The Rungry Health Coach

My gripe with "high-protein" ice creams

You've probably seem them in your grocer's freezer: ice creams that are lower in fat but rich in protein.
For any ice cream-loving person (I'm looking at a mirror for this one), this can come as a huge win. "You mean to tell me that I can eat an entire tub of ice cream without any guilt or excess fat?! Sign me up!"

After standing in front of the ice cream section with the freezer door wide open trying to find a flavor you want, you end up purchasing two in every flavor because just in case. And remember...these are "healthy."


But what if it's too good to be true....?

Anyone that knows me, knows I love ice cream. I have a huge sweet tooth, but ice cream is probably my favorite dessert. (And ironically, I can't handle certain kinds of dairy.) When I want ice cream, I listen to that craving and get myself some ice cream.

But this new fad in low-calorie, high-protein ice creams left me stumped and a bit confused. While this ice cream may seem like a great idea in theory, when I started actually thinking about it, it started to drive me a bit crazy. 

These ice creams promote behaviors and have characteristics that I just can't get behind. 

Taste--You don't eat ice cream because it has protein. You eat ice cream because it has sugars and fat. That's what makes ice cream, and most foods, delicious. Fat is luscious  When manufacturers start tinkering with recipes, that when the taste and often texture of our beloved ice cream changes. Sometimes, it's left tasting like "diet." Other times it has an extremely ice texture.
Binge Eating--If something is marked as lower calorie, we have a tendency to eat more than we need. This form of marketing is promoting binge eating behavior. The ice cream is marketed as something that you can enjoy while watching TV, and not feel any guilt about accidentally eating the whole tub. We should not be disconnected and distracted from our hunger and fullness cues. If you want to eat a whole tub of ice cream, then eat a whole tub of ice cream, but make sure your body actually wants it. Instead, portion out a scoop or two and see how that satisfies your craving. 
Ingredients--When a manufacturer strays away from the classic ice cream recipe--cream, yolk, sugar--new and oftentimes artificial ingredients can be added as preservatives and thickeners. I'm not a huge fan of white sugar, but I prefer that into my ice cream than these gums and other things that I can't pronounce. 
Health Food--Ice cream is not a health food, and should not be marketed as one. Even the names of certain brans create a "good" and "bad" mentality around this frozen treat. It's the "healthy halo" effect. If a food is perceived as good, we'll eat more of it--and this goes back to an earlier point.
If you want a healthy frozen and creamy treat, eat a smoothie.

If you want to eat ice cream, then eat REAL ice cream. Look for brands made with real ingredients, and bonus points if the cream is from happy cows or the brand is organic. Or visit a local ice cream shoppe that specializes in homemade flavors made with local cream. Don't worry about the calories, fat content or protein content. Ice cream, and most desserts, are meant to be enjoyed and savored--not as a security blanket. Portion yourself out a small bowl and enjoy each bite. Be present, mindful and full of intent. When your fullness cues start to kick in, or if you've had enough of the sugary treat, stop eating. 

Yes, there are tons of healthy ice cream recipes available, and I have definitely made a few of my own. But even when making your own healthful version, they're still made with real ingredients and don't contain extra protein powders or fillers. 

Have questions about how to ready nutrition labels and how to find the best ice cream? Shoot me an email!

The Rungry Health Coach

How I Started To Lose Weight (And Made A Bazillion Mistakes)

I remember when I finally decided to get my shit together and try this "healthy living" thing.

I had just graduated college with a degree in journalism, and was working part time as a waitress at a chili diner. I had no idea where my life was going to take me, but I knew I was unhealthy. I drank four to five nights per week, ate take out for most of my dinners, smoked and didn't exercise. 

Disney Beth

I tried "dieting" a few times in college. When my weight would creep up to a point where I was uncomfortable, there was about a month's time where I'd eat more salads and go to the rec center. Once the weight came off, I hopped back into my drawer of takeout menus. There was a time I drank chocolate weightloss shakes as a breakfast. There was also a time I wrote down my idea weight, and taped it into my wardrobe so I would be reminded of it every time I opened the little door. 

So, without any idea what the heck I was doing, I put myself on a "diet" once and for all. I tried to eat less and I also picked up running. I reigned in how much takeout I ate, and tried cooking at home a bit more. I was still eating a lot of processed "diet foods" and drinking a bit, but the weight slowly came off. I was also running about 10 miles per week.

But, my definition of "healthy" was a bit skewed. I would eat half a bag of baked potato chips paired with half a bottle of wine because it was healthier than greasy chips and beer. (This was after eating a full portion of chicken curry.) My pantry was stocked with fat-free, sugar-free and taste-free bull shit. I regularly swapped artificial sweeteners into my baked goods because I was afraid of calories. I would feel guilty about eating certain foods, push unhealthier foods onto others, and often felt deprived. Because of this feeling of deprivation, I would go "hog wild" on weekends and wake up with regret and on Monday mornings. 

