4 Different Ways to Enjoy Eggs

I love eggs! I have had eggs in some form or fashion almost every day since I was a kid. I'm that guy that goes and buys 5 dozen eggs when I go to the grocery store.

Eggs aren't some miracle food. They do have some nutrients that provide some great health benefits. They’re an excellent source of protein. They provide 7 grams in a single egg and delivering all the essential amino acids needed to retain and maintain a lean muscle. They also deliver a rich source of vitamin B-12, vitamin D, iron and vitamin A.

Eggs are so versatile. When you think about eating eggs, it is typically for breakfast. But there are many more ways to enjoy eggs. Here are my favorite 4 ways to enjoy eggs.

#1 Boiled Eggs
Boiled eggs probably isn't the most exciting way to eat eggs. However, they are very convenient. Boiled eggs can last a long time in the refrigerator after being boiled (3-5 days), they are easy to prepare, and provide a little protein bump when you are in need. They can be consumed in a variety of ways. You can chop them and drop them on a salad, eat them on top of bread with avocado, or add them to a skillet dish.

#2 Baked
A frittata is a traditional egg-based Italian dish similar to a quiche without the crust coming from carbs! Frittatas are usually cooked in a skillet using a lot of oil. Of course there are ways to bring the calories down of one of your favorite dishes. I like to bake the eggs in a muffin pan. You could use a variety of ingredients to prepare this dish. You could chop up zucchini, onions, mushrooms, spinach, kale or even broccoli. Sautee your selected veggies and add to egg mix, using a combination of whole eggs and egg whites. You can also bump the protein content if desired, adding chopped chicken breast, ground turkey or beef, and even bacon. Take your egg mixture and place in non-stick muffin tin, place in the oven and bake. When done, you’ll have egg frittata muffins that you can portion for a few meals!

#3 Topped On Your Favorites
Top your favorites with eggs. Try a pan-fried egg on top of a burger or sandwich with your favorite toppings. Eggs can also top a healthy a rice cake, with smashed avocado and tomato.

#4 Scramble
Of course this is the go to for most people including myself. I love scrambled eggs. It reminds me of eating pancakes, eggs and bacon when I was a kid on my grandpa's ranch.

Eggs will always be a favorite of mine. The are so versatile. You may or may not like eggs the traditional way but you should at least venture out and try making them a few different ways. It might add a new flavor to your dish.

Are You Getting Enough Fiber?

Did you know fiber is also known as roughage? Fiber is the indigestible part of plant foods that travel through our digestive system. Fiber absorbs water along the way and helps to ease bowel movements.

Fiber is a very important conversation that I have with clients all the time. Do you get enough fiber? The odds are pretty good that you don’t get the recommended daily amount. Studies show that only five percent of adults consume adequate dietary fiber. The Institute of Medicine recommends at least 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men every day.

The majority of us are missing out on the health benefits from fiber including support for heart health, digestive health, and weight management.

Many nutritionally dense foods have much less fiber than you think. For example, an apple has about 3 grams and a slice of whole grain bread contains about 2 grams. So you can see that it takes some planning to make sure that your daily fiber content needs are met.

Don't try to fix your fiber needs in a day. Gradually improve. Any time you make a major change to your diet your body will need some time to adjust. Increasing fiber is best done in small increments because drastic change can lead to gastrointestinal upset. Attempting to improve it too fast can cause digestive upsets such as intestinal gas, cramping, or diarrhea. One approach may be to add one serving of fiber-rich foods every day for a week. See how your body feels and maybe increase to two servings the next week. You could repeat that as long as you listen to your body until you reached the desired fiber content level. Your best choice is a slow, gradual increase over time to help your system adapt and avoid any uncomfortable symptoms.

A key component to increasing fiber content is to also increase water as well.

Hydration levels and digestive comfort are closely related. The large intestine plays an important role in maintaining the body’s water balance so monitoring water becomes even more important. On a day when you don’t drink as much water as your body needs, the large intestine will compensate by absorbing more water than usual from the materials entering the large intestine. The end result can often leading to constipation. One of the benefits of getting an adequate amount of dietary fiber is to increase both the volume and moisture content of the material in the large intestine. This is beneficial because it supports the body’s ability to eliminate waste and promote regularity. However, increasing dietary fiber can only support regularity if you are well hydrated.

Exploring many different sources of dietary fiber is a major key.

