10 Healthy New Years Resolutions

As 2009 rolls to an end, too many of us are still eating too much cholesterol, sodium, sugar and unhealthy fats.  We’ve made resolutions each year, but daily stressors and our constant time-crunch lifestyles lead to mindless and unhealthy eating.  Here are ten simple steps to a healthier diet and lifestyle for 2010, so cross off your list of excuses and start January on the right foot.  Healthy diets don’t require a major overhaul, just a few changes here and there is all you need.

Don’t Cut Out, Simply Add In

Instead of depriving yourself of the foods you love, start slowly by adding in healthy, wholesome foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables at each meal.  Avoiding the foods you cannot live without will only set you up for disaster.  Moderation is key to enjoying some unhealthy foods, so don’t beat yourself up for savoring sweets, just be sure to keep yourself in check throughout the rest of the day.

Watch Where Your Calories Are Coming From

If you’re eating a white bagel for breakfast, a smear of Jiff on Wonder bread for lunch and a frozen entrée for dinner, it’s a smart choice to re-consider the source of these processed foods.  Aim to eat as close to the natural source as possible and revamp your pantry with whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  For instance, opt for a whole grain bagel with lox, almond butter on whole wheat bread for lunch and a tofu stir fry for dinner.  You’ll be amazed at the surge in energy these simple swaps will make in your daily life.

Good Carbs vs. Bad Carbs

Hop off the Lo-Carb bandwagon, which phased out years ago; by now you should know healthy carbs do exist.   Enjoy nutrient-rich whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which contain complex carbs and fiber to keep you satiated longer than the nutrient-void simple carbs found in candy, soda, white bread products and juices.  Simple carbs are nothing but empty calories and will leave you unsatisfied with a blood sugar surge and crash, therefore opt for your whole grain friends in lieu of their white counterparts.

Enjoy Heart-Healthy Fats

All fats are not created equal.  Forgo the fat phobia and enjoy healthy unsaturated fats from oils, fish, seeds and nuts in moderation.  Steer clear of saturated fats found in whole milk, meat and cheese.  Make an effort to scan nutrition labels for trans fats, which are unhealthy and found in many products containing hydrogenated oils.  Moreover, limit your intake of full fat dairy and red meat; opt for skim milk or unsweetened soy milk in your morning cereal and swap ground chicken in place of beef in your evening tacos.

Increase your Fiber

Americans typically don’t get enough fiber in their diets, therefore make it a ‘Must’ for 2010 to increase your fiber intake with whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa and buckwheat.  You get more fiber, vitamin E, B6, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese and potassium in whole wheat than in refined ‘enriched’ white flour.  Moreover, toss in fruits, beans and vegetables to your morning omelet, afternoon salad and evening chili to reap the heart-healthy benefits of fiber.  Get creative and opt for a breakfast parfait, whole wheat zucchini bread, hummus with vegetables or bean burgers.

Up Your Water Intake

It’s quite easy and free.  Keep bottled water with you all day long; one at your work desk, another in your kitchen fridge and yet another along your bedside to give your body a fluid boost and help flush out toxins.  Opt for a glass of water with fresh mint, cucumber slices, oranges or limes, which will give your taste buds a refreshing treat without the calories and sugar of soda or juice.  Avoid sodas and sugar-laden juices by slowly transitioning to a mixture of seltzer and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Create A Rainbow

Vary the rainbow of produce in your meals; try adding a new fruit and vegetable to your meals each week.  Toss an apple in your brown bag or whip up a fruit smoothie for breakfast.  When creating dinner, opt for topping your fish or chicken with vegetable and fruit purees.  Keep handy bags of frozen fruit and vegetables in the freezer and create ready-to eat crudités in your fridge.  Need an emergency snack to keep in your gym bag? Why not create a mixture of dried apples, apricots, pears and cherries? Dried fruits are a tasty way to satisfy your sweet craving and add to your fiber quota for the day.

Nix Mindless Munchies

Keep yourself busy with a mint or a piece of gum.  Moreover, make a habit of brushing your teeth after each meal.  After your meal, enjoy a hot herbal tea or hot water with lemon while you digest your food and give your brain enough time to register that you are full.  Take a walk, call a friend or journal; make a list of things to do when you are ‘bored’ and find yourself mindlessly devouring the pantry.  Post this list on your fridge and refer to it each time you find yourself reaching for the pint of Breyer’s.

Forgo Temptations

Leave the chips, cookies and candy in the food store, not in your pantry.  Unfortunately these tasty treats seem to creep into our kitchens and the outcome is never enjoyable.  Instead of depriving yourself of sweets, think about what you are craving and what would satisfy your need for sweetness.  Perhaps it’s a cup of hot coco with skim milk, cinnamon and coco powder, or an apple dipped into agave nectar and sprinkled with unsweetened coconut.  If you are a chocolate fan, enjoy a square of rich dark chocolate or a few raw cacao nibs to cure your sweet tooth.