However, I was eating more vegetables and I was still there's that. 

After I finally lost my desired amount of weight, I then spent years learning how to be truly happy and healthy. Weightloss was just a stepping stone into a new life. (Granted this new life also took me into the throngs of an eating disorder...but we'll save that topic for another newsletter.)

The more I read magazines, cookbooks, food blogs and Internet articles, the more I became immersed and obsessed with health culture. I started learning about different diets and through my research, I started learning more about "whole foods." Something clicked, and I started transitioning my diet into more wholesome and less-processed foods and ingredients. This is where I learned how unhealthy dieting truly is. 

70.3 Chuck Norris

I'm now deeply passionate about home cooked meals, veggie-packed dinners, exercise, using food as medicine and all things wellness. 

If I could do it all over again, I'd skip the "diet foods" and go right into a healthy combination of vegetables, whole grains and moderation. Because dieting culture was so engrained into my brain, I had set myself up for failure. I always looked at the short term and not the long term. 

Health and wellness did not come naturally to me. I had to work, and I had to work hard. I had to teach myself what choices would serve my body best. I had to figure out what foods made me feel my best. I had to learn why fat-free foods weren't the best options, and why avocados were. I had to learn how to be an athlete and find my limits. And I am still putting in the work because my definition of healthy is always changing. 

Yoga Beth

Does this sound all to familiar? You're not alone in your struggles with dieting and weight loss. It's scary and overwhelming. For me, it's not about dieting--it's about creating sustainable and healthful habits to help us with a lifetime of success. And, if we happen to lose excess weight in the progress, great. If we don't, that's fine too. It's about real food, portion control, self-love and mindset. 

The Rungry Health Coach

Why You're Not Losing Weight

You're doing everything right:

You exercise four to five days per week.
You eat most of your meals at home.
You eat so many vegetables, you feel carrots coming out your ears.
You eat until you're about 80 percent full, and make it a point to not overstuff yourself.
You limit desserts and alcohol, but still indulge every now and then.
You journal, sleep well and practice positivity. 

And yet....

That damn scale isn't budging! (And hasn't budged in weeks! Gahhhh!)

WHAT'S THE DEAL?! Simple...You're stress levels could be so high that they're inferring with your hormones.

Stressed Out
The body's main stress hormone is cortisol, and it does play a role into weight gain. Cortisol is our body's "flight or fight response"--if our body perceives something as threatening, cortisol is released into the body. 

But we don't face danger everyday, and our body can misinterpret the signals resulting in the release of cortisol into the bloodstream. If we're constantly stressed, it's possible to have chronically high cortisol levels. 

New research suggests that when our cortisol levels are high, it can cause excess fat storage around the tummy or an increase in appetite. It could also increase the consumption of sugar and fat. All these factors could contribute to weight gain.

How do you know if you have high cortisol? Do any of these sound familiar? 
  • Digestive issues
  • Zero sex drive
  • Menstrual abnormalities
  • Back pain
  • Acne and/or poor skin healing
  • Weight gain
  • Feelings of anxiety, irritability or sadness
  • Poor sleep
  • Swelling in the hands and feet
  • Common colds
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Hormonal imbalances

To treat high cortisol levels correctly, it's important to get to the root cause of the problem. Positive changes could be dietary changes, incorporating more mediation and relaxation techniques, limiting the consumption of stimulants (coffee, Excedrin, tea, energy drinks, Midol, etc.) or using natural supplements. 

A diet rich in lean proteins and high fiber, and lower in carbohydrates could help. Also, eating in regular intervals. Healthful supplements include vitamin C, B vitamins, magnesium, glutamine, l-theanine and omega-3 fatty acids. (Do consult a doctor/dietitian/nutritionist/health coach if you have any questions on natural supplements and herbs.)

In order to reduce cortisol levels, some lifestyle tweaks may be needed. Continued yoga, getting outdoors, time management, meditation, positivity, exercise and other forms of relaxation could help reduce cortisol levels. (You could even go so far as to schedule a time to relax!) A more positive outlook and even seeking emotional support are also positive lifestyle changes. 

Once under control, even cortisol levels can help you lead a more healthful and nourishing life. It can stave off adrenal fatigue and other serious health conditions down the road. Plus, who wouldn't want to be less stressed?

(As cortisol levels change throughout the day, it is important to get those tested if you are afraid you suffer from chronically high cortisol. Talk to your doctor about performing a test.)

Do you have more questions about weight loss? Do you need help reducing stress? Send me an email!