Category: Diet Tips

Healthy Foods for Unhealthy Cravings

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

Healthy Travel Tips – Eating Right on Vacation

Healthy Travel Tips – Eating Right on Vacation

images8HVDV0SASpring Break is right around the corner – from road trips to long flights, making healthy food choices can be tougher than it seems. But by doing a little bit of prep work and planning, you can easily make healthy choices on even the most exotic vacation.

Fill your suitcase The last thing you want to do when you first arrive is go shopping for healthy snacks. Instead, prepare snack-sized baggies that you can easily throw into your beach bag, backpack, or pocket. Keep all the small baggies together by storing them in a larger plastic storage bag. Some great choices include trail mix with dried fruits and nuts, individual packets of peanut butter crackers, dehydrated (kale) chips, dried coconut slices, and your favorite jerky. Even a can of sardines or tuna can be made into a quick meal in a pinch.

Air travel Make sure to eat a healthy, protein-packed meal right before leaving to cut down on the temptation of airport fast food, or take a light meal with you. Small frozen gel packs are great for keeping snacks cool for a few hours and usually have no trouble getting through security. Look for sets that are sold for diaper bags since they tend to be streamlined and don’t take up much space. Choose snacks that are nutrient-dense so you don’t need a large quantity to fill you up. Veggie sticks and cheese cubes, avocado slices, fresh coconut slices, and hard-boiled eggs are easy to eat without utensils. Apples and bananas are usually easy to find and make a great snack when paired with a packet of nut butter.

Road trips Investing in a small cooler will greatly reduce your chances of giving in to the drive-through window. Fill it with fresh fruit, veggie sticks, hard-boiled eggs, and healthy sandwiches. When making sandwiches, choose sprouted, or whole-grain bread – or wrap it all up in a lettuce leaf for a grain-free option. Look for deli meats that are free of nitrates and preservatives, add some lettuce and sliced avocado as a healthy fat instead of mayonnaise. Make sure you layer any condiments (pickles, mustard, and tomatoes) between the protein slices so the bread, or lettuce wrap, doesn’t get soggy. Homemade oatmeal cookies or granola bars made with a touch of honey and filled with dried fruits and nuts make a great kid-friendly snack on the go. If you get caught hungry at a gas station, choose high-protein snacks such as sunflower seeds, nuts, fruit and nut bars, or a banana.

Restaurants Of course you want to indulge on vacation, but indulging at every meal may make it harder to get back into your healthy routine when you get back home. Choose one meal a day, or every two days, as an indulgence, and skip the breadbasket so you’re not tempted to fill up on empty calories before the meal. Google your locations so you know what restaurants are near. Check the menus online before you go, so you know what to expect along with the healthy choices available. You know the drill…choose grilled, broiled, steamed, roasted, baked or poached for your proteins and ask for vegetables to be steamed so they don’t end up floating in oil. Try ordering a salad with olive oil and fresh lemon juice as an appetizer and choose an appetizer for a main course, or choose two appetizers (not the fried stuff) for your dinner. It’s a great way to try different things without going overboard.

Hotels Hotel breakfasts tend to offer a lot of high-sugar, high-carbohydrate items such as pancakes and processed cereals. Choose high-protein eggs instead and add veggies to your omelet if you can. Try finding a hotel with a fridge or request that the mini bar be emptied before you arrive so that you can use it during your stay. Stock it with perishables such as fresh veggie sticks, berries, organic full-fat yogurt, and cheese.

Oatmeal trick: Pack your own individual oatmeal breakfasts in plastic baggies. Add old-fashioned rolled oats, and whatever fillings you like – raisins, shredded coconut, dried fruit, slivered almonds, and even some whey protein. Pour the mixture into a bowl covered with water or coconut milk the night before, store it in the fridge and your breakfast will be waiting for you in the morning. Enjoy your trip!

7 Wonders of the Nutrition World

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

The Tricks – Tried and True

The Tricks – Tried and True

imagesCANWR0EASo I don’t call my web site Fit Chick Tricks for nothing. Here is a list of my favorite tricks that I use almost every single day.

 ** Fit girls don’t drink their calories. If you want a sweet beverage, don’t go for a soda, juice, or sports drink. They are loaded with calories, usually 100-200 calories per serving. Water should be your number one choice. If you need something sweet, try a flavored sparkling water, iced tea/green tea with lemon or as a last result even a diet soda if you must.