Enjoy Your Food

Create an eye-appeasing dish and sit down in an enjoyable environment while you dine.  Many people eat while standing up and end up inhaling food out of the fridge.  Turn away from the computer at lunch and savor your food, turn off the television at night and focus on your food presentation.  Taking the time to prepare a beautiful dish is the name of the game and easier to do than you think.  The only way a healthy diet will work is if you enjoy the foods you are eating so be sure to savor each bite of your meal and concentrate on your hunger and satiety levels before reaching for seconds.

In The News…

General Mills Launches Liveglutenfreely.com

General Mills To Reduce Sugar in Cereals

Advertisements

Boost Your Immune System

Whether it’s an office cubicle buddy coughing over your shoulder or the changing of seasons, we all need to keep our immune systems healthy.  Here are a few ways for you to be sure to keep you out of the doctors office and feeling great!

immune

Eat Healthy Fats and Healthy Foods

  • Eat foods that boost your immune system such as mushrooms, cantaloupe, brown rice, olive oil, broccoli, leafy greens, oranges and apples.
  • To build your body’s ability to protect itself from becoming sick, be sure to eat whole grains, fish, poultry, vegetables, beans, fruits, leafy greens and roots.
  • Don’t be scared of Fat-you need a healthy dose each and everyday.  Include healthy fats such as nuts, avocado and olive oil.
  • Reach for foods that are high in Vitamin D such as salmon and tuna.

Incorporate Cancer-Fighting Foods, Spices and Herbs

  • Garlic is a powerful health enhancer; it’s strong properties protect our immune system.
  • Drink black tea and green tea for their antioxidants, tannis, indoles and bioflavonoids, which have all been proven to fight cancer.
  • Take time to consider the use of medicinal plants, which have been a natural resource for curing and easing body ailments for centuries.

Be Active

  • Get walking.  Be sure to exercise for 30 minutes on most days.  Even a walk after dinner can help you digest your food and make you feel energized.

Drink Water

  • Try to drink 6-8 glasses a water each day to flush out the toxins in your  body.

Wash Your Hands

  • Be sure to wash up as often as possible to keep germs from spreading and getting into your mouth and eyes.

Clean Your Cubicle as You Would Your Home

  • Many of us spend more time at our desks than we do in our own homes, therefore be sure to keep your cubicle and desk clean with disinfectants.
  • Many of us eat meals at our desks, which leads to a whole slew of festering bacteria-Yuck.  Be sure to wipe your desk before and after each meal or opt for a chance of scenery and enjoy your lunch in the cafe or outside.

How do you stay healthy? Do you have any tips for boosting your immune system?

Another School Year…Rid The Lunch Box of Refined Sugars

As September rolls on, another school year begins and many parents prepare to send of their children back to school…sadly, we all know the constant struggle with keeping healthy meals and snacks at home and in the lunch box, therefore I have listed a few tips to help keep you and your loved ones away from those scary, hidden refined sugars.

school

As the weather begins to cool off in the Fall season, we start to transition into a lifestyle change where our physical activities and responsibilities become more focused on getting organized and rushing from one school event to another after school activity.  This transition can lead to disordered eating habits and cravings for stressed out parents, teens and children.  When the times get tough…what do we do? Yep, you guessed it–we reach for sweets.

We all love sweet treats.  Sugar is what most people look for to give them a boost of energy.  To put it in it’s simplest terms, let’s define the ‘good sugar’, shall we?  Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that occurs naturally in foods such as beans, veggies, fruits and grains.  These unprocessed sugars contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and proteins.

On the other hand are the processed sugars.  Our bodies must deplete its own store of enzymes and minerals to absorb table sugar properly, which creates a deficiency.  These processed sugars quickly enter the bloodstream and wreak havoc on our blood sugar level-first pumping it sky high causing nervous tension and hyperactivity, then crashing extremely low causing depression, exhaustion and fatigue.

Many people do not realize the emotional roller-coaster ride that comes along with downing all that sweet white stuff.  However, we must remember that sugar is not the whole problem.  The problem is the addictive cycle that we have created by eating processed sugar, feeling the rush, then crashing and taking in more sugar to start the crazy cycle again.  Now, if we are eating a balanced, healthy diet that includes veggies and whole grains, we will not need that ‘fake’ energy boost from processed sugar.

Today, many school and office cafeterias are a huge concern; we are bombarded with more processed foods such as Pop Tarts, sugary cereals, candy bars, sodas, donuts, pizza, fries, etc.  These foods are readily available in schools from Kindergarten through College/Grad School and even in many office cafeterias.

