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Holistically Fed BLOG

Are You Really Hungry?

Are You Really Hungry, Or Something Else?

 

Do you find yourself feeling hungry all of the time even though you feel like you are eating plenty of food? Below I discuss a few common reasons you may be feeling hungry and what your body may need instead of more food.

You’re Dehydrated

Our hunger and thirst center are located right next to each other in the brain. The signals for hunger and thirst are also very similar (feelings of lightheadedness, tired, sluggish, unable to concentrate..), thus can easily be misinterpreted. In other words, often times when we think we are hungry, we really may just be thirsty.

If we are always misinterpreting these signals it could easily lead us to eat more than we need to and eventually lead to a slow gradual weight gain.

Tip: At the first signs of hunger, drink a glass of water or two. Wait 15-20 minutes or so. If you’re hunger dissipates and you are satisfied then you know you really were just thirsty. If you’re hunger is still there, then you will know you were truly hungry and to go ahead and eat something.

To avoid dehydration throughout the day, the standard recommendation is to drink 64 oz. of water a day. Ideally this should be spread evenly throughout the day, drinking 1 cup of water every hour. This will not only help keep you hydrated but will help boost your energy as well. Of course, if you are exercising or sweating more throughout the day you will need to up your intake of water throughout the day accordingly.

You Are Sleep Deprived

Did you know that sleep has a BIG impact on our appetite hormones?

Ghrelin: This is the hormone that triggers our appetite and lets us know that it is time to eat! Ghrelin sounds a little bit like growlin’ to me (like the hungry growl) which helps me to remember this hormone’s job. Research has shown that when people are sleep deprived, their bodies produce significantly more levels of ghrelin than usual. This results in more feelings of hunger throughout the day and the potential to overeat when you’re body really just wants more sleep!

Leptin: Opposite of ghrelin, this is the hormone that suppresses our appetite and lets us know we are full and don’t need to eat anymore. Ironically, when you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces LESS leptin. In other words, your body will not receive the appropriate signals to stop eating, thus also resulting in greater food consumption.

Cortisol: This is our body’s main stress hormone. It is released in the body when we are under any type of stress. Lack of sleep is considered a stressor on the body, thus cortisol levels will increase in the absence of an adequate amount of sleep. Increased levels of cortisol can also cause an increase in appetite.

Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night, to ensure you are getting the rest that you need and to help keep your appetite hormones in balance.

You Are Stressed

Like I mentioned above, cortisol is released in the body when we are under ANY type of stress (physical, mental, emotional etc.). When cortisol is released, it signals the body to increase blood sugar. Why would it do that?

Well, in order to handle the stress at hand, our bodies cells need the sugar for energy. For example, if you were being chased by a bear or needing to escape from a burning building and suddenly need a rush of energy and strength to run fast, cortisol is your friend. This hormone is essential for survival. However, our fast paced, ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’, lifestyles these days leave our bodies feeling as if they are ALWAYS running from bears. This results in us producing WAY too much cortisol. Over time, chronic levels of cortisol will lead to a host of negative health issues.

In regards to feeling hungry, when our body is constantly pumping out cortisol to keep up with the stress at hand, blood sugar levels will also rise. Well, as the saying goes, what comes up must ultimately come down. When blood sugar levels come crashing back down, symptoms of hunger may persist.

In other words, managing stress is extremely important when it comes to keeping blood sugar levels stable throughout the day and ultimately avoiding feeling hungry as a result of low blood sugar level crashes.

You Aren’t Eating Balanced Meals and Snacks

While you may feel like you are eating enough food, you may be eating meals and snacks that are not balanced with good quality fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

To avoid blood sugar crashes that ultimately lead to feeling hungry, light headed, dizzy and unable to concentrate, it is essential to make sure your meals and snacks are balanced. So what do I mean by that?

It will be important for you to avoid eating and drinking processed and refined carbohydrates and high sugar foods/beverages that will be digested extremely quickly by the body. When these foods and beverages are consumed, they will lead to a rapid rise in blood sugar levels only to be followed by a crash. Examples would include but are not limited to all white flour based food products, chips, crackers, candy, soda, pastries, ice cream, fruit juices, pizza etc.

A balanced meal or snack will include a good quality source of protein, fat and unprocessed carbohydrates.

I’ve provided a few examples below. This is not an exhaustive list.

