Friday, February 25, 2011

Foods to Add to Your Diet

We are always told don’t eat this, don’t eat that when it comes to eating a healthful diet! It can be a bit confusing! Let’s focus on the positive! Here are some foods to add to your diet that can help you towards your health goals. February, heart health month, is coming to an end, but hopefully we can take what we have learned and make it part of our healthy lifestyle.

  • Eat more fruits and veggies: Make them part of your snack time. By committing to do this often there is no more room for processed snacks. Fruits and veggies are a great quick snack to have on hand. Pair them with some type of protein (string cheese, cottage cheese, peanut butter, 6-12 nuts) to help make you feel satisfied until your next meal time.
  • Include 3 servings of dairy a day (fat free milk, light yogurt, 1oz low fat cheese): Dairy products are also a great quick snack to have on hand. The natural mix of carbohydrates and protein in milk and yogurt is perfect for a mid day or post workout snack.
  • Choose whole grain, high-fiber foods: Fiber can help keep you full longer and is also known to help decrease the risk of heart disease. Aim for 25-25 grams of fiber a day. Whole grains such as whole wheat, oats, rye, barley, corn, and popcorn are a good source of fiber.
  • Include fish into your diet: It is recommended to eat at least 2 servings of fatty fish (8oz total) a week. Some fish high in essential fatty acids include salmon, sardines, and halibut. By including these fatty fish into your diet you may help reduce your risk of death from coronary heart disease.
  • Cook with olive oil: A diet rich in olive oil can help increase your good cholesterol (HDL). Other foods that consist of these healthful monounsaturated fats include canola oil, hazelnuts, avocados, pecans, and pistachios.
  • Increase consumption of plant sterols: Many foods are fortified with plant sterols which help reduce our bad cholesterol (LDL). Add foods that contain plant sterols into your diet. Some examples include fortified margarines, milk, organic juice, pasta, bread, and cheese. Look on the label to find those foods with plan sterols added. It is recommended that individuals with elevated LDL cholesterol get 2g/d of plant sterols.
  • Add moderate amounts of alcohol into your diet (if you drink): Anything in excess can be harmful but research has shown that a maximum of 1 drink per day for women and 2 per day for men (12oz beer, 4oz wine, 1.5oz 80 proof spirits, or 1oz 100 proof spirits) may have beneficial effects.
  • Choose lean meats: When we think of lean meat we often think of white meat (chicken and turkey). There are also many lean beef cuts available and they are an important part of a well balanced diet. Some lean cuts of beef include round, sirloin, chuck, and loin. Lean and extra lean ground beef are also part of the heart-healthy diet recommendations.
  • Add beans and lentils into your diet: Research has shown that consumption of 3 cups per week (1/2 c. per day) or beans or lentils helps reduce intake of saturated fats and total fat. Beans and lentils are natural foods that are very high in fiber.
Don't feel like you have to make all these changes at once. Pick one suggestion above to work on and make a goal to included those foods into your weekly menu. Then next week pick another. Small steps can make a big difference! Here's to you!

Monday, February 14, 2011


Have you even noticed that when you are really stressed it can be hard to lose weight? Why is that? As if you need one more thing to worry about!


When we are stressed our bodies send out hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine) that trigger the fight-or-flight response mechanism. Automatically our heart rate increases, the liver pumps out glucose (carb) for extra energy, and blood flow is slowed down to areas of the body such as our digestive system.  This is great if you really do need to fight or run away. The only problem at this time is that we are usually just sitting and fretting about all our problems. Thus, the extra energy (glucose) that was pumped out of the liver is not being used. Instead, it is being stored as fat. So in theory, although the last thing we want to do when stressed is exercise, the best thing to do when going through a stressful time is to move your body!

If you are needing more insight on how to manage your stress: check out this link below!

Monday, February 7, 2011

VALENTINES DAY- Nonfood alternatives!

A common way of showing love is through food- Taking your loved one out to eat, making homemade treats, bringing home a bottle of wine to share, etc..... Think outside the (chocolate) box this Valentines day! Save some calories and get creative!

Here are some basic nonfood Valentines gift alternatives
- Smelly stuff (Cologne or perfume)
- Flowers
- Stuffed animals
- Jewelry
- Cupid coupon for a FREE back massage or a clean house (get creative)
- Collage of pictures or a special framed picture

Any other ideas come to mind?

Here is a quote/thought to make you smile!

I don't understand why Cupid was chosen to represent Valentine's Day.  When I think about romance, the last thing on my mind is a toddler coming at me with a weapon.  ~Author Unknown

Friday, February 4, 2011

Superbowl Sunday? What's Your Game Plan?

Check out these crazy food facts about the SUPER BOWL!

- Snacks are a major part of Super Bowl Sunday. The Calorie Control Council and Snack Food Association observe that snack consumption averages around 1,200 calories (not including meals), representing nearly 50 grams of fat ingested per Super Bowl armchair quarterback.

- An estimated 28 million pounds of pretzels, popcorn, potato and tortilla chips will be consumed during the day, an amount with laid end to end would stretch nearly 293,000 miles. Michigan leads the nation in the production of potatoes used in making potato chips.

