Tag Archives: healthy eating

7 Power Foods That Improve Your Appearance

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A lot of us struggle with excessive consumption of foods that harm our appearance and good looks. One of the contributing factors to outbreaks of acne and skin blemishes is having lots of oily and processed foods in our diet. Thankfully, there are natural antidotes that can get the body clean and back in shape. It is important if there is an outbreak of skin problems that we lower consumption of the damaging food. Continue reading

Intent of the Day: Time to Mealplan

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The end of the year is upon us and where are you with the goals you made in January? The ones where you promised to eat better? The one about getting back into the gym? Maybe the one about taking more time for yourself? Even if you’re just getting started, the truth is it’s not too late. We’re right there with you on taking baby steps on this journey. We’re going to start with an intent to mealplan.

You too? Here are 3 resources to help: Continue reading

3 Causes of Food Cravings You Can Conquer! 

Comfort Eating In Office

(The following is adapted from the new book Cravings Boss: The REAL Reason You Crave Food and a 5-Step Plan to Take Back Control by Natalia Levey , CHC, CNC)   

Unsatisfying relationships, stressful jobs, disappointing sex life and emotional highs and lows can all cause excessive binging or deprivation eating. Remember the break-up movie scene? When emotions run high, the body sends craving cues in order to obtain “rewards” from the brain, even if temporary. It’s always best to seek out non-food related rewards first.

When was the first time you bought a ticket for the emotional rollercoaster? Are you still on that ride? Or do you receive a monthly subscription of emotions, gradually increasing over time? Let’s take a look at how this might play out.

1. Fear. Fear and worry show up throughout the day. You may be nervously anticipating your next meeting, worried about a conversation you had, or simply anxious about how to get everything done on your to-do list. Continue reading

7 Easy Ways to Avoid Your Sugar Cravings

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(The following is adapted from the new book Cravings Boss: The REAL Reason You Crave Food and a 5-Step Plan to Take Back Control by Natalia Levey , CHC, CNC)   

Sugar is found in almost every processed food on the market today. It is used as a flavor enhancer more often than any other seasoning, including salt. I can almost guarantee that if you grab an inexpensive processed food from your local grocer, it will be loaded with sugar. Manufacturers are well aware of sugar’s addictive quality  People who are caught in this addictive loop usually drink several sugary sodas per day or consume large quantities of candy, processed sweets or packaged, ready-to-eat goodies. If you recognize yourself in these words, you’re not alone.

Did you know the average American eats 152 pounds of sugar per year? One hundred and fifty two pounds. POUNDS! A baby giraffe weighs that much! That’s approximately twenty- two teaspoons per day and it only takes about two cans of soda to reach this daily maximum.

Here are 7 surefire strategies to get your sugar cravings controlled… Continue reading

Better Than Before: The Highs and Lows of Cholesterol

cholesterol“I’ll have the steak,” my husband with the three coronary artery stents announced to the waiter. “A fillet mignon, medium rare,” he added, with a look of self-satisfaction on his face. He was obviously proud of himself because he didn’t order what he really wanted—the marbled prime rib.

“While you’re at it, dear, why don’t you have cheesecake for dessert,” I suggested, “just in case you have any arteries left unclogged.”

I should say, however, that The Lawyer — dietary deviations aside — is in very good shape for a man his age and is extremely aware of what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. But that doesn’t always mean he makes the wisest menu choices when it comes to his heart. Indeed, out of my sight and left to his own devices he may just grab a hamburger — or horrors! — that deadly croissant-doughnut hybrid known as “cronut!”

He, of course, swears that a genetic predisposition—and my constant nagging—are the primary culprits for his coronary clogs. Therefore, I must remind him (always, of course, in calm, constructive tones), that while genetics may load the gun, lifestyle still pulls the trigger.

