How to safely use your plastic water bottles

In the aftermath of the hurricane, this topic has come up again. In my household, we have twelve gallons of water stocked up in the laundry room as I type this. Normally, I don’t drink out of plastic, partly for environmental reasons and partly for health concerns. In my house, you will see only stainless steel and glass cups or bottles. To my knowledge, there is no convenient way to stock up on water in the event of an impending power outage other than the plastic options we currently have. So, if you’re like me and have lots leftover, what’s the deal?

First, a lesson on chemicals found in plastic. There are three main ones of concern. First is polycarbonate, a monomer made of bisphenol A, or BPA, which has a recycling code of “7” on the bottom of the bottle.  You’ve probably heard of it, especially if you’ve had children recently. Most all baby bottles and cups are sold with a label “BPA-free,” although the research is a big mixed on it’s safety. BPA has been linked to certain types of cancers and reproductive issues as well as increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. However, it is generally recognized as safe by most manufacturers if consumed in normal amounts (very small). Interestingly, this scientific review does give some compelling evidence of the research that there is in fact some cause for concern, stating:

“there are now over 125 published studies funded by government agencies such as the National Institutes of Health documenting that BPA has a wide range of significant effects including structural and neurochemical changes throughout the brain associated with behavioral changes, such as hyperactivity, learning deficits, increased aggression, and increased likelihood of drug dependency; abnormalities in sperm production in males and oocytes in females; disruption of hormone production and fertility in both males and females; immune disorders, increased growth rate; and early sexual maturation. Most of the small number of studies funded by government agencies that report no significant effects of BPA used one model animal (the CD-SD rat) that after being subjected to selective breeding for over 1000 generations has become extremely insensitive to any estrogenic chemical or drug.”

Luckily, you won’t see it much because of the negative view it has in the public eye (rightfully so.)

The second one is polyvinyl chloride or PVC which has a recycling code of “3.” You probably won’t see it much on the bottom of your water bottles because it’s known carcinogenic properties. A basic building block of polyvinyl chloride is chlorine (duh.) Unfortunately, chlorine production releases dioxins into the environment. This is not good. It’s used mostly to make vinyl-like plastic as a flame retardant (aka binders, shower curtains, children’s lunch-boxes, vinyl flooring, crib mattresses, yoga mats, it’s everywhere.)

Now for the third one, the one that you want to pay attention to, polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, which has a recycling code of “1.” The one has been approved globally for safe usage, including the Food and Drug Administration. There is some concern that it may leach a substance called antimony into the food or drink it is holding, which is a known carcinogen and may cause menstrual irregularities and even miscarriages in women when exposed in high levels due to occupational hazards. So far is there is no known scientific evidence supporting that exposure levels in food or drink would be high enough to cause the same issues. However, this study did find that under extreme conditions of worst case scenarios (including high temperatures), antimony does leach into water at levels higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s daily intake recommendations. I did a quick look through my pantry and found several food items with the number 1 on the bottom including honey, salad dressing, and peanut butter.

Now on to my suggestions for keeping it safe:

  1. Avoid the temptation of reusing those plastic bottles and jugs. I know they look so clean and reusable (there was only water in them after all!). But the more you use it, the more likely the chemicals in the plastic will start to leach into your drinking water. This is especially true once you start washing them in hot water (no putting them in the dishwasher!). If the bottle is marked with a “1”  or “7” on the bottom, it likely contains BPA or PET and why risk it?
  2. Don’t store them in the garage. I know, if you stocked up on a ton, it can be difficult to find a reasonable place to store it all. But in the south, it’s still pretty hot here and temperatures are rising into the 90s. Heat breaks the plastic down and that increases the risk of the chemicals leaching into the water. This holds true if you left a water bottle in your car for a bit.
  3. Aside from chemicals, don’t create a science experiment. I took a look at our water jugs and fortunately, ours have the number “2” on the bottom, which are actually pretty safe. However, I still do not plan to refill them because of the risk of bacterial growth. Now that the jug is opened and air has been allowed in, that moist environment is ideal for bacteria to start growing.  Even if you washed them, over time the water just sitting there with air exposure is going to create an environment for invisible bacteria to start growing. Don’t risk it.
  4. Consider essential oils. One main reason I drink only out of stainless steel or glass is because I add a drop or two of citrus essential oil to every glass of water I consume and because of the purity, it will degrade any plastic I add it to. For the reasons stated above, I’d prefer not to consume those chemicals! Aside from that, there are several health benefits to adding citrus to drinking water. Lemon, for example, contains three main constituents, called limonene, β-pinene, γ-terpinene, which have a positive effect on mood, the immune system, and digestion. It’s also great for cleansing the body and surfaces (ya know, in case a bacteria or germ happens to sneak into my water bottle – makes me feel better!)
  5. In summary, stock up enough water to have one gallon per person per number of expected days of no running water and recycle when you’re done to save the environment. For my family of four, we got twelve gallons for three expected days and then filled up both of our bath tubs to flush the toilets and get clean. Luckily, we didn’t need it all and will now be prepared for next time!

