Repairing Health After Alcohol

Repairing your health after alcohol erin's life bites

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

-Jim Rohn

So, maybe you’re taking a break from drinking or decided to give it up for good – whatever the duration or reason there are some lifestyle adjustments that can be made to maximise the break to your mind, body and soul.

Steps for Repairing Health After Eliminating Alcohol

  1. DRINK MORE WATER. Even if you are a religious drinker of water throughout the day, after kicking the sauce, you are going to want to switch to water and make sure that you stay hydrated and flush the body out by consuming a litre or more (6-8 glasses) of H2O each day.
  2. INCORPORATE VITAMINS AND MINERALS DAILY. Alcohol consumption inhibits the body’s ability to fully absorb all of the nutrients it needs, so a great habit would be to incorporate a multivitamin and B Vitamin regimen daily. Many vitamin supplements these days include all the essentials (including B complex), antioxidants and probiotics. An excellent all-in-one to check out is the Complete Multivitamin Complex by Bulk Powders.
  3. EAT A BALANCED DIET. I don’t know about you, but even though I tried my best to eat a healthy diet when I was a drinker, I cannot deny that after a few glasses of wine I would automatically want crisps, pizza or chocolate. Drinking screws with our insulin and hunger regulation and therefore we can feel like we have no control over the food choices we make while on a night out — or through a hangover. Incorporating a diet full of balanced whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats, whole grains and beans will help to regulate blood sugar, meet nutrient requirements and help to create usable energy the body can access throughout the day.
  4. LIMIT REFINED SUGAR. Many people increase the amount of sugar and sweets they eat after they quit alcohol (as well as after quitting smoking). Sugar can have the same effect on our brains as drinking can as the same response of dopamine release occurs when we consume sugar just as when we drink alcohol – especially when paired with a conditional habitual response pattern. Even if sweets are convenient and help to keep you from ordering a glass of chardonnay, the better choice would be a piece of fruit or a handful of almonds (which are fabulous for liver health, btw).
  5. GET A DEFICIENCY SCREENING. If you’ve been a regular drinker – or what would classify as a heavy drinker, you may have been missing out on the absorption of vital nutrients. A nutritional professional can help screen for any deficiencies that you may have to determine the best course of action for your dietary needs going forward.
  6. REJUVENATE YOUR LIVER. The liver takes a beating throughout our lives as it serves as a filtration system of toxins, metabolises drugs, and makes essential proteins required for many vital bodily functions. After making a lifestyle change, such as eliminating alcohol, it is a good idea to focus on rejuvenating your liver by choosing a balanced, whole foods diet that includes fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. So, to get started, here are some foods you can include in your diet today are carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, almonds, and oats.
  7. GET EXERCISE. Regular exercise helps the body by promoting lung, kidney, intestinal, and overall immune system health which all support the body’s efficient natural detoxification processes. Aside from the physical health benefits of a fitness routine, exercise helps to produce endorphins which can help reduce anxiety and depression. If the root cause of your alcohol habit was stress or response to stressful events, finding healthier strategies to cope with these feelings will encourage positive behaviours and better health choices overall. Check out my free eBook for jump-starting fitness as well as my workouts for free guidance on how to get (and stay) fit!

And in case you need a reminder of how you can work on repairing health after alcohol, I have created this handy-dandy infographic. Be sure to pin this graphic and share with friends and family or anybody who may be looking for ways to start repairing their health after eliminating alcohol from their lifestyle.

Have you recently eliminated alcohol from your life? Check out these 7 tips for repairing your health after alcohol. #alcoholfree #soberlife #sobrietytools Click To Tweet

These tips are great for anyone looking to take charge of their health – knowledge is power and you do have the power to change your life mind, body and soul.

A Nutritional Therapist Explains Sugar

A nutritional therapist explains sugar

So, there’s a lot of buzz, hype, and confusion about eating sugar. Is it good? Bad? Am I overeating it?  Well, this post comes after much thought and years of research, reading, and also working with people who are looking to change their eating habits.  It’s easy to get confused about sugar, and truthfully, trying to get to the bottom of the truth about sugar, is enough to make you stress eat Skittles, am I right?  If you want to navigate your way through the (not so sweet) confusion when it comes to sugar and your diet, you need only to read on as a nutritional therapist explains sugar.  

via GIPHY

By now, it’s almost a broken record to hear about how sugar is the enemy, and it no doubt is public enemy number one in obesity (childhood and adult), heart disease, and diabetes.  The truth is, most people don’t know the difference between the various types of sugars in the foods they eat.

