Category Archives: Health Tips

Understanding Obesity

Having a body mass index (BMI) that is considered obese is often associated with having too much fat in your body. Carrying too much body fat may have harmful effects on your health, so BMI is used as a screening tool.

More than one-third of U.S. adults have obesity, which is defined as having a BMI greater than 30.

As is the case with adults, the obesity rate among children is too high. Studies have found that children with obesity are much more likely to have obesity as adults and are at a much greater risk for health problems now and later in life.

Causes of Obesity

There are many reasons for obesity. While an imbalance of calories taken in versus calories burned through physical activity may be an influence, obesity can also be affected by:

  • Family history and genes
  • Medications: Some antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, diabetes medications, steroids and beta blockers may cause weight gain
  • Surroundings: Research suggests people may be at greater risk for being overweight or obese if their friends are; other data shows that community environmental factors can contribute to obesity
  • Lifestyle habits, eating behaviors and stress
  • Too little sleep: This can affect hormones that increase appetite
  • Medical problems: Hypothyroidism, Prader-Willi and polycystic ovary syndrome can contribute to obesity.

Approach to Weight Loss

Weight loss therapy for adults should be based on three components:

  1. Calorie-controlled diet
  2. Physical activity
  3. Behavior therapy (such as recognizing triggers for eating or learning to pinpoint obstacles that hold you back from making lifestyle changes)

This combination has been found to be more successful than using any one intervention alone.

Healthy Eating Plan

Many people have found long-term success by working with a registered dietitian nutritionist. Research shows that at least two sessions per month with an RDN lead to successful weight loss and at least one session per month for weight loss maintenance. Because no two people are alike, approaches to weight loss must be tailored to each person. An RDN can do this for you — she or he will create a plan based on your medical history, lifestyle and food preferences. Together, you can explore how your habits, emotions and environmental cues affect how you eat.

Source: Jill Kohn, Academy of Nutrition & Dietitics

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Dining At Your Desk?

Do you eat at your desk? You’re not alone. Millions of Americans consume breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks at their desks.

Keep your prepared meals and help prevent foodborne illness at the office by following these simple food safety tips.

Office Essentials

A well-stocked office doesn’t stop at staplers and tape. Protect yourself from foodborne illness by keeping your office stocked with these food safety supplies, too:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Disinfectant wipes or paper towels and spray cleanser
  • Insulated lunch bag with freezer pack if a refrigerator is not available
  • Labels for leftovers
  • Refrigerator thermometer (make sure your office fridge is set properly below 40ºF)
  • Food thermometer (always reheat leftover lunch foods to an internal temperature of 165ºF).

Food Safety in the Workplace

Give bacteria the pink slip the next time you desktop dine by following proper food safety tips:

  • Wash hands before and after digging into your desktop dish. If you can’t get to a restroom to wash hands with soap and water, keep moist towelettes or an antibacterial hand cleaner at your desk.
  • From the time you make your lunch at home — assuming it contains perishable food items — don’t let more than two hours pass before you put it in the refrigerator. Also, don’t let lunchtime leftovers remain unrefrigerated for more than two hours.
  • Keep perishable foods properly refrigerated below 40ºF.
  • If you carry your lunch in a reusable tote or insulated bag, don’t forget to wash it frequently.
  • Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator or microwave, not on the countertop.
  • If you bring leftovers for lunch, reheat to the proper temperature of 165ºF.
  • Don’t forget that the same food safety tips apply to carry-out and fast food, which also can be susceptible to bacteria if not handled properly.

Source: Taylor Wolfram, Academy of Dietetics & Nutrition

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Don’t Let This Happen To You..

It happens to the best of us. That moment when you realize that you’ve let yourself go, and you need to get back on track. It may happen when you’re looking in the mirror or when you glance at yourself in a recent photo. Your first thought is to go on a ‘diet’ but as quickly as that enters your mind the ghosts of a hundred diets past return…along with all the frustration. Then you wonder, why bother? The weight will come back, as it always has. Then you’ll be back in front of the mirror as discouraged as ever. The answer is not to go on another diet. The answer is to change your lifestyle.

