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Health Coach Beth

Paleo Sugars 101

Did you know that there are over 60 names for sugar?!?!?   Sugar is hiding everywhere - pasta sauce, breads, muffins, yogurt, green juice...even the "healthy" breakfast bars, cereals and Paleo treats you might be eating in excess just trying to be healthy! Read More

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Health Coach Beth

SPECIAL BONUS EPISODE! Part 2 of the Sugar Special, Beth Romanski, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and founder of My Healthy Transitions Health Coaching and Certified 21 Day Sugar Detox Coach, starts the discussion on how sugar is a gateway substance that leads us down the path to chronic illness.

Listen to Angelique and Beth as they discuss their experiences with client success as well as their own health journeys! You don’t NEED sugar- you’re already sweet enough!

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Health Coach Beth

Surprising Reasons You May be Craving Sugar



As a Certified 21-Day Sugar Detox Coach, I often chat with people who say they have a “sugar problem” but that can’t imagine passing up sweets and carbs.  When it comes to diet, I’ve learned that there is much more to cravings that a simple lack of willpower, which is why working with an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach like myself can be the key to helping people identify these underlying causes and to break through barriers and to achieving the food freedom they desire.  

Certainly a treat is fine on occasion, but here is a list of common reasons you may be overlooking if you find yourself constantly craving sugar and carbs:


Magnesium Deficiency 

Many people don’t realize that the root cause of cravings is actually a micronutrient deficiency. Our bodies are intelligent systems designed to keep us alive; when your body needs a specific nutrient, it will give us signals that we often try to override.  As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, I am a proponent of getting the majority of our nutrients from real, whole foods unless testing has been done to determine if supplementation is necessary, but generally speaking, magnesium is one macronutrient that most people are lacking. Therefore, if you find yourself craving chocolate, you might need more of this important nutrient.  Instead of reaching for the usual sugary option, I suggest enjoying unsweetened cacao powder or 100% unsweetened dark chocolate as a healthier alternative. Cacao is a rich source of magnesium and both are naturally sugar free so you won’t spike your blood glucose feeding the craving cycle, yet you’ll still feel satisfied with a similar taste.  (P.S.  100% unsweetened cacao are both approved as non-sweet treats in my 21-Day Sugar Detox Program which usually makes my clients very happy to learn.)  If you’re not a “moderator” and want to cut out treats altogether for a while, you can opt for non-sugar whole-food magnesium sources like nuts, seeds, beans and dark leafy greens as alternatives to help make your sugar cravings subside.

Gut Imbalance 

Believe it or not, the trillions of bacteria living in our gut control more of our state of health than we may realize, which is why a healthy gut is so critical to overall wellness. Sugar cravings can sometimes be the result of an imbalance in your gut health, which means that all those good bacteria in your digestive system might actually be feeding on the sugar you’re giving it through your diet, only making the problem worse with the more of it you eat. One of the foundations of the 21-Day Sugar Detox Program is to strengthen the gut by eliminating certain foods that are often problematic for people for a period of time while giving your digestive system a break from sugars and too many carbs.  In addition to reducing the amount of processed foods and sugar in your diet, adding probiotic-rich foods like raw sauerkraut, unsweetened keifer and supplementing with a high quality probiotic can often help to reduce sugar cravings from the inside out.

Poor Sleep

Even if you have the best intentions to eat healthy, we all know how we feel if we haven’t had enough sleep – our ability to make decisions are compromised because your brain is seeking out energy from glucose-containing foods in this state.  Inadequate sleep actually does something much deeper by impacting your hormones; in fact, research has shown that poor sleep increases ghrelin (the hunger hormone) and reduces leptin (the hormone that allows you to feel satiated). Therefore, you are fighting an uphill battle to resist turning to that sugary snack to perk up due when you are sleep deprived to the disruption of your body’s hormonal signals that naturally regulate appetite.    

Stress

We all know that when we’re stressed, we are more apt to make emotional food choices to soothe our mood.  Much like a drug, sugar increases our levels of dopamine – the feel good hormone. What you might not realize, is that stress can actually raise your blood glucose all on its own, regardless of what you eat.  Yes, you heard me right!  This causes more insulin to be released by the pancreas to clear that glucose from your bloodstream.  You’ve probably heard that excess glucose and insulin is problematic because eventually your cells will to stop taking it in.  When this goes on too long, this leads to weight gain, insulin resistance and Type II diabetes. We are ALL stressed to some extent with the way the world is today, which is why I incorporate lifestyle strategies into my 21-Day Sugar Detox Coaching Program and custom Wellness Programs for my clients, especially if they are trying to lose body fat.

