Corporate Wellness

How to Avoid a “Food Coma” After Lunch

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So you’ve had a busy morning and it’s time for lunch. For many people, work lunches involve buying food from the company cafeteria, or heading out to one of the many eateries that cater to the workweek lunch crowd. Taking your full lunch break is a great way to decompress and prepare for the work in the afternoon (see our blog on how to do the business lunch healthfully), but there is one outcome every productive worker wants to avoid: the food coma.

The “Food Coma” which is so ubiquitous it was added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online in 2014, is that feeling of sleepiness that overtakes people after a big meal. You may know it by a different name like “the itis,” or “after dinner dip,” but you probably haven’t heard of the technical term: “postprandial somnolence.”  We most commonly think of it happening after big holiday meals (like Thanksgiving) but a food coma after lunch can ruin afternoon productivity. So how can we all prevent the food coma…

Don’t go too big. 

A study in young men tested whether a low or high calorie lunch would have a greater impact on sleepiness during a monotonous drive (don’t worry, the drive was in a simulator). Researchers found that the larger meal caused a much greater lull in attentiveness and trend toward greater sleepiness compared to the smaller meal.

TipPack your lunch the night before, or make sure to exercise your ordering skills at a restaurant to ensure your meal is less calorie dense. Use the Healthy Dining Finder to locate a restaurant with healthy options near you, or check out some of B. Komplete’s healthy ordering tips for business lunches.

Keep those carbohydrates complex. 

One theory for feeling sleepy after meals has to do with the amount and types of carbohydrates we eat. There is evidence that eating easily digestible simple carbohydrates (like white flour and sugary desserts) causes sleepiness by increasing blood sugar and subsequent insulin production. That increase in insulin production happens concurrently with increases in hormones like melatonin which causes sleepiness, and inhibition of orexin neurons which help maintain wakefulness. Multiple studies show greater sleepiness and earlier onset of sleep with meals higher refined and total carbohydrate. 

TipTry to keep your post-meal surge in blood sugar slow and controlled by choosing healthy, complex forms of carbohydrates like whole grains. Also be sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables that add healthy fiber and slow the digestion of carbohydrate in the gut.

Avoid high fat meals. 

A study done in over 700 Australian men found that those who ate diets higher in fat reported experiencing greater daytime sleepiness than those with lower fat intake.  

TipKeep your lunch light on the grease! Heavier, fatty foods like pizza and burgers might just exacerbate your post-meal lull. Also consider the type of fat you eat. Typical fast food often contains lots of saturated fat, the fat we typically consider less healthy. Instead, choose foods full of healthy unsaturated fats like guacamole, or a salad with a vinegar and olive oil, nuts and seeds.  

Get a good night’s sleep.

The experience of a “afternoon dip” doesn’t have everything to do with your meal. At least some of this post-lunch sleepiness is due to natural fluctuations of your circadian rhythm which can be exacerbated by the content of your meals. However, another major factor for your desire for an afternoon nap? Sleep debt. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 Americans is sleep-deprived and you’re much less likely to feel energized after lunch if you didn’t get enough sleep the previous night. Poor sleep is also associated with poor food choices, which can exacerbate the food coma, creating a vicious cycle…  

TipSet an alarm not just for the morning, but for bedtime and hold yourself to it! Ensuring you get enough sleep will not only help you stake wakeful throughout the workday, but will also help you make healthy food choices at lunch!

It might feel great to take a nap after a satisfying meal, but this isn’t an option when you’re busy at work. Prioritizing healthy, light lunches and adequate sleep at nighttime can help you maintain your productivity and prevent the dreaded food coma.

However, if you’re like many Americans, you have a hectic work day and prioritizing healthful behaviors can be difficult. Check out B.Komplete’s post on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle with a busy schedule!

Corporate Wellness

The Untapped Power – Mindfulness Meditation

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Let’s rewind to 2014 for a moment. B.Komplete was just getting started and I was just beginning to develop the wellness programs you see from us today.  While researching comprehensive wellness programs, one of the keys to well-being that I discovered was the power of mindfulness and meditation. Well-being is far more than physical health – mental and emotional health are also vital to overall wellness. With this in mind, myself and my team developed a variety of stress reduction tools to guide anyone to a healthier mindset. B.Komplete now offers life coaching, yoga, meditation, chair massage, acupuncture, stress reduction stations, stress reduction seminars, workshops, and stress reduction challenges.

