Tag Archives: Healthy Eating

How to Choose the Best Drinks for a Successful Diet

Choosing the Wrong Drinks Adds Extra Empty Calories

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

You are starting your weight loss journey. You’ve been through your kitchen and thrown all the junk food into the trash. A diet plan has been chosen and you’ve taken those awkward “before” selfies.

What is the one thing you may have missed?

Frappacinos not healthy living
Credit – domtree_m

Have you made the common mistake of underestimating the caloric content of your favorite drinks?

The majority of beverages consumed by the American public each day are packed with hidden calories. The drinks you gulp down could be responsible for weight loss plateaus or lack of progress toward your weight loss goals.

Examples of Non-Healthy Drink Choices

  • The “healthy” smoothie from the organic store? It contains more calories than a double cheeseburger (a large Strawberry Surf Rider from Jamba Juice has 640 calories; a McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger has 440 calories).
  • Heavily sweetened coffee on your morning commute?  A Venti Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino has 550 calories, while two Dunkin Donuts Glazed Donut have 520 calories.
  • Having a beer with dinner? That’s more calories than a candy bar (a Lagunita’s IPA has 220 calories, while a Hershey bar has 214 calories).

This is not a suggestion to replace empty-calorie drinks with empty-calorie fast foods or sweets – it was for comparison only.

Beverages Can Add 100s of Calories Each Day

Whether it it a juice drink, flavored coffees, sodas, beers, popular “healthy” smoothies made commercially, they all contain high amounts of empty calories.

Instead of changing your diet, try rethinking your lifestyle.

Don’t count calories, make calories count!

Every calorie you choose to eat should be filled with nutrients (including beverages). Make them count. They should satisfy your hunger and help you reach your weight loss goals. The next post will discuss the best drinks to help you get there.

Beverages Are Not as Satisfying as Nutrient-Rich Foods

The first step is to be aware of the number of liquid calories you’re consuming each day, which often have little nutritional value. They may satisfy your sweet tooth; but they do not satisfy your hunger.

Studies have shown that meals with solid foods provide better sensations of fullness compared to liquid meal replacements alone.1

When you limit your daily calorie intake to kick-start weight loss, it is important to maximize the nutritional value of every calorie.

Every Calorie Counts When Committing to a Healthy Diet

  • A typical 16 oz bottle of soda has around 200 calories; that’s approximately equal to six ounces of chicken breast.
  • An average juice smoothie from a national chain has around 300 calories; that’s the equivalent to four whole eggs.
  • Most beer has at least 150 calories, equivalent to five pieces of turkey bacon.

Choosing the non-beverage option in each of these scenarios will not only provide more nutritional value but will also help you feel full.

The soda manufacturers have taken advantage of the “diet mentality” that is a big factor in drink choices. They have provided an alternative to “sugared drinks” in the form of diet or zero-calorie drinks. The problem is they remove the sugar and add artificial sweeteners – neither one is good for your health. Bottom line: sodas are not healthy drinks.

Potential Side Effects of Sweeteners

Studies have shown body weight, fat mass, and blood pressure may all be negatively affected by the consumption of sweeteners.

Two of the most commonly added artificial sweeteners are aspartame and saccharin.2 Another is sucralose. All three carry a potential risk of adverse metabolic effects and type 2 diabetes.3

Be careful. Limit your intake of artificial sweeteners. They can be harmful to your health.

The best choice is always a natural, non-processed drink that contains minimal sugar and minimal artificial sweeteners to be safe. We will discuss those in the next posting.

Starting today….every time you have a craving to buy your favorite beverage. Stop and ask yourself some simple questions. 

  • What is in this drink? (Learn to read labels or look it up on the Internet.)
  • How many calories does it contain?
  • Are they healthy, nutritional calories – or empty?
  • Do I really need this, or should I eat something solid instead?

Treating your self occasionally with a favorite drink is OK, but don’t make it a habit that takes the place of real food.

Awareness and making smart food choices are the first steps to a successful diet.

See you next time for the second post in the series,Seven Healthy Drink Options for a Healthy Diet.”

Nancy

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. 

 

Why Is It Hard to Build Healthy Habits?

