Monthly Archives: August 2011

Stop Emotional Eating Today

  |  in General, Motivational Tips, Nutrition TipsNo Comments

What is the single, most common problem that most dieters face when trying to lose weight? Will power? Nah. Temptation? Sometimes. Emotional eating? Bingo! That’s why it takes so much more than good intentions and information about nutrition and exercise to be successful. The ability to manage difficult situations and feelings effectively—without turning to food and eating—is a necessary foundation for a successful weight loss plan and healthy lifestyle.

Fortunately, there are many proactive steps you can take to keep functioning on all your mental cylinders during tough times. These steps range widely from basic relaxation techniques to the development of a reliable support network. Other options include:

  • Keeping a food journal to help you identify your emotional eating triggers
  • Cultivating mental and emotional well-being through practices like meditation, mindfulness, massage, and yoga
  • Developing good problem solving skills

But all of these things take time, and there are many instances when you need something you can do right now, to keep yourself grounded, focused and able to make good decisions. After all, you don’t always have time to take a walk, relax in a hot bath or call a friend to talk things over. That’s what we’ll be talking about here—a 3-minute trick for handling stressful situations in the moment.

Minute 1: Stay Grounded
Emotional eating happens when you lose your connection to your grounded self. Stress itself is not what makes you reach for something to eat. In fact, stress is often a good thing and your grounded self knows this! We need the physical stress of exercise to keep our bodies in good shape just as we need the stress of intellectual and emotional challenges to keep our minds healthy.

Nine times out of ten, what really leads to emotional eating is getting caught in a “mind storm” of worst-case scenarios, projections, misinterpretations, and all the emotional overreactions that come with these thoughts. This “storm” turns a manageable challenge into something that makes you feel helpless, overwhelmed, ashamed or afraid—and sends you to the kitchen to find something to stuff those extreme feelings. When you can stay grounded in the moment of stress, you have many more options.

Here are some simple ideas to keep you grounded when something (or someone) pushes your buttons and your feelings start to spiral out of control:

  • Take a few deep breaths. (You can also count to 10, if that helps.) If the stressful situation involves someone else, take a timeout and agree to continue the discussion in a few minutes.
  • Remind yourself where you are. Take a look around, noticing and naming the colors and shapes in the space around you.
  • Notice the physical sensations you are experiencing. Whether it’s a sinking feeling, turmoil in your stomach, tension in your hands or jaw, restricted breathing, or heat on the back of your neck, try to name the feelings that go with the sensation. Is that sinking feeling fear, or dread? Is the heat a symptom of anger?

The idea here is to stay in your body and in the moment—with what’s real—instead of going inside your mind where all those unreal scenarios are just waiting to get spun out-of-control.

Minute 2: Reality Check
Once you’re calm enough to start thinking productively, put all those thoughts that are clamoring for attention inside your head through a quick reality check. Here are several very common thought patterns that have no place in reality. Do any of these apply to you?

  • All or nothing thinking
    Example: You go over your calorie limit or eat something on your “forbidden” list, and then decide to keep eating because you’ve already “blown it” for today. Reality: Weight loss is not a one-day event. If you stop overeating now, you’ll gain less and have less to re-lose later. That’s something to feel good about!
  • Reading your own thoughts into someone else’s words
    Example: Someone made a mildly critical or unsupportive remark to you, and you feel completely devastated. Reality: The more bothered you are by such remarks, the more likely it is that you are being overly critical of yourself. When you treat yourself with respect, what others say won’t matter nearly so much.
  • Either-Or thinking
    Example: You make a mistake or have a bad day and feel like a complete and hopeless failure. Reality: No one does well all the time. Mistakes are a necessary and valuable opportunity to learn—if you don’t waste them by getting down on yourself.
  • Taking care of other people’s business
    Example: Something is going badly for someone you care about, and you feel responsible, or pressured to fix it. Reality: People need to learn from their own problems. You aren’t doing anyone a favor by trying to fix things just to make yourself feel better.

