Heidi

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Mom, desperately trying to get the health thing right! I started this blog so that I can pass along all the great things that I learn everyday on damage control for our wonderful bodies. It is tough to keep up sometimes with all the things going on in our daily lives so hopefully some of the helpful hints that I provide can make your life easier and healthier. I welcome your comments and tips as well! I am a vegetarian, animal rights advocate and avid animal rescuer.
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2008-12-26

Indulged, Indulged, Indulged-Now What? Tips To Lose Those Holiday Pounds


The holidays give me the same kind of mentality with eating as when I was pregnant. It is a special occasion so I can eat whatever I want and feel completely justified. Then as soon as the baby comes out or the holiday is over I realize that maybe I overdid it and need to get my body back on track. Usually after a week of eating, eating and eating I feel pretty disgusted with myself and need to feel healthy and slender again. Here are a few of my true and tried tips that I am starting on Sunday (tomorrow is my birthday so of course I have to indulge).

-Drink at least half your body weight in water (ex. if you weigh 100 lbs drink at least 50 ounces) each day. I drink probably double that and I put lots of lemons in it as lemon is a natural diuretic and helps flush out extra water weight.

-Drink Yerba Mate tea-I was told at the health food store that this suppresses your appetite and it does work for me. I also add ground cayenne pepper as it speeds up your metabolism and adds flavor to the tea.

-Eat lots of fruit and vegetables-I focus on the low sugar fruits (pineapple, cantaloupe) and high water content vegetables (cucumbers celery, lettuce).

-Eat low fat dairy products- I eat only the organic to avoid all the hormones and bgh (bovine growth hormone that is in the U.S. dairy products) and primarily I focus on string cheese as it is delicious, quick and convenient.

Nuts for nuts-Nuts are packed with protein and fiber, a handful at snack time keeps your body full. I love cashews but when I am trying to detox and lose weight I eat a couple handfuls a day of raw almonds.

Eat small meals all day-I make sure that I am never hungry by eating several small meals each day and never depriving myself. I know that if I feel hungry I am apt to veer from the right path. I really eat and eat but I eat and drink the above foods and drinks.

When I really follow the above tips I can drop 2-3 pounds in a week. I also feel better, less bloated and mentally know that I am moving in the right direction. This works for me but I would love to know what your tips are. I had thought of doing a fast but am kind of a wimp when it comes to those. What is your favorite after the holidays health tip??
2008-12-24

Happy Holidays!!!!

I was going to write a health post today but then decided that since today is Christmas eve I would much rather just say that I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season. May whatever holiday that you celebrate be a happy one.

Although the holidays are a fun time they can also be a stressful time and a time when we sometimes splurge a little on our eating habits and eat an entire tin of fudge and all the chocolate for the kid’s stockings and then have to rush out to the store to buy more since you ate it all (okay maybe that is just me). Having said that I want to remind everyone to take a few deep breaths and know that it is okay to indulge a little as long as you get back on track. Have that cake, chocolate, or whatever it is that does it for you but have it in moderation. Give yourself a break over the holidays and relish the warmth and love of the season.

Happy Holidays!


Heidi
2008-12-22

Whole Grain Cereals For Your Heart Health

I used to think that I never had time for breakfast and would run out the door on empty but did you know that people who skip breakfast are 4 ½ time as likely to be obese as those who always eat it? Of course now whether I am hungry or not I eat a healthy breakfast (and not the chocolate that was just sitting on my desk this morning as a Christmas gift that I keep eyeing) everyday. Now some interesting studies support eating whole grain cereals for breakfast and here is why-According to a Harvard health study those who consumed whole grain cereal seven or more times per week had the lowest incidence of heart failure. In another study at the University of Minnesota it was reported that the risk of all coronary events was reduced by 10% for each 10g of grain fiber consumed per day. Cereal is one of the best sources of these whole grains so that means that a single daily serving has the potential to slash your risk of heart disease (the number one killer of women). Other whole grain intake benefits are lower rates of breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke. A great way to get some of your high grains is in cereal. You just need to know what to look for so you don’t end up with a bowl full of empty calories instead of your whole grains. Here are some tips for choosing that whole grain cereal –

*Know where your fiber is coming from
-Check the ingredient list to find out exactly what those flakes or squares are made from. Millet, amaranth, quinoa, and oats are always whole grain, but if you don’t see whole in front of wheat, corn , barley and rice, these grains have been refined.

