Tag Archives: junk food

Trick or Tips For Having a Healthier Halloween

Halloween - PumpkinsI hesitate to admit, but Halloween is my favorite ‘holiday’ of all. I am not above sending cards and messages to family and friends telling them to have a Happy ‘Boo’ Day. Or a ‘Fang’tastic Afternoon.  Or a “Spook’tacluar Evening. Once I even wore a T-shirt emblazoned with: “Ding Dong, the witch isn’t dead.” (And, alas, nobody begged to differ.) I have been known to serve cocktails with a peeled grape at the bottom of the glass. (Eyeballs, see?) And display whole a cauliflower as a centerpiece. (A brain, understand?)

My kids loved it, too. After all, it’s the one night of the year when we let our children ring door bells and accept candy from total strangers –albeit friendly neighborhood ones. (Ah, such illicit liberation.) My babies are all grown up now. So that leaves my husband and me to carry on the tradition. While he doesn’t actually trick or treat — I mean, he’s a lawyer –and even they have certain standards — he likes it for a different reason.  I let him buy candy. That being said, he also never fails to fool me. We start off on a positive note. He is very concerned about what he will be handing out to the wee ones. So he methodically sorts through the bags of goodies at our local chain pharmacy

“Not this,” he says, throwing back the fun-sized Butterfingers. “Too many calories! Not these either,” he sneers, turning his attention to the Star Burst Fruit Chews. “Sugar and fat!” The Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkins also didn’t make the cut. Neither did the Laffy Taffy, Mounds, Baby Ruth’s, or Tootsie Pops. “That’s just begging to go to the dentist.”

Finally, he reaches the Snickers Minis. “These,” he announces, with a satisfied smile. “These are good!! A nice balance of carbohydrates with the protein of peanuts.”

Well, suffice it to say, his largesse in suddenly caring for the well-being of the little tykes in our building always seems disingenuous. The reason? Snickers Minis (preferably frozen) are the only candy he eats. So I suspect that half of them won’t make it into their plastic pumpkins. Yet I fall for it every time.

And I am always right. Not only does he insist on giving out the, er, ‘boo’-ty all by himself, but when I check the freezer before I go to bed, guess what I find hiding behind the frozen spinach? Yep, the  Snickers Minis. His sneaky little plan is to eat them himself, as snacks, during the week.

With that in mind, focusing on the adults for a moment, I asked Julie Erickson, nutrition expert and owner of Endurance Pilates & Yoga, to share a few simple suggestions we should keep in mind when choosing our treats. And if we do indulge, how to deal with the extra calories:

1. Look at the ingredients: Some of the tastiest candies have some of the scariest chemicals. Choose ones that have shorter ingredient lists and contain less chemicals and processed compounds. For example, if you are deciding between sweet and fruity candies, Swedish Fish have 9 ingredients, the first being real sugar. Strawberry Twizzlers have 20, including  corn syrup  (the first listed) and a chemical preservative.

2. Be honest: If you cannot control your sweet tooth, don’t purchase the candies that you like to give away to the kids. Instead, buy yourself a single serving of your favorite treat and get giant bags of the snacks that won’t tempt you as much.

3. Check out serving sizes, calories and nutrients: One serving of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (2 cups) contains 13 grams of fat- 20% of the recommended daily value.  One Hershey’s Bar provides 40% of the recommended daily value of saturated fat. If you want to indulge, be sure to limit consumption during your regular meals throughout the day.

Exercise-wise, to work off the extra candy-induced (would-be) poundage, Julie recommends the Halloween HIIT (High-intensity Interval Training) 30 minute Calorie Scorcher below. (Note: This is an advanced level workout that assumes a high level of fitness going in. It is designed to burn off as many calories as possible in a half hour. The number of repetitions or duration of each group, however,  can be reduced for those who are newer to exercise. But whatever your fitness level, the effort on the work phases should be all out and the rests should be a complete stop.

1. Warm-up: Run for one mile run at VO2 Max (as fast as you can).. Rest 30 seconds.

2. Jump Rope: For 4 Minutes. Rest 30 seconds.

3. Tabata Pushup Sequence: Push-ups for 20 seconds. Rest 10 seconds. Repeat 8x. (Tabata is another form of HIT).

4. Pilates Rollups/Neck Pulls: Lie on the floor, arms and legs extended. Roll upper body away from floor, stretching arms and chest up and over legs and reaching past toes.  Repeat 10x. Try rolling up from the floor with hands behind the head. Repeat 10x.

5. Tabata Cone Hop Sequence: Jump side to side over a small cone for 20 seconds. Rest 10 seconds.  Repeat 8x.

6. Plank/Teaser holds: Alternate these two power stretches: Facing the mat, press forearms into the floor and extend legs out like the ‘up’ part of a pushup so that thighs are off the ground and toes are curled under. Hold Plank for 30 seconds. Rest 10 seconds. This is the Forearm Plank stretch. For the Teaser stretch, sit up for 30 seconds on the mat with your pelvis tilted, legs extended to 45 degrees and your arms parallel to your legs. Switch back and forth until you have done both stretches 4x.

7. Burpees: From standing, leap into the air with the arms stretching overhead as high as possible. Then fall into a squat position with your hands and feet on the mat and jump your feet back to the ‘up’ part of a pushup position. Immediately do one full pushup, then quickly jump your feet forward toward your hands again and start leap from this crouch position. Repeat 10x.

