Tag: nutrients

Cut the Calories Not the Taste – Quick Tips to Healthier Eating

Cut the Calories Not the Taste – Quick Tips to Healthier Eating

25 Quick Tips

It’s the little things that can make all the difference, and the little things can be easy to change without feeling taste deprived.

Here are 25 quick tips that will help you diet smarter not harder. By making small tweaks to your food choices you don’t have to sacrifice flavor, but you can cut a calories, fats, and sugar to help slim down your waistline. Increase your vegetables and whole grains, but decrease the fat, salt and sugar. If you’re really serious about changing your family’s diet, clip this page and post it on your refrigerator as a daily reminder for everyone.

INCREASING VEGETABLES

Learn to properly steam vegetables.

Decrease the meat and increase the vegetables called for in stews and casseroles.

Add grated carrots, zucchini or cabbage to chili and meatloaf.

Offer washed and trimmed carrot and celery sticks for snacking.

Add finely grated carrots, pumpkin, or zucchini to baked breads and cakes.

INCREASING WHOLE GRAINS

Substitute whole-wheat flour for bleached white flour when you bake.

Top casseroles with wheat germ or whole-wheat bread crumbs.

Serve bran-based cereals, or those made from shredded wheat.

Serve imaginative whole-grain side dishes (bulgur, kasha, etc.) instead of egg noodles.

Offer crackers and corn chips containing whole grains.

REDUCING FAT

Cook with less fat by using non-stick skillets.

Blot all fried meats on paper towels.

Add a spoon of water or broth as needed instead of more fat when sautéing onions and vegetables.

Substitute low-fat yogurt for mayonnaise.

Substitute ground turkey for ground beef.

REDUCING SALT

Substitute lemon juice or herbs for salt when cooking pasta or grains.

Avoid cooking with soy or Worcestershire sauce.

Substitute garlic or onion powder for garlic or onion salt.

Avoid using products that contain monosodium glutamate.

Use unsalted or low-salt vegetable broths and products.

REDUCING SUGAR

Choose canned fruits packed in water instead of heavy syrup.

Use only fresh-frozen fruit without added sugar if fresh is unavailable.

Cut the sugar called for in most recipes by one-third to one-half.

Sweeten waffles and quick breads with cinnamon and vanilla or almond extracts.

Add pureed banana to baked goods and reduce the sugar or applesauce to reduce the fat (oil/butter)

 

Making Healthy Choices – The Fewest Ingredients Wins

Making Healthy Choices – The Fewest Ingredients Wins

Is it just me, or does it seems like there are more contradictions than ever about diet and nutrition? Milk is the new super food. Milk, public enemy number one. Eat more protein. Eat less protein. Fats are bad for you. Fats are good for you. It’s making my head spin trying to keep track of it all.

There is one way to make sure to “do it right”, and that is to eat foods in their natural state. We talk about this at the dinner table quite often with the kids. We play the “which is healthier game”. For example, which is healthier a banana or a granola bar? When they are not sure, I tell them to count the ingredients. The one with the fewest ingredients wins… every time. I try to make sure and always compare a fruit or veggie to something else, so the winner is always the item with only one ingredient.

I know how easy it is to choose the processed stuff, since this type of food product has been modified to last longer, manufactured to distribute easier, and is more convenient to store and use. As moms, having access to processed foods can be a life saver.

However, we may want to re-think the way we use processed foods. Take apple juice as an example. Even the simple act of removing the pulp to make apple juice detracts from its value for both health and weight loss. A medium size apple contains just 72 calories and over 3 grams of fiber, while 8 FL Oz of apple juice contains 120 calories and no fiber at all. And I’m talking about pure, “healthy” apple juice.

What if we start using processed and pre-packaged foods more for emergencies only? For ourselves and for our kids, when we have a choice to make (and we have more than 20 seconds to get out the door), choose the apple. You will never go wrong by choosing the apple.

