Healthy Foods for Unhealthy Cravings

0910-chocolate-potato-chip[1]I have always heard that a food craving is your body telling you that it’s lacking a certain nutrient. I came across an article in Medical Daily that not only explains what cravings mean, but also offers healthy alternatives.

Food cravings can seem strong enough to pick us up and send us straight to the refrigerator, drive through, or local grocery, going against our better judgment. Our hunger pangs can often lead us astray, forcing us to make unhealthy choices when it comes to satisfying our food cravings. While we may blame our sweet tooth or stress for these compulsive cravings like chocolate, or a bag of chips, our body may be longing for something we cannot buy at the grocery store. These intense cravings may be a signal that something is amiss in our bodies such as vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients we lack.

Since most of us in eat a fair amount of processed foods, and not enough whole, nutrient-rich foods, we actually can suffer from very mild malnutrition. This explains why we end up craving what our body is currently lacking.

For healthier food choices, it’s important to recognize what types of key nutrients we’re missing, and how to put ourselves back on a healthier path where we remain just as satisfied.

1. Swap Chocolate With Raw Nuts

Craving chocolate can mean our body is in need of magnesium. Chocolate provides up to 10 percent daily value of magnesium for 2 ounces (and a whopping 290 calories), actually making it a pretty good source of magnesium.  But our craving for chocolate may be a learned response instead of the body actually thinking it’s getting the best source of magnesium. Dieticians recommend eating raw nuts, as a better source, on a regular basis to make the craving go away.

2. Swap Coffee Or Tea With Hydrating Juice

The desire for coffee or tea is quite common, especially during the early hours of the morning. In the AM, after the body has been on an eight-hour fast of anything liquid or solid, we tend to be more dehydrated. This is due to our metabolic processes still running, and water being lost in the processes.

Starting the day with a hydrating juice such as watermelon juice, or diluted orange juice (half water and half OJ) can be a healthier alternative. Once you hydrate your cells you may find you don’t need a caffeine boost which can actually cause dehydration. A sliced orange or sliced grapefruit in the morning is also great for hydration, vitamin C, and fiber.

3. Premenstrual Cravings

A week before a woman’s menstrual cycle, she tends to crave random foods like chocolate, and those laden with saturated fats. These cravings hint that the body needs more zinc. The level of zinc in your system fluctuates depending on your estrogen levels. Therefore, zinc increases as estrogen rises, leading up to ovulation, and then drops right before ovulation and stays lower until the beginning of your next cycle.

Zinc deficiency has been linked to lower levels of the hormone leptin, which is responsible for regulating the body’s energy expenditure, fat storage, and appetite. Leptin communicates to the brain when it should feel full and stop eating. Insufficient leptin levels are believed to be the primary cause of food cravings and overeating. Good sources of zinc include red meats, seafood, leafy vegetables, and root vegetables.

Rather than cave to your food cravings, understand what your body really needs, and replace the junk with healthy substitutes! Now you know.

Eat This, Not That: 5 Healthier Substitutes For Unhealthy Food Cravings

7 Wonders of the Nutrition World

imagesCAQP8F7RWe all know which foods we should try to avoid, and despite the appeal of Thin Mints, Doritos, Mountain Dew or McAnything, processed foods provide little good and a whole lot of bad. But when it comes to the nutritious stuffwhat are the best foods to put into our bodies? While we need a variety of foods for a healthy diet, do you know which are the healthiest of the bunch? These are the top seven most nutrient dense foods around. I bet you will be able to incorporate at least one of these into your daily diet.

 

1. Spirulina: While the thought of eating river algae might gross you out a bit, spirulina is actually fairly tasty, especially blended into a smoothie or hidden in a chocolate bar. It has more antioxidants than any other food on earth and is loaded with protein and minerals making it the most nutrient dense food. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23544470

 

2. Kale: Kale packs a serious nutritious punch, loaded with minerals, vitamins, fiber and amino acids, as well as important antioxidants that reduce inflammation and can prevent cancer. It’s also delicious and an easy to prepare, versatile food. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23631258

 

3. Hemp Seeds: What do you get when you combine protein, fiber, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals? Hemp, of course. This easily digestible seed is versatile, easy to use and extremely tasty, too.

 

4. Broccoli: Your mom was right … Eat your vegetables. Broccoli especially if you want a healthy digestive system and you want to kick it up a notch… your health that is. Broccoli has a wide range of usefulness too, from soups to stir fry, or simply steamed or raw.

 

5.Spinach: Popeye was onto something with that spinach fixation. But skip the canned stuff and stick with fresh or frozen for an antioxidant, protein and fiber-rich burst of healthy goodness. Fresh or cooked, spinach’s sweet and hardy flavor brightens any meal.

 

6. Chia: The Aztecs may have died out, but their legacy is alive and strong in the chia seed. This ancient favorite is loaded with omega fats, protein and fiber. It can be a better choice than flax because chia is so rich in antioxidants that the seeds don’t deteriorate and can be stored for long periods without becoming rancid.http://fitchicktricks.com/nutrition/dangerfood-or-superfood/chia-the-food-not-the-pet/

 

7. Berries: Unlike other fruit, berries tend to be less sugary and full of vital vitamins, minerals and those free-radical avenging antioxidants. Wild berries are always a great choice, especially black rassberries

Fiber: BFF To Your Health

Seems like Fiber is IN lately, but what exactly is fiber?

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant products. I know carbohydrates are on the OUTS, but fiber is an important type of carbohydrate that is one of the keys to good health. There are two types based on water solubility. Soluble fiber dissolves in water, forms a gel-like material, and is found mainly in oats, apples, citrus, peas, barley, pectin, flaxseed, and beans. Insoluble fiber is found in whole wheat flour, wheat bran, cellulose, lignin, nuts, and many vegetables.