Armed with the above info, go ahead and eat your Snickers Minis.  But as Julie suggested, try to show some restraint. (Even The Lawyer keeps it to one a day until his cache runs out.) Just know that I scare because I care. I ‘witch’ you all a happy and healthy Halloween. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

5 Ways to Stop Self-Sabotaging and Lose Weight Once and For All

Waldgeist Restaurant in Hofheim. Just make sure to take your Lipitor before bed.By Orion Talmay

The adage goes that you are the average of the five people you hang out with the most. So, it would logically follow that hanging out with people who eat fatty junk food will sabotage you and your diet.

Few of us consider that one of the things preventing us from committing to our weight and fitness goals is our environment – and that includes the people around us. This is especially true in America, where fast and “super sized” are glorified. We are surrounded by a junk food friendly environment – whether it’s the muffins offered to you in your company break room or the Italian “family style” dinner with friends. Everywhere you turn, advertisers are trying to hypnotize you into buying. We are bombarded with commercials for food which show joyful anorectic models enjoying chocolates and cheeseburgers. We were taught by our mothers to dutifully finish what’s on our plates. This world full of temptation, misconceptions, and immediate gratification just might affect our ability to get back into our jeans size from high school, don’t you think?

We are drowning in a flood of false information, thanks to all this pervasive and persuasive advertising. These advertisements train our brains to link unhealthy food with pleasure. As you pass a billboard showing a hot celebrity drinking Coca Cola, subconsciously you make a connection between what he or she represents to you – namely health, happiness, athleticism, vitality and success – and drinking Coke. In reality this sugary, toxic and chemically addictive drink is the epitome of unhealthiness, addiction, and obesity. In many cases, junk food is marketed to us as “healthy,” “natural” or even “organic,” but the opposite is more true. Even TV shows about weight loss such as The Biggest Loser glorify rapid, dramatic weight loss that unfolds before our eyes in an hour. And of course it doesn’t tell the whole story; we are spared the gory details, the high risk of injury, and the non-sustainability and unhealthy methods they use on the contestants. The TV magic and the glaring omissions give legitimacy to extreme rapid weight loss and create unrealistic expectations for the audience.

As I alluded to earlier, your peer group can also alter your decision-making. In general, people like people who are like them. For example, heavy drinkers prefer to hang out with heavy drinkers, and overeaters prefer feasting with fellow gluttons. The unspoken (or sometimes spoken) pressure is on, to fit in and be liked. Most social gatherings center around food and alcohol, so if you are dieting, you will need premeditated strategy and willpower if you don’t want to sabotage your diet.

Friends and family tend to appease each other when they fall off the wagon. When you look for consolation, they will tell you “It’s okay, it’s not that bad to take a day off; come on and live a little!” People become very forgiving because they want you to like them. They don’t hold you to a higher standard, in part because that’s not what you want to hear.

Unfortunately, not everyone wants you to be successful. Sometimes it can even be someone close to you like a spouse, family member, or friend who will try to talk you out of your goal. They might be afraid that if you feel better about yourself, you will neglect them or leave them. They might be afraid of “new competition” they will have when you accomplish your weight goals. Or, they may feel in competition with your “gym time” or even with your trainer. Bottom line is that most of the time they do it not because they don’t love you but precisely because they do. For instance, spouses may worry a “new you” may be less attracted to them. Sometimes, simply reassuring them of your love and friendship, keeping open communication and involving them in your health journey can solve these issues.

So, if you agree that the environment that surrounds you can sabotage your progress, what do you do? Well, since living on a mountaintop in Tibet is (probably) not an option, the best way to deal with misinformation or saboteurs is to plan for your success. When your mindset is stronger, achieving your outcome will be your priority. Nothing and no one will deter you. When you are prepared for success, you will win.

How do you prepare for success?

1. Surround yourself with supportive people. If your loved ones aren’t supportive of your health and fitness goals, convince them to change and be a part of your team or find some supportive peers to cheer you on. Succeed regardless.

2. Make sure you have accurate information about fitness and nutrition. Consult with a personal trainer and/or nutritionist. Nothing beats having a coach who can guide you to win the game the right way.

3. Plan your food shopping, plan your meals and plan your exercise time.  Don’t let anyone or anything distract you or steal your time.

4. Watch less TV. The number of commercials for garbage processed food is mind-boggling. These companies are paying a lot of money to sell to you and have mastered the art of influence. They (mis)use popular words like “healthy” and “natural,” but one glance at the label reveals how supposedly healthy, low fat, and natural it really is. Put your TV watching on a diet too, and it will facilitate your dieting and help you avoid unnecessary temptations.

5. Remember that you are a rock star. You can do it regardless of what anyone tells you, including your own inner critic. I believe in you. You put your mind to it and you will succeed.

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picOrion Talmay is a fitness expert and life coach who helps her clients transform their bodies and their lives. Her fitness skills include yoga, weight training, kick boxing, Aikido, MMA (mixed martial arts) and Krav Maga. Orion completed the Tough Mudder, a 12-mile extreme obstacle course with an ice pool, electric wires, buttered monkey bars, and more. She’s not all hard-core though; she is also a woman of the arts — loves to dance and sing, went to acting school, and speaks three languages. She is a graduate of the American Academy of Personal Training and is AAFA, AAPT, KBA, and Zumba certified. She is currently working on an online coaching program for weight loss and self development, designed to empower people across all aspects of their lives: physical, mental, social and spiritual. Orion is also working on her first book, about transformational change. Originally from Israel, she currently lives in sunny Santa Monica, California.