Minute 3: Putting Things in Perspective
Most common problems that you face in everyday life are much easier to handle when you keep them in perspective and avoid making mountains out of molehills. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to make sure you aren’t in the mountain-making business:

  • How big a deal is this, anyway? If I knew I was going to die in a week, would this be something I would want to spend this minute of my remaining time on?
  • Will any bad things happen if I postpone thinking about this until I have more time to figure things out?
  • Do I have all the information I need to decide how to respond to this? Do I really know what’s going on here, or am I making assumptions? Am I worrying about things that might not even happen? What do I need to check out before taking action?
  • Is there anything I can do right now that will change or help this situation?
  • Am I trying to control something I can’t, like what other people think, say, or do?
  • Have I really thought through this problem, and broken it down into manageable pieces I can handle one-at-a-time?

Use this approach whenever your thoughts or situations begin to feel overwhelming, and you’ll quickly find that the mountains that seem impossible at first can quickly morph into what they really are—manageable hills that you DO have the ability to climb. All it takes is three little minutes of your time.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellness_articles.asp?id=596

 

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Find Inspiration within your Temptations

  |  in Exercises, General, Motivational Tips, Nutrition TipsNo Comments

Getting motivated–and staying motivated–can be difficult, and when temptations abound, it seems like the world is conspiring to keep you indoors, on the couch and stuck in your unhealthy life.

Instead of viewing temptations as roadblocks, think of them as motivators–the devil on your shoulder, if you will. Their presence in your life should be just what you need to keep you from losing momentum, standing still or taking a break from your healthy journey. If you stop, they’ll get you; if you stay one step ahead, you’ll always come out on top. Temptations are like misunderstood Muses. They give you the chance to be creative while reaching your goals.

Temptation No. 1: Sleeping in or hitting the snooze alarm.

Inspiration: Taking care of your body.

Get your eight hours a night. If you’re consistently sleeping through your alarm or hitting the snooze bar more than twice, consider changing your sleep schedule. Try to head to bed earlier–even just 15 or 30 minutes can make a difference.

To help you stay healthy and manage your weight, you need adequate sleep. Sleep loss affects the levels of certain hormones, which can in turn affect your metabolic processes and adversely affect your health.

Sleep experts say most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health and safety. When we don’t get adequate sleep, we accumulate a sleep debt that can be difficult to “pay back” if it becomes too big. The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior, decreased productivity, and safety issues in the home, on the job, and on the road.

Sleep loss also can cause a lack of desire to achieve goals because you feel fatigued and “run down.” Sleep is also important in developing lean muscle tissue. When you work out, you are actually tearing your muscles – sleep and proper nutrients help rebuild the muscle so that you get stronger.

Temptation No. 2: Grabbing takeout or stopping at a drive-thru.

Inspiration: Making smart choices.

Ideally, you should drive by the drive-thru and cook healthful meals at home every night. However, not all takeout is created equal, and you can find some healthful options at chain restaurants and even your neighborhood deli. See this temptation as a challenge to be creative and bring home a healthful meal when you’re in a hurry.

Plan ahead if you can, build a meal around vegetables and choose small portions to keep your takeout from taking away your self-control. (Find hundreds of tips and strategies to help you make smart, healthy choices when you’re away from home here.)

Follow the same rules at a restaurant that you would at home: Choose whole grains when possible, fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit, and opt for lean cuts of meat and low-calorie preparations.

Baked potatoes, side salads, fruit cups and milk are ubiquitous at fast food restaurants these days. See this as an opportunity to stare French fries in the face–and win!

Temptation No. 3: Grazing on junk food all night long.

Inspiration: Getting to the root of a problem.

Before you start chastising yourself for blowing your calorie budget after a good day of healthy, mindful eating, think about why you are snacking. Mindless munching is usually anything but.

Are you thirsty? Many hunger pangs are actually just thirst in disguise. Drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. If your hunger subsides, you weren’t really hungry after all.

What did you eat for dinner? If you tried to save calories or reduce your carb intake by having a green salad or just a plate of veggies, it’s no wonder you’re hungry. Your body needs a bit of variety to stay happy. Protein takes longer to digest and helps keep you fuller longer. Toss some grilled chicken chunks, a small can of tuna or a half-cup of beans on your salad tomorrow night to give it some staying power. In the meantime, reach for a small servings of whole-grain crackers with a tablespoon of nut butter. The combo of fat, protein and carbs will tide you over until morning.

Are you stressed or upset about something? Instead of reaching for the chocolate bar or the chips, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Eating your feelings leaves you feeling worse than when you started. Go for a walk, get out of the kitchen, remove trigger foods from the house–whatever it takes.

