Healthy Eating and Nutrition

Change Your Attitude Toward Food: The Mental Side of Healthier Eating

If simply knowing that something is bad for us was all that was necessary to stop us from doing it, no one would smoke, eat trans fats or work themselves to the verge of a nervous breakdown. But, alas, it’s usually not that simple. We know we should make certain changes and we know the benefits of said changes, but something just doesn’t compute and the struggle continues. We blame our busy lifestyles, the expense of healthy food, stress and myriad other factors for sabotaging our efforts to change our junk food-loving ways.


Then there is good old fashioned laziness and the impulse for instant gratification that has us reaching for the take-out menu for the fifth time that week instead of whipping up a healthy home-cooked meal. Making better food choices just seems overwhelming, so we never do it. We are always on the hunt for the magic bullet. Before you even get to the food, healthy eating starts in your mind. When you change your thinking, getting your diet right will naturally follow. Here, for your reading pleasure, are just a few ways for you to do just that:


This may sound obvious — to be healthier…duh. But there is so much more to it than that. If you really want to succeed in the difficult task of changing your diet permanently and for the better, your ‘why’ is something you need to figure out. There will be the obvious reasons: being healthier, wanting to lose weight, wanting to improve your appearance, etc. While these are a good start, they are too superficial. You need to dig deeper to discover your more powerful, core desires.

Once you figure those out, it will be much easier to make healthier choices. You’ll feel more motivated to make them. It won’t feel so much like you are fighting against something. Why do you want to be healthier? To have more energy? Why do you want more energy? So you can play with your kids more? Why do you want to play with your kids more? Because you want to be the best parent you can be? See how that is a much better motivator than just wanting to be healthier?



A chaotic mind lends itself to a chaotic existence. High stress levels make it really hard to make healthy food choices and eating becomes a go-to strategy for coping with unpleasant emotions. When we feel more pessimistic, we care less about our health. Anything you can do to calm your mind will be a powerful weapon in your healthy eating arsenal. While there is no one way to do this, meditation is kind of the best. It allows us to create space between our thoughts and feelings, which aren’t us, and pure awareness. It eases stress. It helps us get more comfortable with uncomfortable feelings.

In fact, a study published in Eating Behaviors in February of 2014 found meditation to be an effective tool for curbing binge eating. In the study, 70 overweight people between the ages of 18 and 75 were trained in meditation and to increase awareness of their negative emotions and instructed to meditate as little as eight minutes a day. Participants reported an increased capability for dealing with their negative emotions without turning to food. No matter how busy you are, you have eight minutes to spare, don’t you?


The power to change our lives, no matter what aspect, lies in our ability to think about what we want so we can begin creating it. The most effective way to use willpower, which doesn’t last very long, is by focusing our attention on what we want to become, not by forcing ourselves to make decisions that don’t feel good or natural in the moment over and over again until it finally gets easier.

That is kind of painful and often not very effective, as most people trying to change their diets can attest to. Start visualizing the version of you that makes healthy food choices and enjoys preparing healthy foods. See yourself trimmer and healthier, with more energy. As you cultivate that image, you will feel more like that person right now in reality, and as such, you will find it easier to change your diet permanently. Eating habits are deeply ingrained and our relationships with food can be quite complicated. That is why eating better all of a sudden doesn’t usually just happen.

On the other hand, it doesn’t have to be as hard as we often make it. By tending to your mind first, you will lay a much more solid foundation for making the changes you want to make in your lifestyle.


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Step Away from the Fridge and No One Gets Hurt: Curbing Emotional Eating

Does disappointment have you diving for the donuts? Do you soothe emotional ickiness with ice cream? Anger creating a hankering for apple pie? If so, don’t feel too badly. You are not alone. Food represents so much more than basic nourishment, and our relationships with it can be quite complicated. A tasty treat can give us a bit of a rush. The act of eating can be a nice distraction from whatever unpleasant feelings we’re having. Emotional eating in and of itself really wouldn’t be too big a problem if our inclination were to reach for some carrots or whip up a healthful smoothie. But, as we all know, that is not what is typically on the menu.

This behavior can be problematic on many fronts, particularly if you are trying to lose weight or change your eating habits. It can trigger self-criticism and self-loathing, which just perpetuates the eating, creating a vicious cycle. We all have our moments of weakness and that’s okay, but when we find ourselves regularly turning to our friend food to soothe ourselves, we need to take a look at what’s happening and find a way to get a grip on this behavior. Here are a few interventions worth taking a look at:


Meditation is not just for hippies seeking enlightenment. While it certainly is a major component of spiritual practice for many people, the benefits are largely practical and secular. It helps calm the mind, reduces stress, increases awareness of our behaviors and motivators, and helps you adopt a healthier perspective, something with which most of us could use a helping hand. One of the primary benefits of meditation is helping us to get comfortable with uncomfortable feelings, and observing them from a more detached place. We don’t get sucked in as much. 

When we eat emotionally, we are doing so to make ourselves feel better, to get rid of unpleasant feelings. Meditating will help you sit with those feelings better, and the urge to just make them go away as quickly as possible will diminish. You will learn to simply observe them and wait for them to pass, which they surely will, no matter how intense they may feel in the moment. Meditating helps create a space between your consciousness and your thoughts and feelings, which are actually separate entities. From this position of

From this position of third-party observer, you’ll be able to see what is triggering your emotional eating and get a better idea of why food is the medicine of choice. Armed with this knowledge you can lay the foundation for change. A review of 14 studies looking at the effects of meditation, published in a 2014 issue of  Eating Behaviors, found it to be an effective intervention for binge eating and emotional eating.



