Many people are searching for a new diet or the latest fad to lose weight, feel healthier and increase energy. Eighty percent of how your body looks is based on nutrition. You can work out all you want but until you change your eating habits you will not see optimal results. Clean eating is a healthy approach to nutrition and food. It can improve your energy levels, weight, and overall health. You can actually eat more than you did before by choosing better food options.

There are six principles of clean eating.

  1. Choosing whole, natural foods
  2. Eliminating processed foods
  3. Choosing unrefined over refined foods
  4. Including protein, carbohydrates and fat in each meal
  5. Watching out for fat, salt, and sugar intake
  6. Eating 5‐6 small meals throughout the day

Clean Foods vs Processed Foods

The idea of clean eating involves eating whole foods that are rich in nutrients. You’ll want to stay away from processed foods as they contain high levels of salt, sugar, and fat. All of these components essentially increase your risk of health problems. Refined foods have been processed or altered so they are no longer in their natural state. This results in a loss of beneficial nutrients and fibers. Refined foods are easy to indulge in and can leave you feeling unsatisfied. They may consist of white flour, white rice, pastries, sodas, sweets and breakfast cereals with added sugars.

Why should you eat several small meals in a day?

Eating several small meals a day sufficient in protein, veggies, fruits, and whole grains helps to speed up your metabolism and helps your body by burning fat. Eating like this can strengthen cells, organs, and systems in our body. They help our bodies function properly and aid our immune system in fighting off illness, disease and age-related changes. When we skip meals or eat unhealthy foods, we deprive our bodies of nutrients that requires us to function and fight off health issues. Snacking throughout the day on healthy foods helps curb our appetite. It also helps to avoid overeating. Eating small meals increases our metabolism and keeps our energy at high levels all day long. It can also help to stabilize blood sugar levels. Cravings stop because you are constantly fueling your body. Undereating and skipping meals puts your body into starvation mode and you are more likely to eat unhealthy foods or overeat when you feel deprived and hungry. Your five to six meals a day should contain complex carbs and lean proteins. These macronutrients when eaten together give you a sense of fullness and satisfaction. This will help your body feel full longer.

Here are a few examples of how to eliminate all processed foods from our diet and begin a healthier lifestyle:

1. Eliminate sweets – even healthy snacks can contain high amounts of sugar. Be sure to read the nutrition label.

2. Smart snack options – reach for snacks like: unsalted nuts, popcorn, fruits, veggies, hummus, string cheese, etc.

3. Choose brown instead of white – by choosing brown rice, pasta, and bread you will absorb more vitamins, fiber, and iron which are considered disease-fighting nutrients.

Foods eaten in their complex state with fiber and nutrients gives the body healthy benefits. Some of the health benefits include a healthier heart, brain, immune system, weight loss, healthier teeth and gums as well as healthier skin. Clean eating is not considered a diet but a lifestyle change. It takes about twenty‐one days to develop a long‐lasting habit. Make this change the best habit you have made for yourself and your future. Your body will thank you for it!

Learn more about how to live a healthier lifestyle with the help of our physical therapists! Schedule an appointment today with Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy.

October can only mean one thing—the cooler temps are here and it’s pumpkin, apple, pear and squash season. We’re sharing a few of our favorite autumn inspired recipes on the blog. After all, proper nutrition is key in living a healthy and happy lifestyle.

Pumpkin Protein Balls

Pumpkin lovers rejoice—these pumpkin balls are the perfect snack—full of protein, vitamin A and just enough sweetness to curb your sweet tooth. The best part, you can whip up these Pumpkin Protein Balls in just a few minutes and all in one bowl! Try this recipe and let us know what your family thinks!


  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 scoops of vanilla protein
  • 2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • Optional: 1 tsp Truvia


Combine all dry ingredients together in a bowl. Once mixed, stir in pumpkin puree. Once completely mixed, roll into balls. Enjoy! Store extras in your fridge for healthy snacking options.

Slow Cooker Apple Sauce

Does your family love applesauce but find the store bought version has way to much added sugar? Break out your crockpot and make this simple slow cooker apple sauce. Enjoy it on a cozy fall day or use as a substitute when baking. Apples are not only a tasty treat but are also full of fiber and powerful antioxidants.


  • 9 medium apples
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg


Chop up the apples and add to the crockpot. Leave the skin on for added fiber and nutrients. Add water, cinnamon and nutmeg. Put your slow cooker on high for 2-4 hours. Once softened, you can smash if you like your applesauce chunky. If you prefer smooth, place applesauce in a blender. Enjoy and place extras in the fridge.

Oven Roasted Butternut Squash

Switch up your dinner routine with this hearty, filling and fall-inspired dish. With only 4 ingredients, it’s easy to make but packed full of flavor. Low in fat, butternut squash is loaded with fiber and is a heart-friendly choice. It also provides potassium and vitamins B6.


  • 1 butternut squash
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper – sprinkled on top
  • ¼ cup water


Preheat the oven to 375F. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Place the squash in a broiler pan and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and then sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the squash flesh down and pour the water in the bottom of the pan. Bake in the over, uncovered, for approximately 40 minutes—or until it becomes really soft. Take squash out from oven and allow to cool. You can serve as is or mash with a fork or potato masher.

