Archive for January, 2011

As temperature gets colder, experts say our appetite increases – and so can our waistline.

Studies have indicated that we tend to eat more during the winter months, with the average person gaining at least one to two pounds – and those who are already overweight likely to gain a lot more. People who are affected with this tend to have lower blood levels of serotonin – not surprisingly, those carbohydrate-rich foods give us a serotonin rush, so for many people winter food cravings are a way of self-medicating – as the days get shorter the need for these ‘carbo-rich comfort foods’ increases.WHAT TO DO?

While cold winter weather may be encouraging us to eat more, experts say we don’t have to lose control of our appetite in the process. Here are 5 ways to get some winter comfort without packing on the extra pounds.

But what is about falling temperatures that urges us to eat more?

One reason is that food performs the simplest of winter functions: It helps keep us warm.

“Simply put, when outdoor temperatures drop, your body temperature drops and that is what actually sets up a longing for foods that will warm you quickly,” says Kristin Herlocker MS, RD, a nutrition expert with Diabetes Centers of America in Houston, Texas. In short she says shivering triggers a self preservation mode that sends our body a message to heat up fast! And while technically, any food – including fruits and vegetables – will boost our metabolism and help create the extra heat we crave, for most folks it’s the traditional “comfort” foods that come to mind when it’s cold.

While for some it’s the falling temperatures that set their appetite in motion, for others it’s the decrease in sunlight that increases the need to feed. The reason is a brain chemical dysfunction known as SAD or seasonal affective disorder – a type of depression that occurs in a response to a lack of sunlight. So what’s the link to an increased appetite? Moreover, experts say that the early winter sunsets combined with the cold weather means many folks simply stay indoors more this time of year – and that often means we feel isolated and, usually more hungry.

Winter often provides lots of excuses for moving less. Not only does it contain shorter days, it cuts our outdoor time by several hours –- in many locations the temperatures, as well as other weather related factors like snow and ice, make our chosen fitness activities, like walking or running, more difficult. Since exercise helps increase serotonin levels, the  lack of activity can have a direct influence on how much we eat.

If we’re eating more and working out less, there’s no place for our weight to go but up!

1. The colder the temperatures the more you need to snack . But if you make it a high protein, high fiber snack you’ll rev up your body’s heat mechanism quickly and remain warmer longer. And that means you’ll not only burn more calories, you’ll also have a less of a drive to eat more often.

2. Create Low Cal Comfort Foods – If you know that nothing take the chill off your bones like comfort food, look for ways to cut the calories and still get that warm and cozy feeling. Try a bowl of vegetable soup instead of a high fat chicken noodle, make your cocoa with non fat milk, try Mac & Cheese with no-fat cheese – be creative in finding ways to make feel-good food less fattening.

3. See The Light – Get in the SUN! Even an hour of direct sunlight a day can help elevate your disposition. Or if you definitely find yourself more hungry on dark, gloomy days talk to your doctor about light therapy.. It’s a way of using artificial light to increase serotonin levels – and reduce your appetite.

4. Exercise Your Daily Life – If you can’t go outside to do your regular workouts, find a studio that has an indoor area – or even if the weather keeps you from getting to the gym – put more activity into your daily living. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, march in place while you’re sorting the laundry or doing the dishes, or clean out the closet/basement/garage instead of curling up with your favorite DVD movies every night. The more you move the warmer you will feel and the less hungry you will be.


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Since I think that  Monday is the most appropriate time to discuss the topic of  alcohol, I couldn’t resist but to publish it on a Friday night before many of you will probably spent your weekend partying it up.

At 7 calories per gram, alcohol is the second most calorie dense nutrient behind fat.  Not only is alcohol high in calories and provide absolutely no nutritious value, but because alcohol is metabolized by the liver, the alcohol is not converted directly into body fat.  This is not as good as it may sound at first.

Tom Venuto explains it, in his book “Burn The Fat, Feed the Muscle”:

The body has no storage capacity for alcohol like it does for carbohydrates and fats. Since alcohol must be detoxified as quickly as possible, the oxidation of the alcohol takes top priority  over the oxidation of other macronutrients. So while the liver is busy metabolizing alcohol, the utilization of fats, carbohydrates, and protein has to be temporarily suppressed. The burning of   fats is suppressed the most, because it’s at the bottom of the oxidative hierarchy. Hence, the consumption of alcohol will almost completely impair the body’s use of fat for fuel.  Essentially,  alcohol puts fat metabolism on hold. It’s not your friend if you are trying to stay or become lean.  When alcohol is in your system, your body will simply convert more of the food you normally eat into body fat. Regardless of whether the calories come from food or drinks, if you consume more  calories than your body needs, the excess will be stored as body fat. Since most people usually consume their alcohol in addition to food instead of as a substitute for it, the accumulation of    body fat is usually the result”.

