Category Archives: Healthy Diet

Healthy Living is Back Online

Hope you missed me? I missed you!

I missed posting on “Healthy LIving.”

Couldn’t write because of a health issue – a cracked vertebrae. It was a long, slow healing process, but I have finally returned, fully recovered.

Promise to stay with you this time. Thank you for joining me. I appreciate every person who reads my blog.

Healthy Foods
Image by fo2Trends

Healthy living and a healthy diet are important topics for all of us – regardless of age. And….there is so much to learn.

If you are in weight-loss mode, or want to maintain a healthy weight, you will be interested in my new short series of articles – starting Monday.

“How to Choose the Best Drinks for a Successful Diet.” 

These articles have been Adapted with permission from the original article published on HVMN by Ryan Rodal

It is a well-researched and includes a long list of references. I will include it at the end of first posting in the series – just in case you want to learn more.

Would love your comments and thoughts.

It’s good to be back!

All my best – Hope you are well and living healthy.

Nancy

 

Nine Healthy Drinks for a Successful Diet

There are plenty of lower calorie, healthy drinks that can satisfy your taste buds and battle the bulge.

Losing weight doesn’t mean you must sacrifice all beverage-based enjoyment. Even an occasional not-so-healthy favorite is acceptable, as long as it isn’t a frequent occurrence.

Low Calorie Drinks That Are Good for You

Green Tea

Green tea contains valuable antioxidants that supercharge weight loss benefits. Extract from green tea is one of the most common ingredients added to fat burning supplements. Tea leaves contain many antioxidants such as catechins, which may help decrease body weight.4

Matcha is a Japanese green tea with higher concentrations of catechins.6

Caffeine, also in many green teas, may help support weight loss, as well.7 In one study, people who consumed extra caffeine were able to more effectively maintain their weight loss.8

If you’re feeling “hangry,” brew yourself a cup of healthy green tea to keep you on track.

Black Tea

Black tea contains polyphenols, micronutrients from plant-based foods, which may help prevent obesity. The polyphenols in black tea promote weight loss through calorie reduction, increased fat breakdown, and increasing friendly gut bacteria.9

Who would have thought the humble cup of tea could be a health drink?

Coffee

When we think “coffee” we think “caffeine” – the most widely-used nootropic in the world. There are millions who use coffee to increase energy and productivity.

Perks of Drinking Coffee

Healthy drink - cup of coffee
Credit: amenic181@iStock

It was widely accepted for many years that coffee was a contributor to heart disease and high blood pressure. Today, there is some disagreement with that conclusion. Recent studies suggest that coffee may actually help prevent chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and liver disease.10

Coffee help with weight loss because it can work as an appetite suppressant; plus, caffeine users are more successful at weight maintenance.8

Water

The body is 60% water and 71% of the Earth’s surface is water. Our lives depend on it.  And, yet, most people do not drink enough water to ensure a long, healthy life.

Staying well-hydrated is critical to your well-being . . . and it helps with weight loss.  While it seems counterintuitive, the body can retain water if not properly hydrated. The water weight can add extra pounds on the scale.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an average adequate daily fluid intake [for daily life (not on a diet)] is:

  • About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids for men
  • About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women

Specific water requirements for your body depend on many factors – body weight, activity level, health condition, age, climate in which you live, etc.

As a general rule – eight glasses of water daily is the minimum you should be drinking while dieting.

People often mistake thirst for hunger and eat when they should drink Healthy Drink - Bottled Waterwater.

A glass of water before each meal can help control the appetite. It was found that overweight adults who drank 17 ounces of water before a meal lost 44% more weight than the control group.13

Drinking water can also increase resting energy expenditure (REE) the amount of calories consumed at rest. A study of children showed an increase of REE up to 25% for 40 minutes after consumption.14  This seems to hold true for adults, as well.

I’ve heard people say, water is boring – although personally, I love it. There is nothing more refreshing. If you don’t enjoy water, maybe you should spice it up a bit. Add a slice of lemon to a glass of ice water. Or, add lemon juice or mint leaves to hot water for your morning wake-up drink.