Too Many Artificial Sweeteners 

People often think they are doing a good thing by switching to artificial sweeteners because they are calorie-free, but too many artificial sweeteners not only conditions our tastebuds to crave more sugary foods, but they can actually confuse our bodies signals to actually raise our blood sugar. When we eat something sweet without the food or nutrition to go along with it, our blood glucose drops too low causing that hangry and shaking feeling.  Plus, artificial sweeteners have been known to cause gut impermeability and digestive distress if consumed regularly, which contributes to surprising reason #2.

Macronutrient Imbalances

If you’re on the standard American Diet, or high carbohydrate clean eating plan, you’ve "trained" your body to want energy from glucose. It’s my specialty to work with my clients to design their own Personal Nutrition Blueprints which often includes targeted macronutrient ratios to reach specific goals, but making sure you are getting a balance of protein, fat and veggies in every meal and snack can be a good place to start. 

Too Many Food Restrictions

We’ve been conditioned to eat less and exercise more, but sometimes we take this too far and we are undereating according to our body’s needs.  If you are in a restrictive mindset about food, you can actually set yourself up both physically and mentally for cravings.  There is certainly value in avoiding a diet of highly palatable and processed foods, but if you think all sugar is “bad” it can add sometimes add emotional and psychological struggle to maintain a consistently healthy diet. Sometimes sugar cravings have nothing to do with food – it sometimes has only to do with our emotions. It could be helpful to journal to understand the root cause of your emotions and reliance on sugar if you think this is a problem area for you.
  
Lowfat/Fat-Free Foods

During the lowfat diet craze, many processed foods were developed to remove fat because that’s what would sell…but guess what was added to make them still taste good? Sugar!  Sugar is also still added to a lot of packaged foods as a preservative to make them last longer on the shelf, which is the reason why I try to get my clients to JERF and “just eat real food” if they want to kick their sugar cravings to the curb. 

Eating too Many “Natural” Foods with Added Sugars

No matter where sugar comes from, even a natural source like raw honey or maple syrup, it’s all converted to glucose in the body.  Even if you follow a vegan, Paleo, or otherwise “clean eating” type of diet, you can still be consuming a lot of added sugar, or eating foods that convert the same way to glucose in the body without even realizing it.  Sugar is a sneaky thing!  There are over 60 names for sugar that you may be totally unaware of. This is one of the first things you would learn in the MyHealthyTransitions Sugar Detox Program.


I know this is A LOT of information and it can be really hard to kick a sugar and carb habit all on your own.   You may feel completely overwhelmed about where to begin.  You may have tried before to eat less sugar and carbs and failed.  The good news is that you CAN make significant improvements to your sugar habit in just 21 days through a clear-cut, whole foods sugar detox.  You just need to know exactly HOW to do it and have the SUPPORT you need to change your habits in a positive way.

If you want to increase your energy, improve your mood, sleep better, lose body fat, and break the sugar and carb stronghold without expensive pills, potions or powders, contact me to learn more about the MyHealthyTransitions Sugar Detox Program.  With just a little bit of effort and education, I guarantee you CAN break your sugar habit for good!  Contact me to learn more!

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Health Coach Beth

Is Coconut Oil Harmful to Your Health?

There has been a flurry of activity on the interwebs lately about a recent article released by the American Heart Association (AHA) that coconut oil, the previously touted miracle health food, contributes to heart disease by raising levels of LDL cholesterol the same as other saturated fat sources.  

As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, I usually tend not to get too worked up about such statements and sweeping claims from one article; having studied over 100 dietary theories with very differing dietary approaches from a raw food vegan diet to a Paleo, Primal or Western A. Price, I've become very accustomed to the fact that there are a multitude of differing opinions when it comes to diet and nutrition. Yes, this can be confusing and maddening at times and if you get too wrapped up in the dogma of any one diet, you're going to drive yourself crazy and down an endless rabbit hole of dietary perfectionism (which by the way, doesn’t even exist and shouldn’t be something we’re spending all our time chasing). 

I get it - we all want to know “the” answer - the truth, the one diet that's going to solve all our problems and the world…and while we're at it, why not throw in the meaning of life? As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, what I do differently is I say there isn't one diet that works for everyone and I help people find the truth within themselves. I believe health is a journey, not a destination, and as we continue to learn more and educate ourselves, we are equipped with the knowledge and power to discern what works best for us at anyone point in time.

Being healthy doesn't have to be hard, even though we tend to make it so.

