Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Portion Sizes!!!

How is everyone doing with getting fit?  One big obstacle that can affect our goals is our portion sizes of the food we eat.  Especially when we go out to eat in a restaurant- the U.S. has some of the largest portion sizes of anywhere in the world!  It's a wonder why we have the highest obesity rates. So, paying attention to how much you are putting on your plate is a big deal.  Try to use a smaller plate to eat.  Eating can be very psychological. We "think" we need to fill the plate up, so using a smaller one tricks us into thinking we have enough food.  Many of us were taught as children to "clean our plates".  That's actually a terrible habit, if in fact you are taking too much.  I'm not about waste, at all, but, you are better off saving what's left on your plate in the refrigerator than trying to eat it all, if you are full.  Another thing we tend to do is eat off of our kids' plates. Bad habit!!  So, let me encourage you to read, read, read labels!  Get a good set of measuring cups and use them to measure your portion sizes.  Most people are very surprised at what "one serving" looks like.  When it comes to meat, 3 ounces is about the size of a deck of cards.  Measuring is very important when it comes to items like pasta and rice.  Those calories add up very quickly.  I always measure my granola- it's what I eat very often for breakfast, but only 1/4 of a cup in 1/2 cup of organic vanilla yogurt with some fruit.  Granola can be healthy, but it packs a lot of calories, so you must be careful how much you consume.  It's a good form of healthy carbs, protein and fat and is a much better choice than a bowl of surgary cereal.  I make my own granola or I eat an organic variety that is not filled with refined sugar, but instead, is sweetened with honey or molasses and has healthy nuts in it- that's where the protein comes from.  This is another reason why reading labels is necessary- you have to know what you are eating.  Chemicals in food can make us retain fat on our bodies.

For years I have encouraged my clients to keep a food journal.  Well, in this age of technology, that has gotten easier.  There is a wonderful app called My Fitness Pal.  You can access it on the internet if you don't have a way to download an app.  This app allows you enter everything you eat each day, as well as the calories you burned exercising (obviously, that part isn't going to be 100% accurate, since the app doesn't know how hard you pushed yourself or to what level you worked out- but, it's a rough estimate).  You can enter how much weight you want to lose, and it will calculate how many calories you should eat each day.  It's really a great way to keep track of what you're eating.  For example, after you enter your breakfast calories, it will show you how many calories you have left to eat that day.  It really helps you to make good choices, knowing that you only have "x" amount of calories left to consume that day.

I have always said that I am about eating in moderation- except, when it comes to chemicals!    So, here is an example of how I allow myself to eat something that's not exactly healthy for me.  This is also how I taught my kids to eat.  If I know I'm going to want something that's high in calories or fat, I never start off eating that item first.  Instead, I eat healthy items until I'm almost full, and then I have a little bit of that food I'm craving.  It's just enough to satisfy, but not enough to sabotage my eating for the day.  When my kids were young and we were eating lunch, I would give them the healthy food first, ex:  turkey breast on whole wheat, veggies and fruits.  Then, when they were done eating all of that I would let them have some chips (chemical free ones of course) or a cookie or something of that nature.  They never ate a lot of the junk because they were full from the good stuff, yet, they never felt deprived.  Another huge rule in our house is:  NEVER EAT ANYTHING FROM THE BAG!!!!!!!!!  So many people will sit down with a bag of chips and have no idea how many they have just consumed.  We tend to eat mindlessly, especially if it's in front of the television.  Always, measure out a serving on a plate and then put the bag away.

Eating healthy doesn't have to be a chore- sometimes we just need to break those bad habits!!!!  Oh, and I have a new facebook page at  I hope you go and "like" it!!!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tips For Healthy Eating!

With warmer weather here, I hope that encourages everyone to get outside and exercise!  I have found that when I exercise, I tend to not want to eat junk food, but, instead healthy food.  Here are some tips that I find work for ensuring healthy eating:

1.  Don't keep junk food in your house!
     This is a BIG one.  If it's not there, you won't be tempted to eat it.  Instead choose to find healthy foods to eat as a treat, such as fresh fruit or yogurt.

2.  Make your own snacks.
     When you make your own food, you know exactly what you are putting in it.  Choose a day out of the week that you aren't as busy and make that your day to prepare snacks for the week.  Go online and find some healthy recipes for granola bars and snack mixes.  Or, if you find a recipe you like that isn't particularly healthy, make some ingredient changes and make it healthy.

3.  Do a menu plan for the week.
     This is huge!!!  If you know exactly what you are going to be eating at each meal, you will be less likely to reach for something unhealthy.  It also is a great way to save money.  Instead of just choosing random things to put in my grocery cart, I only get the items I need to make the menu I have chosen for the week.  It also helps you to intentionally add those fruits and veggies to each meal.

4.  Do prep work ahead of time.
     This goes along with the menu plan.  Have your salad chopped up ahead of time, along with other veggies and fruits.  If all you have to do is open the fridge to find something prepared to eat, you will be less likely to grab that bag of chips (which you shouldn't have in your house anyway!).