Journaling can be a very effective tool for curbing emotional eating. By tracking food intake and your emotional state at the time, you’ll discover your triggers. You’ll get a better handle on when you’re eating because you are hungry and when you’re eating emotionally. You may notice that certain events, or very specific stressors, prompt emotional eating, or that you’re more likely to do it at a certain time of day. This awareness will help you to develop strategies to cope more effectively. For example, if you notice that you tend to inhale a box of cookies right after work, you might decide to change up your routine by hitting the gym then, rather than going at your usual time. We often get so sucked into certain behaviors that we have no idea what is triggering them and this makes us feel powerless to change them. An activity like journaling can help us take back control.

This awareness will help you to develop strategies to cope more effectively. For example, if you notice that you tend to inhale a box of cookies right after work, you might decide to change up your routine by hitting the gym then, rather than going at your usual time. We often get so sucked into certain behaviors that we have no idea what is triggering them and this makes us feel powerless to change them. An activity like journaling can help us take back control.


This tip may sound obvious, but many people fail to recognize the full impact that stress has on our eating habits. Having a bad day, feeling sad or angry and eating to feel better doesn’t just affect you on a mental or emotional level, it affects you physically as well. Emotional upset sets in motion a number of processes that can lead to cravings for unhealthy foods, like sugar-rich treats and pizza. When our ancestors had to run from predators and other forms of immediate danger, it was important that the body release stress 

When our ancestors had to run from predators and other forms of immediate danger, it was important that the body release stress hormones to increase blood sugar and metabolize nutrients quickly to either help the person fight or flee. After the danger had passed, the body craved quick forms of energy to replenish its stores. Your body still goes through this process whenever you feel stress, even though fight or flight are probably not the appropriate responses and you probably aren’t burning the calories that your ancestors would have. This can make stress eating even

This can make stress eating even worse since you are probably just sitting at your desk while stress hormones rush through your system, instead of racing across the plains fleeing a wooly mammoth. To make matters worse still, studies have shown that high levels of cortisol — a stress hormone — can cause your body to store visceral fat (the kind that hangs out around your organs), which means that the excess calories you ingest are even more likely to stick around your midsection. Knowing that stress is causing your cravings (and causing your body to store fat more readily) may help light a fire under you to find ways of curbing it. If you feel stressed, try doing something physical, like getting up and going for a walk or jogging up and down the stairs. That will help prevent cortisol from building up and may help you move past the craving too. Emotional eating can be a deeply ingrained habit, so don’t expect to kick it by the weekend.

Be compassionate with yourself, and don’t resort to drastic measures that cannot be sustained over the long-term. Committing to realistic goals that will help you to break the habit in the long run is your best bet. Article



Eating Your Way to Clearer Thinking

Can you really eat your way to clearer thinking? The answer is yes — especially if you have a deficiency in one of the key nutrients that are essential to healthy brain function. There are also some substances in food that can help boost the power of a healthy brain or interfere with your thinking process if their levels drop. So if you’re feeling like you are a duller version of your personal best, here are three ways to give your brain a tune-up through your diet.



You meet someone familiar on the street. Their name is on the tip of your tongue, but it just won’t come to you. It’s easy to blame this kind of foggy brain on age or lack of sleep, but sometimes it’s simply a matter of your brain not having the building blocks it needs to do its job. There are several key nutrients that are essential to healthy brain function — one of the most important of which is B12.

Although vitamin deficiencies are much less common in North America than in developing countries, they still occur. In the case of B12, this is especially true for those on vegan diets, the elderly, or those with certain medical conditions such as gastritis. Alcohol, aspirin, antacids, and certain diabetes medications can also affect your body’s ability to absorb B12. Vitamin B12 is important for your brain because it is used in the production of myelin, which is needed for neural transmission — in other words, thought process. Symptoms of a B12 deficiency include memory loss, confusion, fatigue, and irritability.

Fortunately, a B12 deficiency can be detected through a simple blood test, so talk to your doctor if you think you may have one. B12 is only found in animal products (such as milk, eggs, meat, and fish) or in fortified foods such as soya products and breakfast cereals. It can also be taken in supplement form or by injection for those with a significant deficiency. An adequate supply of vitamin C is also needed for your brain to operate at full capacity. Vitamin C is used in the production of norepinephrine, which helps you to stay alert and aids in long-term memory and learning. Make sure you get lots of vitamin C by eating foods such as citrus fruits, guava, kiwifruit, peppers, broccoli, and cabbage.

In the case of B12, this is especially true for those on vegan diets, the elderly, or those with certain medical conditions such as gastritis. Alcohol, aspirin, antacids, and certain diabetes medications can also affect your body’s ability to absorb B12. Vitamin B12 is important for your brain because it is used in the production of myelin, which is needed for neural transmission — in other words, thought process. Symptoms of a B12 deficiency include memory loss, confusion, fatigue, and irritability. Fortunately, a B12 deficiency can be detected through a simple blood test, so talk to your doctor if you think you may have one.

