A Healthy Gut is Essential to a Healthy Weight

Okay, I’m about to throw you a curve ball.  Ready?  It’s possible that the reason you are having such a hard time losing weight is because the bacteria living inside your gut are out of balance.

Until recently, it was assumed that these bacteria (our microbiome) didn’t do much.  But now there is a growing body of research suggesting that the 100 trillion bacteria – about three pounds – living inside our gut play a huge role in our health and disease.   Researchers believe that this is especially true for the metabolic diseases that plague us today such as Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Exactly how the microbiome influences our weight isn’t known yet, but many researchers believe that it plays a role in processing food and helps determine how many calories and nutrients are absorbed.  Certain intestinal microbes may also alter our insulin (a hormone) influencing the way fat is metabolized in our body.

It’s complicated and we have much more to learn about this extremely complex system living inside us. We don’t have enough hard facts to make specific recommendations on the best probiotic (healthy bacteria) supplements for weight loss.  There are literally thousands of different bacteria and they interact with each other in ways we don’t understand.  Therefore, probiotic supplements that claim to promote weight loss are premature.  What we do know however is that our dietary habits can have a dramatic impact on the mix of beneficial and harmful bacteria in our gut.

Here are five simple steps you can take to support a healthy gut – inside and out.

1. Eat more fiber. Eating fibrous plant foods is an important strategy for improving the robustness of gut bacteria by providing raw material for fermentation which feeds them.  The diversity and number of plants you eat will be reflected in the diversity and number of bacteria in your gut; the more the better.  Aim for at least 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day; two to three servings of fruit, four to six servings of veggies, two to three servings of whole grains, nuts and beans several times a week.  Always be sure to drink plenty of water to work along with the fiber.

2. Make friends with fermented foods. Fermented foods deliver probiotics (live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health).  Greek yogurt and kefir, a tangy dairy drink that’s packed with healthy bugs, are a good start.  Look for products that say “live and active cultures” on the label and avoid those with added sugar that can feed undesirable bacteria.  Other gut health foods containing powerful probiotic include naturally fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles; they contain both live bacteria and prebiotics (see below) that nourish good gut bacteria and support a healthy body weight.

3. Include prebiotic foods. Prebiotics are a type of soluble fiber found in certain plant foods that act as “food” for probiotics. They are like fertilizer helping probiotics grow and flourish in your gut.  Prebiotic-containing foods include Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, leek, asparagus, and banana. Eat some type of prebiotic food every day.

4. Eat less meat. A diet heavy in animal protein feeds a type of bacteria called Bilophilia that has been linked to inflammation in animal studies; and chronic inflammation is a major contributor to obesity.  If you are a meat-lover, it’s fine to include it in your diet but think of it as the side dish rather than the main course.  At least 3/4 of your plate should be filled with plant foods.

5. Skip the sugar. Sugar feeds the undesirable gut bacteria and causes them to thrive.  Studies have shown that a diet high in added sugar can lead to overgrowth of yeast species and other pathogenic bacteria. For the good bacteria to thrive, they require complex carbohydrates like vegetables, beans, and whole grains – not sugar.  So, when you get too many calories from added sugar (the average person eats more than 22 teaspoons a day!) the good bacteria will go hungry and eventually die off allowing for an overgrowth of the bad bacteria.  Stick with whole foods as much as possible and limit (preferably avoid) sugary highly processed junk food.

If you haven’t already, be sure to grab my 10 proven (non-diet) strategies today by clicking here.

If it’s finally time to start eating healthier, check out Nourished.Healthy.Happy.  Join our group and receive healthy eating tips, delicious recipes, and daily support to live your best life.  Everyone is welcome!


I’d love to help you eat healthy, lose weight, and feel awesome every day.

Let’s start with a conversation!

Call me at 732-494-1149 or send me an email.