P.S. If you’re looking for online support with like minded moms striving to live a healthier lifestyle, you may be interested in joining my free online support group here.

Follow me for daily livestreams on Facebook

Instagram: TheOilRD

Email: contact@jillianmcmullen.com

Jillian McMullen, RDN, CSOWM, LDN

Foods that stop bloating

You know that feeling. There’s no real reason for your weight to have tipped the scale, but you can’t button your favorite pair of shorts. It’s a fat pants kinda day with a blousy blouse to cover up what you’re feeling looks bit like a pot belly. What if you could eat your way to a thinner stomach and get rid of that bloated feeling? You actually can.

First, it helps to understand why this happens. And it happens to everyone. Often women more so because of hormones. (You probably knew that though!) Pre-menopausal women often feel bloated at varying times of the month with bloating and fluid retention being two common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

Another reason may be because of dietary habits, either eating too much or too little fiber. Too much fiber, especially if the body is not used to it, can cause excess gas. Too little fiber can cause constipation. It can also happen if you eat foods that are particularly gas forming such as beans, broccoli, cabbage, dried fruit, asparagus, brussel sprouts, artichokes, onions, radishes, cauliflower and fatty or fried foods. The goal is to aim for 25-30 grams of fiber daily, I’ll talk about what that looks like since the typical American diet contains around 10 grams.

A big reason, however, is due to emotional stress. We often give too little credit to the impact that this can have on our physical health. In fact, it is estimated that 25 to 45 million people in the U.S. are affected with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and 2 in 3 of those are women. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is characterized by diarrhea alternating with constipation worsened by stress.

The last one I am going to include here is small bowel bacterial overgrowth. I talk about the importance of probiotics in my recent post here because it can definitely help combat this condition. I’ve seen this mostly in people who have had a recent gastrointestinal surgery and those taking antibiotics for prolonged periods of time.

So now for the good stuff, what foods can you eat to prevent this from happening? Because nobody has time to be feeling bloating and gross.

  • Cayenne pepper: it’s a natural laxative because it stimulates the digestive enzymes to get moving.
  • Ginger: old remedy for soothing stomach discomfort, haven’t we all had ginger ale at some point in our lives for a stomach upset? Sadly, most ginger ales don’t contain any real ginger at all. You are better off boiling and straining some fresh ginger or adding a drop of pure ginger essential oil into some tea or hot water.
  • Fennel: inhibits muscle spasms which calms down symptoms of IBS. Cook your next meal with some of the fresh herb or take 1-2 drops of the pure essential oil in a capsule.
  • Peppermint: similar to fennel, the menthol in peppermint relaxes your muscles and allows you to release any pent up gas or flatulence. Because if you are struggling with reflux, this may aggravate it because it also relaxes the sphincter at the end of the esophagus causing stomach acid to revert back up in those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD.) Make peppermint tea by adding fresh mint leaves or a drop of peppermint essential oil to a cup of hot black tea. The hot water can also help get things moving along, especially helpful for constipation. Avoid chewing peppermint gum as this can make gas worse since gum may cause you to swallow air.
  • Lemon: acts as a natural diuretic and helps if you are retaining excess fluid. Squeeze some fresh lemons or add a drop of pure lemon essential oil into your water. Avoid drinking your water out of a straw since that can cause you to swallow excess air and make bloating worse.
  • Berries: they are 85 to 95% water, making them great for reducing bloat. They are also an excellent source of soluble fiber, a type of fiber that dissolves in water and one that many of us don’t get enough of in our diets. In order to promote bowel regularity and prevent bloating, we need plenty of this along with insoluble fiber, the kind that does not dissolve in water (so think apple skin and celery.)
  • Watermelon: it’s high in water, making it a natural diuretic to remove excess fluid retention. Also great source of soluble fiber like the berries.
  • Probiotic containing foods: such as yogurt, kefir, and kombucha or add a good supplement to your daily regimen (more on that here).

