Will Power for a Healthy New Year!
Happy New Year!
I hope you had a joyous holiday season and enjoyed every tasty morsel that you ate! Now it's time to get your diet back on track, so here's a quick review of ways to strengthen your will-power:
Get enough sleep (7+ hours for most people)
Prevent low blood sugar by eating small snacks every few hours
Pamper yourself with non-edible treats, like bubblebaths, massage, etc.
Research shows that these things make a big difference! Give it a try and remember that the best strategy is to minimize your dependence on will-power by getting all tempting treats out of your home ASAP!
All my best for 2010!
Feed on the facts
Before you bake your favorite holiday treats this holiday season, do yourself a favor: Use the recipe calculator at http://www.caloriecounter.com/ . It's super easy and quick; simply type in your recipe and it will give you some possibly depressing, but helpful information: The calories, fat, sugar, etc. you are about to consume!
The beauty of http://www.caloriecounter.com/ is that it allows you to change your serving sizes or ingredients, so that when you are horrified by the calories in your holiday cookies, you can re-try with different serving sizes or with ingredient substitutions.
If nothing else, this information will help you slow down and savor every bite, now that you know the "cost." And, if you'd rather not eat junk this holiday season, but still want to fill your home with delicious aromas, try making soups and stews instead of cookies and cakes.
Have a good week!
This week it seems that everybody has the same question: Why am I so hungry?!
If your appetite has grown recently, here are a few common causes & solutions:
The weather. Being cold increases appetite, so bundle up and keep your favorite teas on hand.
The holidays. Holiday scents, stress and sleep deprivation can all increase appetite, so make sure to get to bed earlier, schedule some relaxation and throw out any tempting leftovers.
TV. Did you watch the football games over Thanksgiving? Next time, use Tivo and skip the ads. Watching tv commercials for snacks and restaurants makes you want to eat more. Interestingly, it also contributes to unrealistic body image issues. What a bummer to want to eat more while simultaneously wanting to be more unrealistically lean and buff!
A few "cheats". Did you have a few extra sweet, savory or salty treats for Thanksgiving? Maybe eat 'til you were stuffed? Unless you are a food-saint, probably so! Unfortunately, it only takes one of these "cheats" to increase your appetite, either because your taste buds were de-sensitized or because you stretched your stomach. If this is the case, you'll have to ride this one out and wait for your body to return to it's normal state. It's worth it--you don't want to keep your stomach in it's post-Thanksgiving stretched state.
Two other solutions are peppermint tea and red cayenne pepper. They've both been shown to reduce appetite.
If that doesn't work, just stick your tongue to a frozen pole. Just kidding! Anyone who has ever done this, as I have, knows it isn't nearly as funny as it sounds...
Have a good week,
Sugar Suppresses Immunity
As you do your best to avoid catching a cold or flu this winter, keep this in mind: For 30 minutes to 5 hours after eating sugar, your immune system is weakened and you are more likely to get ill. In fact, one study found that 100g of sugar (equivalent to 2 sodas) reduced the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by 40%.
This means that you need to avoid sugar at these times:
-at the first sign of a cough or sniffles -when exposed to sick people -when at school, on a plane, or in a crowded area -whenever you want your immune system at it's best
Jeesh--You might as well give up eating sugar all together!
Great idea. :)
Have a good week,
Healthier Holiday Fun
The average American gains 8 pounds over the holidays. Yikes! Here's our Top 10 list of holiday traditions & treats that are healthier AND more fun than pigging out. Plan NOW to include them this year!
Fill a pinata with toys, stickers and coins and let your kids go at it. (I don't have kids, so I fill it with dog toys and let the dogs tear it apart.)
Make holiday soups and stews instead of cookies.
String cranberries and popped corn to make lovely (and tasty) garland.
Go for a holiday hike, picnic or mini-golf game.
Find a fun or funny game to play during cocktail hour...one that makes it hard to eat and drink too much. Card games keep your hands busy (making it harder to eat) and you sure can't beat Twister!
Instead of making a gingerbread house (which has way too many temptations), consider making a different, non-edible craft, like a wreath or ornament.
Get in the spirit by sampling holiday teas and coffee blends. I'm told that Peet's Holiday Blend coffee is outstanding.
