Summer Slim-Down Foods

beach-run

Losing weight can be challenging and excess hunger is one of the biggest obstacles most of us encounter when we try to slim down. If you’re focused on losing a few pounds before heading out to the beach, check out this article for foods that will help manage appetite without sacrificing flavor.

http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/3314/summer-slim-downfoods/?utm_source=ACE%2BFit%2BLife&utm_medium=email&utm_term=June%2B2013&utm_campaign=Consumer%2BOutreach

 

Do Your Heart Good

Celebrate Heart Health Month!

A heart healthy diet can be delicious and simple to follow. The American Heart Association offers a number of free resources on their website (http://www.heart.org) to help you get started.

Eating healthy doesn’t mean dieting. Instead, it’s best to aim for making your diet part of an overall healthier lifestyle. A great way to begin is to become more aware of what you’re eating.

Read Nutrition Labels
Many of us think we know what we’re eating until we actually look at the nutritional information. Pay particular attention to portion size per serving, saturated fat, and sodium. Tread lightly when it comes to foods higher in saturated fat (above 7% of calories) and sodium. Most of us should consume less than 1500 mg of sodium eat day but sadly the typical American diet contains about 3 times that amount and not from excessive salt shaker use but rather from the ready prepared and restaurant foods that many of us rely so heavily upon.

Here’s a few more ideas to get you started:

Get Moving
If you’re currently sedentary and your doctor feels it’s safe for you to do so, slowly begin to incorporate more movement into your daily life. This doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym everyday but with a little regular physical activity, you’ll find it easier to control weight and reduce hunger while decreasing your risk of chronic disease.

Examine Your Plate
Aim to fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables. This will help fill you up on less calories and provide vital nutrients that play a role in blood pressure regulation.

Your Friend Fiber
Choose fiber rich foods including plenty of whole grains, fruits and veggies. Aim for breads and cereals that have a minimum of 3 or more grams of fiber per serving. Oat bran found in certain cereals and abundantly in old-fashioned oatmeal, is a wonderful addition to any breakfast lineup- as this particular fiber is has been found especially helpful to lower LDL (“bad cholesterol”) levels.

Get An Oil Change
The type of oil we consume can have a big impact on our health. Focus on the mono-unsaturated, heart-healthy oils such as olive and canola while aiming to incorporate those wonderful omega-3’s a couple times a week found in fatty fish such as salmon or tuna. You also find omega 3’s in non-animal sources as well such as walnuts and flaxseeds.

A heart healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be complicated. With a bit of planning, you’ll not only reduce your risk of heart disease, but feel so much better knowing you’ve taken a few steps to improve the quality of your life.

Type 2 Diabetes: Are You At Risk?

November is American Diabetes Month, which is a time when the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and other organizations raise awareness of diabetes and communicate the seriousness of the disease.

What is Type 2 Diabetes?

About 95% of those diagnosed with diabetes are classified as Type 2.  Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way your body metabolizes sugar (glucose), your body’s main source of fuel.  With type 2 diabetes, your body either resists the effects of insulin — a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells — or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level. If left untreated, type 2 diabetes can be life-threatening.

Prevalence

26 million Americans have diabetes with 2 million new cases diagnosed each year.  An overwhelming 79 million Americans have higher than normal blood glucose levels but are not yet classified as diabetic and it’s expected that about 1 in 3 Americans will have diabetes in 2050 at the current rate of incidence.

Impact

Diabetes is costly financially as well as to your health and wellbeing.  Fiscally, diabetes costs the U.S. alone $174 billion each year.  This figure represents a 32% increase since 2007.  Let’s put this into prospective, about one out of every 10 healthcare dollars are spent in direct diabetes care.  The health impact is just as staggering with a risk for stroke and death from heart disease at 2-4 times higher among people with the disease.  Diabetes is also the number one cause of kidney failure, lower limb amputations and new cases of blindness among adults.

What You Can Do

You can do a lot to prevent or delay Type 2 Diabetes.