The reason I worry about what he eats, is cholesterol, a big component of all those unhealthy foods he likes to eat, and a known factor in heart disease. And while my husband’s cholesterol isn’t particularly high, every journal article I read seems to say that it should be lower!  It seems, too, as if practically everyone I know, the Lawyer included, is on a statin of some sort or another – 25% of all Americans over age 45, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. But do statins lower all cholesterol? How do you keep the HDL (high density lipoproteins — think “happy” ones) level high while lowering the LDL (low density, think “lousy”).  So my intent for this column is to help readers have a cholesterol ratio that is Better Than Before.

To advise, I turn to an expert, Ed Dannemiller, a specialist pharmacist, in the Cardiovascular Therapeutic Resource Center at Express Scripts and a recent guest on my new show for Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio Talk.  I started by asking just how bad is bad cholesterol.

Turns out it is very bad. “High cholesterol levels are the major controllable risk factors that contribute to hardening and narrowing of the arteries,” he says. “This is known as Atherosclerosis and it is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes. And as blood cholesterol levels rise, so does the risk of coronary heart disease, which is the Number one killer in America. “

But not all cholesterol is bad, and Dannemiller adds, it is important to understand the differences between the two types. High levels of HDL’s actually protect against heart attack and stroke, while low levels increase their risk. Too much of the “lousy” one circulating in the blood form thick hard deposits called plaque that narrows the arteries and makes them less flexible. Plaque that suddenly ruptures forms clots can result in and heart attacks and strokes because of the arterial blockage.

I have always been a firm believer in lifestyle modifications and Dannemiller agrees that for most people, those can help attain a healthy cholesterol balance.“LDL cholesterol is especially affected by diet,” he stresses. “Eat a heart healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, and low in salt, fat, and cholesterol.”

He points to a Florida State University research study that found that eating an apple a day can reduce LDL cholesterol an average of 23%. “Apples are rich in pectin, a soluble fiber that blocks cholesterol absorption and prevents the body from storing it. Other LDL-lowering foods include oats, barley, beans, unsalted nuts and seeds, eggplant, okra, and fatty fish such as wild salmon.”

The main culprits for high cholesterol, he says, are fat. Hmm. What do you suppose they fry Cronuts in to  make them so tasty?  The Lawyer would obviously like to think it’s first-press, extra virgin olive oil! “Avoid saturated fat,” Danemiller cautions. “This includes fats from red, processed and organ meats, dairy products, and some plant products like coconut and palm oils.”

Processing liquid vegetable oil to make a solid fat creates the dreaded trans fats found in stick margarine, vegetable shortening, and some cookies, crackers, cakes, fried foods, breads and snack foods like chips, candy, and microwave popcorn, he explains. “Read your labels closely: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated are the ‘good ones!”

Danemiller has a few other tips:

• Trim all visible fat from meat before cooking

• Broil rather than pan fry meats

• Prepare stews and soups a day ahead of time and refrigerate. Skim off the hardened fat from the top.

• Choose white meat chicken, lower cholesterol organic eggs and low-fat cheeses, milk, and yogurts.

• Lose some weight. As little as 5 to 10% of body weight can significantly reduce LDL levels.

And here’s the one The Lawyer particularly dreads — exercise. “Exercising is essential,” Dannemiller insists. “Just thirty minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity, like brisk walking, five days a week, or 25 minutes of the more vigorous jogging or running three times a week, can help your body to produce more HDL’s.”

Sometimes, though, lifestyle modifications just aren’t enough, and genetics may have a lot to do with it. “Cholesterol comes from two sources,” Damemiller continues. “The body itself makes about 75% of blood cholesterol, and the rest comes from food ingested. That means that some people are more prone to high cholesterol levels based on genetics. For them, medication treatment can be essential. Drugs like niacin are effective in raising HDL levels, but the workhorses in the medication class are the statin drugs which can decrease cholesterol by 30% to 40% or more, decreasing heart attack and stroke risk by 45% to 60%.”

Statins have some side-effects, including muscle pain. But Danemiller contends that statin drugs are so effective that it is worth working through these issues. “A lower dose of the same medication, a switch to another drug in the class, or changing the frequency of administration can help. If the statin drug is stopped, the muscle pains should subside within two weeks. If it persists after that, it may be caused by unrelated activities like other medical conditions such as arthritis, or possibly even low vitamin D levels or too much exercise.”

