Something to Chew On

A Guide to Eating Right and Living Well


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Perfect Savory & Sweet Dish

photo 1Sweet potatoes are a perfect combination of filling and healthy carbs that add a touch of natural sweetness to any dish. Typically, I enjoy my sweet potatoes sautéed in some coconut oil with a pinch of salt and pepper or roasted in the oven with garlic and onions. I usually avoid recipes for sweet potatoes that call for additional sweet ingredients like brown sugar and cinnamon because I feel they are then too sweet. But, boy oh boy am I glad I tried this recipe–out it’s became another instant favorite in our household. This dish is a little bit higher on the carb side so make sure you serve it with a lean protein and non-starchy vegetables (green beans, salads, broccoli, etc).

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Balsamic Raisins, Rosemary and Goat Cheese

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Balsamic Raisins, Rosemary and Goat Cheese

  • 3 lbs of sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1-2 tbsp of melted coconut oil
  • ¼ c. balsamic vinegar
  • ½ c. raisins
  • 3-4 oz goat cheese, crumbled or cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425oF. Place cubed sweet potatoes in pan and toss with melted coconut oil, salt and pepper. Cook for 30 minutes or until slightly crispy.

2. Meanwhile place raisins and balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan over medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes so vinegar reduces and raisins plump up. Be sure not to overcook the vinegar as this can scorch your pan.

3. Once sweet potatoes are done, place in serving dish and toss in raisins, remaining vinegar, goat cheese and rosemary. Serve warm. (But it was also quite tasty cold the next day!)

For more delicious and healthy recipes head to our Pinterest Board.


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Figge’s Favorite Groceries

grocery shoppingWith the success of  Figge’s Favorite Things blog post, I thought I would follow up with a list of some of my favorite foods that frequently occupy my shopping list. Years ago, my diet heavily consisted of processed luncheon meats, frozen dinners and snack bars. Today, fresh fruits, vegetables and meats are typically what fill up my grocery cart. This was no overnight process, but slowly, I began to step outside my comfort zone and taught myself how to prepare and cook with fresh ingredients. To stay healthy, I rely on clean, minimally processed foods. Combined with a healthy dose of physical activity each week, clean eating helps keep my cholesterol down, energy up and promotes a good night’s sleep.

  1. Eggs. Eggs have been hounded over the years for their fat and cholesterol content. However, with today’s research on eggs, we are learning that 1) the cholesterol found in eggs is not what is causing high cholesterol in individuals and 2) the benefits of the yolks include a Vitamin B12 source, eye-healthy lutein , zeaxanthin antioxidants, and choline, which is essential for cardiovascular and brain function.
  2. fresh-spinachSpinach. This green giant gets sautéed in with my eggs each morning and makes several appearances in other meals throughout the week.
  3. Peanut or almond butter. If I could eat almond butter every day, I would; but because the cost of it is often more than peanut butter, I tend to go back and forth between these heart-healthy fat and protein snack additions.
  4. Cauliflower. My kitchen often looks like a cauliflower war zone. For those of you that regularly cut up cauliflower, you know what I’m talking about! My preferred way of cooking it is steaming in a sauce pan and then mashing it in my food processor. Add a pinch of salt, garlic powder, onion powder, butter and garnish with chives and you have a great vegetable side dish (not to mention for the cost of $3 or less!)
  5. Spaghetti Squash. We have been having a lot of fun with spaghetti squash this winter. It is a great substitute for pasta in recipes. To me, it is not very tasty when served plain, but if you add mixed vegetables, seasonings, sauces or a homemade mayo to the mix, you’re set-to-go for a delicious meal.
  6. Chicken. This is the most popular protein consumed in our household. For that reason, I am constantly finding new ways to season and prepare it. We also consume beef, pork and fish but chicken definitely takes the podium for most consumed.
  7. Apples. This fruit is a good source of antioxidants and soluble fiber. I usually have at least one and sometimes two apples a day with my peanut or almond butter for heart-healthy, filling snacks.
  8. Whey protein powder. Since both my husband and I do Crossfit, we need a quick source of protein for our post-workout snacks. One scoop of protein powder poured in 8 oz. of almond milk allows my body to quickly refuel after a workout, promote lean tissue growth and speed up recovery time.
  9. Ground flaxseed. This antioxidant powerhouse can be easily mixed into recipes or sauces or can even be sprinkled on top of foods to add fiber, omega-3 and healthy lignans to any dish.
  10. Sweet potato. These Vitamin A giants interestingly are most often consumed with my breakfast meal. I’ll sauté a medium-large sweet potato in 1 Tbsp of coconut oil on Sunday nights and then portion out servings to grab and go for the week. NCI5_POTATO


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How Carb Smart Are You?