Drinking water, especially warm water, first thing in the morning can flush the digestive system and rehydrate the body? Try it – it’s good for your health, and your diet.

Vegetable and Fruit Juices

Consuming whole vegetables maximizes nutrient intake; plus, they have a heavy water content. But, preparing vegetables takes time, which is a limited resource for many.

Eating enough greens can be challenging. You would have to be a rabbit to eat several cups of spinach, broccoli, carrots, and kale in one sitting. An easier option is to make green smoothies –or fruit and/or vegetable smoothies with added greens. All you need is a good blender or juicer.

Packaged fruit juice is not a good option. It is almost like flavored sugar-water – high in calories (because of the sugar content) and low in nutrients. Freshly-made fruit juice is the only option – or eat the whole fruit, which may be easier. The water content still counts.

Healthy Drink - Veg/Fruit Juice
Credit: pilipphoto@iStock

People tend to overcomplicate juicing recipes by requiring unusual ingredients. Use simple combinations like the following:

  • 2 cups of spinach
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • Handful of kale
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • Lemon juice to taste

To make it easy on yourself, get my book, JUICING for LIFE on Amazon.  It will make healthy juicing a breeze.

You may also want to check out this excellent article 25 Green Smoothie Benefits You Can Never Ignore.  

Out of the Box Options

There are a few less common healthy drinks you can try that may help with weight loss. Water should be first on your list, but we wanted to be sure you were well-informed.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Many people have apple cider vinegar in their pantry, but should you drink it?  Recently there has been hype about it being helpful in weight loss.

It contains acetic acid, a compound linked to decreased belly fat and reduced accumulation of fat in the liver.

In a study performed on rats, apple cider vinegar helped prevent obesity in those with type 2 diabetes.15 In another animal study, it also reduced body weight in obese mice.16

The research on apple cider vinegar performed in humans is limited, but some research suggests it may improve metabolic health in humans.17,18 Consuming two tablespoons of ACV per day resulted in decreased body weight, waist circumference, and body fat compared to a control group.19

Some articles suggest that drinking apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach may help improve digestion; consuming it after meals may improve insulin sensitivity and help lower blood sugar levels.20  Does it work? There is no solid evidence that it does.

Electrolyte Drinks

Electrolytes are often referenced in connection with athletes, but everyone needs them to function properly. They are important for maintaining proper fluid balance in the body.

Electrolytes are lost in sweat during workouts. Sports drinks have added electrolytes to counteract the loss. The drinks may also have a high calorie count because of the sugar content.

Remember – every calorie counts on a diet. Be sure to read labels. Low-calorie electrolyte drinks can help maintain a proper electrolyte balance without the extra sugar.

Liquid Meal Replacements

These have been popular in America for decades. People like the convenience.

Meal replacements remove the hassle of meal preparation. You simply drink your breakfast, lunch, or dinner. These products usually have a well-rounded macronutrient profile and fewer calories than a normal meal.They may also be fortified with extra vitamins and minerals.

Word of cautionread the label. They may contain additives.

Meal replacements can keep the calorie-count low; but, they may not satisfy your hunger like solid food would. The average “shake” has ~200 calories and 20 grams of protein. A small chicken breast with a side of veggies would have a similar calorie count and be more filling.

We don’t recommend using meal replacements as substitutes for solid meals. Use them for emergencies.

Liquid Cleanses or Detox Diets

These are popular because of the promises of fast weight loss.

They deliver on the promise for two reasons.

  1. During the cleanse, your calorie intake is minimal – far below the daily recommended allowance, even for dieting. It is an extreme form of crash dieting and should never be used more than a few days. Follow the instructions carefully and let your physician know you are doing it.
  2. A cleanse diet has laxative powers, as the name implies. They are designed to make people lose water weight and gut fiber weight as opposed to true fat loss. The weight loss is short-term. The only time a cleanse diet should be used is to “kick-start” a healthier weight-loss diet.

