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Easy Ways to Cut Down on Refined Sugar

HealthAmanda Walter | Maple AlpsComment

I have a definite sweet tooth. I didn’t always have one, and actually, as much of a sweet tooth I have, I prefer savory things. I do, however, go through periods where it seems I can’t get enough sweetness into my mouth. It’s a strange thing. Or is it? After reading up about refined sugar, I found the obvious: that too much can be really detrimental to our health!




I also found that sugar can be found in many of the products we buy in the grocery store. I had no idea about that until I took a no sugar challenge, where not even trace amounts of added sugar were allowed. I was reading every single label on every single product in the grocery store and found that there is a lot of unnecessary sugar out there!




Now, I’m not against a sugary treat every now and again, but I think it is important to limit how much sugar we put into our bodies! Your mother always told you that too much of a good thing is not good. And she was right.

Easy Ways to Cut Down on Refined Sugar | www.maplealps.com




Cut down on sugary drinks

This is pretty straight forward. Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Beware of bottled juices though - some hide large amounts of sugar that are not naturally occuring. Try some of the following if you think you absolutely cannot handle plain water:


Infused water

If you can’t stand the taste of water (I personally love it), feel free to infuse it with fresh fruit, vegetables, or herbs. Not only does it spice up your water, it makes it look extra pretty too! You can easily do this by adding them to your water pitcher or glass, or even buying a fancy one that is made to infuse (check this one out from Amazon).

Herbal Tea

I love having some herbal tea in the morning or before bed. It’s hot, so it’s more comforting to drink than water, but contains zero sugar when you don’t sweeten it!




Make your own food staples

There is a lot of refined sugar hidden in a lot of staples you buy in the store, like bread and granola and even sauces in a jar. You can even find extra amounts of sugar in canned foods (like canned fruit) that are unnecessary. By making your own, or cutting your own, you can avoid these ingredients and choose exactly what goes into your food.


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Cut Out Sugary Desserts

Many desserts are just calorie dense and provide few nutrients. If you need something sweet after you eat, try to have a bit of fruit or splurge and have a small piece of dark chocolate.



Eat full, whole-food meals

By eating full, whole-food meals, you can generally reduce the temptation to snack in between. Especially the sweet kind. Personally, my parents never really allowed me to eat between meals growing up, so this isn’t hard for me, but I know it can be a challenge.



Replace Sugary Condiments

Many condiments such as ketchup and BBQ sauce are filled with sugar. One tablespoon of ketchup, for example, may have up to 4 grams of sugar in it! Use some low sugar options to substitute for condiments. There are plenty of options, including different fresh or dried herbs and spices and homemade sauces.



Beware of Processed Snacks

Watch out for foods that are marketed as healthy. Things such as granola bars and protein bars and dried fruit can contain large amounts of sugar - sometimes even more than a chocolate bar. You can make your own trail mixes that don’t contain extra sugar, or make your own crackers to add to soups!



Read Labels

Did you know there are at least 56 names for sugar?! Check your labels for sneaky sugars hiding out in the ingredients list. Watch for anything ending in “-ose.” Here are some common names you should look out for: High-fructose corn syrup, Cane sugar or juice, Maltose, Dextrose, Invert sugar, Rice syrup, and Molasses Caramel.




 

Easy & Creative Ways to Stay Hydrated

HealthAmanda Walter | Maple Alps3 Comments

During the school year, it’s surprisingly a little easier for me to be intentional about making sure I stay hydrated. My water bottle comes with me every day, and kiddos love to be selected to get me a refill - they get a break, and I get fresh water. It’s important that I make routines when it comes to staying hydrated.

Water is so important for our bodies! It makes up over half of our bodies and is necessary for them to function! It’s been told that one should drink 8-10 glasses of water a day - and more if you exercise or sweat a lot (read: HOT WEATHER). A good indicator of if you are drinking enough water is by looking in the toilet. Yup. It shouldn’t be crazy yellow. When you drink enough water, your body will thank you. You will feel less fatigued and stressed and your body systems, like digestion, will work the way they are supposed to.

I’ve had people tell me they don’t ever drink water and instead drink things like sports drinks and orange juice from the grocery store to stay hydrated. Yes, these things contain a percentage of water, however, they also contain ingredients that are not so good for our bodies such as sugars and dyes! There are much better ways to get your water - even if you don’t particularly like drinking it. Let’s look at some creative ways to get more water

This post contains affiliate links.

Easy Ways to Stay Hydrated | www.maplealps.com
 

Herbal Tea

Start your day out with some hot herbal tea to get your digestion going. Your body will thank you. Avoid sweetening tea with refined sugars - it’s always best to brew your own and avoid the bottled type that does include those as well as artificial preservatives. I like to brew herbal tea every morning to take to work and I’ll usually have some in the evening as I’m winding down for the night as well.

 

Infused Water

Liven up your water by adding fruits and vegetables to it! Infused water tastes great, looks great, and makes you feel fancy. Everyone could use a little more fancy in their lives. There are so many combinations and flavours you can have. I like a simple plain lemon infusion, but ginger peach is also a favourite!