While I personally have found I feel best following a Paleo template (actually more Pegan - a combination of Paleo and vegan - than anything), I know other people who thrive on a diet with properly prepared legumes and gluten free grains. If you feel good and don’t have any health concerns or health goals you’re not reaching, then that’s wonderful – keep doing what you’re doing!  It's only when something ISN’T working and you're so set on your diet that you won't consider alternative options, or if you're eating a highly processed, nutrient-poor diet and have health complaints that I will be much less supportive of your approach.

With so many diets out there, and more coming out every day that it's hard to keep track, how do you know which is best for you? Well, you could try them all and be in an endless dieting cycle, or you can work with a Health Coach like me and we’ll create your “Personal Nutrition Blueprint” together. This is my specialty. During this process, not only do we need to focus on diet, but lifestyle and emotional components too, which are important factors usually not considered in any of these studies that are only intended to measure one variable and miss the big picture of complete health. (Hence the term “Integrative” Health Coach.)

I know…you read this blog post for me to tell you my take on whether coconut oil is going to kill you, and I'm getting to that – but I needed to preface my perspective in this whole issue and why I think these types of arguments about nutrients tend to occur.

With that being said, I personally do NOT look to the AHA (or any government entity) for health advice.

This goes back to what I was saying about how making sweeping and generalized statements and guidelines for the general population could be harming more people than helping them, when personalized nutrition is the way of the future. If I would have taken the ADA’s advice on limiting sodium at one point in my life, I would have literally died, because your body NEEDS the proper balance of sodium to function and stay alive. (It's a lot more challenging to find articles on this lesser known fact by the way.)  Finally, if you take notice, the AHA also boasts their seal on a box of sugary Cocoa Puffs, which makes me overlook them as a reputable source.

Since I’m not a doctor, I'm not here to give you medical advice, but I can say that you can't put all your eggs in one basket and that you should always question what you hear and read, especially if it's in the internet (aka “Dr. Google”). While there is an appropriate time and place for conventional medicine, sometimes you even need to question what your doctor tells you if they are quick to prescribe a pill as your only solution which is only masking the problem and not solving the underlying root issue, as in the case with statin medication. (Remember not all doctors are equal in their knowledge of nutrition and even dietitians are limited with what the government allows them to do.)

I DO believe it's my role as a Health Coach to educate and empower my clients. 

There are already many intelligent alternative wellness practitioners providing information about this and a multitude of other topics, which is why I didn't feel compelled to repeat what they've already explained thoroughly and why I’ve linked to them below for you to read and decide on your own.  I hope you will take some time to review them with an open mind so you have another viewpoint.

These practitioners provide several worthwhile points about cholesterol – namely, which cholesterol levels are being considered in this analysis – we already knew that coconut oil could raise LDL cholesterol but it also raises LDL levels too (remember HDL cholesterol is beneficial to our body and we actually needs a certain amount of cholesterol to function optimally); that our bodies actually produce the majority of cholesterol in our blood so there is minimal proven correlation between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol; and there are confounding factors that can impact cholesterol levels (i.e. thyroid conditions, stress and inflammation from other inflammatory foods) that were not necessarily addressed by this study.

Read the articles here:

Why Coconut Oil Won’t Kill You, But Listening to the American Heart Association Might! by Diana Rogers, RD, NTP

Is Coconut Oil Bad for Your Cholesterol? By Dr. Mark Hyman

The Diet Heart Myth:  Cholesterol and Saturated Fat are Not the Enemy by Chris Kresser, Functional Medicine Practitioner

The Definitive Guide to Cholesterol by Mark Sisson

Why Eating More Smart Fat is Good for Your Heart by Dr. Terry Wahls

Why Coconut Oil is Better than Vegetable Oil by Dave Asprey

Is Coconut Oil Killing Us? by Chris Masterjohn, PhD

Additionally, as a professional academic and educator, I always question any research study with a discerning eye.

Who is conducting the study and why? Is the study well designed? What is the sample size being tested? What does an otherwise “healthy diet” mean?  How much coconut oil were they consuming? What type of coconut oil were they consuming - refined or unrefined? (This question is important because one may be more oxidative than the other, which contributes to inflammation.) How was the study conducted to account for confounding variables (i.e. other diet, hereditary and lifestyle factors)?  Most of all, who is funding the study or report? I was first exposed to the shocking influence of the food marketers, manufacturers and lobbyists in Marion Nestles’ book “Food Politics”; ever since reading that and other similar exposes, I've tuned out any government recommendations or health claims.