Lorraine Matthews-Antosiewicz, MS, RD

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How to make your resolution stick this year

There’s something about the New Year that evokes a renewed optimism when it comes to improved health and weight loss.  It doesn’t seem to matter that we abandoned last year’s resolution a few weeks in; we feel that it’s worth giving it another go.

resolutions-2019

Make your resolution stick this year with a different approach.

To come up with the best new year’s resolution – one that will last – you’ll need to do some real soul searching.  Figure out why losing weight and improving your health is so important to you. If you can come up with just one reason that really (really!) matters, you are much more likely to stay committed. For example, if you want to improve your health so you can be part of the lives of your children or grandchildren as they grow, consider why this is important to you.  If your reason is meaningful enough to truly inspire change, you will be on your way to awesome success.

What are you ready, willing, and able to do day-after-day?

The next step is to come up with a plan that focuses on small goals along the way rather than just the big outcome. If you make choices every day, week after week, that are realistic and consistent with your resolution, you might just find it actually happens for you this year.

Make sure that your short-term (daily and weekly) goals are setting you up for success – not failure. Don’t be overzealous and ask too much of yourself.   If you do this, you’ll be starting down an unsustainable and unhealthy path. Establish heathy, realistic, action-oriented smart goals.

Over-the-top potentially unrealistic goals

Unsustainable goals are likely to set you up for failure.

  • Go to the gym seven days a week and exercise for an hour.
  • Never go out to eat.
  • Completely cut out carbs.
  • Lose at least 5 lb. per week.
  • Eat less than 1,000 calories per day.

Smart action-oriented goals

Start slowly and keep a steady pace with actions that are challenging, yet achievable.

  • Walk and take the stairs whenever possible.
  • Eat some vegetables with lunch and dinner.
  • Cook dinner at least 2 days per week.
  • Bring leftovers for lunch more often.
  • Eat 3 meals per day.

If you need help making this year the year that you accomplish your health goals, please get in touch.  I’d be happy to help you come up with a realistic healthy eating plan that you can stick with.

Lorraine

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A special holiday recipe just for you: Baked Spiced Pears

As we near the end of the holiday season with Hanukkah behind us and Christmas just ahead, I just want to take a moment and thank you for being a loyal subscriber to my e-newsletter and for inspiring me to continue to provide services to help you be your healthiest self.  I’m so grateful to be a source of information and inspiration for you.

I also want to ask you to take a moment to acknowledge the effort you put in each day to make good choices to care for yourself.  It’s not always easy so be sure to thank yourself and be proud of your hard work and commitment.  You are an inspiration to others to live healthier by being a good role model.

THANKS FOR BEING YOU!

baked spiced pears (2)

As you finish out the holiday season and ring in the New Year, try this yummy recipe for Spiced Baked Pears. It makes a great snack or dessert – or even breakfast.  Enjoy every bite!

Lorraine

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Could lack of sleep be the reason you’re gaining?

Sleep is important for many aspects of health, including your weight.  Studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep tend to gain more weight including unhealthy belly fat.

Sleep deprivation causes changes to hormones that regulate hunger and appetite.  A hormone called leptin suppresses appetite and encourages the body to burn calories; sleep deprivation reduces leptin. Another hormone called ghrelin has the opposite effect in the body; it triggers feelings of hunger—and ghrelin goes up when you don’t get enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation can cause cravings for fatty sugary junk foods.  Furthermore, when you are chronically over-tired, you tend to make poor decisions about food and give in to your junk food impulses.

A lack of sleep makes you more likely to eat more of your daily calories at night which can lead to weight gain.  And it’s been shown that you’re more likely to overeat the next day after a poor night’s sleep.

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BETTER SLEEP TIPS AND TRICKS

These strategies are listed in order of importance. Give them a try for a more restful sleep.

