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Blog posts tagged with 'comfort foods'

Did You Know: Three Surprising Tips for Weight Loss


Did You Know: Three Surprising Tips for Weight LossAs we reach the midpoint of summer, you may feel your motivation to maintain a healthy weight begin to slip, or maybe you're now feeling inspired to start taking your diet more seriously. Whatever your state of mind, there are plenty of ways to help you reach your objectives. Here are some unique tips to keep you sailing towards your summer weight goals.

Sometimes your body needs a little influence from the mind. If you often find yourself trying to juggle many tasks at once, take the time to put everything aside during mealtimes so you can focus on your food. A recent study done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that if you're eating while doing another task, chances are you won't be satiated. In the study, one group of people ate a meal while playing solitaire while another group ate their meal without any distractions. Results showed that more people who played the game while eating couldn't remember what they ate—and they were still hungry afterwards. It also helps to plan your meals ahead. If your goal is to eat more servings of fruit and vegetables per week, for example, write it down and check it off your list the moment you do it. In one healthy eating experiment, participants who had a concrete plan to eat more fruit per week ended up eating twice as much fruit as those who simply tried harder without having a solid game plan. While a majority of people watch what they eat while dieting, it's also important to remember to watch for liquid calories. No matter how vigilant you are in monitoring your food intake, all that food-watching and calorie-counting can be undone with a few sugary drinks throughout your day. The American Heart Association recommends that adult men and women should consume no more than 37.5 grams and 25 grams of sugar, respectively, per day. A typical 20-oz. bottle of soda has around 65 grams of sugar and 240 calories—just one soda can almost double the recommended daily intake! Many store-brand fruit juices also contain as much sugar as sodas, so just because something has fruit in it, don't automatically assume that it will be low in sugar and calories. If you're feeling thirsty in the warm, summer sun, stick to water to stay hydrated or press your own fruit juices as a healthier option. Coffee can also help speed up your metabolism, but watch out for those sweetened coffee beverages because they can pack a lot of sugar and calories. The desire to enjoy the mid-summer season can be a great motivator to help you stay on your weight management course. However, the health tips here aren't just exclusive to summer; you can apply them all year long to maintain a healthy body weight. Find your motivation and enjoy the rest of the summer—and the entire year—in good health!



Are You Following These Top Tips for Holiday Health?


Are You Following These Top Tips for Holiday Health?The food, the shopping, the family get-togethers; the holiday season can be a wonderful time of the year, but it can also take a lot out of you. Getting through the holidays without making a dent in your daily health and nutrition is no easy task. But you can keep your immune system strong and start your New Year off on the right track with a couple of easy tips.

Go with Your Gut

An often forgotten fact about your immune system is that a large part—about 70%—resides in your gut. This makes nourishing your digestive tract paramount to protecting a healthy immune system. Probiotics, found commonly in yogurts, can help nourish your gut, keeping your immune system healthy and ready to fight off the antigens that can infiltrate your body. But if you'd prefer the benefits of probiotics without the calories or sugar of yogurt, try probiotic supplements instead. An important tip for making sure you're getting the right type of probiotics is to make sure they're enteric coated. This special coating protects the probiotics so that they won't be stripped away by your stomach acid before they reach the large intestine where they will be most helpful. More and more evidence these days points to a healthy balance of microbes in your gut being the catalyst for a strong immune system. New studies have connected the importance of good gut microbes to everything from immune function to healthy moods to simple weight management. This makes the choice easy for supporting your immune system from the inside: Go with your gut.

Keep Clean and Rested

Along with supporting a healthy gut on the inside, there are several practical tips to help shield you on the outside during the holidays. Many of us tend to feel rundown during the holidays from work deadlines, travelling, shopping, last-minute gift wrapping, or socializing. Your busy schedule can be the catalyst for a weak immune system. We all know the body needs proper rest, but the holidays can be especially taxing. Making sure you're getting a healthy night's sleep before, during, and after the holiday marathon can keep your body on a rested and healthy cycle.

