb, healthy fat way of eating and my system is really responding positively. Gary is a carb lover and always has been. He can’t imagine ordering a burger without the bun or not eating pasta 6x’s a week so it’s been more of a challenge for him.

The other day he looks at this pillow, one that we’ve had for a few years and says, “doesn’t that pillow look just like a ravioli?” 😂 Clearly my husband is carb-starved!

So here are some of the suggestions I offered him and wait until you read #5:

1. Steer clear from white starchy carbohydrates including all forms of bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and grains. Yes, all of them… even wheat varieties and healthy grains like quinoa.

2. Pick and choose between a few meals over and over again. This is especially true for breakfast and lunch. Try to make each meal consist of a protein, green leafy vegetables, and beans/legumes.

3. Stop drinking your calories! Cut out all beverages with calories and sugars in them. The only exception is one or two glasses of a dry red wine each night. This made him smile.

4. Try to limit your fruit intake, except avocados and tomatoes. They contain sugar which is an enemy of the slow, low-carb diet.

5. And this is his favorite – mine too: leave one day each week as a full cheat day. This doesn’t mean that you can eat a little off the plan, this means that you should eat literally anything and everything you want. During the week, keep a food log of the foods you are craving and make a point to eat that food on your cheat day. This cheat day not only satisfies your physical cravings but it can also help you mentally stay on track because you know that after 6 days, you can eat what you want.

Now, I’m going to go hide the pillow before my husband pours some red sauce on it and eats it. 🤣🤣🤣

Too busy to snack healthy? Think again

Having raised 3 boys and been in sales and on the road most of my career, I know how difficult it can be to snack healthy. I used to stop at those ‘smoothie’ places thinking I was doing the right thing. Beware! A lot of those more established Smoothie franchises are loaded with unwanted sugar and not the least bit healthy.

Today, while shopping Trader Joe’s I grabbed the usual prepackaged Trek Mixes for $5.99 a bag. Each individual serving comes prepackaged which is a breeze for someone crazy busy. And for $5.99, each individual snack bag is $.60 so very reasonable.

Then I grabbed a bag of Cashew Macadamia Delight which isn’t prepackaged and thought…why don’t I just package it myself!

This bag costs $6.49. If I were to leave this in my pantry as is, I’d be grabbing handfuls everyday and consuming way above the recommended serving size which is 1/4C. Or, I’d throw it in my car and eat it on the run, not thinking about how much I was jamming down my throat. So…I opened the bag, measured out individual servings of 1/4C and put them in snack bags.

The bag said I should get approx 13 servings but I only got 12. But, think about it, it took me 2 minutes to bag them myself and each filled snack bag only costs $.54.

Then I grabbed a bag of my husband’s favorite – Dry Roasted Almonds.

This bag costs $5.99 and each individual serving is again, 1/4C. The bag says you should get approx 15 servings which I did. Each individual serving only costs $.39! Whoa!!

They’re all chock full of protein, starting with 3g of protein for the Cashew Macadamia Delight to 7g of protein for the Dry Roasted Almonds. And, if you’re watching your carb intake like I am (staying under 50g a day) stick with the almonds at 5g pet serving. Cashew Macadamia Delight has 12g per serving, Omega Trek Mix has 14g and Simply Almonds, Cashews and Chocolate has 16g – but this one is ideal when you have a craving for chocolate but don’t want to eat an entire bar of it!

These are the perfect snack to throw in your purse, your office desk drawer or your briefcase and feel good about your snacking choices!

If this healthy tip was helpful, share this and tell your friends what you think about it. If I can help just one crazy busy executive or Mom eat healthier and cut the guilt, I’m successful! 😊

Intermittent Fasting – give it a try!

As many of you know, I’ve been following the Primal Diet (low carb, healthy fat, not much sugar at all) as well as doing IF(intermittent fasting). For those whose impressions of fasting involve hunger strikes or gaunt figures sitting in meditation, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Intermittent fasting to me is simple and looks like this – Don’t eat after 8pm and skip breakfast….that’s it.

As Mark Sisson, creator of the Primal Diet said, he enjoys mixing it up beyond the use of one approach by missing meals naturally or on an unplanned basis in addition to full day fasts. Let your choice(s) fit with your personal/family schedule, natural rhythms, and your personality (some of us are meticulous planners and some are more spontaneous – “and that’s O.K.”). The point of IF is this: episodic deprivation takes your body “off the track” for a while and allows systems to reinvigorate and recalibrate (also known as up-regulating and/or down-regulating gene expression). And there are tons of documented benefits of doing so.

  1. Insulin levels drop significantly, which facilitates fat burining
  2. Short-term fasting actually increasesyour metabolic rate by 3.6-14%, helping you burn even more calories
  3. Intermittent Fasting Can Reduce Insulin Resistance, Lowering Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  4. Can reduce inflammation in the body
  5. May have important benefits for brain health. It may increase growth of new neurons and protect the brain from damage

Just google Intermittent Fasting and you’ll get a world of knowledge on the benefits and all the research that’s being done.

fasting clock

As for me, I can personally attest to the fact that I’ve dropped weight around my waist, my brain fog has lifted and I feel fantastic. And, some of other benefits I’ve experienced is; when I go off on a ‘let’s party’ tangent and eat what I want and drink a few cocktails, my body seems to rebound much quicker and I don’t automatically put weight back on. I’ve been able to maintain my lower weight now for over 2 months.

If you’re interested in learning more about Intermittent Fasting and how to do it, email me at wellawarebylinda@gmail.com and I’ll help you out as much as I can!

‘Tis the season for Winter Squash!

I love the taste of winter squashes and their nutritional value: protein, vitamin, niacin, copper, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, manganese…the list goes on and on. And there are so many simple ways to cook them. You can brush them with EVOO and bake them. You can slice them open and throw them in the microwave, or put them on the grill – YUM! But be aware! Winter squash are higher in calories and higher in carbohydrates then some veggies.

As you all know, I’m following a low carb diet along with IF – intermittent fasting, and my bloating is completely gone, my brain fog has lifted and I’ve never felt better. So if you’re like me and following any type of low carb way of eating like Paleo, Atkins or Primal diet, do some research before diving into an entire squash for dinner. For instance, most winter squash has approx 10-20g of carbs per 1 cup…1 CUP! I can sit down and eat an entire Acorn Squash while binge watching Veep! Much healthier than a handful of Cheeto’s tho 😜