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Nutrition and wellness is tasteful

  • Exercise

    Exercise is a benefit to every part of the body--mind included.

    Exercise makes you look better, lose weight, and lowers your risk of many chronic diseases, and slows down aging.

  • Healthy children, healthy life

    "You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces--just good food from fresh ingredients."
    --Julia Child

    "If we're not willing to settle for 'junk living,' we shouldn't settle for junk food."
    --Sally Edwards

  • Food is medicine

    "Let medicine be thy food, and food be thy medicine."

    "Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."
    --Michael Pollen

Friday, November 10, 2017

Don't Nudge Me: The Limits of Behavioral Economics in Medicine

How do we get better at resisting the everyday temptations that exist in our environment? What are the everyday temptations you may ask? How about the overabundance of quick and easy fast-food "drive-through windows" or the easy access to a quick and easy snack that you can pick up at just about anywhere. To add to the lack of healthy options that our environment offers the everyday citizen, how "walkable" is your neighborhood and how safe is it to walk there at any given time of the day or night? 

To add more fuel to the fire, local food markets that meet daily needs (by offering healthy food choices), safe housing, access to adequate health care services and social support are frankly...lacking in supply -- especially in lower-income households. If we take just one aspect from those above-mentioned determinants of health like access to health care, then how do we ensure that those patients then comply with properly taking care of themselves? This is where the limits of behavioral economics in medicine comes into play. "Lessons to be learned from behavioral economics can be used to create environments that nudge people toward wiser decisions and healthier lives".

This also prompts the inquiry to behavior change being added to the mix of complications that affect overall population health. Particularly with those that suffer from chronic lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes, there happens to be an exceptionally high risk of those that don't comply with following treatment of their illness. In fact, The New England Journal of Medicine about 10 years ago estimated that up to two-thirds of medication-related hospital admissions in the United States were because of noncompliance, at a cost of $100 billion a year. So how can we improve medication adherence for chronic health problems effectively? 

The bottom-line is that it is very difficult for patients to change their behavior. Changing behaviors that are so firmly established can be a daunting task! But, what if there was a way to communicate more effectively with the patient or client to understand where "there head is at" rather than simply telling them what they need to do to get better? How can their compliance improve if clinicians, therapists or those that work closely with the public don't bother to first meet the patient where they are and build rapport and trust? How can we tackle so many of our healthcare concerns that are largely lifestyle related through wiser and more effective approaches? To a large degree, building our society's self-efficacy through various channels of communication by putting the responsibility of their wellbeing on their shoulders can be a positive approach if taken one step at a time. This clearly would be a work in progress.

In the words of Lou Holtz, "Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it". Those words seem pretty wise to me, what do you think? 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Junk Food Is Made To Be Twice As Distracting As Healthy Food

Just yesterday I was at a work-related event where lunch would be provided. Some of the participants brought in their left-over Halloween Candy simply because they no longer wanted it in their house! While I can't blame them, there is no reason to 'unload' it on the innocent who are trying to stay away from the stuff!
Interestingly enough though, a little can go a long way. In other words, try limiting yourself to one or two 'fun size' candies and believe it or not, that should be enough to satisfy the sweetest of the sweet tooth individual! 

Another great reason to limit yourself to one or two 'fun size' candies, can be seen in the results of the two-phase study conducted by Corbin A. Cunningham of Johns Hopkins University Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. (You can read more about the study at the link provided below). In many ways, the study shows that indeed a little can go a long way when it comes to what a 'complete deprivation of certain foods mindset' can do to trick us into going down the path of junk food overload!

What would you do if you were told you could never ever ever have a piece of dark chocolate caramel (or whatever your go-to junk food choice was) ever again? You'd probably want to go crazy and have as many as possible, right? Complete deprivation just doesn't work -- moderation works better. 

The long and the short of it is -- based on the information from the study and the way we are behaviorally wired, it is simply healthier to have a mindset that sets us up for successful and doable baby-step behavior changes rather than one of unrealistic goals, wouldn't you agree? 

Friday, October 27, 2017

How To Cut Back On Highly Processed Foods

Let's get some clarification first on what a processed food is and go from there, okay? As mentioned in Processed Foods 101 from this article, processed foods encompass foods that have purposefully been changed before we eat them. So, just because we may walk down the 'canned veggie' aisle at the local grocery store doesn't necessarily mean that is a bad thing. In fact, canned vegetables usually are quite good for you as they contain fresh vegetables that are canned, hence the nutrition remains intact. Additionally, if simply trying to add vegetables to your diet, canned may be the way to go as well because many times the fresh vegetables are more expensive.