** Fit girls don’t eat chips with their salsa. Carrots are a great alternative to the tortilla chip. Carrots add the crunch without the calories and fat, and you still get the great taste of the salsa.

**

(a) When you know you will be going to a specific restaurant on a specific day, plan ahead. After you have had a meal, and you are feeling full, go online and look up the restaurant’s website and menu. In the privacy of your own home, on your own time, you can really read the food options and decide on the best choices. You can take all the time you need, and since you have a full stomach, you won’t be influenced by hunger. Make your choice for the next time you are dining out… and stick with it. Don’t even open the menu when you are at the restaurant.

(b)If the restaurant doesn’t have a website, or you don’t have time to look it up, when you do have to open the menu, look to see if they have heart healthy options. Most places have a little symbol that they place next to the healthy choices. Only look at those options. Don’t read through all the yummy appetizer descriptions; don’t read through all the yummy pasta dishes, etc. Choose only from the heart healthy menu items.

** Fit girls don’t eat in their car. Stop eating major meals in your car like it’s a restaurant on wheels. Skinny girls will eat things like a health bar or some fruit, but no eating burritos, sandwiches, and pizza. How much can you really enjoy your food and pay attention to your portions if you are driving around and paying attention to 10 other things. Also, because skinny girls don’t eat meals in the car, there is no need to go through any kind of drive through which typically belongs to fast food joints.

** Fit girls stop eating before they are full. This is a big one. By taking a few minutes before you feel full, you can cut serious calories from your diet without feeling deprived. You must really pay attention to how your stomach is feeling, and stop eating before you feel full. It actually takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body that it has had enough food, so eat slowly. (I started doing this, and it has worked every time. I am always amazed that even though I don’t feel full, if I stop eating, within a few minutes I feel full and sometimes stuffed. ) Eating just enough to satisfy your hunger will help you to feel your best, rather than stuffing yourself into a “food coma”!

** Fit girls eat a meal or snack before going to the grocery store. Grocery shopping can sabotage any healthy diet, as there are yummy temptations at every turn. If you go to the grocery while hungry, it can lead to crazy, unhealthy purchases, and in some cases, binge eating when you get home.

** Fit girls don’t eat salads at fast food restaurants. We all think of salads as being healthy, but his can be very misleading, especially at fast food joints. Most Wendy’s salads have over 600 calories each. A grilled chicken breast sandwich open face (remove one of the buns) or a bowl of chili is a much better option at less than 500 calories each. Salads can be a great choice because they are filled with veggies and fiber, but once you add the restaurant dressing (even the fat free option) it can put your calories way over the top. Don’t mistakenly make salad your “healthy” default menu option, because most times there are healthier, lower calorie, higher protein options. My favorite is a broiled chicken breast sandwich. I take off the side of the bun that has the mayo, and eat it as an open faced sandwich with a knife and fork.  Trust me, as a mom with kids who love fast food, I can tell you that almost every single fast food place has a broiled chicken breast in some form or another.

** Fit girls avoid food products that make healthy claims. Generally speaking, a health claim on a food product is a strong indication that it is not really a food but a food-like substance that has been scientifically engineered. You can find any type of junk food that will have a healthy claim tied to it, but just because a bag of potato chips has “no trans fats” doesn’t mean that it is healthy or low in calories.

The Right Way to Eat Wrong During SuperBowl

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!

October – Think Popping Popcorn!

October – Think Popping Popcorn!

Yep, October is also popping popcorn month. Did you know popcorn counts as a whole grain? One serving of whole grains equals three cups of popcorn.

Popcorn is the only type of corn that pops. Each kernel of popcorn contains a small drop of water stored inside a circle of soft starch. When harvested, popcorn is dried so that it contains between 13.5-14% moisture, the amount it needs to pop. The soft starch is surrounded by the kernel’s hard outer surface, the hull, which has just the right thickness to allow it to burst open when enough pressure builds inside.

As the kernel heats up, the water expands, creates steam, and cooks the starch inside, turning it into a liquid mass. Pressure builds inside and finally it reaches a point that breaks the hull open. The contents inflate and spill out, cooling immediately and forming the shape we know and love.

Here is a super cool web site all about popcorn: http://www.popcorn.org/. You can watch popcorn popping in super slow motion at the Popcorn Board’s Web site And check out more fun facts, trivia and recipes while you’re there!

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