There are a many different types of dietary fiber and each type has unique benefits. Some types of fiber can dissolve and thicken when mixed with water. This is a property that helps you to feel satisfied for a longer period of time after a meal. Oats, for example, are a a type of fiber that helps keep your appetite in check and can have benefits for heart health. Other types of fiber are called prebiotics and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. You can maximize the benefits for your body by choosing a variety of fiber-rich foods.

Almost everyone can help their bodies by getting more fiber. Fiber rich foods support both healthy intestinal function and overall health in many ways. By keeping the tips in mind that I laid out, you can receive maximum benefits from getting the right amount of fiber for your body every day.

No More Cheat Meals

Cheat meals.
Cheat days.
Reward meals.
Diet breaks.

These are very popular terms in the fitness world.

I can't stand how people loosely use those terms. It basically means you need to put a label on why you deserve to eat whatever you want in a specific time frame. 

The idea behind cheat meals and days is that you schedule a specific meal(s) or day during the week when you eat anything you want. It boils down to eating foods that are off limits at other times during the week. You stick to whatever regimen you have during the week, and then the weekend comes and you let loose. 

This works for some. Scheduling a meal where you can enjoy some of your favorite foods could be a positive experience. Having something to look forward to could lead to good adherence to stick to a plan. In my personal experience, this takes an extreme amount of discipline and willpower. And willpower is a limited resource in this lifestyle. You have to be a very mindful eater before entering that arena or a lot of things could go wrong. 

For instance, when some people have foods they believe are off limits they will think about those foods all the time. It can even lead to an unhealthy obsession of those foods. Since they think some foods are restricted then they crave them like crazy. They will place foods like pizza, cookies, and cake on a pedestal.  The thought of knowing something is “forbidden” or “off limits” makes those foods more desirable for many people. 

Scheduling reward meals or having cheat days might not be ideal for you. In my opinion there isn’t one thing that works for everyone. 

Here are some other problems I’ve seen people experience with cheat meals:

  1. They over eat a ton of junk during the scheduled cheat day/meal since it’s the only day they can eat whatever they want.
  2. They eat foods that they could care less about because it is off limits on other days. 
  3. Cravings are out of control until the scheduled cheat day.
  4. They lose control and eat until they are over full.
  5. They experience huge food guilt which leads to cycle of disordered eating. 

I believe we need to approach a healthy lifestyle in a different manner. My approach to nutrition is different than most health professionals. I don't believe in diets, or restrictive nutritional regimens. If you want to make this a lifestyle then you have to look at things from a broader scope. Can you sustain your eating patterns for the next 5 - 10 years? If your answer is no, then you have to find a new way.  

The issue with my approach to nutrition is that it takes time. Of course you don't like that statement. But you should be tired of trying diet after diet and losing the same 10-20 pounds over and over again. It takes a little time to attain some consistency in planning meals, preparing your food, and become a more mindful eater. But once you gain that momentum you will be able to include some foods you love when you want them.  If it’s Tuesday and you want a few cookies, you will be able to eat the cookies and then move on with your life. It will no longer be cheating because you understand your body well enough to satisfy a craving without your world is coming to an end. You will be able to eat them, enjoy them, and then move on.  You will gain a better mind and body connection and understand you can have whatever I want. Because you will understand portion sizes, proper planning and mindfulness.   

The main point is that I don’t view any food as off limits. The sooner you realize that then the more free you become in this lifestyle and then you begin to enjoy the all the fruits it has to offer. 

Low Fat Diet Scam

I still see low fat diet approaches roaming the internet and social media. The low fat, high starch diet was the focus of dietary advice during the 1990's. The USDA food pyramid instructed the public to lower fats and increase grains and starches.

Low fat diets were introduced to help prevent heart disease and be the cure all of successful weight loss. A growing body of evidence has been pointing to its insufficiency for weight loss or prevention of heart disease and several cancers.

There was a study that brings home my point that lasted for eight years and included almost 49,000 women. These women were between 50 and 79 years of age. Of these, 19,541 were randomly assigned to follow a low-fat diet. Their goal was to lower their fat intake from almost 38% of calories to 20%. They had a series of individual and group counseling session to aid them in their efforts. Another 29,294 women were randomly assigned to continue their usual diets. They were given generic diet related educational materials.

The results were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. They showed no benefits for a low-fat diet. The women assigned to this eating strategy did not appear to gain protection against breast cancer, various cancers, or cardiovascular disease. After eight years their weights were generally the same as the women following their usual diets.