Not only is the above pretty depressing, but alcohol in addition depletes the body of vitamins and minerals from other foods you eat.   It is a toxin – which is why you feel like “hungover” or energy depleted the next day if you consume “too much” – it’s essentially a poison that must be detoxified by the body.  Finally, alcohol decreases natural testosterone production, which is one of the main anabolic (muscle building) hormones.  Not a good combo in other words, if getting toned and muscular is your goal.

How can one then include some alcohol while still leading a relatively healthy lifestyle? The first thing you must do, is always factor your alcohol calories into your daily intake. So while it is not ideal to trade in that healthy non-fat yogurt or your afternoon snack of hummus and celery for a big glass of Chardonnay, this is what has to happen to stay within your calorie allotment and not go into surplus.  Secondly, it’s important to stay hydrated, as alcohol is a diuretic.  Make sure to drink an extra glass of water for each alcoholic drink you consume. Limit your consumption to two drinks per sitting and don’t binge drink.

If you’re looking to create a lean physique, especially conquering the mid-section, then you will need to put the wine glass down, decline the opportunity to take shots, and refrain from the beer funneling.

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Is Organic foods better for you?

Let me start off by throwing you some simple food for thought. Animals are only as healthy as the plants that they eat and plants can only be as healthy as the soil they grow in. Humans are only as healthy as the plants and animals they eat, so when you eat a plant covered in pesticides and a chicken that has been reared in two-feet of space on nutrient-free food; one can only assume you are eating not so well.

Definition of organic:

A food can only be described as being 100% organic if it has grown naturally, i.e. with no  fungicides, chemical-based fertilizers, herbicides or toxic pesticides. Organic meat comes    solely from animals that have been free to live outdoors and fed only on organic foods.

But I thought the pesticides in farming were safe?

Why? Because the companies looking to make as much money as possible from selling spinach that

has been grown cheaply via conventional farming methods tell you the levels of poison that they use is safe? There are many varieties of pesticides and they all destroy your body in different ways: some seek to kill your hormone system

while othersfocus on your nervous system.  Many chemicals in conventional farming are used to ensure that insects can no longer reproduce and while many of you may be thinking that sounds great as insects are not welcomed visitors in your lettuce anyway; it also means you are then consuming the exact same chemicals that too many people assume are a ‘safe dose’ because the money-fuelled companies selling the lettuce tell you so!

What does conventional farming actually mean to my health?

In conventional farming, soil is filled with chemical fertilizers and dangerous pesticides that are used to grow nutrient-deficient and chemical-packed plants.

A few tips to keep in mind next time you go grocery shopping….

  • Only eat foods that go off and rot (with the odd exception such as honey)
  • Avoid the center of the supermarket. Fresh foods will regularly be replaced and therefore will be found on the outskirts of the shops.
  • If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, chances are it’s useless to your body!

Robert Kiyosaki once said: “The poor, the unsuccessful, the unhappy and the unhealthy are the ones who use the word ‘tomorrow’ the most.” My advice, go organic today and see the effects tomorrow.

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Do you think healthy eating is all about dieting and sacrifice? Think again. Eating well is a lifestyle that embraces colorful food, creativity in the kitchen, and eating with friends.

For seniors, the benefits of healthy eating include increased mental acuteness, resistance to illness and disease, higher energy levels, a stronger immune system, faster recuperation times, and better management of chronic health problems. As we age, eating well can also be the key to a positive outlook and staying emotionally balanced.

The body, the mind and the soul

Remember you are what you eat. When you choose a variety of colorful fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins you’ll feel simply marvelous inside and out.

  • Live longer and stronger – Good nutrition keeps muscles, bones, organs, and other body parts strong for the long haul. Eating vitamin-rich food boosts immunity and fights illness-causing toxins. A proper diet reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes, bone loss, cancer, and anemia.
  • Sharpen the mind – Scientists know that key nutrients are essential for the brain to do its job. Research shows that people who eat a selection of brightly colored fruit, leafy veggies, certain fish and nuts packed with omega-3 fatty acids can improve focus and decrease the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Feel better – Wholesome meals give you more energy and help you look better, resulting in a self-esteem boost. It’s all connected—when your body feels good, you feel happier inside and out.