1.) Watch Your Weight

If you are over ideal weight, there are a number of studies that indicate that losing only 5-7% of your current body weight will lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.  For instance, if you weigh 200 lbs, a weight loss of only 10-14 lbs will lower your risk significantly.

2.) Controlling your Blood Pressure & Cholesterol

Get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly and talk with your doctor about higher than normal readings.

3.) Eat Healthier

Consume plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.  Minimize the amount of take out and processed meals which typically have much higher levels of fat, calories and sodium and contribute to high cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight gain.

4.) Stay Active

Aim for a minimum of 25-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week.  And remember, exercise doesn’t only happen at a gym.  Staying active means taking advantage of opportunities to move more in our daily life.  Examples may be walking for short errands like mailing a letter or going to the store, gardening, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking the dog, etc.

5.) Quit Smoking

Those who smoke are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes.  So if you’re thinking about quitting, now is the time.

For more information on diabetes and prevention visit the American Diabetes Association.

About the author:

Gina M. Crome, M.S., M.P.H., R.D., is a Registered Dietitian and ACE Certified Personal Trainer based in Southern California.  She is the owner of Lifestyle Management Solutions, a company that provides customized nutrition and fitness programs designed to fit an individual’s lifestyle.  Become a fan of Gina on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and visit her website Lifestyle Management Solutions.

Your Fast Track To Weight Loss Success

Looking to drop some holiday weight?   You’re not alone.  This time of year marks the largest amount of people trying to shed those extra pounds that have crept on over the holiday season.    One of the easiest and most effective ways to begin is to simply track what you eat.  A 2008 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine indicated that those who maintained a daily food log lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records at all.  Keeping a food journal seems to have a big impact on the amount of food consumed as people are much less likely to overeat when they commit to recording their intake.

To assist Americans in their effort to lose weight and make healthier choices, the USDA has developed a completely free online tool that provides a quick way to track your foods and physical activities.  The program is called SuperTracker and it complements the already released MyPlate nutritional education program.

Whereas MyPlate was developed to help Americans put together appropriately balanced meals based on the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the new SuperTracker takes the concept one step further by offering users an opportunity to track their dietary intake and physical activity while providing feedback and analysis via reports to bring you closer to your goals. 

Once you begin tracking food intake, you’ll not only see what you’re eating but gain insight as well into the relationship between what you eat, when you eat, and how it relates to your weight loss.  Sometimes when we make New Year’s resolutions, we build a process that is so demanding we are doomed to fail.  Keeping your weight loss efforts simple by monitoring what you eat and gaining an understanding of the role of food in your life, you will lose the weight not with a short term diet but with an effective lifestyle change.

Healthy Holiday Meals: It’s All In The Planning

Most holidays revolve around eating.  Let’s face it, food seems to be the “main event” that brings us together.  A healthy holiday menu for family and friends can be simple with a bit of planning.

Think Ahead

There are bounties of resources for creating beautiful holiday meals and treats for your guests that are lighter in calories and fat than traditional faire without sacrificing flavor.  You can control how many calories you eat by simply thinking ahead about the dishes your family normally enjoys and determining how you can prepare them 1.)  Light (less fat),   2.)  Bright (more veggies), and 3.) Early in the Night.  An early evening meal will give your guests the opportunity to be more active as they digest their food.  Of course, planning winter activities can also help deal with this challenging time.  Look for ways that the entire family can get involved such as an early evening walk, interactive electronic games, or even a sport of choice in the backyard.  If weather is a factor, make use of indoor facilities such as local community centers that often have available sporting venues such as basketball courts, table tennis, etc.  Family excursions can present unique opportunities for exercise-based activities and enjoyment for everyone.

Choose Wisely

When faced with the foods we love, it’s often difficult to maintain any sense of control around the holidays.  To this I say, “eat what you love and love what you eat…. in moderation that is.”  Many times we approach the holidays with anxieties; worried about the foods we know are bad for us. We then tell ourselves that we are going to avoid those foods altogether in order to maintain our weight loss efforts.  Unfortunately, self-denial usually leads to an opposite phenomenon, self-indulgence.  Avoiding the foods we really enjoy usually causes us to eat more of the foods that we don’t enjoy as much.  Therefore, it’s best to approach the holiday season realistically knowing that you’ll be exposed to foods you really love and will likely consume them.  The difference is that this season you can plan to eat only the foods you absolutely love while minimizing those you don’t care so much about.  In other words, save room for the good stuff (in moderation) so that you won’t feel deprived.