*Avoid sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners-Some cereals add these to boost the sweetness of your cereal without adding calories. Also, steer clear of cereals containing sucralose, aspartame, sorbitol, mannnitol, xuylitol, malitol, malitol syrup, lactitol and erythritol (okay , these sound like another language to me). If you want to sweeten your cereal try adding some honey or fresh fruit!

*Watch for hidden sugars- The total sugars listing does not distinguish between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. The natural sugars found in nutrient rich whole grains and fruits are fine but it is the added sugars that can cause problems with your blood sugar and energy levels. Keep an eye out for brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, sugar and sucrose. Skip cereals that list any of these within the first three ingredients.

*Look for the words high fiber on the box- if the box says high fiber this will insure that there at least 5g per serving.

I guess this means that my Cocoa Puffs are out for now and a healthier choice is in-oh well.

ref-PRevention, November 2008
2008-12-18

Say Bye, Bye Belly With These Healthy Food Choices

Another oldie but goodie post from my archives. I feel like I am cheating by reposting these but this has been such a busy week and I have not had a chance to write my new posts which I already have lined up in my mind. Also, I wanted you all to know that I just tried the new Vita-Mix Super 5200 and I am in love!!! I have made soups, salsas, smoothies and I am just getting started. It is perfect for preparing whole foods so goes right in line with my desire to be healthier but making it very simple. I can't wait to write more about it when I have the time! Anyway, this is another of my favorite archived posts so please enjoy and soon I will have some new info!!


Say Bye, Bye Belly With These Healthy Food Choices


**Avocados-When scientists did a study and fed people diets with either carbohydrates or monounsaturated fatty acids (nuts, olives and avocados), they discovered that those on the carbohydrate diet were more likely to have an accumulation of abdominal body fat while the monounsaturated fatty acids group decreased abdominal body fat, even without exercise. Foods like nuts, Avocados and olives that are filled with monounsaturated fatty acids actually decrease belly fat! I love avocados on a sandwich, in salsa and salad. I don't know about you but I am picking up some avocados at the store this week.


Yogurt- According to a study by Danish researchers, volunteers were fed four different meals, they found that the group eating the medium- high calcium meals had "17-19 percent lower levels of fat in their blood than those taking calcium supplements or eating low-calcium meals. Previous research from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, found that obese adults who ate a high-dairy diet (1200 to 1300 mg calcium/day lost 60 percent more weight and nearly three times as much belly fat as dieters eating the same number of calories with less calcium." I think string cheese, cottage cheese and skim milk are also great choices. I would like to add that if possible go organic on the dairy and eat the plain yogurt topped with berries so you are cutting down on your sugar intake.


**Nuts-I love nuts and find them to be a great way to feel full, get my fatty acids, fiber, protein and they are a great snack to take with you! All of these seem to help control appetite and promote weight loss, especially in the abdominal area.


**Veggies-Vegetables are packed full of fiber and fiber is great for belly flattening because it fills you up with less calories. "It also helps keep the flow of sugar into your bloodstream slow and steady, so less insulin is released (insulin promotes the storage of body fat). Researchers have found that women who skimp on green and yellow veggies tend to have larger middles"


**Whole Grains-Switching from white bread and white pasta to whole grain varieties may help you fight fat. "A Pennsylvania State University study of 50 obese volunteers found that after 12 weeks, those who ate whole grains lost more belly fat and lowered their C-reactive protein (a sign of inflammation linked to heart disease) by 38 percent." Keep in mind that you are still going to have sugar in the whole grain variety which can still raise your insulin levels and signal your body to store fat so moderation is key on this one. Need I even say the next one?


**Water-of course, of course, of course! A team of German researchers estimated that by consuming six cups of water daily it is possible to raise a resting metabolism by about 50 calories a day (that is enough to lose 5 lbs a year). Water is also great for making you feel full.


By adding exercise to this list of healthy and delicious foods you can be well on your way to a flat tummy in no time. I do really wish I could find a list that would say something like, have some chocolate for a flat stomach or cookies will thin you out in no time. Oh well, these are terrific foods for a terrific you and the chocolate and cookies can be had in moderation too! Source for this article is Good Houskeeping magazine July 2008
2008-12-12

Way Way Behind and Brown Rice for Swubird

Just wanted to give a quick note to let all my wonderful readers and faithful commentors know that I am so very, very behind in writing, and commenting this week. I work all weekend but hope to get back on track by middle of next week and be caught up on visiting your blogs and commenting. I really miss reading all my favorite blogs and have just been in a whirlwind of sorts.