Hands Together for Health

While it's great to see family and friends during the holidays, the fact is, people carry germs. Think of all the handshaking, hugging, and handling of food that goes on at social gatherings. Hand sanitizer and frequent hand washing can be your best friend this time of year. Keep some hand sanitizer in your pocket and make sure to wash your hands consistently with soap to keep potential holiday germs at bay. Of course, there are many choices in hand sanitizers out there, so when choosing a hand sanitizer make sure it contains at least a 60% concentration of alcohol such as ethanol or isopropanol. Hand sanitizers with less alcohol may not be as effective.

Enjoy a Healthy Holiday

It is possible to enjoy the holiday season while keeping good health in mind. Sometimes it's the little things that can make a world of difference during this winter and holiday season. Try some relaxing herbal teas to wind down in the evening and be sure to stay hydrated throughout all of your holiday endeavors. The best gift you can give yourself going into the New Year is a clean bill of health, so remember to supplement, rest, and practice good hygiene so that you can take full advantage of the holidays.

Mega Probiotic



With a Good Diet in Mind, Are You Using Calorie Counts on Menus?


With a Good Diet in Mind, Are You Using Calorie Counts on Menus?Maybe you've seen those little number charts next to your favorite fast foods, maybe you haven’t, or maybe you've seen them, but you didn't use them to guide your decision for a less calorific meal. Most major fast food chains have them: calorie labels displayed next to meals and drinks to tell you how many calories you are getting per serving so that you can make better decisions for your diet, specifically when it comes to healthy weight management. As of 2010 it was made a law that all fast food chains or restaurants with 20 or more locations must post calorie labels on their menus. But according to a recent study, some people still don’t notice them, and many more people tend to ignore them.

The Philadelphia Experiment

In a survey conducted by Brian Elbel, an assistant professor of population health and health policy at the NYU School of Medicine, 2000 fast-food customers in Philadelphia ages 18–64 were polled on whether they noticed and then used the calorie labels on display in restaurants.

Elbel and his team collected receipts from customers frequenting two major fast food chains and asked them a series of questions, including if they noticed the calorie labels and if the labels affected their decision making when it came to meals. Simultaneously, phone surveys were also carried out throughout Philadelphia asking residents the same questions.

Missing the Markers

The results of the study show that many people are still not aware of the calorie labels in restaurants and how they can use these charts to positively influence their daily diet. Of the 2000 people polled  40% said they noticed the calorie labels while only 10% claimed that they used the labels to purchase meals with fewer calories. While the displaying of calorie labels did appear to have some impact on people’s food choices, researchers suggest that other strategies are needed to help guide people towards making wiser, healthier food choices. “Providing calorie information is not enough,” said Alice Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University. “If we want people to use the information, we need to raise awareness about its availability and most importantly, educate about its use.”

Awareness and Choices

To effectively influence further change it is important to recognize and use the healthy tools that are available to you. Monitoring how much you eat can start with understanding your limit for daily caloric intake, obtaining the required nutrients you need from food and supplements, and getting enough daily physical activity. The average diet should consist of around 2000 calories a day (this can be higher or lower depending on gender, age, and dietary goals). How you get these calories is another matter. Calorie labels can be one of many helpful tools that are at your disposal to influence healthier eating habits, so the next time you’re dining out pay closer attention to what you’re eating because the information is there for your benefit. 



When You Eat Is Just as Important as What You Eat


When You Eat Is Just as Important as What You EatMany discussions around healthier eating place emphasis on the type and quality of food you should be consuming to get the most protein, vitamins, and minerals needed for good nutrition. What many people tend to overlook is that how often you eat can play an equally important role in helping you manage your weight and daily caloric intake. Currently, there are two schools of thought on how often a person should have meals. Some people abide by the traditional rule of three meals a day while others believe that eating six smaller meals can help you to better manage your food cravings and resist the urge to snack.