How many calories do seniors need? The National Institute of Aging recommends the following:

A woman over 50 who is:

-Not physically active needs about 1600 calories a day

-Somewhat physically active needs about 1800 calories a day

-Very active needs about 2000 calories a day

A man over 50 who is:

-Not physically active needs about 2000 calories a day

-Somewhat physically active needs about 2200-2400 calories a day

-Very active needs about 2400-2800 calories a day

Remember that balanced nutrition is more than calorie counting. Read on for more tips on creating a nutritious lifestyle.

Tips for wholesome eating

Here’s how to get in the habit of eating well.

  • Reduce sodium (salt) to help prevent water retention and high blood pressure. Look for the “low sodium” label and season meals with a few grains of course sea salt instead of cooking with salt.
  • Enjoy good fats. Reap the rewards of olive oil, avocados, salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, and other monounsaturated fats. Research shows that the fat from these delicious sources protects your body against heart disease by controlling “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and raising “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
  • Fiber up. Avoid constipation, lower the risk of chronic diseases, and feel fuller longer by increasing fiber intake. Your go-to fiber-foods are raw fruits and veggies, whole-grains, and beans.
  • Cook smart. Forget boiling–The best way to prepare veggies is by steaming or sautéing in olive oil—it preserves nutrients.
  • Five colors. Take a tip from Japanese food culture and try to include five colors on your plate. Fruits and veggies rich in color correspond to rich nutrients (think: blackberries, melons, yams, spinach, tomato, zucchini, squach).

Creating a well-balanced diet

Thinking of trading a tired eating regime for a nutrient-dense menu? Good for you! It’s easy and delicious.

Avoid skipping meals – This causes your metabolism to slow down, which leads to feeling sluggish and poorer choices later in the day.

Breakfast – Select high fiber breads and cereals, colorful fruit, and protein to fill you with energy for the day. Try yogurt and berries, a veggie-packed omelet, peanut-butter on whole grain toast with a citrus salad, or old-fashioned oatmeal made with dried cherries, walnuts, and honey.

Lunch – Keep your body fueled for the afternoon with a variety of whole-grain breads, lean protein, and fiber. Try a veggie quesadilla on a whole-wheat tortilla, veggie stew with whole-wheat noodles, or a salad with roasted peppers and mozzarella cheese.

Dinner – End the day on a wholesome note. Try warm salads of roasted veggies and a side of crusty brown bread and cheese, grilled salmon with spicy salsa, or whole-wheat pasta with asparagus and shrimp. Go for sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes and grilled meat instead of fried.

Snacks – It’s recommended to snack. But make sure you make it count by choosing high-fiber snacks to healthfully tide you over to your next meal. Choose almonds and raisins instead of chips, and fruit instead of sweets. Other smart snacks include yogurt, cottage cheese, apples and peanut butter, and veggies and hummus.

Staying on track

Healthy eaters have their personal rules for keeping with the program. Here are some to keep in mind.

  • Ask for help for your health’s sake. Know when you need a hand to make shopping, cooking, and meal planning assistance.
  • Variety, variety, variety! Try eating and cooking something new as soon as boredom strikes.
  • Make every meal “do-able.” Healthy eating doesn’t need to be a big production. Keep it simple and you’ll stick with it. Stocking the pantry and fridge with wholesome choices will make “do-able” even easier.
  • Set the mealtime mood. Set the table, light candles, play music, or eat outside or by a window when possible.
  • Break habits. If you eat watching TV, try eating while reading. If you eat at the counter, curl up to a movie and a slice of veggie pizza.


Sources:  (February 2010). Healthy Eating After 50.



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Fad Diets= Dangerous

The American Obesity Association reports approximately 127 million US adults are overweight, 60 million are obese, and 9 million are severely obese totaling over one-third of the adult American population. Consequently, fad diet plans and their promising dramatic results have become very popular. However, these magical shortcuts don’t offer long-term success, and some may even be dangerous to your health. We have become such an instant society, with drive-thrus, remote controls, and instant access communications including computers and cell phones, we now unrealistically expect instant results for everything.

Fad diets appeal to people because they promise quick and easy weight loss. These get-slim-quick schemes stand to make millions of dollars by keeping people confused and convincing them effective weight management is complex. The dieting fad industry takes advantage of people wanting to look and feel better, and who are willing to try anything if it helps them lose weight. These dieting myths became popular because many of them work for a short period of time. When someone stops eating certain types of food or eats “special” combinations of foods, resulting in fewer calories being consumed, initially weight can be lost. Unfortunately, most of this weight lost is from water and lean muscle, not body fat. Understandably, most people can’t keep up with the demands of a diet strictly limiting their food choices or requiring them to eat the same foods over and over again, as with the nineties low-fat craze and the current low-carbohydrate craze. Regrettably, people who use fad diets usually end up gaining back any weight lost and, many times, gain even more weight. Recent research indicates this repeated “yo-yo” dieting may actually reduce one’s life span. Many people will still prefer quick fix fad diets and pills instead of making long-term changes in their eating and exercising habits.