Good quality sources of protein: grassfed beef, pastured poultry, wild caught fish, chia seeds

Good quality sources of fat: avocado’s, nuts and seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, grassfed butter, ghee, coconut milk/cream, nut butters

Good quality sources of carbohydrates: vegetables and fruits, quinoa, buckwheat, gluten free oats

A few example’s of a balanced meal/snack may look like the following:

  • Breakfast: pastured eggs scrambled in good quality fat like coconut oil or grass fed butter paired with a side of sautéed veggie scramble and 1/2 cup of fresh berries. OR Soaked Oats with all the fixings
  • Snack: apple slices with unsweetened nut butter or raw veggies with guacamole
  • Smoothie: 1/2 cup milk of choice, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries, 1/2 avocado (will add good quality fat to help balance out sugars from fruit and will add a nice creaminess to smoothie), large handful spinach or kale, dash of honey to desire of sweetness, 1 -2 T. chia seeds (good source of plant based protein)

For more healthy recipe idea’s you can browse my recipe page on my blog.

So, the next time you are feeling hungry, instead of going straight for the pantry, slow down and carefully consider what your body may really be trying to tell you.

 

 

 

Ground Beef Four Ways for Four Easy Week Night Meals

If you are wanting to make the swap to better quality meat, grass fed ground beef is one of the most budget friendly ways to do so.

If you are not familiar with the health benefits of grass fed and pasture raised meats compared to conventionally raised grain fed meats, please take the time to read more on this and educate yourself, especially if you consume meat regularly. Below are a few resources for you to read more about this.

Depending on where you shop, you can buy grass-fed ground beef on average for about $6/lb or sometimes less. This is much cheaper than other cuts of grass-fed beef (steaks, roasts, etc.), pasture raised chicken and certain brands of wild caught fish that can cost over $10 a pound. Good for you if you can afford to eat pasture raised chicken, wild caught fish and more expensive cuts of grass-fed beef all of the time, but for those of you on a tighter budget, you may be limited to eating lots of grass fed ground beef for dinner.

So, unless you have a good handful of recipes to rotate through that you love that use ground beef, you can get tired of it really quickly.

SO, I am sharing with you all today, four of our family favorite recipes using grass-fed ground beef that we rotate through regularly. Even my two year old gobbles all of these recipes up! Not only are they our favorites because they taste good, but because of how simple they are to make and how easy it is to double up on the recipes to make them last multiple meals, because who really has time to cook every single night? I know I don’t, nor do I want to.

Enjoy!

All ground beef in the recipes are linked to Slanker’s. While you can purchase grass fed ground beef now at most local grocery stores, I wanted to make known to those that don’t already know that we do have a local grass fed meat store located in Powderly Texas! They sell the largest variety of high quality meats around, including deli lunch and snack meats, bacon, organ meats, soup bones and so much more! If you have never ordered from them before, you can get $5 off your first order by calling in your order and telling them that Erin Finch referred you! Or, if you would rather order online, I do get a small commission for first time orders through any of my affiliate links in this post. I greatly appreciate your support. Thanks in advance.

Moo Shu Beef

  • 1 lb. grass-fed ground beef
  • 3 fresh cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 16. oz bag classic coleslaw mix
  • 4 large carrots, shredded
  • 1/2 cup organic ketchup (look for one that is NOT sweetened with fructose corn syrup)
  • 1/4 cup coconut aminos (soy sauce alternative sold at the Wellness Center in Paris Texas or online)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Your choice of tortilla: We personally like to use large romaine leaves as a grain free tortilla option. My other healthy recommendations would be some sprouted grain tortillas like these (sold at Kroger), or another grain free and paleo tortilla option – siete cassava and coconut flour tortillas (not sold locally in Paris Texas, but most likely at large health food stores like Whole Foods or online).
  1. Cook your ground beef with your chopped garlic
  2. Once meat is cooked, add in your coleslaw and carrots and cook them down until soft
  3. Add in ketchup, coconut aminos, water, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine well.
  4. Serve moo she beef mixture in your choice of carrier and garnish with green onions.
  5. Enjoy!

*This meal is great to double the recipe and serve for 2 or three nights depending on how large your family is. With three of us eating (2 adults and a 2 year old that eats like an adult) this recipe doubled will last us 3, maybe four meals.