Work With What You Have

While dining with family or friends, we don’t always have control of the foods being served around holiday events.  It’s during these times that we must plan to work with what we have.  Take an active role in simply minimizing foods a little higher in fat while at the same time focusing on items that will help satisfy you at a smaller caloric price (salads/veggies, broth-based soups, etc.).  These foods add volume to a meal so that you can still enjoy the higher fat items in moderation while being full and satisfied. 

Let’s plan to reduce our anxiety over holiday food weight gain by choosing the types and amounts wisely, and above all- enjoy the season!

Not So Tricky Halloween Treats

Halloween is here.  It’s time to carve the pumpkins, don the costumes, and buy treats for the kiddies.  But here’s the thing, if you are trying to manage your weight, do you really want 5 pounds of candy sitting around your house continuing to haunt you long after the trick or treaters have left?  Do yourself favor and try a few of these not so tricky Halloween treats.

1.) Microwave Popcorn Mini Bags

2.) Small Toys/Party Favors (Think Spider Rings, Plastic Eyeballs & Vampire Teeth)

3.) Peanut Butter & Cracker Packs

4.) Crayons/Mini Coloring Books

5.) Individually Packaged Rice Cereal Treats

6.) Stickers or Washable Tattoos

7.) Granola Bars

8.) Fun Decorated Pencils and Erasers

9.) Bubbles

10.) Mini Deck of Playing Cards

Warehouse stores and party supply houses are great sources for quantity shopping of small items.  If you’ve already bought several pounds of candy and are beginning to regret it, fear not!  Here are a few ideas to keep your little goblins happy and your waistline in check.

  • Avoid opening the candy bags until the first trick or treater arrives.  It’s all too easy to snack on an “already” open bag.
  • If you’ve already opened the bag and find yourself doing a little sampling, run back out to the store and pick up a pack of treat (favor) bags.  Fill the small bags with a few goodies and seal them up.  They not only look great in a decorative bowl, but the extra time it will take for you to get to the candy may help you to think about whether it’s worth it or not to eat it.
  • Remember, that a healthy lifestyle is not about what you can’t have.  That’s called a “diet.”  Rather, our focus should be on what we can have to support our goals.  Having healthy alternative snacks on hand is an important tool to help us not feel deprived during the holiday season and throughout the year.

As we begin moving toward all the parties and food-centered festivities, let’s make this time of year one that we can enjoy and also feel better about ourselves in January.

Can Roses Really Help You Lose Weight?

What member of the rose family is a great tool in the battle of the bulge?  If you guessed apples, you’d be right!  Believe it or not, apples truly are a member of Rosaceae or the rose family and with the Fall season in “full bloom” it’s no wonder we turn our attention to this versatile fruit Malus domestica, otherwise known as the common apple.

Quick Facts

Besides being in the rose family, here are a few other apple tid bits:

  • They are grown in all 50 states, most notably in Washington.  However 36 U.S. states actually produce apples commercially-including California
  • They are virtually fat, cholesterol, and sodium free. 
  • The most popular variety is the Red Delicious, followed by the Golden Delicious in second place.  Both of which are available year round.

Your Weight Control Partner

Apples are a sweet way to add fiber to your diet and help you feel full.  This is important if you are trying to shed a few pounds before the holidays get into full swing.  Also, pectin, a form of fiber found in apples has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels in many scientific studies.

There are a number of foods that pair well with apples including sharp cheeses, nuts and nut butters, or even a little dark chocolate.  Here’s a simple fall recipe to get you started.

Speedy Baked Apple

This is a super easy recipe using your microwave that quickly delivers a delicious fall treat with 5 grams of fabulous fiber for only 140 calories.  Makes the house smell nice too!

