Read Those Food Labels…

When it comes to processed foods, most people are aware that they aren’t always the healthiest choice, but many consumers buy them anyway because they are convenient to make, eat, and buy, and are often less expensive than most whole foods. It is no wonder consumers have no problem grabbing them off the shelves at their local grocery store, convenience store or favorite big-box store. We live in a society that is fast-paced, so it is quite common for many people to eat on the go and lean towards purchasing foods that are convenient. Think frozen pizza, frozen dinners, macaroni and cheese, soup, crackers, chips and more.

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The problem however, is that these prepared foods often lack nutrients that our bodies need and crave, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, and numerous others, which mainly come through eating whole foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, meat, grains, etc.) Many processed foods also contain added sugar and fat, which make them appealing to our taste buds, but often leave us craving more. Many are also loaded with additives and preservatives that may give them a long shelf life, but who knows what they are actually doing to our bodies? It is these additives that often wreak havoc, as our bodies don’t necessariily know how to process them.

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As a consumer, it is hard to get away from processed foods, as they seem to be everywhere and there are thousands upon thousands of choices.  We can however, make smarter choices when selecting them. The best way to do this is to start reading food labels when buying processed foods. While some consumers already read food labels, others do not. When is the last time you took a hard look at a food label? If you can’t remember, or don’t know, maybe it is time to change that.

Here are a some questions you should keep in mind:

  • How many ingredients does the product contain?
  • How many of the ingredients can you pronounce?
  • Do you know what the ingredients are?

If the list is long and involved, you should probably try to avoid the product. Consumers should shoot for 5 ingredients or less when purchasing food products. If you can’t say it, it is probably best to avoid it. It is hard to identify what you are actually eating if you are not familiar with the ingredient. By asking questions up front before buying a product,  you are taking control of your life and on your way to healthy living.

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Thanks for reading!

Barb

Are You Going Green?

Most people know that going green is good for the environment and can help make the world a better place, but did you know that going green is also good for your health? That’s right! Greens are rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E & K, which are good for our bodies.

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They also provide a host of other benefits such as improved circulation, blood purification, improved liver and kidney functioning, a strengthened immune system, and more.  Greens however, are the most common missing food for most people. While many people these days may have a salad for lunch, or add one to their dinner, we should really be including greens into our diets at every meal we eat to get enough of their healthful and beneficial nutrients.

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Although many people do eat greens and other vegetables, most people are definitely not including them at every meal. How about you? Where can you add in more greens? Maybe it is lunch time, or dinner, or perhaps an afternoon snack? How about breakfast? That one hits home and used to be problem for me, but over the last couple years I made some adjustments and now eat greens and vegetables pretty much every morning.

Adding in greens to your diet does not have to be complicated. It can be as easy as adding a little spinach, or kale to a smoothie, making some green juice, or adding some spinach, kale or chopped vegetables to your morning eggs, etc. You can also add greens into a stir fry,  chow mein, spaghetti and more. There are many ways to add more greens to our diets. All it takes is a little brainstorming, thinking ahead a little, and shopping, so you have what you need on hand.

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Here are some Popular greens you can include in a variety of food dishes:

  1. Spinach
  2. Kale
  3. Collards
  4. Swiss Chard
  5. Cabbage
  6. Arugula
  7. Romaine lettuce
  8. Radicchio

When we choose whole foods that contain the nutrients our bodies were made to thrive upon, we naturally feel better, so what is holding you back from making healthier choices? Go ahead and go green! Your body will thank you.

Thanks for reading!

Barb

 

 

 

An Apple A Day…

While most of us have heard the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” how many of you actually take it to heart? Unfortunately, not enough of us do. The truth is that an apple is considered by many to be one of the healthier foods available. An apple is not only rich in as Vitamin C, but also has other healthful information and nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin B-6, iron, vitamin A and calcium that our bodies need.

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Eating apples and other fruit can help us add to our daily intake of nutrients and antioxidants. Many fruits contain a healthy dose of fiber too, which can help us feel full. Since most fruit digests slower than a lot of processed foods that many of us are accustomed to eating, it can help trigger those satiety hormones , which can help prevent us from over eating, which is good news.

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Apples and many other fruits are sweet, so many people have an easier time adding them into their diets versus vegetables. Fruit however, contains natural sugar, so while it is good to eat, you don’t want to go over board and eat too much. Eating 1 to 2 servings of fruit a day is probably a good amount to strive for. Go ahead and eat as many vegetables as you like though, as they don’t contain all that natural sugar like fruit.

Many people are naturally attracted to fruit, and it is no wonder. Fruit not only comes in a variety of colors, but also comes in a large assortment of shapes, sizes and varieties, so the selection process can be fun and enjoyable. Many people reach for bright colored fruits like apples, oranges, bananas, and pears.