Making the Change

It’s time to lose your ‘all or nothing’ mentality. Embrace simple, small changes that will add up to big improvements in your lifestyle. An ongoing healthy lifestyle that supports your ideal body weight.

These are your 2 areas to change:

What You Eat. Let’s face it, most of the foods you eat aren’t the healthiest. Some are downright terrible (the burger and fries you had last week). While others are simply excessive (the snacks you eat while watching TV).

The solution to cleaning up your daily diet is NOT to go back on a ‘diet’. In fact, I never want you to go on a ‘diet’ again. (Yes, you heard me right!) Instead I want you to make permanent healthy changes to your eating habits.

Here are some practical examples:

  • Choose salad over chips or fries
  • Don’t add butter to your food
  • Eat fresh produce with every meal
  • Purchase fat free dairy products
  • Limit desserts to one or two per week
  • Cut out mindless snacking
  • Drink water, not soda

I don’t expect you to eat a perfect diet every day of the week – that’d be ludicrous. You should, however, make MORE healthy choices every day than unhealthy ones.

How You Move. Exercise is a huge component to a healthy lifestyle, and quite frankly you’re not getting enough of it. How often does an entire week go by without you ever lacing up your workout shoes? Don’t disregard the importance and power of a good workout.

Your new healthy lifestyle means exercising on most days of the week. This may seem tough, but I have the perfect solution – my training programs were created for busy people just like you who only have so much time to dedicate to exercise.

I understand how hard it is to find the motivation to stay consistent and to push yourself. Make exercise a no-brainer—contact me to get started on a lifestyle enhancing program today.

Here are simple ways to move more:

  • Watch less TV
  • Stretch stiff muscles every day
  • Play at the park with the kids
  • Go for a jog
  • Do some pushups every morning

While none of the above are meant as substitutes for a solid exercise routine, they are great ways to become more active and to improve your lifestyle. Your lifestyle is the balance of all the choices that you make regarding your body. Swing the balance in your favor—make a majority of your choices health conscious.

So the next time you’re in front of the mirror you won’t worry about your weight. You’ll relish it.

Source: Rene Serrate, Alpharetta Fit Body Boot Camp

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Eating Right Isn’t Complicated

Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated — simply begin to shift to healthier food and beverage choices. These recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans can help get you started.

  • Emphasize fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free milk and milk products.
  • Include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts.
  • Minimize saturated fats, trans fats, salt (sodium) and added sugars.

Make Your Calories Count

Think nutrient-rich rather than “good” or “bad” foods. The majority of your food choices should be packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients, and lower in calories. Making smart food choices can help you stay healthy, manage your weight and be physically active.

Focus on Variety

Eat a variety of foods from all the food groups to get the nutrients your body needs. Fruits and vegetables can be fresh, frozen or canned. Eat more dark green vegetables such as leafy greens and broccoli and orange vegetables including carrots and sweet potatoes. Vary your protein choices with more fish, beans and peas. Eat at least 3 ounces of whole-grain cereals, breads, crackers, rice or pasta every day.

Know Your Fats

To help reduce your risk of heart disease, look for foods low in saturated fat and trans fat. Most of the fats you eat should be monounsaturated and polyunsaturated oils. Check the Nutrition Facts label on food packaging.

Source: Taylor Wolfram, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

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Can My Child with Diabetes Eat Nuts?

Nuts are a terrific snack or addition to a meal for children and adults with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Nuts give us magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin E, fiber, protein, nourishing fats and more!

Controlling Blood Glucose

Nuts’ combination of protein and fat is especially helpful when trying to manage blood sugar, says Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDE, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “The key is to watch portion size as they are calorie-dense.” By combining nuts with a high-carbohydrate food such as cereal, bread or fruit, you can expect lower blood glucose readings after eating than if you or your child eat the high-carb food alone. As part of a research study, individuals with Type 2 diabetes had lower blood glucose after eating an ounce of mixed nuts with white bread, as opposed to eating the bread alone. A similar study among healthy adults showed that eating pistachios with rice or pasta also limited the rise in blood glucose readings after eating.