I’ve given you many ideas that offer additional health properties beyond reducing bloat. That’s one of the many great things about choosing natural options for improving your health. If you are interested in learning more about the essential oil options I mentioned, feel free to reach out to me at one of the links below.

P.S. If you’re looking for online support with like minded moms striving to live a healthier lifestyle, you may be interested in joining my free online support group here.

Follow me for daily livestreams on Facebook

Instagram: TheOilRD

Email: contact@jillianmcmullen.com

Jillian McMullen, RDN, CSOWM, LDN

What’s the deal with appetite suppressants?

Let’s talk about hunger and specifically, appetite suppressants. There are quite a few on the market today – that require prescriptions and are approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).  And let’s face it, with weight loss, increased hunger often becomes a fact of life. I talk about why this is in a previous post here. You may have seen over the counter options at your local drug store. In my opinion, there are too many available that have actually gone through the necessary testing and research and have been around for a while to just blindly pick up something off a shelf that could be sawdust for all you know. Don’t do it.

As a weight loss expert, I want to assure you that I’m not against using weight loss aids for help. Not at all.  That might surprise you, but I know the physiology you’re up against when the body’s natural defense mechanisms kick in. Having said that, I’m not a doctor and this is a decision only you and your doctor can make because they aren’t appropriate for everyone. But I am writing this post because I want to give you some facts on what’s available and remove some of the stigma that’s associated with getting medical help for weight loss.

Like I said, there are several FDA-approved options on the market that all primarily do one thing – they suppress your appetite. The most widely used options are phentermine (brand name Adipex) and diethlypropion (brand name Tenuate)- both central nervous system stimulants. There is a newer one (brand name Qysmia) that combines phentermine with the anticonvulsant, topiramate, thought to lessen the occurrence of creating a tolerance as with using phentermine alone. And then there is locarserin HCL (brand name Belviq), that reduces appetite by specifically activating brain receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that triggers feelings of satiety and satisfaction.

In my opinion, they are most helpful for maintaining weight already lost and/or giving you an extra “push” once you’ve already started to succeed with weight loss and hit a plateau. That’s right, helpful for MAINTAINING lost weight, not actively LOSING weight. If you have ever successfully lost weight, you may have noticed the hardest part was actually keeping it off. One of the main reasons for this is increased hunger is caused by a natural increase in the hormone, ghrelin, which is naturally stimulated by weight loss. It’s designed to “protect” you from starvation.

Not everyone can take these medications and not everyone can tolerate their side effects – they can cause increased heart rate, restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, etc. And you can’t take them forever because eventually you will build up a tolerance and they will become less effective over time. Unfortunately for many, this can  mean weight regain long term. The biggest obstacle I have seen with patients and clients, however, is lack of insurance coverage and/or the ability to get a willing doctor to prescribe them in the first place. Although I have seen coverage improve since “Obesity” was recognized as an actual chronic disease in 2013 by the American Medical Association.

So what do you do? And what do you do if you simply aren’t comfortable with the idea? Here are some tried and true tips that I find myself repeating often:

  • Avoid allowing more than five hours between meals and/or snacks.
  • Include 30 grams of protein at each meal and 10-15 grams protein at each snack (you will most likely need to increase your breakfast protein and decrease your dinner protein). I give you ideas of what this looks like in this previous post.
  • Consume minimum 80-100 ounces water daily (closer to half your body weight (pounds) of water in ounces is preferable, but go for this minimum).
  • Include plenty of fiber at each meal – half of your plate should consist of fruits and vegetables. More fiber and water packed foods means more volume and less calories. Most people consume <10 grams of fiber daily when the recommended amount is at least 25 grams. Chances are you have a long way to go, too.

A final thought, consider natural appetite suppressants. Grapefruit, peppermint, and lemon all come to mind and are great for adding to your water for flavoring. The best part? They can be used at the start of your weight loss journey and during the weight maintenance phase long term – without worries of developing a tolerance. Effectiveness doesn’t wear off in nature.