Carbohydrate-food-shot-carbsWhat do breads, cereals, fruits, juices, milk, yogurt, pasta, rice, potatoes, beans, vegetables, soda and desserts all have in common? If you didn’t already guess it from the title, it’s Carbs. When asked what foods contain carbohydrates, bread, pasta and potatoes are the most commonly identified. Many people do not realize that carbs are actually found in almost our entire food supply with the exception of meats, cheeses and fats.

As Americans, we generally consume way too many carbs throughout the day. Most breakfast meals include toast, Poptarts, pancakes, biscuits or cereal followed by sandwiches, pizza, spaghetti and burger and fries for the rest of the day. These foods are also highly processed menu items that often contain preservatives and other added chemicals.

Do I feel that carbs are contributing to many of our current diseases and illnesses? Absolutely. Does that mean that in order to be healthy, one must cut out all carbs? Not at all.  In fact, many athletes actually need to increase their carbohydrate intake to ensure optimal performance. Research has shown that vegetarians, who are known for having high-carb diets, tend to have reduced risks for obesity, diabetes and heart disease.1

Going “low-carb” is a very popular diet trend to lose weight. While consuming fewer carbohydrates can help decrease circulating levels of insulin, which in turn can help the body switch to a fat-burning mode, weight loss is typically more attributed (but not conclusive in all studies) to the combination of consuming fewer calories, better food choices, less processed foods and improved physical activity habits. Researchers in a 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest that low-carb diets may give individuals a “metabolic advantage” meaning that more weight loss may be achieved per calories consumed (versus the same amount of calories consumed from a standard high-carb meal plan).2  

This is a very controversial subject since these findings somewhat violate the laws of thermodynamics. Since there is no consensus on what low-carb actually is (for some studies it’s a mere 5% of total calories and for others it’s defined as 45% of total caloric intake), the term smart-carb has become more popular.

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Today, research is investigating the health benefits of low-moderate carb meal plans:

  • Following a “smart-carb” diet in addition to exercise can help improve insulin sensitivity and assist in weight reduction in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • A Duke University study found that obese individuals with type 2 diabetes who ate a low-carb diet versus a low-glycemic diet experienced greater weight reduction and greater reduction in HgbA1C. In this same study, most of the subjects (95.2%) in the low-carb group were able to reduce or eliminate their diabetic medications compared to only (62%) in the low-glycemic group.3
  • There also appears to be some variation in low-carb meal plans. A group of Swedish subjects showed greater benefits in waist circumference reduction and improved blood sugar control when following a diet based of meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, eggs and nuts (paleo diet) when compared to a subjects who followed the Mediterranean diet.4
  • The obvious concern with consuming a low-carb diet is the increased fat intake and potential increased risk for heart disease. Fortunately, studies are confirming that higher fat intake when associated with a low-carb diet may not be as big of a problem as once thought.

Low-carb meal plans may not always be the best, but choosing smart-carb lifestyles such as the Mediterranean and Paleo lifestyles are much more suitable for day to day living. Here are a few ways to smarten up your carb choices.

  • Nix pretzels, crackers, chips and granola bars and opt for healthier carb and non-carb snack food choices such as fruits, vegetables, yogurt and nuts.
  • Vary up your breakfast meal. Swap sugar-sweetened cereal and refined white bread for a veggie omelet, turkey sausage frittata or fruit with Greek yogurt.
  • Serve vegetables with a side of vegetables. Many people state that they always have to have a starch with their dinner meals. Why not swap the rice and pasta for vegetable starches such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash or spaghetti squash?
  • If choosing grains, consider whole grain choices such as oatmeal, quinoa or wild rice.

Remember, limiting carbs is not the only way for improved health. The mere reduction of processed foods in one’s diet can have positive health effects.