To get a handle on emotional eating, you first need to understand it. Learn more about this common food problem, which is the cause of 75% of overeating, according to experts. Once you know your food weaknesses, you’ll be prepared to confront those evening cravings instead of surrendering to them.

Temptation No. 4: Vegging out on the couch.

Inspiration: Taking time for you.

You get home from work and gaze longingly at the sofa. You had a long day, and a bit of rest sounds much better than socializing or spending time with others. You just want to be alone with your feet up, mind empty and the TV on.

Devote a chunk of time each week or each day to yourself. Maybe it’s 15 minutes, or maybe it’s two hours. Put yourself first as often as you need to.

Instead of punishing yourself for being lazy, use this “me” time in a productive way. Do a crossword puzzle, read a book, watch a movie, call a friend, pick up knitting, or cuddle with your child or partner.

Anticipate this respite from the hustle and bustle of your life and plan for it. Watch your favorite TV show, paint your nails, ask your partner to give you a foot rub. Reward yourself for being motivated, sticking with your healthy lifestyle plan and working out regularly. A bit of time spent doing nothing can help carry you through the rest of your hectic and action-packed life. (Read our Rest & Relaxation articles for more tips.)

Temptation No. 5: Skipping your workout.

Inspiration: Changing up your workout.

You know how great you feel when you finish a workout: refreshed, revived and rejuvenated. You feel strong, confident and happy. So why would you want to skip exercise? Quite often, the reason is boredom.

Does your workout schedule run on repeat? Do you do the same thing at the same time and in the same place every day?

Now that you’ve made fitness a part of your life, try shaking up your routine from time to time. Instead of walking laps around the park in your neighborhood, try taking a new route. If you belong to a gym, trade the Stairmaster for the elliptical or the treadmill for the stationary bike.

Tired of your DVDs? Trade with a friend or head to the library. Take a new class: Zumba, cardio dance, Pilates, yoga or Spinning are fun ones to try. Ask a trainer at your gym or a fit friend for suggestions. Speaking of which, one of the best ways to shake up your workout is to enlist a friend to blast calories with you. You can catch up on each other’s lives while you firm up.

When temptations step in your path, don’t cower. Confront them and enlist them as your allies. Soon you’ll be stronger and more determined and will have traveled a little farther in your healthy living journey.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/motivation_articles.asp?id=1356&page=6

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Stop and Chew your Food!

  |  in General, Motivational Tips, Nutrition TipsNo Comments

In this era of fast-paced everything, even the act of eating a meal has become something we can do on the run. Breakfast comes in bars, lunch can be eaten while speeding down the highway, and dinner is merely an accompaniment to the evening news, squeezed in between other pressing activities. Invariably, when eating plays second string to everything else, every meal becomes “fast food,” as in eaten-very-fast food. If you find yourself wolfing down your meals in a hurry, you’re actually shortchanging yourself in more ways than you might think.

It turns out there’s a reason food tastes so good. You’re supposed to enjoy it—slow down and savor it, not just get it to your stomach as quickly as possible. Chewing your food thoroughly is actually the first step in the complex process of digestion, and if you glaze over it, just chewing the minimum amount of times necessary to get the food down your esophagus, you’re actually compromising this process. And it’s a mistake many people make.

If you try to imagine swallowing a whole piece of pizza, it’s easy to see why chewing is necessary. But besides breaking up your food into manageable chunks, there’s another good reason to put in the effort and chew. The saliva that coats your food as you chew actually contains digestive enzymes that begin to digest your food before you even swallow it. The enzymes alpha-amylase and lingual lipase begin digesting carbohydrates and fats, reducing the amount of work for which the stomach will be responsible. And it isn’t just a nice gesture. If food fragments are swallowed un-chewed, not only do nutrients remain locked in the fragments, but these fragments create an environment in the colon that is conducive to digestive distress—bacterial overgrowth, gas, and bloating.

For food particles to even leave your stomach though, the “gates” of the stomach, the pyloric sphincter, must open. Conveniently, chewing also aids in this process, signaling this event. And speaking of signals, just seeing your food causes your brain to send signals to the pancreas and stomach to secrete digestive acids and enzymes that are essential to digestion. And the longer your food has contact with your taste and smell receptors—the longer you chew each bite—the stronger these signals become. Strong signals mean more digestive molecules, less indigestion, less acid reflux, and superior nutrient absorption.