But didn’t I read somewhere that statins have been linked to memory loss?

“Studies found no evidence of this. In fact, long-term statin use can have a protective effect on memory and cognition.” Dannemiller says.

Also in the news last year, were reports that statin drugs increased the chance of developing type 2 diabetes, I challenged.

“While data suggests some statins may increase the risk of diabetes this risk is outweighed by the cardiovascular benefits for most patients.”

Lifestyle modifications and statin medication, if needed, are important elements to achieve optimal cholesterol levels. Just watch out for those Prime Rib and Cheesecake combos.

 

Better Than Before: How Diet Effects Mood with Elizabeth Somer

Elizabeth SomerQuite frankly, with the type of winter we have had so far in New York – and continuing to have, now into March – I sometimes think that only a trip to a Caribbean island will make me feel better! Thoughts of a swim in the warm ocean, lying around the sun-drenched white sand, and having one (or ten) of those drinks with the little umbrellas will undoubtedly do the trick. But obviously most of us can’t hop right on a plane to a tropical island. And, snow and cold aside, why aren’t we enjoying winter, anyway? Sledding, skiing, skating aren’t just for watching during the Olympics! And after all, being Better Than Before is all about living in the moment.

I took my query to Elizabeth Somer, author of the bestselling Eat Your Way to Happiness, and highly sought-after and respected source of nutritional information and lifestyle changes. I was hoping she could share some good news on how to keep in a good mood – not to mention not gain twenty pounds from all those hot chocolates with mini marshmallows – while we wait and wait…and wait, for spring.

JWM: Let’s start with the obvious basic question: Why does our mood often plummet during the winter?

ES: At its foundation, it’s biological. The seasonal drop in sunlight throws brain chemistry out of whack, making some of us more anxious, depressed, and tired this time of year. We snap at the kids, sleep more, crave sweets, and as a result, gain weight.

JWM: Can depression, mood swings, and chronic irritability be symptoms of more serious problems than just winter blues? Other than PMS or menopause, that is.

ES:. Yes, it could be Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. The winter blues and SAD rest on the same continuum, differing only in their degree of severity. In other words, a person suffering from winter blues might feel grumpy and tired, while someone with SAD suffers serious depression, with feelings of desperation, anxiety, and exhaustion. If your depression interferes with important aspects of your life, such as your job or relationships, or if you have feelings of hopelessness, these are possible symptoms of SAD that should be discussed with a physician.

JWM: Who suffers from it? Other than we confirmed hypochondriacs, of course.

ES: Approximately 10 to 20 percent of Americans battle the winter blues. The reasons why our moods slip and our appetites take over by mid-winter could be simply that we’re cooped up, bored, and restless; or it could have a deeper cause, resulting from a drop in serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates mood and hunger. Whatever the reason, most people have some kind of behavior change in the winter. Children and teens can suffer from the winter blues, too.

JWM: What could be some of the signs?

ES: The main ones are obvious – depression and fatigue that lingers. Or, ask yourself the following: Has your mood plummeted along with the temperature? While you stare forlornly out the window at another bleak, winter day, is your spouse dozing rather than playing with the kids? Do you find yourself power snacking on Skittles by the 5th day of rainstorms. If so, you could be battling winter blues or SAD.

JWM: Are there foods and activities — other than Skittles– that you recommend that can boost our mood in these darkened days?

ES: Absolutely. First of all, you might consider finding more light. If your mood improves while vacationing down South, for example, it’s probably more the sunshine than the trip. [Or the drinks with umbrellas.] The researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, are among those who have linked dark winter skies to low levels of serotonin, which makes some people drowsy and more prone to depression. Ample sunshine hitting the retina of our eyes triggers a cascade of events in the brain that raises serotonin levels. Voila! Moods improve! Up to 80% of SAD and winter blues sufferers report at least some relief when exposed for 30 minutes to 1 1 /2 hours daily to sunlight or a specialized light box that emits light 5- to 20-times brighter than typical indoor light. Check out the internet for a local resource for these lights.

