Healthy Eating Tips

Simple Ways to Eat Better

The thought of dieting can seem daunting. We often associate dieting with deprivation of favorite foods, torturous cravings, flavorless health foods and constant hunger pangs. However, dieting doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s as simple as incorporating a few simple changes to your lifestyle in a thoughtful way. Here are a few ideas to get you started on your journey toward a healthier lifestyle.

 

1.Find healthy foods that you actually enjoy eating: This may take some time and will require patience and a willingness to test new foods. Likely there are fruits, vegetables, healthy grains and other nutritious foods that you actually like. Once you’ve found healthy foods that you like, swap out some of your junk food for healthy substitutes. For example, almonds may be a satisfying crunchy snack for those who love potato chips. A juicy peach or bowl of raspberries may be the perfect stand-in for sugary deserts.

 

2. Try new recipes to find tasty ways to prepare vegetables: With the enormous number of recipes available for free on the internet, there are plenty of delicious ways to cook vegetables. Look for recipes that offer flavorful ways to cook vegetables without adding a lot of unnecessary fats. Once you find a recipe that you like, try substituting different types of vegetables to get some variety. For example, a recipe for broccoli may work just as well with cauliflower, green beans, Brussels sprouts or zucchini.

 

3. Be aware of portion sizes: While measuring every food item is tedious, it may be helpful to measure your portions for a short time to gain awareness of how much you are actually eating. You may be surprised to learn the suggested serving size of some of your favorite foods is a lot smaller than you thought. Once you have retrained yourself in proper portion sizes, you can stop measuring or weighing your food.

 

4. Use smaller plates to make your meals look larger: There are two downsides to using large plates. First, you may accidentally let your portion sizes get out of control. Second, if you are able to keep your portions in check, you may feel like you are depriving yourself when you see a small amount of food on your large plate. Piling a small plate full of healthy foods will eliminate that deprivation message and the lack of room on your plate will help maintain portion control.

 

5. Challenge yourself to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet: A great challenge is to eat two different types of fruits or vegetables at each meal. This is harder than it sounds! But if you are able to find ways to cram your plate full of different types of fruits and vegetables, you will have less room for unhealthy foods. This challenge also gives you the opportunity to try lots of different types of produce, giving you the chance to explore new foods and perhaps find a few new favorites.

 

6. Find alternatives to eating out of boredom: Can’t resist mindless munching when watching television? Try sipping some herbal tea instead. Constantly reaching for an afternoon snack while at work? Keep your desk drawers stocked with dried fruit, nuts or sliced vegetables.

 

7. Substitute exercise for emotional eating: Cardio, weight lifting or yoga is an instant mood enhancer. Our bodies release endorphins during exercise so the next time you’re a feeling down and tempted to eat an entire carton of ice cream, try excising instead.

 

Remember, your diet is all about moderation! Sometimes, we all need to indulge. Giving in to your cravings on occasion is not such a bad thing if you remember to exercise moderation. A single scoop of ice cream, a handful of chips, one slice of pizza or a sugary beverage enjoyed on infrequent occasions can help ease those feelings of deprivation. Just remember to be purposeful in your indulgence: eat slowly to savor your food, keep your portions under control and make sure these indulgences occur infrequently.

 

Reaching your weight loss goals doesn’t have to be about only consuming weight loss shakes and boiled chicken. It is much easier to achieve success when you make your diet about healthy lifestyle changes rather than simply counting calories. Embrace your love of food by searching out delicious healthy foods and recipes. Exercise moderation and allow for the occasional treat. Your slimmer, healthier future is easier to achieve than you may think.



 Clean Eating is Easier Than You May Think

You’ve probably heard that clean eating has significant health benefits. But for those not familiar with the particulars of clean eating, it can seem overwhelming. Many believe it’s an expensive and difficult change of habit. The truth is it’s less complicated and more affordable than you may think.

 

One misconception that can turn people off is that clean eating is too complicated. Like any lifestyle change, it takes some initial effort. However, it is not complicated. The effort comes from changing the way you look at food and getting used to cooking whole meals instead of using boxes and jars.

 

The easiest way to begin is by making a few food swaps. What you’re trying to achieve is replacing processed food with whole, natural food. Evaluate any processed food you have in your kitchen. These may include frozen meals, boxed pasta meals, and jars and packets of sauces. These have many ingredients that you don’t need and can damage your health. These include added fat, sugar, sodium, chemicals, and preservatives. Imagine what whole ingredients you can put together to achieve the same flavor profiles you find in processed food. The flavors you can create with a few whole ingredients and little time may surprise you.

 

Start by leaving boxed pasta and rice meals on the store shelves. Cook plain pasta and rice with raw vegetables, spices, and herbs. Make your own spice mixes instead of using ready-made packets. Use plain oats. Add fresh fruit, pure honey, and cinnamon. Ditch the chemically processed vegetable and canola oils, as well as margarine. Opt for cold-pressed coconut and olive oils that are high in quality. Replace flavored yogurt with plain yogurt and mix in fresh fruit. Instead of drinking fruit juices loaded with sugar, eat whole pieces of fruit. Then, enjoy a crisp glass of water or a cup of tea. Processed meat is another food you’ll want to avoid. Choose grass fed meats that are free of hormones and antibiotics. Search for clean marinara sauce recipes. You’ll find most are simple, timely, and much better than the jarred stuff.

 

Once you’ve decided on swaps, you’ll need to approach shopping a little differently than usual. At the grocery store, read labels on everything you buy. Make sure packaged, canned, and frozen foods have few ingredients. Long lists of ingredients that you have trouble understanding are red flags. Aside from unpronounceable chemicals and preservatives, beware of trans fats, salt, and sugar.