Hopefully I’ve helped you relax a little bit on this topic if it’s something you’ve considered but were afraid to ask about or I’ve give you something to think about if you haven’t. Whatever you decide, you’ve got options!

P.S. If you’ve been looking for support, you’ve come to the right place, request to join my online support group for all things nutrition and weight loss support.

Follow me on Facebook for daily livestreams

Instagram: TheOilRD

Email: contact@jillianmcmullen.com

Jillian McMullen, CSOWM, RDN, LDN

 

You don’t have to eat 3 meals a day

There. I said it.

And I’ll admit, I used to tell people quite opposite when I was working full-time and had the schedule that was conducive to eating three squares a day. Wake up, coffee, eat on the way to work. Lunch break at 12:30pm. Go home cook dinner for the fam. Repeat.

But now I work from home and I struggle to have a schedule that repeats itself daily. And I struggle to take the ten minutes to prepare a meal even though I have more than enough time to do it now.

But life happens and meals aren’t always at the top of my list of priorities. I have a four year old who colors on the walls & floors with permanent marker, paints the tile with toothpaste, scatters cereal in places cereal shouldn’t be scattered, and pulls all of the stuffing out of pillows for fun. A ten minute meal might as well be ten minutes to my own version of the movie, “Home Alone” on steroids.

So what DO I recommend to avoid eating the kitchen pantry by dinnertime because I skipped lunch trying to tame the wild monkey that I call my four year old son? Here’s my short list:

  1. Eat something high in protein (>15 grams) every three to five hours. Go more than five hours without a food rich in protein and you’re likely going to be ready to eat a football player under the table.
  2. Eat within two hours of waking up. Breakfast really IS the most important meal of the day. Skip breakfast and the whole day is going to fall apart. So set yourself up for success and start with 30 grams of protein. Think two eggs and a greek yogurt, a three egg white omelet with cheese, a high quality protein shake (I recommend Core Power, Premier Protein, dōTERRA Trim Shake), or cottage cheese with peaches and a handful of nuts.
  3. Drink your water. I’ll never stop saying this. Preferably half of your body weight (pounds) in ounces. I give lots of advice in previous posts on how to make this work in your life.

So in summary, include lots of protein and eat every three hours. Life isn’t perfect and neither will your meals be. If you can eat three meals per day with planned snacks, by all means, please do. If not, don’t beat yourself up – relax, you’re living your Plan B life, which happens 90% of the time. And that’s still a success!

Need individual help to discover your Plan B life? Contact me today to set up an individual consult for a plan specifically designed to fit you and your lifestyle!

Follow me on Facebook for daily livestreams

Instagram: TheOilRD

Email: contact@jillianmcmullen.com

Jillian McMullen, CSOWM, RDN, LDN

So you wanna lose 50+ pounds in 2017

Are you overwhelmed already just thinking about it? I don’t doubt it. Our brains are not wired to think in one huge “mountain” like that. There is good reason children’s classes are set up in block scheduling, allowing them to change subjects every hour or so. The human mind simply does not have the capacity to focus on one thing for extended periods of time, even if it is something we love.

New Years resolutions can bring a lot of hope, though. Hope for 12 months of better decisions, financial opportunities, physical improvements, and time investments. And we often imagine 12 months of unrealistic expectations with very little planning involved. For more information on New Years resolution, see my previous post.

But I wanna talk to those of you specifically that want to lose quite a bit of weight and stick to the plan longer than January 12th this go around. Those of you that, this time next year, wanna be relishing in your success while gleefully trying on a new winter ensemble several sizes smaller than what you are wearing right now. The only resolution you have for 2018 is to get out more and maintain your fantastic weight.

So listen up, here are a few tips to start thinking about NOW. Yes, before Christmas and before January 1 rolls around. That is not the time to start deciding you are doing this for realz this time.