  1. Start a consistent sleep routine. Get in bed at the same time every night and set the alarm for the same time every morning.
  2. Set the tone. All screens should be off at least 30 minutes before you get in bed. No TV, computer, or phone. Reading a book or a magazine in dim light is a much better option.
  3. Cool it down! 65 degrees or cooler is ideal for sleeping, but just make sure that you aren’t waking up sweating in the middle of the night.
  4. No caffeine after 3pm.
  5. No food or alcohol 3 – 4 hours before bed. This will help your digestion as well.
  6. Start a 10 –20 minute before-bed meditation practice. Try an app like Headspace.
  7. When all else fails, try: Celestial Seasonings Sleepy Time Tea, Yogi Soothing Caramel Bedtime Tea, lavender essential oils , time-released melatonin, magnesium, CBD (cannabidiol). NOTE:  always consult with your physician before starting any of these supplements.

Lorraine

PS…
Once you get your sleep in order, let’s talk about your eating habits. I’d be happy to help you create a personalized eating plan. Give me a call!

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10 Holiday Eating Tips (+ simple recipe tweaks)

‘Tis the season for parties and celebrations with family and friends. Unfortunately, for many it also becomes a time for overeating and weight gain. According to the National Institutes of Health, holiday eating can result in an extra pound or two every year. Over a lifetime, holiday weight gain can really add up.

apple and walnut

The holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. Focus on a healthy balance of food, activity, and fun. By implementing a few (or all) of these simple tips, you can stay healthy all through the holiday season.

  1. Be realistic. Don’t try to lose weight during the holidays, instead try to maintain your current weight.
  1. Plan time for exercise. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevents weight gain. A moderate increase in daily exercise can help to offset the extra holiday eating. Try taking a brisk walk once or twice a day – even just 10 or 15 minute can make a difference.
  1. Don’t skip meals. Before leaving for a party, eat a light snack like raw vegetables or a piece of fruit to curb your appetite. You will be less tempted to over-indulge.
  1. Survey party buffets before filling your plate. Choose your favorite foods and skip your least favorite. Include vegetables and fruits to keep your plate balanced.
  1. Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Savor your favorite holiday treats while eating small portions. Sit down, get comfortable, eat slowly, and enjoy.
  1. Be careful with beverages. Alcohol can lessen inhibitions and result in overeating; non-alcoholic beverages can be full of calories and sugar. Be sure to drink plenty of water.
  1. If you overeat at one meal, go light on the next. It takes around 500 calories per day (about 3,500 calories or so per week) above your normal/maintenance consumption to gain one pound. It is impossible to gain weight from one piece of pie!
  1. Take the focus off food. Trade off some of your cookie baking time with non-edible projects like making wreaths or a gingerbread house. Plan group activities with family and friends that aren’t all about food.
  1. Offer to bring your own healthy dish to a holiday gathering. That way you know there will be something there for you to eat and enjoy.
  1. Practice Healthy Holiday Cooking. Preparing your favorite traditional dishes with less fat and sodium will help promote healthy holiday eating.

Lighten up recipes with these simple modifications and cooking tips:

Gravy

  • Refrigerate the gravy to harden fat and then skim it off the top to reduce fat grams and calories.

Dressing

  • Use a little less bread and add more onions, garlic, celery, and vegetables. Add fruits such as cranberries or apples. Moisten or flavor with low fat low sodium chicken or vegetable broth and applesauce. Another tip: use whole wheat bread in place of white bread.

Cranberry Fruit Relish

  • Rather than jellied cranberry sauce, make your own with fresh cranberries and other fruits.

Turkey

  • Enjoy delicious, roasted turkey breast without the skin to decrease the saturated fat and calories.

Green Bean Casserole

  • Cook fresh green beans with chucks of potatoes instead of cream soup. Top with slivered or sliced almonds instead of fried onion rings.

Mashed Potatoes

  • Use skim or low-fat milk, low sodium broth, fresh minced garlic or garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese instead of whole milk, butter, and salt.

Quick Holiday Nog

  • Place 4 ripe bananas, 1-1/2 cups skim milk or soymilk, 1-1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt, and 1/4 teaspoon rum extract in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and top each with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Desserts

  • Make a crustless pumpkin pie. Substitute two egg whites for each whole egg in baked recipes. Replace heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in cheesecakes and cream pies. Top cakes with fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar instead of fatty sugary frosting.