Expense is also a concern for many people while shopping for healthy food. The general belief that clean eating is expensive has some foundation. Past studies have shown that processed food costs less per calorie than whole foods cost. But that’s not the whole story here. Processed food can have negative impacts on your health. Over time, disease prevention and treatment can cost more than eating healthy food. Also, other studies have shown a decreasing gap in price points with rising demand for nutritious food. Affording healthy food is also a matter of arming yourself with information that allows you to shop and eat smart.

 

One of the most obvious ways to save money on groceries is also one of the simplest ways: buy in-season produce. Two major factors make produce more expensive when out of season than when in season. The first is the excess cost of shipping from a place in which the produce is in season. The second is the high energy cost of forcing growth of produce that is out of season. Local growers must replicate natural environments to bring this produce into stores.

 

Because of these reasons, you’re always going to save on in-season produce. During fall and winter, pick root vegetables. Choose greens such as Brussels sprouts, collards, and cabbage. Buy apples, oranges, grapefruits, and pears. In spring and summer, pick vegetables such as corn, eggplant, asparagus, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Stick with fruits like nectarines, watermelon, apricots, plums, and strawberries. Apples are typically in season all year, though they tend to be least expensive during the fall. Many fruits and vegetables also overlap seasons, so look out for price trends.

 

The next way to save money while eating well is to buy certain items in bulk. Dry beans, rice, lentils, barley, and quinoa are great options for buying in bulk. They’re often cheaper per unit of weight than small packages. Look at the price labels on the shelves of everything you buy. Compare the prices per unit of measure on bulk and non-bulk packages to determine the best buy.

 

Another way to stock up and save money is by buying canned and frozen fruits, vegetables, and beans. Look for varieties of vegetables and beans that advertise no added salt. Buy fruit in natural juices (not syrup). Try the store brand of these items, and watch for sales. This also reduces the waste that happens when produce goes rancid faster than you can use it.

 

Now that you have a pantry and refrigerator full of healthy food, make preparing your meals fun. Play around, and find what you love. You don’t have to be a superstar chef to create delicious meals with whole ingredients. Experiment with different flavor combinations, and think of it as healthful creation instead of a chore.

 

Clean eating does not have to be overwhelming. It’s easier than you may think to nourish your body with healthy food choices. Commit to informing yourself, cooking with whole foods, and shopping smart to stick within your budget.

Source: Mayuree Rao, “Do healthier foods and diet patterns cost more than less healthy options? A systematic review and meta-analysis.” BMJ Open, Accessed 5 November 2016
bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/12/e004277.full?sid=820d6e1a-280e-47a6-b8c5-498bfa4657e3



How Many Calories Do I Need to Eat?

When we are determined to lose weight, we are tempted to cut down the amount of food we eat dramatically. It would seem logical to think that if we reduce our calories then we will lose weight, and whilst this is true in theory, if we cut our calorie intake too much, we may actually not only prevent weight loss but also create other health problems.

 

Calories are essentially units that measure the amount of energy we eat in our food or we use in our daily activities and when we exercise. To maintain a healthy weight, our calories burned during any 24-hour period must not be less than the amount of calories we ingest in our food during that time. Our bodies can compensate for the occasional meal that is very high in calories, but over the course of a few weeks and months, if we continue to eat more than we exercise, we will gain weight.

 

Balancing our Daily Caloric Needs with Our Desire to Lose Weight

Traditional diets are being replaced by food plans that limit calorie intake to the amount that provides only adequate calories for daily activities. When the body receives fewer calories than it can use as energy, it will begin to burn stored fat to get the energy that it needs. Stored fat is the energy source that the body uses when our food intake does not supply enough calories to provide us with the energy our body needs to function. By limiting intake to a minimum recommended daily calorie intake and increasing the amount of calories burned through exercise, we will lose weight.

 

Our required caloric intake is dependent upon gender, age, activity level, and other factors. Most good plans will include a checklist to ensure you are eating an appropriate amount of food for your personal requirements. If you have a chronic disease, such as type 2 diabetes or a digestive disorder, you should always check with your doctor first.

 

Averages for Men and Women

Assuming you are young, fit, and healthy, the suggested calorie intake for a woman who has an average lifestyle is between 1700 to 2000 calories each day. If a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding, calorie requirements rise to around 2300 calories per day. A man who is moderately active will need approximately 2300 to 2500 calories each day. But a very active man may require 3000 or more a day, as a minimum, to stay strong and healthy.

 

Eating for Weight Loss

Individuals who want to lose weight effectively should reduce the amount of calories they consume by around 500 calories per day, and anyone who wants to lose weight must look at what foods they are consuming to get the necessary calories they need to function each day. Swapping simple carbohydrates, such as potatoes, rice, and white bread, for sweet potatoes, brown rice, and whole grain bread, will help you reduce the calories you ingest by keeping you feeling fuller for longer periods throughout the day. These foods also reduce the swings in blood sugar levels that cause much of the food-related damage to the body over an extended period of time.

 

There are a number of diet plans that follow these simple guidelines and, in the long run, they almost all work better than the quick faddy diets that unfortunately are so popular right now. Following these recommended daily calorie guides will assist you not only in losing weight but also in maintaining your general health and preventing insidious weight gain that can develop gradually over many years.



Seven Nutrients That Your Diet May Be Missing

The human body is a compelling and amazing thing. Even the greatest scientists in the world have been completely baffled by the most basic functions of our bodies. For our bodies to be able to do the miraculous things that it does, we need to first give it the proper nutrients that it requires. Below are the seven nutrients that you probably are not getting enough of from your current diet.

 

1. Iron

The human body uses iron to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron is also used to help the muscles store and use oxygen. The human body needs just the right amount of iron, and it can be detrimental if your body has too much or too little.

 

How to get more: Go see your doctor before you try to incorporate an iron supplement into your diet. Your physician will be able to tell you whether or not you need more iron. If you are looking to increase your consumption of iron there are a number of foods that are rich in this great nutrient. Try eating egg yolks, liver, dried fruits, and artichokes.

