Family Friendly Fit Tricks for Healthy Weight Management

fridge_pic-full[1]I love Google. I use it for almost everything, including health care, how to do whatever, recipes, shopping, and more. But Googling weight loss is like opening Pandora’s Box. There are way too many sites and supplements that are questionable at best, aimed at your pocket book rather than your waist line. Here are five family friendly fit tricks for healthy weight management.

1. Build a healthy home environment. It can be as simple as having a fruit bowl on the table, rather than a bin full of fruit tucked away at the bottom of the fridge. Keeping healthy food visible encourages kids (and adults) to grab and go when they are hungry and in a hurry. Keep cut up veggies, yogurt, or fruit salad front and center in the fridge. When a kid (or adults) opens the refrigerator to mindlessly search for snacks, the healthy option will catch their eye.

2. Purchase small portions and limited amounts of convenience food that is high in sugar and fat. Pre-portion any junky snacks in little ramekin cups, baggies, or mini cupcake liners, so there is no mindless eating from the bag of chips or cookie box. Store these items in the images[9]pantry on a higher shelf so they are less visible.

3. Make physical activity a routine, and make it fun. Take a walk or walk the dog after dinner to unwind. Get up during commercials while watching your favorite show and play catch with a Nerf ball, or strike up a game of balloon volleyball with your kids.

4. Eat meals around the table, at home as often as possible. Family meals offer kids a chance to see parents eating healthy. Show how to load the plate with a variety of vegetables and smaller portions of meat and carbs. Meat packs between 55-110 calories per ounce, so it’s easy to pack on the pounds when the portion shifts even a couple of ounces on a regular basis (especially as you age).

5. Praise yourself and your kids when you practice the skills and behaviors linked with healthy eating. Give high fives after those active commercial breaks. Notice when you and your kids have put in the effort to taste an unfamiliar food and choose healthy options over the junk.

 

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!

Maintaining Nutrients In Your Body For Peak Performance

Nutrients are needed as spare parts for the repair of cellular tissues, and to ensure your cells operate correctly. When your nutrient levels are low for a particular one that your body needs, it starts to malfunction. As you can imagine, this leads to a host of issues from feeling sluggish to weight gain to poor health.

There are two important concepts for nourishing your body:

  1. Variety of Food
  2. Nutrient Denseness of Food

Variety of Food

No single food contains all the nutrients the body needs. It’s easy to get in a food rut, but if you get in the habit of eating only a few foods, it is virtually guaranteed that you will run low in certain nutrients. So, embrace your inner Andrew Zimmern and mix up your diet, try new foods, and do a winter, spring, summer, and fall rotation with the foods you eat by EATING WHAT IS IN SEASON.

Nutrient-Dense Food

We should try to focus on foods that contribute to our health, by having at least some discipline to not eat foods that undermine it.

Nutrient-empty foods aren’t worth eating unless they taste so good to you that your happiness is very positively affected… and even then, unless you are willing to sacrifice good health for the pleasures that these foods bring to the moment, try to save these celebration foods for “rare occasions”.

I recently read an article that categorized foods like this:

  1. Celebration Foods
  2. Fuel Foods
  3. Nutrient Dense Foods.

Celebration Foods should not be eaten frequently, but should be reserved for parties and special occasions:

  • Processed grain products, white flour products (cakes, pastries, and noodles), white-rice, etc.
  • Sugary foods such as ice cream, candy, soda pop, syrups, etc.
  • Yep – all the sweet, yummy, good stuff

Fuel Foods are nutritious and important to provide energy for activity and exercise. But here’s the thing – if you are completely sedentary, they actually provide more calories for the amount of nutrients provided. So make sure that you are doing some kind of physical activity to get the benefits from Fuel Foods.

  • Grains (whole grain bread, whole grain rice, etc.)
  • Fruits

Nutrient Dense Foods should be eaten daily and by everyone:

  • Vegetables
  • Raw nuts
  • Fish
  • Good fat foods such as Avocados and Olives
  • Uncooked oil extracts (extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut oil, cold pressed oils for example)
  • Lean meats
  • Eggs

Don’t underestimate the power of nutrients. Keep your engine running at peak performance by focusing on nutrient dense foods as part of every meal.