Serves:  1

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium apple (any variety)
  • 1 Tbsp Splenda© Brown Sugar Blend
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1 tsp light butter
  • ½ tsp almond extract

Directions:

Core the apple and place it in a small covered microwave safe dish.  Mix the Splenda© Brown Sugar Blend, nutmeg, cinnamon and cranberries in another bowl.  Spoon the mixture into the center of the apple, top with the butter and almond extract; microwave on high for about 3-4 minutes.

So enjoy the bounty that apples have to offer this fall knowing that you are eating both nutritiously as well as deliciously.  Isn’t that the way it should be?

Back to School and Back to You: Recommit to Taking Care of Yourself

It’s that time of year again.  The kids are back in school, the holidays are right around the corner and it’s time to recommit to taking care of yourself.  The difficult part always begs the question, where do I begin? 

One of the first things that I ask my clients seeking weight management is why it’s important for them to manage their weight and what does it mean to them personally.  At first glance, this seems like a simple question but actually the answers are very unique for everyone.  We each have personal reasons for wanting to make lifestyle changes.  Some may be based on health issues, others on physical appearance and confidence.  Whatever the reason, it’s important to have a clear picture as to what motivates you and if possible to get those thoughts down on paper.  

One place to start would be with creating a simple “Top 10 List” that highlights a few of the most important reasons why you would like to lose weight.  This is your personal list and doesn’t need to be shared with anyone so it’s best to be specific and candid.  It’s amazing how different we view our thoughts and feelings when they come out of our head and put onto paper.  This simple process not only legitimizes our efforts, but also helps us sort through our priorities. You’ll know that you’ve created a meaningful list if upon re-glancing at it in the future, it takes you back to the feelings you had the day you created it.

Another strategy I use to help clients begin their journey is through a simple tool that I created called the Commitment Worksheet.  This worksheet acts as a self-contract by outlining your short term goals, exploring potential roadblocks and setting a plan for rewarding your accomplishments.  

These items are not just an exercise in listing your thoughts and goals, but tools used to help keep you on track when your motivation begins to wane.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, goes through cycles of highs and lows in their motivation.  Much of the variance is related to your individual stress level and pressures of daily living.  Simple everyday distractions always seem to threaten our best efforts to stay on track.  Take control of your life by ensuring your goals are personally meaningful and visibly available; especially when you need a little extra help committing to taking better care of yourself.

Proper Hydration: For Summertime and Beyond

Getting the proper amount of hydration is not only important in the summer months, but throughout the year as well.  Water is one of the single most important elements in our body.  It regulates our body temperature, helps our digestion and even provides a cushiony barrier around our organs.  Those who participate in regular exercise know how vital it is to be properly hydrated for performance purposes as well.   At the microscopic level, water helps get nutrients in and out of our cells and after just several days without it, we would cease to survive.Therefore it’s important to understand the correct amount of water to have onboard, the signs of dehydration, and a few strategies to ensure you are properly hydrated in any weather.

How Much?

Hydration can come from the beverages we drink (80%) as well as the food we eat (20%).  It is recommended in total that women consume 2.7 liters (91oz) of fluid through a combination of beverages and food and men 3.7 liters (125 oz) in the same manner.  If you are exercising, especially in hot weather, your needs are even greater.  In just an hour of exercise, you could potentially lose around a quart of water!  At that rate, it’s easy to understand how dehydration can creep in.  Here are some exercise hydration tips:  

  • Drink 17 to 20 ounces of water two hours before the start of exercise.
  • Drink 7 to 10 ounces of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during exercise.
  • Drink 16 to 24 ounces of fluid for every pound of body weight lost after exercise

Of course, these are just recommendations. Other factors influence your fluid loss during exercise such as higher temperatures or workout intensity. Additionally, men sweat more than women and larger people sweat more than those who are smaller.  Also, would you believe that the well-trained athlete sweats more than the average person? It’s because the body of an athlete is very efficient at cooling itself down and sweats more as a result.