 

2. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a special nutrient because it is the only vitamin that our bodies can consume and make. Our bodies make vitamin D by processing sunlight. Vitamin D regulates cell growth, maintains the optimal level of calcium, and is used to reduce inflammation and pain. If you have a Vitamin D deficiency, you may suffer from severe asthma, cognitive impairment, rickets, cardiovascular disease, and an increased risk of cancer.

 

How to get more: Eating a diet rich in vitamin D and getting enough exposure to the sun are the best ways to obtain more vitamin D. Foods that are rich in vitamin D include canned salmon, oysters, caviar, eggs, ham, salami, mushrooms, and sausages.

 

3. Calcium

Calcium is an essential nutrient that our bodies need to function properly. In fact, there is more calcium in your body than any other mineral. Calcium’s main job is to make sure that your bones and teeth are healthy and strong. Other than strengthening bones, calcium is used to expand and contract blood vessels, send messages throughout the nervous system, and secrete hormones.

 

How to get more: Getting more calcium in your diet is easy. Simply change your diet to be higher in calcium. Some foods that are high in calcium include milk, cheese, yogurt, green vegetables, sardines, salmon, and spinach.

4. Fiber

The body uses fiber for proper digestion, the prevention of constipation, and the reduction of cholesterol levels. Fiber comes in two different types: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber reduces the amount of cholesterol and glucose in the blood. Insoluble fiber assists the body in proper digestion. Your body requires both types of fiber to run optimally. If your body is not getting enough fiber you will suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, constipation, obesity, and cancer.

 

How to get more: The only way to get more fiber is to eat foods that are rich in fiber. Here are some foods that have high fiber content: prunes, pears, mangoes, raisins, rye, pecans, walnuts, navy beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans.

 

5. Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 is a water soluble vitamin that is essential for the body to function properly. Vitamin B-12 cannot be made by humans, animals, or plants, but some types of bacteria are able to produce this amazing vitamin. Our bodies use vitamin B-12 for a variety of functions. The most important functions include, maintaining a healthy digestive system, converting carbohydrates into glucose, and maintaining the healthy regulation of our nervous systems. In addition, vitamin B-12 decreases the risk of breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer.

 

How to get more: The human body typically stores an adequate amount of vitamin B-12 in the liver, but with the typical modern diet most people are not getting enough of this vitamin. Try eating foods that are rich in vitamin B-12, such as, shellfish, eggs, and different types of cheeses.

 

6. Magnesium

Magnesium is an essential nutrient that is required for the human body to function properly. For instance, magnesium is used in over 300 chemical reactions throughout the body. Magnesium assists a number of systems and organs in the body, such as, the cardiovascular system, the nervous system, the digestive system, muscular system, excretory system, the immune system, and hormone-secreting glands. There are many uncomfortable side effects that coincide with a magnesium deficiency. For example, if you have a magnesium deficiency, you may experience headaches, weight gain, depression, nausea, seizure, vomiting, and an increased heart rate.

 

How to get more: There are many foods that are rich in magnesium. Some examples of foods that are rich in magnesium include spinach, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, soybeans, halibut, dried figs, and bananas.

 

7. Potassium

Potassium enables muscles and nerves to communicate. Additionally, it regulates our body’s water balance by moving nutrients in cells and waste out of cells. If you develop a potassium deficiency, you will experience terrible side effects, such as, muscle cramps, fatigue, and constipation.

 

How to get more: Getting more potassium in your diet can be easy, and it just requires you to eat a diet higher in Potassium. There are a number of foods that are rich in potassium, such as spinach, collards, carrots, potatoes, grapes, grapefruits, and oranges.



Health Effects of Your Meal Frequency and Portion Sizes

The last decade and half has witnessed an unprecedented awareness among people about not just the types of food they consume, but also the quantity and frequency of their meals. Preference for a leaner body as well as health repercussions of body weight are perhaps two of the biggest triggers for this ever increasing willingness on the part of people to experiment with portion size and meal frequency.

 

A change in meal portions and its frequency affects our body in two distinct ways: absorption and metabolism of the food. Readers should be mindful that absorption and metabolic processes are affected by a host of distinct reasons including energy density of the food and even the physical traits of food items. This article, however, will look into the effects of two of the most widely followed dietary experiments by people – portion rationing and meal frequency.

 

Impact of portion size on food absorption

When you consume a meal, the rate of absorption of major macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat) comprising your food differs significantly. Within half an hour of your food intake, protein and carbohydrate enter the portal vein and surface in general circulation. Increased absorption of carbohydrate (in the form of glucose) in your body results in secretion of several hormones, including insulin. This has twin consequences. Firstly, the body starts to burn carbohydrate faster. Importantly too, there is a corresponding decline in the release of fat and its oxidation.

 

In other words, storage of fat in your body gets a spike after every meal consumed. Portion size has a direct bearing on the duration for which carbohydrate levels stay high – a large meal increases this duration leading to a decline in the burn rate of fat and makes your body store fat. Likewise, smaller portions shrink the duration for which glucose levels stay up and thereby limit the storage of fat.

 

Smaller portion size, therefore, helps the process of weight loss in two significant ways. Firstly, you directly cut down your intake of fat with a smaller meal. Further, physiologically your body burns fat at an increased rate when you ration your portion.

 

Impact of portion size on metabolism

The metabolic process of your body determines whether you can achieve a state of energy equilibrium. Energy equilibrium is the level where your total energy intake is cancelled out by the energy you expend. Therefore, to determine the effect of portion size on metabolism, we have to look at its effect on both energy intake as well as energy expenditure.