  1. American Heart Association. Vegetarian Diets. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Vegetarian-Diets_UCM_306032_Article.jsp
  2. Westman, E., et. Al. (2007). Low-carbohydrate nutrition and metabolism. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(2), 276-284. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/2/276.full.pdf+html?sid=ac06d160-abd0-4ba6-8a19-8b5560469446
  3. Westman, E.C., Yancy, W,S, Jr., Mavropoulos, J.C., Marquart, M. and McDuffie, J.R. (2008).The effect of a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet versus a low-glycemic index diet on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. Nutrition and Metabolism, 5, 36. http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/5/1/36
  4. Lindeberg, S., Jönsson, T., Granfeldt, Y., et al. (2007). A Palaeolithic diet improves glucose tolerance more than a Mediterranean-like diet in individuals with ischaemic heart disease. Diabetologia,50(9):1795-1807.


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Not Just Another Chicken Recipe

At our house we eat chicken…a lot. One goal that I have for this month is to try a variety of new chicken recipes (so my husband doesn’t get burnt out on having chicken five days a week!). You never have to sacrifice good flavor for eating healthy; however, you do need to step outside your comfort zone and experiment with spices, herbs and other fresh ingredients to create delicious, mouth-watering flavors. This is a perfect dish that incorporates natural ingredients and is solid on flavor. Want more healthy recipes? Follow our Pinterest board!

rosemary herb chicken recipeRosemary Herbed Chicken 

For the Chicken:

  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • 1 Tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic (I am very liberal with this – we love garlic!)
  • 1 Tbsp of minced fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar

For the Salad:

  • Mixed greens
  • ¼ avocado
  • ¼ cup artichokes (I use frozen artichoke hearts. After heating them up in the microwave, I add flavor by using an Italian seasoning blend on top of the cooked artichokes)
  • 2 Tbsp dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinaigrette

1. Pre-heat oven to 400oF. Meanwhile, brush olive oil evenly over each chicken breast.

2. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread minced garlic cloves over chicken breasts and sprinkle minced rosemary on top of each piece of chicken.

3. Cook for 20-25 minutes.

4. Toss salad ingredients together while chicken is cooking.

5. Once chicken is done, pour balsamic vinegar evenly over each chicken breast. Serve separately or together as an entrée salad.


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Hidden Price You Pay

Dollar Sign

I’ll admit it; I am a huge sucker for deals and saving money. Sometimes I take advantage of spectacular sale prices of items I need and other times, the sheer sale itself provokes me to go shopping. For example, I recently went on a shopping trip to Kohl’s. Did I need anything? Not necessarily, but I had a 30% off coupon and $10 worth of Kohl’s cash that I knew could be put to good use! Sales and deals like this can not only entice us to spend money on clothes, household products and electronics, it can also influence one’s eating habits and food selections.

One deal that always grabs people’s attention is the word FREE. When something is free, we almost feel compelled to give in to the deal as if we would be wasting it if we didn’t take advantage of it. Baker’s Square is now featuring their free pie special. Every Wednesday, customers may enjoy a free piece of pie with an approved menu item purchase. While this deal may be great on one’s wallet, it may not be so nice on the waistline.  According to their website,  one slice of their French silk pie ranks in at 650 calories. This is more calories than what most people need for an entire meal. The lemon meringue slice may seem like a lighter fare coming in at 430 calories; however it contains nearly 72 grams of carbohydrates. For diabetics, this slice of pie would most likely cause their post-meal blood sugars to rise higher than normal.

Other restaurant deals that frequently occur are the “endless” or “unlimited” promotions such as the unlimited stack of pancakes, never-ending pasta bowls and bottomless amount of fries.

Pancakes

Just like when people dine out at a buffet, the whole “I need to get my money’s worth of food” phenomena kicks in. Ask yourself, “Do I really need 2 bowls of pasta or 10 pancakes?” Unfortunately, most of these items are very carb-rich foods. For individuals with diabetes or even pre-diabetes, controlling one’s carbohydrate intake is of high importance for healthier eating habits and better blood sugar control. A stack of 3 pancakes with 2 Tbsp. of syrup at IHOP contains 96 grams of carbohydrates. For some women, this is the amount equivalent to 2-3 meals’ worth of carbohydrates.