Check out my book titled, DETOX, on Amazon. It will help you make an informed decision regarding a cleanse diet. Be sure to check with your physician, as well.

What kinds of beverages are you consuming each day? Are they helping you lose weight? Or, are they causing you to plateau, or even gain weight?

Answer the questions honestly and make the necessary adjustments. Choosing low-calorie, healthy drinks can make a significant difference in your diet results.

See you next time for Segment #3 – “Drinks You Should Avoid for a Successful Diet.”

Adapted with permission from the original article published on HVMN by Ryan Rodal.

Note:  This was a long article originally that I am posting in segments for easier reading. If you want more information on the research, click on the numbered links in the posting. They will take you to the references in the original article. 

How to Reach Your Weight-Loss Goal

Reach Your Weight-loss Goal
Image by graphit

Deciding to go on a diet is easy, but sticking to a diet is not easy! So, when facing that challenge, it is important to know how to reach your weight-loss goal.

Of course, you have to decide you want to lose weight and be committed to doing so; then, you must stick to your guns and stay motivated or the goal will never be realized.

There is no magic bullet, but there are two important tips that can help you reach your weight-loss goal.

#1 – Take It a Week at a Time

You must break your ultimate goal into smaller chunks and have bench marks that will indicate you are moving in the right direction.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Over the long term, it’s best to aim for losing 1 to 2 pounds (0.5 to 1 kilogram) a week.”

When you have a realistic weekly weight-loss target, you will be more confident in your efforts and you will know exactly what you are going to measure at the end of each week.

Your long-term goal may be 40 pounds, but take it “one week at a time” (1 to 2 pounds/week = 20 to 30 weeks)

In addition to choosing a healthy diet that fits your lifestyle and current health conditions, plus a solid commitment to stay with it, don’t forget to get plenty of rest and exercise. .

Image by tashatuvango
Image by tashatuvango

BUT . . .  the primary target should be the number of pounds you plan to lose each week. That target should be clear – and realistic. If it is, you should be able to stick to your weight loss program and enjoy success week after week, after week. AND, feel good in the process.

If you are not hitting your target, be willing to look closely at what you are doing, or not doing – and figure out why you are not reaching your weekly target.

Maybe the target you set was not sensible or reasonable; or, maybe you are putting too much pressure on yourself.

Honest introspection is a good way to see what you are really capable of doing and then, you can develop or choose a plan that is suitable for your unique lifestyle.

#2 – Be Patient with the Process

This is a critical factor in being successful in anything that you choose to do in life. It is also one of the hardest things to sustain. You have to be patient in order to get the things that you want.

It is easy to forget that when you gained the weight you so dearly want to lose, it did not happen all at once. It took days, weeks, months, even years for the weight to compound and settle in. That should help you understand why it will take you days, weeks, months, even years to lose it all.

Patience Is Critical

We all want to believe that there is a “quick fix” that will make it possible to radically change our appearance. We want to believe that it will only take a couple of weeks or at most a couple of months to make the weight magically disappear; but, the reality is very different.

If you have enough free time and money to hire a personal trainer who will work out with you for several hours every day; plus hire a cook to prepare and serve healthy, nutritional meals, your weight loss journey will be much easier and a lot shorter. But, those options are not within the reach of most people.

For the majority, losing weight has to be built-in to daily life that is filled with lots of responsibilities connected to families and work. So, it must be well-thought-out and planned over the long-term.

Successful weight loss comes from setting long-term goals, taking things slow and easy, and moving at a pace that fits your personal lifestyle. By spreading your weight-loss target over a longer period of time, you have time to adjust your eating and exercise habits and ease into the life changes that will move you toward your ultimate goal.

Taking it slow and easy is actually a very good thing! The slower the weight comes off, the more likely it will stay off permanently.

Setting realistic targets for a week at a time and being patient with the process are two important and helpful practices that will ensure that your weight loss journeys is happy and successful.

Mediterranean Food Pyramid

Since grade school we have known about the food pyramid, but the food pyramid I want to discuss today is quite different: The Mediterranean Food Pyramid.

