Sugar High

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASugary treats are fun. I have a hard enough time saying no to ice cream for myself, so imagine how hard it is when the kids want it. Dave and I could give in each time the kids want some sort of dessert but it’s really not the message we want to send. We try to restrict treats for all our sakes, because it’s definitely not the healthy choice.

Too much sugar is not good for you or your kids. Cavities are a huge risk with a high-sugar diet. Childhood obesity and other health complications have been directly linked to sugar consumption.  Worst of all, the habits your kids form now will likely influence their health and habits as adults.

The easiest way to limit sugar is to keep it limited inside and outside the house. Set the right example, and show your kids how to have balance. A couple of cookies after a healthy dinner? Sure. A whole package of oreos for an after school snack? No way.

It’s all about moderation and balance, teaching our kids to make healthy choices most of the time so that a treat is a treat and not a habit.

Why Diets Fail

wine for dinnerThere are many fad diets out there, most targeted specifically at women. Lose 10 pounds in one week, shrink belly fat, and get toned by consuming strange mixtures of maple syrup and cayenne pepper and who knows what else. Fad diets all promise the same thing: they all offer quick fixes to a goal that takes long-term dedication.

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The first problem with fad diets is that they don’t take into account individual differences. One type of diet, such as Paleo, might work for one person but it certainly isn’t going to work for everyone. The other problem is that many fad diets constrict your diet to an extreme extent. I don’t know about you, but the second I’m told I can’t have something it’s literally all I want. So cravings and binge eating tends to become a huge issue surrounding fad diets.

The other thing that fad diets fail to emphasize is exercise. You can cut all the calories in the world, but you aren’t going to reach a healthy place. And that goes both ways. Simply because you hit the gym that morning does not mean you can swing through McDonalds for dinner every night. Healthy eating and exercise go hand in hand.

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Ultimately, you have to do some experimenting to decide what is right for your body and lifestyle. You may not have time for the gym, but maybe you can take a walk with your dog or partner. If lunch out is a huge draw, pack healthy snacks and meals that you can look forward to. Feel it out and choose what works for you, because if you don’t like it, you won’t stick with it.

[Tweet “In the end, it has to be less about the latest fad and more about making lifestyle changes you can live with.”]

8 Reasons You’re Always Hungry

[Guest Post]

Hunger is a completely natural feeling and never is this more the case than when you’re trying to drop a few pounds. Feeling hungry immediately after eating however, well, that’s a little less so.

Contrary to popular belief, feeling hungry isn’t always a sign that you need to eat more. There are actually a number of factors at play. And not all of them should, or even can, be solved by a trip to the kitchen.

Here are eight common causes of hunger that most people don’t know about.

You’re Thirsty

Despite the fact that hunger and thirst feel completely different, it’s not uncommon for people to confuse the two. This is because dehydration often leads to fatigue and most people associate fatigue with a lack of food. It’s therefore surprisingly easy to find yourself heading towards the cooker when all you really need is a glass of water. This is one of the reasons that drinking plenty of water is such a vital component of a successful diet.

You’re Not Sleeping Enough

Another common cause of illogical hunger is mild sleep deprivation. Multiple studies have shown that when you sleep less than seven hours per night, you tend to consume more calories. This has been attributed to the fact that a lack of sleep leads to an increase in cortisol levels. And cortisol is a hormone that not only increases stress and blood pressure levels, it leads to an increase in both appetite and sugar cravings. If you want to cut back on food, it’s therefore important not to cut back on sleep.

You’re Only Eating One Thing

A bowl of pasta might seem like a filling meal but the reality is that a meal made exclusively of carbohydrates is never going to protect you from hunger. Carbohydrates are typically digested in less than an hour resulting in hunger returning almost immediately. Protein and fat on the other hand take between four and seven hours to digest. If you want to keep hunger at bay, it’s therefore vital to prepare meals that include multiple food groups.