Love nuts for their magnesium content, too. Among its many roles, this mineral may affect the release and activity of insulin, the hormone that helps control blood glucose levels. Interestingly, many people with Type 2 diabetes have low blood levels of magnesium. And, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, magnesium is one of the underconsumed nutrients. Other good sources of magnesium are whole grains, beans and spinach.

Nutrient Powerhouse

There are so many ways to please the taste buds and nourish the body with nuts. Along with their distinct tastes, nuts each have a unique nutrient profile. And when you pair them with other nutrient-dense foods, you’re getting a super dose of good-for-you nutrition. Toss chopped pistachios and diced peaches into yogurt. Offer kids half a peanut butter and banana sandwich made with whole-grain bread. Mix walnuts with dried tart cherries for a simple trail mix, or spread almond butter on sliced apples. Your kids will have fun learning the names and identifying the tastes of a variety of nuts. Put out a small bowl with pistachios, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts and more. Enjoy!

Manage Weight

Even though nuts are high in fat, they can be an important part of a weight management program. Some studies suggest that frequent nut eaters are leaner than those who eat nuts infrequently. Why? One theory is that nuts are satisfying and suppress hunger, leading to less food intake overall. Researchers in a Texas middle school found this same phenomenon among children. When they replaced the students’ usual snack with a daily snack of a 1-ounce serving of peanuts or ¾-ounce portion of peanut butter with vegetables for dipping, the kids’ diets improved and they lost weight. Nuts in their shell may offer another advantage: Cracking the shell makes the snack last longer, presumably increasing satisfaction and decreasing overeating.

Don’t assume that because a little is good, a lot is better. The middle school students were given a single serving of nuts or nut butter. Too much likely can lead to weight gain. Nuts contain about 160 to 200 calories per ounce, so be mindful of portion sizes. One ounce of nuts is about 24 almonds, 18 cashews, 48 pistachios or 14 walnut halves. Two tablespoons of nut butter is equivalent to one ounce. Have your kids stick to about 1 to 1½ ounces per day.

There is one caveat: For children under the age of 4, nuts may be a choking hazard unless finely chopped.

Source: Jill Weisenberger, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

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5 Tips to Curb Your Late-Night Snacking

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After-dinner and before-bedtime snacking when not hungry can result in consuming unneeded calories. Often this may be due to boredom, stress or tiredness. Try these tips to banish evening cravings and curb after-dinner snacking; and, if you must snack, go for the healthier options.

End Mealtime Madness

Spend a little time planning ahead and grocery shopping for nutritious meals, including breakfast, and snacks throughout the week. When you eat a variety of foods throughout the day according to your hunger and fullness, you’re less likely to overeat at night. “Planning and eating balanced meals at regular intervals during the day helps provide steady fuel and increases the chances of getting all the nutrients you need for good health,” says Kim Larson, RDN, CSSD, CD, CHC, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It helps maintain stable blood sugar levels and provides more energy throughout the day. Regular eating also helps to manage hunger hormones to control appetite and food portions.”

Boost Protein and Load up on Fiber

Larson advises individuals to try to eat 25 to 30 grams at each meal, although protein needs vary according to age, sex, height, weight and activity level. For instance, a breakfast of oatmeal with a cup of low-fat or fat-free milk, small handful of nuts and fruit can provide approximately 20 grams of protein. At lunch, a couple of tablespoons of peanut butter (7 grams of protein), half a can of tuna fish (16 grams of protein), half a cup of black beans (7 grams of protein) or a small 4-ounce salmon filet (25 grams of protein) can help push up protein. At dinner, most people actually get too much protein because portion sizes of popular protein sources are too big. Go for recommended serving sizes such as a small — the size of a deck of cards — 3-ounce chicken breast (27 grams of protein) or a 3-ounce lean top sirloin steak (26 grams of protein).

