Say No To Stress Snacking!

Let’s admit it, as much as we love the holidays, they can be a stressful! Nothing quite challenges our healthy lifestyle like this time of year; we are constantly trying to balance it all: buying the perfect gifts while maintaining a budget, making everyones favorite dishes while trying to eat healthy, and working overtime to complete finals or projects, while also trying to spend time with family and friends. It can be a lot! Now more then ever, we are tempted to stress snack. Which can lead to unhealthiness, which can lead to guilt, which can lead more stress and so on!

Remember, it is all a balance and you can only do your best. But here are some tips to beat stress snacking (most of them eliminate stress in the first place –  because sometimes the best treatment is prevention!)

  1. Exercise. I know you’re thinking, “when do I have the time?!” But trust me, you will thank yourself for making the time. Go for a walk, turn on some music, and just get moving.
  2. Drink Something Warm. Holding a warm mug will help you decompress, curb your appetite, and hydrate you. Triple threat!tea
  3. Breathe. Simple yet, effective. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds. This relaxes you and boosts oxygen to your brain so you can make clear decisions.
  4. Take Ten. 10 minutes just for you. Set a timer and shelf whatever stresses you have for 10 minutes.
  5. Reach for Magnesium Rich Foods. Think leafy greens, nuts, sunflower seeds, flaxseed, and pumpkin seeds.
  6. And when in doubt remember, JUST SAY NO to stress snacking. o-NO-GOOD-GESTURE-570

The Most Important Meal of The Day

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You’ve heard it before, Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but have you ever been told why?

Eating a healthy breakfast has been liked to increased insulin sensitivity, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, and lower levels of LDL cholesterol. Need more proof? Infrequent consumption of breakfast has been shown to increase risk of diabetes by 28%in women compared to women who consume breakfast daily. Daily breakfast consumers have lower rates of diabetes, abdominal obesity, metabolic syndrome, and hypertension than people who eat breakfast three times a week or less.

But what you eat for breakfast matters. A healthy breakfast should include:

  • Whole grains. Whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Read the nutrition label; many cereals are made with refined grains which can cause your blood sugar to spike
  • Lean Protein. This will fill you up for the day, without increasing your cholesterol levels. Think egg white omelet or 4 oz of plain nonfat Greet yogurt.
  • Fiber. Fiber is the non digestible component of plant food; it lowers blood sugar and cholesterol, and can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Women shoot for 21-25g fiber per day, 30-38g fiber per day for men. Adding a Tbsp of Flax seed to your whole grain cereal is a great way to increase your fiber intake.
  • Low Sugar. Many cold cereals are preloaded with sugar. Look at the nutrition facts on the side of the cereals box and try to stick to no more than 5g of sugar per serving.
  • Low Sodium. Aim for a cereal with no more than 200mg of sodium per serving. If you’re going for a savory dish, try adding non-sodium spices or fresh herbs to increase the flavor of your dish.
  • Low Calories. Look for cereals with less than 150 calories per serving, and use a measuring cup when serving yourself. Many cereals bowls are larger than the average serving.

coffee

Like your morning coffee? Moderate Coffee consumptions has been associated with lower coronary artery calcium scores and could therefore be inversely related to cardiovascular disease. So enjoy your cup or morning coffee! Just stay away from artificial sweeteners, added sugar or cream. If you don’t like your coffee black, try adding unsweetened almond milk and a dash of cinnamon.

Read Here for 56 Cheap and Healthy Breakfast Options. 

Your Summer Farmers Market Guide!

Summer offers a bounty of fresh produce. Strolling through the farmer’s market and shopping local produce is one of my favorite ways to kick off a healthy week. Each week I challenge myself to try something new – the experiment is half the fun! Farmer’s Markets offer local seasonal produce – maximizing flavor and nutrients, while helping to cut down on environmental pollution (all at a low cost to you).

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What’s in season now? 

Cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, kale, watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, blueberries, peaches, apricot, kiwis, figs, and plums. (YUM)

Here’s some tips for picking the sweetest fruits: 

Watermelon: The heavier the watermelon – the juicier the inside! Look for a yellow “sun spot” on the bottom. Always wash the watermelon before cutting into it to avoid contaminating the inside with bacteria.