5.  Instead of a whole cheat day- just have a cheat meal.
     I firmly believe in not completely depriving yourself of some of the foods you really love.  Most people will have a cheat day in their week, which can lead to a lot of unhealthy calories being consumed.  Instead, have a cheat meal- it will still give you something to look forward to, but you won't go overboard on the calories.  Thirty five hundred calories equals 1 pound.  It would be fairly easy to eat 3500 calories if you had a whole cheat day!  REMEMBER:  EAT TO LIVE, DON'T LIVE TO EAT!!!!!  If we can get our minds wrapped around that, we will want to fill our bodies with healthy foods.

6.  Soup is where it's at!
     Soup is a great way to eat a meal with low calories.  If you are out to eat, always choose a clear broth soup, not a cream based soup.  Most restaurants use heavy cream to make those types of soup.  If you are home making your own soup, you can still have a creamy type of soup, but instead use skim milk and some flour or cornstarch to cream it.  It works great and you save a lot of fat and calories.  And, choose to make a soup that has a lot of veggies in it- they tend to pick up the flavor of the broth and even kids who don't normally like veggies will eat it.

7.  Grocery shop around the outside perimeter of the store as much as possible.
     Next time you are at the grocery store, look and see what is on the shelves in the middle of the grocery store as opposed to the perimeter of the store.  I have readers in other countries, so this may not be true in other parts of the world, but, unfortunately here in the United States, those shelves in the middle of the grocery store are filled with processed foods.  Produce, meats, and dairy are on the perimeter of the grocery store.  Once I eliminated chemicals from my family's diet, I don't shop those inside aisles near as much as I used to.  Obviously, things like condiments, rice, pasta and beans are in those middle aisles, and those can be healthy choices.  But, there are a lot of processed foods lurking on those shelves, too!!!

I hope this helps you in getting your family on the right track with their eating!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April Challenge!!!!!

Can you believe it is April already??????  How are you doing with the monthly challenges?  January was to remove high fructose corn syrup; February was to remove dyes and artificial coloring; and March was to remove nitrites and nitrates from your diet.  This month we are going to be removing MSG- monosodium glutamate from your diet.  I wrote a post a few months ago on the dangers of MSG which I am putting below:

What is MSG? Monosodium glutamate is a salt made from glutamic acid. It's used to bring out the taste in salty and sweet foods. So, most restaurants put it in just about everything as well as many prepackaged and processed foods. Side effects from consuming MSG include: headache, diarrhea, chest pain, dizziness, palpitations, weakness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, chills, heartburn, unusual thirst, depression, anxiety/panic attacks, hyperactivity and behavioral problems in children, joint pain, hives, rashes, etc. MSG is an excitotoxin that crosses the blood- brain barrier which means it can cause neurological problems. So, as you can see MSG should not be consumed if you are trying to be healthy. When it comes to weight loss, MSG can cause hypothyroidism, which causes your thyroid gland to not produce enough of the thyroid hormone, which in turn affects your rate of metabolism. People with hypothyroidism do not burn as many calories and then they gain weight. Another problem with MSG and weight loss is that it actually acts as a non appetite suppressant meaning it makes you crave the food that you are eating that contains the MSG. This is why so many people "crave" certain foods, especially fast food. Think about those fast food french fries that you love or certain other dishes from restaurants. More than likely they contain MSG.

Now, here's the tricky part. There are ingredients that contain MSG, so food companies don't have to actually list MSG on the label, only the ingredient that contains it. So, when you see the following ingredients on a label, it more than likely contains MSG: autolyzed plant protein, autolyzed yeast, calcium caseinate, gelatin, glutamate, glutamic acid, hydrolyzed plant protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, monopotassium glutamate, senomyx, sodium caseinate, textured protein, vegetable protein extract, yeast extract, yeast food or nutrient, flavor, bouillon, cornstarch fructose.

So, the bottom line is, whether or not you are trying to lose weight, get rid of the MSG. There are studies that have been conducted and are still being conducted to show a relation between consumption of MSG and diseases such as Alzheimer's. Just remember that whenever you consume it, it is affecting your central nervous system in a negative manner. If you have any questions let me know!!

Now, how is your fitness program going so far?  We have been adding on exercise each month, also.  This month I want you to try and ramp up your exercise to a whole new level!  Remember, one of the easiest ways to figure out your target heart rate is to subtract your age from 220.  Then, take that number and multiply it by .85 and by .60- this will give you the two numbers you want your heart rate to be in between.  If you are not working hard enough you won't be burning fat, and if you are working too hard you may hurt yourself.  Remember, your heart rate will start to improve as the days and months go by.  This is because  your heart is a muscle.  The stronger it is the less beats it will take to pump all the blood through your body.  So, your resting heart rate will decrease, which also means it will take longer and harder exercise to get your heart rate up to a good burning zone.  How can you ramp up your exercise, you ask?  Work out harder, longer and with more intensity.  Your body is capable of doing things you didn't think it could.  If you have joint pain- that is a signal to stop, but if you are just experiencing muscle pain or fatigue- you can keep going!  Always get approval from your physician to start a new exercise program if you haven't worked out before or you have some preexisting conditions, a family history of heart disease, or take medication regularly.  And, if you can- hire a personal trainer for a few sessions to get some good ideas for working out.  You don't have to hire them indefinitely, just a few times could get you started on the right path!  Your health is worth it!!!  Enjoy- and always, if you have any questions please let me know.