Which autumn-inspired recipe will you try first? To find more healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner ideas, check out our board on Pinterest.


There is a lot of information out today about how much and what kind of sugar we should be eating. Add that to the overwhelming array of sweetening products and it’s hard to know what to choose. So, to get an idea of what’s out there and what might be best for you, let’s start with understanding…

The Basics:

Carbohydrates are an immediate source of energy for your body and provide the fuel for your muscles and organs, such as your brain. There are two basic types of carbohydrates:

  • Simple-These are mainly found in fruit juice along with processed foods and anything with added refined sugar such as soft drinks or candy. You can think of this as the ‘white’ granulated sugar that you bake with. The body can easily digest these.
  • Complex-These are found in nearly all plant-based foods and usually take longer for the body to digest. They can be found in whole-grains, fruits and vegetables.

The Role:

Carbohydrates provide the cells in your body with the energy they need for everyday, whether it be your brain functioning, your heart pumping or physical exercise.

The Amount:

Sadly to say, there is no exact magical or scientific number that I can give you. It is recommended that 40-60% of your calories per day come from carbohydrates, the more complex, with vegetables and whole grains, the better.  A few key points to consider:

  • When you eat foods that contain too many carbohydrates in one sitting the carbohydrates are then stored in the liver and muscle cells. Your body uses these when you need an extra burst of energy. But your muscles and liver can only store so much.
  • Anything left over that your body doesn’t have room for in the liver and muscles is turned into fat.
  • Once it is turned into fat, your body cannot change it back into a carbohydrate.

Problems linked to high intake of sugar:

The average American consumes about 400 calories per day from added sugars which are also known as simple sugars; soda, candy, dessert, processed food, etc. and in the medical field we are seeing the affects of this culture. It is recommended that no more than 100-150 calories per day be from added sugar, which is about 32 grams or 8 teaspoons. Problems linked to extra-added simple sugars in the diet are:

  1. Insulin Resistance
  2. Increased Caloric Intake
  3. High Blood Pressure
  4. High Triglycerides and Cholesterol
  5. Decreased intake of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber.
  6. Obesity

How will I know if I am not eating enough?

If you are not eating enough carbohydrates you will experience fatigue, muscle cramping and poor mental function; among other things. Fatigue is usually the first to set in and is seen especially when a person fasts, this can interfere with daily activities. Carbohydrates are your body’s first choice for fuel. A low carbohydrate diet may seem healthy, but if taken to the extreme it is very dangerous and can affect brain function. Remember, if you choose a low carbohydrate diet, it means LOW in carbohydrates, not NO carbohydrates.

What about calorie-free or low-calorie sweeteners?

The best choices for sweet foods are foods with complex carbohydrates, plant-based foods that contain fiber in them. Fruits.  Personally, when I bake, I would rather use the right amount of sugar and then only eat one rather than eating the entire batch, it is all about self-control. The biggest concern with artificial sweeteners is that they have not been out on the market very long for scientists to be able to study the long-term affects to your bodies. The other issue is that the studies that have been performed contain a lot of biased because the company making the product employs the scientists that study the product. With that said, here are a few low-calorie sweeteners options. I do not promote these, but they are very popular and clients deserve to be given the option.

SweetLeaf Sweetener and Truvia

Both of these products are made from the stevia herb. SweetLeaf contains only stevia and Truvia contains stevia and a sugar alcohol. These both contain zero calories and according to their websites can be used for baking. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed stevia safe in moderate amounts and is now added to many different beverage options. PepsiCo as developed its own version known as PureVia.

Whey Low

This is a blend of fructose, sucrose and lactose and completely absorbed in the body. Since the body can absorb this product it has 5 calories/teaspoon. Many repost using Whey Low and substitution in baking works well, but be sure to go their website for the ratio and the change in oven temperature. There is no statement by the FDA, and according to their website there are no side effects observed in testing performed to date.


This is a natural sugar alcohol found in a few different foods; the human body also naturally produces it during digestion. Xylitol tastes sweet like sugar, but had 40% less calories than sugar. It is absorbed slowly, which in turn does not stimulate insulin or an increase in blood sugar. The FDA deemed xylitol safe for human digestion in 1986, however, in large amounts xylitol could result in abdominal discomfort, gas and diarrhea.

Agave Nectar

Agave is produced from desert plants and is a liquid sweetener that actually contains more calories than sugar, 20 calories/teaspoon compared to 15 calories/teaspoon for sugar. However, agave is so sweet that much less is needed to reach the same sweetness as sugar. Agave is mainly used in making beverages and is considered safe for consumption in moderate amounts, but some experts state that pregnant women should use with caution because it may contain steroids that could lead to a miscarriage. The high-fructose content of agave nectar is of some concern as people believe an increased consumption of fructose is to blame for part of America’s obesity epidemic.

What about the sweeteners you see are on every restaurant table?

