Category Archives: Lifestyle

Always Up at 3 AM? Your Blood Sugar May be to Blame

We talk about sleep a lot, but that’s because its importance cannot be overstated. Not just for weight loss, but for your health in general. Sleep is nourishing and restorative and when you don’t get enough of it, it can completely throw you off in all areas.

As we started educating our clients on the importance of sleep, we noticed an alarming trend: a large percentage of people admitted that not only do they not get enough sleep, but their sleep is unsatisfying. They toss and turn all night or wake up throughout the night. In addition to that, there was a striking similarity in those who were having sleep trouble. A significant amount of people who admitted to unsatisfying sleep were waking up around 3 AM. We figured that there had to be significance to this time frame, so we dug a little further. We were shocked at what we found.

Why You Wake Up at 3 AM

Your body is a complex organism. Although you probably don’t think about it much, it’s constantly pumping out hormones and balancing these hormones to keep you running like a well-oiled machine. If these hormones are off-kilter, it can cause a number of symptoms – one of which is waking up in the middle of the night. One of the most common causes of waking up around 3 AM is blood sugar imbalance due to stress. Let us break it down for you.

When you’re stressed, it triggers your adrenal glands (which sit right near your kidneys) to pump out a hormone called adrenaline. In response to adrenaline, the liver releases, and your cells use up more, glycogen, the stored form of glucose, or blood sugar. If there is not enough glycogen in your body to replenish the stores in your liver, even more adrenaline is released. As a result, your blood sugar levels drop and you begin to feel alert and ready for action, instead of relaxed and ready for sleep.

So What Do You Do?

Now that you know WHY you’re waking up at 3 AM consistently, the next question is: how do I fix it? The two major goals here are to 1. get your blood sugar balanced and 2. reduce your stress levels.

How to Balance Blood Sugar:
  • Eat 3 meals and 2 to 3 snacks per day. Make sure that all meals and snacks include protein, healthy fat, and healthy carbohydrates.
  • Eliminate processed foods and focus only on whole, nutrient-dense foods.
  • Never skip meals.
  • Avoid sugar.
  • Eat breakfast within an hour of waking up.

While you’re working to balance your blood sugar, here’s a helpful tip that can get you on your way to better sleep right away. Before bed each night, eat a teaspoon of raw, local honey. The honey gives your body the glucose it needs to replenish the liver’s glycogen stores. That way, your adrenals won’t cause your blood sugar to drop during the night.

How to Reduce Stress on the Adrenal Glands:
  • Follow a healthy diet.
  • Go to bed before 10 PM and aim for at least 7 hours of sleep.
  • Avoid coffee and other caffeinated beverages.
  • Engage in yoga and meditation, but avoid intense exercise.
  • Get some sunlight. If this is impossible due to weather, supplement with Vitamin D.
  • Make time to play or engage in activities that you enjoy.

An Important Note

Of course stress and blood sugar imbalance is not the only cause of restless sleep. Sometimes the tossing and turning are a result of sleep apnea, consumption of alcohol, age, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). It’s always best to check in with your doctor if you’re having chronic sleep troubles.

The Whole30 Program: Can It Change Your Life?

In 2009, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig developed a clean eating program designed to “change your life in 30 days”. In its infancy, this program, which was officially named the Whole30, not only attracted hundreds of participants, but it did, indeed, change those participants’ lives. These participants were not just losing weight, they were losing brain fog, food cravings, high blood pressure, and chronic aches and pains that nothing else seemed to help. Energy was increasing, athletic performance was enhancing, and sleep quality was improving.

whole30 sweet potato enchiladas

Since 2009, the program has exploded in popularity, and lately, it’s gaining more traction than ever. Melissa Hartwig, one of the co-creators, recently appeared on Dr. Oz to talk about the Whole30 and what makes the plan so great.

When we first started digging into the testimonials, we thought that it sounded a little too good to be true; but then we investigated a little further. Although the results from the program seem like a miracle, the premise is actually very simple: eat real food. And that makes sense to us.

