Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Take the Effort Out of Eating Less

Whenever you start a diet, it not only takes a lot of physical energy since you usually start an exercise program as well, but it takes mental energy to plan meals and make an effort to NOT eat the things you know you shouldn't. It can be hard, and quite often diets go down the drain because of a lapse in your judgment.
According to Brian Wansink, PhD., author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think, we can eat less without even realizing it. Here is how!
1. Serve meals on nine- to ten-inch plates. Any smaller and you'll be going back for seconds; larger, and you'll pile on more to begin with.
2. Take the serving bowls off the table! The only exception: the ones containing vegetables.
3. Drink from a skinny glass. Your mind perceives height more readily than width, so you'll think you had more.
4. Choose a small serving spoon: In one Cornell study, participants ate 11 percent less ice cream when they used a petite scoop.
5. Control your environment—if the room in which you eat is too bright and loud, or too dark and quiet, you'll tend to eat more because you become overstimulated or linger too long at the table.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Beat the Afternoon Slump!

This probably sounds familiar: 4pm roles around and your body is tired, your head hurts and you feel like you should be getting into bed instead of putting in another hour of work or running your kids to soccer practice. When body temperature decreases, many mental and cognitive skills wane as well. "Body temperature rises in the morning, peaks around noon or one o'clock, and then, in the afternoon, drops slightly," says Michael Smolensky, Ph.D., director of the Center for Chronobiology and Chronotherapeutics at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. Typically, between 5 and 7 P.M. your temperature and energy peak again; from there they gradually decline, dropping you into sleep at night.
There are much better solutions to this problem than to reach for sugar or caffeine. Here are a few:
- Get a good night's sleep: eight hours a night is the recommendation...so make an effort to get than in as often as you can.
- Eat small, nutritious meals: if you aren't eating breakfast, that is definitely playing a part in your fatigue. Also, if you are eating too big of a lunch with too many carbs, you will get tired in the afternoon. Try keeping it a moderate size and getting some good protein with minimal carbs. That will help keep you energy up
- Take a little walk: exercise energizes you, even if you think you are too tired to do anything. Especially going outside and getting some sunlight can help
- Manage your tasks: Try to organize your to do list so you do the things that require the most mind and energy strength in the morning, and the less demanding tasks in the afternoon.

No one likes the afternoon slump, but there are things we can do every day to help increase our productivity during that time. Take a power nap if you need to, and do your part to enhance your energy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

After School Snack

Summer is coming to an end and school, if it hasn't already started, is right around the corner. And going back to school brings the ever famous after school snack. It's a time to relax, a time to talk with your kids and fill their growling tummies! But more than that, it can be an opportunity to help your kids eat the stuff that is good for them too! Here are some snack ideas that your kids are sure to love, and you might even find yourself sitting down and snacking with them too.
Pizza bagels: Coat a mini bagel with tomato sauce, shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese and a sprinkling of garlic powder and oregano
Green Drink: In a blender, mix together 3 handfuls of frozen spinach, a handful of your favorite berry, a sliced banana and low-fat milk. (The more milk you add, the thinner it will be)You'll get some veggies AND it tastes delicious!
Yogurt Parfait: In a small glass, layer plain yogurt, some berries and a little granola. Go easy on the granola, because it is calorie dense. This is a great snack because it is packed full of good protein and carbs from the berries.
Mini Cracker Snackers: Use your favorite whole grain cracker and top it with a small slice of cheese and turkey! They are fun to eat and so tastey
Chips & Salsa: Whole grain chips and a fresh salsa! Always a great idea. Or you can even make your own fresh salsa, that way you control how hot it is and which veggies are in it
Fruit & Peanut Butter: With either a sliced banana or apple, have a little peanut butter to dip them in. Try to eat the natural peanut butter, or you can even try almond butter, which is a great substitute for peanut butter.
Trail Mix: Mix together your favorite nut (or more than one), some dried berries, crunched up pretzels and some toasted granola. Delicious!
Ants on a Log: Cut up slices of celery, fill them with peanut butter and top with some raisins (the ants). Fun and yummy!

These are just some ideas. Try to think of some of your own, and just incorporate a fruit or veggie and some good protein to keep them full. Kids like to use their hands and eat mini things, so think about that when coming up with some ideas. Happy snacking!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Combat Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is rising at an astounding rate each year. There are severe problems developing with over eating and obsessing with food. How do we fix this? The best way is to prevent it. Here are some tips for both you and your kids, to make sure you're both on track for the healthies eating lifestyle.

