Photo credit: Wikipedia After much foot-dragging by the restaurant industry, a new rule requiring chain restaurants display calorie counts on their menus is taking effect in the latter half of this year.
In January I posted an article from the Huffington Post about the launch of "Halfsies" and now it appears to be taking action! Restaurant chains are being forced to display caloric contents of food but this doesn't mean customers will necessarily eat less. "Halfsies" can partner with these restaurants and they will then only serve 1/2 of the portion of food for the same price. Then, the restaurant remits the savings from serving less food to "Halfsies", which donates it 60 percent to local hunger charities and 40 percent to global food relief organizations.
Diners still indulge but eat less and can feel good about the charitable donation they're making - win win overall.
Most people look forward to "date night" or "girls night out" on a weekly basis so how do you keep your diet in check while enjoying a delicious meal with loved ones? This article goes over some great tips to keep in mind when eating out at restaurants.
One of the most important things to keep in mind, in my opinion, is portion distortion. Splitting a meal with someone or only eating 1/2 of what you're served and taking the rest home is a sure fire way to decrease calorie consumption. Other tricks include checking the menu before you go, filling up on a salad or soup before eating your entree and asking for healthier preparation options such as grilled or baked items without butter.
"Out: A choice of chicken or fish. In: Miniature food buffets and food trucks."
Couples are becoming more health conscious and food savvy these days by ordering organic, seasonal and sustainable food to go along with their fabulous wedding receptions. According to the Washington Post, more couples are serving mini desserts and buffet style dinners than multi-layered wedding cakes and a sit-down dinners complete with red meat, starchy potatoes and vegetables smothered in butter. Can this new trend become beneficial to the economy as well as diet friendly AND taste bud friendly at the same time? Let's hope so!
"New York City has announced plans to ban the sale of sodas and other sugary beverages larger than 16 ounces in restaurants and entertainment venues." Although this may or may not be a positive step towards battling the obesity epidemic, Americans must also educate themselves on healthy eating habits. Reducing consumption of sugary beverages like soda and increasing consumption of healthier beverages like water or low-fat milk are better options. Replacing sugary drinks with healthier options will almost guarantee weight loss and lead to a overall healthier lifestyle!
"Here's a new spin on the saying, 'If you snooze you lose.'..." According to this article in the Health section of the Chicago Tribune, leading researchers at Harvard have found that lack of sleep leads to poor dietary choices. High fat, salty foods are easy to grab when you're feeling drowsy. Instead, get a good night's sleep and increase your capability of choosing healthier snacks throughout the day!
"Elevated levels of cortisol over time can lead to resistance and affect the body's immune response to infections like the common cold and [flu]." This article published by the NY times describes how the body reacts to stress - and constant stress may be the root of a weak immune system.
I speak from experience when it comes to stress and sickness. I get hit by that "bug" going around when I allow myself to become overly stressed. Life is stressful but we must learn how to alleviate that stress - our health depends on it. So what do I do?
Get out and exercise! Physical activity allows the body to release more endorphins that make us feel good and help us get rid of our frustration and stress that we tie up in our mind and body. Whether you like to jog, dance, take spin classes or walk your dog, getting your body in motion is the best type of free therapy there is - so get moving!
Certain superfoods pack a powerful punch of immune boosting anti-oxidants, so in addition to exercise, eating right is another important component to decreasing stress. Fill up your plate with a rainbow of colors. Bright colorful fruits and vegetables contain the highest amounts of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients that are healthy, make you feel good and provide you with the energy you need to get moving and release that stress!
"The average person in the U.S. consumes 3,500 milligrams of sodium a day. That’s equivalent to almost 9 grams of salt, more than the 2,300 milligrams per day suggested by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans."
Where does all of this excess salt come from? It's most likely NOT from your salt shaker. Processed foods account for around 77% of the salt in our diets.
So which processed foods have the highest amounts, (meaning more than 150 milligrams per serving) of sodium (salt)? Obvious foods include frozen pizza or other frozen meals, soup and beef jerky. But what about bread? Cereal? Cake mix?
That's right! Pepperidge Farm pumpernickel bread, for example, contains 190 milligrams of sodium per serving - 1 slice of bread! Kellog's Raisin Bran contains 350 milligrams of sodium for 1 cup of cereal! And Duncan Hines moist deluxe devil's food cake contains 380 milligrams of sodium for 1 serving of cake!
Make sure to read the nutrition label to see how much sodium your favorite processed foods have and try to eat 2,300 milligrams of sodium or less everyday. *Especially if you have a family history of high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer or obesity.
Check out this article from health.com for more hidden salt traps:
Smoothies are usually made by blending juicy fruit, juice and yogurt together for a tasty treat. But what if you add some fresh veggies to that sweet mixture?
The result is a nutrient packed, low calorie, high protein meal or snack! This article from NY times lists 5 recipes made with ingredients like arugula, beets, carrots, cabbage, almonds and walnuts. Each of these smoothies provides essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, A, beta carotene and manganese.
Try one of these veggie smoothie recipes and make sure to add raw walnuts or almonds and plain Greek yogurt for that extra boost of protein:
- Strawberries, halved or whole (you can keep the stem on for easier dipping)
- Plain Greek yogurt
Wash and dry strawberries, dip strawberries in Greek yogurt, then place on a pan lined with wax or parchment paper and put in the freezer. Fast & easy, nutritious & delicious snack!
Strawberries ARE a super food! They are rich in vitamin C & K, fiber and potassium. Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and calcium and is a lot thicker and creamier than regular yogurt. Use plain Greek yogurt in this recipe because it has less sugar than flavored yogurts (only around 6 grams of sugar in plain Greek yogurt vs around 20 grams of sugar in other flavored yogurts) and you'll still get the sweetness you crave from the fresh strawberries!