Dietary fiber also helps us feel full, in addition to being protective of intestinal and heart health. Find fiber in whole grains, legumes such as beans and lentils, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. The Institute of Medicine recommends women strive for 25 grams of dietary fiber each day while men should get 38 grams.

Get Sleep

Sleeping less than six to seven hours per night has been shown in studies to alter gut hormone regulation,” says Larson. “Not only can this disruption increase how much we eat during the day, but it also drives mindless eating that occurs when we are tired instead of hungry.” Adults should strive for 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.

Turn off the Screen before You Pick up Your Fork

Screen time has been linked to mindless eating and increased food intake. Eating in front of the TV, while playing video games or surfing the Internet can distract attention from what and how much is eaten, reduce satiety signals sent to the brain and lessen memory of snacking.

Multitasking during meals interferes with the enjoyment and satisfaction of eating,” says Larson. “Avoiding all distractions, including the TV, helps one to focus on eating mindfully, which leads to greater satisfaction. It also helps to slow our pace of eating and tune in to hunger signals that often are missed when we are distracted and rushing to get done.

Still Starving after Dinner?

People often eat out of boredom, or because of stress, or just out of habit rather than from true hunger. Larson suggests asking yourself the following questions before eating: Am I hungry? Am I thirsty? Am I tired? Am I bored? Am I sad?

If you ate a balanced dinner, go for lighter snacks. “If you do find yourself hungry in the evening, reach for a nutritious snack like air-popped popcorn, yogurt or fresh fruit to quell the need for something sweet,” says Larson. If a sweet or heavy food is what you’re really craving, enjoy a small portion of it then brush your teeth and wind down before bedtime.”

Source: Penelope Clark, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

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What’s The Big Secret, Anyway?

Sure, you do your best to eat healthy and live a fit and active lifestyle, but you’re still not satisfied with your body. Day after day of eating salads and hitting the gym and your body isn’t changing.

It’s frustrating.

And yet there are people, whom you know personally, with phenomenal bodies and very little body fat. What are they doing differently than you? You work out and eat healthy too! Why doesn’t your body look like theirs? What’s the big secret that they know about losing fat, getting lean, and looking amazing?

The answer is as simple as it is difficult: Avoid Sugar.

While you do your best to eat healthy, do you know how much sugar you are actually consuming everyday? The answer will surprise you.

The average American consumes over 80 grams of sugar everyday, an amount that’s easily three times more than is safe and healthful. How much sugar do you eat? Write down the sugar count on everything you eat for the next few days and then find your average sugar gram intake. Now work on slashing this number.

Part of the problem is that food items are often sneaky about how much sugar is really hiding within. Deceiving messages on the packaging imply that the contents are beneficial, causing us to ignore the high sugar content. In the end whatever supposed benefits being advertised are overshadowed by the negative effect of the sugar.

What’s the big deal about taking in a lot of sugar? Well, you won’t achieve a lean body while consuming a lot of sugar. So if you choose to indulge in sugar then forget about strutting your stuff on the beach this year.

Aesthetics aside, a high sugar intake is detrimental to your health as it causes your cells and organs to become acidic and a breeding ground for disease.

Going back to that guy or gal that you know who is perpetually lean…you can bet that their diet is extremely low in sugar. A low sugar diet is the key to keeping lean and it’s not had by simply avoiding the high sugar items, like candy and cake, it’s had by avoiding items with even low amounts of added sugars.

Take the next week to cut out all added sugars from your diet. Check in with your weight and your energy levels at the end of seven days and note any difference. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly you’ll see results in both your weight and energy levels by making this simple, conscious move to avoid sugar.

Source: Rene Serrate, U First Fitness

As a proud partner of the American Diabetes Association, our Healthy Mix, Vegetarian and Low Carb menus adhere to their healthy eating guidelines, as well as those put forth by the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

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