10 Ways To Ditch Your Cravings for Sugar, Salt, and Fats

medusa

According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Food Corporations Turn to Chefs in a Quest for Healthy Flavor,” Big Food companies like PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, and even fast food giants like Taco Bell, are changing their ways in response to the increasing public demand for healthier food options. To improve their image as healthy food manufacturers, Big Food corporations have called upon top chefs to help them create healthy menu makeovers, infusing real, fresh, whole food into old recipe favorites.

Why is this happening now? Intense pressure brought on by politicians and their constituents (you and me!) has given these food manufacturers no choice but to respond to the public outcry for healthier food. It’s no longer enough for these companies to earn a profit by selling food that tastes good. People are beginning to use the power of the pocketbook to show these companies that the food they sell must also be nutritious.

That’s because people everywhere are waking up. They are beginning to see the dangers of genetically modified ingredients and all the sugar, salt, and fats hidden in our food supply. From fancy restaurants to fast food chains, chefs are catching on that people want their food to make them feel good, not just while they are eating it but hours, days, and years afterward.

Really, this news shouldn’t make the headlines. This is common sense! Paying for food that makes us sick is as crazy as shooting ourselves in the foot. It just doesn’t make sense.

Big Food is finally getting the message and getting on board.

But remember, no processed or fast food option will ever be better than a healthy home-cooked meal. The best way to ensure you are eating the highest quality, most nutritious food possible is to prepare your own food in your own kitchen. We are all chefs. You don’t have to be trained at Le Cordon Bleu to know your way around a kitchen. You just need a little knowledge, some imagination, and a sense of adventure.

A desire for real food is a fundamental part of our basic biological blueprint. Given the chance, our taste receptors will naturally gravitate toward the inherent sweetness found in vegetables, fruits, and even nuts and seeds.

So, how do you reprogram your taste buds to ditch the cravings for sugar, salt, and fats? You can start by eating real, fresh, whole foods. Avoid fake, commercialized foods that come in convenience packages or are made in a lab.

Here are 10 more tips to get you excited about ditching the sugar, salt, and fats:

  1. Sauté or roast your veggies to bring out their natural sweetness. Properly searing your chicken or meat brings out the inherent sweetness by way of the Maillard reaction. This is a fancy name for what happens when you create that nice, brown crust on your meat. Want more cooking tips like this? Check out The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook!
  2. Play with herbs like cilantro, parsley, dill, basil, and oregano to add flavor and phytonutrients! Finish a meal by adding fresh herbs before plating or serving. This last-minute addition kicks the flavor up a notch!
  3. Healthy fats found in avocado, coconut, and tahini not only increase the flavor of your meal, they also add that creamy, luscious texture found in many rich foods. See for yourself just how healthy and tasty desserts can be by trying my Dark Chocolate Silk Pudding from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook!
  4. Try creating a savory, umami (Japanese for “delicious”) flavor. Add moderate amounts of tamari, umeboshi plum paste, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, dried mushroom, or sea vegetables to your next stew, soup, sauce, or stir-fry.
  5. Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and even cayenne or chipotle pepper powder are all extremely flavorful additions to a meal. Spices like these excite your taste buds and grab your attention. This is helpful, because, as studies show, when we are focused on actually tasting our food rather than mindlessly gobbling it up, we actually need less food to feel satisfied.
  6. Befriend some kitchen must-haves like real vanilla extract or vanilla bean or coconut butter. Or use common, every-day foods like lemons in some creative ways. For example, use lemon zest to add real zing to any meal!
  7. For the most flavor, eat seasonally and locally. Canned or packaged foods or foods that have traveled great distances in the back of a truck just can’t compare to the succulence of a fresh piece of locally grown fruit.
  8. Check your hydration. Digestion starts in your mouth with your saliva, which helps us taste all the magnificent flavor in food. If you are dehydrated and not producing enough saliva, you won’t really be able to enjoy your food.
  9. Check your medications. Believe it or not, most medications interfere with the body’s ability to taste and smell. Some of them can even create an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth. Wondering how you might decrease the number of pills you take? Learn more about functional medicine.
  10. Got nutrition? Nutrient deficiency is an important cause of improper taste perception. A lack of certain vitamins and minerals can markedly impair your ability to smell and taste food. Most Americans have several nutrient deficiencies, but there is one in particular that can especially keep you from enjoying your next meal: zinc. Try adding foods like oysters, pecans, sunflower seeds, and lentils to increase your daily intake of this important mineral. Try the recipe for Hearty Lentil Soup from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. If you are deficient, you might also need to take a zinc supplement. Work with one of my nutrition coaches to ensure your nutrition status is up to par.

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For more ways to use your kitchen to take back your health, check out The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. Get tips and tricks for making healthy and tasty meals. Learn what foods you should eat to boost your metabolism, balance your blood sugar, and lose weight. Try more than 175 tasty recipes that appeal to a variety of budgets, taste preferences, health goals, and lifestyles.

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com.