Did you know that Dietary Fiber can reduce cholesterol? Regular consumption can reduce cholesterol, specifically, LDL or low density lipoprotein cholesterol.  

High levels of LDL can be a big risk factor in Cardiovascular disease, in particular coronary artery disease which is the leading cause of death in both men and women of all racial groups in the United States (Mayo Clin Proc. 2009 April; 84(4): 345–352).  

 

However, it’s important to understand that the effects of fiber on blood cholesterol are not the same. Only soluble fiber can reduce cholesterol.  Insoluble fiber has not been shown to improve LDL-cholesterol. If you say that you eat enough fiber, you should also know which type of this carbohydrate you are eating.

 

Dietary fiber can also have a positive effect on blood sugar level. The consumption of soluble fiber not only decreases LDL cholesterol but also decreases blood sugar levels. Too much sugar in the bloodstream can cause long-term damage to body tissues. For example, it can harm blood vessels that supply blood to vital organs, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, kidney disease, vision problems, and nerve problems.

Soluble fiber is good for cholesterol and lower blood sugar.

Insoluble fiber is good for regular bowel movements. Yea, I know. Butt someone had to tell you.

Water Soluble (Good for Lowering Cholesterol) 

  1. Oats
  2. Apples
  3. Citrus
  4. Peas
  5. Barley
  6. Flaxseed
  7. Beans

Water Insoluble (Good for Bowel Movement)

  1. Whole Wheat Flour
  2. Wheat Bran
  3. Nuts
  4. Vegetables

 

Does fiber has any side effects? Well, almost everything we consume has side effects and fiber is not too different. Fiber could cause bloating and also may interfere with the absorption of minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium.

Fiber is like a BFF to your health. The recommended daily consumption of 25-30 g daily is called for by the American Heart Association. Don’t forget that about 10 g of the 25-30 g should be soluble and the rest insoluble fiber.

The Right Way to Eat Wrong During SuperBowl

155 Billion Calories. That is himages[2]ow many calories will be consumed on Super Bowl Sunday.

A few items on our must have list for food include Chex mix, Girl Scout ice cream (Thin Mint and Samoas). Have you seen this ice cream? It looks fantastic! …. Limited time only, though. I better stock up. Okay, back to the list. Pringles, pizza, wings, cookies, and more. I am definitely doing some extra cardio over the next few days.
So, whether you are going to a party or staying home, here are a few some Super Bowl eating tips.

 

1. You know one of my favorite sayings is to make your calories count. On Super Bowl Sunday this is key. If you are staying home, you are in complete control of what treats you have. Get only the things you really love. If you are going to a party or bar, when you arrive, take a quick inventory of what food is available. Choose only your absolute favorites, and INDULGE! (I will not be eating Pringles, but may eat my weight in pizza, or Girl Scout ice cream if it is as yummy as it sounds!)

 

2. Use a small plate for your food. So many studies are out now that say if your eye perceives a small amount of food, your brain will tell your stomach that you are not satisfied. A reasonable portion on a regular size plate may not look like a satisfying amount, but a reasonable portion on a small plate can trick the eye and brain so that the signal to the stomach is that you are getting enough food to satisfy your hunger.

 

3. Before you go, eat a small healthy snack at home. Sometimes we think that we should “save” our calories until the party, so we don’t eat anything all day. When we show up, we are starving and go crazy on the food. If you have a healthy snack before you go, you won’t pig out right when you arrive. If you are staying home, don’t start eating your Super Bowl cupcakes for breakfast. Decide on a time frame that you will have your treats out.

 

4. Indulge in your favorite treats within the first 20 minutes of the “party”. Be mindful and recognize when you are full. For the next four hours or so, everyone will be sitting around the television munching. Mindless munching. You will already have eaten your favorites, and you are probably full, but you may want to munch. Most parties are going to have a fruit plate or a veggie tray (or you bring one, so you know there is a healthy option). Make veggies your mindless munching choice. Guacamole and salsa with carrots would be a good plan B.

 

5. Seat strategy: choose your seat so that it is across the room from the coffee table loaded with treats. You may not want to walk across the room in front of everyone .

 

Go Team! Yea Food!

Just a Little Bit of Something

 

When it comes to exercise, something is always better than nothing especially on those busy days. If you intended to get up early and exercise, but it didn’t happen, just be sure to do something before you go to bed that night. It will energize you mentally knowing that you did something even though your day was crazy. And of course it will energize you physically.

 

So exercise when you can throughout the day.  If you missed your morning workout and you know you won’t have time in the evening, fit in some type of exercise or movement every chance get. A few of my faves…

 

  1. Park as far away from the door as possible whether it be the mall, your office, the grocery store, or wherever you might be.
  2. Use your lunch break to go for a walk, climb up and down the stairs, or even do some calf raises or wall push-ups in the bathroom stall.  Get creative!
  3. If you set your mind around exercising when you can, you’ll find yourself doing butt squeezes in the grocery store and leg lifts when making dinner.

 

Exercising before bed is also a great time to fit in a mini-workout because bedtime tends to be routine. Don’t worry a little exercise before bed will NOT make it difficult to fall asleep. These exercises can be whatever you want them to be. 50 crunches while watching TV, 30 squats when brushing your teeth, 10 push-ups while swishing mouthwash. Don’t let a day go by without doing something. Even if it is just a little bit of something. 

 

 

Some type of exercise is ALWAYS better than nothing at all. 

 

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