It’s a Side Effect of Your Medication

Should you find yourself both illogically hunger and on medication, it’s always worth asking your doctor if the two might somehow be related. Medications such as antidepressants, anti histamines, steroids and even birth control pills have all been linked to an increase in appetite in those who take them. If you think that your medication is to blame for your hunger, ask your doctor about alternatives.

You’re Eating Your Meals too Far Apart

When it comes to tackling hunger, it’s not just what you eat but when you eat it that matters. And never is this more important than when you are trying to limit your daily calorie intake. If you want to eat less without going hungry, you need to eat more often . In other words, you should be eating between five and six small meals per day. Fail to do so and hunger is actually perfectly natural.

You’re Eating The Wrong Foods

Another mistake that can easily lead to you feeling hungry after eating is stocking your plate with processed food. Processed food is notorious for having very little nutritional value. And the result is that no matter how much you eat, your body is never really satisfied. While there’s nothing wrong with eating junk food every now and then, if you’re looking to tame your hunger, you need to make more nutritious choices.

You’re Bored

Most people react to boredom the same way; with a desperate desire to do something. And it’s not uncommon for people to confuse a desperate desire to do something with a desperate desire to eat. The easiest way to differentiate between the two is to imagine an absolutely massive plate of your favourite food. If you’re genuinely hungry, this will obviously seem appealing. If you’re not, the portion will seem too large.

You Drank Too Much Soda

Finally, there’s the small matter of soda, it happens to be the last thing that you should be drinking if you’re trying to avoid hunger. Sodas, and other sweetened drinks, are not only incredibly fattening, they contain large amounts of high fructose corn syrup. Fructose limits your body’s ability to produce leptin and leptin happens to be the hormone that makes you feel full. In other words, drink enough soda and you’ll be hungry regardless of what you eat.


You’re Not Eating Enough Fiber, No Matter What You Think

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

Fiber is a crucial part of the diet.  Not only does fiber help you feel full faster so that you can more easily manage the amount of calories you consume, but – let’s face it – fiber is what keeps things moving.

The benefits of fiber include:

  • Improved heart health
  • Better circulation
  • Regulated bowel movements
  • Healthier intestines
  • Lower cholesterol

Men should shoot for 25 grams of fiber per day, while women need at least 30

Two Types of Fiber

Soluble fiber helps your heart by cleaning the blood vessels and helping maintain a steady blood sugar level; insoluble fiber sweeps the intestines clean and helps to prevent colon cancer.

adding fiberSources of insoluble fiber:

  • dark green vegetables
  • dark green leafy vegetables

Sources of soluble fiber:

  • flax seeds
  • oranges and apples
  • carrots

Increase Fiber Intake Slowly

Because fiber has such an impact on your ‘regularity’ you should increase your intake slowly to allow your body to adjust. You don’t have to make increasing fiber consumption difficult; simply add more fruits and veggies to your diet (3-4 servings of fruit; 5-6 servings of veggies) and you’ll easily get enough. Be sure to vary what you eat and add things like chickpeas and other plant-based sources.


The Fast Metabolism Diet – Reeducate Your Body

I’ll admit it. I went into the whole fast metabolism diet with a healthy level of skepticism. I mean, how many of us can honestly say we haven’t tried EVERY DIET OUT THERE only to wake up, look in the mirror, and decide we might as well eat pizza?

So as I started reading Haylie Pomroy’s book, “The Fast Metabolism Diet” thinking, “Ok, what can a skinny girl really tell me about losing weight? She has NO IDEA.”

Of course, I was wrong.

fast metabolism dietNot only is the book easy to read and well written, but it really spoke to me. It’s not about counting calories, because we all burn calories at different rates. It’s not about eating only salad for days on end, because even salad won’t help you lose weight if your metabolism isn’t working right. It’s not about starving yourself.

Wait a sec. A diet that doesn’t require you to starve?

The premise of Pomroy’s book, diet, and plan, is that your body needs to forget about starving, which actually lowers your metabolism, and it needs to know it will be nourished and fed reguarly in order to stop trying to store calories for when the sabre-tooth tiger jumps out at you and makes you run. (We’re dealing with some OLD issues here witho our bodies when it comes to stress, metabolism, exercise, and calorie burn).