 

Intuitively, you can tell that a larger meal size, all things being equal, amounts to a greater energy intake. What, however, is the effect of a large meal on our body’s ability to expend energy? Our bodies expend energy in three key ways. Firstly, our bodies expend energy in maintaining itself. This is also known as basic metabolic rate (BMR) and it amounts to 60 to 75 per cent of the total energy expenditure of an individual. Secondly, the body produces heat during absorption and metabolism of food. An average individual loses approximately 10 per cent of their total energy intake in the form of body heat as a result of absorption and metabolic process. Lastly, body expends energy through physical exertions.

For our purposes, only the second factor has relevance vis-à-vis portion size. Scientifically, BMR has not been shown to be affected by the amount of food consumed. Similarly, the causal link between portion size and physical activity remains ambiguous and decidedly difficult to measure. On the other hand, portion size has a direct correlation with the energy body expends during its absorptive and metabolic process.

 

Thus, while a larger meal portion directly increases your total energy intake, it also concurrently leads to your body burn more energy. This, however, is not a zero sum game where the total intake of energy is cancelled out by calories burned during metabolism and absorption. Very often, the total calorie consumed during a big meal is too much to be negated in any significant way by a diet induced loss of body heat.


Impact of meal frequency on absorption of food

In the ensuing discussion, this article proceeds on an assumption of inverse relationship between frequency of meals and portion sizes. Thus, when we talk about a higher meal frequency, we simultaneously assume smaller portion sizes to go with it.

 

Medical studies over the years have demonstrated a clear link between frequent (and smaller sized) meals and its attendant health benefits. Principally, more frequent meals help diabetic patients improve their glycemic control as well as observe a drop in their insulin requirement. The tests have further demonstrated that even healthy individuals observe an appreciable drop in glucose and insulin fluctuations when they choose a more frequent diet regimen instead of fewer but larger meals.

 

The medically observed effects of more frequent meals are not limited to insulin and glucose levels. Researchers have discovered that a fluctuation in lipid levels of an individual is affected by her frequency of meal intake. Very simply, large and infrequent meals lead to a boost in lipid circulation and thereby increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Smaller and frequent meals on the other hand have been found to decrease cholesterol levels and certain types of fatty acids as well as cut down fat storage in the body.

 

Impact of meal frequency on metabolic process

As in the case of portion sizes, meal frequency affects metabolic process in two distinct ways – by influencing the intake of energy as well as controlling how much energy is burned by the body.

 

In a number of studies, researchers have found an inverse correlation between meal frequency and the total energy received by an individual. It has been suggested that meal frequency affects the release of certain hormones by the body. A higher meal frequency curbs the release of hormones which eventually moderates the energy taken in by an individual.

 

The case of meal frequency with respect to its impact on energy expended by the body is much more straightforward. As mentioned above, body burns energy in three specific ways, namely, basic metabolic rate, production of body heat and physical activity. Several studies with elaborate experimental designs have been carried out to investigate the effect of meal frequency on each of the three ways the body loses energy. None of them have proven any correlation between both BMR and production of body heat and meal frequency. While athletes are known to manipulate their meal frequency for optimal energy expenditure, by and large meal frequency does not affect the overall energy expenditure over a 24 hours period.

 

A final word of caution

As a cautionary note, it should be mentioned that some of these scientific studies are typically carried out in highly controlled environment and for a relatively short duration. As such these studies run the risk of methodological flaws and erroneous interpretations where a correlation or even a causal link is shown to be present even if none exist.



Your Healthy Grocery List – Tips For Healthy Supermarket Shopping

Eating healthy is important, but you cannot whip up a healthy meal if there is no food in the house. Your healthy eating habits start where you buy your food – at the local grocery store or supermarket. You do not have to blow your entire paycheck at the organic grocery or health food store. With a little bit of planning and some old fashioned discipline, you can find great healthy ingredients at your regular store. Just use these simple tips to get started.

 

1. Check the list of ingredients – the size of the ingredient list matters a lot. If that ingredient list takes up half the package, chances are the product is heavily processed and potentially unhealthy.

 

2. Read the label – the nutritional label is full of useful information, from the number of calories per serving to the amount of fat and the fiber content. Get in the habit of reading those labels, and use that information to make smart buying decisions.

 

3. Start with the produce section – fill your shopping cart in the produce section, focusing on healthy in season fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables should make up a large portion of every meal. Make sure they represent a large portion of your shopping basket as well.


4. Shop the perimeter of the store – the outer sections of the grocery store are often home to the healthiest choices. From produce to fresh cut meats and healthy seafood, the perimeter of the store is a great place to find healthy food.

 

5. Look for fresh herbs and spices – those dried and bottled spices are fine in a pinch, but fresh is always better. Look for fresh garlic bulbs and grind your own for those great recipes. Buy fresh basil and dry it for long-term storage. Fresh herbs taste better, and they are better for you as well.

 

6. Use sales to stock up on healthy staples – it is a sad reality that healthy items are often more expensive than junk food. Fight back by stocking up on those healthy staples when they go on sale. Watch the weekly circulars, make your list and buy in bulk to save money.

 

7. Get to know your local butcher – the butcher at your grocery store can be your best ally in your quest for healthy cooking. Ask your new best friend to trim the fat from those roasts and steaks before you buy them, or to choose the leanest cuts of meat for your family.

 

8. Choose whole grain breads and pastas – switching from heavily processed white bread and bleached pasta to whole grain varieties is one of the best things you can do for your health.

 

9. Watch out for products marketed to kids – even if you have children, it pays to steer clear of cereals, juices and other products that are targeted at them. These products often contain lots of added sugars and other potentially harmful ingredients.

 

10. Watch those percentages – when shopping for juice, look for 100% juice on the label. Many seemingly healthy juices are loaded down with added sugars and artificial ingredients.



Becoming a Vegetarian: What You Need to Know

Are you thinking about changing your diet to eat less meat, or to exclude it altogether? If so, you’re following in the footsteps of thousands of people who have enjoyed healthier lives. But becoming a vegetarian means more than turning your back on bacon sandwiches; you need to know what you should be eating, not just what you should be giving up.