- It takes about 223,000 football fields of farmland to grow the amount of corn, potatoes and avocados needed to make the snacks fueling Super Bowl Sunday munchies.

- Americans will quaff approximately 325 million gallons of beer on Super Bowl Sunday. Designated drivers are a must; the Insurance Information Institute reports more drivers are involved in alcohol-related accidents on Super Bowl Sunday than any other day of the year, with the exception of St. Patrick’s Day.

- Americans will spend about $237 million on soft drink purchases during Super Bowl week.

- Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest winter grilling day of the year

- Antacid sales spike by 20 percent during the Monday after the Super Bowl, and 6 percent (or about 7 million) of Americans call in sick to work on that same Monday.

It can be tempting to eat all those goodies when they are placed right in front of you.  Here are some tips to avoid excessive food consumption during the super bowl!

1- Eat a healthy breakfast- start your day off right. Don't think that because you are going to be eating a lot during the game that you should save your calories up. Eating a healthy balanced breakfast including protein, carbs, and fat will help control your hunger later in the day.

2- Exercise- Commit to a morning walk/workout.

3- Bring healthy options to the party.
  • Turkey and cheese roll-ups
  • A fruit tray with yogurt dip
  • A veggie tray with light dip
  • Homemade turkey chili
4- Avoid liquid calories

5- Don't stand by the table, plate your food and go sit down

6- Fill your plate to the inside rim, instead of the outside rim

What are some other tricks/tips that you have to keep from overindulging??

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Are you Heart Healthy?

February is heart health month. Are you heart healthy? Check out this great article written by the Mayo Clinic staff.


Heart-healthy diet: 8 steps to prevent heart disease

Changing your eating habits can be tough. Start with these eight strategies to kick-start your way toward a heart-healthy diet.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Although you might know eating certain foods can increase your heart disease risk, it's often tough to change your eating habits. Whether you have years of unhealthy eating under your belt or you simply want to fine-tune your diet, here are eight heart-healthy diet tips. Once you know which foods to eat more of and which foods to limit, you'll be on your way toward a heart-healthy diet.

1. Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol

Of the possible changes, limiting how much saturated and trans fats you eat is the most important step you can take to reduce your blood cholesterol and lower your risk of coronary artery disease. A high blood cholesterol level can lead to a buildup of plaques in your arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
The American Heart Association offers these guidelines for how much fat and cholesterol to include in a heart-healthy diet:
Type of fat Recommendation
Saturated fat Less than 7 percent of your total daily calories
Trans fat Less than 1 percent of your total daily calories
Cholesterol Less than 300 milligrams a day for healthy adults; less than 200 milligrams a day for adults with high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad," cholesterol or those who are taking cholesterol-lowering medication
The best way to reduce saturated and trans fats in your diet is to limit the amount of solid fats — butter, margarine and shortening — you add to food when cooking and serving. You can also reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet by trimming fat off your meat or choosing lean meats with less than 10 percent fat.
You can also use low-fat substitutions when possible for a heart-healthy diet. For example, top your baked potato with salsa or low-fat yogurt rather than butter, or use low-sugar fruit spread on your toast instead of margarine.
You may also want to check the food labels of some cookies, crackers and chips. Many of these snacks — even those labeled "reduced fat" — may be made with oils containing trans fats. One clue that a food has some trans fat in it is the phrase "partially hydrogenated" in the ingredient list.
When you do use fats, choose monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil or canola oil. Polyunsaturated fats, found in nuts and seeds, also are good choices for a heart-healthy diet. When used in place of saturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats may help lower your total blood cholesterol. But moderation is essential. All types of fat are high in calories.
Fats to choose Fats to limit
  • Olive oil
  • Canola oil
  • Margarine that's free of trans fats
  • Cholesterol-lowering margarine, such as Benecol, Promise activ or Smart Balance
  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Bacon fat
  • Gravy
  • Cream sauce
  • Nondairy creamers
  • Hydrogenated margarine and shortening
  • Cocoa butter, found in chocolate
  • Coconut, palm, cottonseed and palm-kernel oils

2. Choose low-fat protein sources

Lean meat, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, and egg whites or egg substitutes are some of your best sources of protein. But be careful to choose lower fat options, such as skim milk rather than whole milk and skinless chicken breasts rather than fried chicken patties.
Fish is another good alternative to high-fat meats. And certain types of fish are heart healthy because they're rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower blood fats called triglycerides. You'll find the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Other sources are flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans and canola oil.
Legumes — beans, peas and lentils — also are good sources of protein and contain less fat and no cholesterol, making them good substitutes for meat. Substituting soy protein for animal protein — for example, a soy burger for a hamburger — will reduce your fat and cholesterol intake.
Proteins to choose Proteins to avoid
  • Skim or low-fat (1 percent) milk
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese
  • Egg whites or egg substitutes
  • Fish, especially fatty, cold-water fish, such as salmon
  • Skinless poultry
  • Legumes
  • Soybeans and soy products, for example, soy burgers and tofu
  • Lean ground meats
  • Full-fat milk and other dairy products
  • Organ meats, such as liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Fatty and marbled meats
  • Spareribs
  • Cold cuts
  • Frankfurters, hot dogs and sausages
  • Bacon
  • Fried or breaded meats