 

Tricks To Combat Mindless Eating

Tricks To Combat Mindless Eating

You have probably heard the term mindless eating. It actually refers to findings from scientific experiments showing that people make almost 20 times more daily decision about food than they realize – approximately 250 decisions each day.

Mindless Eating suggests that a considerable part of our hunger is psychologically-driven, which leads us to be easily driven by tiny cues around us, such as family, friends, packages, names, labels, lights, colors, smells, shapes, distances, containers, cupboards, and distractions. Is it possible that we are not calibrated well enough to know when we are full or to know when we are hungry?

The gist of the study goes like this:

Endless bowl group – participants ate from a bowl that automatically refilled from the bottom. The participants did not know this was happening.

Normal bowl group – participants ate from a bowl that did not automatically refill. As they ate, they could see there was less food left on the bowl.

Those in the endless bowl group ate 73% more food until they thought they were full, compared to those in the normal bowl group. This confirmed scientific hypothesis — that our eyes are the main factors in determining when we think we are full.

Obviously, mindless eating can lead to unhealthy habits and weight gain. However, mindless eating can also be used to your favor, so that your habits become healthier.

Some easy fixes or tricks are to get smaller plates and bowls. This works great with kids too. I actually just did this with all my kiddie plastic bowls. Now with smaller bowls, I don’t hear whining complaints like “that’s all I get?” or “that’s not enough!” when I pour an appropriate amount of food into the bowl. Reducing the number of times you look at unhealthy snacks is also key.  Either don’t buy them at all or keep them out of sight. You can move healthier foods to eye-level in the refrigerator or pantry. And of course, food should be eaten in the kitchen, rather than in front of the TV.

Most of us have too much chaos going on in our lives to consciously focus on every bite we eat, and then ask ourselves if we’re full. The secret is to change your environment so it works for you rather than against you.

October-Think Pasta!

October-Think Pasta!

The next October fact is about pasta. October is also Pasta Month. We eat a lot of pasta, and I only buy whole wheat or whole grain varieties to sneak some extra nutrients and fiber into our meal. Todd is not a huge fan of whole grain noodles, and the kids don’t know any better, but since I am the pasta boss, we are sticking with whole grains!

In response to dietary guidance urging Americans to include more whole grains in their diets, manufacturers have introduced nutritionally enhanced pasta varieties such as whole wheat, whole grain and pasta fortified with omega-3 fatty acids and additional fiber. Some varieties of whole grain pasta can provide up to 25% of daily fiber requirements in every one cup portion. There are now more options than ever for consumers to enjoy healthy and economical meals the whole family will love. Enjoy these pasta recipes.

I recently wrote an article for The Greatist on the benefits of choosing whole wheat pasta. Here are some of the highlights.

Whole wheat doesn’t contain a single magical nutrient that fights disease and improves health, but it’s the entire package that’s important. Eating at least three one-ounce equivalents (1/2 cup of whole wheat pasta counts) of whole grains per day can reduce the risk of several chronic health conditions including cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, cancer, and digestive issues .

The main difference between white and whole wheat pastas lies in the processing.  Whole wheat contains 3 parts of the grain— the bran (the outer layer and protector of the grain), the germ (the actual seed embryo that sprouts into a new plant), and the endosperm (the largest part of the grain providing the food source and energy for the plant).  During the refining process, the nutrient-rich outer bran shell and inner germ layer are removed from the grain, as the wheat is heated until they fall of, leaving white pasta with just the starchy endosperm.

The bran and germ are home to the vitamins, minerals, appetite-squashing f fiber, protein, and healthy fats, so even though the stripped down white pasta has a longer shelf-life, and therefore  may be cheaper , the process robs the wheat of almost all of its health benefits, leaving a nutritionally weaker noodle.

Although some nutrients, including iron and B vitamins, are added back during manufacturing, making the product “enriched”, these represent only a fraction of what is removed from the grain.