We are powerfully influenced by our environment, especially when it comes to how much food we eat. For example, eating with more people has shown to increase the amount of calories one consumes at their meal. When eating alone, we typically stop eating when we are full and get up from the table. However, when eating with a crowd, one often sits and lingers after they are finished eating. The longer one sits around the food, the more likely they are to continue to nibble and drink. Earlier this year, the family had gone out to eat for my mother-in-law’s birthday. It was a delicious meal and I was full at the end of it. Because it was her birthday, she was eligible for a free dessert, which happened to be an ice cream cake. When the waitress brought out the cake with 6 serving spoons, I threw my internal cues of hunger out the window and dug in with everyone else. And sadly, I became yet another victim to overeating.

christmas dinnerRestaurant promotions on free food or large portions may seem appetizing, especially on the wallet; but, consider the hidden price you may be paying in calories and unwelcome extra pounds from these “deals”. This holiday season can bring on extra stress in our lives, but don’t let an increased waistline be one of those stressors!

 


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Help I’ve Hit A Plateau!

dont give upAhh, the dreaded P-word. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, gain muscle or increase your fitness level, almost everyone has hit a plateau sometime or another. In fact, I’ve hit several plateaus during the last couple years. The most important thing to remember when trying to overcome a plateau is change. Your body can plateau for several reasons and this often requires a change in either your diet or fitness routine. In this blog, I share my own struggles with plateaus and provide insight on how myself and many patients have overcome challenges, both fitness and diet-related.

Are you eating too few calories? Or over-exercising?

Sometimes we can become over restrictive with our caloric intake. Yes, consuming fewer calories than those that are burned off can help you lose weight, but there is a point when consuming too few calories begins to sabotage your metabolism. Not eating enough nutrients can stress the body and cause it go into starvation/fat-storing mode. When your metabolism is compromised like this, it is very hard to lose weight and actually makes it fertile ground for gaining weight. Over-exercising can also cause this severe caloric deficit. Most research suggests that consuming less than 1200 calories per day can lead to alterations in metabolism and possible nutrient deficiencies.

Be honest with yourself.

With the stress of finishing grad school and planning a wedding, I had gained a few unwanted pounds. I couldn’t figure out where the extra weight was food-diarycoming from since I hadn’t really changed my diet…or so I thought. It took having a real honest look into my eating habits to realize I had been eating out more often and was enjoying chocolate a bit too frequently at the end of the day as a stress-reliever. Restaurant-prepared menu items and desserts/sweets are two common high-calorie culprits in our diets. A good way to identify trouble zones in your eating habits is to keep a food diary for one week. You will then be able to analyze what areas you need improvements in. (ex: eating out every day for lunch, too big of portions of late-night snacks, frequent consumption of free food at work).

Do you need a snack?

Many patients have told me that they do not snack between meals because they are trying to save calories. If you’re going too long between meals (> 6 hours) or having physical hunger pains 2 hours after having a meal, then you need to plan accordingly and prepare a healthy, protein-rich snack. Remember, those hunger pains are your body’s metabolism telling you to refuel. Try to stick with snacks that have some staying power. Greek yogurt, nuts, peanut butter, cottage cheese, hard-boiled eggs are all protein-packed snacks that can satisfy hunger and increase your energy level during that afternoon slump!

Does your workout need a makeover?

I can happily say that in my first year of marriage, I stayed the same weight. What helped me accomplish this was clean eating and regular exercise. During that year, I found that increasing my strength-training frequency and backing a bit off of the cardio helped me stay happy and healthy. I’ll admit, I like to work hard at the gym and lift heavy weights, but after a year of serious strength-training, my body fat % had only marginally changed and I didn’t see the definition I was hoping for. Then I took a huge leap. I joined my local Crossfit gym. In just a few short months, Crossfit has changed me in so many ways. My arms are more defined, my legs are stronger, I can do several unassisted pull-ups in a row and more! The transformation that I am most happy with is the fact that my back is no longer hurting. Crossfit has reminded me of the importance of daily stretching and taking care of my muscles and joints.

My husband and I at Crossfit.

My husband and I at Crossfit.