There is a tremendous amount of emphasis today on living a healthy life and many Americans profess to wanting to be healthier. S0 . . .  why is it hard to build healthy habits?

There is an abundance of information available – articles, blogs, news reports, etc. on how to create a healthy lifestyle. Food suppliers have made healthy eating easier than it has ever been by making fresh, organic produce and additive-free foods readily available. And yet, the U.S. is facing an obesity crisis, diabetes is on the rise, and heart disease is rampant.

The root of the problem is that humans are resistant to change by nature. Studies have shown that because of that resistance it takes at least a month to break an old habit and implement a new one. Even then, we can easily backslide into old patterns.

After a new habit has been in place for the first 30-days, we must diligently hold ourselves on track until the new practice is deeply ingrained as a “habit” and will hold without conscious thought.

Most of us are fully aware that healthy habits are necessary to increase resistance to poor health conditions and disease right now. They are also necessary for long-term good health and longevity.

Unfortunately, the road to change can be bumpy if not done correctly.

Healthy Eating

Junk Food - Hamburger and FriedAsk yourself the hard questions about your eating habits. What kinds of foods do you eat every day? Is your diet primarily made up of junk food? Food high in calories and low in nutrients – filled with sugar, bad fats, and additives?

If you said yes to those questions, you have a lot of company. That describes a huge number of Americans.

Our bodies were not made to process and thrive on that kind of food. It is not the kind of food that people ate for generations. In fact, it is relatively new from a historical perspective.

Food Manufacturers Destroyed Healthy Eating Habits

The world has changed dramatically over the last century. We no longer live in a world of hunters and gathers or farmers and tradesmen. Food manufacturers have changed our eating habits to fit their pocketbooks. They have little or no interest in providing healthy foods that the body needs. Their only real interest is profit.

Today processed and fast foods are everywhere. Convenience is one of the biggest drivers behind the success of such products. They are available, reasonably priced, and inviting you in for a quick bite … and while you are there, they super-size everything, adding even more fat and calories.

But, that isn’t the end of the story or even the worst part. The foods have been purposefully engineered to be addictive. So, the more processed and fast food you eat, the more you want. Those are the foods your body begins to crave.

Happily, you do not have to stay on this destructive path. You can choose to change and start eating healthy. If you are committed to the change and stay true to your new choices, healthy food will become the kind of food your body craves.

Make Changes Slowly

It can be extremely challenging to make such a change cold-turkey, although some people prefer to do it that way. For most, it may be easier to make small incremental changes slowly – and to be patient with yourself in the process.

Small changes over time allow your body and mind to adjust and adapt slowly to your new way of eating. Gradually wean yourself off the bad food and begin to fill your diet with more and more healthy food until eventually a complete change has been made.

Regardless of whether you choose a gradual change or to go “cold turkey” – a change is necessary if you want to live a full, rich, healthy life. The way you eat today and tomorrow will affect how you feel, mentally and physically today, tomorrow, next year, and the rest of your life.

Healthy Level of Fitness

We are in the early part of a new year and chances are some people made New Year’s Resolutions to exercise more this year. Some of those resolutions may have been to the extreme such as: exercise five days a week, run a marathon in a month, etc.

Depending on their current state of fitness, it is possible that after a couple of visits to the gym, they were so sore they could hardly move. They decided to take a few days to heal up and never went back.

When trying to build up your physical endurance and fitness, common sense should tell you to start where you are and Woman Exercising at HOmebuild up slowly. Begin with short easy workouts a day or two the first week and gradually increase the frequency, the time spent, and type of workout over the course of the first month.

When it comes to fitness it doesn’t have to be hard to build healthy habits, it is a process of setting an attainable and realistic end goal with several milestones of mini-goals along the way.

Take Care of Your Body

With birth we each received the gift of a miraculous human body. If it is treated badly, it will begin to falter. Poor health and disease will take over. If it is nurtured and cared for through healthy practices (healthy foods, exercise, rest, and plenty of laughter), it will thrive and serve you well for a very long lifetime. The choice is yours.