The Whole30 Basics

The basic underlying principle of the Whole30 program is to eat real food that our ancestors would recognize as food. This includes meat, fish, eggs, and lots of vegetables, but excludes things like grains (which humans only learned to process during the Industrial Revolution) and processed sugar (which wreaks havoc on the body in many ways). The creators of the program believe, and they have a lot of science to back it up, that when you eat the way your body was designed to eat from an ancestral perspective, it allows your body to function optimally. This leaves little room for chronic symptoms and unexplained diseases and illnesses.

The No Foods

  • Added sugar (real or artificial)
  • Alcohol
  • Grains (including but not limited to wheat, barley, rye, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, buckwheat, quinoa)
  • Legumes (beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts)
  • Dairy
  • Carageenan, MSG, and sulfites

The Yes Foods

  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Healthy fats (coconut oil, coconuts, olives, olive oil, avocado, avocado oil)
  • Herbs, spices, and seasonings (check your labels!)

Other Rules

  1. Do not re-create junk food. Technically, there are ways to make whole30 approved pancakes, muffins, and cookies, but this defeats the entire purpose of the program, which is to change your relationship with food. If you have a hard time giving up pancakes, it’s a good idea to use the 30 days to break the habit and eat other foods.
  2. Do not step on the scale or take any measurements for the whole 30 days. Although it’s likely that you’ll lose weight, especially if this food plan is vastly different from the one you’re used to, that’s not the main point of the program. It’s encouraged that you weigh yourself and take measurements before and after the 30 days, but not during.
  3. No cheating. 30 days, no cheats.

Our Take

The Whole30 program focuses on eating lots of real, whole foods and eliminating foods that are processed or inflammatory to the body. Although, it can be difficult to follow for those who are not used to eating this way, we think it’s worth a shot to commit for the 30 days. The point of the program is not to never have the “no” foods again, but to learn how these foods affect your body. If you’re able to pinpoint certain foods that don’t agree with you, you’re better able to make food choices that make you feel good over the long term.

Tried the Whole30 program? Chime in and let us know how/if it changed your life.

5 Morning Habits to Start Your Day Off Right

It’s been said that what you do in the morning sets the tone for your entire day. If that is, indeed, true (and based on our experience, it is), that first hour after waking up is crucial time that’s often spent pretty poorly.

morning wake up
Picture this: your alarm goes off, you hit snooze, and then you roll around in bed for the next 9 minutes counting down the time until the alarm goes off again, all while dreading having to get up for work. By the time you actually peel yourself from your bed, you’ve snoozed three times. Now you don’t even have time for a shower, let alone breakfast, so you run your fingers through your hair, throw on whatever clean outfit is closest to you, and run out the door. You run into a convenience store to grab a quick cup of coffee that you can drink while stuck in morning traffic. By the time you get to work, you’re frazzled because you have 3 minutes to spare. You put in a few hours before taking your lunch break. Since you didn’t have time to prepare a healthy lunch, you hit the pizza shop next door for a sandwich and chips or a couple slices of pizza. We’re not going to run through the rest of the entire day, but you get the point, right?
Now picture this: Your alarm goes off an hour early (because you set it that way), you stretch and then lie still, visualizing three things that you’re grateful for. You get out of bed, without hitting snooze, and sit down on the living room floor where you do some yoga stretches for 15 minutes. After stretching, you make yourself a quick smoothie, set your coffee to brew, and then you hop in the shower. When you get out of the shower, you pour yourself a cup of coffee and sip it while you’re getting dressed. After you get dressed, you prepare yourself the day’s lunch by transferring some leftovers from your healthy dinner the night before into a to-go container. As you drive to work, you sing along to your favorite songs on the radio because you have plenty of time to get to work, even with traffic.
Now which morning sounds better to you? We’re not psychic, but we’d bet that you chose the second morning. It invokes feelings of calm and relaxation, while just reading about the first morning leaves us feeling tense and stressed out.

