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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, July 22, 2016

10 FREE Ways to Optimize YOUR Wellness

Optimize YOUR Wellness for Free? Optimizing your Wellness is beneficial -- even if it does involve a few bucks, but that is besides the point. Wellness goes beyond just eating more healthfully or sleeping enough -- it addresses the issue of making the most of who you are as a human being! 

There is always room for improvement and that includes everything from being more physically active, using our brain power, being connected to our emotional, social and spiritual sides and being aware of our surrounding environment. This is not some woo-woo made-up thing either. 

Wellness manifests itself in various ways that are quite visible to us. Can you tell when someone is having a good day or a bad day? Absolutely! One can see that just from hearing comments about Monday morning work - ugh! - especially for people who really aren't "into their jobs". What about Friday afternoon? Who can't tell when someone is really happy and looking forward to getting off work to enjoy the start of a great weekend? Those are just some examples that come to mind when thinking about how good one can feel generally. 

Other ways to see your wellness shine through?
  • Laugh a lot!
  • Simple acts of kindness -- volunteer
  • Schedule time with friends
  • Get a good night's sleep
  • Be kind to those you love
  • Meditate
  • Go for a walk
  • Get outside
  • Hug someone
  • Show your Gratitude!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cut diabetes risk by replacing carbs with 'healthy' fats

There is no doubt that as boring or repetitive it is to hear that moderation is key -- it is just too important to ignore. Then, finding the balance of healthy carbs, healthy fats and healthy proteins can be just as tricky, but oh so important. Many times finding the right foods to eat and in the right proportions for us can be hard to do, but a good rule of thumb to know would be to attempt to choose foods that are less processed and with ingredient labels that are "pronounceable" and limited in number. Particularly if you have diabetes or suspect you may have it, read the ingredient label! If you don't know what an ingredient is, look it up. Everyone knows how to "google" something, right?

How about when it comes to diabetes? What are the right foods to eat, the foods to limit and even eliminate? What about quantities? In a study conducted for cutting the risk of diabetes, a sound recommendation of replacing carbs with healthy fats has been made. This new study "suggests that replacing even a moderate amount of carbs with fats from vegetable oils, nuts and soybeans can reduce the risk of diabetes." 

A thought-provoking finding made by researchers discovered that "for every 5 percent of dietary energy that was switched from carbohydrates or saturated fats to more mono or poly-unsaturated fats" led to a substantial reduction in diabetes risk and an additional reduction of 6.8 percent for the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Physician Darius Mozaffarian, Dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University, believes that making improvements to insulin resistance is important for healthy living. 

What is insulin resistance? Insulin is key to what makes our metabolism work. Our bodies are geared to using food as energy in the most effective way, but it doesn't always happen. Hence, insulin resistance throws the "body out of whack" by not taking up glucose properly. "When the cells can't take up glucose, they release fatty acids into the bloodstream, which results in low HDL levels and high triglycerides, and when the liver thinks there's not enough glucose it makes new fat and you end up with a fatty liver." It is a bad cycle - period. 

To learn more about cutting diabetes risk, read the article.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Changing Patient Behavior: The Next Frontier in Healthcare Value

What will it take to effectively see the damage that is being done in our society today due to the rising cost of chronic illnesses that are largely preventable?

How can people become more motivated and incentivized to make positive changes in the way they live? There may certainly be a population out there that looks at statistics only or listen solely to "what their doctor says". But, do they really listen? Are they really encouraged to change their behavior? A new way of looking at patient behavior may very well be the next step in placing higher value in healthcare....

Friday, July 15, 2016

How to Make Small Habit Changes

As I was reading through this article on How to Make Small Habit Changes by Sourav Adhikari, it occurred to me that we really can be empowered by the things we do everyday -- yes, those things we call habits. Making frequent smart small habit changes can lead to so many good things from choosing the right foods to eat, to balancing the checkbook to exercising before we head out for the work day.

How many times have we contemplated changing something that we find ourselves doing everyday, yet we don't change anything! The following is a great list of 15 ways we can make small habit changes that can have long-lasting outcomes we can be proud to follow. Thank you Sourav for the reminders!

(1) Take Small Steps: Time to reflect on the things we do throughout the day - consciously that is. Is there a habit that you would like to change and simply find it too difficult to consider changing? Even if it means getting up one hour earlier than you normally would to exercise or get ready for your day (running, yoga, or meditation), by doing this one act, you set your day off on the right course.

