Tag Archives: diet

Earth Girl Wellness

Which Diet is Best For You?

Written by Tina Hatcher, Earth Girl Wellness

We are pounded daily with a plethora of diet options. Vegan, the New Atkins, Paleo, South Beach, the Zone, Volumetrics…the list goes on! How can anyone possibly know which way to turn! The answer is relatively simple. No single meal plan is a perfect fit for everyone. What may have been successful for your BFF may not be so grand for you. Variations in lifestyles including activity levels, current health, desire or ability to cook, and budget can make or break various menu options. Consider that some individuals have no trouble going on a strict long-term meal plan, while others simply can’t give up their evening glass of wine or weekend ice cream treat!

So where to begin? The following three questions should set you on a course for success! First, where are you now? What time do you have to commit to a new meal plan? What foods can you not live without? What does your budget allow? Do you want a strict routine to follow or more flexibility? All of these variables can change over the course of your life (or even several times a year!) Choose a meal plan that won’t cause major disruptions to your current lifestyle.

As you learn to eat healthier, you can always challenge yourself a little more! Choose a meal plan that will challenge you but won’t create an entirely new routine and lifestyle overnight.

Second, what are your goals? Weight loss? Improve fitness level? Lower cholesterol? Feel happier? Different meal plans are geared towards different results. A small, female cross-country runner will have a far different menu than a large, male weight lifter. A diabetic losing weight will have different considerations than a new mom hoping to take off the last five pounds of baby weight. Choose a meal plan that will provide the energy, protein, and vitamins and minerals that will, first and foremost, create a healthier you. Choose one that still provides you with a few “loves” but encourages you to make wiser choices.

Finally, does the recommended guidelines and meal plans make sense? Let’s go to a reality check here…no one can lose 10 pounds in a week. It’s physiologically impossible, so why set yourself up for failure to begin with? Does the plan eliminate entire food groups? If you are forbidden to eat healthy sources of carbs, where will your energy come from? If you can eat excess volumes of fat, does it make sense you can actually take off a few pounds? Most of us have enough common sense to know deep down when a book makes recommendations that just seem unhealthy! Follow your gut (literally) and choose a healthier option!

Earth Girl wants you to be successful! So choose a lifestyle that will set you up for success! If you can’t sustain a nutritional lifestyle for the rest of your life…it is not for you!

Tina Hatcher is the owner of Earth Girl Wellness, LLC. Her passion for overall wellness has allowed her to work in multiple disciplines from corrective exercise, sports performance and sports nutrition, weight loss, and nutritional counseling across all ages for the last 25 years. www.earthgirlwellness.com

Earth Girl Wellness – What’s a GMO?

What’s a GMO?

Written by Tina Hatcher, Earth Girl Wellness

Food manufacturers praise their products as Non-GMO. A television commercial portrays Triscuits as “Nongenemodiscuit.” So what’s with the Non-GMO trend? Is it worth our interest since most food marketing departments have long tried to lure us in with fancy wording to entice us to buy their product? Especially since many of these marketing ploys are only vain attempts to make a product inaccurately sound healthier? Earth Girl thinks the Non-GMO marketing trend is worth the added effort.

GMOs are “Genetically Modified Organisms.” Essentially natural food items (fruits and vegetables) have their genetic material altered to create a newer, “healthier” version of the food. Take corn for example. One species of corn has a piece of its genetic material taken and inserted into another species of corn to make it more resistant to drought, torrential rain, bugs, or undernourished soil. The new version of corn is then easier to grow in harsh conditions, creating higher crop production and lowering cost. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Cross-breeding of crops has been done for centuries to create similar results. So what’s so bad about that? Cross-breeding is a naturally occurring event. A farmer can put two similar breeds of corn together to make a new breed. Genetically modifying the corn is a scientific process occurring in a laboratory; two unrelated species are forced to combine. Think of it like this: You can create a new breed of dog by allowing natural puppy love to occur or you can create a “Frankenpup” by taking an eye from one and a leg from another.