Am I recommending that you should start doing Crossfit? No, it’s not for everyone, but what I do encourage people to do is find a new way to constantly challenge themselves. This could be signing up for your first 5K or walking into your very first Zumba class. Find activities that you enjoy and recruit a buddy! Having a buddy-system can help you both hold each other accountable with your fitness and health goals. Wherever your fitness journey takes you make sure it is safe, fun and filled with new challenges!

 


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Your Skinny Vacation

vacationVacation and weight gain; unfortunately, the combination is a very common reality for many people. Vacation, for a lot of us, is a time to relax or take on new life adventures. My husband and I recently accomplished both of these objectives on our last vacation. While staying at an all-inclusive resort, we didn’t have to worry about grocery shopping, meal preparation or household chores. Instead, we had full access to a wonderful breakfast and lunch buffets, exquisite dinner restaurants and 24-hour room service. While I did my best to order vegetables with every meal and stay away from fried foods, my fear became a reality when I stepped on the scale my first day back at work. Yes, even a dietitian gains weight on vacation.

Despite working out almost every morning and going for long walks on the beach, the truth was I over-ate my calorie needs. Portion control and a little overindulgence in high-fat foods were the causes of my excessive caloric intake. Common vacation-diet villains that make their presence on our tropical get-a-ways include:

The buffet. No, not Jimmy Buffet; I’m referring to the endless tables of tantalizing foods filled with everything from decadent desserts to bacon wrapped jalapeno peppers. My own response to all this food was, “Oh, this looks good and that looks good and that and that!” You get the picture. It has been well researched that increasing the variety of an assortment increases the quantity consumed. Please visit Dr. Brian Wansink (2004) research on this fascinating food consumption observation: http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/pdf/permission/2004/Assortment_Structure-JCR_2004.pdf

Tips for the buffet-goer:

  • Scan and Plan. Before you grab your utensils, walk around the buffet and compare the variety offered. Try to choose at least one lean protein and fill at least ½ your plate with non-starchy vegetables.
  • Plate size. Choosing a smaller plate will force you to take smaller serving sizes of the variety of foods you consume at that meal.
  • Don’t feel like you’re forced to clean your plate. Most of the time, we take too much food anyway.
  • Sit facing away from the buffet – A tip created by Dr. Brian Wansink, researcher at Cornell University. Wansink suggests that this will help keep your mind from being fixated on the food.

Alcohol. The saying is, “Its 5 o’clock somewhere,” right?  Our favorite poolside beverages are cool and refreshing, but they are often the biggest source of calories consumed on our vacation days. Some of the heftiest calorie-containing vacation2beverages include margaritas, pina coladas, strawberry daiquiris, long island iced teas and mudslides. One ounce of 80-proof spirits (rum, vodka, gin, whiskey) contains about 65-90 calories. After adding fruit juice, syrups, mixes or soda, the calorie content of the drink goes through the roof! The pina colada takes the prize for most calories. According to Forbes magazine, a pina colada contains more calories than a Big Mac!

If you want to consume a refreshing “vacation” beverage, but not pay the caloric price, here are some alternatives:

  • Vodka and water. You may also add a sugar-free water enhancer. In fact, Crystal Light now makes three “mocktail” flavors including margarita, appletini and mojito flavors.
  • Light beer. Most light beers contain anywhere from 65-105 calories.

Remember to alternate alcoholic beverages with water to help prevent dehydration.

While vacations are not the best time to lose weight; the ultimate goal is to maintain one’s “pre-vacation” weight. Make plans to fit in physical activity every day. Luckily for us, there was an accommodating fitness center at our hotel. My husband and I also enjoyed daily walks along the beach, snorkeling and other fun, scenic activities that included physical activity. Don’t deprive yourself of your vacation favorites, but enjoy frenchfat-msmaller portion sizes.  Whether the beach, mountains or amusement park call your name this summer, remember to relax, enjoy, take pictures and live well.

 


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How to Get Your Beach Body

iStock_000014575855MediumYou’ve been waiting all year for it and it’s finally here. Flip flops, sunglasses, SPF, backyard BBQs, boating, baseball, country music, fairs, festivals…it’s summertime. Summer can mean several different things. It means longer days providing more opportunities to be active in the evening hours. It means fresh fruits and vegetables make their way into our homes for a much cheaper price. It also means wearing fewer layers of clothing. If those stubborn winter pounds are overextending their welcome, here are a few quick tips to rev up your diet for the tank top and cut-off shorts season.