Pomroy’s diet is brilliant, because ALL YOU DO IS EAT. A LOT.

And Pomroy’s book makes it easy to know what to eat when because for each phase (there are three) she provides an extensive list of approved foods as well as a chart that tells you when to eat and what type of exercise to include.

There are two very difficult (ok, impossible) parts to this diet for me: one, she says no coffee.

Um. Excuse me? Are you insane? (I would be if I didn’t have coffee).

Rule #2, abstaining entireley from alcohol, is easier, unless you’re a mom, in which case it’s almost as impossible (depending on the day and the level of chaos your kids are creating).

But what I like best about Pomroy’s book is that it talks to you like a human being. It’s not like, “Oh, you poor fat girl. So sorry you can’t lose the weight you want. What are you doing wrong?”

Instead, it helps you reeducate your body and your mind so that you can change your life.

Learn more:

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This is a sponsored post form SheSpeaks/Fast Metabolism Diet. I was provided with the book to review and benefit from my relationship with SheSpeaks. My review is an honest assessment of my experience.

Healthy Weight Loss through Better Nutrition

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

As someone who has struggled with weight all my life — and who has watched family member after family member deal with conditions like heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes – I am interested in learning how to live a healthier lifestyle and how to teach my kids to be healthy. What I’ve learned over time, after regaining the weight I lost using pills and fad diets, is that quick fixes really don’t work. What works, and what you will hear most nutrition experts advocate, is making small step-by-step changes to your lifestyle.

People who have the most success, not just with losing weight but with maintaining a healthy way of life, make incremental changes to their diet and their activity levels that can be maintained for the long term. That is really the key to success: Whatever you are going to do, you have to be able to make it a long-term habit. Nutrition is fundamental in overall health; it affects energy, mood, sleep patterns, menstruation cycles and memory. It’s more than just diet changes, though — it’s a matter of changing your whole lifestyle. The changes you make have to be changes for life.

Skip the Diet and Eat Right

weight loss through better nutritionWe live in a fast-paced, oblivious society where exercising and healthy eating are low on the list of priorities – if we’re not eating fast food, we’re eating processed food. Most of us are eating on the run, at our desks or in front of the TV, and that creates a disconnect from what we’re eating – and how much. We’re simply not thinking about it. Studies show that when you eat while watching TV, you eat hundreds of extra calories without even realizing it – and an extra 100 calories a day every day for a year amounts to TEN pounds.

There is no trick to weight loss: reduce portion sizes, increase fruit and vegetable consumption, and add activity everywhere you can.

READ MORE: Eat less and move more to make healthy progress with weight loss.

Eight Healthy Changes to Make Right Now

  1. Cut out all foods made with white flour, like white bread
  2. Stop consuming anything with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil
  3. Eliminate high-fructose corn syrup
  4. Add fruits and vegetables – it doesn’t matter which ones
  5. Start eating omega-3s like salmon and other fish, nuts, or even a fish-oil pill if there’s no other way
  6. When you eat grains, make sure they are whole grains
  7. Always eat breakfast
  8. Always keep your sugar-to-fiber ratio low (don’t eat foods where the number of sugar grams exceeds the number of fiber grams)



4 Ways to Incorporate Healthy Cooking into Your Life

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce

One of the easiest health changes you can make is to incorporate healthy cooking into your life. Healthy cooking does not have to be difficult or expensive.  In fact, there are some relatively simple changes you can make to your everyday cooking habits that will make them healthier.

Pick the Right Oils

Extra virgin olive oil should be a staple, but it’s best used for drizzling on salads and veggies. It’s not actually the best for cooking, as it has a low smoke point (all oils have a smoke point, and once they’ve exceeded it, they lose their value and aren’t good to consume).  Extra virgin olive oil is great for a lot of things, but not for sauteeing. The smoke point of EVOO is 320F. If you need a healthy oil with a higher smoke point, consider soybean or extra light olive oil.