  1. Make a plan. What kind of cooking tools do you need? Is your kitchen in working order or have you kept Chic-fil-a in business for the past 6 months? When will you plan your meals? Do you need to find some new recipes? Do you need to join/rejoin weight watchers? Are you going to follow a diet plan or something else? Are you going to hire a dietitian or heath coach? When will you allow for your “trigger foods,” if at all? How/when do you plan to grocery shop? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Do you need a gym membership? Where? Do you need an accountability partner? Who? Do you need a new lunch box? Or just a new lunch spot? How will you reward yourself with non-food related incentives when you’ve hit milestones?
  2. Increase you water intake. Please do this NOW. Most adults are chronically dehydrated and don’t even know it because they are just used to the crappy feeling. But it’s not normal to be fatigued, excessively hungry, and/or crave sweets. All of these are signs of dehydration. How much water do you need? Half your body weight (pounds) in ounces. For example, a 200lb person will need to consume 100 ounces of water per day (there are 8 ounces in 1 cup, therefore, roughly 12 cups of water or 6 bottles). Start increasing it now so you aren’t dealing with this when you’re trying to decrease your food intake.
  3. Figure out your goal for weight loss and then break it down into smaller goals so you don’t go fleeing when it’s “go time”. I recommend 5-10 pound increments followed by a non-food reward system to celebrate. There needs to be a prize at the end of each achievement, especially for those first 10-20 pounds when the weight loss may not be all that noticeable (depending on where you’re starting from). And believe it or not, the same will happen for the last 10 pounds or so. Think of it like a new haircut. Everyone notices and showers you with compliments for a few days and then it ends. They get used to it and you don’t hear a word again as your hair continues to slowly grow back out.

If you are interested in learning more about my take on weight loss in the New Year using natural and holistic options, click here to join my FREE online class on December 29th for 48 hours only.

What’s all the fuss about water?

How are the changes going guys? I’ll be honest, I’m procrastinating on the yoga. Sorta getting ready to get ready. I have not made a real place in my schedule to get started with it. I have been thinking about ending my 6 year yoga hiatus for months now. It’s definitely time to get off my butt and do it.

Let’s talk about this. There is a famous quote, “Commitment is doing the thing you said long after the mood you said it in has left _Commitment is doing the thing you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you._ -Unknownyou.” This means choosing the salad over the french fries. Calling a friend instead of Ben & Jerry when you’ve had a rough day. Getting up at 5 in the morning and putting those running shoes on your feet instead of the covers over your head. Picking up the water bottle instead of the soda can. Without any real action steps, there won’t be any success. The concept is simple, but it isn’t always easy. We want instant gratification and making healthy choices don’t often provide that.

For example, the vast majority of people that I come in to contact with who want to improve their eating habits struggle with the seemingly simple task of drinking enough water. But did you know that the majority of adults are chronically dehydrated? If you don’t drink half of your body weight in ounces of water, chances are you are one of them. You will know it because you will have the tell-tale symptoms such as fatigue, sweet cravings, excessive hunger, headaches, constipation, dry skin, weak nails, irritability, and brittle hair. If you’ve just come to accept that this as just your normal way of feeling, it’s time to wake up and make a change!

Water is responsible for the proper functioning of every organ in our bodies. Don’t like water? That’s OK toptions. Use a cup that allows you to infuse your water with fresh fruits and vegetables. Or try crystallized citrus such as “TrueLemon”. Another option would be to use zero Tritan-plastic-cup-font-b-water-b-font-bottle-outside-sport-cqua-lemon-emperorship-fruit-cupcalorie flavorings made with stevia. My personal favorite is to add a drop or two of a pure citrus essential oil such as lime.

Keep track of it. We tend to over-estimate our good habits and underestimate our bad habits. Try labeling your water bottles with numbers so that you know hcupsow many you’ve consumed for the day. For example, if you need to drink five bottles of water a day, number them one through five. At the end of the day, you should be on number five. You can also mark the side of your cup with a dry erase or permanent marker with the times of day to indicate how much water you need to drink by what point in your day (pictured).

So if this is been a goal for you and you have just not been able to implement it, try some of these tips and most importantly come up with a realistic plan that includes something you will stick to and start taking action. I would love to hear your ideas in the comments below on how you plan to implement your personal goals in the coming weeks. Remember, make them Small, Measurable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive (SMART.)

P.S. If you’ve been looking for support, you’ve come to the right place, request to join my online support group for all things nutrition and weight loss support.

Follow me on Facebook for daily livestreams

Instagram: TheOilRD

email: contact@jillianmcmullen.com

Jillian McMullen, CSOWM, RDN, LDN