*Strawberries are in season during the Spring months of March-May
Cinnamon Health Benefits. Cinnamon is a sweet, aromatic spice and a medicine. It is one of the oldest spices known to man. Its uses and benefits have been documented as early as 2700 B.C. throughout China, Europe and Egypt.
Kelsey Dickens's insight:
Cinnamon can help control blood sugar, improve cognitive function and act as an anti-inflammatory agent. Add it to your yogurt, coffee, oatmeal, apples or any other food to reep it's many health benefits!
Incorporating whole grains into your diet may help normalize blood sugar levels (lowering your risk for diabetes), increases fiber in your diet which can help you maintain a healthy weight as well as lowering your risk for heart disease. There are also many essential vitamins and minerals in whole grains especially energy producing B vitamins. Check the food label for the yellow "whole grain" label and make sure the each serving is at least 3 grams of fiber or more.
"NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People who haven't eaten for many hours turn to high-calorie foods like starches and proteins — not vegetables — once they can satisfy their hunger, a new study suggests."
Prepare your pantry before you begin a fast or a cleanse of any type in order to avoid overindulging in high fat, unhealthy foods. Stock your fridge with fresh veggies, fruits and whole grains so you have healthy choices when transitioning from a temporary fast or a detoxifying cleanse to whole foods.
"Ice cubes made with low-fat coconut milk give this blended drink extra flavor and texture." This great article from NY times describes some fresh new smoothies to add to your daily routine this summer: Strawberry and Almond Smoothie, Coconut Pineapple Pumpkin Seed Smoothie, Carrot Papaya and Sesame Smoothie, Seeded Banana Frappe, Melon Pomegranate Almond Smoothie. Check out this article for specific recipes and nutritional information.
*Tip: make ice cubes with coconut milk in order to cut down on calories while still getting that delicious coconut flavor and icy texture.
"Farmers' markets are not just good for you, they're good for the environment too." Check out farmers markets in your area! Shopping at a farmers market ensures that you will be buying fresh, local and seasonal produce that is picked at peak ripeness and has fewer pesticides than most produce bought at a grocery store. You'll be supporting local farming at the same time, talk about a win-win situation!
"Who came up with the idea that we are supposed to drink orange juice at breakfast? And why, if oatmeal is so good for us, do we eat that only in the morning as well?"
Powerful food combinations include 2 or more foods that, when eaten together, help with the absorption of vital nutients that each food contains. For example, the traditional peanut butter and whole wheat sandwich. There are certain amino acids that are absent in wheat and present in peanuts. Consuming a complete chain of amino acids, such as combining wheat and peanuts, helps the body build muscle and maintian tissues. Check out this article for more powerful food combinations such as tomatoes and avocado, garlic and fish, oatmeal and OJ and almonds and yogurt...just to name a few...
"Natural" sugar means just that - sugar that comes directly from nature. Plants produce energy in the form of sugar when they are exposed to sunlight. This is a naturally occuring event for plants - hense the phrase "natural" sugar. So the sugar in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, milk and yogurt contain these naturally occuring sugars and provide essential energy for your brain, nerves and muscles. Unless you have a medical condition that requires you to carefully watch your sugar intake, eating natural sugar is perfectly healthy. In fact foods like fruit, vegetables, grains, milk and yogurt not only contain natural sugar but also a plethora of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients.
These naturally occuring sugars can be refined into crystals and used to sweeten up our foods and beverages. These refined sugars are known as "added" sugars. Examples of "added" sugars include table sugar, corn syrup and molasses. Eating too much added sugar leads to health problems such as obesity, diabetes and even some cancers. Protect your health by cutting down on sweetened beverages, desserts or any other sources of added sugar.
Food labels can be confusing and do not differentiate between "natural" and "added" sugars. For example, a box of raisins might have 18 grams of sugar according to the food label. The 18 grams includes the naturally occuring sugars in the raisins as well as the amount of added sugars, all in the sugar category of the food label. Here's some tips to determine the type of sugar you're consuming:
- Look at the ingredients list, if sugar was added to the product it will be listed on the ingredients list
- Eat whole foods! If you eat a whole peach instead of canned peaches, you know that you're eating natural sugar!
- Eat your fruit instead of drinking it: It takes multiple oranges to fill up 1 glass of orange juice - which is why orange juice contains a lot of sugar. Bypass the juice and just eat an orange!
Even if you aren't Irish, start your St. Patty's week off right with this "lucky" potato-cabbage soup. Why is it lucky? You get all of the savory flavors you love, plus a hearty boost of vitamin C and fiber without all of the extra calories.
All you need for this Irish soup is olive oil, potatoes, cabbage, unsalted butter, scallions, garlic and chicken (or vegetable) broth. Check out the full recipe at health.com:
"The theme for March 2012 is 'Get Your Plate in Shape.' National Nutrition Month® is a nutrition education and information campaign created annually in March by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The campaign focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits."
To get your plate in shape:
- Fill 1/2 of your plate with fruits & veggies
- Fill 1/4 of your plate with lean protein (fish, chicken, lean meat, beans/lentils)
- Fill 1/4 of your plate with whole grains or a healthy starch (brown rice, quinoa, barley, cous cous, sweet potato)
- Add some dairy by drinking a glass of low-fat milk, eating 4 ounces of low-fat Greek yogurt or drizzling 1 ounce of low-fat cheese on top of your salad or whole grains
- Portion control: check out this link! Click on each category of food (vegetables, milk & dairy, grains, etc.) to get a visual image of portion sizes on your plate:
*Save money at the store by clipping coupons out of the paper or printing coupons online. You could save 10-15% each time you go to the grocery store! Also, buying produce that's in season will save money - it's usually on sale! Check out the seasonal fruits & veggies for Spring (March-May):
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