Fast forward to 2017 when I had been away from the “front lines” for a bit too long, and knew that I had to get out there.  I decided it made sense for me to personally teach one of our stress reduction workshops. At this point I was practicing yoga frequently and had learned a little bit about meditation and how to use it. However, I had never really focused on becoming mindful myself, and I had definitely never committed to doing so on a consistent basis. I am a firm believer that in order to be the most effective teacher you can be, you must have personal experience with the subject matter. I wanted to experience the power of mindfulness and meditation for myself, and be able to share my experience with others. Here’s a little bit more about my journey to unlock my power through mindfulness meditation…

Life Before Mindfulness Meditation

Life before mindfulness meditation…

I have been a high stress person throughout my entire life. Stress has always been a major factor in my life, and probably always will be. Soon after starting graduate school I noticed I was losing large clumps of hair. I was obviously alarmed, and saw my doctor. The doctor told me, “you need to chill out a little bit, don’t let the school kill you.” Like I said, stress was a major factor for me. I noticed other physical changes in my body during periods of great stress. My body weight would fluctuate, my jaw would be sore from grinding my teeth, I had dark circles under my eyes. I could tell my body was not happy with the way I was handling stress.

 

How My Journey Began

I started with a 30 day mindfulness meditation practice. I practiced between 5 and 8 minutes daily and it was perfect. I found that it was really helpful to practice first thing in the morning, before starting work.

The changes I experienced during the first 30 days…

First of all, I gained an awareness that I had not been very mindful at all before starting this practice. As I made my way through the first 30 days I grew a whole new view of the world around me. I appreciated the nature, the scenery, and the leaves on the trees so much more. My world became much more vivid, more beautiful, and more inspirational, as I became more mindful.

My overall impression of my mindfulness and meditation practice…

It blew my mind! It totally changed my life by expanding my horizons and changing the way I perceived the world. I started noticing I was able to handle my stress in a much healthier way and had this new, positive outlook on life. I was more capable of handling stressful situations. As soon as I started my practice, I developed resiliency. When life tried to knock me down, I came back stronger and more focused. I started to notice my reactions changing. When difficult situations presented themselves I resorted to my practice.

The specific factors that helped me gain the full potential of my practice…

Developing a personal mantra was incredibly beneficial to me. In times when stress was mounting inside me, I came back to my breath and my mantra. The mantra drew me back to the present moment and brought me clarity and focus. I could feel the anger, frustration, stress, and other negative emotions dissipate as I focused myself on the present moment using my mantra. The way I see a mantra, is as a tool to change your mindset. I developed my mantra to help motivate me professionally by using words I connected deeply with to create a phrase I knew would help me get my mind back on the right track.

As a business professional, mindfulness helps me work.

Mindfulness has greatly benefited me from a professional standpoint. When business gets overwhelming, I take a step back and focus on what is going on right now. Mindfulness makes the tough stuff easier to handle. One thing I have struggled with in the past is focusing too much on the future. I would start to think about everything I had on my to do list and it became cumbersome. Mindfulness has helped me take a step back. I take things day by day now. I focus on what needs to be accomplished each day, and I do it. This has made my life so much more manageable. I find much more happiness and excitement in my day to day work now that I concentrate on one day instead of worrying about the next 3 months!

Recommended Tools to Get Started with Mindfulness and Meditation.

The Center for Wellness at Harvard University has great resources from guided meditations to mindfulness tools. When I was first starting my practice I used online, guided meditations.

B.Komplete offers a wide variety of stress reduction programs. If you are interested in personally benefiting from a mindfulness and meditation practice, and would like to share this gift with your office group, contact us at info@bkomplete.com for additional information and to schedule our stress reduction events. 

Nutrition and Food

What Foods to Eat in the Summer

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Warm days means fresh summer foods. Wondering what foods can help you stay in shape all summer long?  Eating well and keeping yourself hydrated is important to keep yourself ready and energized for summer activities.  B.Komplete Registered Dietitian Nutritionists can help you learn more about these foods for when you’re having fun in the sun!

Summer Foods

Watermelon: The perfect fruit to keep you hydrated without a whole lot of calories. Check out this watermelon feta mint salad

Berries: Blueberries. Raspberries. Blackberries. Jam packed with fiber and antioxidants. Toss them in your plain yogurt or oatmeal for some added natural sweetness. Want to try berries in a delicious savory dish? Try this recipe for grilled salmon and blueberry sauce!

Tomatoes: Rich in an antioxidant called, lycopene and perfect tossed in a salad or to simply enjoy alone (especially grape tomatoes).

Avocados: Yes, you should eat fat! Especially the heart-healthy fats in avocados to keep you satisfied as well as add some creaminess to your dishes.  Try swapping out butter or cream cheese for ¼ of a mashed avocado on your toast/bagel. How about making a delicious creamy avocado sauce for your pasta or “zoodles”? 

Corn: Get the local grown corn and throw it on the grill for some sweet BBQ crunch! You gain 4 grams of fiber in just ½ cup of kernels.  Click here to learn more about your local farms.  Learn more about eating organic and fresh foods here.