JWM: How about diet? Any suggestions?

ES: Eat Regularly: Don’t attempt to skip breakfast in an effort to cut calories. You’ll overeat later in the day, struggle more with mood swings and fatigue, and battle a weight problem in the long run. Be sure to eat breakfast, but make it light and include some carbohydrates, such as cereal, fruit, and milk. Then have lunch. Something as simple as a sandwich, nonfat milk, and a piece of fruit will fuel your brain, body, and mood.

JWM: One way a lot of us make the cold hours pass better is with something to nibble on. What about snacks?

ES: Snack, but not on sweets. A voracious sweet tooth during the winter months also might stem from low serotonin levels. Chowing down on sweets works temporarily – serotonin levels rise and we feel better. But that high is followed by a crash, setting up a roller coaster of highs and lows that causes overeating and weight gain. Replace these foods with more nutritious sweet treats, such as fresh-sliced kiwi mixed with nonfat strawberry-kiwi yogurt, a half papaya filled with lemon yogurt, fresh fruit layered in a parfait glass and topped with a dollop of low-fat whipped cream, or nonfat milk whipped in a blender with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

JWM: But how about people who have a sweet tooth? As you said, sugar is counter-effective in the long run. What should they do?

ES: One way to sooth your mood and save your waistline is to switch from fatty sweets to high-quality carbs, such as whole grain breads and crackers, brown rice, oatmeal, or starchy vegetables like corn or potatoes. Plan a mid-afternoon all-carb snack, such as half a whole wheat English muffin with jam, 3 fig bars, or drizzle honey over a toasted cinnamon bagel to counteract the desire to eat sweets at this crave-prone time of day. Also include carb-rich foods in your meals, such as pasta primavera or marinara, whole wheat couscous, or yams cut into strips and baked on a cookie sheet to make ‘French fries.’ (Serotonin also improves sleep, so a serotonin-boosting evening snack, such as air-popped popcorn or a scoop of sorbet, will help you sleep better, too!)

JWM: There is a lot that has been written about omega-3 fat DHA elevating your mood. How do you feel about that?

ES: You can definitely boost your spirits by taking either omega-3 fat DHA supplements of food rich in it. Research shows that this fat helps boost mood all year long, especially in the winter. In fact, DHA curbs depression by up to 50% in people who are the most difficult to treat; and even helps those who just battle a bit of grumpiness. Interestingly, researchers have found that people who are depressed have much lower levels of omega-3 fats in their blood, fat tissues, and brains — up to 36% lower than happy people. In fact, as omega-3 levels drop, so do levels of serotonin, leaving people grumpy, blue, and downright depressed. If your DHA levels are low, you have a 2.6 times greater risk of getting really crabby and blue compared to someone who keeps those levels high. On the other hand, up your intake of omega-3 fat DHA and serotonin levels rise and mood improves. The evidence is so overwhelming that the American Psychiatric Association in 2006 recommended omega-3s be included in any treatment for depression.

JWM: What are the best foods for omega-3 fat?

ES: You can get all the omega-3 fat you need from flaxseed, walnuts, canola oil, leafy greens or soy to help lower your risk for heart disease, but those foods will do nothing for your mood or memory. That’s because there are three omega-3 fats, and they are not all created equal. It is only the omega-3s in fish, especially DHA, which will boost your mood. Aim for 2 servings of omega-3-rich fish such as salmon every week, choose foods fortified with DHA, and/or take a daily supplement that contains at least 220 milligrams of DHA.

JWM: If we don’t see any improvement in our mood or appetite after a few weeks on a high-carb menu, what should we do?

ES: Try substituting some of those carbs for more protein. New research from the National Institute of Mental Health shows that some people don’t experience a mood boost when they eat high-carb diets. So, if you still feel grumpy after a week’s worth of the high-carb choices, try cutting back on the carbohydrates and  increasing protein intake by adding a slice of turkey or a glass of milk to the meal. Protein has a satiating effect that keeps you full longer and curbs cravings in some people.