Want a holiday baking challenge without the sugar? Try making Turducken. That's a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey and only a brave few have ever made it.
Round up all the tempting packaged food in your kitchen and donate it to a food bank for the holidays. Businesses on Foothill Blvd. (including Diet for Health) are collecting food until Thanksgiving.
Ask for healthy holiday gifts, like spa treatments, fitness gear, gym memberships, personal training sessions, kitchen appliances and other presents that will get you healthier for the new year.
What have I missed? Please send me your ideas! Happy holiday season!
Why Every Bite Matters
As we enter the holiday season, it gets SO VERY EASY to let down your guard and eat more junky foods, even if it just a bite here and there. Here are 4 reasons to stay vigilant:
One indulgence (with sweets, for example) can start "taste bud ping pong", where you then crave salt, which makes you crave more sweets... and on and on. Research show that your brain fails to send satiety signals in this situation, so it is extremely hard to stop eating.
Even small quantities of over-flavored food (e.g. super salty, sweet, rich, etc.) can desensitize your taste buds so that your next healthy meal tastes bland and unsatisfying. Ever eaten an apple after a cookie? It tastes like nothing.
A single bad meal can raise your risk of heart attack and stroke for 5-12 hours, as the unhealthy fats course through (and potentially clog) your cardiovascular system. On the up-side, a single healthy meal can lower your risk. In fact, you can lower your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and triglycerides with a single day of eating right. Don't believe me? Get a home cholesterol/blood sugar/blood pressure kit at the pharmacy and see for yourself. It's quite motivating!
Every new eating habit begins with a single decision and is strengthened or weakened by each subsequent bite that you take. That means every bite DOES matter, because habits are the key to lifelong success. With every good choice, the next one gets easier to make.
Now that I've ruined your enjoyment of holiday treats, next week I'll send some ideas for healthy, tasty, fun alternatives. I don't want you thinking I'm the Grinch, after all. :)
Have a good week,
Peter Piper's Appetite Suppressor
Some new research suggests that red cayenne pepper helps keep you feeling full longer. One study found that folks ate fewer calories all day--without realizing it--when they added this spice to their foods. If you are watching your weight, try adding it to:
eggs & omelets chicken, fish, turkey, protein dishes soups & stews salads veggies salsas hot cocoa or anything else
Let me know if it works for you!
All my best,
Kill 3 birds with 1 onion
With school back in session, cold and flu germs travel faster than ever! Remember that you can protect yourself by eating foods rich in quercitin, like:
apples blueberries broccoli spinach lettuce onions
or...best of all:
They have 4 times the quercitin of the other foods. Raw or cooked is great, although the quercitin may be better absorbed if the food is cooked. Quercitin is an antioxidant, which means that it will also help protect you from pollution and premature aging.
Try slowly cooking red onions until they they are soft and sweet. They make great flavorings for chicken, salads, fish or all by themselves.
Have a good and healthy week!
One of the happiest bits of nutrition research to date has always been that moderate drinking prevents heart attacks. It was thought to be good for your heart in many of the same ways that exercise is good for your heart--by lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, decreasing inflammation, etc.
A recent study in the American Journal of Health Promotion (September 2009) found that moderate drinkers exercise more than non-drinkers, so THAT may be the reason for the connection between alcohol and heart health. Doh!
More research will uncover the truth, but remember that alcohol--whether good or bad for your heart--is always bad for weight loss. It increases your appetite, suppresses your metabolism, interferes with muscle recovery and about half of the calories turn directly to fat.
Besides, there are a bunch of weight-friendly things you can do for your heart: Laugh, volunteer, get a dog, meditate, do yoga, sleep more, drink tea and, of course, eat your fruits and veggies.
Sorry for the bad news!
Fabulous Forgotten Food Group
What if there was a category of foods that tasted amazing, had almost no calories and had health properties that put veggies to shame? Good news...there is!
It's herbs and spices. If you've gotten away from using these at every meal, you're missing out. Not only do they allow you to get flavor without salt, sugar and fat, but they also do great things for your health, like:
Cinnamon helps reduce blood sugar and cholesterol and can help calm your stomach.
Cayenne and Red Pepper Flakes contain compounds that prevent cancer.