Whichever method you choose to abide by, here are some healthful tips to keep in mind to help you keep track of your calories and cravings for better nutrition.

  • Eat a healthy breakfast – Many people have a very light breakfast or in some cases, skip it completely. Breakfast provides vital calories that give you energy to start your day. Even if you take smaller meals, breakfast prevents you from feeling hungry throughout the morning so that you won't be tempted to overeat at your next meal.
  • Adjust your portions according to how often you eat – If you're a three-meal-a-day person, each meal—including breakfast—should make up one-third of your entire caloric intake (the average adult requires 1,500 to 2,200 calories per day). Smaller, more frequent meals can be less strenuous on your digestive system and help you to better regulate your blood sugar, cravings, and hunger. Whatever your eating schedule is, stick to what your body is used to.
  • Try to avoid letting yourself become hungry so that you don't overeat – Overeating burdens your digestive system and it can hurt your diet by creating an imbalance in your daily eating habits. Going for long stretches of not eating can encourage you to binge eat at your next meal, which is not a healthy pattern. If you must snack, choose healthier, low-calorie options such as fresh fruit, a handful of nuts, or a fat-free cup of yogurt.
  • Avoid eating dinner in front of the television – Many people wind down at the end of the day by eating dinner while watching their favorite TV shows. This can encourage you to eat “mindlessly” without really paying attention to your portion sizes.
  • Don't eat late at night – Late-night meals have been associated with weight challenges and sleeplessness because your stomach is still working to process your food instead of resting. Avoid eating after a certain time, but if you can't resist it, once again choose healthier snack options such as carrots or celery sticks with fat-free dressing as a dip, or fresh fruit.

Consistency is the key to achieving any goal, whether it's weight management, fitness, or healthier eating. By sticking to regular—and more nutritious—meals, you can balance your caloric intake and cravings more efficiently and make unhealthy snacking a thing of the past.



Taking Probiotics with Medications Can Be More Beneficial to Gut Health


Taking Probiotics with Medications Can Be More Beneficial to Gut HealthBad bacteria can negatively impact your health in a number of ways. While most bad bacteria can be dealt with by taking medications, most drugs aren't able to differentiate bad bacteria from the good bacteria that your digestive system needs to help break down foods, support your balance of healthy bacteria, and promote a healthy immune system. According to scientists at The Cochrane Collaboration, an international nonprofit health care organization, probiotic supplements could help replenish the good bacteria in your digestive system that are eliminated by some medications.

A Delicate Digestive Balance

The digestive system is a mini ecosystem within your body populated by good and bad bacteria. Harmful bacteria may enter your system through environmental exposure or ingestion, but the good bacteria that aid digestion usually overpower these bad bacteria. Researchers found that people who have taken medications are more susceptible to a type of bacterium called Clostridium difficile, which can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea and stomach discomfort. However, after reviewing data from 23 clinical trials involving 4,213 patients, they found that only 2% of patients who were given probiotics developed C. difficile-associated digestive symptoms.

Probiotics May Provide a Preemptive Strike

Dr. Bradley Johnston, who was part of the Cochrane research team, stated that evidence supported the theory that probiotics may be useful in promoting healthy digestion after administering medications. In his opinion, "Implementing the appropriate dose and strains of probiotics in hospitals could provide cost savings and improve quality of life." The review also showed that probiotics caused fewer unwanted side effects than the placebos, such as stomach discomfort and nausea. Although the study authors noted that additional research needed to be conducted to find out which probiotic strains worked best for specific symptoms, growing evidence shows that probiotics are not only useful against warding off bad bacteria, but are useful to everyday health as well.

Good Bacteria Comes in Many Forms

There are a number of probiotic supplements currently available such as yogurt, probiotic shakes, and tablets. Some of the newer tablets feature a special coating designed to dissolve in your large intestine so that the good bacteria are protected from your stomach acids on their way to your digestive system. Whatever form you choose, probiotics can be a valuable daily addition to your diet for continued good health.