Guilt Free Hot Chocolate

When I started this journey into healthy eating it became apparent straight away that I was addicted to sugar.  While my eating habits have changed completely over the past 10 years, the sugar monster remains at some level.  My sugar of choice has always been chocolate, and although I eat the healthiest form of it, I am still guilty of eating too much of it sometimes.

Taming the monster.

The best defense is a good offense, so traditional candy doesn’t make it into the house.  But I do have a healthy stock of organic, fair trade, 70% or more cocoa chocolate bars, chocolate chips, and chocolate chunks.  Under normal conditions, I don’t reach for them.  But as soon as you add the stress of parenting 3 young boys, I can eat an entire 100g chocolate bar in just a few minutes!

Wanting to dive into the chocolate this morning in a fit of stress, I decided that I would only have a little piece.  And this time, I knew that’s all I would have.  Usually a little bit turns into a lot of little bits, but this time was different because I had a plan.

This hot chocolate is the best defense I’ve had in awhile.  I didn’t add any sweetener at all – just whatever is in the 70% chocolate itself, but you may add a little stevia, erythritol, or honey if you wish.  Though, I challenge you to drink it as written – without any added sweetener.  I liked it immediately and didn’t need any sugar, but of course, I am motivated to limit my sugar intake in the name of health.  This just may be the sword that slays my inner sugar monster for good.

hotchoc

Guilt Free Hot Chocolate

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 0.5 oz 70% cocoa chocolate (amount pictured above)
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a sauce pan over low heat and whisk until both combined and desired temperature is reached.

 

 

What’s for Breakfast?

istock_berriesHave you ever seen the Nutella commercial where a woman tells us about how Nutella provides the energy her kids need?  That may be true, but the so-called energy they are getting via high amounts of sugar is really just sending their blood sugar through the roof and setting them up for some attention disorder symptoms in their first period class.

And its not only Nutella that sets you and your kids up for failure during the day.  Any commercial breakfast that contains wheat and high amounts of sugar will do the same thing – this means breakfast cereals, toast, porridge, toaster strudels, coffee, etc.

Coffee, even if it doesn’t contain any sugar at all, is one of the biggest culprits that sabotages your efforts to stay alert during the day – causing you to hit the wall.

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant which stimulates the adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline, the flight or fight hormone.  Though we rarely encounter lions and other predators in the daily grind, we have not yet lost this primal instinct.  When caffeine is consumed, it causes increased blood pressure, heart rate, perspiration, muscular tension, nervousness, and irritability.  The adrenals become fatigued and hypoglycemia results, causing the body to crave sugars and get blood sugar back up.

If you drink coffee daily, your adrenals will become exhausted and unable to respond to stress.  Stress does not include outer stresses like job stress or issues with family members, but overall stress on your body which includes dietary stressors as well.  I would go as far to say that dietary stress trumps all other stress on your body as the most detrimental type of stress.

If you can drink coffee and go straight to sleep after, you have likely exhausted your adrenals for so long that they simply don’t respond anymore!  Your days are likely long and fatigued as well if this is the case.

This is why it is important to start your day with whole foods – nutrients that will nourish the body and the cells rather than throw the body out of balance.  If your body is out of balance, it’s likely working far below its operating potential!  If you’re not operating at your full potential, it’s time to look at what fuel you are putting into your engine!

Opt for fresh, raw fruits and vegetables for breakfast.  Have a salad or a bowl of fruit.  Make your own almond milk with soaked almonds, sesame seeds, and sweeten it with a banana and pour it over some cut up apples and pears.  Make a smoothie or have a green juice.  In our house we start the day with barley greens, go for a workout, and then come home for something more substantial.  I usually opt for an avocado, but lately it’s been 3 apples.  Yum!

Coffee and the Caffeine Blues

 coffee

I hate to break it to you, but I am hard core against coffee for many, many reasons.   If you “just have to have it,” enjoy a cup of organic joe once and a while, but try to make those occasions few and far between.  As a holistic practitioner, my goal is to get you flinging out of bed full of energy in the morning, without the coffee! 