According to the International Food Information Council, the act of processing can be as easy or simple as freezing or even drying food for preservation purposes. Canned beans, tuna and even frozen fruits and vegetables are great examples of good processed food options.

The trickier aspect of processed foods and their nutrient deficient ingredients occurs with more highly processed foods, which we should attempt to minimize or eliminate as much as possible. As many folks may know, these foods are the culprits for higher sodium, sugar and artificial ingredients that can cause havoc on overall health.

If already on the path of eating minimally processed foods whenever possible, good for you; on the other hand, 'weaning' oneself off of highly processed foods that have been more of a staple in the diet is easier-said-than-done to get rid of -- but, oh so worth it!

The following is a list of small, doable steps to begin eliminating highly processed foods from one's diet:

(1) Start Slowly. As I've learned and applied the principals taken from wellness coaching, do what you can to meet the client/person where they are currently. Example: You can't take a chronic smoker that smokes a pack a day down to none over night, right? It is a process of bringing awareness of current behaviors and modifying them in ways that make a positive difference, even at a slow rate.

(2) Supplement current meals with fresh foods. Do what you can to substitute or supplement meals by following the Choose My Plate option to eating well. Even if having a burger with dinner, how about eliminating the fries and substituting a delicious salad instead? That way, you get to enjoy the burger and don't feel totally deprived. Remember, change is a process.

(3) Water can be boring, but in knowing how good water is for your body, it is worth it! If water is sounding 'too bland', how about adding a slice of lemon or other diced fruit to it to give it some jazz.

(4) Cut the sodium out: Now-a-days, there are so many salt substitutes that contain great spices. I can definitely say -- as much as I enjoy salt too -- a simple tweak of a salt-free substitute can add depth and zest to a meal.

(5) Choose Whole Grains Over Processed Grains: Whole grains are most definitely part of a healthful diet so substitute regular white rice with wild rice or brown rice. Once again, when walking down the grocery store bread aisle, find breads that have "Whole Grain" instead of "Whole Wheat" as first ingredient.

(6) Limit or avoid processed meats. This one can be difficult for many people, but in realizing there are delicious and more nutritious substitutes even limiting these foods can contribute to better health. Eating foods like these processed meats have been shown to increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

(7) Plan ahead. If you know you will be having a busy day and will have limited time getting a good meal, try planning ahead with smart snacks. It isn't difficult to throw in some mixed nuts, raisins, sliced veggies into your purse or your bag. Another great option is a portion-sized greek yogurt that adds flavor and nutrients.

(8) Substituting highly processed snacks and foods with healthier snack options is simple to do. The link above provides a list of healthier snack options to adopt into your diet plan.

(9) Make your own version of junk food: Check out Rule #4 in the 'own version' of junk food. As Michael Pollen believes, if you can't make it yourself, skip it all together. Chances are if you make your own junk food, it won't be an everyday occurrence.

(10) Make healthier versions of frozen meals. As in making smart substitutions for foods like Mac and Cheese and burgers, it's easy enough to substitute whole-wheat pasta for the Mac and Cheese or turkey/veggie burgers for the regular burger.

(11) Careful reading of labels is important. When it comes to substitutions that state "fat-free" or "sugar-free", those substitutions could be made with artificial ingredients that contain lots of sugar or food dyes.

By incorporating the above-mentioned healthy foods in place of more processed foods, there is no doubt that you will be feeling at your best in no time.

Friday, October 20, 2017

8 Low Glycemic Foods For Better Health

There are various reasons for doing what you can to stick to low glycemic foods. No, you don't and shouldn't look at carbs as being 'evil' or to be avoided at all cost, you simply need to do what you can to choose the right kinds of carbs. Yes, carbs that are low on the glycemic index are the ones to shoot for as much as possible.

The glycemic index measures carbohydrate-containing foods that impact blood sugar either positively or negatively. There is a scale that ranges from low (0-55) to medium (56-69) to high (70 and above). Becoming familiar with these ranges helps quite a bit when choosing the carbs that one eats frequently. Check out the list of foods, GI rating system and more here.

In knowing that a low-glycemic diet is the most beneficial to the body, it also helps to know why this is the case. Low-glycemic foods are good to incorporate in one's diet for the prevention of heart disease, diabetes and more. In addition, these foods also stabilize energy levels which means a more productive day. How good is that?