These sweeteners are found is a lot of foods: soda, yogurt and even some breakfast cereals. While they are FDA approved and used regularly, many people wonder about their safety. Based on research these show little or no harm when used in moderation. The FDA has a list of sugar substitutes recommended by the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association along with an acceptable daily intake (ADI).

Name Example ADI per day Additional Information
Aspartame(blue packet) Equal 1 packet for every 3 pounds of body weight Use with caution for people with phenylketonuria
Saccharin(pink packet) Sweet’N Low 1 packet for every 5 pounds of body weight Can cross the placenta during pregnancy
Sucralose(yellow packet) Splenda 1 packet for every 5 pounds of body weight Can be used for baking

These sweeteners are 160-13,000 times sweeter than sugar, which in turn means that you need to use a lot less than sugar to obtain the same sweetness and you consume a fraction of the calories than the same amount used of sugar. This does not always mean that the foods are low in calories or fat, and eating too many reduced-sugar foods can lead to actually eating more calories than necessary. Remember; don’t ever replace fruits and vegetables with these products, you will miss out on many important nutrients. According to the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer facts, there is no epidemiological study that provides clear evidence to link sugar substitutes to cancer. Typically the normal levels that adults use show no evidence for health issues.

Remember, the best sweeteners are those that are natural and are not made in a scientist’s lab. When it comes to sugar intake, if you stick to mainly complex carbohydrates, like fruits, your body will thank you.

A: Chocolate milk! That’s right. Not only does your body need stretching, food and rest to help rebuild muscle tissue, it also needs a balanced recovery drink just like mom used to make.

When: Post ride, run, swim, strength training, whatever…
Why: “The drink you loved as a kid has the ideal amount of carbohydrates and protein that tired muscles need for recovery,” says Joel Stager, Ph.D., director of the department of Kinesiology at Indiana University. Chocolate milk post exercise speeds up recovery better than sports drinks that may contain sugar and artificial flavors. Plus, regular milk is better than water or a sports drink at restoring fluid levels following a bout of exercise in the heat! Not to mention – milk contains bone-strengthening Vitamin D and Calcium.
Sipping Points: Single-serving containers are handy for tossing into a cooler for a post workout treat and for portion control.

Make exercise a family affair! Everyone benefits and great health can be fun, family time with a few small changes and a couple of great ideas.

The Importance of Staying Healthy as a Family

During the past two decades the number of children who are overweight or obese has doubled. The Economic Institute in Washington DC has estimated that as many as 8 out of 10 children under the age of 7 are overweight, and another study has shown that ½ of all Americans between 12 – 21 years old are not physically active regularly. It has been well documented that children learn behavior early in life and they pattern themselves after the adults they look up to. In order to reverse the trend over the recent times, it is up to the family as a unit to become more active and perform exercise and play activities together.

As with many noble ideas and causes, the questions become how to get started and what is the best approach.  There are a few key ingredients to remember when beginning a family exercise program.

When communicating with your kids, stay away from using the word exercise. They may tend to think of this as a chore and will be reluctant to try. Instead use fun, spirited and light terms to describe the activity.

  1. Try to make the activity outside. Kids, and adults for that matter, are spending too much time indoors with TV, videogames and computer tasks. We need to change the environment so that the kids will be able to separate the active component from the sedentary, task components of their lives.
  2. Find out what the kids like to do and involve them in the planning of the activities. Again we do not want the kids to feel like this is a chore that needs to be done, but instead we want them to look forward to this and feel like this is fun, a reward.
  3. When first beginning an exercise or activity program, consult with your family physician or pediatrician to make sure that all involved are healthy enough for the rigors of the program.

There are as many different options for your family activities as there are for kids. A few examples are:

  1. Go for walks or bike rides around the neighborhood. This will get you outdoors as well as be visible to your neighbors, thus becoming role models for others.
  2. Water activities at a local pool in the summer.
  3. Plan social outings that involve activities such as roller skating, ice skating or trips to the zoo where walking is encouraged.
  4. Play active games outdoors such as tag, capture the flag or other games that we used to play growing up. Also, organize the neighborhood to have regular game time that involves multiple kids and families.
  5. Have Olympics. Organize activities that your kids like and make them into an Olympic or Decathlon format with prizes and rewards.
  6. Have treasure hunts that make the family have to crawl, jump, climb etc to be able to find the hidden treasure.
  7. If it is raining or other poor weather teach your kids the dance moves from your day and have them show you their moves.

The most important aspect to any exercise or activity program is to make sure it is regular. Schedule time so that these activities become a daily habit. Inactive youths become inactive adults as a large percentage. The earlier we change from bad habits to good habits, the more likely we are that these will become ingrained. If you are still having difficulty with getting started, there are programs that are designed to help such as the WiL Power Challenge by Foothills Sports Medicine. This is a 3 month program designed as a weight and body measurement reduction program for youths that involves the whole family in exercise and proper nutrition.  For more information on WiL Power Challenge call 480-706-1161 extension 19.

The benefits of exercise are many and include the physical: weight loss, lowering blood pressure, preventing diabetes, as well as emotional: improved self confidence and self esteem, being more outgoing and socially active. When you factor in the increased time the family spends together and the fun you will have with one another, everyone benefits.