Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Anorexia Defined

Anorexia.

Say that word and a hush may fall over the people around you.

It definitely has a stigma attached to it.

I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa several years back.

I like food.

I eat food.

I always ate food.

So what really is anorexia?

Anorexia "is an eating disorder characterized by an abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight. People with anorexia place a high value on controlling their weight and shape, using extreme efforts that tend to significantly interfere with their lives." - mayoclinic.org

There are a lot of generalizations but every person is different. My eating disorder began as an obsession with clean eating, which is often termed "Orthorexia". Orthorexia, however, is not currently recognized as a diagnosable disorder. Therefore, I was diagnosed with Anorexia and I am not ashamed.

I have heard of girls who were upset with the diagnosis which I think just goes to show the stigma society has attached to it. Eating disorders vary so much that it would be impossible to have a different diagnosis for every variation. Anorexia is not a choice. It does not mean a person doesn't eat or like food.

It is a battle. It is a mental disease with the highest rate of mortality. It is one of the worst things I have gone through.

But a person is not their diagnosis. Do you refer to people diagnosed with cancer as cancer patients? Do you attach that label to them as a person? No. So why has society determined that is acceptable for eating disorders? Update: it's not.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please seek help: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support

Monday, February 25, 2019

Which Sweetener Should I Use?

Zero sugar claims are sweeping the nation! 

So often I see food and drink containers that flaunt 0g sugar, No Sugar Added, Zero Sugar, No Refined Sugar or something of the like. 

So what are all these products using that make them taste so sweet? Well, sweeteners! There's a laundry list of options that a company could use so you should be in the know about which one is right for you. 

I am by NO means the expert on this topic and I encourage you to do further research if this is something that concerns you but I thought I would shed a little light on the subject from my personal knowledge and research. 

Artificial Sweeteners
  • Sucralose - very commonly found in drinks, packaged foods, protein powder, etc. 
  • Aspartame - most commonly I have seen it is in diet soda, there have been many claims of negative health effects, yet it is marked safe by FDA and other food regulating agencies
  • Ace-K 
  • Saccahrin
  • and more!
Natural Sweeteners
  • Stevia/Reb A - one of the most popular, it is derived from the stevia leaf plant but buyer beware, it is often highly processed and blended with other sweeteners for a less bitter aftertaste
  • Monk Fruit - derived from the monk fruit plant, look for 100% monk fruit extract
  • Xylitol, Maltitol, Erythritol, and Sorbitol - sugar alcohols, technically natural created through a fermentation process. Some can cause digestion problems for some people. Xylitol is known to support dental health and is often found in toothpaste. 
  • Allulose, tagatose, etc. - derived from some type of sugar if it ends in -ose. Some may cause bloating. 
  • Honey - has many health benefits including phytonutrients, antibacterial, antioxidants, etc. Raw honey (not heated or processed) contains the most benefits. Also a source of sugar and calories. 
  • Molasses - byproduct of sugar cane production, contains magnesium, iron and potassium. Also a source of sugar and calories. 
  • Maple Syrup - low impact on blood sugar levels. Also a source of sugar and calories. 
  • Coconut Nectar - less sweet than sugar, derived from coconuts. 
  • IMO Syrup - prebiotic low calorie, low carb sweetener from an enzymatic conversion of starch (VitaFiber IMO is from natural tapioca starch. You can purchase it here: vitafiberimo.com with code: MEGANO20 for a discount) 
  • Yacon Syrup - extracted from the tuberous roots of the yacon plant, can help lower blood glucose but should still be monitored for diabetics as it does contain sugar
  • natural cane sugar, coconut sugar, date sugar - more natural forms of sugar, source of calories and sugar
Whew! So many options! Many people choose to steer away from artificial sweeteners due to possible negative health effects, however, there is much controversy over this. I think they are probably fine in limited quantities though I prefer natural sweeteners when possible. Some sweeteners are still newer to the market, such as allulose, so keep in mind that we may not know everything there is to know about these. They may come from a natural source but they are not in their natural state. 

Hopefully, you can find the sweeteners that work best for your health and goals! My first choice is usually pure stevia. I find erythritol is good for baking but, in large quantities, it causes me digestive issues. I also love maple syrup, honey and Vitafiber for liquid sweeteners! 

Do you use sweeteners? Do you pay attention to sweeteners in what you eat?

Friday, February 22, 2019

Friday Finds - Chocolate Edition!

Another Friday, another round of Finds - this time featuring quite a bit of chocolate so we'll roll with it!

Hu Chocolate Hunk - I have tried and loved Hu Kitchen chocolate bars and when they came out with Hu Hunks, I was dying to try them. They are chocolate candies without the shiny glaze - just pure unadulterated chocolate. They did not disappoint. I love Hu Chocolate and I think these were executed perfectly. They are also vegan and paleo friendly! Check them out here: hukitchen.com

Tru-Chocolate- Tru-Chocolate makes different chocolate candies that are Non-GMO, vegan and kosher. Their chocolates are sweetened naturally with xylitol and have a good ingredient list! They offer chocolate covered raisins, almonds, and solid dark chocolate bites. Check them out here: tru-chocolate.com

ChocZero Peppermint Bark - I have already tried and loved ChocZero bark and chocolate squares which are sugar free, sweetened with monk fruit (in fact I have a discount code: healthyhappyandfree when you purchase from their site). However, I have missed out on the peppermint bark! I finally managed to purchase it before it went out of stock! It has little peppermint pieces in it and they really mastered the combo! It's not overpowering but just right. I love the Choczero products and customer service. Check them out here: https://www.choczero.com/

Phew, so much chocolate so little time. What's your favorite type of chocolate?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A Chocolate Utopia! Cocotopia Product Review

Cocotopia: (n); utopic chocolate world at your fingertips

Love the Packaging!
This is what Cocotopia claims to have created. It sounds simple, delightful while also a big ambiguous.