By the way, below is a list of the 8 Low Glycemic Foods:

(1) Wild Salmon
(2) Nuts
(3) Oils (Coconut and Olive)
(4) Cinnamon
(5) Oats
(6) Leafy Greens
(7) Seeds (think Pumpkin, Flax or Chia)
(8) Eggs

Friday, October 13, 2017

Video: Lack of Sleep Increases Junk Food Cravings

It is amazing how complex our bodies are...truly. We all know there is an obesity crisis, and it is important to know that it goes beyond the food we eat and the activities we do on a daily basis. While food and activity are crucial for weight loss, there are also other contributing factors that should be sleep.

The following video provides us with real scientific evidence that not sleeping enough contributes to an increase in junk food cravings. It is important for people to see the correlation between sleep and obesity. Our bodies absolutely need sleep and there is no way around it. So why not pass on the extra T.V. watching at night to catch your favorite show and get to bed an hour earlier? Your body and mind will thank you for it! Worried you'll miss your favorite show? Record it and save it for later!

Good health is not just the food we eat and exercising enough, it is more.....

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Are you successfully aging well?

How well we live our lives successfully has so much to do with how well we take care of our bodies, wouldn't you agree? In this time of fast food, busy schedules, unhealthy environments and more, at least we do have some ability to slow the aging process by following some smart and effective steps.

Some of the main differences between how successfully or unsuccessfully we age has to do with how we live our lives day in and day out. Are we positive? Do we have good energy throughout our day and that includes good strength and general fitness? How well do we sleep? Are we stressed out all the time? These are important questions to ask ourselves and if there is hesitancy on any of the above-mentioned questions, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate how we live our lives on a daily basis.

Successful aging isn't just how well you look on the outside -- Do you have wrinkles? Do you look tired all of the time? Are you angry or depressed? Even those fortunate souls out there that do appear to age more gracefully have their fair share of 'tough days', but they seem to handle it differently. They have taken the necessary steps to lead a healthier lifestyle -- and, it is not always easy -- guaranteed. So, how about focusing on how we approach our day to day living with more energy, positivity and vigor?

If you aren't ready to 'hit the gym' for an hour a day, no worries, there are still so many things to get you going on a good path to better health. Start with small steps like moving as much as possible -- walk to the store, park farther, take the stairs -- you get the picture. Additionally, there is no reason to omit certain foods completely -- unless your doctor has you doing so -- just attempt to eat more whole foods and less processed foods, drink more water and watch portions too. It really takes some discipline, but isn't anything worth having in life worth fighting for -- as in your health?

The good news is that we can greatly influence how we age by taking action steps that will lead to healthier lifestyle outcomes.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Breathe Deep, Be Present and Get Healthy in a "Doable" Way

It is so easy to get overwhelmed with every diet out there, right? Just like your friend who lost a ton of weight on Jenny Craig or your neighbor who swears by her newly acquired deep-breathing exercises, right? Instead of claiming those activities as your own, engage in simple, doable actions that will get results!

Start out with a few unmistakably great habits to get into that will set you on a good path to wellness. At least see how well you feel after a week of doing the following things mentioned below. Who knows -- one week of eating well can turn into two, three and more weeks of eating well.

(1) DO Drink Water. Yes, water is overlooked by many simply because we may forget to drink water or we may not believe that it will make a big difference in our health. But, no mistaking it, water is essential for good cell health, it helps to balance our body fluids, it energizes us and keeps us full longer.

(2) DON'T Go on a Juice Cleanse. I've never gotten this one. Is a juice cleanse realistic? Is that how you will continue eating from here on out? At least check with your doctor before you do something like this. We are meant to eat real whole foods, portion-controlled and just eating reasonably.

(3) DON'T Start Banning Foods. Why not cut back on sugar and gluten rather than eliminating it forever? What happens if you eliminate these foods all together -- will you replace those foods with something else that may not be that good for you? Food for thought.

(4) DO eat plenty of fiber. No doubt, fiber is important for our bodies. Not only does fiber make you feel fuller longer, but it also reduces heart disease risk, it slows sugar absorption, improves digestive health and it keeps us at our optimal weight. As Michael Pollan so eloquently stated: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Pretty sound advice.

(5) DON'T rely on powders and pills. Again, how realistic is it to live on powders and pills? When you are replacing a Real Food like Broccoli or an Apple with a powder or pill, it just doesn't add up and important vitamins and minerals are missed for essential body function.