Chewing your food thoroughly and eating your meals more slowly has another benefit. It might shrink your waistline—and not just because you’ll have less bloating and indigestion. Eating more slowly gives your body a chance to tell your mind that it’s full, so that you stop eating before you go overboard. In a preliminary study presented at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity’s Annual Scientific Meeting in 2004, study subjects ate less when they were instructed to eat more slowly.

Here are some practical tips for chewing more thoroughly and eating more slowly:

  • Give yourself enough time to eat—at least 20-30 minutes just to eat the meal, plus additional time to prepare it.
  • Don’t eat amidst distractions, like the TV, computer, or while driving.
  • Be fully present while you eat. Notice the smell, temperature, texture, color, and subtle flavor differences of each food you consume.
  • Take smaller portions, taking a break before refilling.
  • Put your fork down after each bite.
  • Eat mindfully, chewing each bite as many times as necessary to pulverize any texture.
  • If you’re eating in a group, be aware of the speed at which others are eating. Challenge yourself to be the last to finish.

Besides all of the physical benefits, perhaps the most pleasant benefit of all is that, if you allow yourself to slow down and chew, you’ll enjoy your food much more.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=963&page

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Yummy Summer Salsa

  |  in General, Healthy Recipes, Nutrition Tips, UncategorizedNo Comments

Roasted Tomato Salsa with Cilantro

If you cannot find these tiny heirloom yellow tomatoes, any grape or cherry tomatoes will do. The roasting coaxes fresh tomato salsa from bright and acidic into complex, subtle and sweet. If you don’t care for cilantro, try using basil instead, and serve this salsa as a bruschetta topping on toasted gluten-free bread rubbed with a clove of fresh garlic.

Ingredients

2 pints of yellow cherry or heirloom tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup corn kernels
2 teaspoons dried or fresh cilantro
Sea salt
Olive oil
White balsamic vinegar

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a roasting pan combine:
2 pints of yellow cherry or heirloom tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup corn kernels
2 teaspoons dried cilantro
Sea salt

Drizzle with
Olive oil
White balsamic vinegar

Toss to coat. Roast in a preheated oven until the tomatoes are soft and sweet, about 25 to 30 minutes. I stirred the mix halfway through roasting. Cool before storing. Store covered in the fridge. Just before serving allow the salsa to come to room temperature. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.

Serve with Brown Rice Tortilla Chips, corn chips, or triangles of toasted gluten-free garlic bread.

Total Servings: 6

Nutritional Information Per Serving

Calories: 265
Carbohydrates: 53.5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Fat:  5 g
Saturated Fat: 0.7 g
Fiber:  15.5 g
Sodium:  377 mg
Protein:  11.7 g

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/roasted-yellow-tomato-salsa-with-cilantro

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The Warm Weather Guide to Healthier Eating

  |  in General, Healthy Recipes, Nutrition TipsNo Comments

Looking for new, inventive ways to improve your eating habits? Warm weather can help you create better nutritional habits. From longer days to seasonal produce, the next few months are a great time to make your diet reach new heights.

Breakfast
Even though it’s typically the smallest meal of the day, breakfast is the most important one because it sets the tone for the entire day. What you eat, or do not eat, will determine how much you eat for lunch, dinner and snacks. If you skip breakfast, you become more likely to binge at lunch and load up on unneeded calories. So how can the pleasant weather help with eating breakfast?

Set up a system with Mother Nature’s virtues as the backbone. Now that the sun is out and the temperature is nice when you wake up, eat breakfast outside every morning. Pick a place – your porch, deck or favorite chair – and take 10 to 15 minutes to eat and enjoy. No need for eggs, bacon and all the fixins; cereal with skim milk, a whole-wheat bagel with low-fat cream cheese or a fruit smoothie is all you need to start the day right.

Lunch
This is a trouble meal for two reasons: 1. If you eat at a restaurant, it’s hard to control portion sizes, 2. It’s usually followed by sitting at a desk for the next several hours. This equates to consuming a lot of calories without burning any in return. A few more problems with a typical lunch out:

  • Lack of whole grains (mostly white bread, white pasta and white rice)
  • Few fruits and vegetables
  • Danger foods (French fries, fattening condiments)

The solution? Pack your lunch. You can control the portions, add fruits and veggies, make sure all of your carbohydrates are complex and avoid unhealthy snacks and sweets. Now about burning some of those calories, again take advantage of the warmer weather and eat away from the office. If you choose a spot that’s a 10-minute walk away, you’ll burn 120 calories just by walking there and back.