As a point of debate, most of these new species are created to help bolster food supplies in challenging environments. Unfortunately, food executives have also used the technology to make a maximum amount of profit from their products. Most of the products containing GMO ingredients are of such poor quality, we shouldn’t eat them. But let’s push the point a little bit. What other ramifications can come from GMO products? Not a single GMO product can be labeled as organic and can’t really attest to the health of the nutrition or the potential harshness of the product to the land. There is not a single long term study which can validate the safety of these products. GMOs may not have dramatic effects on the current generation but can side effects show up in our children or our children’s children? Additionally, GMOs can ultimately eradicate normally occurring species of many fruits or vegetables. Cross pollination can occur across GMO farm and organic farms that are literally miles apart.

So how can you know if your food is safely free from GMOs? The most commonly genetically modified crops today are corn and soy. These are found in virtually every packaged product on the supermarket shelf! Earth Girl highly recommends putting any GMO product back on the shelf. Look for the Non-GMO Verified Green Seal of Approval and buy organic when possible. For more information on GMOs, go to The Non-GMO Project at www.nongmoproject.org.

For more info about Earth Girl Wellness, visit here.

Earth Girl Wellness: Probiotics 101

The gut is the new brain…or so research is suggesting. The profound effects the health of your digestive tract has on your cognitive function is gaining momentum in the nutrition world. Regular elimination and the balance of microflora in your intestines has everyone grabbing for more fiber and probiotics. But what are probiotics? Are they really that important? Or are we falling prey to yet another dietary trap trying to grab money out of our pockets?
Your gut is filled with bacteria of all kinds. There is a delicate balance of more than 1000 types of bacteria living in your large intestines. This balance helps keep your intestines “moving along” and influences mood regulation and emotions. The millions of neurons (nerve endings) contained in our digestive tract are in constant communication with our brain. Keeping that communication open and smoothly transmitting requires a healthy gut. Probiotics and their far reaching effects on the colon aid in maintaining a healthy gut and the complex communication system of the gut-brain axis.
There are a wide range of sources that can provide your body with the appropriate balance of bacteria. Probiotics can be found in many foods, drinks, and supplements. Choosing a proper delivery method depends upon your preferences and lifestyle. Sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, and several other fermented foods, such as sour pickles, are natural food sources that contain the healthy bacteria. Advantages to food sources include their close proximity to nature and lack of unnecessary colors and preservatives. However, not everyone has a desire to eat fermented (and sometimes spicy!) foods every day. Plus, yogurt often contains a large amount of sugar (a no-no on the Earth Girl list).
Kombucha is a fermented tea that provides an excellent source of probiotics. It comes in a variety of flavors and in easy-to-grab bottles. The taste can be too strong and off-putting for some individuals and the price can dent your wallet. Earth Girl suggests you shop around and try a variety of different manufactures to find one that appeals to you. Earth Girls’ favorite pick is the Synergy Trilogy. It is found at most super markets that sell organic foods.
A final source can be found in a supplement. Buyer beware when purchasing probiotics in a bottle. Several items to check for are the number of strains of bacteria (look for more than one strain), the volume of bacteria in the product (look for at least 1 billion per CFU), and when the product was made to ensure the bacteria is still alive (probiotics won’t work if the bacteria contained in them is dead). A few products that have been vetted and reviewed by Reviews.com include Islands Miracle-Ultra-30 Probiotics, MegaFood MegaFlora, Renew Life Ultimate Flora Extra Care 30 Billion, and Dr. Formulas Nexabiotic Advanced Multi-Probiotic.
In final analysis, Earth Girl Wellness recommends everyone consume a daily probiotic. It is a “no-brainer” when it comes to gut health and is simple to add to any healthy routine. Choose a delivery system that makes you happy! You will be healthier whether you enjoy a great Kimchi grilled cheese sandwich, an afternoon glass of kombucha, or throw back a few supplements with your morning glass of water. Your gut (and brain) will love you for it!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher

Dining as a Vegetarian

As a vegetarian, I find trying new restaurants to be a little stressful. It can be hard to try new places when I’m not sure if they will have any vegetarian options. Luckily, I found a few places in and around the Roanoke area that have plenty of options for vegetarians in the area. I thought I’d share some of my favorites!