Peaches: Opt for organic here! Peaches are found to have one of the highest amount of pesticides. For the sweetest peaches, look for a darker skin with a soft give. (avoid storing in the fridge – it dilutes the flavor!) Want to speed up ripening? Place it in a brown paper bag!

Kale: Look for full dark green bunches! Store in a dry paper towel lined zip-lock bag in the fridge for up to a week.

Here are some more tips!

Bring your own bag: canvas totes, back-packs, beach bags, etc. You’ll be able to carry more and help the environment by avoiding plastics.

Try something new! Ask the vendor questions for samples or how to prepare it- you’ll never know what you’ll love!

If you find yourself seeking the same samples – it’s time to cough up! Treat yourself and buy it.

HAPPY EATING!

Go Nuts You Health Nuts!

Calling all Health Nuts!

If you’re like me, one of your go-to snacks is probably one or two (ok, let’s be honest…or three) handfuls of nuts. My favorite are roasted, unsalted almonds. But not all nuts are created equal! Thank to aloha.com, here is everything you need to know the next time you are headed down the nut aisle…

nuts

Almonds

Best Benefit: More calcium than any other nut—385mg per cup. That’s more than the amount of calcium in a cup of milk and about 39% of your daily calcium needs.

Serving Size: 23 almonds (163 calories)

Did You Know? Almonds are in the peach family; the seed of the almond fruit is actually what we call the nut.

Brazil Nut

Best Benefit: Richest dietary source of magnesium (107mg/ounce) and selenium (about 90mcg/nut). Best when consumed in moderation, as the tolerable upper intake level of selenium is 400 micrograms per day—anything above could cause potentially harmful side effects.

Serving Size: 6 Brazil nuts (186 calories)

Did You Know? The pod of the Brazil nut actually contains 8 to 24 seeds (what we consider the nut). Due to the their high fat content, Brazil nuts go bad pretty quickly. So store them in cool, dry places.

Cashew

Best Benefit: Lowest fat per ounce. Rich in mineral copper, an essential component of many enzymes.

Serving Size: 16-18 cashews (157 calories)

Did You Know? Cashews are always sold shelled because the interior of their shells contains a toxic resin that must be carefully removed before they are safe for consumption. The cashew is a distant relative to poison ivy and sumac, so even its foliage must be handled with care.

Hazelnut

Best Benefit: High in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid, which helps to lower cholesterol. They also have a high concentration of vitamin E (4.26mg), second only to almonds.

Serving Size: 21 hazelnuts (180 calories)

Did You Know? A hazelnut is also known as a filbert. The name most likely originates from the day of St. Philibert, celebrated on the August 22, when the harvest of hazelnuts usually starts.

Macadamia Nut

Best Benefit: They are a rich source of energy, providing 718 calories/100g, one of the highest values among nuts, and a rich source of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids

Serving Size: 10-12 macadamia nuts (204 calories)

Did You Know? Macadamia trees were imported to Hawaii in around 1882 as a windbreak for sugarcane, which was a major commercial export for Hawaii at the time.

Peanut

Best Benefit: Higher folate content (68mgc) than any of the tree nuts

Serving Size: 28 peanuts (166 calories)

Did You Know? Classified as legumes, peanuts contains cancer-fighting compounds such as resveratrol and beta-sitosterol. Ancient Peruvians entombed peanuts with their mummies to nourish them in their journey to the afterlife.

Pecan

Best Benefit: Highest antioxidant content, with ORAC value of 17,940 μ mol TE/100g [ORAC, or oxygen radical absorbance capacity, is a system of measuring antioxidant capacities.]

Serving Size: 19 pecan halves (196 calories)

Did You Know? The name “pecan” is a Native American word that was used to describe “all nuts requiring a stone to crack.” Pecan is the only tree nut native to the United States.

Pine Nut

Best Benefit: Appetite-suppressing nut, contains pinolenic acid, which makes you feel quickly satiated.

Serving Size: 167 kernels (191 calories)

Did You Know? Pine nuts grow under the scales of pinecones and have two shells.

Pistachio

Best Benefit: Highest potassium, with 295mg

Serving Size: 49 pistachios (162 calories)

Did You Know? The semi-opening of the shell led the pistachio to be termed the “smiling nut” in Iran and the “happy nut” in China.
Walnut

Best Benefit: The only nut that contains a significant amount of alpha-linolenic acid, a plant based omega-3 fatty acid. One ounce provides more than the recommended daily intake for men and women.

