CSA Variety

8 Reasons to Join a CSA today!

Spring is finally in the air and I for one am excited for the warmer weather and freshness ahead! I’m preparing our home with fresh flowers, changing to lighter linens, closets and of course seasonal foods.

One thing I love to do now is to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), which is also known as a farm share. If you have not already made a farm share part of your kitchen, I highly encourage it.

Here are 8 great reasons to join a CSA, plus the 411 on what to expect and how to find a good one.

  1. Local produce is more flavorful. Transporting food across countries and continents can take days to weeks. Often produce is treated for preservation and then ripened upon arrival so it looks fresh, but tastes flat.
  2. Fresher food is more nutritious. After picking, produce continues to breathe which breaks down its minerals. Broccoli, mushrooms, peas and sweet corn break down especially quickly.
  3. You eat a greater variety of nutrients. Eating seasonally naturally rotates your palate, providing different vitamins and minerals.
  4. It saves you money. You can get fresh veggies for a family of 4 for about $30 a week. If you want less, split one with friends.
  5. If your CSA is organic, which I recommend, you avoid the “Dirty Dozen”. There 12 foods highest in pesticides, include spinach and berries. For more, click here. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/the-dirty-dozen-and-clean-15-of-produce/616/
  6. You lower carbon emissions. It is estimated that the average grocery store produce travels 1500 miles to reach you, generating more carbon emissions that cause global warming.
  7. You will be helping keep local farms alive. The guaranteed income stabilizes farm income and helps them survive in the face of industrial agriculture.
  8. Act now — CSA’s sell out in early spring!

Interested? Here’s the 411

How CSAs Work: CSA stands for community supported agriculture. You purchase a share of a farm’s produce for a period of time such as the summer or the summer and fall. Most payments are made up front.

What You Get: Each week you receive a portion of what was harvested that week. There are no guarantees, but squash, tomatoes, greens and berries are common. Some CSAs also offer eggs, dairy and even meat.

Quantity: Most CSAs shares are intended to serve a family of 4. However, unless you eat a lot of vegetables, consider splitting a share with another family.

Organic or Not: Not all CSAs are organic. Look around if this is important to you. My recommendation is to go for organic. Greens and berries carry high levels of pesticides and are considered part of the “Dirty Dozen” or the 12 foods to buy organic. Cliff notes version: anything that grows above ground and does not have a rind or skin that is removed before eating is likely to carry pesticides unless the farm is pesticide free.

Pick Up Locations: Consider this carefully. Most CSA’s require pick up at a central location. How far are you able to go each week?

Sold? Click here to find a list of mainly organic CSA serving Connecticut, or google “find a CSA in XXX area.”

Photo Credit: Flicker Charles Smith. Stoneledge farms CSA

Reprinted. First published in Greenwichtime.com

7 Reasons even you need real downtime

A recent survey revealed what most of us feel: that millions of Americans feel guilty about taking downtime and work on weekends and vacations.

Let me relieve you of this guilt.

Unplugging, napping and daydreaming make you better.

  1. Daydreaming finds solutions to complex problems. According to research by Dr. Letivin, our brain has two dominant functions: task driven and daydreaming. It can only do one at a time. When you are unplugged and daydreaming your brain makes connections from seemingly arbitrary information and thus comes up with creative solutions to a problem. This is why great insights often come when you are folding your laundry.
  1. Sleeping longer improves athletic performance. A recent article by Tony Schwartz of the Energy Project claims sleep, namely 8 to 9 hours per night, as a competitive advantage. He cites research by Dr. Cheri D. Mah of Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic found that athletes performed better and reported better moods and more energy on an excessive sleep (10 hours a night for 6 weeks).
  1. Vacation increases performance evaluations. Tony Schwartz also notes a study of Ernst and Young employees that found that for each additional 10 vacation hours they took, year end performance evaluations improved 8 percent.
  1. Naps improve concentration and performance. Alertness declines throughout the day and can be revived with a 10 to 20 minute nap. A great article by Ferris Jabr summarizes the research and benefits of naps.