Changing Your Routine

Changing your morning routine can take some time and practice, especially if you’re not a self-proclaimed “morning person”, but it’s worth the effort. A well thought out morning not only leaves you feeling calmer, it can help balance your hormones and lead to more productivity throughout the day. If your morning looks more like the first one, you may have a long way to go, but focus on making small changes – they’ll add up to big results down the road.

1. Don’t Snooze

We know it’s tempting to hit that snooze button and get that extra nine or 18 or even 27 minutes of sleep, but don’t do it. You may feel like it’s a good thing to get more sleep, but snoozing is actually working against you. According to Robert Rosenberg, the medical director of the Sleep Disorders Centers of Prescott Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona, when you hit the snooze button, you’re putting your body into a new sleep cycle that you’re not going to have enough time to finish. In addition to that, the sleep quality is poor, since you’ll only get about nine minutes until you’re jarred awake again. When you wake up, your body needs time to process and set the physiological processes that signal “awake” in motion. Waking up and then going back to sleep for a short time causes sleep inertia – the groggy, fuzzy-headed feeling you get when finally pull yourself from the sheets. Instead of snoozing, go to bed earlier and get up the first time your alarm signals that it’s time.

2. Practice Gratitude

If you lie in bed in the morning thinking “UGH, I don’t want to get out of this warm bed and go to work”, you’re not alone; unfortunately, however, this is doing you a huge disservice. By thinking these negative thoughts first thing in the morning, your setting your nervous system up for tension and stress. Instead, when you wake up, think of three things that you’re grateful for. Better yet, keep a small notebook next to your bed and write them down.

3. Let Those Emails Wait

It’s tempting to immediately check your inbox or Facebook notifications when you first wake up, especially if your alarm is on your phone, but resist the urge. Instead of checking in with the outside world, focus on yourself and easing into the morning. If you’re glued to your phone, keep it outside of the bedroom and get an alarm clock that wakes you up gently, without allowing you to check in on social media.

4. Eat Breakfast Within an Hour of Waking Up

No, coffee doesn’t count. As you may have heard, breakfast can be the most important meal of the day, but many skip it because their morning routine is just too hectic. Breakfast doesn’t have to be fancy; but it’s important to get some nutrients in your body after the fast that occurs while you’re sleeping. We like to prepare little smoothie bags in advance, so that breakfast is a breeze. Take a plastic sandwich bag, fill it with berries, a half of a banana, spinach, and a handful of nuts. Place the bag in the freezer. In the morning, empty the contents of the bag into the blender along with some protein powder and coconut milk, and you’re done!

5. Exercise

Before you run off on us (pun intended), give us a chance to explain! We’re not suggesting that you do some form of high impact exercise first thing in the morning, but moving your body after you get out of bed is an important part of starting your day off right. It helps get your metabolism moving and eases any aches or stiffness you might have from the night before. Try 15 minutes of yoga or stretching before jumping into a hot shower.

Why You Shouldn’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

What we’re about to say may surprise you, so hold onto your seats. Ready? Are you sitting down? We don’t think you should make any New Year’s resolutions this year. Now we know this isn’t the popular opinion, but hear us out.

According to statistics, roughly 200 million Americans make New Year’s resolutions each year. Of those 200 million Americans, only about 8 percent actually achieve their New Year’s goals. You would think the number of successful individuals would be a little more impressive than that, given the fact that more than half of the population is participating. However, according to experts, there are more than a few reasons why New Year’s resolutions don’t stick.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

One of the main reasons that New Year’s resolutions fail is because they’re unrealistic and non-specific. According to research, the most common New Year’s resolutions are lose weight/get fit, save money (spend less), and quit smoking. While these New Year’s resolutions have a positive common theme – they’re all focused on bettering oneself – they also have another commonality: they’re not specific enough and they’re hard. Every single one of these goals requires a major life change, and without a clear cut path or specific goal-setting, you’re basically asking for failure.