3. Eat more vegetables and fruits

Vegetables and fruits are good sources of vitamins and minerals; they are low in calories and rich in dietary fiber. Vegetables and fruits also contain substances found in plants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease. Eating more fruits and vegetables may help you eat less high-fat foods, such as meat, cheese and snack foods.
Featuring vegetables and fruits in your diet can be easy. Keep vegetables washed and cut in your refrigerator for quick snacks. Keep fruit in a bowl in your kitchen so that you'll remember to eat it. Choose recipes that have vegetables or fruits as the main ingredient, such as vegetable stir-fry or fresh fruit mixed into salads.
Fruits and vegetables to choose Fruits and vegetables to avoid
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits
  • Low-sodium canned vegetables
  • Canned fruit packed in juice or water
  • Coconut
  • Vegetables with creamy sauces
  • Fried or breaded vegetables
  • Canned fruit packed in heavy syrup
  • Frozen fruit with sugar added

4. Select whole grains

Whole grains are good sources of fiber and other nutrients that play a role in regulating blood pressure and heart health. You can increase the amount of whole grains in a heart-healthy diet by making simple substitutions for refined grain products.
Another easy way to add whole grains to your diet is ground flaxseed. Flaxseeds are small brown seeds that are high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your total blood cholesterol. You can grind the seeds in a coffee grinder or food processor and stir a teaspoon of them into yogurt, applesauce or hot cereal.
Grain products to choose Grain products to avoid
  • Whole-wheat flour
  • Whole-grain bread, preferably 100 percent whole-wheat or 100 percent whole-grain bread
  • High-fiber cereal with 5 or more grams of fiber a serving
  • Whole grains such as brown rice, barley and buckwheat (kasha)
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Oatmeal (steel-cut or regular)
  • Ground flaxseed
  • White, refined flour
  • White bread
  • Muffins
  • Frozen waffles
  • Corn bread
  • Doughnuts
  • Biscuits
  • Quick breads
  • Granola bars
  • Cakes
  • Pies
  • Egg noodles
  • Buttered popcorn
  • High-fat snack crackers

5. Reduce the salt in your food

Eating a lot of salt can contribute to high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Reducing the salt in your food is an important part of a heart-healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults eat less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about a teaspoon).
Although reducing the amount of salt you add to food at the table or while cooking is a good first step, much of the salt you eat comes from canned or processed foods, such as soups and frozen dinners. Eating fresh foods and making your own soups and stews can reduce the amount of salt you eat. If you like the convenience of canned soups and prepared meals, look for ones with reduced sodium.
Another way to reduce the amount of salt you eat is to choose your condiments carefully. Many condiments are available in reduced-sodium versions, and salt substitutes can add flavor to your food with less sodium.
Low-salt items to choose High-salt items to avoid
  • Herbs and spices
  • Salt substitutes
  • Reduced-salt canned soups or prepared meals
  • Reduced-salt versions of condiments, such as reduced-salt soy sauce and reduced-salt ketchup
  • Table salt
  • Canned soups and prepared foods, such as frozen dinners
  • Tomato juice
  • Soy sauce

6. Control your portion size

In addition to knowing which foods to eat, you'll also need to know how much you should eat. Overloading your plate, taking seconds and eating until you feel stuffed can lead to eating more calories, fat and cholesterol than you should. Portions served in restaurants are often more than anyone needs. Keep track of the number of servings you eat — and use proper serving sizes — to help control your portions.
A serving size is a specific amount of food, defined by common measurements such as cups, ounces or pieces. For example, one serving of pasta is 1/2 cup, or about the size of a hockey puck. A serving of meat, fish or chicken is 2 to 3 ounces, or about the size and thickness of a deck of cards. Judging serving size is a learned skill. You may need to use measuring cups and spoons or a scale until you're comfortable with your judgment.

7. Plan ahead: Create daily menus

You know what foods to feature in your heart-healthy diet and which ones to limit. Now it's time to put your plans into action.
Create daily menus using the six strategies listed above. When selecting foods for each meal and snack, emphasize vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Choose lean protein sources and limit high-fat and salty foods. Watch your portion sizes and add variety to your menu choices. For example, if you have grilled salmon one evening, try a black bean burger the next night. This helps ensure that you'll get all of the nutrients your body needs. Variety also makes your meals and snacks more interesting.

8. Allow yourself an occasional treat

Allow yourself an indulgence every now and then. A candy bar or handful of potato chips won't derail your heart-healthy diet. But don't let it turn into an excuse for giving up on your healthy-eating plan. If overindulgence is the exception, rather than the rule, you'll balance things out over the long term. What's important is that you eat healthy foods most of the time.
Incorporate these eight tips into your life, and you'll continue to find that heart-healthy eating is both doable and enjoyable. With planning and a few simple substitutions, you can eat with your heart in mind.
March 6, 2010
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