B12 is only found in animal products (such as milk, eggs, meat, and fish) or in fortified foods such as soya products and breakfast cereals. It can also be taken in supplement form or by injection for those with a significant deficiency. An adequate supply of vitamin C is also needed for your brain to operate at full capacity. Vitamin C is used in the production of norepinephrine, which helps you to stay alert and aids in long-term memory and learning. Make sure you get lots of vitamin C by eating foods such as citrus fruits, guava, kiwifruit, peppers, broccoli, and cabbage.



Even if you don’t have a nutritional deficiency, there are other substances in food that can boost your brain power. Foods rich in these substances are often called “brain food”. Google “brain food” and you’ll get a lot of hits, but here are three of the heavy contenders:

  • Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for healthy brain function. Clinical studies suggest that omega-3s help improve memory and reasoning function. As an added bonus, omega-3s are thought to improve high blood pressure, depression, and menstrual pain. If you don’t eat fish, don’t worry. You can also get omega-3 in flaxseed, walnuts, and soy products.
  • Cocoa. It’s not like most of us need an excuse to eat chocolate, but several studies have shown that eating cocoa can improve blood flow to the brain. Dark chocolate has the most cocoa, and researchers suggest about 6.7 grams a day (less that half of a normal size bar) is enough to provide health benefits. One caution: Where there’s cocoa, there’s often also a high-fat content, so moderation is the key. Milk chocolate does not contain enough cocoa to provide any health benefits.
  • Kale and other leafy greens contain powerful antioxidants that can reduce the effects of toxic free radicals in your brain. Toxic free radicals are unstable chemicals formed in your body as a result of exposure to environmental poisons. Kale is also rich in iron, folate, and B6, which are needed to produce the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.


The glucose in our blood comes from the food we eat. It’s what supplies energy to the cells in our bodies and helps give us our get-up-and-go. Blood glucose levels naturally shift as we eat, but sometimes these fluctuations are extreme – especially after consuming large amounts of sugary, processed foods (like when we have a chocolate bar and pop break). First your blood glucose skyrockets, and then it crashes.

A study by the University of South Dakota suggests these crashes can lead to poor decision-making. Researchers asked subjects to respond to several scenarios where they had to make difficult choices. The subjects’ blood glucose levels were measured and – you guessed it – those with a lower blood glucose level made poorer choices.

(For more information on how to balance your blood glucose level, see The Glucose Connection: How Blood Sugar Affects Your Energy Levels).

Non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, cucumber, carrots and spinach provide essential nutrition while keeping your blood sugar evenly balanced. That’s something to keep in mind the next time you have an important business meeting or need to make an important decision! 


Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential for Healthy Eating

Essential and non-essential are two basic nutrient categories. Both types are necessary for life and good health; whether or not they’re considered essential refers to whether or not you need to get them from dietary sources. Non-essential nutrients are naturally produced by the human body, so you don’t have to get them (at least not your full daily recommended quantity) from food or supplements. Essential nutrients must be fully obtained from dietary sources, as the human body cannot produce them.

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Among the essential nutrients are omega-3 fatty acids, one of the few types of fats your body can’t produce. Omega-3 fatty acids are important components of cell membranes that contribute to hormone production, gene regulation, brain function, and overall good health. Omega-3s are a family of the nutrients known as polyunsaturated fats. They can be broken down into three primary types: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Technically, ALA is the only purely essential omega-3, as the body converts it into EPA and DHA to a limited extent.

Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

As research has uncovered increasing benefits from a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, they’ve become ever more popular nutritional supplements, both from plant and animal oil sources. Omega-3s can be obtained from both types of foods, with the three different types being more plentiful from particular sources. ALA is mostly found in plant sources, especially nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables, as well as oils derived from these foods; it is however also present in some animal fat (particularly animals that graze on grass). Walnuts and walnut oil, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, chia seeds, garlic, canola oil, soybean oil, and other vegetable oils are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Fish and other seafood is the primary source of EPA and DHA, and so they’re sometimes called marine omega-3s. Salmon is probably the most widely touted source, but other fatty fish, such as tuna, mackerel, halibut, sardines, trout, and herring, are also rich in these nutrients.

Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Besides promoting general well-being, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to offer a number of other specific benefits. They are particularly good for reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of developing heart disease. They are also believed to help protect against other chronic conditions, including various types of cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids may also help enhance brain function and prevent cognitive decline, promote a steady heartbeat, maintain healthy cholesterol levels, prevent or lower high blood pressure (hypertension), improve circulation, reduce blood clot formation, stave off diabetes, and boost mood. Other possible but less scientifically supported benefits include reducing symptoms associated with lupus, inflammatory or allergic skin conditions, and the menstrual cycle; preventing osteoporosis and macular degeneration; preventing colon, breast, and prostate cancers; treating depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); and improving inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and asthma.

Balancing Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids

There’s more to benefiting from omega-3s than simply eating a lot of it. It’s also important to balance intake with another essential nutrient known as omega-6 fatty acids, which, in contrast to omega-3s, tend to promote inflammation. The typical western diet is much higher in omega-6s than omega-3s, which is believed to be unhealthy. In fact, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, most Americans consume 14 to 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s. This is far from an optimal ratio. A diet so imbalanced in favor of omega-6s is associated with development of heart disease, cancers, and a variety of inflammatory and autoimmune disorders. While recommendations vary, a ratio of at least 1:1 or slightly higher in omega-3 fatty acids (generally from 2:1 to 5:1 in favor of omega-3s) is considered healthy.