 
Easy Ways to Stay Hydrated | www.maplealps.com

 

Smoothies

Switch out your nut or soy milk for water or coconut water to get that extra boost of water! If you miss the creamy smoothie feel, add avocado or frozen bananas to it! Nut butters are great to add as well to thicken it up. Think whole foods!

 

Water Tracker or Set a Timer

Keep motivated by tracking your water intake. You could do this in your planner or keep count of how many times you fill your water bottle. If you keep forgetting to drink, try setting a timer to remind yourself!

 

Carry a Water Bottle

Speaking of water bottles, keep one on you! If pretty water bottles motivate you, then by all means, get a pretty one (I like the glass ones best). But just keeping a refillable water bottle with you at all times will remind you to drink! Just try not to get into the trap of buying water bottles that you never use!

 

What are some ways you intentionally enjoy your water?


 

Some of my favourite hydration tools:

 

Dealing With Stress

Ask Amanda, Blog, HealthAmanda Walter | Maple Alps9 Comments
Ask Amanda: Dealing with Stress | www.maplealps.com

 

Question: What are your best stress-coping methods?

 

This is a really great question! Sometimes I feel as if I have so much stress that I’m drowning. Other times, I feel like I can conquer the world. I find that dealing with stress is best done by preventing it as much as possible. Of course, this is not always possible - life likes to throw unsuspected curve balls every once in a while. I suppose the easiest way to answer this question is to share some of the things that I utilize to both prevent and manage stress.

 

 

Keep a planner

Writing down my tasks and goals and prioritizing them helps me keep on track. I am able to focus on things that keep me productive and I waste less time when I know what I need to be doing. When I find myself wasting time, I get discouraged and have a hard time picking myself up from it, so this is a nice preventative way of dealing with some stressful things.

 

 

Journal

Oh, the amount of filled journals I have is amazing. I write in them significantly less than I used to, but I do journal regularly. Sometimes I’ll just get my thoughts out till I can think straight again. Other times I’ll write prayers or letters to God. I do have one rule in my journals though: I never write anything bad about anyone. My journals will likely outlive me, and I don’t want a moment of agitation or anger on my part to ruin anyone’s reputation. Besides, I want to get over it, right? I don’t want to have to relive it every time I reread my journal - which I do on occasion.

 

 

Take time for Me

This may sound counter-productive, but when I take time to sit back and recharge, I am able to come back and face all of my tasks head-on, and with a better attitude than before. Taking a bath, or lighting some candles and chilling, taking time to read something for fun. Those are all great ways I can just remove myself temporarily from the situation. Sometimes, I just need a power nap to get my focus back on track as well.

 

 

Sing

This started from a very young age. I’ve sung to myself in so many stressful situations - from pumping myself up for interviews and other difficult situations to singing while driving on icy roads. It somehow calms me. Especially singing hymns and scripture songs that are filled with promises that remind me that God’s got me.

 

 

Give My Burdens to Jesus

How heavy a glass of water is just depends on how long you hold it. The longer you hold it, the heavier it seems. And if you’re carrying that thing for a year, we may have to call the ambulance for you. The same with our stress and burdens. Jesus tells us to come and give Him our burdens (see Matthew 28:11). His rest is a promise to us that I love to cling to.

 

 


How do YOU deal with stress?


 
 

4 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Diet Today

HealthAmanda Walter | Maple Alps12 Comments

This year, I've made some changes to my diet in an attempt to better myself as well as an elimination experiment to confirm some things for me (I'm working on a whole, detailed post about what's been going on, so be sure to look out for it). I've always grown up hearing about healthy ways to do things as it was always very emphasized at home, at school and even at church and it never occurred to me that some people may not know about some of the basic things our bodies need for optimal health (I wrote about these things here). Today, I will just share some easy food switches you can make to help reach your health goals.

4 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Diet Today | www.maplealps.com

 

Related: Spring into Health this Spring

 

Skip the sugary drinks and drink more water. Sugary drinks are delicious, don't get me wrong, but it's too easy to overlook the effects of sugar on your body. Skip the addictive substance, and drink water - our bodies need it anyway! I also really enjoy unsweetened herbal teas. The bottom line is that since our bodies are made up of over 70% water, it is absolutely necessary we drink it. It supports our systems and flushes it out. 

 

Add vegetables to your meals. Your mama was right - veggies help you grow strong! Eat your vegetables! Add a side of broccoli or opt for a side salad (or make it your main course!). You can start small, but add more vegetables to your diet. The best kind are the ones that are fresh and in season. Fresh, nourishing food is essential! I love meals that are full of vegetables!

 

Choose fruit over cookies. Again, the side effects that come with sugary treats will harm you more than do you good. Choosing fruit when you have a sweet craving is a better choice that fatty desserts. Again, with the summer close, in-season fruit is becoming more readily available!