Ginger has loads of benefits--it's an anti-inflammatory, circulatory stimulant and digestive aid. Being an anti-inflammatory means that it helps your health in a bunch of ways, including preventing Alzheimers, heart disease, arthritis and more.
Parsey & Basil are full of anti-oxidants and so many different nutrients that you should always eat the sprig that comes to adorn your plate.
Turmeric is the yellow spice in Indian food and appears to be the reason that Alzheimer's Disease is rare there. It is a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, which means it helps you live longer and better in a bunch of different ways. Research keeps connecting inflammation to more diseases, including inflammatory bowel, arthritis, auto-immune problems, heart disease and more.
I could go on and on about other herbs and spices, but you get the idea: They are all very potent little morsels of flavor and health!
Use them often--every chance you get--and splurge on ones that are fresh and of high quality. Hey, when you're giving up so many other sources of flavor (i.e., sugar, salt, fats, chemicals) you deserve it!
All my best, Jill
p.s. YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A GREAT COOK! Add cinnamon, cloves, allspice, etc. to your cereal or fruit or yogurt, Add dill, rosemary, cayenne pepper, etc. to your cottage cheese. Drink ginger tea or chai tea, which has a lot of spices. You don't have to cook to fit herbs and spices into your life.
Flames need Flavenoids
With the wild fires raging on, I hope this finds you safe. Once you have protected your family and your irreplacable belongings, it is time to consider your lungs. The air quality is terrible, but there are some substances in foods that help protect you from lung damage: Flavenoids.
Flavenoids are the pigments in fruits and veggies, and any plant food. Flavenoids serve as anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories and they prevent DNA damage to your cells. Make sure to get some of these throughout the day so that you will always have some "lung defenders" coursing through your body. All fruits, veggies and teas have them, but here are the very best sources for lung protection:
Apples (especially red) Strawberries Tea--Green or Black, decaf or regular Onions Beans Broccoli Brussels Sprouts
And...if you are a smoker...you need to eat loads of these foods for the rest of your life.
I know many of you have homes that are in danger. I'm sending you all my best wishes!
Surviving Summer Slump
In the past 10 years that I've been doing nutrition counseling, I've noticed something that I can't explain: I call it the Summer Slump and we're in the thick of it.
What is Summer Slump? It's a week or two where almost everyone struggles with motivation, mood and/or will-power. Of course, it's common for everyone to have times when they struggle with these things, but for some reason almost EVERYONE is struggling right now.
Why? I don't know! Maybe it's the heat, end of summer vacation, or alignment of the planets. If you have a guess, please let me know. At any rate, here's what to do about it:
Make sleep a priority. It will reduce appetite and cravings and improve energy and will-power.
Splurge on yummy summer produce. If over-eating peaches will keep you from over-eating cookies, it's well worth it!
Realize that these doldrums are normal and will pass. In the meantime, try not to do anything you regret too much.
Keep fighting your best fight! At every single meal, make the best choices that you can. Whatever the situation and whatever your will-power, DO YOUR BEST with it. Even if that means eating 6 scoops of ice cream instead of 8, it still makes a difference. Never give up. 90% of the damage happens only after you say "scr*w it."
Come on in and see us at DfH. When you least feel like it is probably when you most need to!
All my best! Hang in there!
Summer Produce & Pesticides
If you are wondering when it's worth it to pay more for organics, here's the "dirt" on how to prioritize your organic dollars:
Types of produce MOST likely to contain pesticide residue (i.e., try to get organic):
Peaches Apples Sweet bell peppers Celery Nectarines Strawberries Cherries Pears Grapes (imported) Spinach Lettuce Potatoes
Types of produce LEAST likely to contain pesticide residue (i.e., organic not a priority):
Papayas Broccoli Cabbage Kiwis Bananas Sweet Peas (frozen) Asparagus Mangoes Pineapple Sweet corn (frozen) Avocados Onions
No matter whether you can afford/find organic or not, remember it is ALWAYS a good choice to eat more produce. Most health and weight problems in America can be prevented by eating more produce and less processed food, NOT by avoiding produce out of worries about chemicals.
Have a good week!
p.s. The lists above came from the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization.