 More importantly, downtime is good for your life.

  1. It allows you to see what you really want. When you aren’t following your to do list, you can follow your nose as my grandmother would say and do what you crave. For the first few days, it may be rest. So give yourself permission to sleep. When you awaken, you may crave connection or fulfillment or creativity. This craving can feel uncomfortable if you don’t know how to satisfy it immediately, but resist the urge to make yourself busy just to avoid it. Instead, acknowledge it and ask how could you bring more of that into your life. Listen for what answers appear over the next few days.
  1. It helps you let go of what’s not working. Much of work is done on autopilot, responding as we always have. Taking a real break creates physical and emotional space to see patterns that need to be upgraded.
  1. It creates more satisfying relationships. When we’re stretched, it’s impossible to truly connect. Besides feeling a little empty, studies have shown that lacking strong relationships is as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Taking the time to rest so you can be your best and truly present with your loved ones can rekindle and deepen relationships. (For best results, nap together.)

Try a 10 minute nap, technology free meals or 20 minutes puttering time around the house. For more ideas, check out my post on The Art of Slowing Down.

Can what you eat make you more productive?

Absolutely. Research shows that diet can impact your performance, especially energy and focus. Check out some of some of the research on brain food.

  •  Sugar can cause fatigue. Dramatic drops in blood sugar, caused by either not eating at regular 3 to 4 hour intervals or eating too much sugar then crashing 1 to 2 hours later, causes fatigue.
  • Sugar adds to anxiety and may compromise learning & memory, according to Psychology Today. More info here.
  • Sugar, processed foods and trans fats can cause inflammation, the precursor to diabetes and heart disease according to the Harvard Medical School. While this is not directly related to productivity, being sick is a major distraction. More info here.
  • Gluten can cause brain fog. If you are sensitive to gluten, one of the main symptoms is brain fog. This would not necessarily show up with a blood test or a celiac test. More info here.

Pulling it all together, here’s your optimal plan.

  • Get off added sugar, sweets and processed foods and keep blood sugar level.
  • Reduce gluten.
  • Eat lots of omega 3 proteins, including salmon and fatty fish, which have been shown to help children with ADD to improve organization. More info here.

Sounds like too much work? I made it easy for you. I am Adelma Lilliston, Wellness Coach, CHHC and MBA. I was a healthy corporate professional working for one of the biggest multinational companies. I am also a marathoner and generally eat well.

So I was blown away when I became a wellness consultant and tweaked my diet. No more 3pm slump, level energy all day. My focus was also tighter and I found my nerves calmer and less reactive to daily corporate life.

I developed my Smart Cleanse 5-day meal plan to set you up for success. It is a simple meal plan that brings together all the research above, in an easy to follow format.

  • A 1 page 5-day meal plan of smart whole foods that taste good and up your game
  • No juices, fasting or calorie deprivation, ever.

Are you eating healthy and still feeling tired?

Here are 8 hidden causes of fatigue and what you can do about them.

1. Low Red Meat or Vegetarian Diet: If you are vegetarian or try to minimize red meat consumption, you may not be getting enough iron, which is important for stamina. Your B-vitamins may also be low.

  • Symptoms: general fatigue
  • Try: Get blood work done to check your nutrient levels. If this is the cause, then boost your nutrient levels with diet since most supplements are not absorbed into the bod
  • To increase iron: eat more egg yolks, spinach, lentils and chickpeas
  • To increase B-Complex, eat more whole grains like rice and quinoa.

2. Too Much Sweating. Even an hour long run or yoga class can deplete your electrolytes potassium, magnesium and sodium.

  • Symptoms: General fatigue, especially after workouts.
  • Try: Get blood work done to check your nutrient levels. To increase your potassium and magnesium, eat more bananas. To increase your sodium, add salt to your foods.