Most importantly

  • Enjoy the holidays, plan time for activity, incorporate healthy recipes into your holiday meals, and don’t restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday foods. In the long run, your mind and body will thank you.

Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season,

Lorraine

PS…

When the holidays are over and it’s time to get back on track, check out this 28-Day Refresh Meal Plan.  Give it a try now (for FREE) so you are ready for the New Year.

Posted in Eating for the Health of it, Healthy Body Weight, Holidays, Mindful Eating, Recipes for Health | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Greeting

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”         –Melody Beattie

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving Day.

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As a show of gratitude for being such a faithful reader of my newsletter, I’d like to share one of my favorite Thanksgiving Day recipes with you.  This Creamy Butternut Squash Soup makes the perfect appetizer for your holiday meal. It has an exceptionally rich flavor with just a few simple ingredients –and it’s healthy, of course. Enjoy!

With gratitude,
Lorraine

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Enjoy your favorite Halloween candy without the guilt

Are you going Trick-or-Treating with your kids today or staying home to hand out candy to the neighborhood ghosts and goblins?  Either way, candy will likely be in your face.  If you are trying to eat healthier and lose some weight, you might find yourself feeling guilty if you give in and eat some candy.

halloween candy

Why not try something different this Halloween (or anytime)?  Eat what you want, just do it mindfully.

Here are a few steps you can take to get through today and every day in a mindful eating way.

  • Give yourself permission to some candy. If you don’t, you may find yourself overeating because you don’t want to feel deprived. Restricting yourself from certain foods may also keep you craving them whether you’re hungry or not.
  • Focus while you eat. Instead of unconsciously popping candy into your mouth as you go about the day, STOP to enjoy it.  Take a moment to sit down and JUST EAT your candy; don’t do anything else.  Make it a special fun event.
  • Savor the flavor.  Engage your sense of smell and taste to fully enjoy your treat. Appreciate the delicious smell before you take a bite.  Then as you bite into the candy, notice the texture — is it soft or hard, chewy, or crunchy?  Take your time and let it melt in your mouth a bit before you start chewing.  Move it around your mouth to let all your taste buds get in on the action.
  • Reflect for a moment.Once you finish, take some time to think about the experience. Was it as good as you imagined it would be?  Did you thoroughly enjoy it? Do you feel satisfied and happy or guilty and worried about the calories?  The latter likely means that you weren’t able to fully enjoy the candy and you may be stuck in “diet mentality” thinking.  With time and practice, you can move beyond this.
  • Decide what’s next. Do you really (really, really) want more candy? If so, repeat these steps.

Does the idea of eating whatever you want scare you?  Are you afraid that all you will eat is junk food –chips, cookies, and ice cream?  If you’ve dieted for a long time, this way of thinking is understandable.  Just know that with practice, mindful eating will become more natural.  When you use your internal cues for hunger, appetite, and satiety to guide you in eating, you end up eating just the right amount and kind of food to truly nourish your body.

Lorraine

PS…
If you are ready to QUIT DIETING and would like to learn more about MINDFUL EATING as a way to get to your natural healthy weight, click here to contact me.  Let’s start with a conversation!

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Savory Spaghetti Squash Recipe

With Halloween coming up and Thanksgiving right around the corner, pumpkins are everywhere.  Jack-o-Lanterns and pumpkin pie are a big part of the traditions during this time of year. But did you know that pumpkins are actually a type of squash?!  That’s right; they are in the same family as Butternut Squash, Acorn Squash, and Spaghetti Squash – all nutritious and delicious vegetables.