Go on the Offensive
This morning's news included a story about a lawsuit aiming to get cancer warnings on hot dog packages. It's true that processed meats increase the risk of colon cancer. That got me thinking about how a bazillion things--many unavoidable--also appear to increase cancer risk, including...
undercooked foods overcooked (charred) foods heated starches too much folic acid (added to foods, like bread, to prevent neural tube defects) not enough soy too much soy inhaling near a car, leaf-blower or any vehicle living in a city (smog) living in the country (farm chemicals) too much sunlight not enough sunlight (vitamin D deficiency) not enough intercourse (for men...prostate cancer) X-rays cell phones, maybe flying at high altitudes (atmospheric radiation) parking in underground structures common ingredients in soaps, lotions and cosmetics sleep deprivation stress NOT bearing children (although having them pretty much guarantees more sleep deprivation and stress!) plastic food containers bottled water NOT undereating
and, most of all, aging !
...ok, you get the picture. Almost everything! Life itself is cancer-inducing!! You can't possibly avoid every risk!!! Oh nooooo! What should you do?
For one thing, you can GET PROTECTED FROM THE INSIDE: Eat an anti-cancer food every few hours and you'll be giving your body what it needs to defend itself as best it can. What foods protect you?
PLANTS! Veggies, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, herbs, spices & teas. Work these foods into every meal and snack and your blood will be coursing with an army of protectors.
And, as luck would have it, those are the same foods that protect you from heart disease, diabetes, high blood sugar, obesity and premature aging. It's almost like the "magic pill" has existed all along....in nature.
So get some of these foods at EVERY MEAL and let me know if you manage to live forever.
Have a good week! Jill
p.s. I didn't mean to scare anyone with that long list of cancer-causers. Keep in mind that DRIVING is a bigger health risk than all those things put together!
Need some Novelty?
Food companies are always coming out with the next best thing, to keep consumers from getting bored with their food, but you can do much better: Find your novelty from NATURE!
Try some of these things:
Exotic Fruits Kumquats Lychees Passion fruit Papaya & lime Hybrid fruits, like pluots, apriums & papples Find more at Gelson's, Bristol Farms, Whole Foods or your famer's market
Interesting Grains Black Forbidden Rice Quinoa Wheat Berries Browse the bulk aisle at Whole Foods for many more
Wild Fish & Game Ostrich Emu Buffalo Rabbit Elk Pheasant Go to Fish King to finds all kinds of crazy seafood that you've never seen before
Extra Fancy Herbs & Spices--Don't forget these! They are as healthy as they are flavorful! Lemon grass Tarragon Dill Chives Rosemary Turmeric Cloves, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg Exotic types of cinnamon (try korintje!)
Other Fun Foods Interesting teas (Gypsy Tea company makes some doozies--try coconut rum green tea) Hemp seeds (in small quantities...because of the calories, not the relation... :) Flavored vinegars, like garlic, raspberry, fig
...And please let me know what other novel healthy treats you find!
Have a good week,
Coffee Lovers Rejoice
Good news! You can officially stop feeling guilty about your coffee habit:
Two new studies suggest that coffee can prevent, and maybe even somewhat reverse, Alzheimer's Disease. What's more, many studies show that caffeine can improve mood, alertness and energy, help prevent diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and liver cancer, decrease the risk of stroke and may help prevent skin cancer and eye damage from the sun. It also increases endurance in athletes.
But BEFORE you rush out to buy a latte & stock in Starbucks, here are some warnings about increasing your caffeine intake too quickly:
Have a good week, Jill
Hyponatremia is life-threatening
I know that many of you are working soooo very hard to exercise lots, eat right and drink your water or green tea. So listen up because this is serious:
DRINKING TOO MUCH WATER, especially when sweating and eating low sodium, CAN BE LIFE-THREATENING.
Hyponatremia is the name given to the sodium imbalance that can lead to coma and death. This is very rare, but there have been several cases recently among local folks just doing their best to lose weight. You are at a higher risk when:
--You exercise often and/or sweat a lot (which depletes sodium) --The weather is hot (you perspire more than you may realize) --You eat very few processed foods (big source of sodium) --You don't add salt to your food --You drink lots of fluids throughout the day.
There are no clear-cut symptoms of hyponatremia until it is often too late, so take a look at your sweating/drinking/salt habits and make sure they aren't too extreme. You should not be chugging water and you should not be avoiding salt altogether. The more you sweat and drink, the more salt you should consume.