 3. Dehydration. This one is so simple, yet commonly overlooked. Not drinking enough water during the day, or not refueling after a workout can cause fatigue and even mood swings.

  • Symptoms: Fatigue, headaches, moodiness.
  • Try: Drink half your body weight in ounces each day.

4. Going Too Low Carb. Low carb diets are popular, especially for weight loss. But our short term energy comes from carbohydrates. The trick is to get the right kind and the right amount.

  • Symptoms General fatigue
  • Try getting 50% of your plate from vegetables, which are complex carbohydrates, and 25% from whole grains such as brown rice or quinoa. These will provide longer more even energy, without the blood sugar spikes from white bread or sugars.

5. Gluten Intolerance. Whole grains are supposed to be healthy right? Well, if you have an intolerance to gluten, it can cause fatigue and brain fog.

  • Symptoms: Brain fog, fatigue, pain.
  • Try: Remove all gluten from your diet, including oats, wheat, barley and rye, for 3 weeks to see if your symptoms improve.

6. Too Much Kale or Too Many Almonds. Too much of anything can cause a problem. If you have a genetic predisposition to hypothyrodism, eating too much kale or almonds can trigger a borderline thyroid condition. The good news is that if you catch it early and shift your diet you may be able to reduce your symptoms and avoid medication.

  • Symptoms General fatigue
  • Try: Get a blood test to determine your thyroid panel. If you are borderline thyroid and want to address it naturally, find a practitioner to help you as it is a tricky thing to do. I can help.

 7. Sweet Tooth. You eat well and are slim, so what’s the harm in an afternoon cookie? Refined sugar causes a short term spike in blood sugar followed by a crash and fatigue.

  • Symptoms: Fatigue about two hours after eating sugary foods, especially on their own.
  • Try: Eating dark chocolate or fruit with fiber to satisfy your sweet cravings

8.Prolonged Stress plus Lots of Sugar and Caffeine. Prolonged stress from physical or emotional events causes the body to produce abnormally high levels of cortisol and adrenaline. To make matters worse, these situations cause most of us to crave sugar and caffeine and skip sleep. Together, this combination leads to what some call adrenal fatigue and even to chronic fatigue.

  • Symptoms: Difficulty waking up in the morning, difficulty falling asleep at night, cravings for sugar, frequent infections and puffiness in the face or body.
  • Try: Healing the adrenals takes time and must be done holistically, ideally with a wellness practitioner to address the patterns that got you there. Treatment involves focusing on whole foods, reducing sugar and caffeine, sleep,  addressing anxiety and reducing external stressors.
Are you burned out from working too hard? Do you not even remember the last weekend you took or week you got a consistent 7 hours of sleep? Do you wish you had more time for you?
It feels like there is always more to do and you have to be the one to do it.  I get it. I was there.
Unfortunately the law of diminishing returns kicks in and those last few hours a night or on the 6th or 7th day are not very productive. So don’t waste your time. Commit yourself to working smarter, not harder.
When I tried it I was amazed had how much more energized, clear and productive I was. Refreshed, I tapped into the more creative, visionary side of my brain, connected more deeply in relationships and was generally more effective.
Here is a simple 3 step process. I suggest doing them one at a time.
Step 1. Schedule Smart. Do the big rocks first, the 1 or 2 things that will have the biggest impact. Train your team or virtual assistant to do the rest.
Here’s why: Your time and your brain are your biggest assets. Allocate them wisely.
Step 2. Schedule a non-work event 1-2 evenings a week and take at least 1 full day off a week. It could be an exercise class, a dinner, anything you enjoy that revitalizes you.
Here’s why: Remember the law of diminishing returns? You are least productive in your last few hours of work on the 7th day. Taking some time off will make you more energized and productive. Try it.
Step 3. Sleep 7 hours. Keep a pad by your bed so you can write down anything that keeps you up. Once it’s out, it’s much easier to sleep.
Here’s why: Sleep derivation impairs your brain functioning, your health and your sex drive. There is some indication that long term sleep deprivation can do permanent damage.

