Blog Posts by Brett Blumenthal - Sheer Balance

  • 9 Ingredients to avoid in processed foods

    If you know me at all, you know that I'm an advocate for whole, unprocessed foods. However, many of us inevitably turn to packaged or processed foods when we are short on time. Maybe we grab a frozen dinner or pizza for a quick dinner for our family. Maybe we grab a quick nutrition bar to satiate our hunger until we can sit down for a real meal. Or maybe, we just don't like to cook. Whether we like it or not, packaged and processed food has become a huge part of our food industry and, as a result, a part of many of our diets.

    Although there are some brands that I hugely advocate for, there are many more that border on outright unhealthy and "scary." Many packaged foods that seem healthy often contain fillers, preservatives and other ingredients you don't want in your diet. It is always preferable to choose products that have only a handful of ingredients, all of which should be recognizable. One test to know whether an ingredient is healthy is to ask yourself whether your

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  • 3 Surprising reasons you crave sugar that have nothing to do with food

    Our bodies are naturally wired to crave sugar. Physically, our cravings come from a deep ancestral need for micro-nutrients, which are found in fruits. So, we are actually craving the nutrients that are found in fruit. The mental craving comes from the serotonin - a neurotransmitter that gives us a sense of well-being, and helps moderate our moods, sleep cycles and our appetite - which is released after we consume a sweet food.

    When we crave sugar beyond healthy levels, it can be due to a variety of factors. The most obvious and well understood reason is that we become used to a certain amount of sugar in our systems and when that amount is low, we naturally crave the sugar we aren't getting. But, our cravings can also be a result of other factors as well. The following causes have nothing to do with food, but rather, have to do with our lifestyle.

    1. Stress, Exhaustion and Sleep Deprivation: Some of us crave sugar due to adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands secrete chemicals that
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  • 5 Ways to know if you're doing the "right thing"

    Recently, I was hired to write for a sponsored campaign on a well-known media outlet. After accepting the assignment, I realized that the product attached to the campaign was not something I would normally recommend. I was torn: I risked losing the job, the money and the relationship with the media outlet if I expressed my concern, but I couldn't imagine going against my my beliefs. After deliberating over it, I realized that the most ethical thing to do was to honestly communicate my concern to the media outlet.

    Luckily, they deeply respected me and valued my sincerity and ethics, and everything worked out in the end. But more importantly, it felt good to have made the ethical decision and to see the benefit of doing so.

    Life can hand us some difficult situations which can cause us to feel torn about making a decision that is "right" versus "wrong." Further, when you are faced with a difficult situation, the right answer may not always be very popular. But, as the saying

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  • 5 Reasons you should care about childhood obesity

    If you don't have children, you may not think that childhood obesity is something to really care about. However, the epidemic is real...and eventually, children will become adults. In 2008, annual health care costs related to obesity cost our nation $147 billion. Today, 31% of Americans are considered obese and if current trends continue, the number is estimated to rise to 43 percent by 2018. What is more staggering, however, are the statistics about children.

    In a recent episode of The Healthy Living Show, I covered the realities of childhood obesity. In my interview with Dr. Joanna Dolgoff - pediatrician and author of Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right: The Food Solution That Lets Kids Be Kids, she reaffirmed that childhood obesity is a problem, but more importantly, that it will be in bigger crisis tomorrow.

    1. Exponential Increases: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 19 - which equates to over 9 million
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  • 4 Things to avoid after a spa treatment

    The other day, a friend of mine told me about a recent visit to a spa and felt his experience was life changing. He also conveyed the spa therapist's 'post-treatment' dos and don'ts, which surprisingly included no sex. Although this advice was specific to the acupuncture that he had, there are some post-treatment guidelines that can help you maximize your experience and your treatment.