Before I moved to this area and was just visiting, a place I always had to stop was Hollywood’s Bakery. This place has its very own vegetarian section with a lot of diversity between choices. One of the best things about Hollywood’s is the incredible bakery items. Their bakery menu is extensive, there’s something sweet for everyone. If you’re ever in the Hollins-Roanoke area I highly recommend stopping in for a Tinker Mountain Quesadilla and a lemon bar!

Benny Marconi’s is my favorite place to go downtown if I’m just looking for a quick place to eat. You get a giant slice of pizza for just a couple of bucks. It’s the perfect remedy for walking around town all day. They have very simple cheese pizza and a wide selection of sodas and tea. It’s a great little place if you’re looking for an affordable and vegetarian friendly place to eat in downtown Roanoke.

I only recently found out about this amazing Indian food place called Taaza. I’ve also been hesitant to try Indian food, but I finally decided to check it out. It was so delicious and they had a whole vegan section as well as a build-you-own dish kind of thing, where you could replace meat with mixed veggies. The portions are huge and they make great leftovers the next day. If you haven’t tried it yet I highly recommend.

I’ve found that Macado’s is a big hit for college students in the area, I know that we’re always down to eat here.  The menu is very diverse and you get anything from a PB&J to a black bean quesadilla. Their macaroni and cheese is a dream and I cannot go inside without ordering some. The inside is full of crazy decorations that give the place a great atmosphere.

Pop’s Ice Cream and Soda Bar is a very cute place to stop if you’re in the Grandin area. Sometimes I get what I like to call a “fancy” grilled cheese—it’s just what hits the spot. It’s an easy vegetarian friendly place if you want the feel of an old-school dinner feel, a gooey grilled cheese, and of course- an incredible ice cream soda!

These are just some of amazing vegetarian friendly restaurants that the Roanoke area has to offer, let me know which is your favorite. Didn’t see one of your favorites on the list? Recommend it in the comments bellow!  Stay tuned for more vegetarian minded articles.

 

Written by Lilith Turman

“Perfection”

What is perfection? According to Dictionary.com, perfect is defined as “conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type.” However, when it comes to wellness, I am not certain there is an exact definition of an ideal type. What makes one individual healthy and happy may not necessarily work for someone else. Even the guidelines set out by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) regarding nutritional intake and the exercise standards promoted by the ACSM (American Academy of Sports Medicine) are just that: guidelines. Both organizations take large volumes of data from hundreds of thousands of people and create standards that fit the majority of the US population regarding what might constitute optimal health. These standards can’t possibly consider each individual’s unique genetic makeup and personal preferences for a fulfilling life.

So why do we strive for perfection when perfection is at best a guess of what might work for some people? Why do we pressure ourselves into comparing what we feel others are doing that seems to be superior, and quite obviously in our minds, the best way to pursue optimal health? Earth Girl recommends we reframe our thinking when we consider our daily habits and how they impact our wellness.

Instead of berating ourselves because we had a piece of cake at a friend’s birthday party and subsequently deciding we have no self control so we might as well give up on living a healthy lifestyle (because in a perfect world we wouldn’t eat any cake), let’s refocus. Birthday parties are fun and a small celebratory piece of delicious chocolate cake might be what we seek as perfection that day. We celebrated, we ate cake, we enjoyed and then we moved on to a healthy option for dinner later that night.

Instead of relinquishing a regular exercise routine because we missed one run to enjoy an evening out with our family (and in a perfect world we would not skip a run), let’s refocus. Time spent with family can also be active and, certainly, quality time with loved ones has amazing health benefits. Enjoy the spontaneity of the situation and clock your three miles the next day.

We often think that unless we pursue everything to its “perfect” ending, we might as well not pursue it at all. Such a sad way to live the adventure called life! Let’s strive to be perfectly imperfect. Or perhaps, imperfectly perfect. Decide what is best for the situation and use the opportunity to grow and enjoy life!