A sugar calorie, unrefined

Simple sugars are called monosaccharides and include glucose (also known as dextrose), fructose and galactose.

Monosaccharides are the simplest units of carbohydrates and the simplest form of sugar. They are the building blocks of more complex carbohydrates such as disaccharides and polysaccharides.  Some examples of monosaccharides are cane sugar, honey, agave, and molasses.

A disaccharide is a sugar composed of two monosaccharides and is formed when two sugars are joined, and a molecule of water is removed. For example, milk sugar (lactose) is made from glucose and galactose whereas cane sugar is made from glucose and fructose.

Polysaccharides are formed by three or more monosaccharides. An example of a polysaccharide is starch found in corn and potatoes.

To break sugar down even further we can talk about sugar called by many other names (and, yes, some taste just as sweet — some MUCH sweeter).

Glucose is a simple sugar or a monosaccharide because it is one of the smallest units which has the characteristics of this class of carbohydrates.  When oxidized in the body, (metabolism), glucose produces carbon dioxide, water, and some nitrogen compounds, and in the process provides energy which can be used by the cells.  In the human bloodstream glucose is referred to as “blood sugar.”

Fructose is sugar found in fruit and honey.  Used as a sweetener for soft drinks and processed food and is processed solely by the liver. Fructose, particularly in liquid form (outside of whole fruits and vegetable liquid form) is not to be confused with HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup).

Sucrose is a basic table sugar, also found in fresh fruit.  When sucrose is consumed, the enzyme beta-fructosidase separates sucrose into its individual sugar units of glucose and fructose. Both sugars are then taken up by their specific transport mechanisms.  The body will use glucose as its primary energy source and the excess energy from fructose, if not needed, will be poured into fat synthesis, which is stimulated by the insulin released in response to glucose.

Galactose is a monosaccharide commonly occurring in lactose. Also called brain sugar.

High Fructose Corn Syrup, also known as glucose-fructose syrup, is a combination of fructose and glucose made by processing corn syrup. Processing converts a portion of the corn syrup’s glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness. The resulting syrup is sweeter and more soluble. HFCS 55 (mostly used in processed foods) is approximately 55% fructose and 42% glucose.

Dextrose is another name for glucose and is often listed on processed foods (such as french fries and processed bread) as “natural sweeteners” and can be found in High Fructose Corn Syrup formulas.

Maltodextrin is a highly processed powdered sweetener derived from starch, resulting in a mixture of Glucose, Maltose, Oligosaccharides, and Polysaccharides. Maltodextrin can be found in many processed foods such as salad dressings and frozen foods.

Maltose is (aka Malt Sugar) starch and malt broke down (mashed) into simple sugars and regularly used in beer, cereals, bread, and baby food.

Stevia,also known as sweet leaf, sugar leaf, are dried and subjected to a water extraction process — 300 times sweeter than sugar with zero calories.

Sucralose (aka Splenda) is an artificial sweetener that is 600 times as sweet as table sugar, twice as sweet as saccharin, and 3.3 times as sweet as aspartame. Sucralose can be found in many low-carb and lower-sugar processed food products.

Sugar Alcohols, also known as polyols, derived from a plant sugar which is extracted by differing means, then reduced and then hydrogenated, then recrystallised. Sugar alcohols are neither sugar nor alcohol. However, they resemble their molecular structure. Sugar alcohols contain about 2.6 calories per gram, and they occur naturally in plant products such as fruits, berries, starches, seaweeds. Sugar alcohols will be listed as Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol, and Maltitol.

Are you dizzy now?  That’s not even all the sweet substances out there, but these are the main culprits in most of the foods on the market today — especially processed foods.

Sugar:  Not good vs. bad, but better vs. worse.

When talking about the body’s metabolic processes, and the fact that we need glycogen in our body to move, breathe, and function; it can be challenging to think that eating something with sugar isn’t a good choice.

Also, sugar — by its very makeup — IS carbohydrate, which is something we need to produce and store glycogen for all of our essential body functions.

So, if we have to eat carbohydrates — including sugar — how can it be so “bad” for us??

In the description of sugar types posted above, you can see that fructose, a sugar found in honey and fruits, is processed solely by the liver.  But wait, the fruit is good for you, right?  Yes, the fruit is good for you.  Here’s the deal, eating an apple, as opposed to a teaspoon or two of table sugar, (sucrose – which is part fructose) is different.  But how?  When it comes to sugar calories, they are NOT all created equally.

About those sugar calories

Low carb, no carb, paleo, and IIFYM (just to name a few) are eating plans that discourage the consumption of refined sugar, and some of those plans even prohibit fruit due to its sugar content.