Grain Free Spaghetti

  • 1 lb. grass-fed ground beef
  • your choice of a spiralized vegetable as a healthier alternative to pasta (zucchini, yellow squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, etc.) – There are lots of frozen options of this in most grocery stores now. Kroger in Paris Texas sells both frozen packages of spiralized zucchini and butternut squash now making it much more convenient on those busy weeknight’s to throw this meal together! If you would rather have fresh vegetables, just go get yourself a vegetable spiralizer like this one that I have.They are not expensive.
  • olive or coconut oil
  • Marinara sauce. I just eyeball honestly how much sauce I want added to my meat and never have an exact amount I use. My favorite organic, sugar free, and junk ingredient free brand is Muir Glen, also available at Kroger in Paris Texas.
  • Italian seasoning (added to taste)
  • Garlic salt (added to taste)
  1. In one skillet brown/cook your meat through.
  2. In another skillet, cook your spiralized vegetables down in your choice of good quality oil.
  3. Once your meat is cooked through, pour your marinara sauce over and stir to combine.
  4. Sprinkle in your added seasonings to taste.
  5. Once your vegetables are cooked down, portion them out onto your individual plates and top with desired amount of meat mixture!
  6. Serve alongside a fresh mixed green salad and enjoy!

*This is another great meal to double up on the recipe to make last for multiple nights. I typically make a big batch of the meat mixture all at one time and only cook the desired amount of vegetable noodles I want for that night. So, when the next night roles around, all I have to do is cook the vegetables and warm the meat mixture back up to top it with!

Tacos

  • 1 lb. grass fed ground beef
  • 1-2 T. homemade taco seasoning (add just one T. first and then decide wether or not you want to add more seasoning. Save the remaining amount of this recipe for the next time you make tacos!)
    • 1 T. chili powder
    • 1 tsp. cumin
    • 1 tsp. sea salt
    • 1 tsp. black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
    • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
    • 1/4 tsp. paprika
    • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • fresh avocado
  • salsa
  • other garnishes you like (cilantro, green onions etc.)
  • Your choice of tortilla. (see bottom of moo shu beef recipe above for my healthier recommendations/options for this)
  1. Brown your meat with your seasoning. Make sure to evenly mix the seasoning in well while you are cooking the meat in the pan.
  2. Once your meat is cooked, serve warm in your choice of tortillas and top with fresh avocado, salsa and other fixings you like!

*We love to serve these with a side of cooked cauliflower rice. Kroger in Paris Texas sells a frozen package of cauliflower rice now with no other ingredients other than cauliflower making it another great healthy and convenient option on those busy weeknights! Just throw it in the skillet to cook and toss with some coconut oil or grassfed butter and sprinkle to taste with some sea salt and pepper. You can always make this fresh too by just blending up a head of cauliflower into a rice consistency.

Zuppa Tuscana

  • 1-2 pounds grassfed ground beef
  • 1-2 teaspoons crushed red peppers
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 32 oz. or 4 cups broth
  • 1/2 cup full fat canned coconut milk
  • 3 large russet potatoes, thinly sliced or cut into large cubes (either works, just depends on the texture you would like in your soup.)
  • 1/2 bunch of organic kale, chopped (I typically just eyeball this and add a ton of kale. It most likely is way more than half a bunch by the end of me throwing it all in.)
  1. Saute beef with red pepper flakes over medium heat on the stove
  2. In a large pot, sauce the onion and garlic until soft and fragrant in some good quality fat (coconut oil, olive oil, etc.)
  3. Add in the broth to the large pot and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, add in your cubed or thinly sliced potatoes and bring down to a simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft and fall apart with a fork
  5. Lastly add in your cooked beef, chopped kale and coconut milk. Stir until kale wilts some and all is mixed in well.

Hope these recipes make eating healthier a little bit easier and more delicious for you throughout the week!

 

My Tips on Raising Healthy Little Eaters

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I want to open this post up by first stating that, I DO NOT HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS! What has worked for me, may not work for your family. We by no means eat perfectly in our house but DO make it a priority to fuel our body with good nutrition as best and as often as we can. My little also definitely does not like eating all of the healthy things I make her.

In fact, I think I need to clarify that this picture is not the reality it may seem to be.. (happy toddler joyfully eating her whole bowl of salad)

Reality was, I gave her the bowl she asked for and then like many toddler’s, she had a moment of bio polar-ness and decided she didn’t want it anymore.