PSYCHOLOGY of a SMART DIET

As you know, I am always trying to find the newest info on all things having to do with fitness and nutrition. It is harder than you think. I end up reading many articles that say the same thing and discuss the same concepts that have been written about for over a decade. Blah, blah, blah.

However, I recently read an article on FitClick. This is one of my “go to” sites. It is also a great site if you want to participate in an interactive type online fitness system.

Here is the gist of the article:

The article talks about eating habits. We all have them. Some are good. Some are bad. One of the most important things you can do to ensure success when it come to weight loss is maintain good eating habits.

Are you the type of person to shovel snacks into your mouth while at the computer or t.v., barely noticing the taste or amount of the food you’re eating? Do you still believe it’s a crime not to finish everything on your plate? I call this the starving kids in China syndrome. My dad used to say this quite often. Then as we got older, he changed it to “waste not want not”. I heard this all my life… actually as recently as last Sunday. Some eating habits make it impossible to take off those extra pounds because they are so ingrained you aren’t even conscious of them.

The good news: You can absolutely learn to break these old patterns and substitute better ones, which is a key ingredient to a successful diet. Even better news: In time, these healthy routines will become such a part of your life, they will be second nature. That means not only can you lose the weight but you can keep it off, too.

The article includes nine tips that I think are very compelling …. and these tips are “new to the scene”!

1) Less is more.”If you eat less often, it will become a smaller issue in your life,” says James Rosen, Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of University of Vermont’s Weight Control Program. “Contrary to popular belief, ‘grazing,’ or eating several small meals and snacks throughout the day, isn’t a good way to lose weight for people with self-control issues. The more often you eat, the more you expect food is going to be available, and the more you think that it’s okay to eat whenever and wherever you feel like it.”

I have gotten caught up in this trap, and it is very easy to end up eating way more calories than you realize. So, if you know you are one of those people with self-control issues, decide on your eating times—not more than three or four times a day—and don’t eat in between, no matter the size of the snack.


2) Declare a No-Food Zone. Decide on the eating places in your house—just your dining room table, for example—and declare other places No Food Zones. If you have a habit of eating in your car, in front of the television, or while you’re at the computer, make those No Food Zones—even for healthy snacks. If you train yourself to eat only in very specific situations, you will learn to control food cravings outside of normal meal times.

3) Remember: Location, Location, Location.”Make sure that you eat your meals in one certain place,” recommends Robert Jamison, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and an associate professor at Harvard Medical school. “When you have a craving, tell yourself you can have whatever you want, but you have to eat it in an unusual place—like the bathroom or garage—that doesn’t have familiar environmental cues like the couch in the TV room.” So, if you really want that hot fudge sundae go ahead and eat it, but eat it in the garage,” says Jamison. It won’t be as much fun, so you might stop and think about whether you’re eating it because you’re hungry, because of a craving, because you had a long day and you think you deserve it, or because you’re watching your favorite show. The more conscious you are of what you are doing, the more chance that you’ll make changes.”

This tip sounds a little crazy, but so crazy that it just might be the thing to change a bad eating habit. Definitely worth a try.

4) Make rules and stick to them.”To avoid calories, you can simply establish a rule for yourself: Never eat anything unless you bought it or asked for it,” explains Jamison. “That way, you won’t have to torture yourself every time someone brings cupcakes to work.” Not to mention birthday parties, goodbye parties, Valentine’s Day, Girl Scout cookie season, Halloween…

I love this one. In our house we are rule makers and rule followers, and very rarely do we deviate from the rules. This is probably because we have a 5 and 6 year old in the house. But really, I am a “slippery slope” type person. If I deviate today, what’s to say I won’t deviate next time, and the time after that… slippery slope. So I just stick to the rules, and make everyone else in the house stick to them as well.

