Are Weight-Loss Pictures Another Form of Fat-Shaming?

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A few months ago, there was a discussion circulating on twitter that weight loss transformation pictures are another form of fat-shaming. At first, I had written off the statement as trolling. However, the more I thought about it the more I could see their point. Ultimately, when one sees a post of a sad looking before picture and happy looking after picture. It could potentially be sending a message that the after body holds more value than the previous body, which for many the previous body is their goal. 

Women of all sizes deserve the right to exist with respect, self-love, and the ability to navigate life without feeling like they NEED to change themselves. While many strive to become their best self and I use this statement a lot, is your best self synonymous with your thinnest self? No, absolutely not! People should make the decision to become their best self as a personal health decision for themselves. The true value in your new phase should come from how you feel and not from how you look. Making a decision to improve your health with weight loss as a byproduct is something that should be celebrated. However, within that journey it is equally as important to celebrate the person you are at every stage, because each person is someone worthy to be proud of.

A Plant-Based Approach to Keto

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Keto originated back in the 1920s, as a treatment for children with epilepsy. Reducing carbohydrates denied the brain’s seizure activity of glucose, which reduced the amount of seizures, and the patients lost weight as a result of the treatment. Keto now has become the most popular searched trend in regards to meal planning and weight loss in 2020. It helps people shed unwanted fat by making the body burn it for energy. The most popular versions of keto are meat-based, with a spotlight on processed fatty meats like bacon. Many physicians and dieticians tell patients that keto is dangerous due to the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. Many may wonder if you can be keto and vegetarian? And the answer is yes! 

When I decided to begin keto in 2019, I had already been vegetarian for almost 10 years. I have been able to lose 55lbs and maintain weight loss for the past year. Thankfully, there are heart healthier plant-based options for those who want to try keto without eating large amounts of meat. While there is no single approach to keto, generally it calls for 5%-10% of caloric intake to come from carbohydrates, 60%-75% from fat, and 10%-20% from protein, which has been a polarizing conversation amongst medical professionals due to limited research on the long-term effects.  

A keto vegetarian plant-based meal plan can still have plenty of variety, with healthy fats like avocado, seeds, or nuts. You can also include a variety of low carbohydrate proteins such as tempeh, seitan, tofu, or soybean based vegetarian meat. The important part is ensuring that you consume enough healthy fats and proteins, while keeping carbohydrates to a minimum. A plant-based keto meal plan allows you to reap the benefits of ketosis while still being conscious of the types of fat consumed. 

Regardless of which method you decide to try, remember the best way to lose weight is gradually. Fat loss is supposed to be slow and you’ll be more likely to keep the weight off in the long run. Also as a plant-based keto vegetarian, or a ketotarian, it’s important to be open to new ideas and be creative with your meals!

Maintain, Don’t Gain for the Holidays!

This holiday season will definitely be different in many ways. Due to Covid-19, our gatherings will be smaller or just with our family inside the home this year. However, one thing that remains the same is that indulgent meals and grandiose buffets are a staple of the most wonderful time of the year. It almost provides a sense of comfort in uncertain times, which creates particular challenges to those who are on a healthy lifestyle journey. Research says that the average American gains 1-2 lbs each year during the holidays and are more likely to accumulate those extra pounds over the years. This year can be different in another way, in a way that promotes love, family and your best self by following these tips to maintaining your weight during the holidays. 

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  1. Eat before you arrive

Eat a balanced breakfast or lunch before you head to a dinner party. This will prevent you from overeating when you arrive.  

  1. Bring a Dish

Being a keto pescatarian, there aren’t always many healthy options within my meal plan to eat at a holiday party. Bringing a favorite dish, ensures there will be something healthy for you to enjoy.

  1. Move more

One of my favorite things to do at a holiday party is dance! Turning on the Electric Slide, Wobble, or Cha-Cha Slide is always a party starter even with just family. Also, playing Dance, Dance Revolution and Just Dance 2020 as an after dinner game is always a great way to burn off the dinner calories. 

  1. Curb cravings

Curb cravings for sweets by indulging in a sugar-free dessert or with fruits. This will help you avoid the extra calories of sugar-filled desserts. Also, opt for a hot drink such as coffee or tea after your meal to reduce your cravings for dessert. 

