Spring Clean Your Diet, Satisfy Cravings

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If warmer weather and fresh air send you into tidying mode, don’t forget your pantry. Spring clean your pantry and refrigerator and you’ll make better food choices and improve your health in the long run.

Count on Color for Protecting your Body

The colorful compounds in fruits, vegetables and grains protect plants from diseases and pests. In your body they help protect your tissues including skin, bone and muscle, from harm. Think of all forms of produce and grains in a variety of colors (see below). Fresh, frozen, 100% juice, dried or roasted veggie snacks and dried fruits with no added sugar (I often turn to figs and raisins when I want something sweet).

Here’s an example of of what color can do for you:

Orange fruits and vegetables may be protective against bone loss.

Black, deep red and dark purple produce and grains (examples: black rice, purple carrots, 100% grape juice made with Concord grapes, 100% pomegranate juice) are good for artery health; they help expand arteries to accommodate greater blood flow (very important for maintaining healthy blood pressure).

Dark greens are good for skin and eyes. They can help eyes adjust to bright light and also support night vision. Some examples include spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, broccoli, zucchini, Brussels sprouts and romaine lettuce.

Add Snacks that Satisfy Hunger and Taste

When you want to satisfy hunger, look for foods high in protein and fiber. If you want to satisfy hunger and taste at the same time, consider options that fulfill your cravings. Looking for salty and crunchy? Beanitos hint of lime chips are amazing with guacamole. Searching for something sweet? Yogurt parfaits, granola + milk (Purely Elizabeth’s and The Toasted Oat are 2 of my favorites). There are also a number of bars that satisfy hunger and taste at the same time. Check out the newest Luna bars including chocolate dipped coconut (you won’t miss Mounds or Almond Joy). Find a few other crave worthy options here.

Discover Missing Nutrients

Vitamin D has been the rage for years but there are other nutrients that are ‘shortfall nutrients,’ those most of us do not consume in adequate amounts. Among them are potassium and magnesium.  Potassium is important for healthy blood pressure, nerve and muscle functioning and removing waste products from cells. Branch out from bananas and consider including leafy greens, carrots and potatoes and citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits for potassium. Think out of the box with kale chips, roasted carrots and potatoes or slow cooker vegetables with potatoes. Magnesium is  necessary for muscle and nerve functioning, blood sugar control, bone health, blood pressure regulation, energy production and normal heart rhythm. It also helps with sleep and muscle relaxation. Get a little more magnesium with beans, nuts, seeds, dark green leafy veggies, avocados and potatoes.

In addition to focusing on the food mentioned here, place foods you want to consume at eye level and treats you want to eat rarely in the back of the cabinet or bottom of the freezer out of sight and reach. Chances are, you’ll forget they are there.

 

Good Vision with Nutrition

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When talking about nutrition, most of my clients are so focused on calories, carbs, protein, and cutting edge supplements that will make them huge, that they don’t realize the myriad other ways that nutrition can affect their game. Yet there are research and product developments that continually make me realize just how amazing food can be and how what you eat or don’t eat affects your game and career longevity.

One of the most recent supplement developments is Bausch + Lomb’s PreserVision Eye Vitamin and Mineral supplement. Though this product is geared towards people with Age-Related Eye Diseases, there are two important things going on here. 1) everyone will age and our eyes will change in the process and, 2) you can get the ingredients in this supplement, which are important for eye health, in food. In fact, I think athletes absolutely should get critical eye nutrients such as beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and omega 3 fats in their food and do so daily.

Here’s where you’ll find these nutrients for your vision:

beta carotene – egg yolks, sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach, turnip greens, cantaloupe, romaine lettuce, broccoli, winter squash, collard greens.

lutein & zeaxanthin – Brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, egg yolks, collard greens, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, broccoli, zucchini.

omega 3 – wild salmon (less mercury), halibut, herring and mackerel (worried about mercury? click here for a chart on which fish contains the most mercury).

green tea – tea catechins penetrate eye tissue and according to a study in rats, reduce harmful oxidative stress in the eye.

For those people with Age Related Eye Disease, this supplement makes life easy because it delivers a guaranteed amount of these all important eye nutrients to you, daily. For the rest of us who are young and relying on good vision to hit a 90 MPH fastball or see what direction the other team is going in on the court or field, eating a diet filled with those all important nutrients for eye health may help you play better in the short term and prevent macular degeneration and cataracts in the long term.