Serving Size: 14 walnut halves (185 calories)

Did You Know? The Greeks called the walnut “karyon,” meaning “head,” because the shell resembles a human skull and the walnut kernel looks like a brain.

For your best health bet, stick to raw or roasted unsalted choices! 

GO NUTS YOU HEALTH NUTS! 

Keys for Success: Changing Your Unhealthy Diet to a Healthy One

People often ask me how they can change their eating habits to increase their intake of healthier foods and lose weight. For many people, changing their diet can be a daunting task. Growing up, you may have never learned how to eat healthy and these unhealthy food choices carried into adulthood. You may have also grown up in a family where a bad day was made better by a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies or a trip out for ice cream. When you have established behaviors that span over many years, of course it can be hard to change. But it’s not impossible. With a little education and a few simple steps, you too can be on your way to enjoying a healthier diet…and the many health benefits that come with it.

Here are my Keys to Success:

Keep a Daily Food Diary

Keeping a daily food diary has many benefits. For one, seeing every choice you made in a given day allows you to not only monitor caloric intake, but also helps you realize patterns of behavior that you weren’t otherwise aware of. For example, after a month of keeping a food diary, a woman noticed that every Monday she would eat a muffin or donut at her weekly staff meeting. The next week, she made sure to have a breakfast high in fiber and protein to keep her full longer throughout the morning. Additionally, she brought a small plate of fresh fruit with her to snack on during the staff meeting. The amount of sugar in the fruit helped satiate her craving for sweets, allowing the temptation to grab a muffin or donut to greatly reduce.

Gradually Add Healthy Foods Into Your Diet

Don’t expect to reinvent the wheel here. You don’t have to throw away everything in your cupboards and replace the items with healthier options all at once. And you shouldn’t. Extreme measures such as these set people up to fail because the expectations are just too high. Make small changes to start. Still want to enjoy your pasta every Thursday night? How about replacing it with whole wheat pasta? Are you a huge fan of taco salad? Make your own, using ground turkey, sautéed bell peppers and onions and serve it with a small amount of cheese and avocado. Your revamped taco salad is now packed with nutrition and still very satisfying.

Gradually Decrease the Unhealthy Foods in Your Diet

Say you have coffee every morning with half and half or milk. Next week, try swapping your traditional milk or half and half for creamy almond milk. The following week, make a goal to replace 3 processed meals with vegetable-packed salads and lean proteins. Do you typically drink soda everyday? Replace at least one soda with a sparkling water. Easy. Again, small steps will set you up for success.

Pay Attention to Your Overall Calorie Consumption

There are many fitness and diet apps out today that allow you to easily keep track of your calories. FitDay and MyFitnessPal are especially popular and allow users to count their calories and track their exercise throughout the day.

If You Make a Mistake, Don’t Beat Yourself Up. Just Put Yourself Back on Course Right Away.

Are you human? I am. And I make mistakes. We all do. The worst thing you can do when you make a mistake, is beat yourself up endlessly about it. This will undoubtedly sour your mood and could likely cause you to continue in an unhealthy pattern. Made a mistake? Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and begin again.

5 Ways to Eat Less Packaged Food

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I am re-posting this great article to assist those of you who are trying to consume less packaged food. It was written by Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD and was originally published here.

How many foods do you eat each day that come from a box, can, bag, or container of some kind? When I’ve asked clients to track this, they’re often shocked at just how few fresh foods they eat, and paying attention to your packaged versus fresh ratio is important. According to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal, the synthetic chemicals used in food processing and packaging can leach into food and can lead to chronic, low-level ingestion of these substances over a lifetime. Some, such as bisphenol A (BPA) can disrupt hormone production and balance, and others, like formaldehyde, are linked to cancer risk. (Plus, some packaged foods can be high in salt and fat, neither of which help your waistline.)

While it’s not practical to eliminate packaged foods completely, there are ways to cut back so you can reduce your exposure and protect your health. Try these five fresh food strategies.

