Thursday, February 26, 2015

12 ways to sneak healthier habits into your snacks

It's often the little things that make or break a healthy eating plan. Like snacks. 

Don't avoid snacks, and don't pretend like you're not gonna have 'em! Plan for them. Stock your pantry, your desk, or your vehicle with some handy but satisfying alternatives.

Here are 12 ways to sneak healthier habits into your snacks:

1. Want something crunchy and salty? Replace crackers and chips with nuts. Keep a variety of your favorites on hand. Yes, they have fat, but it's mostly the good kind (especially walnuts and almonds), and fat satisfies sooner than carbs, so you may eat less.

2. Want something salty and sweet? Try an apple and sugar-free nut butter, or apple with cheese. Pears with cheese are tasty, too. I especially like red pears with smoked Swiss.

3. Want something creamy and sweet? Stir together some frozen berries, greek yogurt, vanilla and sweetener of your choice. (Find out which ones are lower in fructose.)

4. Replace sugar- or sweetener-laden soda with soda water. Flavor it with a squeeze of lemon or lime. Add sweetener if you must, but you get to control what kind of sweetener and how much goes in.

5. Dip raw carrot or jicama chips in caesar, ranch or blue cheese dressing. Watch out for sugar and corn syrup in store-bought dressings, though. Better to make your own. (Here are recipes for seven simple salad dressings.)

6. Serving dip at a party? Take hearts of romaine: tear or cut away everything but the strong central rib. Save the leafy part for salads, and use the ribs for dippers, instead of chips or crackers.

7. Make your own garlic herb cheese dip.

8. Got the munchies? It might just be thirst and/or boredom. Have a glass of ice water and go do something interesting or relaxing for 10 minutes.

9. Mix cottage cheese, salsa and guacamole; dip it with celery stalks or romaine ribs.

10. When you would normally go to potato or corn chips, go with 100% whole-grain crackers (such as Triscuits), and spread them with something that brings some protein and/or fat to the mix: cheese, ricotta, sugar-free nut butter, or hummus.

11. I love this idea! Take your own healthy snacks to the movie theater.

12. Do a little research and find out what healthy options are available where you tend to stop for snacks. At QuikTrip, walk right past the chip aisle and look for the healthy options, including fresh fruit and cheese sticks.

Time better spent, take 2

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Time better spent

If you have time for Pinterest (or Facebook, or Youtube, or...), you have time for exercise.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

5 tiny habits that could change your health

Lifehack posted "25 Tiny Habits That Could Change Your Life." Here are the five they suggested for physical health:

1. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. We often don’t get enough water in our systems, and get so busy throughout the day that we don’t think about stopping to replenish our supply.... Trigger yourself by leaving a big glass out on the counter or table. Or do what I do, and get a big travel mug with a lid. At night, I fill it up with a lot of ice and a bit of water, and in the morning it’s waiting for me: a nice, cool cup of water. Flush the toxins, kickstart your system, wake yourself up.

2. Park as far away as you can from the door. Fight the effects of a sedentary lifestyle by getting more steps into your day whenever you can. In fact,simple things like a longer stroll from the car to the door might be more effective than a vigorous work-out at counteracting the effects of long hours at a desk.

3. Eat raw fruit or vegetables with every meal. Think: a green side salad, a slice of melon, some berries, a few carrot sticks and cucumber slices. Not only will you get more nutrients in, you will also be getting in more fiber and potentially helping your body lose weight, retain energy, and decrease hunger.

4. Stand up and stretch every hour, on the hour. Trigger yourself with a beep on your phone ...or computer. Sitting for extended time periods is a bad idea for both your body and your brain. You need a mental and physical break, and it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just stop... stand up where you are, reach over your head, take a deep breath, touch your toes, roll your shoulders.