Whole wheat pasta may take time to catch on; so many restaurants don’t yet have a whole wheat noodle option. (And Italian restaurants may never embrace whole wheat pasta), but the pasta aisle at the supermarket is filled with noodles having all sorts of different shapes, sizes, colors, and ingredients.  And from a nutritional standpoint, this is great news for shoppers as another opportunity to add whole grains to the menu.

True whole wheat pasta will list 100 percent durum whole wheat flour as the first or only ingredient. And check the front of package for “100 percent whole-wheat,” or look for products that contain the orange WHOLE-GRAIN stamp.

Getting used to the taste of whole wheat pasta may take a little time, as it often has stronger flavor and a grainy consistency. Cooking time is key with whole wheat pasta, so it doesn’t get too gummy— be sure to follow the directions on the package. But with the right sauce or topping, adding whole wheat pasta is an easy way to enjoy a healthy meal and sneak those whole grains into the diet.

3 Tricky Foods To Avoid

3 Tricky Foods To Avoid

Have you ever heard the saying “No good deed goes unpunished?”  Sometimes trying to eat healthy can be like navigating a land mine of good vs. bad food, only to find out what we thought was a good choice turns out to be, well, crap. If you are making the effort to eat better in an attempt to get healthy and or lose weight, beware of these three traps that can sabotage the best efforts. The reason I chose these three is because I have been punished by these so called good deeds.

Low-fat Foods

Food labeling can be very deceptive when it comes to food geared for weight loss. Low-fat foods are one of the products to be careful about. Just because the food says “low fat,” does not mean the food is low calorie. In fact, they contain the same or more calories than there “full fat” counterparts. Fat = flavor, so when fat is left out, other stuff is added in (like sugar and names of ingredients we can’t pronounce). Be sure to check the label and see how many calories are typically in the product. Most people associate low-fat foods with lower calories, so they tend to eat more. My advice – if it says low fat, DO NOT Buy it.

Smoothies

Normally, smoothies are associated with healthy eating. If we make them at home, they can include skim milk, fruit, some hidden veggies maybe, and or yogurt, so they are considered a great, healthy food. Some commercial smoothies, however, have many hidden calories from extra sugar. Smoothies bought at your local smoothie shop may also be made with ice cream, so you end up ballooning sugar, fat, and calorie content. Most of the time, the fruit in store-bought smoothies is mostly fruit juice, which eliminates the fiber that is found in the skin of most fruits. My advice – makes your smoothies at home. If you buy a smoothie make sure it is designated a treat and not a healthy snack!

Diet Soda

I must admit, I drink diet soda, but way less than what I used to drink.  It is tricky because it has no calories, so it is almost considered a non-food, a non-issue for weight loss.  But here is the thing. Your body will do whatever it must to maintain its delicate internal acid/alkaline balance (pH balance). Your blood alkalinity level (pH) must be in the range 7.360 – 7.370 ALL THE TIME or you will die! When you drink acidic liquids (like diet soda), you throw off this pH balance. So, to save your life, one of the first things your body will do is to park away the acids somewhere where they can’t damage your body. Where do you think is the best place to park poisonous acids? FAT CELLS!  So while you’re enjoying your diet soda, you’re actually making yourself create and fill up more fat cells!!! The more acidic your drink, the more you will aggravate this situation. Just to compare, pure water is neutral and soda (regular and sugar free) is 50,000 times more acidic.

Choosing healthy food can be confusing, especially with some ingenious marketing and shiny packaging. Read on to learn about three danger foods to avoid. There are many more than these three danger foods out there, so take the time to read labels so that your good deeds lead to good health!

Spring Time Resolution – Tips to Re-Start your Exercise Routine

Spring Time Resolution – Tips to Re-Start your Exercise Routine

 Spring time. The best time of the year. Warmer weather, flowers in bloom, spring time fashion, etc.; but for some there is a lot of anxiety that comes with spring – wearing skirts and shorts, going sleeveless, and bathing suits right around the corner. 