P.S. Swubird asked me about cooking brown rice so I asked my mother the best cook of rice I know and she said that for each cup of brown rice add 2 cups of water and cook covered for an hour. Hope this works.

P.S.S. Sogeshirts- I hope to have your ad up for your hysterical shirts this week! I need to buy some of those soon.

Hope everyone is having a happy and healthy holiday season!
Heidi
2008-12-10

Need Hair Help? Give These Healthy Foods A Try!

One of my favorite archived posts-will have a new one this week and some awards too (so thank you to everyone who has sent tags and awards my way-will have them up soon).

Who hasn't had a bad hair day? You know the kind of day that regardless of what you do your hair just doesn't look or feel right. I have had more than my share of bad hair days and for some reason it just throws your entire day off. I have had some horrible hair cuts, hideous shades that there aren't even names for and there was even the time that my hair was a not so subtle shade of lavender purple (there was some arguing at my office as to whether it was truly purple or more of a dusty blue hue) due to the combining of one to many colors. Needless to say I don't ever color my own hair anymore. Good news though! If you are looking for shiny, healthy looking hair then you will be happy to know that you can achieve such wonders merely through a healthy diet including some of the foods below.

Manage Your Mane With These Healthy Foods

**Salmon and Flax Seeds- To have healthy hair you need to have a healthy scalp and omega-3 fatty acids are an absolute must! Fortunately you can get your omega-3 fatty acids simply by eating salmon, or if you are a vegetarian like me you can sprinkle some ground flax seeds in your cereal, on a salad or try some flax seed oil.

**Beef-Not only does beef have alot of protein that hair needs but also B vitamins, iron, and zinc. I personally recommend that if you are going to eat beef that you only eat grass fed organic beef that does not contain all the hormones.

**Eggs, Poultry, And Low-Fat Dairy Products-All these foods are high in protein which is an absolute must for healthy hair. When you do not take in enough protein on a regular basis this can cause hair to shed. Eggs are a great way to get your protein if you are a vegetarian like me.

**Nuts-Are a terrific source of zinc. Brazil nuts are said to be a great source of Selenium-a great mineral for your hair. Cashews, almonds and pecans are loaded with zinc so enjoy!

**Soybeans And Brown Rice-These are a great source of biotin, which if you want your hair to be its best you must have.

**Broccoli, Fish, Onions And Sea Vegetables-These are all foods that are rich in silicon and sulfur that hair loves (great for fingernails too).

**Carrots-You have heard that carrots are great for your vision but they are also a wonderful source of vitamin A which promotes a healthy scalp(if you don't have a healthy scalp then you won't have healthy hair).

Go enjoy some of these delicious foods and before you know it you will have the shiny, healthy hair you have always wanted.
2008-12-05

Carbohydrates-Good Or Bad? Answers To Your Most Common Carb Questions, Part II


I am excited to share with you some of the best information that I have found on food and health by Christopher Warden, New York City Fitness Professional and author of the Fitness Philosopher blog. Whatever Christopher says about health, fitness and weight loss I listen. He has helped me immensely with getting my body on track. Enjoy!


Common Questions About Carbohydrates, Part II

Finding information about "what to eat" and "how to be healthy" is easy; knowing what info is trustworthy and quality is another matter altogether. The topic of carbohydrates illustrates a perfect example of this. So much is written about them, but millions remain confused, if not misinformed.

And that's the reason for publishing this Q & A.

Part I of Carbohydrate Q & A focused predominantly on defining carbohydrate and its components -- sugar, starch and fiber. Here, we'll focus on a few of the questions more commonly asked about carbohydrates, including which types to eat. . . and why. Please note that "carbohydrate" as described in this article refers to all digestible starches/sugars, whether the food source is considered "healthy" (sweet potato, piece of fruit, brown rice, etc.) or "unhealthy" (soda, cookies, candy, etc.).


Are Carbohydrates Bad?

· We're overeating carbs that are (essentially) trash - highly processed, high starch, high sugar varieties - while undereating those that our body prefers -- low sugar and nutrient-rich carbs like berries, leafy greens, and fibrous vegetables and fruits.