Deeper than exhaustion, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is described as feeling so tired that you can’t do all of your normal, daily activities for 6 months or more. It is usually not responsive to rest and not triggered by exercise. Other symptoms can include:

  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Difficulty thinking clearly and remembering things
  • Headaches, joint pain or tender glands in throat or armpits

About 1 million Americans have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, of which about 80% are undiagnosed. Often it is seen in conjunction with fibromyalgia, which affects 5 million Americans.

While there is no known cause, CFS is generally preceded by a period of physical or emotional stress and diagnosed by ruling out other, more serious medical conditions. The medical community recommends treatments that focus on cognitive approaches to increase positive thinking and lifestyle changes to restore vitality.

When I had these symptoms a few years ago following a near death experience from kidney failure (kinda stressful) I felt drained, trapped – literally sucked dry. I was never diagnosed and I didn’t know what was going on. So I slowed down, savored life & body and focused on joy. It worked, my energy was restored.

Here is the combination of life strategies and body care that worked best for me.

Top 3 Life Strategies:

  • Accept and love yourself as you are. Just as GPS can’t give you directions if it doesn’t know where you are, you can’t make changes until you acknowledge where you are right now. It’s not forever.
  • Tell yourself what you can do instead of what you can’t. When the body is sick it is easy to get frustrated and drop into negative thinking. But that saps your energy. By focusing on what you can do, you begin to create energy and momentum.
  • Plan and pace each day. Focus on what’s important. Being realistic about how much you can do and honor it.

Top 3 Nutrition and Body Care Strategies:

  • Sleep well and do moderate exercise like yoga to rebalance your body.
  • Eat well. Cut processed and sugary foods. Give your body the best nutrition.
  • Create a routine of 1 hour of downtime each day. This is really important. Cook dinner, take the dog on a long walk, read an actual book before bed.

For personal support healing the symptoms of chronic fatigue, see how a Customized Catalyst Program to boost energy, calm mind and uplevel your life could help you. Sign up for a complementary Catalyst Session here .

 

Being in the nutrition profession, I hear this over and over again: vegan, primal, gluten free  – there are so many competing theories on nutrition, it’s confusing! What should I eat?

My answer is that food is a highly personal choice. It is cultural, emotional, social, political and health related. In weighing all of these factors, you make the best possible decision for your body and your life.

That said, having studied the various dietary theories and in working with clients, there are a 3 simple principles that are surprisingly consistent.

#1 Eat mostly whole foods, focusing on vegetables with some lean proteins and whole grains like rice and quinoa. Go for foods that look close to their original form. Eating a mix of these foods, each in moderation, is the key. For example, eating too much kale can block the absorption of calcium into the body. Eating too much meat or poultry, which are both high in Omega 6, can cause inflammation. A well-balanced mix can provide a full range of vitamin and minerals while being deliciously satisfying.  Most importantly, make it fun. Experiment and discover what you like.

  • Skip most processed foods, which is anything in a can, box or bag. When choosing a processed food, read the label and skip anything with ingredients you don’t recognize. Look for non GMO or Organic.
  • Skip trans fats, which are hydrogenated oils that can be found in everything from margarines to fries to crackers. They can clog arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Minimize sugars and refined carbohydrates, which are inflammatory. Inflammation is seen as a precursor to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Sugar can also cause a craving cycle of exhaustion, hunger and moodiness. And it has been linked to weight gain.

Following this principle is huge, even 70-80% of the time. No one is perfect.

#2 Optimize your food quality by skipping pesticides and antibiotics.