(2) Habit Identification: Perhaps you may not even be aware of your bad habit or you think you might, but you are not even considering making a change yet. At least by identifying your habit, you become aware that it may be preventing you from progressing to better things. 

(3) Make a proper plan: What are the things you want to improve or change? By having a solid plan, one can move forward.

(4) Challenge yourself: Once again, start out small. What if you are a smoker? Could you challenge yourself to not smoke a half pack of cigarettes before 10 am? What will make you stop or seek help?Smoking goes beyond just being a terrible, bad, unhealthful habit, but it keeps you from being your best! Give yourself credit to be better than that!

(5) Be positive: It is all good! In attempting to be positive, you are already setting yourself up for success. It just may take a little effort on your part, but you should be pleased with the results.

(6) Cut out distractions: Is something keeping you from completing your intended task/project? Clear your head first by taking a brief walk or stretching -- come back to what you were doing with a new mindset.

(7) Self-talk: Classic! We all have a little devil on one shoulder and a little angel on the other -- at least that's what it feels like sometimes. It is so tempting to talk yourself into blowing something off that you don't want to do. In being aware of the chatter in your head though, the next step would be in trying to re-focus and silence the chatter.

(8) Keep a Journal: This is so wise! It really is amazing what pen and paper will do with helping you to remember where you were and where you want to be.

(9) Breath Deep! Breathing fully and deeply re-energizes you and sets you on a course for success. It may not be the huge problem you think it is -- stay calm and breath.

(10) Replace thoughts: I really like this one. By replacing negative thoughts in your head with positive ones, it simply gives you perspective and another way of looking at things. It's sort of like seeing the "glass half full" instead of the "glass half empty" scenario.

(11) Good Habits: Hopefully by following some of the above-mentioned changes, good habits can become more frequent. In taking a step back and seeing the result of something positive, you'll want to keep doing it!

(12) Hire Someone: This may not be ideal for everyone as it could involve money that we don't have or don't want to use for this reason, but in "hiring" someone -- friend or family member -- to keep us accountable and on a well-paved path could be a really good thing!

(13) Reward Yourself: By rewarding yourself, good habits become easier to handle. It just makes sense to reward ourselves with good outcomes. It doesn't have to be food, but maybe a CD or coffee with a good friend or an extra hour of sleep on Saturday.

Lastly, in being mindful of our actions, we can gain so many good things that will benefit us in the long run. It may not seem like it at the moment, but having good self-control at the right moments counts for a lot! Imagine having a really bad temper and losing it every time something doesn't go your way. You aren't doing yourself any favors by getting upset since you are only hurting yourself! People may not remember the good things you do as frequently as they will remember the bad things! 

There really is nothing more inspirational than seeing the success of others who have worked hard to get where they are, right? In following the small changes listed above, you'll definitely be off to a great start!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Prediabetes Awareness Campaign Sparks Pushback

It is no wonder that people have become more aware of the dangers of diabetes, yet, diabetes continues to rise. Some experts believe that prediabetes, a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than what they should be, but not high enough to be considered diabetes, should be left undiagnosed. This is disconcerting news for anyone, let alone those that do everything they can to maintain good health. These experts who are recommending that prediabetes go undiagnosed -- at least for the time being -- are opposing what a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention initiative recommends which believes that people should get screened for the condition.

Currently more than 1 in 3 adults in the United States has prediabetes and they don't even know it! According to the CDC, if people are not tested and have no intervention to prevent this disease, 15 to 30% of those patients will eventually become Type 2 diabetic within 5 years. 

Of course some of the downsides of having pre-screenings is that people will be given more tests and more appointments and this means that there will be more patients as well. But, is the initiative going overboard or is it simply there to guide people to live healthier lives by eating better, in portion-controlled sizes and leading a more active lifestyle.

According to this article, here are a few warnings for diabetes to watch out for:
  • More than 1 out of 3 U.S. adults have prediabetes. Some 90% of those don't know they have it.
  • Without weight loss and moderate physical activity, 15 to 30% of people with pre diabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within 5 years.
  • People with prediabetes can cut their risk of getting diabetes by losing weight, eating more healthy foods and being more active. 
Internationally, the World Health Organization (WHO) dissuades the use of the term "prediabetes" in order to avoid the 'disgrace' that comes with being associated with the word diabetes and emphasizes "that many people don't progress to diabetes as the term itself implies." 