Use Herbs and Seasonings, Skip Salt

healthy cooking can taste goodI’ll never completed remove salt from my kitchen, and you shouldn’t either. It’s not a culprit as a seasoning – it’s the canned and processed food with 900mg of sodium per serving that’s doing you in, not the pinch of salt you add to your home-cooked creations. However, I do think we all rely on salt too much when there’s a world of flavor and health benefits waiting for us in the form of garlic and tumeric and pepper and rosemary and oregano.

Ditch the Deep Fryer and the Microwave

If you really want to incorporate healthy cooking into your life, don’t deep fry anything, ever. If it has to be deep-fried, it shouldn’t be part of your diet. I also recommend getting rid of the microwave. Yes, it’s convenient. Yes, it reheats with such ease and very little mess. But it alters food at the cellular level. That just isn’t good.

 Eat What Grows

Replace boxed mac and cheese and cans of chili with leafy greens and roots like sweet potatoes and carrots. Eat what you can grow, and when you do have to buy processed food, choose those items that have the fewest ingredients. If it has ingredients you can’t pronounce, don’t eat it.

What do you suggest? Comment below or tweet me @MomsGetReal

20 Ideas for Healthy Eating

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce

Do you ever end up eating more than you should because you simply can’t come up with good ideas for meals? Do you ever throw your hands up and head to the nearest drive-through because you’re uninspired about what to cook? Cooking at home is the first major step toward eating healthier. Even when you think you’re eating healthy food in a restaurant, you’re often being treated to hidden trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and even low-end, B-grade fruits and veggies that wouldn’t pass muster in the store.

You have to realize that restaurants are in the business to make money, so their goal will be to obtain ingredients at the lowest possible price in order to make the most off what they put on your plate, and to make you feel like you’re getting a bargain, the portions they serve are outrageously large, filled with sodium and laden with fat. There are some restaurants, like Cheesecake Factory, who offers meals that provide almost more calories and fat in one meal than you need in TWO days.

I’ve put together a list of meals designed to inspire your willingness to experiment in your own kitchen. I’m not a dietician nor am I a physician, so check with your own if you have dietary restrictions. Mix, match, and change things up…and let me know your favorites from the list as well as what you’d add!

Breakfast ideas:

  • One poached egg, one slice of whole wheat toast, an apple
  • Egg white omelet with spinach and tomato
  • One boiled egg, one slice whole wheat toast with peanut butter
  • Breakfast smoothie: ½ c. frozen blueberries, 1 c. frozen strawberries, ½ cup of vanilla yogurt and ½ c. orange juice, blended
  • Breakfast burrito (scrambled egg, low-fat cheese, salsa) in whole wheat tortilla, fruit of your choice on the side

Snack ideas:

  • A handful (no more than 23) of almonds
  • Yogurt with granola and berries or dried cherries
  • Two ounces of low-fat mozzarella with tomatoes, olives, and spinach
  • Cottage cheese and fruit
  • 1 ounce of cheese, apple slices, two walnuts

Lunch ideas:

  • Tuna with one tbsp mayo, 1 slice whole wheat bread, an apple
  • Low fat turkey sandwich, carrot sticks, an orange
  • Chicken salad: 3-ounce chicken breast, lettuce, tomato and other veggies to taste with 2 ½ tbsp of low-fat dressing
  • Spinach salad with 2 ounces of salmon and a sprinkling of feta cheese
  • Fruit salad: pineapple, grapes, cantaloupe, and choice of berry. Serve with ½ cup of cottage cheese and five almonds. broiled-pork-chops-woth-apricot-mango-chutney

Dinner ideas:

  • Spaghetti with whole wheat pasta, salad with 1 tbsp olive oil & ½ tsp. red wine vinegar, glass of red wine
  • Salmon steak, ½ cup rice pilaf, 1 cup steamed broccoli
  • Grilled chicken breast, sweet potato, mixed greens.
  • Two tacos: Corn tortillas, five ounces of low-fat ground turkey, seasoned, one ounce cheese, lettuce.
  • Grilled pork chop with apricot-mango chutney, steamed green beans, whole wheat couscous

Image credit: The Literate Chef, whose recipe is divine

Fat: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Being the healthiest version of yourself requires you to understand and embrace fat. There are different kinds of fat, which are easily broken into the good, the bad, and the ugly. But one thing is clear: you can’t be at your healthiest if you simply avoid all fat.

