Ask A Health & Lifestyle Coach
The best Health & Lifestyle Coaches are in it with you for the long haul, for both the big and the smaller questions. For those who don't (yet) have a great coach, I'll try to answer some smaller queries in this column that a lot of folks have.
Please bear in mind that this column is not intended to be medical advice or to take the place of your consultations with your doctor.
Here’s to being healthy and happy! -Robin
Question: I know I’m supposed to eat organic fruits and vegetables, but they’re so expensive! How can I make this work?
Fun fact #1: Not all fruits and veggies need to be organic; some have built-in protection against pesticides. Think avocados and bananas, which have thicker skins than, for example, pears or raspberries. Or, surprisingly, asparagus, which has a thick stalk and buds that are closely packed. The Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) has a great guide called the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen that make this much easier to keep track of.
Fun fact #2: You can put avocados and bananas in the fridge to extend their shelf life. I refrigerate my avocados when they begin to ripen, which delays their getting to the squishy, over-ripe stage. When I bring bananas home from the store, I immediately put them in the fridge, where the cool temperature essentially stops the bananas from further ripening (though the skin will turn black). Don’t let them sit in the fridge for more than a week or 10 days, though, otherwise they will deteriorate.
Fun fact #3: If you buy your bananas on the green-ish side, they have more resistant starch than the super-ripe ones you’d use for banana bread. Resistant starch helps keep us full, causes less of a sugar spike and crash, and helps with weight management. Unexpected benefits!
Fun Fact #4: It’s easier to peel a banana from the bottom.
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Question: How much caffeine can I consume in a day?
The science keeps changing on whether (and how much) caffeine is damaging or helpful. I find it’s more useful to pay attention to when you're drinking caffeine and how it's affecting you. A cup or two in the morning is probably okay – gods know I’m Ms. Grumpy unless I have a my two cups of tea after waking. (Yep, tea-drinker here. I love the smell of coffee but I hate the bitterness.)
Here’s what to keep in mind: If, every time your energy starts to flag during the day, you go through cup after cup of coffee (or Red Bull or Coke), you’re artificially revving your system, setting up a vicious cycle of caffeine/sugar spike and crash, and interfering with, among other things, your ability to sleep. You’ll be better off (and happier, once you get used to it) drinking water and eating a steady supply of protein throughout the day. The water will help flush out toxins and keep you hydrated, and the protein will help balance your blood sugar and lessen those caffeine and sugar crashes. Add a slice of lemon, lime, orange, cucumber or mint to a pitcher of water for extra flavor. And keep an apple and cheese, a Greek yogurt and a tablespoon each of raisins and walnuts, or peanut butter/almond butter and celery stalks on hand for easy protein snacks.
Another useful piece of information is your pulse: if it’s racing, that can be a sign you’re drinking too much caffeine (though a racing pulse may also come from other health factors, which is why you should always mention this to your doctor).
Also, did you know that decaf coffee and tea still contain caffeine, usually about 3%? That can be a very useful piece of information if you’re trying to reduce your caffeine intake while still drinking something tasty. It’s worth checking if there are decaf versions of your favorite coffees and teas. (Side note: If you find caffeine makes you sleepy, especially if you’re experiencing other issues such as time-blindness; hyper-focus alternating with inability to focus; difficulty handling frustration; difficulty recalling and following multi-step directions and balancing tasks, those may be signs of ADHD. Don’t panic; ADHD can be managed. Your doctor will be able to give you more info.)
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Robin J. Schwartz is a Health & Lifestyle Coach who helps people live healthier happily — with the insights and problem-solving skills of an ex-journalist, the compassion of someone who understands struggle, and the heart of a hedonist who knows firsthand that you can live well AND live healthily … and that laughter is just as much part of the process as the Aha moments. Check out her company, Hedonistic Wellness, to learn more: www.hedonisticwellness.com
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