Please check out my newest book:

Cover - WOW! You Look FanfasticWOW! You Look Fantastic

It may be hard to build healthy habits, but it doesn’t have to be. This book was written to provide a road map for everyone who wants to live a happier, healthier life. It is based on the author’s fifteen-month personal journey and her life-changing results.

Give your self the gift of a healthy life, beginning today. Use the link to buy your copy through Amazon.com.

Mediterranean Diet – Excellent Choice for Women

Lead researcher, Cecilia Samieri, DVM, PHD, Boston University School of Medicine stated, “Women with healthier dietary patterns at midlife were 40% more likely to survive to age 70 or over.” That is proof that a diet does affect your longevity. But you already knew that.

But, why is the Mediterranean Diet specifically an excellent choice for women?

Mediterranean Diet - Excellent Choice for Women
Image by lunamarina

The average American woman’s diet is filled with highly-processed foods, high in unhealthy fats, high in refined sugar and white flour, filled with additives, and low in nutrition.

Continual consumption of such an unhealthy diet wreaks havoc on a woman’s skin and her body.  It causes her to age more quickly; it weakens her muscles; her energy levels drop; inactivity sets in; and she eventually loses her natural sense of well-being.

The Mediterranean Diet is primarily a natural food diet made up of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, legumes, nuts, and a little red wine. It is high in monounsaturated fats due to the use of extra-virgin olive oil which is extremely beneficial to the body. Processed foods, fast foods, high sugar content and unhealthy fats are not part of the eating plan.

A Different Way of Eating

The Med-Diet is a different way of eating – you will be feeding your body natural foods that are healthy for the body and mind!

Most women who are struggling to lose weight generally reduce their food intake and start exercising vigorously. While both of these things can be helpful, reducing your food intake, but continuing to eat unhealthy foods is not a wise choice.

It is much better to choose a healthy diet and to eat in moderation to lose weight.  You could possibly eat junk food in moderation and stay slim; but, think about what are you would be doing to your body in the process. You may be choosing to lose weight at the cost of your good health.

It isn’t difficult to see that it would be much better to eat healthy foods like salmon drizzled in olive oil, Greek yogurt with a little honey, stir-fried broccoli, or Quinoa Pasta Primavera, etc.

That is what makes the Mediterranean diet so fantastic. The food you get to eat is actually delicious, nutritious and beneficial to your health.  No more forcing yourself to eat another bland steamed chicken breast or chalk-like protein shake – or caught between feeling half-starved or binge eating when no one is looking.

Reap the Rewards

  • Fresh vegetables and fruits will ensure your body has adequate fiber and vitamins.
  • Calcium rich foods such as kale, Brussel sprouts and spinach will prevent the dreaded osteoporosis.
  • Legumes and potatoes, which are rich in potassium, will prevent you from losing muscle tone and will also lower your blood pressure.
  • Olive oil will reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • The healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in the fish that you eat will do wonders for your health. The modern day diet is too high in omega-6 fatty acids and too low in omega-3 fatty acids. The Mediterranean diet will reverse this awful trend.
  • Honey as your natural sweetener along with generous servings of fruit will help minimize your sugar intake and help avoid Type 2 Diabetes.

Unlike the Atkins Diet, Paleo Diet or Cabbage Soup Diet, the Mediterranean Diet is not too restrictive, which makes it much easier to follow and to sustain over the long-haul.  You will be able stay on the diet because you will be enjoying yourself rather than suffering and staying on track through pure will power.

The Mediterranean Diet is a way of life. It will work wonders for your health and peace of mind. All it takes is a desire to be healthy and a willingness to prepare and eat the wonderfully delicious foods in moderation and daily exercise to start living a healthier lifestyle.

Mediterranean Diet - Excellent Choice for Women
Image by Mike Baird

To all women, I say, “ Make this choice as soon as you can and enjoy the health benefits and sense of well-being that come from being on a nutritious, well-balanced diet.”

5 Tips for the Mediterranean Diet

Enjoy these 5 tips for the Mediterranean Diet, which has become one of the most popular diet choices in the world even though it is more a healthy way of eating than a diet as we usually define the word. It should be around for a very long time.

Explaining the Mediterranean Diet
Image by karandaev

Unlike other fad diets, it is not new nor particularly unique. In fact, these five simple tips will help you stay on track if you choose to implement it.