Eating and Supplementing with Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Eating a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and seafood generally provides a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and enough omega-3s for good health. The American Heart Association recommends healthy adults eat two servings of fatty fish per week. Adults with (or at increased risk for) cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and certain cancers should talk to their doctor about increasing their intake with fish oils or other forms of omega-3 supplements. Your doctor will provide specific dosing advice and can ensure you don’t have any contraindications, such as bleeding disorders, taking certain medications, and others. Your doctor can also advise you about possible side effects, among which an increased risk of bleeding/decreased clotting is one of the more dangerous. Article Resources:

20 Healthy Snack Ideas (Even with a Busy Schedule or Tight Food Budget)

Snacking has a bad reputation, but as the American Heart Association says, “Snacking isn’t ‘bad’ if you do it in moderation and make healthy choices.” Smart snacks provide nutrients, like fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and unsaturated fats. If you choose nutrient-dense snacks relatively low in calories, you won’t blow your diet. Even some healthful high-calorie options like nuts can help with weight loss and maintenance when eaten in small amounts. Healthy snacking also helps keep your appetite in check. If you’ve deprived yourself of food during your busy day during the many hours between lunch and dinner, you’re likely to be ravenous and overeat at mealtime. As an added bonus, healthy snacks help keep your energy levels up and your mind off your hunger and deprivation when cravings strike between meals. That means improved performance at work, feeling better throughout the day, and being ready to tackle the next tasks on your to-do list. Making smart dietary choices isn’t always easy, especially if you have a hectic schedule or are trying to watch your budget. The unhealthiest options are often some of the most convenient and cheapest. But don’t despair; there are plenty of ways to incorporate healthy snacks into your busy life and limited food budget. Below are 20 healthy snacking ideas. They’re a starting point, and you can certainly come up with your own variations. Variety is key to preventing boredom, one of the more common reasons people end up reaching for some super-sugary, heavily processed junk food.

  1. Cut up some combination of carrots, cucumbers, bell pepper, and celery into thin sticks. Bring along a container of peanut butter or hummus for dipping.
  2. Cucumber slices also go well with a small piece of feta cheese or a smear of reduced-fat cream cheese or Greek yogurt on top.
  3. Chop up raw broccoli and cauliflower florets. Use a small amount of a vinaigrette or other low-fat dressing of your choice or hummus as a dip.
  4. If you have a juicer, make vegetable juices, fill up your thermos, and take it with you to easily sip wherever you go.
  5. If you’re into liquid snacks, adding protein powder to smoothies, juices, and even coffee and espresso beverages is an easy way to feel fuller and get more protein.
  6. Just a handful of unsalted nuts and/or seeds provides a major nutritional wallop and lots of protein and fiber to stave off hunger.
  7. Edamame is also high in protein and fiber. A handful or two of these lightly salted soybeans makes a great snack, and it’s lower calorie than nuts and seeds.
  8. Whole grain or multigrain crackers are high in fiber. Top them with a thin slice of cheese or a dollop of peanut, cashew, almond, sunflower, or other butter for more flavor, nutrients, and satisfaction.
  9. Whole grain rice cakes work, too. Top them with your favorite nut butter and slices of banana.
  10. Don’t overlook fruit. Most fruit is so easy to grab and eat on the go, and of course fruits are nutritious, low-calorie, and pleasing to a sweet tooth.
  11. Dried fruit is another nutritious, highly portable, less perishable convenience food. Just remember, it’s much more calorie-dense than fresh fruit, so watch the quantity.
  12. Make hard-boiled eggs in less than 15 minutes; you can prepare a batch for the week and keep them in the fridge. Eggs are highly nutritious and satisfying, and one only has about 80 calories.
  13. Salsa is a low-calorie dip, while guacamole has more calories but lots of healthy fats and nutrients; use either on a serving of whole grain corn chips.
  14. For a filling, high-protein, low-carb snack, roll up slices of deli meat and cheese.
  15. Popcorn is a whole grain treat. Skip the butter and it’s good for you. If you need more flavor, use a little salt or a light dusting of grated Parmesan cheese.
  16. Whip up a batch of instant oatmeal. It’s fast and easy, there are plenty of flavors (just watch for excessive added sugar), and this too is a whole grain snack rich in fiber and B vitamins.
  17. Fill a mini pita or two with hummus. Drop in some olives or chopped veggies to convert the snack to more of a mini-meal.
  18. A little container of reduced-fat cottage cheese or yogurt is a healthful dairy option. Add some fruit for more flavor and nutritional value.
  19. Packaged foods are often a poor choice, but protein/snack bars made with whole grains, nuts, and seeds and low in added sugar are convenient healthy snacks (though not particularly cheap).
  20. If you have a few minutes and access to a toaster, make a frozen whole grain waffle or pancake. Skip the syrup and top it with fruit and maybe some low-fat ricotta.