 
It’s not hard to clean up your diet! Here are some easy tips you can start using today!
 

Pick steamed or raw over fried. I know, I know. Fried foods are so delicious - but they are really not good for you. Because of the added calories and health risks involved with commercially fried foods, it is best to avoid consuming them (or avoid when possible). If you must have fried, try oven frying or air frying at home for crispy food, but with less oil and the calories that come with it.

 

Make your own meals. I know it's fun to eat out, but save your wallet and your bodies by making your own food. When you cook or prepare your meals yourself, you have total control over what goes onto your plate. On top of that, it is also much cheaper to buy your own groceries

 

Related: Eating Cleaner on a Budget

4 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Diet Today | www.maplealps.com

Listen to your body. For me, when I eat dairy or other heavily processed foods, I'm noticeably more lethargic. Then again, I likely would not have even noticed had I not decided to cut it out. When I am intentional about drinking enough water and eating fresh foods and avoiding "empty calories" (calories that add no nutritional value), I feel my best - energetic and ready to go. Listen to your body - it speaks louder than you might imagine!

 

What are some ways you make healthy switches?


 
4 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Diet Today | www.maplealps.com
 

Five FREE Apps I Use to Track My Health

HealthAmanda Walter | Maple Alps16 Comments

Ever since I got my first smartphone, I have tried to use it for as many things as possible. There are a few things I tried and failed (like the calendars and such - I’m truly a paper girl!), but one thing that really helped me was health tracking apps. After coming back a good 20 pounds heavier from Europe, using my phone made it easy to keep track of my diet and exercise and keep myself accountable. It became almost a game to make sure I was logging in and tracking - and I tell you - the results came! Today I wanted to share with you some of the apps that I tried, those I loved, and those I didn’t love as much. And no, no one is paying me to say all these things. I just wanted to share some of the tools I use/have used to be intentional about my health.

Five FREE Apps to Track Health! Great! | www.maplealps.com

 

My Fitness Pal

My Fitness Pal was my best friend for a few years! By keeping track of what I ate, how much I exercised, and setting goals (and keeping them), I was able to lose 20 pounds easily. Now, I am able to maintain my weight. It’s not some magical tool that makes you do that - you do have to input everything you eat. It’s basically a food log, but instead of writing everything down in a notebook, you can carry it on your phone. If you eat something out of a package, it’s easy to scan it, and if you make a recipe, you can input that too! You can even copy and paste meals to make it simple. I have recently stopped using it as much, but I still recommend it to others (and I hear back from them with happy results).

Verdict: Great if you have the time to input your data every day, but I’ve moved on.

 

Runtastic

I have used Runtastic for a long time too! I love it for tracking all of my walks and runs and other exercises and keeps me motivated. It shows lifetime kilometers or miles every time you log in, which is fun, and connects to My Fitness Pal so you can seamlessly add your exercise. I now use Runtastic Pro (that I got for free during a promotion a few years back) and I love how it tells you every time you’ve hit a km. It keeps me on track when I’m doing long runs - and it helps me pace when I do races.

Verdict: I still love and use this app after years of use!

 

GLOW

I know there is a lot of controversy about cycle tracking apps and how they do not work. I switched to GLOW almost a year ago from another app that I had been using, and I am pretty impressed. You can track everything from your Basal Body Temperature (BBT) to your moods. Patterns are then created and you can look back and see when you’re more likely to have different symptoms. It also predicts (quite accurately!) your upcoming periods - which helps with planning certain things like trips and activities. It’s not as accurate as the tracker I used last, but I still like it more.

Verdict: Love how simple it is to log information and the accuracy of the predictions! I’ll keep using this.

 

Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen

This is a fun, streamlined, and creative way to keep track of your fruit, veggie, and legume intake. Each time you have a serving, you can easily add it to the app so you can see how you are doing on that given day. The only downside to this app is that you can’t keep your information from day-to-day to look back at your progress. Instead, it resets every day so you can add your new information. It’s still a cool way to see what you’ve eaten every day and gauge the areas you need to improve in.

Verdict: I love the concept and simplicity for logging necessary food groups as opposed to actual meals and calories (and prefer this actually). If they would change it so you can see how you did in the past, I would love it more.

 

Fitbit

Now that I have jumped on the Fitbit wagon (my husband got me one for my birthday!), I now use the Fitbit app. It’s fun to keep track of my steps and be reminded to move on days I have off. The Fitbit itself tracks your steps, distance and even sleep, to name a few features (depending on the model you get). But I’m talking about the app. You can add your water and food and create and achieve goals and set alarms and reminders to assist with that. It also links to My Fitness Pal, which is an added bonus (but I’ve since replaced My Fitness Pal with this app because it pretty much does the same thing, and I like to simplify my life as much as possible instead of using 500 apps when I could use 3). The best part is the community of other people with Fitbit devices. You can challenge and encourage each other, which is a lot of fun.

Verdict: I would say this app is a win. Easy and fun to use.

 


What apps do you use to track your health? Any of these?