 

If you’re a meat eater now, think about your diet; it may be pretty healthy already, or there might be some room for improvement. Everything you eat and drink has an effect on your body. If you’re going to exclude some of the things that are good for you, you’ll need to replace them. That means identifying what you gain from meat products, and then finding a vegetarian alternative.

 

For most people, the meat in a meal is primarily there as a source of protein, and the vegetables are there to provide carbohydrates, fiber, and some minerals. If you take away the meat, you’ll need to find an alternative source of protein. Unless you’re taking the extra step to become a vegan, you’ll still be able to eat eggs and dairy products, which are rich in protein. You can also get protein from nuts and seeds, soy and soy products, and beans and lentils. Although the vegetarian alternatives contain less protein, weight for weight, than meat, you won’t need to be eating huge piles of lentils; 6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt and 4 ounces of tofu contain more protein together than 4 ounces of chicken breast.

 

In general, you’ll need 1/2 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, depending on your activity level. So if you weigh 140 pounds, you’ll need between 70 and 140 grams of protein a day. The simplest way to make sure you’re getting this from a vegetarian diet is to have a good source of protein at every meal. Remember: unless you are currently having meat at every meal, becoming vegetarian isn’t just about replacing the meat with extra vegetables; you’ve got to be thinking “protein” at every mealtime.

 

Meat and fish are also good sources of minerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, and calcium. Your body needs iron for hemoglobin, so that your bloodstream can carry oxygen to your cells. If you’re low on iron (anemic), you’ll feel constantly lethargic and lacking in energy. If you don’t get enough zinc, your immune system doesn’t work properly, and you’ll get ill more easily and take longer to get well. Iodine helps to regulate your metabolism, and calcium is essential for strong bones and healthy teeth. You can take supplements if you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough of these minerals, but you can get all you need from food.

Whole grains, nuts, and wheat germ will provide you with zinc, which is also found in cheese. If you like sushi, the seaweed wrapped around it is a source of iodine, but the easiest way to get iodine is to use iodized salt, which provides a good dose in less than a 1/2 teaspoon. Dark green vegetables like broccoli and kale are high in calcium, and of course milk and dairy products are full of it. Your body can’t absorb calcium without vitamin D, so look for dairy products that are fortified with vitamin D, and look for fortified juices, soy products, and eggs. Those same dark green vegetables contain iron, which you can also find in whole grains and dried fruit and pulses. Your body needs vitamin C to absorb iron, so make sure you’re combining these foods with plenty of citrus fruit, blueberries, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.

 

The vitamin that you’re most likely to miss out on when you give up meat is vitamin B12. This is needed for proper formation of red blood cells and to keep your nervous system functioning properly. A lack of vitamin B12 can lead to an inability to think clearly, and changes in personality such as irritability or depression. B12 is only found in meat and meat products, so as a vegetarian you’ll need to get it from milk and dairy produce or from vegetarian foods that are specifically fortified with vitamin B12. Again, you might want to consider taking a supplement if you’re not sure you can get enough from your diet. The good news is that there are no harmful effects in otherwise healthy people if you take more vitamin B12 than you need.

 

Nutritionists recommend eating two portions of oily fish per week, mainly because it’s a great source of essential fatty acids (Omega-3), which are proven to help prevent heart disease and control inflammation. If you’re giving up fish as well as meat, you’ll need to find another source. Walnuts are high in Omega-3, and some eggs are specifically fortified with it. You can also find it in flax seeds, soy beans, and some soy products such as tofu.

 

It’s easy to define a vegetarian as a person who doesn’t eat meat. If you’re making the shift to vegetarianism, you need to move beyond this definition. Stop focusing on what you don’t eat, and start considering what you do eat. Becoming a vegetarian, whether for ethical, environmental, or health reasons, doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on any of the nutrients your body needs. But becoming a vegetarian does mean you’ll need to change your thinking, not just your diet.



10 Ways To Reduce Fat In Your Daily Diet

If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, reducing the fat in your daily diet is a great place to start. Many of us are consuming more fat than we even realize. That hidden fat can really add up, resulting in extra pounds and even chronic health problems.

 

You can use these tips to cut the amount of fat in your diet and get on the road to a healthier and happier lifestyle.

 

1. Swap out full fat milk for skim or reduced fat versions. Regular milk is high in fat and calories. Simply switching to skim and reduced fat milk can help you lose weight and reduce your daily fat intake.

 

2. Give you regular ice cream and enjoy non-fat frozen yogurt instead. Frozen yogurt comes in an astonishing array of flavors, nearly as many as regular ice cream. You do not have to give up variety or good taste to reduce fat and calories.

 

3. Choose the leanest ground beef you can find. Ground beef is rated on its fat content, i.e. 85% lean and 15% fat. Always choose the lowest fat ground beef you can find.

 

4. Switch to low fat ground turkey instead. You can reduce fat even more by switching to ground turkey for your hamburgers and your favorite recipes. Ground turkey is delicious – and much lower in fat than most ground beef.

 

5. Trim the fat off your steaks before they hit the grill. Trimming the visible fat off your steaks can make them healthier for you. If you prefer to cook your steaks with the fat on, be sure to trim the fat when they hit the table.

 

6. Reduce the amount of sauces, gravies and dressings you use in your cooking and on your food. Don’t ruin that healthy salad by loading it up with fatty blue cheese or ranch dressing. Go easy on the sauces when you cook, and avoid the temptation to pile them on at the table.

 

7. Watch out for hidden fats in baked goods. That healthy looking muffin could be harboring lots of saturated fat. You can control the amount of fat in those sweet treats by making your own cookies, cakes and pies. Choosing low fat ingredients can allow you to indulge your sweet tooth in a healthy way.

 

8. Avoid fried foods whenever you can. Use healthy cooking techniques like broiling, baking and grilling when you cook at home. Cooking healthy is a great way to reduce the fat in your daily diet.