- When it's time to eat, eat. Don't play games, watch TV or talk on the phone when it is time for a meal or snack. When you are preoccupied, you either don't eat the things you should because you are busy thinking of other things, or you eat way too much
- Don't lick the plate. Some times parents tell their children to clean their plate, or they think they have to. This is opposite what should be happening! Both parents and children should always eat their veggies, and after that just listen to their body, they know when they should stop
- Food is something to give you energy, not something to reward you or someone else with. When it turns into a reward, all it does is teach your body to eat when it isn't hungry
- Parents should be a role model. If they are snacking on fatening snacks all day, drinking soda and not eating veggies, they can't expect their children to.
- Don't ever ban a food. When you make a food off limits to your kids, most likely as soon as they aren't at home, they will eat as much as they can of that food. So have treats occasionally, but make sure it isn't constantly around
- Remember your child shouldn't eat like an adult. That is, they don't need a huge steak for dinner. They should have bigger servings of fruit and vegetables with a moderate amount of protein and carbs. Nothing like adults eat
- I made a mistake...the one thing you can ban is sweet drinks. There is no benefit from soda, all it does is add inches to your waist and damper your immune system with each drink. Encourge your kids to not drink it outside your home either, and make your house a no soda zone. Milk and water should be your best friend
- Still have a sweet treat after meals, like apples and a little peanut butter to dip them in, or any other fruit with some yogurt and granola. Have treats, but make them healthy!
- Be an example by being active every day, and encourage family activities that are active. When your kids have fun while moving, they will remember that and want to be active more.

Let's all do our part to combat this epidemic of childhood obesity, and instead raise a generation of healthy, happy kids!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Foods that Keep You Living Longer

In reality, there are no such foods as "superfoods". But there are a variety of food that provide greater nutritional value than others, that essentially build up your body for a stronger and longer life. Here are some foods to keep around for the rest of your life:

Goji Berries: These are grown throughout Asia and are known to reduce inflammation, aid in good digestion and help you keep flawless skin
Acai: This is another type of berry that is native to Brazil. It has the needed antioxidants to help fight disease and the necessary fatty acids that help you keep a healthy heart and great brain function
Low-fat Dairy Products: Dairy products build strong bones, and the stronger your bones are, the stronger your body is in resisting injury
Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale or other leafy greens help with keeping healthy eyes and bones
Red Bell Peppers: Eat these to get your daily dose of vitamin C, vitamin A and potassium
Strawberries: This fruit is also rich in vitamin C and dietary fiber. In addition to that, they are low-glycemicso they're a healthy alternative to sugar packed sweets
Alaskan Salmon: A cold-water fish that provides rich amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, protein and iron
Whole Grains: Grains such as whole wheat, bulgur, barley, oats, spelt, quinoa and long-grain rice, offer rich amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
Flaxseed: This is a nutritious seed variety that provides EFAs and rich amounts of fiber. Flaxseed also serves as a valuable source of omega-3 fats for people who do not consume fatty fish regularly
Avocados:These give rich amounts of nutrients, including vitamin E which help with healthy aging

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Get Your Mind and Body Moving

As summer approaches most people renew their goal of going to the gym 5 times a week, cutting out sugar, running their first 5k or making a greater effort to get those fruits and veggies in. But after the first week of this lifestyle, the reality of how hard it is to change sets in. Desserts start calling, your alarm clock in the morning seems to get earlier and earlier, and the drive to the gym seems too far. Learning to understand change, though, can help you find and keep that motivation you started with.
According to University of Rhode Island researchers James Prochaska and Carlo DiClemente, there are six stages of change: pre-contemplation is the mindset before you even think about making a change; contemplation is the stage in which you start to think about making a change; preparation is the stage during which you start to get ready for a change; action is when you are in the midst of changing; maintenance is remaining consistent with your new behaviors; and relapse is falling back on former behaviors.

Planning for Change
To best set yourself up for lasting change, you must plan. Gathering resources and information can put you on the path to success. Asking yourself what in your lif needs to be different and what are the necessary steps to reach your goal will help as well. Break it down to the tiny details!

Stage Shifting
Once you figure out where you are in the stages of change, think about how to transition smoothly. Maybe you've been exercising with regularity, but the flu set you back two weeks. How will you get yourself back to your regimen? Taking a step back and recognizing where you are can help you determine what to do next. It doesn't have to be a big thing that gets you going, because solid change usually comes from a gradual process.

This is a dreaded stage, but is almost a normal occurance. Especially if you started to hard, too fast. If you notice that you've slipped, instead of beating yourself up, consider relapse as an opportunity to change how you approached your goal last time. Coming up with a new plan can help you last even longer than before

Successful change needs support. Look at where your life takes you, including the places and people you are with. Which help and which hurt? Setting your sights on positive influences and asking for help will assist you in your new behaviors. It can even make it more fun!
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