Reach for more “loose” produce

I’m talking package-free fresh fruits and veggies from the supermarket or farmer’s market. You can avoid plastic by picking up some natural fiber reusable mesh produce bags (about $3 each, and they’re machine washable). Swap processed snacks for your fresh fruit bounty. And if time is an issue for veggies, choose favorites that don’t require much prep. For example, after washing, baby Brussels sprouts or asparagus spears only need a light mist of olive oil and a dusting of cracked black pepper before you pop them in the oven to roast. And string beans or snow peas can be steamed over lemon water in minutes.

Shop the bulk section

You can buy many healthy staples in bulk, like oats, wild rice, quinoa, nuts, beans, lentils, and dried fruit, which can be stored in sealed glass containers at home. This is a terrific option for buying only what you need to avoid waste and reducing the number of products that sit in your cupboards wrapped in packaging. It’s also a great way to avoid preservatives, artificial additives, and extra sodium. If you ever forget how to prep something (like how much water to boil for quinoa), or you need some easy recipes ideas, simply hop online and do a quick search.

Switch to filtered water

Ditch plastic bottles and save a ton of dough by investing in a water filter or filtering pitcher. Then take your H2O on the go in a stainless steel water bottle. One of my clients was reluctant to kick her bottled water habit, but when she realized it was costing her up to $500 a year and she was potentially swallowing hormone-disrupting chemicals, she was on board.

Buy or grow potted herbs

You can’t get much fresher than herbs still rooted in soil. Grow your own or pick up a small plant or two, like basil, mint, rosemary, cilantro, dill, or thyme. Most grocery stores sell them in the produce section, and I almost always find “living herbs” at my local farmer’s market. Aromatic, flavorful, antioxidant-rich herbs are an ideal way to season other fresh foods without using sugar or salt. I love to whip mint into fruit smoothies, sauté or marinate veggies with fresh basil, fold cilantro into mashed avocado, and add dill to dishes like brown rice and pureed cauliflower. A little bit goes a long way, and you can snip off just what you need, so a $2 or $3 plant will last a long time.

Make it yourself

It doesn’t have to take a lot time (or skill) to whip up some of the dishes you might normally purchase pre-made like soup, energy bars, hummus, crackers, salad dressing, or even bread. There are dozens of simple healthy recipes online, and DIY dishes can be fun projects to take on with friends or family. Replacing packaged products with fresh fare is also a smart way to simplify your diet and boost your nutrient intake. For example, instead of a buying frozen pizza, use your bulk-bought whole grain flour to make your own crust, and cover it with fresh toppings. Even adding a handful of homemade rather than packaged dishes to your regular dining repertoire can result in a significant health and safety shift.

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10 Great Reasons (Besides a Beach Body) to Eat Healthy

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The following article was written by Napala Pratini and originally published on www.huffingtonpost.com.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, get in shape or just live a healthier life, eating healthy provides a variety of benefits. No matter what motivates you, here are the top 10 reasons why you should sneak a few more nutrient-packed foods into your diet.

1. You’ll be more productive:
Just like your car, your brain needs quality fuel to run efficiently. One study found that eating unhealthy foods puts you at a 66 percent increased risk of productivity loss. Eating a healthy, balanced diet to make sure your brain has the fuel it needs means more energy and increased productivity at work.

2. You’ll be happier:
What we eat has an impact on our brains. Did you know bananas contain 10 milligrams of dopamine, a chief mood booster in the brain? Dark chocolate, packed with polyphenol, is also known to boost serotonin, a neurotransmitter that many antidepressants also target. You should see a doctor if you’re seriously concerned about your moods, but for the rare gloomy day, try a dark-chocolate covered banana.

3. You’ll won’t be as stressed:
Certain foods have the ability to moderate our body’s level of cortisol, the stress hormone. Some studies have found that foods packed with vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium help reduce cortisol levels. When the body is in a chronic state of stress, it breaks down protein to prepare for battle. Eating a protein-rich diet, including fish and dairy, can help replenish protein stores and keep cortisol levels at bay.

4. You’ll control your weight:
Simple healthy choices such as replacing soda with water, choosing carrots instead of chips, and ordering a side salad in place of fries not only will help you lose weight, it also can help you save money. The average household spends about $850 a year on soft drinks, which could easily be replaced with healthier — and free — water.

5. You’ll eat less:
When it comes to eating healthier, quality trumps quantity. Fresh foods contain fewer low-nutrient fillers that the body burns through quickly. If you are buying and eating less food, then you will have more money in your pocket.