Zucchini: This vitamin C-rich veggie is perfect for grilling or making “zoodles”. The Food Network has wonderful recipe ideas.  Love Pad Thai?  Try this lighter version that uses “zoodles.”  Click here to purchase for a budget-friendly spiralizer to make your “zoodles”.

Nuts: A good source of healthy fats, protein, fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Try a small handful of dry-roasted unsalted almonds, cashews, walnuts or pistachio as an on-the go or pre-workout snack.

Want to try multiple summer-friendly foods all in one dish? Try this grilled corn, watermelon and avocado salad!  Substitute the apple or celery for jicama if you are having trouble finding it.

Resources

Interested to learn more about seasonal foods and how to enjoy summer food? Below are links to help guide you:

https//snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/whats-in-season-summer

Corporate Wellness

Wellness Success – How to Maintain or Gain It

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Here at B.Komplete, we strive every day to make Wellness Success achievable. But what exactly is Wellness Success? Depending on your health goals, Wellness Success can mean different things to different individuals. We’ve created this guide for Maintaining – or Gaining -Your Wellness Success to help you achieve your vision of wellness, and to overcome barriers you may face along the way.

Wellness Defined

Wellness is the self-directed process in which one comes to realize his or her full potential in mental and physical well-being. Things that hold us back from achieving wellness success include stress, time constraints, hesitance of change, and fear of the unknown. For Wellness Success to be realized, we must overcome all that holds us back.

The Empowerment Zone

Think about the things in your life that you wish were different. Write them down. Determine which of those you can control. These things are in your Empowerment Zone. Develop a plan of action that includes changing these undesirable things that you have control over.

Make the Choice to Change

The only way to realize positive change in your life is by making choices. Life is full of choices! Unfortunately, we make some of these choices so often that they have become habits. Change sometimes seems scary because we are stuck in these habits. We have become accustomed to doing things a certain way, and we are scared to change. The first step to achieving and maintaining Wellness Success is to override these feelings of fear.

Dissect your Habits, and Gain Control

By gaining control over your habits, you move closer to the person you want to be. There is no shortcut to mastering your habits, but there is one secret to controlling them: habits are built upon consistency. New York Times business writer, Charles Duhigg, explains the habit-building process in more detail in this NPR interview. To initiate a new behavior and turn it into a habit, you must be consistent with this behavior.

Start Small

Motivation rises and falls. To achieve better success, make changes that don’t require much motivation. Rather than eliminating sugar all day, start by eliminating it from your coffee. Instead of completely replacing your whole milk with almond milk, start by mixing half of each. After that becomes routine, introduce the new habit in another area, in another way. You’ll know when a habit becomes a routine, because it will feel automatic. As Forbes.com explains, “The most successful people take small, smart steps toward their goal.”

Plan for Success

Planning is a crucial tool in your effort to achieve Wellness Success. Some days, we are Super Versions of ourselves, and our motivation runs rampant. On other days, we just don’t feel like it. How do we make good decisions every single day? When we don’t have the time or motivation to make good decisions, we end up choosing what’s easiest. If your vision of Wellness Success involves healthier eating, try using free meal plans that meet your food group targets. If your Wellness Success involves incorporating more workouts into your weekly routine, try a free fitness app like Daily Workouts and Sworkit. By not planning ahead, we set ourselves up for failure. 

Prioritize Your Goal

Ignore interruptions and anything that can take you off track. Follow your plan; treat your goal as a priority. Schedule your priorities, don’t prioritize your schedule. Schedule your efforts as if they are appointments, and commit to them like you would anything else. Don’t blow yourself off, just like you wouldn’t blow off a friend, coworker, dentist, or physician.

Have a Buddy!

A Stanford University Study found that simply receiving a phone call every two weeks to discuss exercise progress increased the amount of exercise done by participants by 78%. After a year and a half, the participants studied were still exercising at an increased level. Another study, by Indiana University, found that half of couples who worked out separately dropped out of their workout programs over the course of a year, while those who worked out together had only an eight percent dropout rate. The take home message: Find an exercise buddy and increase your chances of sticking to your workout routine.

Focus

To reach our wellness success, we need to become experts in directing our attention toward our goals. The ability to focus has been shown to predict happiness in school, work, and life. Methods for improving our focus include goal visualization and meditation. By visualizing our goals and defining what Wellness Success looks like, we can view completion and work towards that vision. Meditation can improve attention, reduce stress, and remove distraction as we continue on our path toward wellness.

Keep Track of Things

This simple but crucial step in behavior change is backed by research showing increased performance when behaviors are tracked. In 14 studies assessing tracking in school students, students who tracked their progress improved test scores by 32%. The most powerful results occurred when students were also able to see teachers’ expected scores as presented in the chart. This combination of seeing charted progress + preset goals and expectations has the biggest effect on enhancing performance. Regardless of the tracking method you choose, make sure to map out your goals along the way, so that you can view them as you chart your progress. Invest in a goal-oriented planner, like the Passion Planner, to track your habits and to create a road-map with expected achievements as you work towards your goals.