    Here are four of my top "don'ts" for after your visit:

    1. Avoid Vigorous Activity: After a spa treatment, you are often very relaxed. In order to adjust out of your deep relaxation and to avoid tensing up, stay relaxed and avoid overly strenuous, rigorous or exciting activities (this may be where the 'no-sex' rule fits in). That said, you probably can partake after 12 - 24 hours.
    2. Avoid Alcohol: Spa treatments can release toxins into your blood stream and cause you to lose some water. Avoid drinking alcohol for 24 hours to avoid further dehydration and intensified toxicity in your
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  • 4 Reasons to put some magic into your protein shake

    If you have bought my book or if you have browsed some of the recipes on Sheer Balance, you'll know that I love protein shakes. You can get a whopping dose of vitamins, minerals and macronutrients in one pop…and if you are on the go, they are quick and easy to make. When I first started making protein shakes, I used a hand-blender. The idea of a traditional blender for a single serving never made sense: I didn't want it taking-up space on my counter and I didn't want to have to lug it out every time I wanted to make a shake. Yet, the hand-blender took a long time, was messy and was less than thorough. So, after watching numerous infomercials, I invested in a Magic Bullet.

    How it Works: The Magic Bullet comes with a power base, short and tall Bullet cups and two blades - a cross blade and a flat blade. To use the Bullet, you put the contents into a Bullet cup, twist on the appropriate blade and insert the cup/blade combination blade-side down into the base. To blend ingredients into

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  • 4 Steps to turn challenges into opportunities

    by Lauren Mackler for Sheer Balance

    We're living through challenging times. But inherent in nearly all challenges, are opportunities for renewal and transformation. The current economic crisis offers the chance to re-evaluate how you live your life, to be more mindful and strategic about how you spend money, and to take stock of your values and priorities. Corporate lay-offs can provide the opportunity to find a more meaningful job, transition into a new career, or pursue the dream of starting your own business.

    How you respond to crises has a lot to do with the lens through which you habitually perceive the world. If you tend to see the world through a 'gloom and doom' lens, you may be reacting to current events with feelings of fear, anxiety, or a sense of despair or powerlessness. And even if you tend to view things through the lens of optimism, you may be reacting to the constant barrage of negative media messages with milder feelings of concern and insecurity.

    Wherever you

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  • 3 Ways to tell if your food is really whole grain

    In the last few years we have seen the term "whole grains" pop-up on everything from Sugar Smacks cereal to pastas to granola bars. Every food company with marketing dollars and brand managers worth their salt has hopped on the whole grain band wagon. And with good cause: Whole-grains provide a ton of healthier benefits, including higher doses of fiber and other nutrients and a more satiating snack or meal, as compared to their more processed and refined counterparts. Food products made with refined flours, such as many breads, pastas, cereals and baked goods, deliver very little nutritional value and as a result, translate into empty calories that leave you feeling unsatisfied, causing you to want and to eat more food.

    Unfortunately, many products contain both whole grains AND refined grains. And, due to clever marketing strategies, many companies will make claims that their products are whole-grain when often they contain only a very small percentage. So, how can you be sure a

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  • Soothe knee pain and injuries

    Icing injuries is an important part of recovery and healing. Unfortunately, I've always found icing injuries or joint pain to be more of a chore than anything else. This is probably due to my makeshift leaky Ziploc bag stuffed with ice which seemingly "ices" everything but the injury, including the furniture, the cat and the skin and muscles around the injury. As I get older, however, I'm realizing that sloughing off injuries as if they will miraculously heal on their own isn't all that realistic. So icing has become part of my repertoire.

    Recently, I tried Moji Knee* - an icing and compression product in one. Here are my thoughts:

    What it is: Moji is a two-piece product which incorporates a Moji Compression Wrap and Moji Cold Cell. The Compression Wrap acts like a soft fabric knee brace that holds the Cold Cell in place so that you can effectively ice your knee without necessarily needing to sit still for the full 20 minutes. The Cold Cell can remain in the freezer until you're

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  • 9 Tips to feel confident and build self-love

    Self-confidence is one of the most important, yet most difficult attributes to cultivate for a healthy self-esteem. Whether we are burdened with painful childhood memories, unhealthy relationships where we were emotionally beat down or insecurities as a result of societal pressures, self-confidence can seem highly unattainable. I want to let you in on a secret: Having self-confidence is challenging for all of us…even for those of us who seem confident, pulled together and self-assured.

    The good news is that self-confidence can be built, and the more you do so, the more successful you'll be. Self-confidence, however, stems from several areas of life…and as a result, it is important to build it holistically:

    Get Mental. Self-confidence starts with the mind. Positive thinking begets positive results…and the kinder you are to yourself, the happier you'll be.

    1. Acknowledge Your Accomplishments: Think about your life and what you have accomplished thus far. Maybe you have
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