Mar 122013

Tricia Schafer wins a medal at a race

“I’ve been caffeine free for many years,” said Tricia Schafer, who lives in Phoenix, Arizona. ”My boyfriend and I decided to drop it because it made us irritable. Seriously, we’d get up, be all peaceful, then have a few sips of coffee and start bickering. The correlation was uncanny. I also struggle with anxiety issues and caffeine seems to make it worse.”

Over the course of a typical week, Tricia swims eight hours with the Phoenix Swim Club Masters, works out on a spin bike four days and runs 20 miles. She also sometimes competes. In the past, caffeine-rich products made her irritable, rather than giving her a competitive edge. “I have never consumed an energy gel. I just don’t feel like I need them. I sip on V8 juice between events or eat Clif Shot blocks (uncaffeinated).” She also easts Zing brand nutrition bars “because they are gluten/dairy/soy free and are super easy to digest. And they are delicious.”

Tricia breaks up her two to three hour a day workouts into increments “so I can eat real food in between efforts.” Her preference is to eat healthy, wholesome foods often in small amounts. “I hate feeling hungry and I hate feeling full.” In addition to Zing bars, she pours herself tall glasses of homemade juice comprised of celery, kale, chard, beets, and grapefruit, nibbles on nuts and seeds and often eats up to eight eggs daily. She usually also eats one serving of organic meat. Occasionally, she indulges in her favorite treat- coconut chocolate milk.

Tricia’s style of meal preparation is quick, easy, and super nutritious. “I’m a lousy cook and barely have the patience to cut veggies for the juicer, but I eat them as I cut them and often end up filling up on raw veggies and skipping whatever the next ‘regular’meal would be. If I’m hungry, I have to eat now.” While the average American craving instant food gratification ends up in the line at McDonald’s,  Tricia makes sure what she eats nourishes her active body, rather than filling it with crud.

Mar 042013

If you’re struggling with your weight, put a magnifying glass up to the sugar you’re consuming. Studies show rats are more inclined to choose sugar than narcotic drugs when offered a smorgasboard of addicting substances! So don’t bash yourself for not having willpower–instead reconstruct the way you eat and you’ll be surprised at how much more control you have over what slides past your lips.

Sugar hides in places you wouldn’t imagine–spaghetti sauce, breads, crackers, cereals and other processed foods. I’ve read food labels and been stunned to see what lurks on the list. If sugar is near the top of the list of ingredients, there’s loads of it! Get food smart by reading labels and making and effort to reduce your daily dose of sugar, which can improve your health in more ways than one. You’ll miss the “high” you get from that insulin spike for awhile, but in the long run, you’ll have steadier energy and be less susceptible to binge eating and cravings for sugar-rich foods.

Try replacing cakes, pies, and candy bars with a piece of fruit. A slice of juicy mango or pineapple will put a burst of sweetness on your tongue and  provide your body with nourishment. So instead of finishing one simple sugar sweet only to end up desperately banging  on the outside of the candy machine an hour later, choose a snack item that will give you a steady stream of energy and allow your brain to focus on something other than getting your next “sugar fix.”

Are you still doubting you can do it? If you want to feel empowered, I urge you to challenge yourself to one week without candy, cakes, pies, cooking and puddings. Get them out of the house where they won’t tempt you to taste them and then embark on a low sugar diet. Remember, it doesn’t have to be tasteless–start trying new fruits and healthful recipes and before you know it you’ll find a whole new repertoire of healthy favorite foods. By the end of the week, you’re likely to find that you’re eating less and feeling better without sugar’s addictive disruption. Good luck! I’d love to hear your comments on how this goes :-)