Getting Over the Hump

Everyone reaches a plateau. Whether a weight loss plateau or a motivational plateau, this is when it’s important to take a step back and review why you started in the first place. Think about why you chose to make these changes. What have you been working so hard over the last days, months, or year to achieve? Get back to your Empowerment Zone and realize that you have been making these changes because you have the choice to do so. You decided that it was important enough for you to choose change. Roadblocks are inevitable. To get past them, ask yourself: Are you bored? Do you need to tweak your workout? Do you need more variety in your meal planning? Are you stressed? Reassess your habits. If it’s diet variety that you need, think about varying your protein choices. Consider switching up your snacks. Try a new fruit, vegetable, or other produce item that you’ve seen but never tasted. Incorporating new things could be the best way to get over your temporary progress hump. Recognizing stress is also crucial to getting past this point. When we feel like our motivation has taken a vacation, stress is often to blame. We must learn to recognize stress in order to manage it. Look for physical, mental, behavioral, and emotional signs of stress. Then, overcome your stress with diet, exercise, and rest. 

Congratulations on taking the first step toward realizing your personal Wellness Success: having the desire to change. Using this B.Komplete guide for maintaining your Wellness Success, you will be well positioned to overcome any future hurdles that you may face in your path toward optimal wellness.

Nutrition and Food

What Foods to Eat in the Winter

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Winter means colder temperatures and less hours of daylight. With more time spent inside and little exposure to sunlight, it can become a challenge to stay happy and energized. Because of this, it is crucial to stay focused on the nutrition choices that work for you during this time of the year. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression with seasonal patterns, is very common during the cold months of winter. Changes in mood, energy, focus, appetite, and sleep are normal and expected with this kind of disorder. There are many different ways that you can stay on top of your health and prevent symptoms of SAD. Staying active, eating healthy winter foods, and managing your stress are great places to start.

To stay happy, healthy, and energized incorporate these winter foods into your day:

Sweet Potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A, beta-carotene, potassium, fiber. They are also packed with antioxidants. With their sweet taste and bright orange color, adding them to your meal can be fun. Also, they work well in a lot of different recipes. Whether you choose to bake, roast, or mash them, sweet potatoes are a great food to eat to keep you full and energized! Check out more recipe ideas here.

Brussel Sprouts are “tiny cabbages” and have a wide variety of health benefits.  When prepared with herbs, spices and some healthy oil, they taste really yummy! Brussels are full of fiber, as well as contain high levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants that can protect your DNA from oxidative damage. Try tossing them in some olive or avocado oil and roasting until lightly browned. Add some herbs like oregano, cumin, or smoked paprika.  Toss with a pinch of salt and pepper, and enjoy! For other Brussel sprout recipe ideas, click here.

Salmon contains tryptophan which is an amino-acid that is a precursor for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is associated with positive mood regulation. Salmon also contains large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown in some studies to help regulate depression. The fat in salmon is heart healthy and helps to reduce harmful inflammation.  Salmon can be baked, broiled, or grilled. Add your favorite marinade or season with citrus like lemon, lime and orange, and enjoy!  Check out this link for more salmon recipe ideas.

Winter Squash is full of Vitamin A and carotenoids, which have been shown to promote healthy skin as well as benefit heart health and immunity. Also rich in fiber and potassium, winter squash is a great option for many! Try all different varieties: Acorn, butternut, kabocha, and delicate squash! To learn more about squash varities, check out Epicurious, and for some yummy winter squash recipes, click here.

Clementines are vitamin C and fiber-packed tiny fruits.  This sweet and tart delights are great snacks for just about anywhere, anytime. Full of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium, clementines are easy to pack and delicious to eat, Whether you’re peeling one for your morning snack or throwing them into your salad for lunch, clementines are the perfect addition to your day!  For delicious recipe inspiration, check out Saveur

Staying happy and healthy can sometimes be a challenge. Life is crazy, and there are always things to be worrying about and stressing over. Take small steps daily to keep your mind at ease and your body strong and energized. Enjoy these winter foods for your mood and overall vitality.  Your health and well-being are important to all of us here at B.Komplete!  Contact us at info@bkomplete.com to book one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists to help you come up with the health and wellness strategies that work, for you.  

Exercise

Interview – Your Time is Now

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B.Komplete had the opportunity to speak with Dave, who is a professional in the food industry.  Dave is happily married with two children.  Like many of us, Dave started gaining weight in his 30’s, and found himself in a state he didn’t feel great about.  And, then Dave made a change.  Read on to learn what worked for him – which may also work for you.  