Another great example of how these government messages can be corrupt is the Nork York Times Article, “How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat,” that brought to light that the sugar industry shifted the blame to fat as the cause of heart disease or years due to an exchange of money to the researchers.  Crazy, right?

On this topic, one thing that I do feel contributes to heart disease and diabetes and a myriad of other health issues is a highly inflammatory diet.

This can consist of too much added sugar and refined carbohydrates that convert to sugar in the body. The AHA press release even states that “replacement of saturated fat with mostly refined carbohydrate and sugars is not associated with lower rates of CVD.” This is one reason why I’m so passionate about offering the MyHealthyTransitions 21-Day Sugar Detox Program as a Certified 21DSD Coach; which is a comprehensive action plan to achieve better health through whole foods while busting sugar cravings at the same time. (Plus, it literally saved my Dad’s life when he was diagnosed with uncontrolled diabetes.)

Finally, to give Dr. Sacks the benefit of the doubt, I’d like to believe he was trying to say at the end of the article that eliminating any one food from one’s diet without adding in other nutritious foods is missing the point. This, in general terms, is one part of the article I can agree upon.

What those exact foods are and in what quantities will still vary on the individual (which is where at Certified Health Coach like myself can help). This is the theory of “Crowding Out” that I emphasize for all my clients. It's really about diversity in your diet and getting back to basics and just eating as many real, whole, nutrient-dense foods as possible without worrying about all the marketing hype. Sure, it's not as sexy or controversial, which is why my work as a Health Coach is usually undervalued. Most people want a quick fix - a miracle pill, diet or potion - and that's not something I can give them. If you want to spend your money on products that you think will magically solve all your problems, I realize you have that choice too.

What will I do after reading this announcement? I've read many other articles about the benefits of coconut oil and I will still choose that or high quality olive oil or ghee over inflammatory vegetable oils or fake foods (margarine), but honestly I don't add a lot of extracted or isolated fat into my diet – instead, I get a lot of healthy fat from whole food forms themselves (i.e. avocados, egg yolks, salmon, sardines, other fatty fish, dark meat poultry, quality meat on occasion, bone broth, unsweetened coconut flakes, canned coconut milk, raw coconut butter, raw nuts, seeds, and more).

Essentially, I try to eat a lot of vegetables and maintain an otherwise anti-inflammatory diet with a balance of protein and fat.  I’m not perfect, but I try to do my best because I want to feel good enough to live a life I can enjoy to be able to make a positive impact in this world.

However, even in the context of an otherwise “healthy” diet, there can still be nuance that works optimally for one person compared to another, which is what I work to identify with my clients which is what makes working with an Integrative Health Coach unique.

Finally, I never said to anyone that we should be eating a certain amount of coconut oil each day to lose body fat or avoid heart disease, so I find very little value in this article being relevant news even though it’s caused a lot of controversy. (By the way, if you read the alternative viewpoints and haven’t been scared away from eating healthy fats, check out this blog post by Mark Sisson of The Primal Blueprint about his favorite sources of fats for some ideas.)

In conclusion, I hope I haven't confused you, but instead inspired you to start thinking about what you're doing now and how you want to think about your diet and health advice going forward. If you'd like to learn more about the results I can offer you as a Health Coach to help you overcome health concerns and to find food and body freedom, I invite you to reach out for a Health Consultation.

At the very least, I hope you'll share this article with your friends so we can begin to create some sense of balance and perspective to the dietary dogma that seems to be taking over the world.  If you have comments, I’d love to hear them.

Thanks for reading everyone.

Disclaimer:  The following material is intended for general informational purposes only, and is not to be taken as medical diagnosis, advice or treatment.

Bio:

Beth is a Certified Health Coach as a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and a certified 21-Day Sugar Detox Coach.  Beth also holds a Masters in Higher Education and a Bachelors in Hotel, Restaurant, Institutional Management. During her education at IIN, Beth has studied over 100 dietary theories to provide her clients with Personal Nutrition Blueprints that are designed to meet their unique needs and wellness goals. In her 21-Day Sugar Detox Program, Beth helps people break sugar cravings, balance their blood sugar and find food freedom.  Beth takes an individualized approach to health coaching, with an educational and empowering style. Learn more about Beth and MyHealthyTransitions at www.myhealthytransitions.com. Connect with Beth on Instagram @myhealthytransitions and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/myhealthytransitions.

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Health Coach Beth

Sugar is a Sneaky Thing

This was a special workshop leading up to the MyHealthyTransitions 21-Day Sugar Detox Program. Download your presentation materials at bit.ly/mht-sneakysugar.

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