Tag Archives: health

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.

Running for Your Health

Top Tips to Get Ready to Run

 You’ve made the decision to get in shape, and whether your goal is a full marathon or simply a few laps around the neighborhood, there are a few steps to consider taking before you strap on those shoes and head toward the finish line.

Here are a few tips to help get you ready for the big race:

Seek Quality Sneakers – Feet come in a variety of widths and sizes, so visit a specialty running store to find perfect-fitting sneakers. These may come with a hefty price tag, but there are no shortcuts for comfort and support while running long distances.

Make a Schedule – Try to aim for at least 10 hours of training per week, including three days where you run and two or three days of other physical activity such as cycling or strength training. To avoid exhaustion, be sure to include at least 1-2 “rest” days per week.

Stick with Water – Avoid sports drinks that are loaded with preservatives and sugars. You can’t go wrong with the hydrating power of water. As a rule, try to consume at least 6-8 ounces of water for every 20 minutes you run. Proper hydration after the run is also vital.

Go Online – Many websites have training guides for various skill levels or different types of races. If you have a smartphone, look for apps that can take you through day-by-day workouts to get you marathon-ready.

Nutrition – Filling your body with the proper amount of fuel can help ensure finish-line success. Load up on quality carbohydrates, such as beans, peas, whole-wheat pastas, whole-grain cereals, apples, brown rice, and root vegetables. Protein also plays an important role in a runner’s nutrition, so fill up on lean meats, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy, peanut butter and soy protein sources, as well.

By following these general rules, you’ll be able to focus on achieving your goal and enjoy the thrill of finishing the race. Find more tips for a healthier lifestyle at eLivingToday.com.

Earth Girl Wellness: Eat Healthy!

One of the questions Earth Girl most frequently gets asked is, “How do I encourage my household to eat healthier?” It is a great question and one with a variety of solid answers. It is usually best to provide feedback that is specifically tailored to each individual household since every family has a unique dynamic. Homes all have varying interest or talents to prepare meals, various schedules from serene to hectic, and everyone places a different emphasis on food in their budgets. However, there are three basic suggestions every household can implement immediately to ensure success.
1) Place healthy, easy-to-eat foods within arms reach every day. It is not unusual to hear advice that your cupboards and refrigerators need to be filled with healthy eating options. But as the saying goes…out of sight means out of mind! Place ready-to-eat, already prepared choices on your counter in brightly colored bowls or on seasonally decorated platters. Having the healthy choices in plain sight and/or in a high traffic area places a constant reminder to fill up on nutritious snacks. Red or green grapes, baby carrots, or a bowl of almonds can be quick grabs to nourish your body. Think of all the times it is convenient to grab candy from a dish…just change your habits to something healthy!
2) Water, water everywhere! Carry a water bottle with you everywhere. Water is free, has no calories and is arguably the most important essential nutrient the body needs. It keeps your belly full so you are less likely to eat unnecessarily. We often reach for something to eat thinking we are hungry when in fact, we are simply dehydrated. I often recommend an individual carry a water bottle around the house and at work, especially if a snack room or table constantly tempts her to reach for something unhealthy. You can’t reach for a donut if you already have water in your hands!
3) There are no forbidden foods! Teaching yourself and loved ones that it’s okay to indulge once in awhile is extremely important! Learning how to spread out indulgences and consume them in moderation creates a balanced lifestyle and diet. Plus, it’s no fun to never eat the foods you love! Purchase limited amounts of your favorite foods to have in your house for times you want to savor a beloved treat. If you have only one bag of chips in your house, you learn that if you eat them all in the first day you have none for the rest of the week. If you have a small handful or snack bag full once a day, you can have your salty yumminess all week! This is an especially important lesson for children and youth to learn early in life.
Earth Girl loves to recommend easy to use modifications to ensure a healthy household. My top three recommendations above can be utilized in any household regardless of time restrictions, budget, or culinary talents. Individuals of every age, fitness level, and motivation can put each suggestion to excellent use to create a healthier lifestyle!

Heart Health Awareness Month

February is American Heart Month. According to the CDC, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One in every three deaths is from heart disease and stroke, equal to 2,200 deaths per day. Fortunately, there are ways to help prevent fatal complications from heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association lists several of these on their website, including:

Eat Smart: You can’t eat perfect foods all the time, but you can make healthier choices more often. Did you know that some single-serving fruits and veggies can actually be cheaper than vending machine snacks? Buy in bulk, freeze excess servings, and watch videos on how to prepare healthy snacks using a variety of produce. Check out healthyforgood.heart.org for several heart-healthy recipes that you and your family will enjoy!