While I agree that when it comes to your overall health, sugar consumption is something to keep in check, however, it’s where you’re getting your sugar calories from that is an intricate part of your overall health.

Look, sugar is somewhat unavoidable — it is a naturally occurring ingredient.  One way you can break through the sugary confusion is to ask yourself this simple question — to this complicated question:   “In addition to the sugar in this item, what other benefits will I receive by choosing to eat this food?” If you can’t list any actual health benefits to consuming that food, it’s probably safe to say that it’s not the best form of sugar to be eating.  Let’s take a look at the two examples below.

1. Soda vs. Fresh Juice

I’ve heard this before, “If a glass of fruit juice is just as sugary and has as many calories as a can of soda, than I’m going to have the soda.”  While 12 ounces of soda and 12 ounces of juice are close in calories and sugar content, there is a significant difference between the two beverages and how they affect the body.

A can of soda has 140 calories, 39 grams of processed sugar (HFCS), and no fiber, so, therefore, it has ZERO health benefit.  Whereas, a glass of fresh fruit and vegetable juice has 177 calories, 32 grams of natural fructose sugar, 2 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, vitamins A and C, Iron, calcium, and potassium.

2. Milk chocolate vs. Dark Chocolate

One ounce of milk chocolate has 38 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 4 grams of sugar and no added vitamins, minerals or nutrients.  Dark chocolate also has 38 calories, 2 grams of fat, no saturated fat, and 4 grams of sugar, however, dark chocolate also contains antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, iron, and Vitamin B12.

Let’s summarize it all.

Sugar comes in a lot of different forms.  Some types of sugar come in the form of “empty calories” or “nutrient sparse” foods such as many processed foods, candy, soft drinks, and concentrated juices.   While eating sugar may seem unavoidable, you need to ask yourself which health benefits are closely associated with the sugar containing foods you’re about to eat.  If you can’t find a single vitamin, mineral, or nutrient in a sugary product in question– you won’t be missing out by giving IT a miss.  Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables are essential to our diet.  We need a balance of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes to fully absorb the nutrition in the foods we eat.  While it’s okay to enjoy an occasional chocolate bar, ice cream, and other sweets — they are not the best source of energy for our bodies.

While your tastebuds may struggle to know the difference between table sugar, and, say, sucralose, your body recognises the difference between foods with fibre, protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

If you get the best stuff to your plate, your body will do take care of the rest.

Hopefully, this has helped to clear up some of the confusion sugar causes for so many people. If you liked this post, check out some more of my eating psychology posts to learn more about how your relationship with food helps to form dietary choices.

The Important Health Benefits of Spirulina

THE IMPORTANT HEALTH BENEFITS OF SPIRULINA | Erin's Life Bites

When I was 17, during my summer break between my junior and senior years of high school,  I worked at a restaurant with some interesting characters, let me tell you.

I worked with this lady; we’ll call her for anonymities sake, Cindy.  Cindy was in her early 50’s and didn’t have a single wrinkle on her face or grey hair on her head, despite her vocation, she seemed biologically unphased by life.

Now Cindy wasn’t a marathon runner or even a ‘clean eater’ — though that term wasn’t quite as relevant as is today — and she was a longtime cigarette smoker.

One day I just asked her, “Cindy, how is it that you smoke and eat fried fish and have no wrinkles, grey hairs, and look like you’re still in your thirties?”  She said, “I dunno, I guess it’s because I drink chlorella and spirulina.  Every day.”

I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about, honestly, to me, it sounded like witchcraft.  But she explained to me that she was talking about drinking blue-green algae.  As you can imagine, at age 17, I thought she was bullshitting me.  Completely.  I’d believe she ate sea scuz every day and then I’d be caught drinking pond water the next day hoping I too had found the fountain of youth.

I chalked Cindy’s admission to me up to the fact that she probably had good genes (which is important, don’t get me wrong) and not because she was drinking magic Darwinian juice cocktails.

Fast-forward to years later when I decided to study nutritional therapy, and wouldn’t you know what I started reading multiple studies on? Spirulina.

The magic stuff first mentioned to me by my ex-co-worker, Cindy, was, in fact, one of the most super foods substances I had ever read about.

What is spirulina?

Spirulina is a blue-green algae freshwater plant.

But don’t be turned off just yet! Researchers from around the globe have been studying and measuring the benefits of regular spirulina consumption.   And spirulina has been proven to be beneficial for easing a multitude of health issues and continuing research brings light to its amazing benefits with each passing year.

Spirulina can be purchased in multiple forms and be added to everything from smoothies to baked goods, making getting your daily fix super easy!