Click here and here for more information on hyponatremia, along with recommendations of how much water and salt to consume.
All my best,
Kumquat with me...
Hello & Happy Sunday,
Hopefully you will go grocery shopping today to stock up on convenient, healthy foods for the week. For something novel, try kumquats:
This year's crop of kumquats is amazing--sour on the inside with sweet skins (yes, you eat the skin.) Willie Wonka himself couldn't have created a funkier taste experience. PLUS they are nature's perfect convenience food--keep 'em in your pocket all day long and pop one in your mouth whenever you get hungry. 8 of them counts as 1 serving of fruit. Enjoy!
Have a good week, Jill
Eat for 3 hours and lose weight?!
Here's an interesting finding:
In France, the average person spends over 2.5 hours per day eating and drinking.
In America, the average person spends about 0.6 hours per day eating and drinking, yet is more overweight.
No fair! What gives?!
Turns out that they just eat slower and manage to eat FEWER calories, despite spending so much MORE time eating.
How's that for simple? We just need to SLOW DOWN! Chew more, set down your fork, eat left-handed, do whatever it takes to make the pleasant experience of eating last a little longer.
Biggest Healthy Loser Update
Hello Big Losers!
I hope you are having great success with your healthy weight loss so far. We're almost half way through the challenge, so keep up the good work!
It is common for weight loss to plateau after about 3 weeks, when most of the "easy" weight has come off. To keep you seeing great results, I'll be giving a free nutrition workshop where I share the latest research on sports nutrition strategies for getting better results. All are welcome, so please come:
Sports Nutrition Tricks: How to burn more fat & build more muscle with less pain & suffering
1-2pm Sunday, June 28th Main Room of the La Canada Community Center 4469 Chevy Chase Dr. (just south of Foothill) please RSVP if you plan to attend No charge
If you can't make it, remember you can always make an appointment for a sports nutrition consultation....however that costs $225 and the workshop is free!
Hope to see you there,
Jill Brook Nutritionist & Owner Diet for Health
Sports Nutrition Tricks
Sports nutrition is so much fun--for several reasons. First, you notice the results right away (whereas weight loss is comparatively slow). Second, there are lots of simple tricks for getting much more out of your workout--in terms of burning fat, building muscle and boosting your metabolism. Third, there is always exciting, new research you can use in your own workout routine.
Come learn the tricks!
1-2pm Sunday, June 28th Main Room of the La Canada Community Center
(4469 Chevy Chase Dr., La Canada--just south of Foothill) No Charge. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.
All are welcome. Please join us!
All my best, Jill
A reason to Buy the Cow
As you may know, I'm not a fan of post-workout shakes & drinks unless you work out very intensely and can't get enough calories from food...a rare and lucky problem! But new research shows that even if you would benefit from a protein drink, there's a surprising best choice: Milk.
Yes, plain old boring nonfat milk.
In a recent study, bodybuilders drank either nonfat milk or one of several protein shakes right after their heavy workouts. Every few weeks, body fat and muscle were measured.
Surprisingly, the nonfat milk beat out all of the fancy schmancy protein drinks--both soy-based drinks and whey-based. Milk was the best in terms of both fat loss AND muscle gain!
This is just one more finding that shows Mother Nature serves us better than our own man-made creations. So quit wasting money on fancy protein drinks, unless you are lactose-intolerant AND can't get enough post-workout calories from food. In that case, a soy protein-based drink may be right for you.
Have a good week!
You may have heard that the best-selling weight loss supplement, Hydoxycut, was recently recalled because of reports of liver damage, heart damage and other problems. At least one user even died from it. This reminds us that there is, so far, no magic pill. Anything that seems too good to be true...you know the rest.
Next time you are considering buying dietary supplements of any kind, beware. Two recent studies by independent laboratories found that fewer than half of supplements contain the ingredients listed in the promised amounts. They also found that some supplements were contaminated with lead or other pollutants.
There are some very healthy and beneficial supplements out there, but there are many more questionable ones. I only trust supplements that have been third-party tested by groups without a profit motive, like a well-respected university. Only a handful of supplement companies do that, and it will cost you more, but you probably don't want to put anything in your body that hasn't been freely and honestly tested.