The Good Fat

You’ve heard of Omega-3 fats. The diet industry and vitamin companies have made a concerted effort to make sure you know you won’t survive without their fish oil supplements and omega-3 enriched products. But if you really want to benefit from Omega-3s, you have to do it the right way: eat salmon, mackerel, and other Omega-rich fish at least three times per week. Omega-3 fats affect your heart health but also help your body to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K. Omega-3 fats are also what helps keep your cholesterol ratio (the truest indicator of heart attack risk) in balance.

The Bad Fat

Saturated fat, an animal-based fat found in butter, whole milk, and meat is “bad.” Your body does need a very small amount of saturated fat, but unlike the polyunsaturated vegetable-based Omega-3 fats, you definitely do not need to supplement your diet with saturated fat. Saturated fat increases your bad cholesterol and contributes to arterial plaque build up (the primary cause of stroke and heart attack, and though to contribute to Alzheimer’s risk). 

The Ugly Fat

If you do nothing else to protect your health, cutting out the ugly fat – trans fat – is an absolute must. You can’t trust food labels, either. They are allowed to say there are 0 grams of trans fat if there is less than .5 grams. The only way to be sure a product is free of trans fat is to read the ingredient label. Look for hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil; if there is any at all, do not consume the product.

Some states, like New York, have passed laws requiring restaurants to stop using trans-fat-saturated oils in their fryers, but in most states, everything you obtain from a fast food restaurant was likely cooked in trans fats. One of the easiest ways to cut trans fats out of your diet is to reduce how often you eat out. You can also switch to skim milk and products like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter to reduce the amount of trans fats in your diet.

Not all fat is bad, but if you don’t know the good from the bad and the ugly, you’ll be at risk for high cholesterol, stroke, heart attack, heart disease, and dementia-related illnesses (not to mention obesity).







As with everything in your life, finding the right balance is key.  Polyunsaturated fats, even if taken in the form of a fish oil supplement, have proven to be significant to weight loss and heart health.  Add a couple of meals with salmon or switch to cooking with extra virgin olive oil instead of your typical vegetable oil and start making a difference in your fat.

Breaking Bad Eating Habits

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Do you eat so quickly that you have consumed more calories than you need by the end of  a meal?

Do you feel like you have to clean your plate even if you’re full?

Do you eat well during the day but then gorge on snack foods in front of the TV at night?

If you said yes to any of these questions, you may suffer from BAD EATING HABITS.

We all have bad habits – chewed fingernails, picked noses, cracked knuckles – but most of us also have bad nutritional habits we can tackle.

The easiest way to tackle bad eating habits is to keep a food diary, recording what you eat when. Over time, you will be able to see a trend. When do you mindlessly add 300 calories? When do you sneak Oreos? What sets off your moments of weakness?

Once you start identifying what triggers your bad eating habits, then you can begin to make changes. No one else ever has to see your food diary, so you can be completely honest. You will easily be able to see whether you eat when you are upset or bored, stressed or anxious.

When you know what triggers your bad eating habits, then you can do two things to fix the problem:

1. Replace bad comfort foods with healthy comfort foods

2. Replace eating altogether with other, better coping mechanisms (exercising, talking, journaling)

Empowering yourself with the knowledge of why you have bad eating habits will give you the strength to break the habits. Go for a walk with a friend, keep carrot and celery sticks in the house for late-night munchies, call a friend instead of grab a candy bar when you are stressed out. Knowledge of yourself will put you in control of making the changes you want to make.