This incredibly healthy way of eating comes to us from the Mediterranean Sea Region where people have been preparing and eating this way for centuries. If you were to ask them about the “diet” they would not see why it is such a big deal – it is just the way they have always eaten.

Yet, to Americans and the rest of the world who have developed a steady diet of convenience foods made up of processed, additive-filled meals and junk food, the health benefits of this diet can seem dramatic and almost unbelievable.

The diet gained its recent and massive popularity after the results of a five-year Spanish study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed it slowed aging, reduced bad cholesterol, and prevented the onset of diseases such as Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s, stroke, cardiovascular disease, etc.

Hopefully, you are already convinced that the diet (way of eating) is awesome and have started or will soon start this journey to better health.

If so, the following tips should be followed in order to receive the greatest benefits possible from the Mediterranean diet.

5 Tips for the Mediterranean Diet

  1. Eat lots of fresh fruit daily

Since fruits grow abundantly in the Mediterranean’s warm climate, the people love their fruit and eat several servings every day. Doing so, not only diminishes sugar cravings, they are a good source of fiber, and provide many important nutrients for your body.

There are many fresh fruits available on the market – organic is the best choice, if available. Eat your favorites and try new ones – they are all good for you. Kiwi, pomegranate, figs, berries, apricots, apples and bananas are all popular fruits that are commonly found in the Mediterranean area.

  1. Use olive oil as your staple fat

This is a fundamental necessity of the Mediterranean Diet. Almost all of your cooking should be done with extra virgin olive oil, which is extremely beneficial to the body. It is known as liquid gold because it is full of anti-oxidant properties and monounsaturated fatty acids.

A study published in the journal Pharmacological Research found:

People who regularly consume olive oil are much less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels). They also found that regular olive oil intake helps reduce inflammation, endothelial dysfunction (problems with the inner linings of blood vessels), thrombosis and carbohydrate metabolism.

A study published in the scientific journal, Diabetes Care, showed that a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil reduced the risk of Type II Diabetes by almost 50% compared to a low-fat diet.

As you can see, olive oil is highly beneficial to your health. Use it to roast or lightly sauté your vegetables, sprinkled over a fresh salad, or anytime to enhance the taste and flavor of your cooking.

Hydrogenated vegetable oils must be avoided completely. They are one of the main causes of obesity in the world. These are dangerous to your health and are loaded with Omega-6 fatty acids when the body needs is Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and olive oil.

  1. Eat lots of green leafy vegetable

These should be part of your diet even if you are not on the Mediterranean Diet. They are rich in nutrients and low in calories, which makes them ideal for weight management.

They are also rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium, while being low in fat and high in fiber – all of which helps reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

  1. Eat fish often.

Any kind of fish will do – tilapia, cod, grouper, salmon, tuna, etc. Along with olive oil, fish oil is also an important component in the Mediterranean diet. Always buy fresh fish when you can and freeze extra for later use.

You can also buy frozen fish. Fish that you buy from the grocer’s freezer is typically quick frozen as soon as it is caught, which means that you are getting all the nutrients you would if you ate the same piece of fish fresh. Buying frozen fish also generally offers a greater variety.

Keep your intake of other meats such as chicken, beef and pork low. Lower consumption of saturated fat probably accounts for the much lower risk of heart disease associated with this diet.

  1. Drink a glass of red wine every night after dinner

You do not have to do this, but if you enjoy wine, we recommend it. It is a key component in the Mediterranean diet. Notice it says “a glass of wine” meaning ONE glass. (No more than one glass/day for women and two glasses/day for men.)  This does not give you an excuse to drink a bottle or more of wine each. day.

Too many people are in the habit of guzzling down beers or knocking down shots of tequila or Sambuca which is very unhealthy. We are also not recommending other types of alcohol such as bourbon, vodka, etc. that are poisonous to the body

It is believed that red wine contains antioxidants, such as flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol that have heart-healthy benefits. Enjoy your evening glass of wine – your heart will thank you.

In Closing

Following the five tips above for the Mediterranean Diet will improve your health. The Mediterranean Diet is the easiest diet in the world to follow – it is not strange or restrictive. With only a few small changes, you should be able easily adapt your eating habits and enjoy all the delicious foods.

