Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Handful of Chips

To add to the theme below on snacking, here is a tidbit of information for you. We all know how easy it is to say, "I'll just have a bite," "Just a few in passing," etc when we are around unhealthy snacks.  Think about this; when you give into temptation and grab a handful of barbecue chips are you aware you just ate 150 calories?  And those are mostly empty calories that won't satisfy you and will only cause you to want more. That is why it is so important to keep healthy snacks nearby and to train yourself to pass up those unhealthy "a nibble here, a nibble there" snacks.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Snacking

When dieting or trying to eat healthier you have to consider your snacks, too. No matter how carefully you prepare your meals, if you aren't controlling your snacking you can blow the whole thing. Snacks are important. In fact a healthy snack is recommended both mid-morning and mid-afternoon. It's the content of the snack that matters. Coffee and a doughnut mid-morning is not a healthy snack. A handful of raisins and a few plain almonds or other nuts is.  A bag of chips or a candy bar and a soft drink is not a healthy mid-afternoon snack. A piece of string cheese and/or carrot sticks is. And by the way, a bottle of water is the perfect beverage choice. Mild dehydration can be mistaken for hunger! You get the picture. The point is to remind you it is everything you eat over the course of the day that matters.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Is Trail Mix a Healthy Snack?

Do you grab a bag of trail mix and think you are eating a healthy snack?  If you are on the trail, burning calories on a hike, climb, etc, trail mix might be a healthy snack for you. Otherwise, read the nutritional label. How much sugar does that little packet contain? If your trail mix is loaded with dried fruit, candies such as M&Ms, chocolate chips, yogurt covered fruit such as raisins, etc, you might be in for a shock.  Make your own trail mix using healthy ingredients or pick one that has lots of nuts, seeds, etc and less dried fruits and other items mentioned above.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lean Meat For Weight Loss

If you are trying to lose weight by starving yourself on salads, try adding a lean grilled or baked sliced chicken breast to that salad.  Lean meats are excellent diet foods. Lean white meats are excellent  because they are loaded with protein and have very little fat. Protein helps to build lean muscles and lean muscles help with weight loss by raising the metabolic rate. Some health experts say that lean chicken breast is the best weight loss food around. To bad for me, I cannot swallow chicken!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Time Dragging By? Have a Cup of Coffee!

Would you believe that coffee, even just the smell of it, can help it seem like the time is going by faster. So when you are at work, etc and the time just seems to be dragging by, get a cup of coffee.  Scientists at the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation of Chicago found that inhaling a coffee scent made time seem to zip by roughly 14% more quickly than it actually did.  According to neurologist and foundation director Alan Hirsch, M.D., "Coffee is a stimulant associated with productivity and alertness." Now there's you an excuse for a mid-afternoon cup of coffee!


Monday, January 20, 2014

More Reminders Why YOU Need to Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Health experts are constantly telling us to eat a healthy breakfast and I have written about it several times on this blog. Just in case you still aren't convinced it is the best and healthiest way to start your day, here are a few reminders:

  • Those who eat a healthy breakfast are more focused and alert throughout the day.
  • Those who eat a healthy breakfast are better able to maintain a healthy weight!
  • Those who eat a healthy breakfast are more likely to eat a healthy diet when they see how much better they feel eating a healthy breakfast.
  • Eating breakfast tells your body you are awake and it needs to come out of its nighttime hibernation mode.
These are just a few reminders, there are many more. Notice we are talking a healthy breakfast here. Coffee and a donut do not make a healthy breakfast and should not be your regular morning routine. If you want to go that route, have a "healthy" muffin with a piece of fruit rather than a donut. Healthy is quotation marks here because not all muffins are healthy. Most commercial muffins are 2 to 3 servings instead of one and are often loaded with sugar and other unhealthy carbs. Eat a regular sized muffin that is made with whole-grains and fresh fruit or berries.


Pictured are some healthy breakfast options. But remember you need protein, too. Perhaps a piece of lean ham, an egg, or low-fat, low-sugar yogurt.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Are You Eating Enough Protein?