 

9. Remove the skin from chicken and turkey before you eat. That skin is full of fat, and it soaks up additional grease and fat during cooking. If you cooked the poultry properly, removing the skin should not affect moisture or flavor.

 

10. Check the nutrition information on the menu when you eat out. Restaurant meals are notorious for hidden fat. Check the fat content before you order, and ask your server if the dish can be prepared in a more healthy manner.



10 Tips for Healthy Weight Gain

While most Americans are interested in losing weight, many are trying to gain weight. To the surprise of some, gaining weight can actually be a difficult task. Many people try to gain weight by simply eating as much as possible. Unfortunately that can negatively affect your health, so a more refined approach is needed. Here are 10 ways to stay healthy while gaining weight.

 

1.Foods High in “Good” Fats

To remain healthy while gaining weight, it is important to look for foods high in healthy fats. Look for foods high in monosaturated fats including avocados, olive oil, sesame oil and canola oil. Avoid saturated fats and trans fats because they can permanently damage the health of your cardiovascular system. Monosaturated fats can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke while helping you gain weight (Heart.org, 2014).

 

Some nuts also have high levels of monosaturated fat. Macadamias, hazelnuts, pecans and almonds are all extremely nutritious and contain healthy monosaturated fats. Products made from legumes can also be high in healthy fats. Peanut butter is a delicious legume that can help you put on weight. Choose salt-reduced and sugar-reduced peanut butter for a healthier alternative.

 

Many types of meat are high in monosaturated fats, but they also contain high levels of the less healthy saturated fats. The methods used to cook meat can often introduced additional saturated fats or trans fats, so be careful about how you consume your meat.

 

2. Foods High in Protein

Foods that are high in protein can help you develop muscle and put on weight. Some healthier foods that are high in protein include: turkey breast, salt-reduced beef jerky, tuna, salmon, pork loin, pumpkin seeds, lean beef, hard boiled eggs, kidney beans and nuts.

 

3. Foods High in Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are very useful for providing the body with energy over longer periods. When combined with protein you have the perfect combination of energy and muscle repair. Complex carbohydrates are often higher in vitamins and minerals than simple carbohydrates such as the ones found in sugar, honey and candy.

 

Good sources of complex carbohydrates include whole grains, starchy vegetables like potatoes, legumes and green vegetables.

 

Potatoes are a great addition to a weight-gain diet because they can be easily combined with protein. Add cheese, monosaturated oils, beans, sour cream and meat to your potatoes.

 

4. Continue to Exercise

Incorporate a small amount of aerobic activity into your workouts, but focus on building strength. You will notice an increase in your appetite after a good workout, so have a post-workout snack ready. When you add weight in the form of muscle, it persists much longer than adding fat.

 

5. Drink Your Nutrients

A great way to increase the amount of calories you are ingesting is by drinking them. Use smoothies that are packed with nutrient-dense ingredients. Some of the best ingredients to use in a weight-gain smoothie include: bananas, flax seed, linseeds, crushed almonds, crushed soya beans, protein powder, milk, mango and avocados. It’s important that you don’t drink your smoothie before meals, because it can ruin your appetite.

6. Eat Often

If you are underweight, you will feel full faster simply because your stomach is not big enough to hold large meals. Eat nutritionally dense snacks throughout the day. Buy a small container which you can easily put in your pocket so you can eat while traveling.

 

7. Eat Before Bed

The human body’s metabolism slows at night, so calories are burnt more slowly. That means more of the calories you consume just before going to bed will add weight. Eat nutritionally dense foods just before going to bed. If you have had a good workout that day, the additional calories will help build muscle while you sleep.

 

8. Avoid Packaged Foods

Because you are eating many portions, you should avoid packaged foods with unhealthy ingredients. If you simply gorge yourself on frozen lasagnes you may be eating huge amounts of salt, sugar and trans fats.

 

9. Get Scientific!

You can measure the success of your strategy by calculating the total calories you are consuming and your total weight gained. Plan your diet in advance and calculate the total calories for the day, the total vitamins and minerals. Try many different foods to find the most effective for weight gain.

 

10. Eat Desert

While the focus is on high-quality protein and complex carbohydrates, there is room for sugar. Eat desert after meals, but try to make it something with at least one positive attribute. For example, a big slice of apple pie covered in fruit and cream will give you extra calories and some nutritional benefit.

 

By following these simple guidelines you can put on weight and stay healthy. By concentrating on foods with high levels of nutrients you will keep your body performing well as you reach your goal weight.

Sources

Heart.org, (2014). Monounsaturated Fats. [online] Available at: heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Monounsaturated-Fats_UCM_301460_Article.jsp [Accessed 6 Oct. 2014].



Why You Should Avoid Trans Fats

This is likely not the first time you have been told to avoid trans fats, as it is one of the worst fats you can consume. The higher the trans fat content you eat, the higher your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease. The Mayo Clinic states that trans fat can raise both your LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol. If you raise the LDL too much, you are at great risk for heart disease. Here are some things to know about trans fats and why you should avoid them.

 

About Trans Fats

Trans fats are added to a wide range of foods, mostly those that are not healthy or good for you. It is made in a process called hydrogenation by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil. It is done because it helps the oil spoil a lot slower. Therefore, it is most often used in packaged and processed foods, as it helps to increase the shelf life of these foods, yet they don’t feel as greasy. Just by adding the hydrogen to oil increases the cholesterol in the body. Foods with the highest amount of trans fats include baked goods like cookies and cakes, and fried foods, such as French fries and donuts. There are also other fats used in cooking or baking that contain trans fats, like margarine and shortening. Luckily, manufacturers have become aware of the health concerns with trans fats and are starting to use less and less of it in their foods.