How to Tell the Difference Between a Craving and Real Hunger

Day 17: Jes Cravin' (9.22.10)Ever wonder how to tell the difference between a craving and real hunger? It’s an important distinction to make for yourself if you are interested in health and especially if you are trying to lose weight. Cravings will often masquerade as hunger, but are really something entirely different.

Let us look at real hunger first so we can compare. Hunger is the body’s way of letting you know it needs fuel. The body is intent on survival and so hunger for food is built into our genes. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be here anymore. Just like sex is a drive that is built in, so is hunger. Without food and sex, humans would be long gone.

So, once we establish that hunger is normal, natural, inevitable, and extremely important, it becomes our friend. We need it! We also need to learn to recognize it and work with it appropriately if we want to be healthy and live at a healthy weight.

Hunger is a feeling. There are differences in how we experience it, but if you are tuned in to your body, you will notice one of several signals. Your stomach might feel empty. You might even hear gurgling or get “hunger pangs” that come from your stomach letting you know it is empty. The Wiki explains it like this:

The physical sensation of hunger is related to contractions of the stomach muscles. These contractions — sometimes called hunger pangs once they become severe — are believed to be triggered by high concentrations of the hormone Ghrelin. The hormones Peptide YY and Leptin can have an opposite effect on the appetite, causing the sensation of being full. Ghrelin can be released if blood sugar levels get low — a condition that can result from long periods without eating. Stomach contractions from hunger can be especially severe and painful in children and young adults.

I have worked with people who are so out of tune with their bodies that they don’t experience stomach hunger. Instead they will feel light-headed or even get headaches. That is their cue to eat something.

So true hunger is the body’s way of letting you know you need food. When you feel that way, you will most likely want healthy food. Nutritious food. Not cookies, candy, cake, etc…

Cravings are generally for a particular food or drink. You might have a craving for, say chocolate, and not be physically hungry at all. Cravings can be brought on by emotions, associations, hormones, physical needs and memories. For example, if you always get the steak fries when you go hang out in Malibu, then when you go to Malibu, you might just crave the steak fries. That is an association/memory craving.

Cravings will pass if you resist them. It might take awhile, but they do subside. If you don’t get those fries this time, and get interested in other things when you are in Malibu, then the craving will pass. It might come back, but resisting cravings is possible. Hunger, on the other hand, might pass momentarily but will come roaring back if your body needs fuel.

To be healthy, and at a good weight, it is important to pay attention to your level of hunger. If “0” is completely empty and starving and “10” is Thanksgiving dinner stuffed, it is good to eat when you are at a 2, 3 or even 4. Getting too hungry is a set up for a binge. It is also good to stop eating when you are at a 7 or 8. Eat until you are not hungry anymore, not until you are full. The Japanese call this Hara Hachi Bu. “Eat until you are 80 percent full.”

Self awareness, and in particular, paying attention to what and why you eat, is key to conquering any weight or food addiction issues. There are more details on how to do that in my book, Foodaholic, The Seven Stages to Permanent Weight Loss.

That’s it for now. Good luck and let me know how you’re doing.

If you would like to reach me, you can find me here.

18 Healthy Snacks to Ensure You’re Never In a “Food Emergency” Again

Marcona AlmondsIt may seem as though we live in a land of plenty. Everywhere you look there are vending machines, restaurants, and stores offering an endless assortment of quick and cheap snacks and meals.

And yet, the reality is that everyday most Americans live in a constant state of emergency. Either they skip breakfast or they put themselves at the mercy of the local coffee chain feeding them high-sugar coffees and donuts or muffins or scones (which sound like a French health food but are really giant sugar cookies). And then, at work, there are bowls of candy and vending machines full of soda and on the way home, there are fast food restaurants and convenience stores luring you in. We live in a toxic nutritional wasteland where finding real, whole, fresh food is difficult if not impossible for most people to find.

What is a food emergency? When your blood sugar starts to drop, you are hard-wired to eat anything (and everything) in sight. To think you can use willpower to control your hunger or cravings contradicts the science of how your brain controls your behavior. The more willpower you use, the more it backfires, eventually. You find yourself automatically overeating and binging or just eating whatever happens to be in front of you.

But there is a solution, a simple, practical idea that most of us never think about: planning and bringing food with us.

If you were a type 1 diabetic, you would not leave the house without your insulin syringe or a packet of sugar. If you did, your life would be at risk. If you had a severe bee or peanut allergy, you wouldn’t go anywhere without your EpiPen. One sniff of peanut dust and you could die without your protection.

While you may not die in an hour, you will get sick and fat and live a shorter, poorer life if you regularly find yourself in a food emergency. You will repeatedly choose poor quality, high sugar, refined foods and eat more than you need.

Emergency Life Pack – Your Food Safety Net

That is why I recommend that everyone create an emergency life pack, a food safety net. Each person has to find their favorite things to include, and the choices are almost infinite. You need to stock your home, your travel bag or purse, your car and your workplace with key rations for any food emergency. What if you didn’t have time to have breakfast? What could you grab for the car? Or if you get busy at work, what can you find in your drawer to get you through the day? Or what is at the ready in the late afternoon if you start to droop?

I definitely recommend including protein snacks, because protein controls your appetite and balances your blood sugar over long periods of time. These are snacks that keep on giving but don’t give that quick rush and crash we get from most “snack foods,” which leave us even more hungry and tired. If you wait until you are hungry, you will make irrational decisions. Just set yourself up to make better choices by having good things around you.