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The 7 Biggest Myths About Healthy Eating

Healthy eating stirs up a lot of images. Beach bods, juices, vegetables galore, and how you would much rather be eating at a buffet. However, scientists have yet to develop a way to make fried and sugar-packed foods healthy, so we have to make some sacrifices. Those sacrifices come in the form of less delicious, more expensive options. Or do they? You see, there’s a few myths when it comes to eating healthier. You may have even helped perpetuate them, subconsciously afraid of making the next step to a better you. The fact is, we’re all afraid at some level, but the more knowledge we have, the better we can move forward.

It Costs Too Much

The cost of healthy eating is always at the top of the list. Many believe you have to spend a small fortune every month, and that’s simply not the case. Of course, it’s very easy to do so, especially if you go the organic route, which we’ll get into here later. On average, I spend around $40 per week on groceries. This includes a good amount of vegetables, some fruit, and lean meat. You just have to keep your eye open for good deals, and not overthink it. Sometimes, simplicity is key such as having a few main staple dishes. It’s easier to prepare that way, and complication can lead to frustration and a bigger hit on the wallet.

Fresh, Not Frozen

According to some, frozen vegetables or fruit aren’t as healthy as buying fresh. However, that’s simply not the case. Where the claim does hold up is when other ingredients such as oils or sugars are added, which is why it’s important to read the nutrition label before purchasing. Nutritionist Shilpa Mittal points out that frozen fruits or vegetables can actually be more nutritious: “Fruits and vegetables – these two food groups are just as good purchased frozen as they are fresh. In some cases, they may actually be better, because if you keep vegetables and fruits in your fridge for a long time, they lose some of their nutritional value. Whereas, buying them frozen and then defrosting when you want the fruit/vegetable can actually retain more nutrients.”

Fat, Carbs Are Bad

There’s an ongoing war on fat, and no, we’re not talking about the overweight kind. For decades now, companies have been pushing consumers towards more “Low-fat” or “Fat-free” options, which are often less healthy. According to a Harvard study, 45 percent of American adult’s calories in the 1960s came from fat, compared to 33 percent today. However, adults who are obese has increased 21 percent. Fat consumption was not linked to weight or disease, and total calories from the kind of fat people consume is what matters most. “One problem with a generic lower fat diet is that it prompts most people to stop eating fats that are good for the heart along with those that are bad for it. Another problem is that when people cut back on fat, they often switch to foods full of easily digested carbohydrates—white bread, white rice, potatoes, sugary drinks, and the like—or to fat-free products that replace healthful fats with sugar and refined carbohydrates. The body digests these carbohydrates very quickly, causing blood sugar and insulin levels to spike. Over time, eating lots of “fast carbs” can raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes as much as—or more than—eating too much saturated fat. That’s why it’s important to replace foods high in bad fats with foods high in good fats—not with refined carbohydrates.”  This gets us into carbohydrates, and notice Harvard mentions “refined.” Complex carbohydrates are of the healthier variety, and contain such foods as beans, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

Ditch The Egg Yolk

Egg yolks have came under fire in much of the same way eating fat has, mainly because one large egg can contain over 60 percent of your daily value of cholesterol. Once again, that myth is busted. From the Mayo Clinic: The risk of heart disease may be more closely tied to the foods that accompany the eggs in a traditional American breakfast — such as the sodium in the bacon, sausages and ham, and the saturated fat or oils with trans fats used to fry the eggs and the hash browns.” However, like Harvard found in its research, people who are diabetic can have an increased risk of heart disease with higher egg consumption.

Buy Organic

You can’t visit a grocery store nowadays without seeing the word “Organic” all over the produce aisle. Organic foods come with a higher price tag, and they also supposedly come with higher nutrition. According to Stanford, there’s “little evidence” organic food is more nutritious. However, they did find that going organic can reduce exposure to pesticides. This doesn’t mean you should avoid buying organic whatsoever. However, you shouldn’t feel like you absolutely have to in order to eat healthier.

Don’t Eat At Night

There’s long been a myth that you shouldn’t eat at night because of how your body reacts to those calories. The reality is, there is no cut off time for when you should eat. Many people’s schedules simply don’t allow them to eat dinner at an earlier time, and many of us are up late. Where the issue comes up is getting the urge to snack at night. Just stay away from the junk food or better yet, get it out of your house, and you should be fine.

It’s Not As Tasty

Yes, deep fried and sugary treats taste amazing, but there’s thousands of great recipes floating around the Internet for you to try that involve neither of the two. At the end of the day, this is just another myth that’s far beyond the truth.

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4 Types of Food That Must Be In Your Healthy Diet

A healthy diet plan is one that includes a variety of foods that provide you sufficient nutrition and energy that fulfills the daily requirements of your body. If you seem to miss out on some critical components that constitute an overall complete diet, you are definitely putting yourself at risk of developing a lack of nutrition to your body as well as a risk of catching various diseases. If you truly want your healthy diet to do what it is supposed to, i.e. make you healthy and keep your body fit, then it goes without saying you should have the foods that energize your system and give it the required amount of nutrition and energy required to function. Simply put, if the thought of eating healthy makes you afraid, then we advise you to have a look at the 4 types of food that must be in your healthy diet.