 

Read Your Food Labels

In order to determine what foods contain a lot of trans fats, you should learn to read labels. On the front or back of the label, look for “partially hydrogenated oil.” This means hydrogen has been added to vegetable oil, which then converts it into trans fats. This may be on the front of the label or in the ingredients list. When a food does not contain trans fats, it is usually made obvious on the label to encourage healthy shoppers to purchase their food item. On the other hand, the label “complete hydrogenated oil” or “fully hydrogenated oil” does not have trans fats. There may be some trans fats in dairy or meat products, but it isn’t as dangerous as processed foods or baked goods.

 

Dangers of Trans Fats

According to the American Heart Association, having a high LDL cholesterol level is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease. Consuming a lot of trans fats can then convert to a high amount of the bad type of cholesterol. The high LDL levels lead to the accumulation of fatty deposits in your arteries, which then stop blood from flowing properly to your arteries. Another harmful effect of trans fats is increasing triglycerides, which is a fat in your blood. This can also cause your arteries to harden. Other dangers of trans fats include leading to inflammation of your blood vessels and fatty deposits of these blood vessels.

 

Food Recommendations

Aside from reading the labels and avoiding trans fats, it’s easy to choose proper and healthy food options that don’t contain a lot of this dangerous type of fat. Some oils that are healthy and found in foods as an alternative to trans fats include palm, palm kernel and coconut oil. While these are better than trans fats, they still contain saturated fat, so you should eat these foods in small amounts. The healthiest option is monounsaturated fat, such as what you find in canola, peanut and olive oil. This includes fish, nuts and other foods with omega-3 fatty acids.



Whole Grains – Life Insurance for Your Heart

Learn some simple ways to introduce whole grains into your diet and ensure you lower your risk of heart disease along with a host of other benefits when combined with a healthy lifestyle.

 

Whole grains contain nutrients, including protein, fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, and trace minerals. As part of a healthy diet, whole grain has been seen to reduce the risk of heart disease by helping to lower your cholesterol and your blood pressure. Combined with moderating alcohol, gentle exercise and having a diet low in fat and cholesterol, whole grains can also help in the battle against obesity. Eating a diet that has the recommended daily amount of whole grain foods can also help to regulate blood sugar levels and so help prevent type 2 diabetes. Making the lifestyle change of introducing whole grain to your diet will also encourage the development of healthy bacteria in the colon which will improve your bowel movements. The high number of antioxidants found in such grains can help protect from some forms of cancer.

 

In spite of the benefits a huge number of people do not consume the recommended daily intake of three portions a day. This is hugely attributed to the confusion on packaging; many products appear to be whole grain but actually are not. For a product to be whole grain it must contain all the parts of the edible grain, products marketed as “multigrain” or “bran” whilst having a place in a healthy diet, they are a good source of complex carbohydrates and some key vitamins and mineral and naturally low in fat, they are actually not whole grain.

 

The six most recognizable foods that contain a whole grain product are:

-Whole-grain corn

-Whole oats/oatmeal

-Popcorn

-Brown rice

-Whole rye

-Whole-grain barley

 

The biggest assumption made when shopping for whole grain is that it is contained in all bread this is a misconception. When buying bread, if you are looking for whole grain, avoid those that use “refined” flour. Even some products that contain “100% wheat” have had parts of the bran stripped from the kernel so whilst correctly labelled they are not whole grain. To be sure you are purchasing a bread product made from whole grain then look for “whole grain” as part of the ingredients.

 

Changing your lifestyle to introduce whole grain to your diet.

The first thing to change in your diet to make it rich in whole grain is to switch to whole grain bread and brown rice. Just making your sandwiches for lunch with whole grain bread will give you one third of your daily allowance. For breakfast it is easy to introduce a whole grain cereal or if cereal is not your thing there is now a wide range of English muffins, waffles, bagels, and crackers on the market with whole grain in the ingredients.

 

There are also some less known whole grain products that you may like to consider:

-Farro: A dense and chewy grain brought to the market with a minimum of processing

-Bulgur: A nutty grain that is low in fat and high in fiber.

-Buckwheat: A grain that has a higher amount of zinc, copper and manganese than any other grain and the second highest quantity of protein and fiber.

 

Whatever you choices a small number of dietary changes will have a massive impact on your health insuring you stay healthier for longer.



Some Key Reasons Why People Fast

Fasting is an approach to internal cleansing and healing that has its origins in antiquity. Ancient healers such as Hippocrates and Paracelsus believed that denying the body food for periods of time encouraged it to heal itself. Many fasts have been undergone for religious reasons as well – typically as a method of spiritual atonement or as a demonstration of devotion. Here we’re going to explore the reasons why people fast for fitness and nutritional reasons.

 

In the modern day, fasts are often associated with bodily cleanses. Allowing your body to go without food for a few days actually flushes out your system because it has a chance to either burn or otherwise rid itself of unprocessed food. This oftentimes includes pollutants and other toxins. When your body doesn’t have to work on digesting meals it can turn its energies towards other healing tasks.

 

Burning up lingering calories also accomplishes the elimination of toxins that may have been holing up within your system. This lends itself to internal balance and rejuvenation. During this process you may find your mental habits shifting towards more health-conscious motifs as well. Fasting makes your system particularly sensitive to anything that goes into it. You may discover an aversion to substances like caffeine and alcohol. Because fasting alters your cravings it can also make transitioning into a new diet much easier.

 

Much has been written about fasting. Some of this literature applauds the potential benefits while some of it warns of the possible dangers. Most people begin with a simple two-day fast to get themselves acclimated to the process. They may even allow themselves some nutrients by way of sipping juice or other liquids occasionally. This approach can achieve the same desired health benefits without putting as much stress on the body. Typically, though, your body will not be as taxed as you feel like it must be. It has storehouses of sugars and fats that it can draw upon for basic sustenance. Just be sure to stay well hydrated throughout the duration of any fast.