Another reason that New Year’s resolutions fail is because people place too much hope on the outcome of their resolution. People convince themselves that if I could just lose weight, or save money, or stop smoking, then I will finally be happy; but that’s not necessarily the case – and when the resolution doesn’t live up to that expectation, people often quit. In order to improve your happiness level, you’ll have to improve your mindset. External things, like weight loss and more money in the bank, will certainly help, but they’re only a piece of a larger puzzle.

What to Do Instead

Now don’t get us wrong – we’re not saying that you shouldn’t make goals to better yourself and then work toward them, we’re just saying that maybe New Year’s resolutions aren’t quite the way to go. The New Year comes with a lot of pressure to start anew, but every day is a blank slate and an opportunity to make a change. If you have a goal, start RIGHT NOW. You don’t have to wait until Monday, or New Year’s Day, or after your birthday. There will always be an excuse not to start now, but they’re often just that: excuses.

Here are some tips to get you started:
  1. Make a goal and then outline steps to get there. If your goal is weight loss, create an action plan. How much weight specifically do you want to lose? And what are you going to do to achieve that goal? Are you going to meal plan and work out three days a week? Write it all down and keep it visible.
  2. Enlist an accountability buddy. Tell someone your goal – bonus points if he/she has a shared goal – and check in with him/her regularly to make sure you’re both staying on track.
  3. Pay attention to your mindset. The major key to achieving your goals is believing you can, celebrating small successes, and overcoming any roadblocks or failures. If you don’t believe in yourself, you’ll never get there. Spend time reading personal development books or listening to motivating podcasts and, most importantly, put what you learn into practice.
  4. Focus on the present. Instead of focusing on the ultimate goal and how much more work you have to do until you get there, focus on the moment. What is one thing you can do right now that will help propel you toward your goal?

What you do think? Will you decide to give up resolutions this year and focus on short-term, everyday goals instead? If not, and you’re making resolutions, what are they? Will the way you approach them change after reading this article? We want to know!

Cortisol Manager: Your Secret Weapon for Stress

Stress. It’s an inevitable part of life. No matter what you do, you’re going to be affected by stress in some way. This stress can come from having too much on your plate; or from financial burdens. Or this stress may be perceived, meaning it comes from thoughts; maybe you’re a “what if” kind of person that spends a lot of time worrying about things that haven’t even happened (and probably won’t happen). Either way, regardless of where the stress comes from, it can wreak havoc on your body.

stress

In a previous blog post, we discussed stress and how it affects your hormones. When you’re stressed, your body increases its production of cortisol, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, metabolism, immune function, blood pressure, and your nervous system, just to name a few. The production and release of cortisol is important in keeping your body running as it should, but when the production gets of hand, such as in times of prolonged stress, cortisol goes from helpful to harmful.

When you have high cortisol levels for long periods of time, it can disrupt your thyroid and your blood sugar, contribute to brittle bones, and increase your blood pressure. It can also make it harder to think clearly, disrupt your sleep, and make it easier for you to get sick. High cortisol levels also promote the storage of fat, so it not only makes it easier to gain weight, but it makes it harder to lose weight too – especially around your midsection.

You may not be able to completely eliminate stress from your life (spoiler alert: this would actually be impossible), but you can take steps to reduce the effect that that stress has on your body. We’ve outlined some tips before, like meditation, yoga, exercise, and incorporating more fun into your life, but we also have a little bit of a secret weapon for you: Cortisol Manager.

cortisol manager

Cortisol Manager is a supplement produced by a company called Integrative Therapeutics, Inc. It contains a variety of natural substances, like ashwaganda, magnolia, and L-thesanine, which not only reduce your perception of stress, but also help lower cortisol directly. Cortisol Manager can also help improve the symptoms of stress, boosting your immune function, allowing you to fall asleep faster and stay asleep, and improve the function of your nervous system. Most people who take Cortisol Manager experience absolutely no negative side effects.