It is very important to get enough protein in your diet. Unfortunately a lot of people who think they are eating healthy, are eating too many carbs and not enough protein. When you don't get enough protein it is easy to eat too many carbs in order to feel satisfied.  So you may ask just what is protein and why is it so important?
Protein is the structural component of every cell in the human body. Proteins function as the building blocks for bones, cartlidge, muscle, skin, blood, hormones and vitamins. During the digestive process, proteins are broken down into amino acids and nine of the amino acids are not made by the body but must be eaten. Those amino acids are called the essential amino acids and all nine of them are found together in animal products. Thus meat, eggs, and milk are excellent sources of complete protein. Some plant based foods are also sources of protein but they are not sources of the complete protein. So you can see it is important to have lean meats and dairy products included in your diet.

It is possible to combine incomplete proteins to form complete proteins but you have to know what you are doing. One way is to combine grains, barley for example, with legumes such as lentils.

If you are wondering how much protein you need, here is the recommendation. It is recommended you have 0.8 grams protein for every kilogram of body weight. That works out to 55 grams of protein per day for a 150 pound woman or 80 grams per day for a 220 pound man.

Watch your nutrition labels and be sure you are getting enough protein in your diet, especially if you are dieting.

NOTE: Protein is especially important to diabetics as proteins don't raise blood glucose levels like carbs do!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Why Get Rid of Your White Rice?

If you follow this blog at all you will know I am constantly telling you to rid your pantry of white rice. This is especially important for diabetics but should apply to everyone.  If you are wondering why, here is your answer: White rice starts out as a whole grain of rice (yes, a healthy whole grain) but it is polished until just the endosperm is left. Basically, the endosperm is an easily digestible starch bomb and that is not healthy for your body. Studies have shown that eating white rice in large quantities or often can significantly raise blood glucose levels. This can cause weight gain and may lead to diabetes and the health problems it causes. No need to avoid rice in your diet, just give up the ultra polished white rice. You can switch to brown rice in your recipes and most will never notice the difference.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Having Trouble Getting More Vegetables And Fruits Into Your Diet?

Are you one of those on the go people who is always saying you can't get enough vegetables in your diet when you are told how important veggies are? If that's you or if you just aren't very fond of vegetables, give this a try. Make yourself a promise to add a vegetable to your food at least once a day for at least 5 days a week.  Below are some suggestions to help you get more nutritional plant foods into your diet:

  • Having a plate of spaghetti? Add some steamed broccoli.
  • Opening a can of soup? Grab a handful of frozen peas or carrots and drop them in the soup before cooking.
  • Having chicken and dumplings? Add some sliced celery or chopped onion.
  • Having a sandwich? Skip the fattening mayo and add a lettuce slice or shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, thin slices of onion, bean sprouts, sliced fresh mushrooms, etc.
  • Add some fresh berries to oatmeal, cold cereal, salads, yogurts, etc.
  • Keep carrot sticks and celery sticks cleaned, cut, and ready in your refrigerator in ziptop bags or small sealable containers. Reach for these instead of candy or cookies when you need a snack.  Keep some tasty hummus on hand to use as a dip for these veggies.
You can do it and your body (and your weight, by-the-way!) will thank you by working more efficiently for you.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

INCREASE YOUR SERVINGS OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

Less than half of all Americans eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  That is not a good thing. One of the best things you can do for your health is to increase the number of servings of fruits and vegetables you eat daily.  Plants are the foundation of a healthy diet as they provide all kinds of nutrients and fibers that play a role in preventing disease.  Not only that but eating more plant foods will usually cause you to eat less higher-calorie foods.