Fats are an essential nutrient and one of the primary energy sources for the body. They also play a big role in weight management, absorbing nutrients, maintaining healthy skin and hair, regulating body temperature, supporting immune function, insulating internal organs, and hormonal balance.

When it comes to dietary fat, what matters most is the type of fat you eat. Not all dietary fats are created equally and not all affect the body in the same way. Refined fats found in boxed foods and most restaurants use fats that make our foods taste delicious and we should be cautious before consuming them. Nothing is bad in moderation. If you have a choice, use natural fats which have beneficial life extending properties. When we miss out on fats in our diets, we can find ourselves feeling tired, moody, constantly hungry, unable to kick cravings and resentful over our restrictive diets.

Here is a short list of great dietary fats that provide good health benefits.

  • Coconut Oil
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Avocado
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Flaxseed
  • Chia Seed
  • Eggs
  • Edamame
  • Fish and Lean Beef

Making good dietary choices does really matter, but it is the type of fat, not the amount, that is most important. Keep in mind that too many calories from both fat and carbohydrate will lead to weight gain. This will increase risks of various cancers and heart disease.

4 Kitchen Tools That Save Time

If sustaining long term weight loss is your goal then there are some things that will remain constant. Cooking will always be at the forefront of that conversation. 

I know it can be a hassle to plan meals out, grocery shop, and find the time to cook meals. But the key to being consistent week to week is finding little tips and tricks to help you save time. 

Convenient, quick, and inexpensive come to mind when it comes to preparing delicious, good-for-you meals.

Home cooked meals will always be something that I recommend. The key is to save time and money so your meal prepping doesn't turn into a stressful situation. You should check out these four kitchen tools I wouldn’t want to live without. It makes life easier for me and my wife each week. The items listed below save time because you can use them to make delicious meals quickly. Money is being saved because preparing your meals will always be cheaper than eating out. 

Rice Cooker
I love eating rice. Brown rice, jasmine rice, and white rice all play a huge role in my weekly meal plans personally. The rice cooker is an important tool to shorten cooking time. It also maintains the nutritional value of food as air and fluids get trapped within the cooker like a pressure cooker. The device also contains an automatic timer alerting you when the rice is finished. Rice cookers can also make your vegetables taste amazing by steaming them for you. 

Slow Cooker
I have to thank my mother and my wife for keeping this fantastic tool in rotation for preparing delicious meals. Growing up my mother used it all the time. I'm pretty sure she did it so I could stay out of her hair for days on end because it made the best left overs anyone could ask for. My wife introduced me to slow cooker liners and I can't tell you how easy cleanup is since I started using them. 

Get a slow cooker that’s at least six quarts, this way you can make large meals and save leftovers. Cook once, eat several meals after. That’s my slogan. Slow cooker recipes need a little prep work but nothing that is too strenuous. Chopping vegetables and protein sources is about the extent of it. One of the great things about using this tool is the fresh ingredients that you use are cooked at a low temperature. Which retains that nutrition rich, natural juices from vegetables and meats. 

Breakfast is a breeze with electric griddles. I love to make pancakes and a griddle helps me a lot because I can prepare my own and my wife's. Whether you are looking to make a lot of pancakes or want to cook your eggs alongside bacon, having the space of a full griddle gives more options for every cook. The electric griddle is best known for its flat surface, which serves as a great way to make breakfast food but the use of it extends beyond breakfast. They make great burgers, salmon cakes and various fritters as well. 

It is no secret that smoothies are delicious. Using a blender is an amazing tool when it comes to using natural ingredients. I’m all for the great smoothies that you will find at various places but they can be pretty calorie dense too. If you prepare your own then you are taking out a lot of the problems (high salt, added sugar, added fat, etc.), that are found in store bought items. The list of quality blenders out there is huge. While some truly extraordinary ones might be up there in cost, you can still find something capable, durable, and within your budget. 

I preach day in and day out that if you do not know how to eat at home then you will not know how to eat out. Investing in tools to make meal prep a little more simple is worth every penny. I hope you find some of these tools useful in your journey one day. 

What Do Expiration Dates Mean

Picture this. You wake up in the morning to go downstairs to prepare your meals for the day only to see that your food is past the expiration dates.

What do you do?

Interestingly, experts did the math and estimate that $165 billion worth of perfectly edible food gets tossed each year. It comes out to be 40% of all food made in the Unites States being trashed. This is all due to it passing its expiration date.