Although I enjoy all types of squash, my favorite is Spaghetti Squash. This unique vegetable produces thin, translucent spaghetti-like strands that can easily be scraped out with a fork after cooked. I know it’s hard to imagine how squash can resemble spaghetti, but it does. If you’ve never cooked or eaten this type of squash, I recommend giving it a try.

spaghetti squash

Not only is Spaghetti Squash a fun food, it’s loaded with potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and other antioxidants.  And –  to add to the appeal – it’s low in calories (only 40 calories in one cup cooked), fat, sodium, and carbohydrates. So, if you are watching your weight, this veggie makes a tasty alternative to pasta and it’s high in fiber to keep you feeling full longer.

Check out this yummy recipe. It’s an easy way to get a couple of servings of vegetables in one meal.

Cheesy Veggie & Spaghetti Squash Bake
Serves: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 whole spaghetti squash
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 16 oz. tomato sauce
  • 4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  1. Poke spaghetti squash all over with a knife and cook in the microwave for 8- 12 minutes until soft. If you don’t have a microwave, place the poked squash on a baking pan and bake at 375° F for 45 to 60 minutes.
  1. While squash is cooking, add the oil, garlic, pepper, zucchini, and carrots to a pan, cooking over medium heat.
  1. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and scrape the flesh from the peel with a fork. It should flake off easily in strings, resembling spaghetti. Place the spaghetti squash flesh in a casserole dish. Add the cooked veggies, diced tomato, sauce, and most of the cheese and mix well. Sprinkle leftover cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.
  1. Allow to cool for five minutes, serve, and enjoy!

(Recipes source:  www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org)

Lorraine

PS…
Looking for more healthy recipes?  Get your own Anti-Inflammatory Diet Plan with recipes for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.  Try it out for FREE today.

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Is permanent weight loss possible?

As a nutritionist who has worked with hundreds of clients over the years, I have examined the weight issue from every angle.  One thing I know for sure is that there is no quick solution to weight loss. My clients who get to their personal best weight do so slowly while developing healthier habits along the way.  Diets that promise quick weight loss simply do not work for most people over the long term – and this includes the currently popular keto diet.

So what’s a dieter to do?  First and foremost, be aware that the world is full of bad weight loss advice. Next, believe that there is no quick fix. And last, know that there are some tried and true steps that can be taken to achieve permanent natural weight loss. Here’s what you can do to get started immediately.

eggs breakfast

1. Eat a healthy breakfast

Start your day with a high fiber breakfast such as bowl of oatmeal topped with fresh fruit or a veggie omelet with a slice of 100% whole wheat toast. This will keep you well-nourished and satisfied throughout the morning so you’re less likely to overeat later in the day.  Furthermore, you will have more energy and be more inclined to exercise.

2.  Eat slowly and pay attention

Take one bite at a time, chew it well, and swallow before putting more food in your mouth.  Take a few deep breaths before the next bite.  This allows you to really enjoy your food and makes it less likely that you will overeat. When you eat quickly, you may go past the point of satisfaction without realizing it.

3.  Consider whether you’re really hungry.

When you feel like eating at a time that is not part of your plan ask yourself the question, “Am I really hungry or is this just a craving?” Hunger is your body’s way of telling you that you need fuel; it’s a physiological response.  A craving, on the other hand, is usually triggered by a psychological need. Learn to listen to your body and figure out what it is trying to tell you. Perhaps you need something other than food.

4.  Limit temptation

Enjoy your favorite foods but do so wisely by limiting temptation.   For example, if your weakness is cookies, buy one or two small fresh bakery cookies instead of a whole box. It’s not necessary to cut out your favorite foods entirely but it is important to take charge of how much you eat.  Having a box of your favorite cookies in the house may not be the best idea.

5.  Keep healthy convenience foods on hand

Stock up on healthy staples that can be used for simple breakfasts and quick dinners such as oatmeal, unsweetened dry cereal, individually frozen portions of fish and chicken, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, canned tomatoes and beans, and frozen vegetables.

6.  Eat at home most of the time

One of the best ways to control your weight is to be in charge of the ingredients that go into your meals by preparing them at home.  Restaurant and fast food meals tend to be too large and typically provide high-doses of salt, sugar, fat and calories. When cooking dinner, prepare extra and bring it for lunch the next day.