We are not talking French fries and candied fruit here so keep that in mind.  You should be eating fresh fruits and vegetables that you cook yourself. Steaming is a wonderful way to cook veggies! If you feel you don't have time to clean, sometimes peel, etc your fresh fruits and veggies, turn to frozen foods.  There is a world of freshly frozen fruits and veggies in your grocer's freezer cases. You should, however, avoid veggies in buttery, cheesy sauces and fruits that are loaded down in sugary syrups.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

CEREAL SERVINGS

Are you one of those people who pulls a big bowl out of the cabinet and then pours it almost full of cereal leaving just enough room for some milk and (gasp!) sugar? If you are, you need to change your cereal habits. The next time you do that get out an extra bowl and a 1 cup measuring cup. Pour your cereal as you normally do. Get the measuring cup and measure what you poured into the second bowl. How much did you pour? Now look on the cereal box or bag. What is the suggested (healthy) serving size?  If you are shocked by the amount of cereal you poured, start measuring your cereal for a few days or weeks until you get used to what the serving size looks like.  And here's a hint for you, next time get a smaller bowl and the healthy serving size won't look so small in your bowl. Make it easier on yourself if you are normally pouring 3 or more servings into your bowl.  If you have been pouring 3 servings, cut it back to 2 for a few days. Slowly decrease the amount until you work yourself down to the healthy serving size.  As the old saying goes, "Rome wasn't built in a day"! Don't set yourself up for failure by trying to take too big a cut at one time.  Work your way into a healthy portion.  Did you realize that starting your day with an excessive amount of cereal servings can be as calorie laden as having a Big Mac for breakfast!


Saturday, January 11, 2014

READ THE LABEL ON YOUR "HEALTHY" CHICKEN

Be sure to read the label on the chicken you buy! Did you know that one chicken breast could use up 20% of your daily sodium limit before you add even one ingredient?  As Americans have become more and more "into eating healthy" the food industry has become more adept at taking "healthy" foods and making them unhealthy! And they do this without trying to fool us. The packaging tells us what they are doing, we just don't read it like we should. The last statistic I found was from 2011 when one-third of the fresh chicken sold in American supermarkets had been synthetically saturated with a mix of water, salt, and other additives via needle injections and high-pressure vacuum tumbling to make it more tender and juicy.  The industry labels this chicken as "enhanced".  Nothing wrong with that as long as you are aware of what you are getting.  A 4-ounce serving of this "enhanced" chicken (or other poultry) can contain as much as 440 mg of sodium before you even season it.  That's around one-fifth of the average persons daily recommended allotment of sodium. Sodium can make it hard to lose weight, be a factor in high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, etc.  So once again I am stressing to you that you read the labels on the foods you buy. Yes, even the labels on the meats and produce.
This picture is for pictorial use only. Not a recommendation for or against this particular product.

Friday, January 10, 2014

INGREDIENT LIST ON NUTRITION LABEL

Again I am using the Cracker Jack nutrition label because it provides such vivid examples.

Without looking further, answer this question to yourself. What is the main ingredient in Cracker Jack? Is it popcorn, nuts, or what?  Have you come up with your answer?  Look below to see the correct answer.

While many of you probably said popcorn, the main ingredient is actually sugar.  That's right, sugar! Toward the bottom of the nutrition labels on food is the ingredients list.  Federal regulations require the ingredients be listed in the order of the one that is most prevalent in the food product to the one least prevalent.  Look at the label below and you will see that popcorn is the third ingredient listed. The first two are sugars!  Notice that the first, second, and fifth ingredients are all sugars! If you are a diabetic or trying to lose weight it is very important to read these lists and know exactly what you are eating.

When reading the nutrition labels of foods, never stop at the calorie count. Go all the way down highlighting the calories, serving size, any values that are important to your diet ie carbs, protein, sugar, etc, and always read the ingredient list!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

MORE ON SERVING SIZE ON NUTRITION LABEL

One of the things I failed to mention on the previous post about serving size on the nutritional label of food packing is this, the serving size listed is the USDA recommended healthy portion of that particular food. Look at this portion of the nutrition information on a bag of Cracker Jack. You will note the serving size is 1/2 cup.  Let's be honest here. How many of you with a bag of Cracker Jack will eat only 1/2 cup? No one is telling you not to eat Cracker Jack (unless you are diabetic, then I am!) but remember when you go past 1/2 cup you are eating more than you should.