JWM: A lot of people drink coffee to improve their mood. But for some, like me, it has the opposite effect. What are your thoughts about this?

ES: It’s better to limit coffee. While caffeine is a great pick-me-up, if you are drinking more than 3 small cups a day, it could be fueling fatigue. For the person who is sensitive to sugar or caffeine, simply removing these substances from the diet may be all it takes to reduce or even eliminate depression, according to research from the University of South Alabama. How coffee affects mood is unclear, although caffeine is a drug that affects the nervous system. Cut back or eliminate coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa, colas, and caffeine-containing medications, such as Excedrin, Dristan, and Dexatrim.

JWM: We spend so much time in heated rooms in the winter, leading to not only dry skin, but dry everything. Is that a factor?

ES: Absolutely. Actually, the first sign of dehydration is fatigue, which is the stepping stone for depression. Many of us are mildly dehydrated, because thirst is a poor indicator of your body’s need for water. Drink twice as much water as it takes to quench your thirst, or at least 8 glasses daily. Drink even more water if you exercise intensely or drink a lot of coffee and tea.

JWM: Are there any other supplements that you recommend that can affect our moods?

ES: It is difficult in winter to constantly keep up the proper quantities of fresh vegetables and fruit. So several nutrient deficiencies, including the B vitamins, are more common in the winter that indicate a link to impaired mental ability and mood swings. More than one in four patients with depression is deficient in vitamins B2, B6, and B12, and folic acid. B-rich foods include chicken, legumes, fish, bananas, avocados, and dark green leafy vegetables. A moderate-dose multiple vitamin and mineral, supplies these B vitamins and can fill in the nutritional gaps on those days when you don’t eat perfectly. In addition, preliminary evidence suggests that low vitamin D levels, which can occur due to lack of exposure to sunlight, might contribute to winter blues. So make sure your supplement has at least 1000IU of this important nutrient.

JWM: What about exercise? Please don’t say to take a spin class or use the elliptical machines, my two fitness nemeses in any season!

ES: Any kind of exercise is good. It’s well proven that people who are vigorously active almost every day are at much lower risk for developing any form of depression, including winter blues.

Now if I can get my husband, The Lawyer, to sprint to take omega-3 supplements while drinking a gallon of water, I might have some peace around here before springtime!

Soy: Is it Safe for Me? A Cautionary Tale for People and Planet

shutterstock_121423399-e1361475949317I came across an article this week, written by Barry Boyd, MD, a board certified oncologist and hematologist, that does an excellent job of summing up, once and for all, the myths and facts around soy as it relates to breast cancer.  Fortunately, I think we’ve finally gotten to a point in science that we can confidently stand on one side of the fence when it comes to soy and this issue.  If you’re at all confused about soy and breast cancer, I recommend you give his article a read.

But, before you go and grill up your next soy veggie burger, you should know that there’s another cautionary tale to be told about this plump little legume.  It turns out much of the soy we eat today is not plump or even all that soy-like.  Thanks (or not) to advances in food technology, much of the soy we eat today is either genetically modified, washed and extracted with a neurotoxic petro-chemical, or both.  So, with Dr. Boyd’s talents for history telling as inspiration, allow me to tell you a bit of a story…

Soy is actually quite a deserved celebrity when it comes to beans.  It’s an excellent source of soluble and insoluble fiber, contains heart healthy unsaturated fats, and is a rare vegetarian source of complete protein (a protein is considered complete when it matches the composition of the protein found in an egg).  If you’re a vegetarian, finding complete sources of protein is a big deal.  It’s also planet friendly as it’s grown domestically and has a much smaller carbon footprint than eating an equivalent amount of protein from an animal source (thus the veggie burger reference).  Maybe it’s because of all these positive attributes that soy has been such a point of focus for food scientists.  The fact that it’s a subsidized crop that US farmers are heavily incentivized to grow in mass quantities doesn’t hurt either.