When the magic pill arrives, don't worry--I'll tell you! ...and then I'll joyfully eat chocolate chip cookies the rest of the day... :)
Have a good week,
La Canada's Biggest Healthy Loser Contest
Hello! Since new research is showing that people lose weight better when they bet on it, we here at DfH have teamed up with our neighbors for some fun & friendly weight-loss competition. Please join us! Here's the information:
Let's Get Healthy, La Canada! Thousands in prizes will be won by LCF's Biggest Healthy Losers.
The healthiest block in town--West Coast Boot Camp, Diet for Health, Flintridge Family Chiropractic, Perfectly Fit Pilates, Penelope's Cafe & Blush Day Spa, along with the Community Center--is sponsoring a "Biggest Loser" style weight loss competition to get everyone fit and lean for summer.
The hope is to have some fun and friendly competition while encouraging healthy weight loss and muscle gain. They emphasize healthy weight loss, because the winners will be determined not by absolute pounds dropped (which could be unhealthy, if muscle or hydration is lost), but by percent change in body composition. That means the winners are the ones who improve their body composition the most, by losing the greatest percentage of fat and/or gaining the greatest percentage of lean tissue. Diet for Health will perform the body composition analyses, using a highly accurate bio-electric impedance method of testing. West Coast Boot Camp will offer free Boot Camp participation on Mondays to all participants and Flintridge Family Chiropractic will provide free chiropractic assessments. Other prizes and incentives will be offered along the way to keep participants motivated and on-track.
Weigh-in starts Saturday, May 30th Noon - 5pm at West Coast Boot Camp. Participation costs $50 and ten winners will win thousands of dollars worth of prizes, in cash and donations by local businesses. ALL participants will win an opportunity to look, feel and Be their very best for summer. Please join us! All ages and fitness levels are welcome. For more information, contact Adrian at (888) WCBC-FIT.
The secret to self-control
Ever wonder why some people are able to resist tasty temptations better than others? Is it pure discipline? Strength of will? Genetics? Maybe partially, but get this:
Self control is largely the ability to self-distract.
Research from Stanford suggests that a person's ability to refrain from eating something tasty largely depends on whether they are able to distract themselves with a different activity.
Whoa! Think about that for a minute. Could it really be that simple?
Apparently! In their studies, they had youngsters sit in a room with a tempting treat (a marshmallow). The kids were told that if they could resist the marshmallow, they would get MORE treats later on. About 1/3 of the kids were able to resist the temptation, and it was almost always because they would do things to distract themselves--sing, jump around, use the marshmallow as a toy car, etc. Those kids that just sat there almost always caved in. Interestingly, the kids that could distract themselves in the face of temptation also went on to have higher grades, better jobs, better health and other rewards that require delaying gratification.
If you struggle with eating bad foods or eating too much, then give this a try: Instead of focusing on NOT eating, focus ON doing something else...anything else!
Let me know how it goes!
And if you want to read a much more detailed article, see "Don't! The Secret of Self-Control" in the May 18th New Yorker magazine.
Have a good week!
Don't drink your calories
One of the EASIEST ways to lose weight is to stop drinking any of your calories. Many studies show that solid food calories register with your appetite, so you naturally eat less at your next meal, without even trying. Liquid calories don't.
On average, studies show that consuming 100 extra calories...
The reason is ghrelin, the hormone that makes you want to eat. Ghrelin levels go down--and stay down--longer after solid food. Have a good week! Jill
Here's a fun finding--A recent study found that people got better weight loss results when they made a monetary bet with someone about it.
The thinking is that when your will-power is weak, your pride or thrift may still save you from eating poorly. It may also give you a fun challenge (instead of a gruelling one) and more social support. Try this for any habit you want to change. Have fun with it and let me know if it works for you!
All my best, Jill
More gain from your pain
If you make the time to exercise, here are 5 ways to get more bang for your buck:
Winning the Sugar War
The average American eats over 20 teaspoons of added sugar every day. Yikes! Everybody knows they should avoid processed sugar, but knowing isn't all that helpful... Doing it is the hard part! Here is what the latest research says about winning your war against sugar:
Fight a good fight for me! Have a good week, Jill
Stress Solutions, part 2
Last week I told you that when stress is higher, your carb intake should be lower (bummer, I know!) So here's some good news about what you should eat more of when stress abounds:
Foods rich in the calming nutrients, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids.