6. You’ll think it tastes better:
Who would trade their Big Mac for a beet burger? Although taste is subjective, healthy food can taste delicious if it’s prepared well. One study showed that people perceive healthy food as tasting better even if it doesn’t. In a blind taste test, participants said organic coffee tasted better than regular coffee, even though the two cups were the same. So perhaps the beet burger is better after all — even if it’s only in your head.

7. You’ll age better:
Why pay for expensive and painful Botox procedures when you can improve your skin through your diet? Fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants can help protect your skin. The antioxidants in fresh berries and salmon’s omega-3 fatty acids both help improve the health of your skin’s cells and slow premature aging.

8. You’ll be healthier:
Unhealthy eating — especially over the long term — can be a risk factor for chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. If you miss out on too much of the protein, vitamins and minerals that your body needs, your muscle mass will decrease as your fat stores increase. Some estimates say at least 30% of cancers are linked to poor diet. One study of over 6,000 women found that those who ate the most cabbage, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower and kale had a lower risk of developing breast cancer after menopause.

9. You’ll live longer:
Healthy eating can help you avoid diseases that may lower your life expectancy. One study showed that a diet of fruit and vegetables, in combination with exercise, extended life expectancy for women in their 70s. Elsewhere, researchers reviewed a group of studies that suggest vegetarian or low-meat diets could help you live a longer life. And another study points to nuts as a way to reduce your risk of early death. No matter how you cut it, a healthy diet can play an important role in how long you’ll live.

10. You’ll save money:
Many of the benefits of healthy eating contribute to potential savings. If you stay healthy, you’ll have fewer medical bills to pay and by cutting back on food, you’ll eat less and have fewer groceries to purchase. Save your body and your wallet and eat your greens today.

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Top 10 Apps for Eating Healthy

Top 10 Apps for Eating Healthy

Happy Wednesday! I hope you all are having a good week, despite the snow and frigid temperatures. 

Some of you have become 100% focussed on weight loss during this 8 Week Lifestyle Challenge. If you want to lose weight, I applaud your efforts in trying to do so. However, sometimes when we focus on the numbers on the scale, we lose sight of the bigger picture, feel down on ourselves and then binge eat. I actually recommend not focussing on your weight. It is good to monitor your weight every once in a while (better still to take measurements versus getting on the scale) to determine your progress but it can also lead to frustration and bad choices if you are not meeting your goals. Remember our goal is simply to establish healthier habits, not reach a certain number of pounds lost.

I’ve had a lot of you ask me about apps. If you didn’t catch our blog post on great fitness apps, you can check it out here. I am also including the Top 10 Apps for Healthy Eating.  Apps can be helpful in making you more aware about your eating habits and help you make better choices as you try to establish a healthier lifestyle. I tend to favor the ones that act as a simple resource. For example, there’s an app that provides healthy substitutions for ingredients in traditional recipes, and another that helps you recognize and select fresh produce and provides tips for its storage. However, some apps can seem overwhelming, specifically the ones that require you to enter in a lot of information on a daily basis or others that spit out a bunch of numbers and pie charts that make your head spin. Remember to enjoy eating and not make it a science project! The 8 Week Lifestyle Challenge is about learning to eat the right foods, not an exercise in weights and measures. Just take it one step at a time, continue to meet the weekly challenges and you will do just great.

Moroccan Chicken with Kale and Roasted Squash

Moroccan Chicken with Kale & Roasted Squash

Fall is a fabulous season for so many reasons and one of the best ways to embrace this special time of year is to enjoy seasonal vegetables like delicious local acorn squash! Acorn squash is packed with nutrients. One serving or one cup of acorn squash contains 145% of the daily recommended requirements for Vitamin A. It also contains vitamin C, potassium, manganese, folate (folic acid), and 15% of the omega three fatty acids necessary for good health. What I like best about the recipe posted here from http://www.realsimple.com is that not only does it incorporate the use of delicious (and nutritious) acorn squash but it packs a double healthy punch with the addition of kale. One cup of chopped kale contains a mere 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Add in skinless, boneless chicken breasts and you have a nutritional powerhouse of a meal to enjoy this Fall! Bon Appetite!