If you’re one of the people who is bombarded by stress on a daily basis – and really, who isn’t? – you may want to try adding Cortisol Manager into your stress reduction routine.

Five Health and Fitness Instagram Accounts You Need to Follow

When it comes to recipes, health tips, and general motivation and inspiration, Instagram is an absolute goldmine. It may seem counter-intuitive to spend a lot of time browsing through social media when you’re trying to lose weight, but if you properly control your feed – meaning you fill it with people who are inspiring, motivating, and uplifting – it can be a real asset for you. Not only does it provide a sense of community among individuals who are trying to reach a certain goal, but you’ll also be able to find recipes for every specialized diet under the sun. Vegan? Gluten-free? Sugar-free? Paleo? No problem. Instagram’s got you covered.

There are many inspiring accounts all over Instagram, but we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorites.

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1. Valley Medical Weight Loss (@valleymedicalweightlossAZ)

Okay, we admit, there’s some bias here; but we couldn’t start this list without letting you know that we have our very own Instagram page where we share our specials and provide motivation and support. We also throw in some humor from time to time, so make sure to head over and follow us.

2. Sophie Gray (@wayofgray)

We love Sophie Gray because she’s real, she’s raw, and she tells it like it is. Her page is not only full of fitness and nutrition tips, she’s also big on self-love. In fact, it’s the foundation on which she’s built her entire “brand”. She encourages you to work on developing your love for yourself above all – and we can certainly get on board with that.

3. Carina Wolff (@kalememaybe)

The name is not the only thing we love about Carina Wolff’s Instagram feed, although it’s so clever that it definitely makes her a frontrunner on its own. Her page is bright and fun and full of easy, filling, plant-based recipes that can help you on track. The added bonus is that these recipes are so simple, that it’s likely you have many of the ingredients lying around on most days. You don’t have to be a gourmet chef to make a healthy lifestyle work, although when looking at Wolff’s page, you’ll think she is one.

4. Angela Liddon (@ohsheglows)

Angela Liddon is the founder of Oh She Glows and the author of the Oh She Glows Cookbook. She shares many of her healthy meal ideas on both her Instagram feed and her website. We love that she’s able to take “boring” foods like salads, and turn them into masterpieces complete with beet noodles and toasted sunflower seeds. Follow her for some more plant-based meal inspiration.

5. Massy Arias (@massy.arias)

Massy Arias is certified personal trainer and health coach with a following of over 2 million people. She shares snippets of her workouts, and provides easy meal ideas. She even shares the occasional DIY beauty treatment.

6. Emily Skye (@emilyskyefit)

We know we said we were going to list the five health and fitness Instagram accounts that you need to follow, but we couldn’t leave Emily Skye off this list. Emily posts how-to workout videos that are easy to do in the comfort of your own home with very little equipment. She also shares glimpses into her personal life that make you feel like you’re connecting with a friend.

Who else do you think should be on this list? What are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow for health tips, recipes, and/or motivation?

Binge Watching TV is Bad for Your Health.

These days, the opportunity to binge-watch your favorite TV shows is literally at your fingertips. There’s Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Fire Stick, AppleTV, Roku, OnDemand – I could continue, but I think you get the point. It may seem harmless to sit and veg out for a few hours while catching up on your favorite sitcoms, and it probably is if it only happens on rare occasions, but researchers shows that 61 percent of TV watchers admit to regular periods of binge-watching. If you watch between two and six episodes of a show in one sitting (the parameters that experts use to define “binge-watching”, the rest of this article is for you.

tv

Weight Gain

We’ll start here, since weight management is kind of our thing. Research shows that for every 2 hours of TV that you watch per day, you’re 23 percent more likely to become obese and 14 percent more likely to develop diabetes. To add to that, the type of shows you watch may impact these numbers further. If you’re regularly watching shows on the Food Network, this can increase your desire to overeat and nosh on unhealthy food choices.