When you first decided to make changes in your life, what was the first thing you did?
  • I realized I was not in the shape that I wanted to be in. It was obvious I wasn’t active enough and I knew I probably wasn’t eating the best. I wanted to start by focusing on my eating habits. To do this, I just started to keep track of what I was eating each day.
How did you begin the physical process of changing your life?
  • At first, I thought about how I could keep track of what I was eating. I knew I could keep notes or create an excel spreadsheet. Then I thought to myself, there has to be an easier way to do this, especially with all of the new technology now a days. So, I started to look into different apps. I searched “weight loss” and found My Fitness Pal and Lose It.  My Fitness Pal  appeared to have a focus on exercise and that’s not what I wanted at this point. I chose to use Lose It because I could budget the amount of calories I was allotted each day in order to hit my goal weight.  
What goals did you set for yourself?
  • I knew I wanted to lose weight. At the beginning, I was at my heaviest of 255 lbs and I wanted to get down to a healthier weight. I set a goal to get down to 215 lbs. Lose It actually helped me to hit my end goal by giving me mini goals each week. By that I mean, each week I was allotted a set number of calories in order to lose 2 lbs per week.
Were there any obstacles you faced during the process of change? How did you manage to stay healthy at work?
  • One Thursday or Friday evening, I wanted to enjoy a glass of wine with my wife after work but I didn’t have enough calories left to do so. That’s when it hit me. If I did enough physical activity, I could burn off enough calories to be able to enjoy my wine. This became important to me to work out so I could enjoy things and still maintain my calorie goals. Also, it helped me to feel better about myself.
  • With a long commute to work each day and a busy schedule, it’s hard to find time to fit in exercise. It helped for me to schedule it into my day and make it a priority. I started to go to the gym before work in the morning. I remember one of the first mornings my alarm went off and I said “if I don’t get up now, I’m never going to do this.” So, I got up and have been doing it ever since. On the days I have an early meeting and can’t go to the gym beforehand, I have to defend my time, meaning even if I can’t do my usual hour or so workout and only have time for 20 minutes of cardio, I do it.
  • Food wise, at work I started to make substitutes in my lunches. By tracking what I ate, I saw what wasn’t good for me and what I could replace it with. For instance, I now eat baked Lays chips instead of regular potato chips. Also, I’m a big fan of soups. I used to eat jambalaya and seafood bisque’s which are high in fat and sodium. Now, I found one that is much healthier and still tastes great.  
 What resources did/do you use to help keep you going?
  • Like I said, the app Lose It  works well for me to track what I eat. I can also use it to track my exercises. There was one saying that my previous manager used to say that has stuck with me, that was: “what gets measured, gets done.” I think of that when I track what I eat and when I exercise. It helps you see or “measure” what you are doing and it keeps me accountable to “get it done” or meet my daily calorie allowance and fit in daily exercise.
  • You have to find something that works for you. When I started to get into exercising, I was never a fan of running but it is now something that I enjoy and helps me. I started running shorter distances, maybe a mile or two. Now, I have ran numerous races from 5K, 10K, to a half marathon.
Have your changes impacted your kids or family at all? if so, how?
  • My children are 5 & 2 so they are in their cute years. They actually helped to inspire me to want to change. I saw a picture of myself and one of my children and it didn’t look like me next to this cute kid.
  • Now that I’ve made my changes and stick to a healthy lifestyle, it sets a good example for them. They’ve come to my races and cheer me on from the sides. My older child even does “races” in the backyard where he just runs around for a little. It’s good for them to see the importance of healthy eating and regular exercise. Hopefully, down the road they will understand that from watching me.
What advice would you give your kids in the future on the importance of health, physical activity, and eating healthy?
  • I would say you have to make it a priority. You need to stay consistent, even if you can’t fit in a full workout one day, do what you can. You are still doing something and staying active. Also, find something you enjoy and are comfortable with. If you enjoy it, it will be easier to make it a priority in your daily life. It helps to track everything. You see what you are doing right and what you can improve on.
What are you most proud of?
  • After I lost all the weight, I went back to the doctors and my doctor noticed right away that I lost weight. Also, my biometrics had all improved. It was nice to see that not only on the outside I had improved, but also on the inside.
Dave’s Weight change:
March 2014 – 255 pounds, November 2014 – 200 pounds.
Dave ran his first half marathon in November 2014.

 


B.Educated, B.Inspired, B.Komplete

 

Corporate Wellness

Business Lunch Hour – A Healthy Addition to Your Work-Day?

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It’s 11:00 AM and your stomach starts to growl – do you know where your lunch is?