Move More: You’ve probably heard that the ideal goal is to move at least 150 minutes each week. However, if that seems to daunting, try smaller time frames first. Look for ways in your day to move more. Sometimes it means taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or incorporating 10-minute arm workouts at your desk with small weights. Every small decision you make to move adds up fast.

Be Well: Occasionally, we forget the combatting stress is a battle we must fight daily to keep our bodies healthy. Talk to your doctor and make sure you are getting enough sleep. Set aside moments in the day that you will not give into the urge to check social media. This would also be a great time to research the free yoga classes around Roanoke and learn to practice mindfulness. Make it a priority to take care of yourself.

The American Heart Association works year-round to reduce fatalities related to heart disease and stroke by providing preventative education, support, and funding for research. Generous volunteers and donors in the community help make that happen. Consider making a donation of time or money to help support their mission of building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Visit www.heart.org for more information.

Winter Skin Care on a Budget

It’s no secret that winter weather can be hard on your skin. One of the reasons is that we often forget to change up our routines to accommodate the change in temperatures. Harsh chemicals used to reduce natural oils in the summer can cause more damage in the winter. Our diets can also greatly impact our skin. With many of the winter holidays behind us, it is time to refocus on what we are putting into and on our bodies, and how those things are adding up to create the perfect storm. Here are a few of our favorite products for correcting and preventing dry skin damage:

Coconut Oil
Cold weather can be very hard on your hair, specifically on your scalp. Sometimes over-the-counter dandruff shampoos don’t help with dandruff, and occasionally they can even make it worse. Dr. Axe (www.draxe.com) says that adding five drops of essential oils like lavender, wintergreen, thyme, or tea tree to two teaspoons of coconut oil and massaging it into your scalp after washing your hair can be a great intensive dandruff treatment! Do this 2-3 times per week to keep your scalp moisturized and your hair feeling soft!
You can also apply coconut oil to your skin at night before going to bed. Be aware, however, that the oil may transfer to your sheets. So you may want to cover the affected area before calling it a night.

Eat Right
By now, you probably know that staying hydrated in the winter is important. You know that you should be drinking water like it’s your second job, and maybe even that a humidifier in your bedroom can help keep your skin hydrated. But did you know that what you eat matters too? That New Years resolution to eat right (and maybe add a few juices into your diet) can help in more ways than one. Fruits like watermelon and apples and vegetables like cucumbers and carrots contain a lot of water. Let them help you get the moisture your body needs to be healthy and comfortable.

Don’t Forget Sunscreen
Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean that your skin can’t be damaged by UVA and UVB rays. Even if the sun doesn’t seem as bright, rays penetrating the clouds can reach your skin. Obagi Medical Skin care products are a great way to protect your skin against the harmful effects of sun exposure. We especially love their Tinted Sun Shield SPF 50 line, available in cool and warm shades for different skin tones. For harsh winter weather, you may also enjoy their HydraFactor Broad Spectrum SPF 30. This sunscreen is a dual-function moisturizer with soothing ingredients. Regardless of which sunscreen you choose, make sure to reapply it every two hours of exposure throughout the day. Check out Obagi’s website (www.obagi.com) for more information on where to find their impressive line of skin care products locally.

Choose Wisely
Some face cleansers have ingredients that strip your skin of moisture. Read the labels, and make sure that what you are putting on your skin (aka the largest organ in your body) will not damage it even further. Look for all natural products and those with soothing ingredients, like oatmeal. We love Briar Mountain Farms (www.briarmtnfarm.com). Their goat’s milk soap is great for sensitive skin (and they are local!). Their soap contains high amounts of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. With plenty of scents to choose from, you can’t go wrong!

Treat Yourself!
Schedule a facial with a skin care professional. If you can’t do that, treat yourself to a facial mask twice a week at home. Our editor uses Innisfree It’s Real Squeeze mask sheets (found on Amazon) and loves them! Choose from trouble care, moisturizing, brightening, and nutritious options. Infused with a blend of herb complex water and ingredients from nature, this real mask adds vitality and energy to your skin.

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