I wanted to write this post to simply share a few things that WE have done that I believe has helped my child want to eat (and even ask for) most of the healthy foods we offer in our home, most of the time. This is not an exhaustive list of all the things we have done, but I will highlight what I feel like has been the most beneficial.

I hope that it will help you encourage your kids to eat healthy too! It CAN happen!! It just may take some time, intentionality and lots of patience (especially if you didn’t start off when they were babies), but it is SO worth it for their health!!

#1: Be The Example

I cannot emphasize this one enough!! It MUST start here. Our kids are watching everything that we do, including what we are eating. How confusing would that be and unfair for us to be telling our kids to eat healthy foods when we are not even doing that ourselves. This should apply in all areas of our life, not just food. They learn by watching us. This will not only benefit the health of your child, but you as well. You will be a better parent for taking care of yourself in this way. You will have more energy, less illness, more stable moods and so much more.

#2: Ideally, Start With First Foods

Now of course some of you may have already missed that window of opportunity. That doesn’t mean you can’t still teach your kids to eat healthy, it may just take a little bit more effort, patience and intentionality. But, for those that are planning to have kids in the future or have little babies currently and wondering what to do for first foods, our family has leaned a lot on the wisdom of Sally Fallon in her book ‘The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Childcare’. We used the advice from this book to decide which foods we would introduce first to our kids and how we would continue to feed them throughout the first few years of life. We don’t do everything in this book, but definitely agree with a lot of it!

If you aren’t already pregnant, she discusses a lot about nutrition for pre-pregnancy to prepare your body for that well, as well as pregnancy and nursing moms. All of these stages are equally important in supporting a baby that will grow to thrive.

#3: Involve Them In Cooking

Kids LOVE to help in the kitchen, at least mine do! Of course it can make for a messier experience that may take twice as long, but in my experience, when Harper is involved in the cooking, she is MUCH more likely to eat the meal we made. While we are preparing the meal together, she is getting to learn about all different kinds of foods and what they look like, what color they are, and even snack on some of the ingredients.

I pay close attention to what she likes to grab and snack on while we are cooking. Often times it is a raw vegetable I never would have thought she would even like and one I don’t offer her very often, and then to my surprise, she loves it! For example, I recently discovered she loves raw bell peppers. Who would have thought?? I never would have known this if she had not been a part of helping me making dinner one night because I never think to cut up raw bell peppers as a veggie for her. I usually go with something easier like carrots. Now bell peppers are regularly cut up for an easy veggie to go with lunch most days.

It will depend on the age of course in how involved they are in cooking, but there is always little ways each different age can help.

#4: Don’t Assume They Wont Like Things

I think it is so easy to fall into the idea that kids will not like certain foods. Our culture has led us to believe there is “kid food” and then there is “adult food”. Certainly kids would not want to eat salad! Even being in the mindset of wanting to feed my child nutrient dense foods from the beginning, I always assumed she would never want to eat salad for some reason. Well, I was wrong. This goes back to the ‘Be The Example’ tip that I gave you. I typically make a side salad most days to go with my lunch and/or dinner. One afternoon, Harper pointed at my salad and asked to eat some. I thought, really? Ok, you probably won’t like it, but sure! Turns out, she finished my whole salad before I even got hardly a bite then asked for more!! All this time I had been trying to hide her greens in smoothies. Turns out, she would have just eaten her greens straight up in a salad.

From that point on, I have tried to offer her a salad every time I make myself one. She doesn’t always want it, but most of the time she does.  This example leads right into my next tip.

#5: Make A Mental Note of the Healthy Foods They Do Like

Of course your kid won’t like every healthy food that you offer them, but if you find one they do, RUN WITH IT!!! If carrots are the only vegetable your kid likes at the time, let them eat them as much as possible. One vegetable is better than none. Keep introducing new healthy foods and reintroducing old ones they didn’t like before and they may come around. We have gone through so many stages with Harper of loving certain healthy foods to then wanting nothing to do with them for periods of time. They have a mind of their own just like we do and won’t always be in the mood for certain foods.

#6 Get Sneaky/Creative

While kids can no doubt be picky, I don’t believe this is an excuse to throw in the towel and give your kids junk food and chalk it up to them just being picky. There are plenty of healthy foods out there to rotate around and find ones that they will like. Or, you may just have to get a little creative/sneaky. This again will just take some patience and intentionality.