Is that not alarming to you? People are starving around the world and we are wasting food. Some people may not have a problem throwing it away but I do. I respect your decision either way but I want to teach you what different expiration dates mean.

"Sell by", "Used by" or "Best by"

We see these on every food product. But I have noticed that many people do not know what they mean.

"Sell by" refers to purchasing the item prior to the date that's listed.
“Best if used by/before” dates show when the product will have optimal taste and quality.
“Use by” dates tell you the last day the food will be at its top quality.

What people fail to realize is the USDA also notes that it’s okay to eat these foods past the dates on the packaging. It is our job to make sure that the package is intact and the item looks fresh. The only exception is infant formula, as the USDA advises parents to not buy or even use baby formula once the “use by” date rolls around.

So how long does food last then? It differs from food to food. I'll cover the top 5 foods I get questions about.

The USDA advises you that you can leave it in a refrigerator for one to two days after purchase. Research supports that you can leave chicken in the freezer for nine months. Cooked chicken depends on storage conditions. The best way is to smell and look at the chicken. Signs of bad cooked chicken will be a sour smell and slimy texture. Please throw it away if your chicken looks or smells bad. Do not taste it to see if it is bad.

The USDA advises consumers to pay attention to the “use by” date and not the “sell by” date. You can keep beef in the freezer for six to twelve months, and it will remain top quality. Beef will also stay good for three to five days after you bought it.

Eggs are a pretty controversial food group. If eggs simply have a “sell by” date, research shows that you can store them for three to five weeks.

Milk should be refrigerated and it will generally remain drinkable for about one week after the “sell by” date on the package. It is time to toss your milk if it is grainy, has a sour smell, shows an off white color, or thick and clumpy texture.

If you purchase refrigerated yogurt you can keep it for about 7 to 10 days after the “sell by” date. If you freeze the yogurt, you can get one to two months out of it. Opened yogurt will taste optimal for five to seven days after it’s opened. Yogurt should be thrown out if you see a watery consistency, a clumpy texture, and a sour smell. If you see mold, throw out the whole package.

Those cover foods that I commonly get questions about. It is your duty to make smart choices at the grocery store. Here are some principles I like to follow that have helped me over the years.

1. Don't buy more than you can eat in a given time frame. You can always go back to the store if you need a little extra. 
2. Plan your grocery list out ahead of time. It will cut out mindless shopping which leads to food being thrown out. 
3. Set a budget at the store so you don't exceed it. This will cut out buying 'extra' that you probably didn't need in the first place. 

What Is Disordered Eating?

There is an obsession in our culture with body size, weight, diet and exercise. Unfortunately this has led many down a road of disordered eating. Research suggests that up to 50 percent of the population show signs and symptoms of disordered relationships with food, body, and exercise. Clinical eating disorders are estimated to be around 1 to 3 percent of the general population. Do you see where I am getting at?

Disordered eating patterns need to be taken seriously. They can be problematic if not. An individual with disordered eating patterns engages in some of the same behavior as those with clinically diagnosed eating disorders. It is at a lesser frequency or lower level of severity but it is still very important not to ignore. 

When disordered eating patterns aren't addressed it could lead to depression or anxiety. Some of the more harsh symptoms of disordered eating may include food restriction, binge eating, and purging. Purging could include self induced vomiting, excessive exercise, and the use of diet pills or laxatives.

When I meet an individual who may have had a bad relationship with food in the past I always start slow. One of the first things I address is creating a better self image since self image issues can be a trigger for most. Issues with your body shape and weight can weigh on you and lead you down a path of disordered eating. I will see this happen when someone's weight falls within a healthy range but they continue to feel they are overweight. This attitude could lead to an excessive or rigid exercise routine. I've seen people play it off as if they are practicing self discipline. But it is a mask they wear to hide hours spent in they gym, avoiding social situations, and ignoring family events. This approach could go with obsessive calorie counting too. I often see people who have anxiety about certain foods or food groups because it will 'make me fat'. The process of rigid eating, only eating certain foods, inflexible meal times and refusal to eat in restaurants or outside of one’s own home is the start to destructive patterns of eating.

Learning how to over come disordered eating patterns is a process.

Here are 4 helpful tips to help you or anyone you know get through this difficult obstacle.