Research also shows that viewers tend to make poorer snack choices when engrossed in the television. If you’re mindlessly munching on chips or candy while you’re glued to the tube, it could inhibit your weight loss and even cause you to pack on the pounds.

Chronic Diseases

It’s not just weight that’s a concern though. Other research shows that binge-watching TV can increase your risk of developing diabetes by up to 14 percent. Doing so also increases the risk of both cancer and heart disease. It’s not the TV itself that’s too blame, but the extended period of sitting.

Sleep Disturbance

Binge watching TV later in the evening can also negatively affect your sleep. Research shows that staring into the fluorescent light of a television or computer screen can result in a harder time falling asleep, an inability to reach REM sleep, and resulting grogginess the next morning. This is because the “blue light” given off by screens disrupts the release of melatonin, the hormone responsible for controlling your sleep cycles.

So what’s a reality TV show loving person to do?

You don’t have to cut out the tube completely, but be smart about your viewing time. Try to watch no more than 2 hours of television at a time. Instead of sitting in one place, get up and walk around the house during commercial breaks; do jumping jacks; or stretch. If possible, watch TV only in the daylight hours. Get your fix in before the sun goes down so the blue light from the screens affects your hormones less.

Sitting Too Much? How to Counteract Negative Effects with Exercise

In this modern age of technology and indoor jobs, we do a lot of sitting. We’ve touched on this issue before and discussed how recent reports are describing too much sitting as the new smoking. Well, the issue has come up again in the news recently, but this time, researchers are giving you some good news. A new study that was published in the scientific journal The Lancet just this month looked at how much exercising you should be doing each day based on how often you’re sitting. Instead of giving a blanket recommendation of 30 minutes per day for at least 5 days a week, these researchers went a step further. Let’s discuss.

sitting

Study Basics

Researchers from this study analyzed data from 16 separate research studies. These studies included data from over one million adults over the age of 45 from the United States, Western Europe, and Australia. The researchers compared time spent sitting versus time spent exercising and mortality rates and developed a formula that may be able to counteract the effects of sitting and lead to a healthier life.

The FindingsRio 2 2014 live streaming movie

Based on this data, the researchers concluded that if you work a typical desk job and spend around 8 hours sitting each day, you should be exercising (and that’s moderate to intense exercise) for at least one hour every day. If you sit for 6 hours, you should be exercising for at least 30 minutes each day.

The numbers may seem daunting, but here’s the good news. An hour of exercise takes up only 4 percent of your whole day. The other good news is that research also shows that this exercise doesn’t have to take place all at once. If you can’t commit to an hour at a time, you can split your exercise into two half hour sessions or 6 bursts of 10 minutes each. The major goal is to sit less, so anything you can do to get your body moving is a step in the right direction.

The Power of the Compliment

Recently, we’ve noticed a trend. We don’t think this is a new thing. In fact, we think this is something that has been going on for quite some time, but when we say “recently”, we mean we’ve been paying more attention as of late.

Picture this: two people are having a conversation. Person A says “Wow, you look great!” and Person B says “Really? I’ve feel like I’ve put on some weight.” Or this: Person A says “I love your shirt!” and Person B says “Oh this? It’s nothing special. I got it at a thrift store for like $3.”

Do you notice anything? If not, we’ll fill you in. Person A is trying to compliment Person B, and instead of graciously accepting the compliment (and maybe even giving one back), Person B almost fights the compliment and then proceeds to try to negate whatever it is that Person A said. So what’s so wrong with that? We’ll try to keep it short.

compliment

Compliments may seem like little things, but they are actually huge. Research shows that compliments have the power to increase positivity, both for the giver and the receiver, boost productivity, and increase awareness of the good around you. When you accept a compliment, with a simple “thank you so much”, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to feel these things. When you reject a compliment, you’re subconsciously reinforcing a belief that you’re unworthy of the praise. It can also create an awkward social situation, but that’s a story for a different day.