Here are easy-to-make or easy-to-buy foods that you can grab and go anywhere with. We all travel out of the house frequently, and with a little bit of planning and shopping, we can stay healthy and keep ourselves out of food emergencies. Get a few glass containers with lids and Ziploc baggies to put your snacks in. Buy an insulated lunchbox or mini-cooler to put your food in. These are just ideas and you can innovate, but make sure you include food with good-quality protein and fats that are also low in sugar.

Things That Last Forever:

  • Canned wild salmon or sardines
  • Flax or seed crackers (Mary’s Gone Crackers)
  • Jerky (bison, grass-fed beef or turkey—try Krave or Grass Fed Jerky Chews
  • Salmon Jerky (Vital Choice)
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and pumpkin seeds)
  • Nut butter packets (almond, pecan, macadamia nuts—Artisana makes individual packs)
  • Coconut butter packets (Artisana brand is great)
  • Whole food or raw food protein bars (Raw Revolution and LÄRABAR are my favorites)
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Roasted red peppers

 Easy-To-Prepare On-the-Go Snacks:

  • Garbanzo beans with olive oil, lemon, garlic and salt
  • Hard-boiled omega 3 eggs
  • Hummus (Try Wild Garden single-serve packets that last a long time)
  • Cut-up carrots, cucumbers, peppers and celery in Ziploc baggies
  • Apple or pear

Treats:

  • Dark chocolate (70%)
  • Dried figs
  • Dates

Dr. Hyman’s Go-To Travel Food Emergency Pack

When I am on the road, I find it a dangerous place: airports, hotel mini-bars, bad restaurants, food deserts. My health is in jeopardy every time I step out of my controlled environment. So I bring food with me and make it a rule never to eat on planes or in airports (although increasingly, there is edible food in airports—you just have to know how to hunt and gather!). I never leave home without these things, and I keep a good stock in my pantry, so I can just throw them in my bag. They take up little space and pack a powerful nutritional punch.

  • Wild salmon jerky from Vital Choice or Patagonia
  • Grass-fed beef or turkey jerky by Krave
  • Packets of coconut butter and macadamia nut butter by Artisana
  • Raw Revolution protein food bars
  • Organic almonds
  • Organic macadamia nuts
  • Organic dates

For help creating your own emergency food pack, watch my how-to video here. Remember, with a little bit of planning, you can save yourself from food emergencies and stay healthy and well nourished wherever you go.

Now I’d like to hear from you …

What do you like to include in your emergency food pack?

Have you found some good sources of healthy, whole foods even while out on the road?

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

How to Throw a Junk-Free Kid’s Birthday Party

I was terrified the first time I threw a kids’ party without the usual pizza and brightly dye-colored cakes and candy. I was worried I was going have a revolution on my hands, a mutiny, a gang of pizza-crazed 2-year-olds who were going to make me walk the plank. I was pleasantly surprised when only one parent asked,  “Where’s the pizza?” and astonished when there wasn’t a peep or a whimper from the kids. “Phew,” I thought back then. “It is possible.”

This year I had a little boy pull me aside. He had a concerned look on his face. He said, “I only eat one kind of chicken nugget, and I don’t eat salad.” I replied, “I’m sorry that I don’t have your special nuggets, but the chicken on the table is really tasty and you don’t have to eat salad.” About ½ an hour later I saw him happily munching on a sweet and sour lemon chicken stick and the noodles with pesto sauce. I personally handed him an apple lemonade ice pop and saw him wipe his cake plate clean. So, even the picky ones left satisfied.

On the menu this year was:

guac-and-chips-copy

For starters I made Guacamole and served it with Organic GMO free “Way Better” sweet potato chips.

Two quick tips on guacamole-making:

  1. Keep the avocado seeds in the guacamole. It will help keep it from turning brown.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of avocado oil to your guacamole. This, too, will help it from turning brown.

Next up, hummus and vegetables. This year I bought some fresh made from a local market. Usually I make it fresh, but there is only so much time…

For a sweet snack, fruit kebabs. Honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple and grapes. Yum.

And finally, the main course!

Grilled Chicken on a Stick 2 Ways. I marinated the chicken overnight and then I grilled them. Well, my husband grilled them…

  1. Sweet and Sour lemon. I used the marinade from my “Sweet and Sour Lemon Chicken.”
  2. Chicken Satay.

Here’s a picture of the Chicken Satay final product:

Sataysmall

Some ideas for healthy side dishes:

And now what the kids are all waiting for: dessert!

Sam-with-ice-pop-copy

First, homemade ice pops. Chocolate Mint, Apple Lemonade, Pina Colada, Sour Apple Sorrel, and Ruby Beet.

Sam is eating the Pina Colada Pop here. His favorite was the Ruby Beet. He looks like a vampire in the photos of him eating that one though!

These were a huge hit. I actually got a call from a 7-year-old boy who was at the party asking for the recipes! Ice Pop recipes will be available in an e-book I will be releasing in the next couple of weeks.

For a more traditional cake option, try one of these:

So there you have it! A kids’ birthday party without junk. It can be done.

 

Originally published on my website, Tapp’s Tips.