5) Eat dessert first.This is for the dessert lovers.. You know who you are. Do you always vow to skip dessert but end up ordering it anyway once the waiter brings the dessert menu? Judith S. Stern, Sc.D., professor of nutrition and internal medicine at University of California says, “If you are going to eat dessert, eat it first.” Why? “Because of what is called the Thanksgiving Dinner Effect. You’re stuffed and can’t eat another bite—but then dessert comes, and you seem to all of a sudden be able to find room for a piece of pumpkin pie. So don’t try to avoid the inevitable. Eat dessert, but know that you must order less for the rest of your meal. You might get some stares, but so what?”

I love dessert, but I am not a dessert person because of calories and nutrition. Desserts are a once and a while special treat. If you are not generally a dessert person, this tip is not a free pass to start eating desserts.

6) Exercise before dinner.”Exercising temporarily decreases your appetite, so if you want to avoid overeating, work out before a meal,” says James O. Prochaska Ph.D., a clinical and health psychologist. “One of the reasons weight loss is so tough is that it’s not dependent on a single behavior, it’s about how much we eat and how many calories we burn up. The most common mistake people make is trying to simply reduce calories without exercising.”

This tip is also very compelling. It is not always practical to exercise before dinner, but what if you went for a short walk, jumped rope 100 times, did 100 sit-ups or 100 jumping jacks… just some short burst of exercise. Worth a try!

7) You’ve got your whole meal in your hand.”If you want to lose weight, the most important element is not what you eat—it’s how much you eat,” says George L. Blackburn, M.D., Ph.D., associate director of the Division of Nutrition at Harvard Medical School. “People don’t realize the volume of food they’re eating and the speed at which they’re eating it. To figure out how much you should be eating, put your hand over your plate and see how many palm- or fistfuls of food you have on it. A serving size of meat, fish, or poultry is about the size of the palm of your hand; your closed fist is the volume of one cup of pasta or rice. Don’t forget that you have your measuring device with you everywhere you go. Also make sure at least twenty minutes passes between the start and end of a meal—even if you have to get up and leave the table somewhere in between first and last bite.”

This is the “no excuses” tip. There is no excuse to not be aware of the serving size of every single thing you eat.

8) Eat mindfully.”Another source of people overeating is the hectic pace of life that afflicts virtually everyone,” says Michael Lowe, Ph.D., professor of clinical and health psychology at University in Philadelphia. “We get geared up, and eating becomes an afterthought; we simply grab things to eat along the way. So set aside half an hour of calm, relaxed, focused eating for each meal. Mindful eating—when you’re aware of what you’re choosing to eat and how much you are eating and when you are starting to feel full—is difficult when you’re grabbing what you can find and gobbling it in front of the television before running out the door to a meeting.”

If you are thinking that a calm, free, focused 1/2 hour is hard to come by several times a day, I call bull sh** (as my husband would say). You are not making a healthy diet your priority. If you really want to, you can set aside a 1/2 hour or even 20 minutes for each meal to ensure you are eating mindfully all day long.

9) Stay positive.”Analyze how you’re eating and exercising, but take a benevolent and accepting attitude,” says Dan Kirschenbaum, Ph.D., director of the Center for Behavioral Medicine in Chicago. “Don’t be moralistic. When you eat a piece of chocolate cake, don’t think of it as ‘cheating or failure’.’ Instead, focus on staying positive, and see your overeating as a problem to be solved, not as a moral transgression. Eating is your normal response to stimuli; it is tough to break established patterns and keep resisting it all the time. Keep fighting the good fight, don’t give up, be proud of any progress you’ve made.”

Consider these tips and start to incorporate them into your routine. Before you know it your good eating habits will far outweigh the bad.

Back to the starving kids for a minute… Have you ever heard of left overs? Instead of cleaning your plate until you are completely and painfully stuffed, save a little from each meal. At the end of the week you can have left over day. We do this every week. By Friday, we have a nice variety of food. A pork chop here, a hamburger patty there, some left over chicken, extra noodles. It is kind of fun because each person gets their favorite, or we all have a few bites of everything – a true smorgasbord. Think of the money you will save because you don’t have to buy food for an extra dinner…. you can send that money to your favorite country with starving kids.

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