The business lunch manifests itself in many ways:  the quick lunch, the working lunch, the networking lunch with coworkers, the job interview lunch, or the lunch-with-your-boss lunch!  Whatever type you follow, we recommend making sure it’s a true and healthy break from your busy day.

There are countless benefits of breaking from work for lunch; reducing stress, increasing concentration, sustained energy for your afternoon, feeling better, and many more.  However, unhealthy food choices and overeating can greatly hinder, if not cancel out, those positive results.  By including better-for-you food and beverage choices and being mindful while eating, you can boost the positive benefits and fuel your body to get you through the rest of your workday with energy and vitality.

Mindful eating is a skill that takes practice.  Mindful eating means: avoiding emotional food decisions and distractions at meal time.  When we eat “mindlessly” we are not present during our mealtime, which can lead to weight gain and health problems.  Don’t let emotions, stress, or deadlines sway your ability to maintain healthy eating habits during a busy work day.  Practice being present and enjoy a breather, savor each bite, and come back to work recharged.

Four B.Komplete Tips for Your Mindful and Healthy Business Lunch

#1) When eating out, research the restaurant ahead of time.

Most restaurants have online menus  available for perusal.  You can check out Healthy Dining Finder  to find healthy dining options in your area.  Another tool to use is Calorie King which reveals the nutritional content of many foods.  By figuring out your meal ahead of time, you can avoid the risk of impulse ordering. 

More tips for eating out – Restaurant dining can pinch your wallet and your waistline – choose wisely:

  • Order the smallest size available
  • Choose to drink water, unsweetened tea, or club soda
  • Request that the bread/chips be brought out with your meal, or avoid altogether
  • Ask for dressing on the side
  • Ask for light sauce or sauce on the side
  • Choose grilled, baked, poached, or steamed proteins
  • Aim to make a meal out of a salad and additional protein
  • Share your appetizer, salad, entrée and/or dessert
  • Use lemon, olive oil, and/or vinegar to flavor

#2) Drink a big glass of water before you start your lunch break.

Research has shown that drinking about 16 oz. of water prior to a meal  can help you avoid temptations like dipping into the endless bread or chips offered at many restaurants.  Additionally, thirst and hunger triggers come from the same part of your brain, meaning that while you may feel hungry, you are in fact thirsty.  Drinking water 15 minutes before eating  can help curb your cravings and encourage eating less at meal time.

#3) Pack your lunch the night before.

Your work day is busy enough.  Avoid a hectic morning and try packing your lunch the night before when you’ve had a chance to decompress and can make mindful decisions.  Have you heard about “salad in a jar” – it’s a solution for a healthy, custom, and delicious grab-and-go option.

#4) When eating with others, remember to savor.

It’s easy to get distracted by office chatter when networking with colleagues.  Eating becomes so automatic that you may look down at your plate and notice your food is already gone.  Savor each bite (for example, notice the texture of the food in your mouth or identify the different sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavors as you chew) as if it were your last, to help avoid problems like overeating.

There are many reasons to take a lunch break  and keep it sacred.  This is so important that we’ve even mentioned it before in a previous post.  Remember that lunch can be delicious and healthy.  Schedule a daily break for yourself  to refresh your mind and feed your belly.  We promise your body and your company will thank you for it!

Nutrition and Food

How to Start a Vegetarian Diet – Are You Up for the Challenge?

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Type “becoming a vegetarian” into your favorite search engine and you are guaranteed to see a plethora of news articles, medical journals, lifestyle blogs, and social media sites filled with suggestions.  Let’s keep it simple – condensed results for you in an easy-to-follow article:

First, let’s review the benefits.  Switching to a vegetarian lifestyle can help improve personal health , sustain the environment, support animal welfare, and save money.  Whatever you believe, there is always a reason to consider trying a vegetarian diet.

If you’re reading this, then you may have thought about becoming a vegetarian at one time.  For whatever reason you couldn’t start then, we challenge you to take the venture now!  Vegetarianism is more accessible than ever, even for the busy professional. 

Here are four steps to make it happen:

Step 1 – Let’s be honest…

Before skydiving for the first time, would you calmly hop in your car and drive to the nearest airport?  Probably not; you may consider a few things like risk, personal health and cost, prior to jumping.  Similarly, if you want to become a vegetarian, consider the following:

  1. What foods do you enjoy and what don’t you like?
  2. Are you an adventurous eater or do you to stick with what you know?
  3. Do you eat in restaurants or at home?
  4. Do you cook or buy ready-to-eat meals?

Understanding your preferences will help make this work.  For example, don’t expect to become a vegan chef overnight if you don’t like cooking.  You may enjoy some ready-to-eat options instead while you ease yourself into cooking a few meals. 

Step 2 – What do you know?