Related Articles:

The Desserty Secret: Eat Your Sugar With Fiber

3 Guilt-Free Steps to Satisfy Your Sugar Cravings

How to Balance pH for the Best Body You’ve Ever Had

The Healing Powers of Burgers and Fried Chicken

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 4.10.30 PMCan burgers and fried chicken really be good for you? Yes. But not the Five Guys killer burger—not that kind. It’s burgers and chicken you cook yourself. And why do you need to cook them yourself? Here’s why.

Eating out can kill you, especially if you eat fast food or the addictive processed sugar and fats typically packed into almost every food that is made in a factory. The average American eats 29 pounds of French fries, 23 pounds of pizza, 24 pounds of ice cream and consumes 53 gallons of soda, 24 pounds of artificial sweeteners, 2,736 grams of salt, and 90,700 milligrams of caffeine per year. Do we really think we can create health in that toxic food environment?

A young New Zealand woman with eight children recently died after consuming 2.2 gallons of Coke per day, which, by the way, contains two pounds of sugar and 900 milligrams of caffeine (enough to give an elephant palpitations).

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a study that showed life expectancy declining among women in America, especially in the South (the area with the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the country). The authors of the study were quoted as being surprised by this data. One Harvard researcher said that trying to figure out why “is the hot topic right now, trying to understand what’s going on.”

Really? Life expectancy drops as obesity, diabetes, and the consumption of junk food, fast food, and sugar soars, and researchers fail to see the connection? It’s not rocket science. And yet, Harvard scientists are perplexed, and the National Institutes of Health spend $800 million each year studying the cause of obesity.

The cause of obesity is complex, to be sure—increased stress, environmental toxins, our sedentary lifestyle, and our sleeplessness as a nation all play a role. But the elephant in the room here is our toxic industrial food supply, specifically sugar. To paraphrase President Clinton, “It’s the food, stupid.”

I just returned from China where they are experiencing the same chronic diseases and obesity we find in the West because, on every corner, at every turn, our industrial food culture has permeated their world—KFC, McDonald’s, Subway, Coke, Pepsi are everywhere. Today, China has the most type 2 diabetics in the world. Yes, they have more people, but their diabetes rate is about the same as that of the United States: about 10 percent. Thirty years ago, I traveled to China and saw only one overweight woman, and she was riding a bicycle. In 30 years, the rate of diabetes there has gone from one in 150 to one in 10, and now, one in five people above the age of 60 in China are diabetic—and 60 percent are not even diagnosed. Obesity and diabetes are rampant there, increasing at a far faster rate than in the United States, and this shift can be tied directly to how fully they have embraced our processed, industrial, high-sugar diet.

I am the chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, and we were asked by the Chinese to come and teach their physicians how to deal with lifestyle-related chronic disease. A group of us went to show them how to return to their traditional ways of using food as medicine.

It’s sad that a country in which food has long been considered medicine—with specific care taken to include special foods with healing properties at every meal—would need to relearn this knowledge. In fact, the word for “take your medicine” in Chinese is “chi yao,” which means, “eat your medicine.” We went to a special restaurant where everything on the menu was chosen for its medicinal properties, including all sorts of exotic fungus and plants and animals like sea cucumbers.

But we don’t need to eat funny-looking plants and animals with weird textures and tastes to eat our medicine. In fact, we can start with burgers and fried chicken.

I recently did a segment on The Dr. Oz Show during which I demonstrated how to use food as medicine, cooking recipes from my new cookbook, The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. I carefully selected healing, medicinal, blood sugar-balancing ingredients, disguising them as our favorite foods.

It might surprise you that burgers and fried chicken can be healthy, but keep in mind, my versions of those foods have stealth healing properties. All the recipes in my cookbook contain medicinal foods. They are medicine, but they don’t taste like medicine, because at the end of the day, if they did, no one would eat them. But they are made from real, whole, fresh food cooked from scratch, and they taste amazing. To help you truly understand how food is medicine (not just like medicine but actually real medicine), I have analyzed two recipes from my cookbook that we demonstrated on The Dr. Oz Show.

Sweet Potato Burgers (on page 114 of the cookbook)

Here are the ingredients, along with information on how each affects your health and your biology:

  • Sweet potatoes contain carotenoids, which is reflected in their orange color. Their phytonutrient properties help with weight loss by increasing adiponectin, a fat-reducing, insulin-balancing, anti-diabetes hormone made by your fat cells.
  • EVOO, also known as extra virgin olive oil, is a phytonutrient superfood. It contains oleic acid and dozens of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory polyphenol compounds that lower blood pressure and promote health. They also contain good monounsaturated fats.
  • White beans contain good plant proteins, fiber, and magnesium. The fiber helps lower your blood sugar.
  • Curry contains turmeric and other anti-inflammatory spices. Obesity and diabetes are inflammatory conditions. Turmeric is nature’s ibuprofen. It also prevents cancer and dementia (both related to diabesity).
  • Almond flour contains protein, fiber, magnesium, and healthy monounsaturated fats. It helps lower LDL, or bad cholesterol, prevents diabetes, and promotes weight loss. People who ate more almonds have been shown to reduce their risk of diabetes significantly.
  • Avocado contains phytosterols, which are fats that lower cholesterol. They also contain omega-3 fats (ALA), as well as carotenoids, selenium, and zinc. Avocado has eight grams of fiber in one cup and is very low in carbs. The fats in an avocado help you absorb all fat-soluble antioxidants, just like the carotenoids in the sweet potato do. Avocado also contains these special seven-carbon carbohydrates that help to lower blood sugar.
  • Tahini is made from sesame seeds, which contain a special fiber called lignan (seamolin and sesamin) that lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. It is very high in magnesium and calcium, containing over 30 percent of your daily needs in just one quarter of a cup. It is the best source of dietary calcium (far better than milk).
  • Lemon zest contains limonene, which boosts liver detoxification, and the lemon juice contains anti-cancer bioflavonoids.
  • Garlic contains 1,2-DT (1,2-vinyldithiin), which is an anti-inflammatory sulfur compound that can inhibit the number of fats cells that form in our body. And it can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and is a natural antibiotic.