  1. Know when to stop

Lastly, the key to success in weight management during the holidays is knowing when to stop. It’s okay to eat in moderation. Make a small plate of everything to try but stop at that. Do not eat seconds. This way you can still enjoy all of your favorite foods without losing all of your weight loss progress throughout the year!

Happy Holidays & Happy Eating!

Keto Milk Substitutions : Avoiding the Sugar in Milk

If you ever assess the nutritional facts of a milk carton, you’ll notice that milk contains sugar. Whole Milk is surprisingly high in net carbs due its high amounts of lactose, which the body breaks down into simple sugars during digestion. Substituting milk for keto-friendly alternatives can help you improve your progress towards your weight loss goals. 

Here are my favorite dairy and non-dairy keto-friendly milk substitutions: 

Heavy Cream – A tablespoon of heavy cream, which totals at 1g of net carbs is a great alternative for cream in your coffee. This is a dairy product that is suitable for a ketogenic lifestyle. 

Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk – Almond milk is by far my favorite of the non-dairy nut milk substitutions. There is also milk made from soy, cashews, walnuts, and hazelnuts as well. You can find this vegan keto milk substitute at any local grocery store. Net carbs for one serving totals at approximately <1g, making it a perfect alternative for any recipe that calls for milk. 

Whether you decide to use dairy or nondairy milk, you should aim for unsweetened options to reduce your intake of added sugar. As with other ketogenic substitutions, it is vital to keep in context your overall meal plan and lifestyle to ensure your success.

photo credit by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron @shootdelicious

A Hidden Gem in the Poconos: Akwabaa The Mansion at Noble Lane Review

IMG_8233Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on hospitality-related businesses across the nation as many were forced to close their doors to ensure the safety of staff and customers. Now that the case numbers were decreasing and hotels/inn were slowly reopening their doors, I knew that I wanted to take a short socially distanced getaway during my time off. An important part of my health journey, is taking out time to take care of myself. Therefore, I decided to stay at Akwabaa The Mansion at Noble Lane, a black-owned bed and breakfast in the Poconos Mountain Region as seen on Checked Inn on OWN. I also brought along my husband, sister, and her husband. 

Prior to booking the reservation, I visited Akwabaa’s site to see its Covid-19 procedures. The site detailed the many adjustments they have made to ensure the safety of their guests. Upon arrival to the Mansion, I was immediately impressed by the beauty of the grounds. The inside of the mansion had a rustic charm that showed its age and history but with some beautiful modern updates. We were greeted by Monique Greenwood at check-in, the owner of 5 black-owned bed and breakfasts. She gave us a private tour of the Mansion, detailing its history and unique architecture. We stayed on the third floor of the Mansion in their luxury rooms. Our room had a welcome snack basket with some games, which was a pleasant surprise. 

This area of the Poconos Region is truly a gem. Our itinerary for the getaway included horseback riding at Happy Trails Stable, hiking at Prompton State Park, Boat Tour of Lake Wallenpaupack, and a picnic in the park. Every morning at the Mansion, breakfast was served at 9AM and they were able to easily accommodate me and my sister’s vegetarian dietary restriction. The food was delicious and it was comforting to be surrounded by so much black excellence. Our second day was a rainy day so we stayed at the Mansion for the full day but there was more than enough there to keep us entertained. I went to the gym in the morning and we spent the evening splashing in the indoor heated pool. We even made a few friends along the way, who happened to also be from Maryland. 

All in all, I was extremely torn between writing this review or keeping this best kept secret all to myself. I decided that it would be better to spread the word about this awesome place to stay in the Poconos area for a quiet and relaxing time. I truly appreciated how invested Monique was in every customer, how she remembered all the names, and spent time talking to us about family and values. If you ever have a chance to visit the Poconos Mountain Region, I hope you consider staying at Akwabaa the Mansion at Noble Lane.  

 

The Top 5 Hidden Sugar Offenders

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When you think of sugars, most people think of birthday cake, ice cream, and candy! Many don’t realize that carbohydrates are actually digested and broken down into sugars prior to entering the bloodstream. Eating foods high in carbohydrates is almost synonymous to foods high in sugar.