Monday, July 11, 2016

How Food Labels Leave A Bad Taste

The weekend edition of the WSJ (Wall Street Journal) had an enlightening article on how food labels can be quite confusing for people to read let alone understand. Part of me believes that it is just the plan to confuse people when it comes to making better food choices, but perhaps that is just the more pessimistic view that I've gained of the food world over the years. I'm sure that I'm not alone though.

"Government regulators forbid outright dishonesty, but labels with narrowly defined, cleverly deployed or unregulated buzzwords can confound shoppers trying to determine what's what"

The following is a helpful guide on how to do your food label reading:

In determining if a product is whole grain, look for the following things. Be sure that the product reads 100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat, otherwise you may not be getting the product that you think you should be getting.

Follow the ingredients list, so if the first ingredient says "enriched flour", it more than likely is refined and has had nutrients added to it, thereby making it "not made mainly of whole grains".

Another guide to follow? Natural. When you read natural on a label, it doesn't refer to how the plant or animal was raised, but instead how the product was prepared.

To learn more about what the true meaning behind your food label and what it should be telling you, refer to the article here.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Secret to Tapping YOUR Unlimited Inner Happiness

While this particular post has nothing to do with food -- it does indeed tap into many of the choices we make when it comes to the foods we eat, the friends we choose or how we even deal with our everyday lives. Another thought that comes to mind is how good one feels physically after having had a wholesome delicious and healthy meal as opposed to feeling not so good from too many chips and dip or pizza at that fun get-together last night with family or friends. You follow? In other words, all of our actions do matter and the choices we make day in and day out really matter.

"The idea that our happiness is somewhere outside of us, contingent upon some condition or some accomplishment, is not just wrong-it's dangerous. Because we end up chasing happiness in the place that it can never be found. And This fruitless endeavor is actually the source of our unhappiness".

Upon further reflection of this particular day, July 4th -- Independence Day -- it is just good to be thankful that we live here in the United States. Whether or not we have disagreements politically or otherwise, we have freedoms here that just are not acceptable to other places in the world. We can make good sound choices -- not only with the foods we eat -- but, the friends we choose, the family we decide to enjoy and so much more. It's time to be thankful for it all and by doing this simple act -- happiness is born.

Sometimes it is in the remembering of what we have now in our present lives that makes all of the difference!

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Truth About Sugar Addiction

It is common knowledge that sugar -- especially in the large quantities that we typically consume it -- is just NOT good for our bodies. The thing is though -- sugar is pretty addictive. I mean, don't you just crave it and want more when you take a bite of a delicious treat? Not fair! It only serves us well to recognize that sugar is made to be a "treat that you want to eat on occasion" and find ways to cut it out as much as possible! Believe me, I'm not lecturing by any means as I have a sweet tooth myself, I just keep it on the down-low as much as I can.

Another amazing fact: Did you know that sugar supplies energy (not good in this case) to every "ity-bity" cell in our brain? Our brain recognizes sugar as a reward. What do I mean by that? Somehow our brain plays tricks on us and we become so good at "rationalizing" things and we tell ourselves,  "Oh so I went to the gym today and worked out a solid hour," or "I went on a long hike that was so hard," or "I was so active today, I deserve a treat" -- we can go on and on with ways we tell ourselves that we deserve that sugar reward. 

We need to recognize the definite "highs and lows" that we go through in the midst of our busy day. Need some caffeine? Easy, there is a Starbucks on every corner! Need a quick pick-me up? How about the dozen donuts that are sitting on the kitchen table in your workplace? 

We can re-train our tastebuds -- it isn't impossible. It's a matter of simply wanting to make the change and see the big-picture of possibly dropping those last few pounds we've been wanting to lose or even if losing weight is not an issue -- think of how limiting your sugar intake will make you feel better and more alert! Simply because a person is naturally thin doesn't necessarily mean they are healthy, so the day-to-day eating counts!

It is a matter of making healthier substitutes. So, when hunger strikes, instead of reaching for the donut or cookie, why not try to eat an apple and walnuts or almonds instead. The reward you give yourself would only be a couple of hours away knowing that you will have a delicious dinner that is healthy! Instead make your treat a glass of red wine that you can sip slowly to enjoy it thoroughly! If you get into this kind of habit, it is only a matter of time before a really healthy habit is formed and you'll want to keep on doing it!

To learn about other ways to cut sugar out of your diet as much as possible, read about it here....