Currently there are very few controls or regulations informing and protecting the dieting consumer from these rip-offs. Without health risks being disclosed, weight loss “success” is vaguely defined using short-term results, and weight loss “failure” is always the consumer’s fault. The few regulations existing are rarely, or, at most, loosely enforced. The American Academy of Family Physicians warns to steer clear of diets or diet products:

  • Claiming to help you lose weight very quickly (more than 1 or 2 pounds per week). Remember, it took time to gain unwanted weight and it will take time to lose it.
  • Promising you can lose weight and keep it off without giving up “fatty” foods or exercising on a regular basis. If a diet plan or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Basing claims on “before and after” photos.
  • Offering testimonials from clients or “experts” in weight loss, science, or nutrition. Remember these people are probably being paid to advertise the diet plan or product.
  • Drawing simple conclusions from complex medical research.
  • Limiting your food choices and not encouraging you about balanced nutrition by eating a variety of foods.
  • Requiring you to spend a lot of money on things like seminars, pills, or prepackaged meals in order for their plan to work.

These scams focusing on one element encourages people to ignore the complete picture of health and proper weight management. In conclusion, there is regrettably no magical secret key to weight loss making it easy and practically effortless to lose weight.

Remember: The best method of achieving wellness and optimal weight is by eating healthy and exercising.

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Jazz Up Your Salad

Forget about your traditional iceberg lettuce topped with bottled salad dressing!

Fresh salads can be fun and easy to make – not to mention nutritious!

Most salads are made with a variety of fresh vegetables containing vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are essential for our health and may even prevent disease. Most salads are also low in calories and fat–an important part of any well-balanced diet. Salads can be much more than just vegetables! They can be eaten as a side dish or as an entire meal.

Check out these tips for jazzing up your lettuce salad:

1. Start out with some fresh lettuce – the darker green it is, the more nutrients it has.

Try mixing several kinds of lettuce, such as:

• Spinach • Cabbage • Romaine • Chicory • Butterhead • Watercress • Red Leaf • Fennel

2. Add a variety of fresh veggies!

• Artichoke • Mushrooms • Asparagus • Onion • Beets • Parsley • Broccoli • Tender Parsnips

• Carrots • Peppers • Cauliflower • Radishes • Celery • Scallions • Corn • Sugar Snap Peas

• Cucumber • Tomato • Ginger • Turnips • Jicama • Water Chestnuts • Kohlrabi • Frozen Peas

• Leeks

3. Experiment with new flavors! Add some untraditional salad ingredients to jazz up the flavor:

• Strawberries • Dried Cranberries • Pecans • Grapes • Pineapple • Almonds • Apples • Olives

• Pine Nuts • Mandarin Oranges • Peanuts • Soy Nuts • Raisins • Walnuts

Quick Lettuce Tips…

• Use lettuce as soon as possible after purchase.

• When storing, remove wilted leaves and only wash prior to using.

• As with all produce, the outer surface may carry dirt and bacteria. After removing the outer leaves, wash your hands before rinsing and chopping the inner leaves to prevent contamination.

• Use a salad spinner for lettuce leaves or other veggies. Your salad will taste fresh without the excess water from washing, and it will last longer when stored.

• Keep unwashed lettuce in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable crisper.

Top it off with a light and flavorful dressing!

• Choose an oil-based dressing more often than a creamy one.

• When choosing a creamy dressing, try a “light” version.

• “Fat-free” types can be higher in sodium and lower in taste!

• Try making your own homemade dressing.

• Use low-fat cottage cheese instead of dressing.

• Stick to 2 Tbsp of any kind of dressing.

Go easy on the “extras”

Some additions to salads can add too many calories and fat.

Here are some things to use sparingly:

• Bacon • Fried Noodles • Croutons • Egg • Pasta and Potato Salads

Make it a meal! Any salad can become a meal by adding a source of protein to it. Try these:

• Grilled Chicken • Grilled Pork • Steak Strips • Shrimp • Salmon • Garbanzo Beans • Black Beans • Kidney Beans

For a quick, easy, and healthy salad recipe, check out the “Recipes” section of this blog.


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