  • Look for pesticide free vegetables and fruit. Swap out the most contaminated produce first, which is: salad greens, apples, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, grapes, bell peppers and potatoes. Local farm produce usually has fewer pesticides, is fresher, more flavorful and more environmental. But some farms do use pesticides so ask.
  • Focus on high quality proteins that are high in Omega 3’s, such as beans, legumes, walnuts and salmon.
  • When eating animal proteins, focus on antibiotic free, humanely raised. I don’t know about you, but I want my food healthy. Most factory farmed livestock is raised in poor conditions and as consequence is fed antibiotics to keep it healthy. About 80% of the antibiotics in the US are given to livestock. When eating meat, look for antibiotic-free on meat and eggs. This usually indicates it is humanely raised but ask for this specifically if it important to you. Organic does not necessarily mean antibiotic free or sustainably raised.
  • Farmed fish is also fed antibiotics. Look for Wild Caught and ideally sustainably fished.

#3 Know which foods work for your own body and which do not. Some people feel better when they eat meat, grains or dairy, others can’t tolerate it.

Further, many people have unknown food sensitivities that cause symptoms not typically associated with food, such as exhaustion, brain fog, pain or headaches.

To determine if you have any food sensitivities, try a 5-week elimination diet, removing the major allergens: dairy, gluten, soy, eggs and corn. Eliminate them for 3 weeks, then add each back one by one for 3 days per food and notice how the body responds.

Are you one of the millions lying in bed, wanting to sleep but your mind just won’t shut off?

That was me for about 7 years. I got 5 hours of sleep a night if I was lucky. Sometimes it felt like I didn’t sleep a wink! Until I saw a medicine man in Bali. He gave me one of these 6 tips and now I get about 7 hours a night. It’s bliss.

If you can’t sleep, don’t get frustrated, get smart. Ask yourself: Why can’t I sleep?

Were you racing around all day and haven’t had a moment of down time? Your mind needs time to process the day and relax before you hit the hay. Try this: Build in 1 hour of down time before you go to sleep with no technology.  Develop a ritual for yourself that you enjoy. Read a book, spend time with loved ones, straighten up or lay out things for the next day.

Did you have caffeine or an energy drink in the afternoon? If you are reading this at 2am, then drink water to flush your body and have something that makes you sleepy. For some this is dairy or bread.  Chicken, which has tryptophan, can also make you sleepy. In the future, try not having caffeine or energy drinks after 11am or skipping them all together

Are you stressed about all you have to do tomorrow? Try this: keep a pad of paper by your bed and write out a list of everything that needs to be done. Put it in order of importance and plan it out over the week. This will set your mind at ease so you can sleep.

Is your mind is going over a situation, trying to figure out a solution? Try this: What ever it is, you can’t do anything about it in the middle of the night. If you are trying to prepare for a conversation or an event, it will always go differently than you expect. The best thing you can do is be present and open during the event. And for that you need your sleep. If you are trying to understand the past, remember that you can’t change it. All you can do is accept it. So let it go. Let it float out of your mind.

Are you feeling anxious? Do a gratitude list. Write out 5 things you are grateful for each night, before you turn out the light. Bonus: this may also give you great dreams! Every time I do this I have the sweetest dreams and wake up smiling.

Are you so excited about your life that you can’t sleep? This is what happens to me most these days. Try getting up and doing something grounding and a bit boring. Read a book, organize something or do your finances. That should do it.

Can you guess which one was from the medicine man? Leave your guess in the comments below!

7 smart snacks to stash in your desk for lasting energy

Go ahead, snack! Eating every 3 to 4 hours keeps you energized and focused. It also helps avoid “hanger” (hungry-anger), brain fog and ravenous hunger followed by overeating and feeling gross.

The key is to snack smart. A snack with protein, fat and fiber that is substantial, say 250-350 calories, provides the body with real nutrition that can keep you going for 3 hours or more. This formula will make you feel full so you don’t keep reaching for more mindlessly.