· We're eating more sugar now than ever before (from an estimated 4 lbs/yr at the turn of the 20th century, to 150 lbs/yr today).

And all of this has society at large experiencing astronomical levels of obesity and chronic disease. That's what's "bad."


Are there exceptions to the kinds of carbohydrates I can eat? How about to when I can eat them?

In terms of achieving fat loss and reducing risk of developing chronic disease, there's little doubt that the best carbs for you are those with low starch/sugar content. Now, if the thought of living predominantly on leafy greens, berries and fibrous veggies makes you want to scream, here are a few things to consider before deciding to go heavy on starch or sugar:

Your genetics. If you have a family history linked to ailments like obesity, heart disease or diabetes, you're likely better off leaning toward low starch/low sugar carb choices.

Your current activity level. John Berardi, respected nutritionist and strength coach talks about the idea of "earning your starch." Essentially, if you're going to eat starchier carbs, do it early in the day or in conjunction with strength training/other rigorous activity. These are the times when your body is most metabolically active and/or when muscle is demanding fuel, helping to ensure that the starch you do eat is put to good use by the body.

Your current state of health/ The amount of fat you're trying to lose. If you're living with illness such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension or cancer, you really ought to consider keeping sugar and starch ingestion to a minimum - if you eat it at all. Same goes if you've got significant body fat to lose.

The point here is that for the sake of your health and performance, you really have to make a diligent attempt at consistently eating reduced amounts of sugar and starch. Why? Because insulin - the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels - has been shown to play a role in obesity as well as many of the chronic diseases that afflict us today. Controlling sugar intake = regulating insulin = less body fat/reduced risk for chronic illness.


Are all carbs created equal?

No. Aside from differences in nutrient content (vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, etc.), the most obvious difference between foods is the amount of digestible starches and sugars you get.

How do you figure out the sugar content the food?

Look at the food's nutrition information, paying attention to the "Total Carbohydrate" value (measured in grams). Subtract the grams of fiber from the grams of total carbohydrate, and the remaining number is the amount of starch/sugar you're getting per serving. It goes without saying that, if you're trying to keep your sugar intake low, you'll have to either choose foods with naturally low sugar content OR reduce the portion size. If you're hungry, of course, I'd suggest choosing the foods "low on the sugar scale" so you can eat to your stomach's content.


Can you give specific examples of "good, low-in-sugar carbohydrates" to eat?

As alluded to above, the best carbs to eat in terms of regulating blood sugar are those providing high nutrient value, sustenance and minimal starch or sugar content. Examples include: salad greens, asparagus, artichokes, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, carrots, broccoli, garlic, green beans, mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes, radishes, turnips, spinach and squash. Fruits include: cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, grapes, peaches and oranges.


Does Low Carb = No Carb?

Rather than take up space here, I'll refer you to the blog post where I answered this particular question. . . HERE.


I knew that your body could use protein for energy. However, I was led to believe carbohydrates are the better source. What's the deal here?

While it's true that carbohydrates are commonly considered the nutrient that "provides energy" to the body, I'd contend that protein is the better source (for us) for these reasons:

• Protein consumption is essential for our survival. Carbohydrate consumption is not. Is it not logical to reason that if you "can't live without it," it's "better?"

• Protein is more nutrient dense, so you get "more bang for your nutrient buck." Put another way, because protein has so much nutritional value, you can eat less to get more of what the body requires, whether it be energy or a particular amino acid. (Example: To ingest 65 grams of protein, you could eat 8 ounces of elk meat OR you could eat 13 heads of lettuce or 56 bananas or 261 apples or 33 slices of bread. (from The Protein Power Lifeplan, p.9))

• Protein consumption doesn't contribute to insulin release like carbohydrate does. So, with protein you get the benefit of energy and nutrition while also regulating blood sugar and insulin levels. (which promotes reduced body fat, which decreases risk of disease . . . )


How do I keep sugar/starch consumption to a minimum?

A few suggestions:

Consume fresh, whole foods (especially of the leafy green, fibrous veggie, berry varieties) as often as possible. If you can't eat it fresh, frozen's usually the next best option.

Minimize consumption of processed foods.

Stay away from low fat foods. To replace fat content, sugar is often added to the food source. So, ironically, a "low fat" food has more potential to fatten you than the "regular" version. . . all because of the sugar added.