Not bad for a burger!

The next recipe is fried chicken. I call it “unfried” chicken. Click here to check it out!

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

3 Guilt-Free Steps to Satisfy Your Sugar Cravings

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 4.09.44 PMHumans love sweet things. It’s in our nature. Sweet tastes to the long-ago hunter gatherer meant safety. If a food was sweet, then it was safe to eat. It also meant a quick source of energy which we needed when we were running away from mountain lions, and foraging for our food.

Today we love sugar just as much but it means something else completely. In our food culture, it has become a toxin. Why? It comes down to two things. One, we have removed the fiber. And two, we eat way too much of it.

Sugar has become so pervasive in our society that the average American eats over 140 pounds a year or more than 20 teaspoons a day. This is more than twice what the USDA recommends. It’s in everything from hamburger buns to cereal, canned vegetables, peanut butter, baby foods, tomato sauce, and of course the obvious cookies, cakes and ice cream.

What is sugar?

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate. When it is eaten in its whole form, such as in fruits, grains, beans and vegetables, the sugar is broken down by our systems and burned slowly and evenly for energy.

In nature, sugar comes in a fibrous package- like an apple, carrot, kidney bean, or rice kernel. The fiber is necessary to regulate the sugar that enters our system. Sugar raises our insulin levels while fiber brings it back down again. Basically, the sugars are the bad guys and the fiber is the police. You need the fiber to keep the sugar in check and to prevent sugar anarchy.

Why remove the fiber?

Fiber is the element in food that makes it take longer to cook, and to have a shorter shelf life. This does not jive with processed food. In order to make it quick, easy, and long lasting, the foods’ fibrous outer layer has to be stripped away. Essentially, fast food and processed foods are simply, food with the fiber removed.

So what’s the problem?

When we remove the fiber, the sugar is able to go on a rampage. First it pushes our blood sugar levels up, and then makes it come crashing down, sending us on a sugar-fueled roller coaster ride. Just think of what happens at a typical child’s birthday party. Pizza and cake send them running in crazy circles, followed by a flood of tears. When we get that spike and crash it also makes our organs work harder. Not only do these refined sugars and carbohydrates take an emotional toll, they take a physical one too.

So what do we do?

As I said at the beginning of this post, everybody loves sweet things. There is no need to eliminate the very things that we love. We just need to consume them in a more conscious way.

Here are three easy ways to cut out a big chunk of sugar from your diet without going crazy.

  1. Avoid the unnecessary added sugars in sweet snacks and drinks. Choose drinks and snack that contain fiber without added sugar. Don’t drink soda or sports drinks. Just don’t do it. There is nothing good about it. It is all caffeine, salt and sugar. They actually dehydrate you which is exactly the opposite of what drinking something is supposed to do.
  2. Eat your sugars with fiber. Preferably the one nature packed it with. The sweets that I make at home are as sweet as candy but packed with the dietary fiber that your body needs to police the sugar and keep it from flooding your system. My Vegan Chocolate Truffles are made with dates which are an excellent source of fiber. I make cookies, like my Jam Dots, and cakes, like my Vegan Chocolate Cake, using coconut, quinoa, millet and garbanzo bean flours. I usually stick in some spinach to drive that fiber up even further.
  3. Use unrefined sweeteners like maple syrup, honey and molasses. They all have vitamins and minerals that add to the nutritional content of the food as opposed to detracting from it. Also, they have the advantage of not being processed so are less likely to have preservatives and chemical additives.

 

Originally published on my website, Tapp’s Tips.

The Mindfulness Practice That Broke My Candy Habit

83/365If you are an M&M lover, you might not want to read this. I don’t want to ruin the candies for you. But if you could take them or leave them – or if you’re considering better eating habits – this story could help you. So read on, my friend.

I’ve been learning more about MBSR through a publication entitled Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, written by Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein. It’s a terrific workbook and I recommend it to anyone interested in exploring or further committing to meditation. In this workbook, a mindful eating meditation is outlined.

Now, I’ve done eating meditations before. Thich Nhat Hanh offers beautiful versions in several of his books. But for some reason, this was the one that changed the way I looked at food forever.

I was buckling into my seat on a plane heading home from vacation with my family. Wedged in my seat back pocket was a big package of M&Ms. I know they’re bad for me and filled with artificial dyes, but I’m an advocate of moderation, so I settled in for the long trip home with my shiny brown bag full of 30% more candy and my MBSR workbook. I was reading intently while popping M&Ms two at a time (one for each side of my mouth – gotta keep it even) when I turned to the page about mindful eating.