First of all, most of us have to mask the taste of coffee with cream/milk and sugar just to get it down our throats, especially if it’s not organic.  When I stopped eating dairy, my coffee consumption fell dramatically because my tastebuds just wouldn’t have it!  Thank you taste buds.  The result: consistent energy and avoidance of the caffeine blues.

If you proudly say that you don’t do drugs, but you “do” caffeine and coffee, then you are a drug addict my friend, plain and simple!  After all, caffeine is a stimulant drug that acts on the central nervous system.  Have you ever felt the effect of caffeine withdrawal?  Exactly.  Don’t think that because you drink decaf you are off the hook – I’ll deal with you later!

What does abstaining from coffee have to do with weight loss?  PLENTY!  When you drink anything containing caffeine (especially when you load your coffee with sugar) the adrenal glands are stimulated to increase adrenaline (by an average of 40%) into your blood stream, which increases your heart rate, blood pressure, nervousness, irritability, and releases your energy stores by breaking down glycogen into glucose.  This increase in blood sugar signals the release of insulin to take glucose back into the cells.  At this stage, hypoglycemia may set in, which is characterized by dizzines, light-headedness, and blood sugar so low that you’ll grab anything to bring them back up.

Odds are you will grab something sweet during this time – such as candy, a coke, a doughnut, or a white bagel, and continue the up and down cycle since these highly processed and refined products quickly dissolve into your blood stream like cotton candy in water, spiking your blood sugar and setting you up for a big fall once again.

But the problem with coffee doesn’t stop there!  Caffeine also depleats the “feel good” brain transmitter known as GABA.  GABA blocks nerve impulses in the brain, and has a calming influence.  Without it, nerve cells fire too easily and far too often.  This is yet another reason you may find yourself reaching for the snacks after having a coffee.

Caffeine is also a diuretic.  For each cup of coffee you consume, you should drink 3 cups of water to even things out.  Since we should already drink approximately 8 cups of water a day, if you add 2 cups of coffee, you’ll have to drink 14 cups of water, which you and I both know is not likely to happen!  Most people drink an average of 2 glasses of water each day!  Some people drink none at all.  I know someone who drinks about 8 diet cokes a day, and calls it water consumption…not so! 

Water is essential if you want to lose weight.  Not water in the form of coffee, diet coke or juice, but pure water.  Pure spring water has feelings.  It is alive.  Think of it like this: if you were water and someone boiled you, threw in some carbon dioxide or other toasted, roasted chemicals, would you be happy about it?  No, you’d likely be very angry water.  You are what you eat, consume, assimilate, and digest.  It’s all energy.

If your cells are in a constant state of dehydration, they will not perform efficiently.  Cell function will be slow, like a  low river pushing pebbles along its bottom.  Fill the river up, and things will move much, much faster.  You can therefore raise your metabolism by properly hydrating yourself!

Other negative effects of coffee include an increased risk of ovarian, bladder, and kidney cancers, a 50% higher risk of heart attacks, a reduction in fertility (more than one cup a day makes a woman half as likely to conceive),  a significant loss of nutrients, especially magnesium, potassium, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins (especially inositol and biotin), and an interferance with iron absorption.  Coffee also contains cadmium, a carcinogenic heavy metal that supresses the immune system and promotes growth of the prostate and growth of cancer cells.  And caffeine contains polycyclic hydrocarbons, a carcinogen that one of the most widespread organic pollutants.  A quick definition of carcinogen: anything directly involved in the promotion of cancer!

If you drink decaf coffee you should know that it could contain methylene chloride, (Dichloromethane) a toxic solvent.  Methylene chloride is metabolized by the body into carbon monoxide.  It may be carcinogenic and has been linked to cancer of the lungs, pancreas, and liver in laboratory animals, and is able to cross the placenta having direct access to unborn babies.  If you buy decaf coffee make sure that it is Swiss water processed as it is a much safer method of caffeine removal. 

I admit that I have the occasional cup of organic coffee, as I often recommend if  my clients enjoy coffee, but after writing this article, I think I may just reach for a glass of filtered water instead, and I think you may do the same!