What is in spirulina?

Though it can vary from product to product, a serving of approximately 30 grams of spirulina contains:

  • 22 essential amino acids
  • Vitamins, including B-complex, vitamin E
  • Beta-carotene
  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Iron
  • Selenium
  • Essential fatty acids

What health benefits does spirulina offer?

Cholesterol:  A recent study, conducted in Greece, gave a group of 52 adults with newly diagnosed dyslipidemia (high cholesterol/high triglycerides/low HDL) one gram of spirulina for three months.  Blood work taken at the beginning and end of the study and what they discovered was, participants, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol significantly decreased.  By how much?

  • Triglycerides dropped by 16.3%
  • Total cholesterol by 8.9%
  • LDL cholesterol by 10.1%
  • Total cholesterol to HDL ratio by 11.5%

Upon concluding this study, researchers discovered that spirulina supplementation could have a positive effect on lowering lipids, mainly triglycerides.

Reducing blood pressure:  One study, conducted in Mexico, evaluated a group of 16 men and 20 women — who had no diagnosed history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes — for six weeks.  During the six weeks, participants were told not to modify their lifestyle or diet.  Participants were given three .5 gram tablets of spirulina every eight hours over these six weeks.  What they discovered at the end of the study is spirulina does have lipid-lowering effects particularly on low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and Triacylglycerol (adipose tissue used for energy storage) as well as positive effects on lowering overall blood pressure.  The ultimate determination being?  Spirulina could is a useful supplement for dyslipidemic and hypertensive patients.

Allergies/Chronic Sinus Issues:  Do you suffer from seasonal allergies or chronic sinus problems?  My husband and I do, and it is unbelievable when we added up the cost of purchasing Sudafed, Loratadine, and Benadryl Plus for months on end.  Not to mention, pharmaceutical solutions are not the best things to be taken long-term.  One study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2005 found that patients dealing with allergic rhinitis saw marked improvements in their sinus function after taking Spirulina.  The study separated patients into three groups.  The first group received a placebo, the second group received 1000 mg of spirulina, and the third group received 2000 mg of Spirulina.  Their findings?  The patients in the placebo group showed no signs of improvement.  The group given 1000 mg saw a slight improvement, while the group given the 2000 mg showed significant improvement with their allergic rhinitis symptoms.  Results were documented by measuring immune system signals in the bloodstream of the patients, including interferon and cytokines levels at the beginning and end of the study.

Boosts weight loss:  A study conducted at the University of Medical Sciences in Poland used a double-blind study on a group of 40 patients with hypertension but no evidence of another cardiovascular disease.  Patients split into two groups; one group received 2.0 grams of Hawaiian spirulina, while the second group was given a placebo to take over three months.  Their BMI, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and stiffness index (SI) were measured before and after the study concluded.  Their findings?  After three months, the group that received spirulina showed reductions in BMI, overall weight, systolic blood pressure, and stiffness index vs the placebo group whose tested parameters showed no changes.

Discover the important health benefits of Spirulina #NutritionalTherapy #Health Click To Tweet

Spirulina is a superfood.  I add it to my breakfast smoothie each morning and add it to anything from pasta sauce to baked goods.  The brand I like to use is Naturya Organic Spirulina Powder — it’s affordable, organic, and ticks all of the boxes for my husband and me to consume.  My husband has a gluten intolerance issue, so I always have to check every label so carefully.  Here are the nutrition and ingredient facts for this product, but there are many other great brands to choose from on the market.  Just be sure to buy spirulina that is free from contamination.

What is contamination free spirulina?

Spirulina comes from the ocean, therefore depending on how it is processed by the manufacturer, it could potentially contain harmful substances which could lead to unnecessary health issues.  There is not much data out there concerning spirulina use for pregnant and breastfeeding women and children.

Alway check with your health care provider before taking this or any supplement to be on the safe side!

Fit & Fab Boot Camp Workout

Fit and Fab Boot Camp Workout Erin's Life Bites

Happy Wednesday! I always think of Wednesday as the ‘springboard’ day of the week, because doesn’t it feel like the second it passes Sunday is here already? I dunno, maybe that’s just me, but lately, life is just going by so quickly.

via GIPHY

I was sick for about six weeks, and during that time I couldn’t workout much, and it was making me so down in the dumps. I have such a hard time when I think back to the long periods in my life when I didn’t exercise regularly (even just moving my arms!) — no wonder I turned to other things to try and make myself feel human.