7.  Do it mostly every day

Stick to your eating plan most of the time; don’t take the weekends off. A planned indiscretion here and there is not a big problem but taking off every weekend will set you back. You are much more likely to achieve and maintain your weight goal if you stick with your plan seven days a week.

8.  Include more fruits and vegetables

Add more vegetables to both lunch and dinner, and even breakfast. The extra fiber will fill you up so you’re less likely to go back for seconds. If you are hungry between meals, go for veggies and fruit to keep you from reaching for unhealthy snacks.

9.  Plan for exercise

Regular exercise increases the rate at which your body burns calories helping you to see results faster than with healthy eating alone.  And adding exercise to your plan can keep you motivated during the times when the scale won’t budge since exercise helps you lose inches.

10.  Enlist allies

Surround yourself with family and friends who are sensitive to your weight loss goal. Fill them in on the details of your plan and let them know you have made a personal commitment to succeed. Invite them to join you on your quest to improve your eating habits and health.

Bottom line

The key to achieving successful weight loss is having a sustainable plan that works. With all the bad diet advice out there this can be extremely challenging. If you need help, please get in touch.  I can help you create a personalized plan based on proven techniques and strategies that will get to your personal best weight and stay there for good.

Lorraine

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Quick + Easy breakfast ideas (recipes)

I always wake up hungry and love eating breakfast.  Honestly, I couldn’t get going in the morning without it. No matter what, I make sure that I eat breakfast every day.   But that’s not the case for everyone.

With time being in short supply in the morning, breakfast can be the most difficult meal of the day for many people – and it often gets skipped.  Aside from the time factor, some people don’t eat breakfast because they are dieting and think it will help them with weight loss.  Many of the clients I’ve worked with over the years who have been on diets report skipping breakfast to cut calories so they can lose weight quicker, but quite the opposite is true.

People who eat breakfast are able to manage their weight more easily than those who forgo the morning meal.  Research shows that breakfast eaters actually eat fewer calories overall – most likely because they don’t overeat later in the day due to hunger. Have I convinced you that eating breakfast every day is the right thing to do?  Excellent!

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Prep any of these easy healthy breakfasts tonight and in the morning, just Grab-and-Go!

Banana Peanut Butter Tortilla: Lay a whole wheat tortilla on a flat surface; spread about 2 TBSP peanut butter over it; place 1 medium peeled banana in the center;  roll up and cut in half.  Additional toppings include chia seeds, sliced strawberries, unsweetened shredded coconut, mini chocolate chips.

Greek Yogurt Parfait: In a small bowl, blend together 6-oz plain Greek yogurt with 1 tsp real maple syrup; layer yogurt and selected add-ins in a small mason jar or container with a lid.  I like to do two layers each of yogurt and add-ins including any fruit (such as berries, sliced banana, chopped apple), almond butter or peanut butter, chopped nuts or seeds, cinnamon.  Top with 1 TBSP healthy granola.

Veggie and Cheddar Egg Muffins:  Store these in an airtight container and keep them in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Make a batch in advance and then heat them up in the microwave (usually 10-15 seconds is enough) when you’re ready to eat!  Click here for the recipe.

Overnight Oats:  To make overnight oats, all you have to do is mix oats together with a few other ingredients in a jar before you go to bed at night.  Let them soak overnight and when you wake up in the morning, ta-da, breakfast is ready for you to enjoy!  Watch this quick video on how to make Overnight Oats and grab a copy of the recipe.

Breakfast Smoothie:  Smoothies can be super healthy but add too much fruit and the sugar calories will add up quickly.  Add too little protein and you will lack energy and feel hungry in no time.  Use these tips to make a nutritious and filling smoothie.

Lorraine


PS… Looking for more healthy recipes?  Get your own Anti-Inflammatory Diet Plan with recipes for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks.  Try it out for FREE today.

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