Mediterranean Food Pyramid

The pyramid is used by countless health organizations, clinics, doctors and many others to guide people to eat in a healthy manner. It is the standard to live by and health professionals unanimously agree that by following this diet pyramid, your health will benefit tremendously.

The pyramid is a wonderful synopsis of what the Mediterranean Diet entails. It shows four different food groups and the optimal number of servings of each group that should be consumed.

The pyramid was created based on research of the diet that the people in the Mediterranean countries consume. The area was selected as the model because of the low incidence of heart disease and high life expectancy found in the region.

One of the primary reasons for the healthy results of the diet is that the people not only use fresh, unadulterated ingredients, they also cook their meals in very healthy ways.

They are among the minority of the world’s population that have not embraced the fast food culture that dominates the US and Australia. It should be noted that both countries are battling an obesity epidemic.

You Will Eat Fresh, Healthy Foods

There are no processed foods, colas, white flour products, pizzas or any unhealthy food in the food pyramid. There are only categories of fresh, healthy foods: fruits and vegetables, nuts and grains, beans, fish and seafood, and healthy oils (primarily olive oil) – plus a little red wine.

Your fat consumption should be moderate along with consumption of dairy products such as yogurt and cheese. Eggs can be consumed daily.

Fish (seafood) is preferred over meat and should be consumed twice a week. Poultry is also preferred over red meat and should be consumed once a week. Red meat should only be consumed 3 to 4 times a month. The rest of the time, vegetables, legumes, and/or pasta should be the focal point of your meals.

Fruit and vegetables (7 servings) should be consumed daily.

Get rid of your salt shaker and start seasoning with fresh herbs and spices. Don’t forget the garlic and onions.

Cook primarily with olive oil. Butter should be used minimally, if at all.  NEVER use margarine or hydrogenated oil products.

The use of unhealthy hydrogenated oils is very rare in Mediterranean cooking – and they rarely eat red meat or sweets (other than fresh fruit)

Avoid all foods that contain processed sugar. That means chocolate, candies, and most rich desserts are to be consumed minimally.

One of the distinctive characteristics of the Mediterranean diet is red wine. This is not an open invitation to include all alcoholic beverages such as beer, vodka or bourbon in your diet. The Mediterranean diet advocates ONLY wine. About 1 glass for women and no more than 2 glasses a day for men and usually, consumption is after dinner.

The food pyramid is just a guideline to help you eat in a healthy way. You do not need to be overly strict and get upset if you do not follow it exactly. As long as you eat the foods on the pyramid and stop eating the healthy damaging junk/processed foods that are typical on the American diet, you will be doing well. If you make those changes, you will be giving yourself one of the greatest gifts possible: Good Health!

Photo from: https://www.unitypoint.org/madison/filesimages/News%20Article%20Images/mediterranean-diet-pyramid.jpg

From the same site, check out the 7-day Mediterranean Menu (Autumn/Winter).  Not only does it suggest full menus for all meals, it includes recipes and calorie count for the day.  ENJOY!

Mediterranean Diet Shopping List

Hopefully you are convinced (as I am) that the Mediterranean diet is fantastic. It has proven to be a healthy way of life for many people – why not you? Unlike other diets such as the Atkins diet or Paleo diet there is little debate over whether or not it is good for you.

Of course, we have established that it is also quite different from other diets because it is more about food choices and cooking methods – a way of eating – rather than focusing on restrictions. In fact, it doesn’t really even talk about portion control. Although, I do recommend that you use good sense and eat moderately.

Other than that, this is one of the best diets on the planet. It’s tasty, easy to follow, and has multiple health benefits, such as:  reducing your risk of getting nasty diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Also – if you need to lower your blood pressure and bad cholesterol . . . the Mediterranean diet is for you. If you want to live a long and healthy life . . . you got it! The Mediterranean diet is for you.

It you are focusing on clean eating, this is a diet that allows you to follow that philosophy, eat well, and enjoy the food.