1. Fresh Fruits

We are not just talking about apples or bananas here. The idea is that all fresh fruits indeed make exceptional choices for nutrition in a healthy diet. However, the trick is to have some of those “exotic” fruits included in your meals, such as a mango or juicy pineapple. If you ask us, the kiwi fruit is one of our serious favorites! But it’s all down to the fruits that you consider your favorite. Do remember that if none of your favorite fresh fruits are in season, then you can do with frozen, canned, or dried varieties of fresh fruits. Of course, you should keep in mind that canned fruits could possibly contain added syrups or sugars – and that’s a serious no-no for your healthy diet! Also, make sure you choose a canned variety of fruit that is packed in its own juice or water.

2. Fresh Vegetables

With vegetables, you can always try something new. The choices are so vast and healthy that with each and every passing day, you can possibly experiment by trying out newer vegetables along with your diet. It really is that exciting when it comes to vegetables! You may believe that you love steamed vegetables or grilled vegetables, but we’re certain you’ll fall in love with them even harder if you try them out with a herb you haven’t ever given a shot. How about rosemary? Vegetables can be sauté (panfry) in a non-stick pan. Of course, you are allowed to put in a small amount of cooking spray in there. On the contrary, you can also give canned veggies a shot. Do make sure you pick the ones that don’t have added butter, cream sauces, or salt.

3. Foods Rich in Calcium

Whenever someone brings up calcium to the discussion, the first thing that springs to your mind is milk. Of course, why else would you think of it when milk is one of the best sources of calcium around? However, when we talk of calcium in a healthy diet, we are not just limiting the equation to low-fat or fat-free variations of milk. Have you seem to forgotten that yogurts are also available in fat-free and low-fat variations? They come without the unnecessary addition of added sugars, which is why they also make up for a great choice as far as foods rich in calcium are concerned. So pick your favorite flavors of fat-free and low-fat yogurts; they’ll definitely make for great dessert substitutes and satisfy your sweet tooth!

4. Healthier Variations of Your Personal Favorites

This one is the best. Do you have a personal favorite that you simply can’t resist? Maybe you’re a fried fish lover or simply can’t live without breaded chicken. Well, what we advise you to do is pick your personal favorite foods, and put a spin on them with healthier variations! Yes, it actually is possible when you think of it. You can simply have them with their grilled or baked variations. Even trying a recipe that makes use of dry beans instead of higher-fat meats is also recommended. With this one, you can go crazy as the possibilities are truly limitless. You can look up your favorite food magazines or simply search the Internet for recipes that provide fewer calories. Who knows, you might even find that you’ve fallen in love with a new favorite dish! All you have to do is play it smart while making sure you effectively remove all bad health choices for foods away from your diet. Who said going on a healthy diet is boring? With the above mentioned foods, your diet is likely to be the best thing that ever happened to you – especially when you’ll start seeing the amazing nutritional benefits and energetic results it will bring you! Have fun eating healthy!

Slim Down – Eat Like a Caveman (or Woman)

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year across the world is to lose weight or slim down. Every year hundreds of thousands swear by the latest fad diets in an attempt to lose weight quickly, but to no avail. Diets are getting more peculiar by the year, but there’s one diet that’s proving not to be a fad – the Paleo diet, which is aptly named the Caveman diet.

The Premise is Simple

While rigorously following the Paleo diet, you rewind the clock and go back centuries, following a simple diet that the caveman once ate. It sounds anthropological, but if we go back and analyze the diet our ancient ancestors once followed, it’s clear that our ancestors were leaner, more robust, and more active. Many blame the agricultural revolution; the introduction of grains and cereals saw the end of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Although eating such foods proved to be more convenient, the result was less convincing. Society became obsessed with industry and technology, and gradually over time the human race began to balloon (Cordain, L. 3:2003). It’s a sad fact that many of people’s health problems, namely obesity, are a direct result of what they consume and do. (Cordain, L. 3:2003) Today the standard American diet and the majority of other diets that people religiously follow wreck havoc on their Paleolithic roots. If you’re still not convinced about the Caveman diet, it’s the only diet that has been proven to really complement the human’s genetic makeup. (Cordain, L. 4:2003). Instead of focusing on what you should eat while following the Paleo diet it’s easier to focus on what you should avoid at all costs. Grains and cereals need to be kicked to the curb, such as rice, corn, wheat, barley, oats, and white flour. (Davis, R. 28) All these foods contain refined carbohydrates, something which contributes to long-term weight gain in both men and women. Not only this, refined carbohydrates interfere with any weight-loss goals you may have and also promote heart disease and type 2 diabetes (Mozaffarian, Hao et al. 2011:16). Dairy products are also foods that cannot be consumed while following the Paleo diet. Human beings are the only mammal species that tend to drink milk after they have passed the infancy stage. Cavemen did not have access to cows, so milk was not accessible. In addition to this, it is thought that 65% of the world’s population is affected by lactose intolerance, and in some cases this can cause bloating and weight gain (Mozaffarian, Hao et al. 2011:17).