The best way to receive a compliment is with a “thank you” and a smile. If you have a genuine compliment to give in return, that’s even better, but try not to give a compliment unless it’s authentic (hint: we believe there’s always something you can find to compliment authentically).

We leave you with this challenge. The next time someone pays you a compliment, resist the urge to negate the compliment or explain it away. Instead, respond to the compliment with a simple “thank you”. This will probably take some getting used to at first. You may even have to stop yourself from responding in a negative way at first, but the more you practice, the easier it will become.

 

 

Beat the Bloat: How to Get a Flat Tummy

Bloating can affect anyone of any size. Even if you don’t have weight to lose, you may experience bloating in the tummy that leaves you with a rounded abdomen instead of a flat one. This is a common problem and one that could have several different causes (which we discussed last week). Because bloating can be a result of several different factors – and often a combination of more than one factor, you’ll have to do a little detective work to figure out what works for you. How do you do this detective work? You try different things until you find what your body likes.

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We can’t tell you exactly why you’re bloated and exactly what to do to stop it, but we can give you this list of tried and true tricks. Incorporate a few of these tips at a time until you find the perfect solution for you.

  1. Avoid gas-causing foods. Although any foods can cause bloating, there are some foods that are known offenders. These foods include soy, gluten, dairy, beans, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. While we’re not suggesting that you avoid broccoli forever, it can be helpful to reduce your intake or only eat it when you can throw on those sweatpants and lounge around for a few hours after your meal. Sugar alcohols, like xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol, are also gas-causing offenders. These sugar alcohols became popular during the low-carb movement because they don’t contain any carbohydrates. However, if you overdo it, you may be left with bloating and diarrhea. Avoid them as much as possible.
  2. Figure out if you have food intolerances. Unfortunately, there is no magical way to figure out what foods you may be intolerant to. There is a type of food sensitivity testing available, called IgG testing, but these types of tests aren’t always reliable. The best way to figure out your own food intolerances is to follow an elimination diet. An elimination diet involves removing the most common food intolerances from your diet for at least 30 days, and then reintroducing them slowly to figure out if you have a reaction (like bloating) to a specific food. If you do, you know that your body cannot tolerate it well. The only drawback to this is that sometimes you may have an intolerance to food that is not typical. In that case, it can take a little more detective work.
  3. Chew slowly and deliberately. It’s not just what you eat that can cause bloating, it’s how you eat. Digestion officially starts in your mouth, so make sure that you’re chewing your food thoroughly and taking some of the burden off of the rest of your digestive system. Eat only enough food to make you feel satisfied, not so much that your stomach is overstuffed and you’re left feeling bloated and lethargic.
  4. Take digestive supplements. There are two types of supplements that are very helpful for digestion and reducing bloating: probiotics and digestive enzymes. Probiotics replenish the bacteria in your gut and digestive enzymes provide you with the substances you need to break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
  5. Drink water. Dehydration is a leading cause of bloating, so if you’re not drinking enough water, increase your intake. The current recommendation is to consume at least half of your body weight in ounces every day. This means if you weigh 200 pounds, you should be taking in 100 ounces of water per day. If you have a hard time keeping track of your water intake, there are free apps you can download to your phone to track your intake for you. Plant Nanny is one of our favorites.
  6. Get enough sleep. You probably don’t realize how much sleep affects your digestion. Proper digestion uses up a lot of energy, and if your body doesn’t have enough energy due to lack of sleep, your digestion will suffer. Make sleep a priority and make an effort to ensure that you’re getting at least 8 hours per night.
  7. Movement is excellent for digestion, so if you’re bloated, especially if your bloating is a result of constipation, move your body! Exercise helps move gas around the digestive tract and helps reduce constipation.
  8. Relieve your stress. Chronic stress can do a number on your digestive system and can lead to bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. If you’re always stressed out, it would be highly beneficial for you to engage in some stress-reduction activities. Some of our favorites are meditation, yoga, and journaling.