Skip anything fried, sugary treats including fruit alone and simple carbohydrates like pretzels, which the body breaks down into sugar very quickly.

Be prepared. Don’t get stuck with nothing but that same plate of cookies you have had 100 times before. Buy these at home or order them online and bring them to work with you each week so you don’t even have to think about it.

Try these smart snacks for energy at work if you like:

Crunchy
Pair fruit with a Kind Bar. These all-natural bars are a cut above the rest. They come in both spicy (Cashew & Ginger Spice), Sweet (Fruit & Nut) and Chocolate (Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt) options. GMO free, most are also low sugar and allergy friendly but check individual labels to be sure. Link.
Nut butter and celery. I like Justin’s Classic Almond Butter (GF, non GMO, K, Vegan, DF) You can order a 10 pack of single serving pouches online. Link

Slightly Sweet & Chewy
Power Snack by Navitas, made from super foods like chia seeds, gogi berries, cocoa and maca powder. With 8 servings per bag they are perfect for stashing in your desk. Just don’t eat too many servings as they can have a laxative effect. (Organic, DF, GF, No Refined Sugar, Raw, Vegan). Link.

Creamy
• Pair plain full fat Greek yogurt with a banana or an apple. I like Fage.
Hummus and carrots. Try Abrahams All Natural Hummus. Link.

Salty
Lentil Soup with Lentil Crackers. Try Progresso.
Salsa with Lentil Crackers Try Mediterranean Snacks. GF, Non GMO

Grass-Finished, Organic, Happy, Local… there are so many buzzwords in food today it’s hard to know what to focus on.

What’s most important in our food choices?

Here’s my definition. As a “Feel Good Foodie” I eat mainly delicious foods that make me feel good all day and tomorrow.

My recommendation is to follow these 3 core principles:

#1 Eat mostly vegetables with some proteins and whole grains like rice and quinoa, focusing on what your body craves each day. Find what you like. Skip processed foods (eg. Anything in a can, box or bag) and fried foods.

This is huge, even if you do it 70-80% of the time.

The other 20% indulge. Being good 100% of the time is no fun, not really good for you since your body needs fat and it NEVER works. That’s when I scarf down half a pie.

For those rockstars already there, nice work!

If you need some help check out our Energy Boost Detox. [Link to the Detox Overview Page]

#2 Know what makes you feel good, and what does not. Some people feel better when they eat meat, carbs or dairy, others can’t tolerate them.

Many of us have allergies that can impact our physical or mental wellbeing with symptoms that you would never associate with food, like pain or headaches. Further, often the body becomes addicted to what is actually harming it, as in the case of drugs. It’s worth the investment to know how what we eat is actually impacting our body through isolating foods.

Need Help? If you don’t feel great and don’t know what works for you, the Clarity detox [link to the Detox overview page] or private coaching [link to wellness coaching page] can help you develop your own plan.

#3 Now that you have YOUR plan, optimize your food quality.

Skip the Chemicals: Look for Pesticide Free Vegetables and Fruit.

  • Swap out the most contaminated produce first, which is: salad greens, apples, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, grapes, bell peppers and potatoes
  • Local farm produce is a good option because it usually has fewer pesticides, is fresher, more flavorful and more environmental.
  • Watch out – Organic does not necessarily mean pesticide free.

Improve Your Proteins: When eating meat, focus on antibiotic free, humanely raised animal proteins. I don’t know about you, but I want my food to be healthy.

  • Look for Antibiotic-Free in the label. Organic is not necessarily antibiotic free. Antibiotic-Free usually indicates it is also Grass-Finished (grass-fed applies to all animals), Pasteurized and Humanely Raised, but those are good labels too.
  • With fish, look for Wild Caught and ideally Sustainably Fished.

I focus on these simple rules of thumb because they are easy to live by.

There are other buzzwords out there but many are vanity terms that mean little. If you are curious, dig further.

Happy Eating!
Adelma