The diet itself is quite simple and very flexible. You should be able to find most of the food at your local supermarket.

Mediterranean Diet Shopping List

The diet can be broken down into a few groups, which makes it easy to shop:

  • Whole grains
  • Healthy oils & fats
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Yogurt and cheese
  • Seafood
  • Beans
  • Herbs and spices

That’s pretty much it. There may be a few other items, but for the most part, if you stick to these eight categories, you will be eating healthy.

Whole Grains

Please notice it says “whole grains.” In fact, look for the word “whole” or 100% whole wheat or whole grain on the label. Examples would be whole grain bread or whole grain pasta. Good whole grain items would be: pasta, tortillas, bread, oatmeal, cereals, polenta, brown rice, quinoa, barley and pita.

Whole wheat bread dipped in olive oil is a tasty treat.

Healthy Oils

Mediterranean DietHealthy oils are a key ingredient In the Mediterranean diet. Replace butter with healthy fats – especially extra-virgin olive oil, which is excellent for cooking and on salads.

Other suggested oils are: canola, grape seed, sesame, and avocado oil. In the Mediterranean diet, the staple oil used is olive oil. Oils have lots of calories, so try to limit yourself to no more than three tablespoons per day.

Keep the oils in a cool, dark place so that they last longer.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are another group of healthy fats. You must be a little cautious with this group, they are calorie dense. Don’t go nuts with the nuts. Consume them in moderation or you will end up adding pounds you do not want.

A handful a day will provide our body with protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Buy them in bulk and pack them in small snack bags – limiting yourself to one bag per day.

Almonds, cashews, flax, sunflower seeds, walnuts and pine nuts are all good choices.

Vegetables and Fruits

Fruits and Vegetables
Image by by Erdosain

These are nutrition-packed foods filled with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

Always buy fresh, organic produce when it is available. Seven to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables should be eaten daily.

Frozen fruits and veggies are also fine as long as they are quick frozen with nothing added. Avoid canned vegetables, if possible. If you must use canned, be they are low sodium.

Vegetables – you have many choices:  All the green leafy vegetables, plus broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, celery, onions, radishes, tomatoes, squash, beets, mustard greens, avocados, green peppers, etc. Obviously, it is a long list!

Fruits are eaten in place of sweets on this diet. Recommended are: apples, cherries, dates, peaches, kiwi, mango, papaya, grapefruit, oranges, melons, and strawberries.  Again . . . buy organic if at all possible; or, you may be ingesting pesticides that are harmful to your body. If not organic, wash extremely well and peel if possible.

Yogurt and Cheese

Dairy is not a major focus on the diet. It is usually eaten in the form of yogurt and cheese.  Both are good options as a calcium source. Stay with whole natural cheeses and plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt (need sweet, add a little honey).

Seafood

Baked SalmonSeafood is heavily consumed in the Mediterranean region. Shrimp, salmon, cod, clams, tilapia, tuna, sardines, scallops and crab are excellent seafood choices and are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

Eggs are also eaten as a source of protein and a regular part of the diet. Chicken is also served on occasion.  Red meat is eaten rarely – so go very easy on this one.

Lentils and Beans

These are high in protein but low in fats and calories. You have many choices: lentils, chickpeas, clack beans, pinto beans and white beans.

Herbs and Spices

Use fresh or dried herbs and spices to season your food and enhance the flavors. You will not need to use salt or unhealthy fats to make your food tasty. Garlic, mint, cumin, coriander, parsley, basil, oregano, cilantro and pepper are good choices.

Don’t forget the garlic – a favorite in the Mediterranean Region.

Red Wine

Mediterranean Diet
Image by karandaev

I know this isn’t one of the categories – and is optional on the diet. But if you enjoy good red wine, a glass each evening is encouraged (one for women and no more than two for men).

That pretty much sums it up. The diet is primarily focused on fresh fruits, vegetables, olive oil, and seafood with limited poultry and practically no red meat plus minimal sweets – all good reasons why it is so healthy.

Shop wisely and ENJOY!