The Rungry Health Coach

The Emotional Side of Counting Macros

Proteins, carbohydrates and fats (macronutrients) are the building blocks of a healthy diet. Dietitians, nutritionists, doctors and personal trainers often recommend eating a certain ratio of the three to meet nutritional goals.

For athletes, counting macros and calories is a tool to ensure the proper foods are eaten in helpful ratios to ensure muscle recovery and growth, and fat loss. 

I started counting my macros because I wanted to change my body composition. I enrolled the help of a dietitian, and gave her full disclosure about my disordered-eating past. I was hesitant about tracking my intake via an app, but I understood it would get me one step closer to reaching my goal. 

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My dietitian calculated what percentages of foods I needed to eat to meet my goals and to fuel my active lifestyle. I began to track and saw some results within the first few weeks. But, soon after, things became stagnated. My dietitian kept tweaking my ratios, I kept eating to meet those numbers and my body composition didn't budge.

I also became addicted to my tracking app. I was tracking my meals while cooking, and preparing for a new day by planning my macros and meals ahead of time. 

After doing this for over six months, I saw how unnatural counting macros was. While it may work for some people (body builders), counting macros is completely unnatural. 

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It also takes a lot of mental energy to continually track what goes on your plate and into your mouth. Eating an extra apple earlier in the day may throw off your macro count later in the afternoon. Guilt may set in. You shouldn't feel guilty for eating an apple. I'll repeat...YOU SHOULDN'T FEEL GUILT FOR EATING AN APPLE. 

The amount of fat you ingest at breakfast will dictate what dinner looks like. A higher-calorie lunch may throw off dinner. What happens if lunch isn't satisfying enough, and you need an extra snack. What will the rest of macro tracking look like for the day?

Counting macros also changes recipes. If you spend a lot of time fixating on nutritional information, you start to believe you can make a recipe differently. And so, you do. You later the sugar content to reduce the amount of carbs and added sugars. You decrease the amount of oil and add some extra applesauce...all in the name of making a recipe fit your macros. This alters taste, texture, and the end result. It also enables you to focus too much on ratios and not the overall taste of the end product. 

And going out to eat is next to impossible. 

For individuals who struggle with disordered eating, counting macros can be another form of food fear. It's this controlled environment where many of these individuals feel safest. While it may feel justifiable to track these macronutrients, it may be time to analyze what's the root cause of these feelings. 
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All of these considerations becomes exhausting. When you add in all the time glued to the fitness app, it takes up a lot of time and emotional energy.

The body is a remarkable computer and knows what it needs. Proper signalling can tell you when you're hungry, when you're craving fats or when your body is need of extra carbohydrates. 

To learn what ratios work best for you, you need to be willing to experiment. Some individuals thrive on a high-fat and low-carbohydrate diet, while others need the complete opposite. Or, maybe you feel your best when you rotate higher-fat to higher-carbohydrate days. Your exercise habits also play a factor into this equation. Long-distance runners need carbs, and body builders need carbs and adequate protein to build muscle.

I now wish I could unlearn the calorie, fat and protein contents of certain foods. As I reach for a hard-boiled egg, or scoop myself a cup of yogurt, the calorie designation is ingrained in my head. Calories matter, sure, but they're not the whole picture. Ingredients matter more.

Ready to reevaluate your relationship with food? Send me an email to set up a consultation today. 

The Rungry Health Coach

Five Foods to Crowd Out

Do you reach for a pop (or do you call it soda?) everyday? Do you love rich chocolatey treats, snack cakes or a beefy burger? What unhealthy foods commonly find themselves in your weekly diet? 

What were to happen if you removed them?

When people try "dieting," they often feel deprived of these foods and more. But, that's why diets don't work--deprivation. Fixation occurs and after not having a favorite food for so long, the mind snaps and a binge occurs. It's a vicious cycle, but successful weight loss-and the associated perks thereof--is based on sustainable healthy habits. 

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Instead of depriving yourself, switch your line of thinking to crowding out. Fill your diet with so many great-tasting foods that you'll completely forget about your old habits. 

We spend most of our lives trying to "fit in," and now we're going to "fit out." 

These are five common snacks and drinks that people have a hard time removing from their diet. Instead of removing them, just swap them for a more natural alternative! 