It is always so humbling when I’m getting back into the swing of exercising after many weeks of not having the ability to do so. I think of this whenever I think of people getting started with fitness — maybe for the first time in their life. Exercise doesn’t have to be complicated — in fact, it isn’t — the best advice I can ever give about getting into shape or coming out of a fitness ‘slump’ is to find something you like and take it one workout at a time.

Overcoming a fitness slump? Get back on track by trying this Fit and Fab Boot Camp Workout! #bootcamp #fitfam #wednesdayworkout #HIIT Click To Tweet

I like to recondition myself by circuit and boot camp workouts. I love the endorphin rush I get after I’ve kicked ass for 45-60 minutes of challenging my body to move and build strength. It’s such a great rush.

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So, check out this fit & fab boot camp workout I put together to incorporate into my schedule this week. Time may be flying by IRL but it absolutely will during this fast-paced set of circuits. You can even do this workout outside if you bring along a pair of dumbbells when you hit the park. Save and share this on Pinterest and give it a try!

Let me know if you try it or what your favourite workouts for getting back on track are! And if you’re interested in some great HIIT workouts, check out this article over at Buffedd.com for some more inspiration!

Approval, Addiction and Approval Addiction

APPROVAL ADDICTION _ Erin's Life Bites

“If you are an approval addict, your behaviour is as easy to control as that of any other junkie. All a manipulator need do is a simple two-step process: Give you what you crave, and then threaten to take it away. Every drug dealer in the world plays this game.”

-Harriet B. Braiker

I don’t know if that quote resonates with you, but it sure makes a whole lot of sense to me.

Deeply ingrained within all approval addicts — or addicts in general — is the lack of a sense of self.  A lack of understanding of the self always leads us to believe that external approval and validation are the essential parts of holding together our identity.

Have you ever wondered why someone as sweet and giving as you always end up in relationships (romantic, friendship, business.) with people who don’t understand or appreciate all that you do for them?

And when things don’t go the way we want them to and that relationship fails to provide us with the feedback that we are “doing enough” or “accomplished enough” or “good enough” why we turn to external methods to preoccupy that discomfort?

Approval addiction is a layered disease and we struggle with it knowing full well that we should stop focusing on the compulsion to please others. It makes us feel as though we need to be doing something (regardless of the negative consequences that may occur), doing this something again despite knowing full well that we should stop and seeking that something whenever we are not getting what we ‘really’ need (even when that need has nothing to do with this something). Wow, that’s a lot of word vomit.

What I mean is, we crave the addictive behaviour because it relieves the emptiness within us.

The “disease to please” or approval addiction is at the heart of and is a connection to all other addictive behaviours.

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My addiction to disordered eating and drinking was always my attempt to fill the void where my self-awareness should have been.   If I could look, act and “be” someone who people liked and approved of, I was on the right track, and all was right and good in my world.

But as the saying goes, “you can please some of the people all of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

And you also can’t rely on others to validate you or make you feel like you are “enough”.  They will never be able to do it full-time, and at some point, you will realise that you need to find this from within

When the time comes, if you are not equipped to pick yourself up and be your own best friend, you are going to go back to that “something” you’ve always done and in return get that nothing that you always get.

Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Only an inner experience of self-esteem and self-awareness can provide support for any external validation to be received from a healthy and balanced relationship.   You don’t owe anyone anything more than you will ever owe yourself.  And in this day and age of everyone communicating that they want to be more authentic and expect total authenticity from others, it is hard to tell if people are their ‘true’ selves or if their actions about just another attempt at pleasing others.

On any given day and with any given action we take, at best we can hope to please one out of three people — possibly less.  Given that statistic, it is safe to say that placing our happiness and self of worth in the hands of others gives us worse odds than winning the lottery.  Okay, maybe better odds, but it’s a gamble nontheless.

If you want any chance at inner peace in this life you must get to work learning what makes you honestly and sincerely happy.

Approval addiction is a layered disease and we struggle with it knowing full well that we know we should stop focusing on the compulsion to please others. Click To Tweet

I can say this with complete confidence because for the majority of my life I placed that burden on others and the consequences of that lead me to battle multiple eating disorders and the belief that I needed to control myself and my life with counterintuitive habits such as binge eating and drinking.

I’m not suggesting that everything was my fault.  Things happened, and the experiences I had throughout my life were real, and they made me believe and feel the way I did.  None of us can go backwards, and that includes continuing to live in the past. What’s done is done. Make today good, and the past will heal itself.

The one truth I know is this:  You cannot rely on anybody else to fix you or to make your life happy and complete because when you live this way you give yourself away. And as a result, you will always be searching for the next “something” to validate your life.

If you are interested in coaching, please contact me at erin@erinslifebites.com and be sure to subscribe for new posts and emails from me!