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Some fruits such as berries are considered super foods as they can help fight inflammation in the body. They also can help strengthen the immune system, and help fight cancer and other diseases as well. Blueberries are one example and are a popular choice among consumers, as they are sweet and loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

So the next time you are out grocery shopping, go ahead and reach for that apple, or other fruit. You can feel confident you are not only making a healthy choice, but helping to keep the doctor away too.

Thanks for reading!

Barb

Break Your Routine And Incorporate A Real Change…

It is hard to believe that fall is upon us.

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I hope you enjoyed the summer, while it was here. I know I did. I do like the fall season however, and always enjoy the beautiful fall colors and the cooler, brisk mornings. While fall typically signifies change, many of us like routine and may have a hard time adapting to new things. While routine can be good because it makes us feel safe and comfortable, it can also, at times, makes us feel stuck.

In fact, in the article, “Creating The Greatest Ideal of Yourself, author, Dr. Joe Dispenza, says, “if you repeatedly think and act in identical ways on a daily basis, your brain will become molded into a specific hardwired pattern that will support the same level of mind. It’s ironic. Most people routinely think the same thoughts, perform the same actions, and secretly expect something different to show up in their lives. If however, you were to sincerely think about a greater ideal of yourself before you started your day, you would begin to make your brain fire in new sequences, patterns, and combinations.”¹ That is why he recommends doing something that breaks your routine. It can be as simple as taking a different route on your routine, morning walk. You might just see something different that sparks a new idea. You could also take a different route to work, to the gym, or the grocery store. Maybe you could try a new food item, such as a different vegetable, or prepare it in a new way. The possibilities are endless, but the point is to change it up and stimulate your brain!

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Speaking of changing it up, fall is a great time to try out some new recipes. Many people are inside more and may have more time to experiment with some new foods. Why not pull out one of your cookbooks and dust it off?

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You might just find a new recipe you love. You can also search Pinterest, or another food site. There are literally thousands of recipes to choose from. Find something that appeals to you and incorporates a healthy dose of vegetables, or some other fall favorite.

You can also invite over some family, or friends to share your dish. Who knows? It just might inspire you to keep going and keep experimenting with healthy food and that is a good thing!

Source:

¹ Dispenza, Dr. Joe. Creating The Greatest Ideal of Yourself. Dr Joe Dispenza website.
http://www.drjoedispenza.com/index.php?page_id=creating_greatest_ideal

Thanks for reading!

Barb

P.S. Make sure you follow my blog for some new recipe ideas.

 

Nutrition: Know Your ABC and D’s…

When it comes to nutrition, it’s important to know your ABC and D’s…

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A is for Appetite…
While many people eat 3 meals a day and a snack or 2 throughout the day, others may not. Some people eat when they are bored. Other people eat when they are stressed, and still others seem to be constantly eating. While there is no hard and fast rule about how many times a day we should be eating, we should all pay attention to our appetites and what we are eating. When is the last time you asked yourself before reaching for that snack, “Am I really hungry?” The truth is that many people reach for those crackers, or chips because they are bored, or stressed out and really just want something to do, or have something to make them feel better, or satisfied for awhile. If you ask yourself if you are really hungry, you might figure out that you are really craving something else. Maybe going on a walk, or doing some quick stretches is a better option. If you really do feel hungry, try and find something that will give you some sustained energy such as an apple with peanut butter, a handful of nuts, etc.

B is for Bright Colors…
When it comes to foods, we all know that we should be eating more vegetables, as well as some fruit. Vegetables contain vital nutrients that our bodies need and we can’t get enough of them from other sources of food, or by taking vitamins, as we would have to mega-dose, which isn’t  good for you. That is why it is so important that we all eat our vegetables and plenty of them. When we sit down to eat, we should reach first for foods with more color. This should be fairly easy to do, as our eyes are typically drawn to bright colors. Think carrots, tomatoes, peppers, beets, corn, asparagus, egg plant, etc. Vegetables contain plenty of nutrients, plus include some powerful antioxidants that can help fight free radicals and their damaging effects.

We should also be adding more greens to our diets, as they are the most common missing food for most people. Many greens are rich in calcium, magnesium; phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E & K, etc. There are a variety of greens to choose from including kale, spinach, arugula, chard, etc. You can use them in salads, smoothies, make green juice with them, add them in with your main dish, saute them in olive oil and seasoning, etc. There are many options.

Adding more fruit to your diet is another way to help eat more healthfully. Fruit also contains a variety of nutrients that our bodies need, along with antioxidants. Many fruits also contain a healthy dose of fiber, which can help make us feel full. Many people prefer fruit over vegetables, as most fruit is sweet, but keep in mind that fruit does contain sugar, so you don’t want to eat too much. One to two servings of fruit a day is plenty. Fruit comes in a bright array of colors. Reach for apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, etc. Berries are also a good choice, as many of them contain anti-inflammatory nutrients—Think blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.