Imagine Being a Caveman or Cavewoman

Think about what they would eat. Basically, you would eat anything that you could hunt or scavenge, which includes meat, nuts, fish, seeds, leafy greens, and regional produce. It is all about making healthy meal choices, just like our ancient ancestors did. Although cavemen and women have long been extinct, the genetic makeup of the human has not changed much. According to anthropological research, the average person back in caveman times was much taller, more muscular, athletic, and agile. Compare this to today where the average person is overweight, unfit, stressed, sleep deprived, and suffering from a myriad of potentially fatal diseases that are indeed preventable. Instead of filling up on meat, fruit, and vegetables, our species has become grain dependent. Bread, rice, corn, and pastas are all common features of the modern-day meal. However, governments still continue to advise consuming 6-11 daily servings of grains or grain-based foods with the result being catastrophic. The average person is becoming larger by the day with more than one third of US adults being obese (Mozaffarian, Hao et al. 2011:10). It may seem that the Paelo diet is too restrictive; however, there are still a number of foods that occur naturally and can be consumed safely without weight gain. While on the Caveman diet, meat will play a big role. While meat is prominent, it must be grass-fed as grains have the same effect on animals as they do on humans. Other foods you can freely consume without having to worry about weighing out your foods include fowl, fish, eggs, vegetables, natural oils such as olive and avocado oils, fruit, nuts, and tubers. Many are concerned about fatigue and loss of energy when following dies, but these foods will replenish your glycogen levels and also give you a healthy amount of vitamins and omega-3. The great thing about the Paleo diet is you do not have to reduce your food intake. There is no harm in eating plates upon plates of vegetables, as long as they have been cooked sensibly. Vegetables and meat leave you feeling fuller for longer, so it is unlikely you will consume too much whereas foods that are considered to be carb-heavy will leaving you feeling hungry in a matter of hours (Mozaffarian, Hao et al. 2011:22). You will feel your energy levels soar, allowing you to do more in your day, which also includes exercise. The Paleo diet combined with exercise will give you amazing results, which can be seen in less than 30 days. If you find it difficult to cut out all grains completely and go cold turkey, adjust your diet slowly, minimizing dairy and grains. Usually, a slower transition is easier to handle, and research proves if you do it gradually not only will your body get used to the new diet, but you are also likely to stick to it. When you think about it, the Caveman diet is logical. Humans existed some 150,000 years ago, but grains were not introduced into the diet until 10,000 years ago, which means there was at least 140,000 years without any grain consumption. Perhaps the caveman lifestyle is not attractive, but there is something about how they lived with regards to their eating habits. Most diets are stressful, but the Paleo diet does not mean you have to stress out trying to think about what you have to eat. By following the Paleo principles, you will lose weight, you will see your energy levels increase, and you are more likely to live a longer, happier stress-free life, what’s not to love?

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Cheap Eats Don’t Have to Be Unhealthy

Although a study done in 2014 proved that it is cheaper to eat badly than it is to eat only healthy food, that does not mean that a healthy diet has to be expensive. And though actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow recently stirred up controversy by taking what she called the “food stamp challenge” in an attempt to shed light on what food stamps might provide, there is something interesting about this issue. While we won’t contemplate how to eat only healthy foods on less than $30 per week (which is what food stamps provide), we can consider some of the best foods to add to your repertoire without breaking the bank. Before we start to look at those foods, though, let’s figure out a few things that ensure we are going to find them at their lowest price.

  • Buy in bulk – If you can purchase such foods as nuts, spices, and grains in bulk you will see their prices drop substantially. You don’t have to purchase warehouse sized containers either and can often find stores that sell by the ounce.
  • Don’t buy canned – If you are going to add foods like vegetables and beans to the diet, avoid canned. Though canned fish like tuna and salmon can be surprisingly frugal choices, when you buy something like beans in a can you are paying for water and getting far less bang for the buck than if you bought them dried, soaked them, and then cooked them at home.
  • Do consider frozen – While a crisp kale or spinach salad is delicious, it can be costly. If you want to add affordable greens to the diet, you really cannot beat a bag of frozen greens. Supermarkets now stock affordably priced spinach, collards, and kale. You may also want to scout out the store brands, as these too are often remarkably less expensive.
  • Scout out the discount rack – Most grocery stores have areas where produce that is good but not perfect is available. This is an amazing resource for fruits and vegetables that you can often eat that day or put to use in soups, stews, purees, baked goods, or simply freeze and use in other recipes later.
  • Go vegetarian one day (or more) per week – While lean protein is great for you (such as what you find in poultry and fish), it is very pricey. If you can opt to eat meat as the exception rather than the rule, you will cut down on grocery costs immensely.
  • Look at the unexpected spots – Apart from dollar stores, the “job lot” stores are often a treasure trove for gourmet foodstuffs at bargain basement prices. From packages of buckwheat soba noodles to gourmet grains and mixes, you can usually find amazingly good deals on healthy and delicious foods in such unexpected outlets.

So, now that you have some tips stretching out your shopping dollars on healthy foods, let’s consider which foods cost you around a dollar or less per serving.