Earth Girl thinks perfection is what we make it. It looks different for everyone so stay on the adventure that makes you perfectly you!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher of Earth Girl Wellness

What does gluten-free really mean?

Gluten-free is currently one of the major health trends. Every decade or so, we have a new trend with thousands of new products. Some trends have greatly backfired on us such as the “fat-free trend” and the “eat only meat” trend when we found out, after several years of research into the health of individuals following them, that they weren’t so healthy after all. I am not necessarily claiming that gluten-free diets will meet the same ill demise as other trends, but consider this: Gluten-free meal plans can have health benefits, especially to those with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. Even individuals with no significant health risks arising from the consumption of gluten can eat gluten-free and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But buyer beware!

I often hear of individuals going on a gluten-free diet so that they can lose weight and “be healthier.” Great! I applaud any efforts to engage in a healthier lifestyle. However, often times, a gluten-free diet is filled with highly processed, low fiber, empty calorie foods. It’s not healthy at all! Gluten-free pancakes, gluten-free cookies, gluten-free toaster pastries certainly fit the bill for a gluten-free diet! But are they healthy? Not so much. Nor are gluten-free pizzas full of preservatives, gluten-free pasta dishes with no veggies or gluten-free sandwiches full of highly processed cheese, mayonnaise and other “unmentionables.” Also consider that many of these processed, gluten-free items are pretty darn expensive! You end up throwing money away on food that has “no life” and certainly isn’t healthy!

So what’s a gluten-free health nut to do? Look at other whole food options that are naturally gluten-free. There are so many healthy, inexpensive options available that no one should feel confined by a gluten-free diet. All fruits and veggies are gluten-free, so indulge in plenty of those! Beans also gluten-free. Grains such as quinoa, rice, buckwheat (in spite of its name) and amaranth are all excellent sources of fiber filled carbohydrates. Nuts and seeds? Gluten-free! A wonderfully healthy and delicious gluten-free plate would include a preferred vegetable (or two!), a healthy dose of protein such as organic chicken breast, and a side of rice or quinoa.

Earth Girl recommends you break free from the highly marketed, gluten-free products lining the grocery store shelves. Focus instead on lovingly grown, naturally gluten-free products that you can find every weekend at most any farmer’s market!

 

Written by Tina Hatcher

Healthy Skin in Winter

With a new year before us, it’s time to get away from the bad habits we developed during the end of the year chaos. We don’t know about you, but we’ve noticed that our skin is certainly paying the price. Let’s start 2017 with a fresh, clean slate by committing to taking better care of it with these easy steps:

Put some thought into the products you are using as part of your daily routine. We are in love with charcoal soaps. They help draw out skin impurities and make room for your moisturizer to do its job effectively. It’s also great if your poor dietary choices over the last month (ahem…guilty) are showing as blemishes on your skin. Our current favorite is by Apotheke. The handcrafted bar soap is stirred, poured, cut, and wrapped by hand. To top it all off, it is made with natural ingredients like coconut, olive, and palm oil. Find it on www.apothekeco.com.

obagiOf course, it should be obvious that you need to moisturize. Hydrate facial moisturizers by Obagi Medical are great for rejuvenating the skin after cleansing. It also doesn’t hurt to visit a professional and develop a regime that works best for you. For that, we place all of our trust in the ladies at Skin Care Consulting (www.skincareconsultinginc.com).

Protect the fruits of your moisturizing by taking one extra step before bed. Sleep with a humidifier. Not only will it help with your sinuses and even snoring, it also comforts your skin after a day in the cold, dry air of winter. When you wake up, you will retain some of that moisture in your face, lips, and even your hands.

Make sure you aren’t sabotaging all of your effort by putting the wrong things into your body. If you want that glowing, smooth complexion to return now that all of the holiday cakes and cookies are gone, think of each meal like cleansing and moisturizing. Our favorite solutions in the winter months are adding more salmon to our diets and committing to juicing every day. Try tossing two carrots, a beet, some ginger root, an apple, and just a splash of lemon into your juicer for a drink that will boost your energy and help your skin.