When Americans need a mid-afternoon snack, they look for a soda or a candy bar to give them that boost of energy because these foods are readily available.  The main concern here is that these easily accessible foods do not supply us with the sustainable energy or nutrients our bodies and brains need.

Processed foods are high in simple sugars and quite low in minerals.  Over consumption of these refined sweets and added sugars found in vending machine snacks has led to an explosion of Type 2 Diabetes, childhood obesity and hypoglycemia.  Because of the poor state of our children’s health, scientists predict that they are the first generation in American history to live a shorter lifespan than their parents.  Quite a disturbing fact, isn’t it?

When people eat processed, sugar-laden foods such as a Pop Tart for breakfast, pizza for lunch, a candy bar and a soda for a mid-afternoon snack and a burger with fries for dinner, they will suffer from malnutrition.  Studies have shown that when we eat a diet rich in whole foods, we experience less brain fog, miss fewer days of school/work, have higher school test scores and are good problem solvers because we are getting the nutrients to fuel our brains.

Nutrition and food can be confusing, however, you can start by slowly transitioning your eating to incorporating more veggies, fruits and whole grains into your meals.  Eating natural foods may taste bland when people are accustomed to artificial flavors, however, by simply adding herbs, spices and healthy condiments you can jazz up any dish.  Be sure to take a look at my Condiment Page.

Get your kids and husband involved in the food shopping experience by having them select whole foods for their lunches and snacks.  Take a family trip to the farmers market and purchase a new fruit, grain or vegetable each week.

With each meal, add a few greens or introduce a new fruit to their dessert plate.  It takes most people, both kids and adults, 3 times of trying a new food before they truly begin to enjoy it.

We all form our habits at a young age, therefore if we want to see a healthier future, we must start today by incorporating a healthy lifestyle and eating style in our daily lives.

Prebiotics and Probiotics: Are you Confused?

We all have bacteria living in our gut; some of them may make us sick, however, some are actually beneficial ‘healthy’ bacteria, which help keep yeast and bad bacteria from growing in your intestinal tract.  Bacteria is also used to help keep your immune system function properly and produce vitamin K.

Usually we would have a large amount of friendly bacteria, however due to antibiotics, poor diets and stress may cause bacterial imbalance that results in overgrowth of yeast and bad bacteria.  Fortunately, prebiotics and probiotics can restore the balance of bacteria in your digestive tract.

0e84e491e1172610

Prebiotics

  • Prebiotics are the food that probiotics thrive on.  They feed the healthy bacteria in your gut; they mostly come from carbohydrate fibers.  We do not digest them, however, they remain in the digestive tract and encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria.
  • Prebiotics include fruits, legumes and whole grains.  Some of the prebiotics that I recommend to my clients are bananas, artichokes, onions, honey, garlic and whole grains. 

6ba6bb9a15083006

Probiotics

  • Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, which can be found in various fermented foods, the most common being yogurt and sauerkraut.  When you eat probiotics, the healthy bacteria will be added to your intestinal tract. 
  • Common strains of probiotics are the Lactobacillis and Bifdobacterium families of bacteria.

Since Prebiotics and Probiotics work better together, opt for adding foods rich in pre- and pro- biotics to your daily meals.

Resistant Starch

 8a5523e6b18f1b7a

Resistant Starches are powerful fat burners.  Researchers at the University of Colorado found that if you eat foods rich in resistant starch at just one meal per day, you will burn 25% more fat than you would otherwise.  Moreover,  resistant starch escapes digestion in the small intestine and acts like fiber by passing through the colon undigested where it is used as fuel for healthy bacteria.  Examples of resistance starch are beans, oats, brown rice, corn, whole grains, barley, green bananas, cold potatoes and yams.

40b9b0fde9c3ebe2

Here are some easy ways to incorporate these resistant starch-filled foods into your daily diet.

  • Add black beans to salads and side dishes
  • Incorporate hummus instead of mayo on sandwiches
  • Snack on chilled lentils mixed with plain Greek yogurt
  • Slice a banana and mix with your morning granola, cereal, and oatmeal 
  • Dip a banana into Greek yogurt, roll in chopped nuts, and freeze as an ice-cream alternative
  • Make a home-made chutney by chopping bananas and mixed with lemon/lime juice, honey, Nu-Salt, and onion.
  • Serve cold potato salad as a side dish
  • Add cooled, chunks of red potatoes to a salad
  • Puree cooked white potatoes and yams to make a chilled potato soup
  • Add lentils into tuna, salmon, chicken, or tofu salads
  • Toss lentils into your pasta sauce
  • Use cold brown rice in place of your cold cereal/oatmeal for breakfast.  Simply add soy milk to the cold rice and add cinnamon and honey.
  • Add chopped corn into salsas and chutneys
  • Mix corn into your salads

a79aa99855f1e824

What are your thoughts on Resistant Starches?  Try some of the above ideas and incorporate these great foods into your day.