Swimming in the summertime can be great way to cool down.  However, a common misconception is that swimmers are kept cool by the water and as a result don’t require as much hydration.  The truth is that swimmers as well as children splashing around in the pool sweat more and are also in danger of dehydration.  So ensure you keep drinking water even if you are cooling off in the water.

Signs of Dehydration

How do you know if you or someone else is in danger of dehydration? In the beginning there is simple thirst.  Most of the time we could easily ignore this sign which eventually turns into flushed skin, higher body temperatures, exhaustion, and increased difficulty to perform simple exercises.  If you don’t get water soon after these symptoms, you will experience increased weakness, dizziness, heavy breathing and finally pass out. 

Your Best Strategy

It’s easy to avoid the threat of dehydration by simply sipping water throughout the day.  Remember that our hydration comes from the foods we eat as well so choosing foods with higher water content such as melons, soups, leafy greens, and even tomatoes is a great idea.

Flavored waters and other beverages such as sports drinks can contribute needed fluids but if weight loss is your goal, beware of the hidden calories some of these contain.  Also, if you are drinking beverages that contain caffeine and/or alcohol, know that these are both diuretics meaning that they cause the body to lose more fluids which can undermine your hydration efforts.

Being aware of your fluid intake will not only keep you well hydrated, but may also give you a sense of fullness which will certainly help your weight loss efforts.

Food Safety: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

A foodborne illness (more commonly called food poisoning) can occur when we eat contaminated food that contains pathogenic bacteria, viruses or actual parasites.  The statistics of occurrence are overwhelming.  According to the FDA, foodborne pathogens are responsible for 76 million gastrointestinal illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5000 deaths each year in the United States.  Summertime picnics and family gatherings are common this time of year so it’s important that we understand the basics of food safety and how we can protect ourselves.

When we hear the word “bacteria” it often conjures up negative images.  But not all bacteria are pathogenic or have the ability to cause illness.  For instance, yogurt is little more than flavored milk with bacteria added.  This kind of bacteria is known as probiotic meaning that it’s introduced intentionally to the body as a means of bringing good bacteria into the gut.  This so called “good bacteria” helps keep the bad (or pathogenic) bacteria in check by using up some of the bad bacteria’s resources they need to stay alive.

In general, ideal growing conditions for bacteria are moist environments with temperatures between 41-135 degrees Fahrenheit.   Food safety experts call this the “Danger Zone” meaning that if you hold foods for periods of time between those temperatures, you are more likely to propagate the growth of bacterial colonies.  Think about your recent 4th of July barbeque feast.  Moist foods such as potato and pasta salads are particularly susceptible to bacterial growth because they are either left out on the table for long periods of time at room temperature as people serve themselves, subjected to insects, or become contaminated through serving utensils and handling.  Here’s another example- have you ever thawed a piece of frozen chicken in warm water?  As that chicken sits there in a comfy warm water bath (well within danger zone temperatures), millions of bacteria have the opportunity to begin emerging which could potentially make us sick.  And if you think cooking it immediately will kill off all the germs, you’d be wrong.    

Because bacteria can be introduced into food from hands, soiled utensils, or via insects such as flies, the best defense is to wash your hands frequently-especially before handling food.  It’s a simple concept that we’ve all heard time and time again that can’t be stressed enough.  We also want to ensure that food is protected from insects by covering the dish when not in use.  Likewise, serving utensils should not be handled in the area that comes in contact with the food.  At the end of a meal, it’s best to cool your foods quickly in shallow pans in order to decrease the amount of time in those danger zone temperatures.

The symptoms of food poisoning vary greatly depending on the pathogen.  Some have a quick onset meaning you’ll begin to notice symptoms such as nausea and/or vomiting within 30 minutes after eating, while others may take as long as 2 days to emerge.  Some will produce fever and chills while others only cause gastric distress.  Foodborne illness is not only very serious but can leave a person vulnerable to dehydration which can have deadly consequences.  So if you suspect food poisoning, seek medical attention immediately. However, an easier answer is to decrease your chances of contracting it in the first place by taking the right steps to protect your food this summer and throughout the year.