1. Do your best to avoid fad diets. Diets are typically restrictive in some form or fashion in both quantity or variety. Restriction at high levels leads to a feeling of deprivation and binge eating could follow that feeling. I have always preached to be more inclusive than exclusive. Moderation is a more healthier long term approach.
2. Have a healthy limit on exercise and always do physical activities that you enjoy. When exercise becomes a chore then it is time to look into other means of partaking in physical activity. 
3. No more negative self body talk. Even simple comments pointing out a proposed flaw of yours could lead to a downward spiral. Be mindful of critical talk about yourself or your body.
4. Put the scale away until you have a better relationship with food.

Continuing To Eat When You Are Full

You loosened a belt buckle just so you could get another bite of your favorite dessert. Did you need it? Did you want it? Or did you just have to have it? You knew you were full before you took the bite. You knew you shouldn't have even gotten desert but that cheesecake looked too good to resist. Then you wondered why you even did that. How many times has this happened to you?

Ghrelin is the “hunger hormone”. It's known to stimulate your appetite when you’re hungry or in need of calories. It will also make you want to eat just because the food in front of you looks especially good.

Ghrelin is secreted by your stomach. From there it sends a message to receptors in your brain. It tells them to be more receptive to food’s visual cues. Your brain responds by sending back a reply to your belly saying, “Hey, that looks delicious" or "Let’s eat it!” For many people, hungry or not, that message is just too hard to resist.

Grehlin increases specific rewarding aspects of eating. There's some evidence linking grehlin levels with the pleasurable feelings that someone would get from alcohol, nicotine or cocaine. 

People with anorexia, loss of appetite due to physical illness, or who are fasting or losing weight by dieting, have especially high levels of ghrelin circulating in their bloodstreams. It makes sense if you think about it. Because these are conditions where your body is fearing starvation. But we are armed with natural survival tools and your body will tell you that it wants you to eat. People who are obese and those who have had gastric by-pass surgery are found to have lower circulating levels of ghrelin. That is why they eat considerably less than what they were accustomed to and eventually lose a considerable amount of body weight from being in such a deficit. 

The real job of this hormone is to work with other hormones to correct appetite and energy imbalances, and help you maintain a consistent weight. 

This is why you are hungrier when you don't get enough sleep. It also explains why there is always more room for dessert. These intricate hormones acting together is also why your body always seems to work against you in your valiant weight loss efforts.

Grehlin is so powerful that it is stimulated by the mere sight of food. That is why fast food advertising is so appealing.

So the next time you reach for the dessert menu, stop and think. When your brain is telling you to get that special desert ask yourself if it is really you wanting the dessert or just ghrelin making you think that you do.

Control The Holiday Cravings

It seems as if health and weight loss goals come to a stop around this time of year. I guess with the loads of sugary treats wherever you go makes it hard to see numbers on the scale decrease. 

From co-workers bringing cookies and other food temptations into the office to candy sales at the grocery store. It becomes a constant saying of, "I'll only have a little."

Sugar cravings have the capability to derail even the most determined individuals. 

I enjoy the holidays and I do not believe a person should be under severe restriction at the expense of quality family time. But there are a few ways to both avoid and address those cravings while still keeping your diet on track.

Here are my top tips for managing your weight over the holidays.

Give in. Just a little! Sometimes the best thing to do is just enjoy just one or two of those goodies. High levels of deprivation can sometimes lead to an all out binge. Long term results will go south when binges begin. Planning out a pre-portioned sweet is a better option. Setting a time and knowing exactly what your daily treat is will help give you something to look forward to. This will help you not to go over board but it will also allow you to not feel deprived. 

Keep your hunger in check. Plan a healthy meal or snack to eat every few hours. Waiting too long between meals could set you up to give in to whatever food temptations that come your way. When you are battling hunger then sugar cravings become hard to deal with. By keeping your hunger in check, it’ll be much easier to eat the way you planned and avoid high amounts of sweets. 

Keep the goodies out of reach or replace it with a healthier option. The visibility of food can cause a significant increase of the consumption of that food. You are setting yourself up for failure if you leave the bowl of candy beside you for the entire day. Put it in some ziplock bags and place it in the pantry. I think fruit can be a great go to option for replacing some of the sugary favorites. Keeping a fruit bowl, mixed nuts or some of your favorite protein bars on hand is always a good idea during the holidays. 

On average, most people add about 3-8 pounds of body weight during this time of year. It is not a real big percentage of total body weight but if you are already experiencing weight loss or maintenance hard ships why make it worse? 

Maintaining or continuing to lose weight during a time of endless food temptations is tough. But if you work at it then you set yourself up for great success later.