What, pray tell, does a utopic chocolate world involve?

Well in this case, it involves chocolate truffles. Chocolate truffles that have the rich decadence that we know and love from these cocoa confections but with 45% fewer calories than a standard chocolate truffle.

These chocolate truffles clock in at 40 calories a pop and just 3g sugar. However, the ingredient list does contain a few additives such as soy lecithin and PGPR so chocolate purists/paleo/clean eaters may shy away from these.

The important thing to know is How do they taste?

I'm happy to say the claims are true. It's smooth with a good chocolate flavor. It's not a very dark chocolate but I wouldn't call it milk chocolate either. It had a good texture with a harder chocolate shell and smooth, creamy interior. I think it does well as a basic chocolate truffle.

 I enjoyed these truffles and look forward to watching them grow - I hope more flavors are on the horizon!

Overall, these are a good option for a lower calorie/lower sugar chocolate, however if you follow a paleo or clean diet, this may not be the truffle for you.

Would you try these? What does a utopic chocolate world mean to you?

Check out Cocotopia here: www.cocotopia.com

Monday, February 18, 2019

Instagram Isn't All Bad

Ever get tired of social media? Ever feel exhausted at seeing the photoshopped pictures, the perfect lives, and the same caption over and over again?

I know I sometimes feel that way. Admittedly, I probably spend too much time on social media. Reducing my time on there would definitely help me not get so irritated with this.

However, I don't think Instagram is all bad! I think many people use it as a platform for good! You can connect with old friends and new. You can learn from others experiences, benefit from their positivity, or identify with their struggles. So I thought I'd share a few accounts I've been enjoying recently.

@kimhoeltje 
Kim shares tons of fun foods and recipes, but more than that she always keeps it real. She is a kind and caring mother and I love following her! She also takes great photos! I also enjoy her YouTube videos! I encourage you to check out her pages!

@lilsipper 
If you don't know Bethany, where you been? Bethany aka lilsipper, has dealt with many health issues and shares tons of tips and tricks and amazing recipes to help people live healthy, happy lives. Her positivity just radiates and she is so genuine! She has an awesome blog at lilsipper.com where she shares a lot of recipes and information. I would recommend paying her page a visit, especially if you deal with gut health issues.

@marissaswholelife
Marissa is a stage 4 cancer survivor but that by no means defines her. She has run several marathons and shares her yummy meals that fuel her athletic endeavors. She is smiling all the time and I love her positivity. I love watching her stories on Instagram and I would definitely recommend checking out her page.

These are just a few of the accounts I'm currently enjoying. There's many more but it would be impossible to share them all in one blog post. You may notice a them in how I described their pages: positivity!

Positivity is what I want to see on my feed; how about you? While it may seem Instagram can be an annoying place full of comparisons and competition, the choice of who we follow is up to us! So I try to follow pages that are upbuilding and positive and I hope I can be one of those pages too!

Do you enjoy learning of new accounts to check out? Who's accounts have you been enjoying? Let me know!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Friday Finds!

New Year New You?

I don't know but I do know these are a few finds that have been helping me reach my goals for this year!

  • Five Minute Journal - Can you change your life with just five minutes a day? Sure! This nifty little journal prompts you to show gratitude, reflect on how the day can be great and how it could've been better, etc. It also features positive quotes at the beginning of each day and encourages you to commit to using it consistently. It has been a great help for me dealing with anxiety and really thinking about how I live each day. I definitely recommend this journal! You can find it here: https://www.intelligentchange.com/
  • Sunday Scaries Gummies - Have you been hearing about CBD? Um, who hasn't?? CBD is a non-psychoactive substance derived from hemp oil that is shown to have many benefits including digestion, anxiety relief, pain relief, etc. Sunday Scaries harnesses the power of CBD in fun gummy form. I just recently got a small bottle and I'm excited to see how they help me fight off the everyday scaries! Their products use full spectrum CBD with no THC and they have lab results on their website. They also have a vegan version! Check them out here: https://forsundayscaries.com/
  • EU Naturals Serenity - EU Naturals is a supplement line to empower your health with 100% natural ingredients. They have a wide range of supplements to help with digestion, joint pain, nausea, sleep and anxiety, hormonal health, prenatal, etc. They reached out to me to try a product and I chose Serenity which is an stress relief and natural sleep aid. It contains Zinc, Magnesium, Valerian extract, L-theanine, melatonin and other natural substances to help you sleep. I have found it to help me fall asleep and getting more/better sleep is one of my priorities this year! Check out their broad range of science backed, natural supplements here: https://store.eunatural.com/
How are you doing with your 2019 goals? Have you found any new items to help you reach your goals?