Research studies show that excess sugar increases your risk for chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Therefore reducing the amount of carbohydrates in your meals is essential to living a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, some processed foods and other seemingly healthier food options have a high sodium content, which is balanced out by adding hidden sugar. Foods you would assume are healthy are actually full of sugars in disguise, either as carbohydrates or added sugars.

Sugar reduction is a major component of the ketogenic lifestyle, which many including myself have attributed their significant weight loss to this method of eating. If you are transitioning to a low carbohydrate lifestyle, here are my top hidden sugar offenders to avoid:

1. Fruit Juices/Sports Drinks

Fruit juices and Sports Drinks are all carbohydrates with little to no fiber. One 20-ounce sports drink contains 34 grams of sugar! 100% Fruit Juices are in the same ballpark. Consider water, unsweetened tea or coffee as your main sources for hydration for expedited weight loss. 

2. Frozen Dinners

While frozen dinners are super convenient, they are not a healthy choice for reducing sugar. Preservatives like starch and corn syrup (which are made up of sugar) are added to keep these foods fresh, making the average carbohydrate level 30 grams or more. Sodium is also used as a preservative, which increases your cholesterol levels and increases your risk of high blood pressure. Thankfully some brands such as Atkins, Real Good Foods, Life/Lean Cuisine are providing low carbohydrate versions of frozen dinners. If you must have a frozen dinner, remember to check the nutrition facts to see if they are high in carbohydrates. 

3. Smoothies

When made the right way using vegetables as a base with some fruit for sweetness, smoothies can be a great healthy choice. However, most smoothie mixes that are sold in stores or juice bars are filled with added sugar. Fast food Smoothies also add liquid sweeteners to their blends. Your best way of avoiding hidden sugar smoothies is to make vegetable-based smoothies at home, using a handful of whole fresh berries.

4. Cereals/Granola

Granola Bars and Cereals are often advertised as a health food. However, they are essentially candy bars in disguise. With an ingredient list that includes dextrose, honey, fructose, sugar, and corn syrup, it is nearly impossible to find cereal or granolas that contains less than 10grams of carbohydrates per serving. Even the healthiest brands range from 20-30grams of carbohydrates. If you are craving a warm bowl of cereal, consider my Keto Porridge Recipe from my 7 Day Modified Keto Vegetarian Meal Plan

5. Ketchup/Barbecue Sauce

Ketchup contains 4 grams per tablespoon which can easily add up when placed on your food. Consider switching to yellow mustard, chipotle mayo, or any other cream based condiment to keep your carbohydrate levels low. 

Unfortunately, there are way more than 5 Hidden Sugar Offenders out there. Ultimately, the best way to avoid all hidden sugar offenders is to read nutrition facts prior to purchasing certain foods. Even if you think it’s healthy, you may be surprised by what you find!
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How to Stay Consistent with Health Goals Over the Weekend

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During the week, you’ve packed your lunch every day, ate all the meal prepped food you’ve cooked for the week for dinner, avoided fast food, and hit the gym three times. Now, it’s Friday and you feel ready to let loose! Then Monday morning comes along and you’ve realized you’ve regressed on your goals and start all over again. Sound familiar? The first few months of my lifestyle change I found that I wasn’t seeing the results I hoped for highly due to inconsistencies on the weekend. I’m not saying that there isn’t room for weekend indulgences. However, consistency especially at the beginning is essential to achieving your health goals. Here are my 5 best tips for remaining consistent with your health and wellness goals even on the weekend!

  • Wine over Mimosas

 

My favorite part about the weekend is Sunday Brunch. Just because you’ve started a new health goal doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself. Instead of bottomless mimosas, opt for glasses of dry wines instead. Orange juice is high in carbohydrates and it adds up quickly. Dry wines have approximately 5-6 carbs per glass. Splurging on a few glasses won’t do as much damage to your goals.

  • Don’t Skip Breakfast

 

When I knew I was going to eat out, I used to skip breakfast to create a calorie deficit. However, what it usually did was make me so hungry that I ate two meals worth of food at the restaurant. Eating a balanced meal according to your meal plan helps to kickstart your metabolism and helps to control your appetite throughout the day.

  • Choose Healthy Indulgences 

 

Do you crave ice cream on the weekends? Choose Carb Smart Ice Cream, add a tablespoon of peanut butter and top it with Whip Cream. Now you’ve gotten your Sundae fix without damaging your health goals.