Although all the aspects of a soybean are compelling, it’s really the protein that’s become a focus for the packaged food industry.  High protein diets are a bit of a nutrition fad if you haven’t noticed.   Although most of us have stepped back in recent years from the extremes of the Atkins Diet, more still seems to be better and what better ingredient to bump up protein levels in food than inexpensive and abundant soybeans?

So then, it should be no surprise that soy can be found in almost every packaged foods category.  From crackers to energy bars, ice cream to frozen waffles, soy boosts the protein levels of an incredible number of foods and can be found in more than 60% of processed foods in the marketplace today.

But here’s the thing: just as protein is an established fad, fat is an equally established phobia.  Mother Nature rarely creates food without a balanced mix of nutrients – some fat, some protein, some fiber and likely some antioxidants thrown in for good measure.  Ten grams of protein and zero grams of fat?  Nope, not found in nature and certainly not in a soybean.  So, to meet our demands for protein without all the scary fat, scientists developed a method to separate the two. Hexane is a petro-chemical that is drilled out from deep down in the earth.  When washed over soybeans it causes the fat to separate from the protein.  It’s incredibly efficient at what it does, much more so than mechanically pressing out the oil (the way expeller-pressed oils are extracted).  What you get at the end of the hexane washing process are two new ingredients, isolated soy protein and soybean oil.

Hexane is a pretty scary chemical. The Environmental Working Group classifies it as… [read the rest on KeeganSheridan.com

The Perfect Gluten-Free Dessert with a Secret Ingredient

brownies-blue2sm-682x1024Calling all sweet tooths! Brownies are a dessert staple – right after cake, ice cream and pie. There are so many variations of the brownie recipe that it can be difficult to carve out your own, but after many attempts I think I’ve done it.

It took a while to get this recipe right, but I found that spinach, of all things, is the key. Not only does it add a little nutrition to the treat but it also helps keep the brownie moist. I’ve also added Cardomom, which is a bit of an exotic spice. If you don’t have it in your cupboard you can skip it, but I think it rounds out the taste nicely. Oh, and these brownies are also gluten-free! Does it get any better than that?

Perfect Gluten-Free Spinach Brownies

makes @16 brownies

Serve with Almond Milk

Ingredients:

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Line an 9×12-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Steam the spinach until wilted (about 2 minutes).

 In a mixing bowl whisk together the raw cacao, almond meal, sorghum flour, salt, cinnamon, cardamom and baking soda.

 Put the maple syrup and the spinach in a blender and blend until pureed.

 Make a well in the center of the mixing bowl and add the beaten eggs, vanilla extract, sesame oil and maple syrup-spinach mixture. Beat on low-medium for two minutes, until the batter begins to come together. At first it will seem thin but keep beating until it thickens and becomes smooth and glossy. It might seem a little soupy to you but that is ok. It will come together in the oven.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.

 If you are adding nuts, stir in the nuts by hand. Even out the batter with a silicone spatula.

 Stud the top with some dark chocolate chips and press in slightly.

 Bake in the center of a preheated 350ºF oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the brownies are set. The top will crack, like a flourless chocolate cake. You will know it is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Enjoy!

Originally posted on my website, TappsTips.com 

8 Steps To Stop Your Nighttime Binges

Do you sometimes sneak a late-night snack, even after you’ve had a big dinner? Or worse, do you find yourself hungry and craving sugar and carbs at night? You may think you’re alone, but nighttime eating is a common problem.

Are you hungry after a big meal? Do you continue eating late into the night?

It is one of the biggest reasons we gain weight. We eat and go to bed and store all that food around our bellies.

Have you ever thought about why, not long after a big meal, you crave more food, more sugar, and more junk, and you want to have chips or sweets or other unhealthy foods?

It’s not a flaw in your personality. It’s not some emotional issue that you have to fix. It’s not some psychological trauma that you have to get over.

It’s simple biology, an imbalance of the hormones that regulate your appetite.

Originally posted on DrHyman.com

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