There are different types of vegetarianism.  Here are the most popular:

  • “No food with a face” – Quoted from TV character Phoebe Buffay of Friends , this type of vegetarian avoids food with a face, or simply put animal meat. The technical name is lacto-ovo vegetarian, which includes eating animal byproducts like dairy and eggs, but not the animal flesh itself. 
  • One fish, two fish… – A pescatarian fuses the health benefits of fresh fish with nutrient rich plant-based foods. A pescatarian avoids all land animals like beef and poultry and may also exclude byproducts like eggs and dairy.
  • Animal hugger – Also known as vegan. This version completely omits animal product from the diet including byproducts like eggs, dairy, honey, and foods with Red40 coloring. 
  • What the heck is a flexitarian? – A newer term, the flexitarian  consumes meat less frequently and in smaller amounts. For example, a flexitarian  may eat plant-based foods only, but will eat meat on special occasions like holidays.

Which one sounds good?  Choose the best fit for you and set it as your goal.

Step 3 – Let’s eat!

Enough thinking, let’s start eating! 

Tip 1 – Make your favorite already-vegetarian dishes:

Do you like sandwiches like grilled cheese and PB&J, veggie lasagna , rice and beans , tossed green salads and other potato, pasta and fruit salads, minestrone soup, or mac ‘n cheese?  If you do, good news!  These are already meat-free dishes!  

Tip 2 – Embrace “gateway” meat products:

While some people turn their noses up at the processed nature of faux meats, this option can be an efficient way to add protein and make a meaty dish vegetarian without losing the flavor and texture of the dish.  These products can be found in most grocery store chains, in the natural food and frozen food isles:

Tip 3 – Substitutions for Vegan-friendly dishes

Avoid dairy and eggs by using plant-based ingredients instead.  Items like applesauce, bananas, nut milks, flax seed, and coconut can be substituted while cooking and baking.  In addition to great taste, your foods may be healthier!  Check out conversion charts available online.

Step 4 - Nice to meet you!

To be a successful vegetarian, introduce yourself to new meals and ingredients.  Plant-based dishes can be delicious, easy to find, and healthy.

 

Take the Challenge

Starting a vegetarian diet can be easy to do, and can be a gradual process.  It’s helpful to have a support system in friends and family. 

To help you get started, we challenge you to take the 3-day B.Komplete Vegetarian Challenge!  All you need to do is try three breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners that fall within the type of vegetarian you want to become.  Use the recipe sources in this post or stick to your already vegetarian favorites.  Then, let us know how you did by leaving a comment below! 

Not willing to commit yet?  Try out Meatless Monday.  A now global movement, this  organization encourages people to “once a week, cut the meat.”  Their website has a vault of resources to help you commit to reducing overall consumption of meat.

 

Nutrition and Food

Organic versus Conventional – Which Should You Choose? Part Two

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Lets continue the conversation on some of the main factors that consumers like you consider when making purchases at the food store. If you didn’t read Part 1 of the series addressing the safety and cost of organic and conventional foods, you can view it here.

Nutrition

Working to improve your health through the food that you eat? Then you want to eat the MOST nutritious versions available, right? It’s more bang for your buck!  The food & nutrition industry has been testing both organic and conventional foods for many years. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a definitive answer of which type is nutritiously superior.  In the early 2000’s, you could find articles that were claiming a significant nutritional disparity between select organic and conventional foods. Only a few years later, there had been new research saying the exact opposite. In 2009, the American Society of Nutrition posted an article  concluding there is no significant difference between organic and conventional foods. Again in 2012, a hotly debated report from Stanford University stated that there is a lack of strong evidence that organic foods are more nutritious than conventional foods.

 Today’s research deviates from those studies, showing that there IS a nutritional difference in some organic foods. Reports are showing up to 40% higher in antioxidant activity  in organic fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants are comprised of nutrients like Vitamin C, carotenoids, flavonoids and minerals like selenium and the health benefits of antioxidants are evident.

 What does this mean? It’s apparent that there is more research needed.

 If good health is important to you, then we suggest continuing to choose your favorites until further solid evidence is discovered. Want better nutrition now? Remember VARIETY! Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat meats and dairy will give you a wide spectrum of your daily needed nutrients.

Environmental Impact

Soil erosion, decline in crop production, fertilizer runoff, and pesticide resistance are concerns that some take into account when deciding between organic or conventional foods. The USDA has many resources on how farmers can protect and enhance the environment but there are still problems that worry shoppers.

Scary reports of lake and river “dead zones” occasionally surface after finding considerable deterioration of wildlife and vegetation. This fuels new environmental studies to identify the true offender and will often include testing of new farming techniques and products that can help protect instead of harm.