If you are truly interested in giving this diet a shot . . . Just found a new article that could be helpful:

15 Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet, According to Science (+ How to Get Started / Diet Plan

Mediterranean Diet and Eating Gluten-Free

Eating Gluten-Free

Eating Gluten-Free
Image by Zerbor

Over the past few years the word gluten has become a common household world. Gluten-free foods have become a big business for the food manufacturers, and celiac disease is well-known, although not well-understood.

When it comes to the use of gluten-free foods, there are two camps regarding who should or should not eat them. One group says it is unhealthy to maintain a gluten-free diet if you are not suffering from celiac disease. The other group says that a gluten-free diet is good for everyone.

My goal is not to convince you one way or the other. If you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, then avoiding gluten in your diet is absolutely necessary. If your body handles gluten with no problem, you can make the choice whether you want to go gluten-free, or not.

It is a fact that some people cannot tolerate gluten and when they indulge, they suffer with upset stomachs, sinusitis, headaches, leaky gut syndrome, and other health issues.

If you are struggling with undefined health issues, you could eliminate gluten from your diet for two to three months to see if you feel better. If you do, you will have narrowed down your problem and can continue with a gluten-free diet for better health.

Mediterranean Diet and Eating Gluten Free

One thing I love about the Mediterranean Diet is its flexibility. It can be gluten-free if you choose. It is very different from other diets like the Atkins Diet or Paleo Diet, which are very rigid in what you can and cannot eat.

As I have said in previous posts, the Mediterranean Diet is more of an eating plan with a variety of choices than a “diet.”  Also, the majority of foods recommended are natural and do not contain gluten.

According to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center,

Fresh, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, dairy products meat/meat alternatives are gluten-free. Other gluten-free components of the Mediterranean diet include nuts, wine without preservatives or added dye and fresh, frozen, dried or canned vegetables and fruits without thickening agents. Aged hard cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, Edam and Parmesan are gluten-free. Yogurt, olive and canola oil are also gluten-free.

There are other foods such as pasta, bread, couscous, barley, etc. that contain gluten and should be avoided if you are on a gluten-free diet.

The Celiac Sprue Association recommends a number of grains and starches to replace those derived from wheat, rye or barley.

People on the Mediterranean Diet who are gluten-sensitive can safely eat white or brown rice flour, potato, tapioca, arrowroot, corn meal, corn flour, soy flour, flax, wild rice, quinoa, millet, hominy and flours that are labeled 100 percent gluten-free. When purchasing a new product, it’s important to read the label carefully to make sure gluten was not added during the manufacturing process.

No Hard, Fast Rules

There are no hard and fast rules with the Mediterranean diet even for gluten-free diets. The process is fairly simple. Avoid all processed foods and purchase gluten-free Mediterranean foods by educating yourself and carefully reading labels.

If you are prone to food allergies of any kind, consult your doctor to ensure that the foods you are consuming are suitable for you. For example, some people may be allergic to shell fish or seafood which is a part of the Mediterranean diet.

If that is the case, it is a simple fix – use poultry instead. If you buy certified organic chickens without hormones and antibiotics, you are still consuming a natural, healthy food.

Chicken nuggets are NOT good for you! They are artificial and detrimental to your health. REMEMBER – always stay as close to nature as possible.

Gluten-Free vs Grain-Free

Important note: Gluten-free and grain-free are not the same thing. You can consume grains and still be on a gluten-free diet.

Cynthia Harriman, Oldways’ Director of Food and Nutrition Strategies and Manager of the Whole Grains Council, understands that the whole grain aspect of this healthy diet can be difficult for those with Celiac and gluten sensitivity. She explains, “Grains such as brown rice, millet and corn are gluten free and are whole grain. They’re at their healthiest if not overly processed.”

To Summarize

The Mediterranean diet can be gluten-free if you choose. Do your research so you fully understand what you can and cannot eat in order to be gluten-free. After that, it is easy. Purchase the right foods and begin cooking all the wonderfully tasty Mediterranean dishes that you can make using natural, delicious ingredients. Enjoy!