For example, Harper went through a phase where she didn’t want to drink smoothies. This was also a phase where she wasn’t eating much of ANY vegetable, and so smoothies were my insurance that she was getting lots of good nutrition in her each day because I could hide lots of things in it she wasn’t liking at the time. At this same time, one of Harpers FAVORITE foods was yogurt, so, instead of serving her smoothies out of a cup with a straw, I would serve it in a small bowl and tell her that it was yogurt. She would devour the whole bowl and have no idea she was eating a smoothie. To her it was just a new flavor of yogurt.

When I make smoothies for Harper I typically will add the following:

  • Avocado for a good source of fat, fiber and is also loaded with potassium. Will make the smoothie nice and creamy.
  • Small handful of kale or spinach
  • Teaspoon or two of chia or flax seeds for the omega 3’s they provide as well as some added protein and more fiber
  • Some milk (we like to use almond milk)
  • Maybe a dash of raw honey (only after she was 1. Raw honey is not to be consumed for children under the age of 1)
  • 1/4-1/2 a scoop of vital proteins collagen peptides
  • 1/4-1/2 cup of a blend of frozen fruit
  • 1/2 small banana

Sometimes they may just be at a stage where they want different textures.

For example, Harper LOVED mashed avocado at one point and then all of a sudden wanted nothing to do with it. It took me awhile to figure this out, but one day I tried offering it to her in slices because she could chew a little better at this point, and she devoured the whole avocado.

We also went through a phase of her loving plain scrambled eggs to all of a sudden not wanting to touch them. I learned that if I made casseroles or egg muffins with other flavors and ingredients in them however, she would eat them. She just needed a change up. I can totally relate. I don’t like having the same thing every morning either! Keep things interesting for your kids so they are excited to eat healthy foods!

There are lots of healthy muffin and breakfast cookie recipes available now too that you can sneak in lots of healthy ingredients.

Here are a few of our favorites:

#6: Control Snacking

This one took me awhile to figure out too, but when I started limiting Harper’s snacks, she started eating SO much more at meal times. Out of routine I used to offer her a snack mid morning and then right when she would wake up from her afternoon nap but I found that she wouldn’t eat much for lunch or dinner when I did this. I decided to stop offering it to her and just wait for her to tell me if she was hungry.

If she tells me she is hungry around 10:30 or 11, I go ahead and just do an early lunch so she gets in some more nutrient dense and filling foods. If she is still hungry after lunch, then I’ll offer some of our more snacks foods. I try to do the same for dinner.

You will have to use your judgment as a parent on the extra snacking outside of meal times. Harper has a tendency to tell me she is hungry if she is bored or wanting my attention. She will tell me she is hungry literally right after she had a HUGE breakfast. We as the parents do have to teach them self control also and can’t let them just eat all of the time. Know your kid to judge this one correctly. Sometimes they really are hungry as they are growing all of the time!

#7: Don’t Always Offer A Second Option

Kids are smart. If you always offer them a less healthy option after they refuse what you made for them to eat first, they will quickly learn that if they whine or complain about it then they will eventually get the foods they want. Again, you have to be the judge on this one as the parent what will be best for your child, but I believe if a kid is hungry enough, they will eat it.

Now that Harper is old enough to reason with, if she refuses to eat something I made her, I say “Ok, that’s fine, you can be done if you aren’t hungry, but if you are still hungry, I will leave this here for you to come eat when you are ready.” More often than not, the whole plate is empty an hour or so later. However, sometimes she just chooses not to eat it, but she doesn’t get anything else. Sometimes kids really aren’t hungry when we are all sitting down to eat. I don’t think we need to force them to eat if they aren’t hungry.

#8: Offer Foods In An Intentional Order

I don’t do this as much now as I did when we were first introducing foods to Harper, but I quickly learned that if I offered Harper fruit before her veggies or source of protein, nothing else would get eaten and she would only want more fruit.  So, in order to get a well balanced meal in for her, I would offer the less sweet foods first and then offer some fruit as a dessert.

#9: Relax

At the end of the day, if your kid doesn’t like their vegetables or anything healthy for that matter, this doesn’t mean you are a bad parent. However, don’t give up! Keep trying. It is so worth it to get your kids good nutrient dense meals and snacks throughout the day! I guarantee you will notice a huge difference in their behavior, potentially sleep patterns, their immune systems and so much more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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