Use an infuser water bottle to really get the serving of fruit that you need every day. An extra bonus? It makes drinking water a lot more satisfying. If you’re trying to cut out soda (which, let’s be honest, everyone should do), this is a great way to ease yourself into the habit of drinking water instead. You should try to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day, so add some blueberries and strawberries to those servings and pretend it’s summer!

Back to the Basics

At various points during the day, I check Facebook and my email like many of you— my feed flooded with products and programs promising happiness and fulfillment, for a price. The thing is— whether your happiness is temporarily increased by clothes, electronics, or fast food— the high is soon over. It is followed by the heavy burden of guilt over purchasing something you didn’t actually need or the feeling of pure exhaustion after a grease-covered meal.

If you want to take control over subtle influences in your daily routine (and live life just a little lighter) consider the following options:

  1. Live below your means.

    Coupon queens everywhere are about to really hate me, but understand that I do mean well. Stocking up on items you will definitely use with coupons is a fantastic idea— as long as you really do use them. Otherwise you end up with a large amount of food you have to throw out because it expired, and the money you thought you saved becomes money you could have put towards existing debt or a vacation.

    Do some research on minimalism and see what parts of it you can apply to your own life. Minimalism gives less power to the objects that surround us— but it doesn’t take away the meaning of the important things in our lives. Instead, it allows us to consciously choose what is important and why without being bogged down by meaningless objects that hurt our health, relationships, and hold us back from reaching our full potential. Visit www.theminimalists.com to see if you can benefit from any of their suggestions and tailor them to fit your needs!

    Donate items that you don’t use to people who really need them. The obvious choice is Goodwill, but you can also post free items on websites like www.freecycle.org. They have a specific section for Roanoke already, so it is as easy as going on their site, creating an account, and posting what you have to give away.

2. Take charge of your diet.

Organize your kitchen to encourage your family to spend more time cooking, cleaning, and eating healthy. Place items in drawers where they will be convenient to reach when you need them and get rid of extra dishes, cups, and utensils that no longer serve a purpose. When you have more space, your kitchen looks clean and welcoming after a long day of work or running errands. You may even look forward to getting there and spending time with your family rather than waiting in line at McDonalds to pick up dinner.

While we are talking about fast food, it is also important that you try to spend your food budget wisely. Make a list of things you need before you go grocery shopping and stick to that list. We have fallen into a habit in which we place very high value on convenience. Therefore, if it is on an end cap and on sale, we are far more likely to add $3 here and $5 there to our basket without thinking twice about it. Unfortunately, many of those products are not healthy and can include chemicals and preservatives that leave you hungry, tired, and even sick. Commit to the list— accounting for every meal during the week. You’ll save money AND feel better at the end of the day.

61VWkE9iEPL._SX419_BO1,204,203,200_Consider growing your own fruits and vegetables— it’s possible, even in the city! Look into making some of the staples in your pantry by yourself. With a little practice, you can make your own cheese for 1/3 of the store price and bake your own bread for about fifty cents per loaf. No matter how committed you are to the idea of sustainable living, Woman-Powered Farm by Audrey Levatino is a great book to add to your library. From teaching you the basics on raised garden beds and farm animals to operating farm machinery, it is perfect for the woman who wants to become more self-sufficient.

3. Reorganize your schedule

Completely banning electronics from your house is unreasonable, but cutting down on your TV time and opening a book is better for your brain. Get out of the house with your family, or on your own, and hike one of our area’s beautiful trails. See the world around you without a camera phone lens. Choose activities that will inspire you to be a healthier, happier version of yourself. Very often, happiness is just outside of your comfort zone.

Make time for energy-saving activities like hanging clothes on a line or chopping wood for a wood stove this winter. Not only will you stay active, but you will save money on your electric bills. If these ideas are too extreme for you, ease yourself into it. Bike to work or carpool if you can, keep those lights turned off, and set the temperature in your house to a comfortable but reasonable number. Little changes now can make a huge difference over time.

Choose any of these suggestions and tweak them to apply to your circumstances. At the very least, you may find that it is easier to identify the subtle influences that challenge your happiness and follow your own path instead.