Foods that Cost $1 (or Less) Per Serving

You might say that you can head to the famous “golden arches” to enjoy a few items from the dollar menu, the point here is to avoid eating such processed and unhealthy foods if at all possible. This means finding foods that you can enjoy for less than a dollar per serving. There is a surprisingly long list of such foods, and when you combine them you often find that the entire meal comes in at under a few dollars in total. Which foods cost so little and yet come with lots of nutrition and healthful benefits? They are: Dried beans – Usually less than $.50 per serving, they are fiber and nutrient dense. They can make a perfect protein if you partner them with rice or another grain, and when you buy them dried and cook them at home, it is thought to provide you with more antioxidants. Eggs – Experts are still unsure about the actual number of eggs we can safely consume each week, but at less than $.25 each, eggs are a dream food. Packed with protein, they are filling and satisfying – especially when cooked with vegetables and rice. Nuts – Whether it is peanuts or almonds, you will find that a serving of nuts tends to cost no more than $.70. Full of nutrients and fiber, they can also help with such issues as high cholesterol. Oats – High in fiber and low in fat, it cuts cholesterol and can be used in baked goods, as breadcrumbs and as a tasty breakfast…and it costs less than $.13 per serving. Lentils – A whopping $.15 per serving, they have more protein than many meat sources, are extremely filling, and just downright delicious. Canned fish – Tuna and salmon are packed with Omega 3 oils, come in at less than $1 per serving and can be used in a diversity of recipes. Yogurt – You can enjoy this for about $1 per serving OR make your own and continue to enjoy it for under $.25 per serving! Whole grains – Ranging from $.18 to $.60 per serving, they are a good source of fiber, nutrition, and extremely filling. This is just a short list of the cheap eats that won’t break the bank. Don’t overlook affordable produce too – and start tracking what your meals cost. You’ll be surprised at how affordable a truly healthy diet can be.

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Eating Your Way to 100 and Beyond: 3 Nutrition Tips to Increase Longevity

As people are living longer than ever, there is a growing interest in finding out what contributes to increased longevity. What are people doing that they are not only living to 100 and beyond, but living in good health? That is the real key. Who wants to live a long life plagued by health problems and ever-increasing deterioration? That doesn’t sound very fun at all. Not surprisingly, many studies looking at large populations have found diet to be a linchpin in promoting longevity. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Food is the fuel our body uses to perform its various functions, and the more we feed it what it truly needs for optimal performance, the better off it is. This is something we know but really don’t know..if we did, it would probably be a lot easier to make healthy food choices. And the key is educating ourselves about how to be better stewards of our health. Here are some nutrition tips that have been linked with a longer, healthier life.

Keep Inflammation at Bay

Inflammation actually serves a positive purpose in the body. It lets our body know something is wrong, and the immune system can dispatch its variety of cells to come and save the day. But, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can lead to all sorts of problems, and has been noted as a major contributing factor to a host of life-shortening diseases, namely cancer and heart disease. Do you know one of the most effective ways to control inflammation is through diet? There are foods that trigger inflammation and those that quell it. This one change to your diet can have huge implications. So, what is an anti-inflammatory diet? Foods to include are those rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as cold-water fish, walnuts, flax seed and hemp seed. Many food are fortified with omega-3 nowadays, such as cereals, which can increase your intake. Though it is best to focus on foods that naturally contain these fats. Monounsaturated fats are also great for you, and are abundant in nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables—they are rich in antioxidants, substances that are very powerful for quelling inflammation. Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices include turmeric, cinnamon Keep saturated fats and trans fats at bay. Refined carbohydrates cause large spikes in insulin, which in turn trigger an inflammatory response. Minimize consumption  of omega-6 fatty acids—they are actually healthy but cause inflammation when consumed in high doses, which is typical in the average diet. They are found in oils such as canola, corn, soybean, mixed vegetable, sunflower and safflower.

Eat the Mediterranean Way

A few years back, the Mediterranean diet really made a splash. While a lot of the hoopla may have died down, the attention was well-deserved. Many studies have linked this way of eating with a longer life, and reduced risk of countless diseases. Many populations that have been noted for longevity live along the Mediterranean coast, and diet choices seem to be a common thread. A more recent study, published in 2014, which tracked the diet of over 4700 nurses, appears to add greater understanding of how exactly this diet benefits health and longevity. The women who ate a Mediterranean-style diet had different cell structure—namely longer telomeres, which are bits of DNA found at the end of chromosomes. Each time a cell divides, they get smaller, and previous research suggests shorter telomeres are linked with decreased lifespan. Telomeres are crucial to health in that they help protect chromosomes from deterioration, which sets the stage for disease. This effect was seen even after controlling for other factors that affect lifespan such as activity level and smoking status. The Mediterranean diet is rich in healthy fats found in fish, nuts and olive oil, fruits and vegetables, healthy grains, and protein-rich beans and legumes.

Intermittent Fasting

While many studies have found that long-term calorie restriction has been linked to a longer lifespan, it may be impractical for the average person to follow. One alternative may be intermittent fasting, where you go longer periods without food, while generally eating the same amount of calories. The idea is we were built for periods of feast or famine, and our frequent eating interferes with the body’s natural process of rest and repair. According to physician and natural health expert Dr. Joseph Mercola, intermittent fasting may offer benefits such as normalizing appetite hormones, reversing insulin resistance, increase production of human growth hormone, lowering triglycerides,and reducing oxidative stress. There are three main kinds of intermittent fasting. The first is restricting your food intake to an eight-hour window, and fasting for 16 daily. The second is eating normally five days a week, and restricting calories two non-consecutive days to 500 or 600 calories for women and men respectively. The third option is eating normally one day and fasting the next, with similar calorie restrictions just mentioned, though this method is usually recommended for jump starting weight loss and may not be as strictly followed once weight is normalized. While there is no one magic bullet, and proper nutrition is just one piece of the puzzle, it is a primary one, and healthier food choices can go a long way in promoting a longer and healthier life.  

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