  1. Pop/Soda--Maybe you love the bubbles, the caffeine or the sweet taste, but the sugar-laden beverage offers zero health benefits. Before you pop the tab of your next can, try drinking a kombucha, bubbly seltzer water, fruit-infused water or maybe brewing some tea. While these are acquired tastes, your body will slowly adjust to their flavors. (They also have great health benefits!) Find a new beverage you love and use it as a replacement for your beloved soda.
  2. Beefy Burgers & Fries--There is nothing wrong with a quality burger--beef or otherwise. However, when your burger is coming from the drive thru of a local fast food chain and looks like a sad brown patty in between two floppy pieces of bread, that's when there is a problem. Replace your burger with a homemade burger made from organic, grass-fed meats. Organic meats taste better and are free of antibiotics often found in factory meat. Or, give homemade bean burgers a try. Instead of a white bun, try a whole-grain option, or place your burger on a salad. (Sweet potatoes also make great buns!) As for the fries, try baking sweet potato rounds or sticks in your own kitchen. Other vegetables that would make great replacement fries include beets, zucchini, turnips, parsnips, celariac and other root veggies. (And ditch the ketchup. Make your own using organic tomato paste and spices.)
  3. Chocolate--A healthy diet and lifestyle can absolutely contain chocolate. But, dark chocolate, made with 72 percent or higher of cacao is best. (Cacao is loaded with health benefits, and is cold-pressed. Cocoa is pressed at high heats eliminating any health benefits.) Also, read the ingredients and ensure there are no artificial ingredients. Stay away from white sugars, soy additives or milk. And when you find your perfect bar, try eating just a small square during one sitting. Savor it. 
  4. Brownies/Cakes/Cookies--Offices are notorious for having some kind of sugary baked good in the break room. When you're feeling low on energy, these options look good. But before you dive in, try picking up a granola or protein bar. These bars often rival the flavors of your favorite treat and offer a host of benefits. But, before you grab any bar that's 'cake batter' flavor, read the list of ingredients. Stay away from long lists of ingredients you cannot pronounce or any bar that contains more than 15 grams of sugar. Stick to bars that use whole foods and natural sweeteners. 
  5. Coffee Drinks--Coffee stirs up controversy every year. Is it healthy? Is it unhealthy? While coffee does offer health benefits, look inside your cup and analyze what's going into it. Are you addicted to the caffeine or the sugar that's hidden inside? Instead of pumping your daily cup full of sugar and dairy milk, try making your own latte at home. There you can control what exactly goes into it--pumpkin spice/real pumpkin, turmeric, nut milk, maple syrup, Ceylon cinnamon,...all of these ingredients can be found an retail grocer stores, and all of these offer a nutritional punch.
Need even more ideas and tips like this? Send me an email and we can work together! 


The Rungry Health Coach

In Defense of Ugly Produce

When you're surrounded by identical-in-length cucumbers, and tomatoes all of the same size and color, can be easy to forget that food isn't naturally magazine pretty. Fresh fruits and veggies are meant to have knobs, blemishes and odd growths. It's pretty common to see a lumpy carrot, a U-shaped cucumber or a bell pepper that's curved. There are some vegetables that come in two or three color tones, and many fruit and veggie varieties come in different sizes. 

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Pretty fruits and vegetables are a leading cause of food waste. People have become conditioned to expecting picture-perfect food--and both farmers and grocers have noticed. Six billion pounds of edible fruits and vegetables are wasted each year because they weren't pretty enough.

Let's repeat that again....

Six billion pounds of edible produce is tossed every year. 

Often times, the ugly produce doesn't even make on the truck to the grocer. It's left in the fields to rot. (Then also consider how much food is wasted because it isn't sold.)

So, what can you do about it?

Many non-profit organizations are siding with cosmetically-challenged fruits and veggies, and finding unique ways to get them into your fridge. There are a variety of delivery services that will send you weekly boxes of less-than-pretty foods. 

Visit your farmers' markets. When you shop local, it also helps. When you support your local farmer at the farmers' market or farm stand, you're buying directly from the farmer. Much of their bounty is imperfect and equally as tasty as its grocery counterpart. 

To reduce your food waste even more in the kitchen, meal plan. Meal planning keeps you and your family on track. When you plan a week's worth of meals and write down the necessary ingredients, you're stopping yourself from buying extra food that would ultimately get pitched. 

If you do buy extra, freeze it. 

If you want to stop the waste of vegetable scraps, freeze the scraps in plastic bags. Scraps like carrot peels, lettuce leaves, onion skins, etc., can all be saved and boiled down into a tasty veggie broth. 

As you shop the produce aisles, don't bypass the ugly or bruised fruits and vegetables. They're still edible, still flavorful and want to be eaten.