Magnesium-rich foods include...
Omega-3-rich foods include...
If you want the most omega 3's for the least calories, fish oil supplements are your best bet. Look for a brand that says "3rd party certified" to make sure they don't contain mercury. Some studies have shown that fish oil has such a powerful effect on mood and anxiety that some folks on anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication have been able to lower their doses after starting fish oil supplements. Wow! Hope you have a stress-free week, Jill
Stress Solution, Part 1
As you may have experienced, stress makes it harder to lose weight--not only because it can affect your appetite and will-power, but also because it can raise your blood sugar. How? Adrenaline.
Adrenaline helps prepare your body for the Fight-or-Flight Response (i.e., exercise), which includes raising your blood sugar. High blood sugar is great if you need to outrun a predator, but bad if you want your fat cells to open up and let out some energy to burn. You body doesn't know whether your stress comes from your job or a hungry tiger chasing you, so it errs on the side of survival.
What can you do about it?
Exercise more when you are stressed: Give your body the physical activity it prepared for. You'll be surprised how energized you are, with the help of your adrenaline.
Eat less carbohydrate. When your adrenaline is already raising your blood sugar, you can compensate by eating foods that don't raise your blood sugar as much, like proteins, veggies and a little healthy fat, like nuts or olive oil. You don't need to eat carbs when your blood sugar is already high from adrenaline.
Hope you don't need this week's tip. :) All my best,
The terrible economy has got me thinking about new ways to be healthier and I've been thrilled to find there are some cost-cutting measures that are great for your health and waistline. Here are my favorites:
Buy smaller apples, potatoes, zucchini, eggplant or any produce with an edible skin. The skin is the healthiest part of the food and smaller items have a higher ratio of skin to insides (remember your middle school geometry?) That means it's better to eat 2 small apples than 1 big one. The smaller produce is often cheaper, so shhhh...don't tell the grocers that it's superior.
Eat more beans and lentils. For the cost of one pound of chicken breast from Whole Foods you could eat lentils for a week! Just make sure to count one cup of them as your protein AND your starch, since they are rich in both. Serve them with lots of veggies, since they aren't quite as filling (per calorie) as animal protein.
As if the cost weren't reason enough, new research is showing that replacing animal protein with plant protein lengthens your life. That means making a big pot of lentils or beans once a week with lots of garlic, ginger, herbs or spices is your personal and super-convenient fountain of youth!
Drink tap water instead of bottled. It is at least as healthy.
Replace cold boxed cereals (expensive and highly processed) with whole grains, like oats, brown rice, bulger or any other boiled whole grain. Just compare—for the cost of 8 servings of Cheerios you get 60 servings of oatmeal!
And, of course, a few no-brainers: Eat out less, drink water instead of other beverages, and eat more slowly so that you are less likely to overeat.
Have a good week! Jill
Daylight Savings, stay light, cravings
Daylight Savings Time is early this year and that is good news for your diet:
Our body chemistry is better at storing fat later in the day, which is why it's better to eat bigger breakfasts and smaller dinners. Daylight Savings Time helps because staying awake longer and being more active after dinner helps prevent the post-dinner blood sugar rise that causes weight gain. Best bet: Eat early and get out for a walk after dinner.
Appetite and cravings increase after dark. That's why we tend to crave pizza, not veggies, at 11pm. Best bet: Minimize these dangerous dark hours by going to bed early.
Being cold makes you hungrier. Hooray for warmer weather!
So take advantage of the longer days and make me proud! :)
Have a good week,
Fight Fat & Flu
Want to minimize your risk of getting Swine Flu AND cellulite? Then eat more of these foods:
apples blueberries broccoli spinach lettuce onions
These foods are rich in quercitin, an antioxidant that reduces your risk of catching a cold or flu. Red onions are best, with 4 times the quercitin of the others. Raw or cooked is great, although the quercitin may be better absorbed if the food is cooked. Plus, all of these foods are great for weight management, since they are super-nutritious, high in fiber and low in calories.
Isn't it fun to "kill 3 birds" with 1 onion?!