(6) DO be mindful of portion sizes. This is a big one for sure! If we somehow can give ourselves time to enjoy the foods that we are eating -- and waiting a bit to digest -- we can eliminate overeating and feeling 'icky'!

(7) DON'T focus exclusively on calories. How about instead of eliminating avocados -- typically high in good fats -- eliminate another lower calorie food that may be full of sugars or preservatives.

(8) DO Think Positive. There is no doubt that this is good for just about anything. Thinking positively sets you up for success and the hope of better 'eating' days ahead.

(9) DON'T Expect Miracles. Instead of being so driven to lose the last 5 to 10 pounds in a week or even a month -- be realistic about it. The healthiest way to lose weight is recommended at 1-2 pounds a week. The best thing that could happen is setting yourself up for building on a good habit that can last a lifetime, not just for a week or a month. Losing weight is not easy, but keeping it off is something to shoot for one day at a time....

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Want a healthy heart and good vision? How about the following 15-lutein rich foods?

Lutein, a yellow to orange pigment related to vitamin A, is extremely important for not only maintaining vision, but keeping a healthy heart as well. Perhaps you may easily take your eyesight and beating heart for granted, especially if you currently have good vision and a strong, beating heart. But, what if you don't? What if you wish you could improve your eyesight and even your improve your blood pressure? The following 15 foods can help give your eyes and heart a healthy boost for sure....

1) Kale: This veggie has a ton of nutrients besides lutein. It has a good amount of vitamin C, calcium, beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin K and even fiber. Super low in calories too.

2) Winter Squash: When was the last time you roasted a squash in the oven? It is so good and full of great vitamins and minerals...yes, including Lutein and vitamin A too.

3) Collards: These leafy greens are not surprisingly chock full of vitamins and minerals, fiber and so much more! For those of us attempting to lower our LDL (lousy) cholesterol, this is a great addition to the diet. Additionally, these greens are related to kale and cabbage and are quite delicious in a salad, as a side dish or as an added bonus, a smoothie too.

4) Yellow Sweet Corn: What could be a better accompaniment to a summer B-B-Q than corn? Whether it is steamed or grilled, it is delicious and high in lutein, potassium and B vitamins. Even as a snack, popcorn is a great addition too -- although being sure to skip out on the extra butter and salt!

5) Spinach: This leafy green is rich in lutein, calcium, potassium, vitamins A, C and K and is extremely high on the ORAC scale. This scale which was developed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and a part of the National Institutes of Health -- provides a score that is associated with minimizing oxidative damage to our cells. This reduction in damage in turn, slows the aging process. 

(6) Swiss chard: This low-calorie, highly-rich-in-vitamins and minerals leafy green is a great healthy addition to a weeknight dinner by simply sauteeing it in a bit of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. If you are feeling you want to add a little more, a finely chopped bacon strip or carmelized onions adds depth to the dish.

(7) Green peas: Green peas are high in lutein, magnesium, iron, zinc, B-vitamins, vitamin A and potassium. Another simple and delicious side dish to a weeknight meal.

(8) Arugula (rocket) has a good amount of lutein in it as well as a load of vitamins and minerals. It is wonderful in salads, a brief wilting with olive oil and garlic or even on top of a small and filling quesadilla.

(9) Brussels sprouts: While these may or may not be a favorite for some, it is a great weight loss food and they are easy to prepare. Even branching out a bit and roasting them with a little chile oil or simple olive oil and vinegar are good!

(10) Broccoli rabe, also high in lutein and vitamins and minerals and fiber, is delicious oven-roasted with a bit of parmesan cheese or chile flakes for a twist. 

(11) Pumpkin: Pumpkin has a large amount of lutein in it as well as fiber and potassium. Again, another good addition to change up the dinner menu and add some zest!

(12) Egg yolks: While clearly not plant-based, this animal-based food has lutein and protein and when eaten in moderation, can be a nice addition to an already healthy diet. 

(13) Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are well-liked by many, especially with a small amount of a healthy fat like olive oil, salt and pepper. Once again, this food is rich in lutein, vitamin A, potassium, fiber and more.

(14) Carrots are delicious raw or cooked. They are full of lutein, multiple vitamins and minerals and low in calories too.

(15) Asparagus: Last but not least, Asparagus has a good amount of lutein and other nutrients to make it delicious and nutritious.