 If you started your new year with a resolution to get fit, eat healthy, or lose weight, and you either fell off the wagon or haven’t reached your goals yet, now is your second chance.fitness nutrition weight loss resolution get fit eat healthy

 We have all been there, probably several times. It’s been two months since you’ve seen the inside of the gym or done any type of exercise. There are all sorts of reasons; good, bad, or ugly. Now, the question is: how do you start again?

I know that you work hard to create good habits, and once you have an exercise habit, it becomes automatic. You just do it. You go to the gym, you run three days a week, you play tennis every other day, you take a kick boxing class every Tuesday, etc… there is no force involved. But after a month, two months or possibly a year off, it can be hard to get started again. I think it can be harder to get started exercising again, than simply getting started for the first time.

 As disappointed as you may feel for losing focus on your health and letting your exercise routine slip, what’s done is done.  You know I am always talking about the choices we make, and this is no different.  Make the choice to get started again. You know you can do it because you have done it before.

 Here are some tips to climb back on that treadmill after you’ve fallen off. Choose the ones that you like and make the most sense, and then choose a few that don’t. You may be surprised at how well some of these tips work.

1. Acknowledge Showing Up – 90% of making a change is just making the effort to get there. You can worry about your weight, endurance, strength, etc. later. Commit for Thirty Days – Make a commitment to exercise every day (even just for 10 minutes) for one month. Yes, I am serious. Yes, even on Sunday! This will solidify the exercise habit. By making a commitment you also take pressure off yourself in the first weeks back of deciding whether to go. Just go! Non-negotiable!

2. Make it Fun – Okay, so working our is never the same kind of fun as say, going to a party or spending time with your family, but If you don’t enjoy yourself at the gym, or whatever exercise activity you are doing, it is going to be hard to keep it a habit. There are thousands of ways you can move your body and exercise, so don’t give up if you’ve decided lifting weights or doing crunches isn’t for you. There is an endless range of activities, exercises, classes, and programs that can suit your tastes. Start trying them and see what is best for your fun.

 

3. Realistic Scheduling – Don’t put exercise time in a place where it will easily be pushed aside by something more important. My best time is at 5:00 am. I have tried later in the day, but something always comes up, either real or imagined. Only you can decide when is best for you. Just be realistic about it.

 

4. Get a Buddy – Grab a friend to join you. Having a social aspect to exercising can boost your commitment to the exercise. But even more than the social aspect, you are now accountable to someone else.  It is a lot harder to make an excuse or miss a workout when your friend is counting on you to show up.

5. Measure Fitness – Weight isn’t always the best number to track. But fitness improvements are a great way to stay motivated. Recording simple numbers such as the number of push-ups, sit-ups or speed you can run can help you see that the exercise is making you stronger and faster. Becoming stronger and faster is a great motivator for getting stronger and faster!

6. Habits First, Equipment Later – Expensive equipment doesn’t create a habit for exercise. Despite this, some people still believe that buying a thousand dollar machine will make up for their inactivity. It won’t. Start building the exercise habit first; only afterwards should you worry about having a bunch of equipment. Furthermore, some of the most effective exercises require no equipment at all.

7. Isolate Your Weakness – If falling off the exercise wagon is a common occurrence for you, you probably know why.  If not, figure out why. Do you not enjoy exercising? Is it a lack of time? Is it feeling self-conscious at the gym? Is it a lack of fitness know-how? As soon as you can isolate your weakness, you can make steps to improve the situation.

8. Start Small – This may sound a little counter intuitive, but work below your capacity for the first few weeks to build the habit. Ease your body and mind into your exercise routine, and after a few weeks you will want to start challenging yourself by doing more, especially if you use trick #5

Spring time. The best time of the year. Get up, get out, get moving. You can do it.

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