Consider this: all types of farming impacts the surrounding environment. Organic farms can use natural fertilizers and pesticides that can cause runoff problems. However, the USDA says that organic farming differs from conventional farming because they strive to preserve natural resources and biodiversity with their farming techniques. There also are organizations like the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania that dedicate themselves to researching and testing better ways for American farmers to grow organic foods without harming the environment.

If preserving the environment is important to you, then you may want to consider choosing organic foods. Environment-friendly tip: buy local! As we mentioned in Part 1, think about supporting smaller farms that are local to your home or workplace. This reduces the need to truck food products all over the country, which can produce a considerable amount of fossil fuel emissions.

 Don’t know where to find a local farmer market? Visit here and input your zip code or download an app for your mobile device (we tried Farmstand).

So, What Should You Choose?

The bottom line is that, as a consumer, you have to decide what’s important to you. Whether you’re concerned with safety, cost, nutrition, environmental impact or something else that wasn’t mentioned, you should always choose what’s best for you and your family. Watch for new research on the areas that are important to you. And in the meantime, purchase and eat healthy food that you love!

Photo Credit:

http://abcn.ca/category/diet-exercise/

http://farmersmarketannex.com/fmablog/?p=271

Nutrition and Food

Organic versus Conventional – Which Should You Choose? Part One

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Deception. Misdirection. Imminent Danger. All characteristics of a villain in the next superhero blockbuster, not the emotions we should have when selecting our next meals.

With sensational headlines in modern media and new research claims, it’s not surprising that even the most educated shopper can be infused with doubt over what to place in the cart. Shopping at the market should be a pleasant experience filled with delicious options from which to choose.

Today, there is a wide variety of conventional and organic produce (fruit, vegetables), livestock (meat, dairy, eggs) and multi-ingredient products (breads, pasta, and other processed foods). This is a great success for the US, but it can be very overwhelming for the American consumer.

 Common complications:

  1. We can be inundated with so many choices that it may seem easier to select what was purchased before, without thinking twice.
  2. Organic foods are stigmatized, with some saying that they’re only for the wealthy, for environmentalists, or for parents with young children.
  3. Some food companies have embraced misleading marketing practices to boost sales, touting that their foods are “healthy and natural” or even using “organic” on their packaging. (Other companies are responding to these practices by putting out product lists of their own, encouraging transparency in marketing and making healthy, informed choices.)

Choosing between organic and conventional foods can be an easier decision. In this two-part series, we’ll address some factors that consumers like you consider when making purchases at the store.

Safety

A concern for some shoppers is safety – safety for themselves, for farmers, or for the animals. Understanding the production of both conventional and organic foods can clear up some apprehension.

 Conventional food products are produced by traditional farming practices used by small family farmers to large corporate farms. This can include using chemical pesticides for pest control and synthetic fertilizers to increase growth margins. For livestock, this includes dosing with antibiotics and hormones to help maintain the health of the animals.

 Governing organizations like the USDA and FDA regulate conventional farming practices and inspect food products for wholesomeness, deeming them as safe for consumption. However, government regulation ends there.

 According to the USDA,  organic operations must use only approved substances and avoid man-made fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, and genetically modified organisms. These practices also promote farm worker health, lowering the risk of inhalation or ingestion of harmful substances.  Furthermore, the USDA organic seal on meat, eggs, and dairy products verifies that producers met animal health and welfare standards, did not use antibiotics or growth hormones, and provided animals with access to the outdoors.

 If safety is your priority, then organic foods may be the best choice. On the fence? Start with the Environmental Workers Group’s “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen,”  an annual list distributed to educate consumers on pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables.

Cost

One of the key benefits of conventional food products is their wide spread availability in the US. These products can be found in grocery stores, convenience stores, and schools, to name a few. Simple economics of supply and demand as well as generous government subsidies help explain the lower prices of conventional foods.

Typically, organic foods are priced higher than conventionally grown foods, which may be caused by the limited availability of organics. America has seen a significant increase of organic operations since 2002 however, so consumers may begin to see reduced prices on certain foods. 

Consider also the additional fees to the farmers. Farm owners have to pay fees and complete a transition period  before beginning organic operations. To recoup these expenses, additional costs may be incorporated into food prices. Paired with “high-end” public perception and premium upcharges, organic foods will often be more costly than their conventional counterparts.

If you are concerned about cost, then conventional foods may be best. Still like to buy some organic? Here are some money saving tips:  

  1. Purchase discounted organic “seconds” at your local markets when available. 
  2. Visit local farmers who may follow organic practices but save on operational costs by avoiding the USDA certification process. A few specific questions to the farmer may help save you some money. 

Don’t know where to find a local farmer market? Visit here and input your zip code or download an app for your mobile device (we tried Farmstand).

Check back for Part Two of Organic vs. Conventional – What should you choose? We’ll discuss the Nutrition and Environmental Impact of Organic and Conventional foods.