Train your body to be satisfied with the recommended or healthy serving size. Yes it will take time but you can do it.  Until you get your body trained, get a measuring cup, measure out the recommended serving size and remove the remainder from your sight!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ON NUTRITION LABELS!

I am always pushing you to read the nutrition labels on all the foods you eat. It is very important to know what you are putting into your body and food manufacturers have a lot of tricks to sneak unhealthy ingredients into foods to make them taste better or perhaps even to addict you to certain foods/beverages.
But what is the most important thing on those nutrition labels for you to know? Quite simply, the most important thing on the label for you to know is the serving size! Everything else is based on that knowledge. All the other numbers are per serving! You may notice 15g of sugar, for example, and think that's not bad. But is that for the whole bag, can, etc, or for 1/2 cup, 10 chips, etc? Make sure the first thing you read is the serving size and then apply that to the other numbers based on how many servings you are going to eat!

Click on picture to enlarge for easier reading. Notice this particular item list the nutritional value for only 1/6 of the recipe. If you eat half the recipe or 3/6 you would be eating 105 grams of sugar.



Monday, January 6, 2014

Tips For Purchasing Granola Bars

Granola bars have become big time snack foods and sometimes meal replacements.  If it says "Granola" on the label, most people automatically assume it is a healthy choice.  That can be true but often is not.  Here are some tips to watch out for when purchasing granola bars:

  • A whole grain, such as oats, should be the first ingredient listed on the nutrition label.
  • Choose bars that are 200 calories or less.
  • Check the sugar grams! Many granola bars are high in sugars and the manufacturers have a way of wording it so you don't think of the ingredient as sugar. That is why it is important to check the total sugar grams. Ever see the words "brown rice syrup" or "organic evaporated cane juice"? Yes, those are sugars.
  • Again, check that ingredient list. Do not buy bars that contain trans fat or hydrogenated oils.
As with all foods, I encourage you to read the nutritional label.  Then choose the healthiest options available.

NOTE: This picture is used here as a picture only.  It is not an endorsement for or against any of these bars.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

LESSEN HEARTBURN

If you suffer from occasional heartburn you might want to try these diet fixes:

  • Barbara Wendland, RD, author of Chronic Heartburn: Managing Acid Reflux and GERD Through Understanding, Diet and Lifestyle, says that keeping portions in check is a simple way for most people to lessen or avoid acid reflux.  She says that eating too much can overfill your stomach and cause discomfort, as can eating too close to bedtime. Did you know it is harder for your body to digest food when you are lying down?
  • Lawrence Taw, MD, a UCLA clinical professor, has said that some herbs can lessen heartburn and suggests drinking a cup of chamomile, ginger or licorice tea with your meal.  He went on to say that cold foods and drinks can make the muscles tighten and cause backup that leads to reflux. He suggests that those having a problem with reflux or heartburn avoid things like ice water and frozen yogurt.
  • David C. Metz, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital suggests that GERD smokers should quit smoking and those who are overweight should lose weight.  He says that over-the-counter antacids to neutralize stomach acid can help but if symptoms continue for a couple of weeks you should see your doctor.
  • The professionals say fatty foods such as fried foods, full-fat cheeses, and veggies in lots of oil should be avoided in those who have heartburn. High fat foods are digested more slowly causing the stomach to produce more acid which is the culprit.
  • The following acidic culprits should be avoided while suffering with heartburn: chocolate, peppermint, coffee, alcohol, carbonated beverages, tomato sauces, and citrus fruits and juices.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Whole Grains for Breakfast

You should always include something whole-grain, especially at breakfast, for its filling fiber.  When you eat some oats, whole-grain toast, etc, the fiber will leave you feeling fuller and less likely to snack before lunch.  If you do snack, be sure it is a healthy snack!