The workbook suggested that I place three raisins in my hand and analyze them as if I was from outer space, never having set eyes on a raisin before. Well, I didn’t have raisins, so I used my M&Ms. I poured a few into my palm and contemplated. Then I glanced sideways at the markers on my daughter’s tray table. Then I looked back at the M&Ms. The candy didn’t look like food. The candy looked like a little pile of tiny toys – the same colors as my daughter’s plastic markers. Why am I eating this? This isn’t food. I started to wonder.

The workbook then invited me to place the food in my mouth and allow my senses to continue their exploration. I shook them in my hand first, hearing the way they rattled against each other. Click! Click! Click! Then I tossed the load into my mouth. They struck my teeth. Clack! I let them sit on my tongue then slowly began to roll them around my mouth. The candy shells were not delicious. They tasted like chemicals. There was nothing delightfully crisp or irresistibly oozy about their texture. In fact, they were surprisingly gritty.

I started to chew. Crunch. Crackle. Texturally, the M&Ms sort of felt like eating grains of sand. When the chocolate broke open, the taste wasn’t satisfying. The flavor was actually sort of metallic. I swallowed the lot after about 30 chews and paid attention to the way they sunk into my belly. I was totally surprised. It didn’t feel good. I sucked the last bits of chocolate out of my teeth and worked my jaw a little bit, feeling the way even the muscles near my eyes participated in the chewing process. Particles separated like tiny shards of seashells and slid, with effort, down my throat.

I sat for a little while, thinking about M&Ms and wondering why I’d never before paid more attention. I’ve always been a candy lover. I mean, I wake up in the morning and crave chocolate. But these days I’ve been waking up in the morning and craving carrots. I think it’s because of my mindful eating experiment, but I can’t be sure.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are you a mindful eater? If not, try it once and tell me what you think!

photo by: Amy Loves Yah

How to Balance pH for the Best Body You’ve Ever Had

Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 5.04.26 PM

Summer is a season of renewal, and a great time to highlight pH balance, a critical factor in overall health, including maintaining a healthy digestive system, glowing skin, and a strong immune system. Like most things in life, it’s all about balance – in this case, between the level of acidity and alkalinity in your body. If your pH (short for potential of hydrogen) balance is too far in one direction or the other, it can be detrimental to your health.

I enlisted the help of  Dr. Jeffery Morrison to explain the specifics around pH balance, as well as easy dietary choices that help to correct imbalances. A leader in the Wellness field, Dr Morrison is a medical doctor as well as a nutrition expert. He heads up the Morrison Center in NYC and is the author of the book “Cleanse Your Body, Clear Your Mind.

What is the importance of the acid/alkaline balance in the body?

Dr. Morrison: Our bodies work the best when we are able to maintain the proper pH. When the body is too acid or too alkaline, it doesn’t work optimally.

What causes an imbalance?

JM: Our bodies are very efficient at keeping the acid/alkaline balance, but if we carry too much stress and our acid levels get too high, then the body needs to work extra hard to maintain that balance, leaving little energy for healing and repair.

When the body is too acidic, the cells become deprived of the oxygen they need to efficiently deliver nutrients and energy throughout the body. To buffer the acid in our blood and maintain a proper pH, the body also needs to steal calcium from our bones and magnesium from our cells. That is why people who are acidic over an extended period of time tend toward osteoporosis, low energy, and shorter life spans.

If too much acid can hurt us, why do we need it?

JM: We need the acid to help fight infection. We tend to become acidic when we are fighting an acute infection like a cold or the flu or healing a wound. The body’s response to infection is inflammation. Temperature and circulation increase while oxygenation decreases; it’s like localized chemotherapy. As a consequence, acid levels increase.

This is why people tend to get really tired when they are sick. Cells need oxygen to make energy and the acidic environment inhibits the cells from getting that oxygen. This is a healthy response. We want this to happen. This is how our bodies heal. However, when this acute reaction becomes a chronic one, then we get into trouble.

What steps can people make to create more alkalinity in their body?

 JM: Eating the wrong food plays a big role in how acidic we are. People who eat processed food, drink soda, and eat candy tend to be more acidic. Other things that play a role in our pH levels are chronic infections, long-term use of prescription medications, too much protein, and stress.

food-chartWhat foods are best to eat to promote optimum pH?

JM: The best foods to boost your alkalinity are leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, celery, and swiss chard, as well as some fruits. To shoot for an optimum pH, people should eat a diet that is 70% alkaline and 30% acidic. Acidic foods like nuts, grains, and proteins are an essential part of your diet but should make up only 30% of your food intake.

What about non-dietary factors?

JM: The other things that people can do to reduce the acidity in their bodies are moderate exercise, stress management, and to drink plenty of water.

How can people find out if they are acidic?

JM: There is a very simple test that anyone can pick up in a health food store: pH Balance strips. You can choose either urine or saliva, but I feel that urine is more accurate. Use the strips with your first morning urine. If you test below a 5, then it is likely that you are acidic.

What will people feel when they switch over from being too acidic to becoming balanced?

JM: When your body’s pH normalizes, you will feel more energized and less achy. You will sleep better, your mind will be clearer, your skin color will improve, and your ability to fight off infections will increase. This is because your cells will have proper oxygenation which will allow your body to function at its highest level.

For more inspiration, here are 4 pH-balancing recipes:

Kale Chips
pH Balance Juice
Berry Kale Smoothie
Beet Fennel Soup

 

Chart credit: Better Body Choices

Originally published on my website, Tapp’s Tips

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