5. Carry a small bag of nuts or beef jerky everywhere you go. Something protein-rich will help stave off hunger as well as keeping you from getting to that ravenous point when you’ll eat anything in sight, no matter what the calorie count is. Getting a little more protein in your diet can help boost your metabolism and build your muscle, as well.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Dear Diet Soda: You're not helping - What research has to say about artificially sweetened beverages

Excerpts from a report published in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism 2013

Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements

Susan E. Swithers -- Department of Psychological Sciences and Ingestive Behavior Research Center, Purdue University, 703 Third Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA

ASB = artificially sweetened beverage
SSB = sugar sweetened beverage

Weight gain & body fat percentage

The San Antonio Heart Study documented weight change in men and women over a 7–8-year period. That study reported that, among participants who were normal weight or overweight at the beginning of the study, risk of weight gain and obesity were significantly greater in those consuming ASB compared with those who did not.
In a study of two adolescent groups, ASB use was associated with increased body fat percentage at 2-year follow-up.

Metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes)

A number of studies have reported greater risk of metabolic syndrome for consumers of ASB. Estimates of the increase range from 17% to over 100%, with the magnitude of the risk also depending on which other risk factors were taken into consideration. In studies that also examined the risk of metabolic syndrome with SSB consumption, the increased risk was often similar for SSB and ASB.

Type 2 diabetes

In the European E3N study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, risk for Type 2 diabetes more than doubled for participants in the top 25% of ASB consumption compared with non-consumers. SSB consumption was also associated with increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Hypertension and cardiovascular disease

In the Nurses Health Study, risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) was significantly elevated in women who consumed more than two ASB or SSB per day. Similarly, in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, risk of CHD was significantly elevated by ASB and SSB.
Three different studies found a significantly elevated risk for hypertension in women who consumed at least one ASB daily -- at a level similar to that of SSB use.
Results from the Northern Manhattan Study indicated that daily ASB consumption was associated with significantly increased risk of vascular events, at a magnitude similar to daily SSB consumption.

Concluding remarks

Recent data from humans and rodent models have provided little support for ASB in promoting weight loss or preventing negative health outcomes such as Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular events. Instead, a number of studies suggest people who regularly consume ASB are at increased risk compared with those that do not consume ASB; with the magnitude of the increased risks similar to those associated with SSB.


Read more about why your diet pop may be making you fat.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

3 beginner level workouts you can do without getting out of your chair

Here are three workouts you can do if you have limited mobility, limited cardio capability, or just need a very beginner level workout.

Choose one workout. Go at a pace that makes you a little out of breath, but if you need to stop and rest, just hit pause, rest for a minute or two, then hit play when you're ready to go again.

Hey - there's nothing wrong with being a beginner. Start where you are today!

11-minute beginner-level cardio routine

Do you sit at a desk all day? Are you confined to a chair? Do you struggle with mobility issues? Then this workout is for you! This short and simple cardio workout will elevate your heart rate, which is good for your body and your brain.
  • Length: 11 minutes
  • Equipment: An armless chair
  • Type of Workout: Cardio (aerobic) & flexibility
  • Fitness Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Impact: Zero-impact
  • See the workout

8-minute beginner-level upper body strengthening routine 

A series of seated exercises that will help you tone your entire core, improve your posture, and increase your spinal mobility and flexibility.
  • Length: 8 minutes
  • Equipment: An armless chair; light hand weights. If you don't have weights, grab a couple cans of soup or veggies.
  • Type of Workout: Strength training (toning) & flexibility
  • Muscles Worked: Abs, obliques and lower back
  • Fitness Level: Beginner to intermediate
  • Impact: No-impact
  • See the workout

12-minute beginner-level core workout

A series of seated exercises that will help you tone your entire core, improve your posture, and increase your spinal mobility and flexibility.
  • Length: 12 minutes
  • Equipment: An armless chair
  • Type of Workout: Strength training (toning) & flexibility
  • Muscles Worked: Abs, obliques and lower back
  • Fitness Level: Beginner to intermediate
  • Impact: No-impact
  • See the workout