Of course, this isn't an exhaustive list of the questions faced by fitness professionals, but hopefully it gives you some good direction. If you need clarification or have any further questions, please feel free to write me at www.christopherwarden.com. Alternatively, the following resources can give you great nutritional guidance (or satisfy your curiosity):

The Metabolic Typing Diet, by William Wolcott

The Protein Power Lifeplan, by Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades

Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes

2008-12-02

The Best News Yet! The Latest Brain Food Is…… Chocolate!


Does it get any better than this really? Harvard researchers recently found that cocoa flavanols (protective substances that are also abundant in dark chocolate) help improve blood flow to the brain, which could slow the mental decline that occurs as you age. Surely this is great news for me as I eat more chocolate than anybody should be allowed in a lifetime! After reading this and of course indulging in some chocolate to help my mental decline I decided to share one of my all time favorite posts that I wrote sometime ago on the benefits (okay a few cons but definitely more benefits) of chocolate. If this does not make your day all you chocolate lovers out there then I don’t know what will.

Chocolate Pros

**If you eat chocolate, only eat dark chocolate-Dark chocolate has many beneficial polyphenolic bioflavanoids that have powerful antioxidant properties, which can actually help to protect you from damaging oxidative stress. (This is good news-definitely cheers me up a bit)

**Chocolate contains the same type of disease-fighting "phenolic" chemicals as red wine and fruits and vegetables, says Andrew Waterhouse of the University of California at Davis.

**Boosts brain chemicals- More Americans crave chocolate than any other food. Some explanations: chocolate's "melt-in-the mouth" consistency and mood-lifting chemicals such as caffeine and theobromine. And when mixed with sugar and fat, chocolate appears to boost "feel-good" chemicals in the brain (endorphins and serotonin), thus promoting euphoria and calm. Some women use chocolate candy to "self-medicate" for premenstrual syndrome, studies have found.

**Doesn't cause acne. Giving up chocolate won't cure acne or pimples, according to a famous test at the University of Pennsylvania. In the test, 65 acne-plagued adolescents ate the amount of chocolate in 1 pound of bittersweet chocolate a day for a month. For another month, they ate a dummy chocolate bar. Their acne was no worse on the real chocolate than on the fake chocolate.

**Helps lactose intolerance .Chocolate makes milk easier to digest if you are lactose-intolerant. Researchers at the University of Rhode Island found that adding 1 1/2 teaspoons of cocoa to 1 cup of milk blocked cramping, bloating and other signs of lactose intolerance in half of 35 subjects. Cocoa stimulates lactase enzyme activity, they found.

**Also, researchers at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego recently found that chocolate contains anandamide, a chemical that mimics marijuana's soothing effects on the brain (this must be why I run for chocolate when stressed).

**Tests show chocolate contains antibacterial compounds that may discourage, not promote, tooth decay.

**No link to hyperactivity -Some contend that eating chocolate (or sugar) causes hyperactivity, aggression or other behavior problems, notably in children. But several scientific studies have found no evidence of that. In fact, some research finds sweets calm many children.

**Tastes really, really good!

Chocolate Cons (I don't like any cons with chocolate but in the name of fairness....)

**Chocolate's greatest crime is that it usually is combined with animal fats, dangerous trans-fats and sugar in high-calorie, bad-fat baked goods.

**Can cause heartburn. Chocolate is a common culprit in heartburn, according to tests by Donald O. Castell, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania. The reason: Chocolate contains concentrations of theobromine, which relaxes the esophageal sphincter muscle, letting stomach acid squirt up into the esophagus. If you suffer from heartburn, he advises, go easy on chocolate.

**Does contain caffeine. Most people have no negative reaction to small amounts of caffeine. If you're sensitive, you should know how chocolate stacks up with caffeine sources:
5 oz. brewed coffee has
85mg caffeine
5 oz. loose tea or 1 tea bag, 30mg
6 oz. cola, 18mg
1 oz. chocolate candy, 6mg
5 oz. cocoa or hot chocolate, 4mg
6 oz. chocolate milk, 4mg

Fun Fact
The average American eats almost 12 pounds of chocolate a year (double that for me
). World chocolate consumption rises 3 percent a year, while cocoa bean production rises just 1.5 percent. To avert an eventual shortage, growers are working to increase production. Source here.