The holiday season is a tough time to be watching your sweet tooth. With holiday parties, office snacks and candy and chocolates around every corner, it can be tough to stay in control.
But there are good reasons to watch your sugar intake — right now and all year long. This Saturday at 1 pm, Farmgirlfit member and nutrition coach Donell Barlow will host a workshop called “Sugar Blues”at Farmgirlfit. We checked in with Donell to hear a little bit about why sugar is important to watch in your diet, and some of her secrets to being such a dynamo in the gym.
FARMGIRLSTRONG (“FGS”): First, tell us a little about yourself and how you became interested in nutrition and health coaching.
DONELL BARLOW (“DB”): I became interested in nutrition because I had lots of stomach problems as a teen, I tried to seek help from professionals who did all types of invasive tests and I never got any good answers. They just said I had IBS. I became fed up and started reading nutrition books then began eliminating certain foods from my diet. I discovered I had a lot of food allergies, I was never tested or asked about the foods I was eating when I met with the professionals. I had a huge “a-ha!” moment. From then on I was hooked. I wanted to help others who had my issues and soak up as much nutrition information as I could.
FGS: Tell us more about your nutrition training.
DB: I am studying at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. They are the world’s largest nutrition school and have been around for more than 20 years. It is also holistic, which was very important factor for me. I choose this school because they teach you over 100 dietary theories as well as overall health and wellness. They talk about primary foods like relationships, career, spirituality and physical activity — if these are out of balance then nutrition will also suffer. We believe in biodiversity that there is not one diet for everyone, we are all different and require our own unique nutrition needs. I am constantly learning about conflicting diets so I gain a lot of perspective on all ways of eating, whether I agree with them or not.
When I graduate in May I will be a certified Health Coach. I have completed over 6 months of training and am able to take clients as of last month. A health coach not only focuses on nutrition but overall health and wellness. We do not reprimand clients for any reason but do hold them accountable. I can teach them how to cook nutritious food and take them grocery shopping. We talk about meditation and ways to ground yourself. My goal is to lead them on a path of overall health and balance for the rest of their lives.
FGS: What will your class cover at Farmgirlfit cover on Saturday?
DB: My class will cover how sugar directly affects all aspects of your body such as emotional, physical, and mental aspects. It will also cover the long term side effects and the hidden dangers of artificial sugars. I will touch on how to read labels and understand them for what they really mean. I will also give attendees tips on resisting sugar cravings and ways to make good choices if they are going to consume any sugar.
FGS: How does this go hand-in-hand with the workouts of Farmgirlfit?
DB: Eliminating or consuming less sugar will help with the workouts because sugar causes inflammation in the body and depletes the minerals in body to digest sugar. It is hard to workout at your best if you have constant low blood sugar or have any of these other issues occurring. I also have other suggestions that will give people more energy for their workouts.
FGS: Are there just a few basic nutritional guidelines you can share?
DB: Basic guidelines I have for everyone are to avoid processed foods and read labels. Add more veggies especially dark leafy greens to your diet, drink water, get quality sleep and exercise. I am a vegan and it works great for me, it has taken a decade to fine tune what my body needs. This diet works well for my blood type and my body composition but it is not ideal for everyone.
FGS: In terms of your own nutritional health, do you have any secrets you can share? What’s your go-to post-workout meal?
DB: Green smoothies are a superfood for me: they contain veggies, wheatgrass, bee pollen and some fruit. I get a ton of energy from these drinks. When I was training for my marathon and had to do really long runs I would eat an organic brown rice cake with almond butter. It gave me good complex carbs with protein and little fat. I never got an upset stomach and it would fuel me for hours. I do eat small meals throughout the day to keep my energy level balanced and stable.