  • Stay Active

 

Use the extra time on the weekend to do active activities outside of your usual workout routine. Some of my favorites are playing some basketball or badminton. Remember to invite your friends and family members. Sharing time with others in ways that benefit your health goals is a great way to stay consistent on the weekends.

  • Everything in Moderation

 

It’s okay to eat and enjoy your favorite foods every now and then. If you’re going to a birthday dinner, choose to eat the healthy choices for your meal but have cake for dessert if you want cake. Moderation is key.

Remember that every weekend won’t be perfect and you will have setbacks. Don’t just give up on the whole day due to one unhealthy meal. Choose a healthy option for your next meal and keep going!

Do you have trouble staying on track with health goals during the weekend? What are some of your favorite tips to stay consistent? Leave comments below!

Review: Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon

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While grocery shopping at my local Giant food, I came across this vegetarian bacon that I have never seen before in the refrigerated aisles. Morningstar brand has always been my product of choice when it comes to vegetarian foods. However, I was delighted to try something new when I discovered the Sweet Earth Hickory and Sage Benevolent Bacon.

After trying Benevolent Bacon for the first time, I was actually pleasantly surprised. The smoked taste is savory and definitely gives it a more “meat-like” taste. The downside to this bacon is that even after pan-searing it with oil, it does not crisp up as much as the Morningstar brand veggie bacon or real meat. As with all vegetarian meats, you can expect a different texture than actual meat. Products that include bacon in their name often leads to misleading expectations, especially for those who are new to vegetarianism. However, as far as taste goes the benefits outweigh the negatives.

I will likely continue to encourage the use of Morningstar Brand Stripples, as mentioned in my 7-Day Modified Keto Vegetarian Meal Plan due to its carbohydrate amounts. Stripples contain 2 grams of net carbohydrates versus Benevolent Bacon, which has 5 grams of net carbohydrates. All in all, if you’re looking to incorporate more vegan/vegetarian food options to your meals, I would highly recommend this product. Rate: 8/10

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Done with Diets: Becoming the healthiest version of you

IMG_2788Honesty moment… I do not like the word diet. I’ve actually made a conscious attempt to remove this word from my vocabulary and willingly chose not to include this term in my 7-Day Modified Keto Vegetarian Meal Plan.

People often ask me if my diet is over now that I’ve achieved weight loss. My answer to that is I’ve never really been on one in the first place. I may not have realized this at the beginning of my journey but I do now. Weight loss was just a by-product to me becoming the healthiest version of myself. I encourage weight loss if it is something you need to do to improve your health. Excess weight can cause and/or make you at risk for a number of health issues including diabetes, heart disease, and much more. However, weight loss isn’t a necessity in the journey to becoming your best self for everyone. 

It’s important to remember that health is an individualized goal. Health looks different for everyone and the journey to health will look different for everyone. Everyone can be given and practice the same health techniques but everyones body may respond to it differently because we are all unique. So my question is “What does the best version of yourself look like to you? Why?” Do you feel like you need to lose weight for societal reasons or aesthetics? Does your body feel more energized or sluggish depending on what you fuel it with? Do you need help identifying what healthy looks like to you?

Comment and let me know your thoughts. 

Also, follow my page for more information about becoming the best version of yourself through health and wellness tips. 

 

Veggie Tots: The Tater Tot Alternative

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Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day and the one meal where I willingly eat the most carbs. Therefore, finding a low carbohydrate tater tot alternative at my local Giant food store was the best thing for me since sliced bread. Green Giant’s Veggie Tots Broccoli and Cheese have now become the new addition to my daily breakfast. At 9 net carbs per serving, I can enjoy this side to my breakfast omelette and not exceed my carb limit for breakfast. These tots when pan seared in oil are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. Foods like these veggie tots make it much easier to sustain a low-carb lifestyle without giving up the indulgences you love. 

Green Giant offers other versions of the veggie tots, including broccoli, cauliflower, and sweet potato tots. The other types of tots definitely have smoother textures on the inside, especially the cauliflower tot. The broccoli and cheese version of the tots is by far my favorite out of the bunch. The addition of the cheese helps give the tot structure and texture. I would definitely recommend these tots as a healthy alternative to potato tater tots for those embarking on a low-carb lifestyle journey. Happy Eating!