C is for Conscious Choices…
We live in a society that is fast-paced, so it is quite common for many people to eat on the go and lean towards purchasing foods that are convenient. The problem is that these prepared foods often lack nutrients that our bodies need and crave, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, and numerous others. People are often busy running from this meeting to that meeting, or running the kids here, or there, so many times people just don’t take the time to prepare a lunch to bring with them to work, or take the time to cook and prepare a meal at home later on. Many people often opt instead for a frozen pizza, go out to eat, or prepare some other convenient packaged food item. The truth is that even if you don’t have a lot of time to prepare a home cooked meal, you can always make conscious choices about what to eat. For example, you can choose a salad over a slice of pizza. You can also try and plan ahead and have food in your refrigerator that is more healthful. Cut up vegetables and store them in containers that can be easily transported with you. That way you can have a crunchy snack that is good for you, instead of reaching for a bag of Dorito’s from a vending machine. You can also have a variety of fruit on hand that you can easily grab, or take with you. Cooking ahead is another option. That way you have food ready to eat, or combine in with something else. For example, you can cook or grill a package of chicken breasts one day, and then cut the  chicken in slices to have ready for salads, tacos, fajitas, etc. This saves time, as well as can give you a variety of options for meals.

Make sure you have plenty of healthful snack options on hand too, to help avoid other unhealthy food choices.  Stock up on nuts such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, etc. You can also have both fresh and dried fruit, yogurt, dark chocolate, etc. Buy whatever healthy snacks work for you and your body.

D is for Destination…
Keep in mind that we all come from different ethnic backgrounds and that our ancestry can also shape our diets. Many cultures have specific foods that are unique to them and eat in a way that works well for their body and their culture. In certain regions of the world, some foods are prevalent and abundant and were naturally incorporated in the diet. For example, if your ancestors are from Japan, they most likely ate a lot of fish. Other items prevalent in their diets include rice, tofu, vegetables and fruits. If your ancestors are from Germany like mine, you might do well on a hearty diet of meat, potatoes and vegetables. Don’t be surprised if you crave some foods that are common to your ancestral background, especially if you haven’t eaten something in awhile. This is normal and for many people eating ancestral foods works well.

Thanks for reading!

Barb

 

 

Low Fat, No Fat, or Eat Fat?

When it comes to adding fat into our diets, many people are skeptical or confused. That’s not surprising, given the low fat craze of the 90’s where we were told that fat is bad for you and that we should limit our intake of it. Many food manufacturers latched on to this notion and developed hundreds of different food products that had less fat than their original counterparts, or similar products. I am sure that many of you are aware of them, as they became popular fast (think Snack Well Cookies). The problem with low fat food however, is two-fold. First of all, fat plays a big part in how a food tastes. When the fat content of a food is reduced, or eliminated, something has to take the place of it to make it taste better. Often times, sugar or other chemicals and preservatives are added to these food products to make them tastier, which many consumers overlook, or may not aware of. This is how some people have got in trouble with weight gain over time, especially when focusing solely on low fat foods. The other problem with a low fat, or no fat diet, is that the thinking, that we all need to reduce our fat intake to avoid problems with heart disease and cholesterol, etc., was all wrong.

In an interview with Dr. Mark Hyman, in the article, Fat’s Not The Enemy, Hyman writes,”‘This whole idea is scientifically untrue. In fact, science shows just the opposite. The reality is that the more fat you eat, the more fat you lose and the better your body functions.’ Hyman who is an American physician, author and scholar, promotes this theory further with his most recent book, Eat Fat, Get Thin: Why The Fat We Eat Is The Key To Sustained Weight Loss And Vibrant Health. The book focuses on incorporating high-fat, plant-based foods into the diet for a healthy life.”¹

Our bodies need fat to function properly and perform peak functions. Instead of focusing on low fat, or no fat, where we often look at the total fat of food, we need to look at both good fats and bad fats, which affect our bodies differently. While there are a variety of fats including saturated fat, monosaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and transfats, it is probably easiest for consumers to focus on the monosaturated fats (MUFAS), as these are good fats which are good for our bodies and are plant based. These healthy fats can be found in a variety of whole foods including avocados, nuts, seeds, olives and dark chocolate.

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Other healthy fats can be found in some fish, coconut oil, olive oil, etc. Trans-fats, on the other hand, are not so good and can be found in some animals and animal products such as milk. Other trans-fats are man-made and are actually created by an industrialization process which makes vegetable oil into a more solid form than some other oils available. This type of oil is called partially hydrogenated oil and is found in many processed foods, (think Dorito’s, potato chips, crackers, and many other food products).

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We all should do our best to avoid hydrogenated oils, as they are bad for our body. While eating them on occasion is probably OK, it is best to replace them with more healthy fat options for a healthier diet and life style.

Thanks for reading!

Barb

Source:
¹Singh, Pooja. “Fat’s Not the Enemy: Mark Hyman.” Http://www.livemint.com/. N.p., 19 Sept. 2016. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.