Still unsure? Do you usually eat lunch with work buddies? Bring them along! Make a lunch team where everyone packs their lunches and heads out of the office to eat. Better yet, each person on the team could make a healthy, big batch of food once a week for the rest of team, so every day is a different, healthy lunch. Everyone wins.

Dinner
Keep taking advantage of the longer days and fire up that grill. Grilling out has all of the good foods that come with hitting up the drive-thru; they’re just healthier versions. You can have a burger if you’d like, or go with healthier foods such as chicken or fish. You eliminate a lot of the grease that comes with frying. But who said to stop with meat? Add some veggies to the mix. Throw on a few ears of corn, or cut up and skewer some peppers, onions and tomatoes. Cooking on the grill will take up the same time as the drive-thru, and it’s cheaper, too.

Other tips:
From the flowers blooming in your garden to the vegetables for sale at the farmers market, bright colors abound during summer. Spread that variety to your diet with a healthy dose of different-colored fruits and vegetables. The food will taste great, and the presentation will be more lively.

  • Orange – oranges, peppers, carrots, peaches
  • Yellow – apples, peppers, bananas, corn
  • Red – apples, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries
  • Purple – blueberries, grapes
  • Green – peppers, kiwi, broccoli, peas, leafy greens
  • White – cauliflower, water chestnuts

Eliminating soda has enormous benefits to your diet. Replacing it with water would be preferable, but if you really crave that sweet taste in your drink, go for the spring and summertime favorite, unsweetened iced tea. It will quench your thirst on a hot day for fewer calories and less caffeine than soda. Or, give water a shot, but slice up a cucumber, lemon, lime or orange and drop the pieces in a pitcher to add some refreshing flavor.

Here’s to summer!<!–

http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=170&page=3
Article created on:  4/2/2004

–>

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National Watermelon Day!

  |  in General, Healthy Recipes, Nutrition TipsNo Comments

Today, August 3rd, 2011, is National Watermelon Day! Watermelon is a delicious fruit that is great to snack on. Watermelon is 92% water, and has many beneficial qualities:

  • Vitamin A found in watermelon is important for optimal eye health, can help prevent night-blindness, and boosts immunity by enhancing the infection-fighting actions of white blood cells called lymphocytes.
  • Vitamin B6 found in watermelon helps the immune system produce antibodies. Antibodies are needed to fight many diseases. Vitamin B6 helps maintain normal nerve function and form red blood cells. The body uses it to help break down proteins. The more protein you eat, the more vitamin B6 you need.
  • Vitamin C in watermelon can help to bolster the immune system’s defenses against infections and viruses and can protect a body from harmful free radicals that can accelerate aging and conditions such as cataracts.
  • A two-cup serving of watermelon is also a source of potassium*, a mineral necessary for water balance and found inside of every cell. People with low potassium levels can experience muscle cramps.

Get Hydrated with Watermelon!

It’s no coincidence that the word water appears in watermelon. Thirst quenching watermelon can help to replenish body fluids: one cup of diced watermelon is about 92% water. Water is the most vital nutrient for life– over two-thirds of your body is made up of water.

Along with drinking plenty of water, eating watermelon will help to provide you with liquids your body needs for optimum health. Try refreshing watermelon juice, which is now sold in some supermarkets.

Or you can easily make watermelon juice yourself: Slice a chilled watermelon into 2 inch slices and place in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Press through a fine sieve, strain and discard seeds and pulp, pour the juice into a pitcher, chill and serve cold.

Watermelon and Weight Management:

With more than 60% of adults overweight or obese, over 97 million Americans are at risk to a host of chronic diseases. If you are trying to control your weight, watermelon is perfect because it has only 80 calories, no fat at all, and is full of satisfying flavor and important nutrients. A healthy food, 2 cups of watermelon chunks contain 25% of your daily vitamin A and 30% of your daily vitamin C. Watermelon also contains B6 (6%) as well as potassium (8%), phosphorus (4%) and magnesium (8%).
Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in calories and fat; many contain lots of water and fiber to give you a feeling of fullness. Combined with an active lifestyle and low-fat diet, eating greater amounts of fruits and vegetables and fewer high-calorie foods at meals can help you control your weight.

http://www.watermelon.org/HealthProfessionals/HealthProfessionals.aspx

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