 

If you feel unsure about the safety of fasting but still long to try it, there are ways of doing it under supervision. Although conventional medicine does not support fasting as an approach to health, there are many homeopaths and naturopathic and ayurvedic doctors who make a practice of monitoring people who do this.

 

Sometimes people embark upon fasts for reasons that are neither medical nor strictly religious. They view it as a spiritual endeavor similar to Native American vision quests. The idea here is that turning one’s attention away from the physical world (symbolized, in this case, by food) turns one’s mind towards spiritual values and the larger entities of life. Our daily habits of filling ourselves at set mealtimes can lull our minds into a more mundane frame of reference. Fasting brings us into a more direct encounter with the bare facts of life. The experience can remind us of what is really important to us and what is merely peripheral.



Foods to Eat Before and After Running

Nothing feels better than a good, long run with the wind in your hair and the sounds of the city or country. Without a doubt, long runs will burn a great deal of energy. This means it is very important for runners to eat, both before and after their runs. Before a run, food needs to be consumed 30 to 60 minutes prior. After a run, it is best to feed your muscles within 30 minutes.



Foods to Eat Before the Run

First and foremost, before eating any food at all, it is best for runners to drink water. It is important to hydrate yourself with 12 to 16 ounces of water roughly an hour prior to your workout. Bringing water along with you on your run is also a grand idea.

 

The best thing to eat prior to your run is something loaded with carbohydrates balanced with proteins. This will help you burn fat during your workout. It is also best to eat foods that are easy to digest, such as those low in fat and fiber.

 

If you are going on a short run, under an hour, some snacks you can eat prior to your workout include:

  • Half a Clif bar or other power bar
  • Fruit, such as a banana or peach
  • An English muffin with jelly or jam
  • Applesauce or pudding

If you are going on a longer run, over an hour, some snacks you can eat prior to your workout include:

  • A cup of Greek yogurt
  • A banana with peanut or almond butter
  • 2 slices of wholewheat bread with peanut or almond butter
  • 1 cooked sweet potato
  • Cooked oatmeal or quinoa
  • Hummus

 

In order to avoid cramps while running, it is important not to eat too much. Eating until you are satisfied rather than full will help. Make sure you eat at least 30 minutes prior to your workout to stay pain-free.

Foods to Eat After the Run

After a run, it is important to replenish energy as soon as possible. Muscles are ready for their refuel within 30 minutes of the run. They are very receptive to restoring glycogen immediately after you run. In the long run, eating right after running will also help you reduce muscle soreness and stiffness.

 

Eating a large amount of carbohydrates after the run is just as important as eating them beforehand. After a long workout, you need to make sure you are feeding your body so it can continue to burn fat and also replenish itself of all the vitamins and minerals consumed.

 

For those able to stomach food immediately after a run, some post-run food options include:

  • A bagel with peanut butter
  • A fruit and yogurt smoothie
  • A Clif or other protein bar
  • Hummus
  • Chicken breast
  • Salmon
  • Almonds

 

If you are not able to quite stomach food after a long run, drinking chocolate milk is a good option. The milk provides B vitamins and carbohydrates, making it a good drink for recovery. Drinking plenty of water to rehydrate the body is also important after a long run.

 

Why Carbohydrates?

As you have likely noticed, the best foods to consume before and after a run are carbohydrates. The same principles can be applied to other strenuous workouts. The nutrients are important for athletes of all calibers to maximize speed, energy levels, focus, endurance, and fluid balance. Basically, they are the body’s fuel.

 

Carbohydrates, in the form of muscle glycogen, play a particularly major role in an athlete’s body because they also enable your body’s protein to be used for tissue synthesis or muscle building. It helps you build endurance and allows you to work out at an intense level.



Incredible Health Benefits of a Raw Food Diet

With so many different diet and exercise plans on the market, it can be hard to know what you should be doing to improve your physical condition. Should you try one of the extreme diets that make you lose weight by almost starving you? Do you incorporate an extensive and exhausting exercise regime into your life?.

 

What if you could lose weight and balance your health needs by simply changing what you eat? Rather than ticking off lists of foods you can’t have, why not think outside the box? The main problem with most weight loss diets is that they are not sustainable. You will eventually do yourself more damage by cutting off essential nutrients in various types of food. However, a popular dietary option is the raw food diet, and although it can be daunting in the beginning, it can be a sustainable dietary choice.

 

While on a raw food diet, you eat only raw food, but this does not limit you to what you can eat. This means you can still eat fish, fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy. You can eat anything as long as it is raw. The bonus of a raw diet is that it produces enzymes in your body which helps increase metabolism, aiding weight loss in the process. Not only does this make your job to watch your overall health easier, but it will also aid in making you healthier for longer.

 

Not only that, but it can be a genuine long-term dietary plan. While being the hardest part, once you are used to eating only raw products, then you will start to see positive physical results. It makes serving food quick and easy, cutting down on hunger pains and gives you an easy, long-term option when it comes to the food you eat. It may take a little time to get used to at the start, but once the positive health benefits start to show, you will find it easier to continue on.

 

Raw foods are also reported to give you more energy than when cooked. This is believed to be related to eating less fat and grease. Even so, most people on a raw food diet agree that since starting to eat only raw foods, they feel more active and ready to go at the start of each day. Raw food diets can also be beneficial in reducing the amount of cholesterol your body consumes and in turn, can help maintain a healthier heart.

 

One of the main benefits to a diet of this type, however, is that it can help you feel better physically and mentally. Not only will you feel better inside, but cutting back on all the fatty excesses you were eating previously will help clear your skin as well due to the huge quantities of antioxidants in raw fruit and vegetables. So not only will you feel better, you will look healthier too.

 

Although it can be difficult to get started, once you get past the first few weeks, you should find a raw food diet to be extremely beneficial for your weight loss goals and overall health. The hardest part for many people is adjusting to the taste, but if you push through and continue on, you will be able to see the many incredible health benefits for yourself.