Have a good week, Jill
Crash and Burn with Eating Auto-Pilot
The average football fan consumes an estimated 1200 calories while watching the Super Bowl and the numbers are similar for movie-watchers. Watching anything while eating tends to put viewers on "eating auto-pilot", and the worst part is that they probably don't even taste most of those calories. Here's why:
After the first bite of any food, your taste buds start to desensitize. That means they get used to the flavor and stop noticing it as much. By the 10th bite, you barely taste anything at all. All of your senses--touch, smell, hearing, sight, taste--do this in response to any repeated stimulus. It's just like when your eyes adjust to bright light or you put on perfume and don't notice it after 20 seconds.
This means that 90% of the pleasure of any decadent food comes in the first few bites. Savor and enjoy those bites then either quit eating or fill up on something healthy. Don't swallow any junk you aren't going to fully taste!
Have a good week,
Sordid Sweets & Salts
With Superbowl snacks soon upon us, it's time to remind you that you shouldn't mix your salty and sweet snacks. Why? Get this:
When you eat only 1 flavor at a time, your brain gets quickly satisfied, which means you choose to stop eating before too long. When you eat 2 or more complimentary flavors together (sweet & salty, bitter & sweet) your brain never gets tired of eating! One flavor enhances the experience of the other and your brain is so happily overstimulated that you won't want to stop eating until you are ready to burst!
Food producers and sellers know this and use this to boost sales. Ever wonder why all coffee houses sell sweets or why there are free salted peanuts at bars? Food companies even hide lots of unnecessary salt in sweet cereals, just to make your brain demand more. This all means that you can reduce your appetite and reach satiety sooner if you stick to one flavor at a time.
Make sure to watch out for beverage flavors too because even diet drinks, if sweet, will keep you from ever getting tired of a salty or savory meal.
...and remember that it is extra good karma for your team if you have veggies and low-fat dip as your Superbowl snack!
All my best, Jill
Many of us consider salt a nearly-free food. It has no calories and after we've sworn off sugar, flour and fat we think we deserve some flavor, right?
It turns out that excess salt is quite a killer. Just to get our attention, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has publicized these frightening factoids:
--90% of Americans have high blood pressure by the time they reach 70. --High blood pressure kills Americans at the rate of a 747 crashing daily.
Whoa! You don't want you to be on that flight, so here's what you can do: In addition to cutting sodium (to under 1500mg/day), increase potassium. The ratio of these two minerals determines your blood pressure. Most Americans eat too little potassium, which compounds the sodium problem. Here's the good news: Foods you should be eating anyway--fruits, veggies, low-fat dairy) are chock-full of potassium. It won't hurt to relax, lose weight and work up a good sweat several times per week, either.
Happy New Year!
By now you've chosen your New Year's Resolutions, so here's how to maximize your chances of sticking to them!
The most important thing is to make your resolutions very specific, realistic and measurable on a daily basis. For example, "losing 10 pounds by April" is too general and it's difficult to know if you've done your part every day. Try breaking that goal into specific behaviors that will help you accomplish it. Examples of good resolutions are:
--Eat a breakfast that contains some protein every morning --Eat a salad, with dressing on the side, once per day --Don't allow any junk food in the cupboards --Keep an honest food journal
These are good resolutions because they aren't too difficult and don't leave any room for fudging. Yet, when you do them every day, they add up to lots of results. So think about how you could break down your resolutions--whatever they are-- into specific, realistic, measurable behaviors. Do it right now and see how it motivates you to accomplish your goals each day.
Tips for new exercisers
Hello Bootcampers (and all others starting a tough workout program)!
By now you are probably tired, sore, sleep-deprived and wondering why you haven't lost any weight yet (answer: fluid retained in swollen muscles.) This may be the moment you are considering rewarding yourself with a tiny tasty cheat-treat...just a small one...nothing too terrible...maybe just a bite?
The latest research shows at least 5 reasons to tough it out and avoid having even a single cheat bite. Staying on-track 100% is worth it because:
I know how hard you are working and how much you deserve a treat - so make it a non-edible one, like a bubble bath or massage. In later weeks I'll share tips for "cheating" and getting away with it, but for now, being 100% on track will make it easier to get great results and maintain them for life. So re-read your nutrition guide and keep this message handy for any moments of weakness. Your future super-fit self will thank you.
Make me proud! All my best,
For more of Jill's tips on weight loss & nutrition, go to http://www.dietforhealth.com/ and click on "Jill's Blog."