  1. Cut back on processed foods. That includes chips, crackers, pretzels, cookies, granola bars and everything else from that aisle in the grocery store. Items that are stored in boxes or bags require a lot of sodium to help preserve the shelf life of that food item. High sodium intakes can contribute to abdominal bloating.
  2. Protein. Consuming lean protein sources, especially at breakfast helps keep us feeling fuller longer between meals. Don’t forget about protein sources at snacks too!
  3. Non-starchy vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables are Mother Nature’s free weight loss medicine. Try to include a serving or two with every meal. Add spinach, mushroom, onions and tomatoes to an egg omelet for breakfast, a dark green side salad at lunch and roasted zucchini, peppers and mushrooms with dinner.
  4. Limit soda. Whether it’s regular or diet soda, both of these carbonated beverages can lead to excess bloating around the waistline.
  5. Remember, it’s okay to snack. Snacking is a chance to refuel your body and keep your metabolism burning bright. Try to keep snack options to 200 calories or less. Try a handful of almonds or one tablespoon of peanut butter with a small apple.
  6. Mind your alcoholic beverages. Many summertime beverages come with a hefty caloric price. Five ounces of margarita contains 370 sugary alcoholic calories and most restaurants will serve you double this amount. Alcohol also weakens our decision-making skills which may lead to unwanted consumption of late-night pizza.
  7. “Eat less, exercise more” is not always the best mantra to follow. Consuming too few of calories also adversely affects one’s metabolism which can make weight loss even harder. Try improving the type of calories you are consuming by choosing lean proteins, fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts/seeds and small portions of heart-healthy whole grains.
  8. Change up your exercise routine. We often hit weight-loss plateaus after doing the same workouts week after week, month after month. Try adding some tabata training one to two times per week to provide variety and a new challenge for your body. Tabata is essentially the grandfather of high intensity interval training. The method is simple, yet highly effective. Do as many repetitions as possible for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds and then repeat seven more times. A complete tabata sequence is four minutes, or eight rounds long. A great application to download is the Tabata Pro app. It syncs with your music and gives you bells and whistles on when to start the exercise and when to rest. Below are some great workouts to try whether you’re at the gym or in the comfort of your own home. Try to limit rest between exercises to just 60 seconds.

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Exercise

Squats (no weight)

Goblet Squats

Squat Jumps

Push-ups on knees

Push-ups on toes

Push-up+ knee tucks

Stationary Lunge
(switch legs after each set)

Alternating Lunges

Lunge Split Jumps

Plank on forearms and knees

Plank on forearms and toes

Plank push-ups

Remember to always consult with your physician before starting a new exercise program.


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Weekend Bingers

Parties, anniversaries, restaurants, ball games, weddings, movies…yep, it’s the weekend! Many of us define the weekend as a time to kick back, relax and indulge with menu items like burritos, burgers, pizza, fries, buttery popcorn and “adult” beverages. While “weekend binging” isn’t a medical diagnosis, it is a habit that can really affect your waistline. Over-indulging, staying up late and a lack of physical activity can make us feel overstuffed, bloated and sluggish by the time Monday morning’s alarm goes off.

A binge (noun) is defined as a period or bout, usually brief, of excessive indulgence, as in eating, drinking, etc.; a spree. To binge (verb) means to eat, drink, etc., too much in a short period of time. Binging may last a few hours or occur on and off all day. Often, it can occur when you’re not even hungry, which can lead to feelings of guilt and depression. How often do we find ourselves justifying our unhealthy indulgences by saying “I deserve it,” “I’ve had a hard week” or “I’ve been saving my calories”?

Consuming too few calories during the week and then over-consuming on the weekend is a major cause of weight gain for many individuals. If you deprive your body of nutrients and calories during the week, your body will adjust by reducing its metabolic rate. This means your body is burning fewer calories each day. This combination of depressed metabolism and overconsumption of poor food choices and calories on the weekend can lead to weight gain. A study published in the Journal of Obesity in 2008 found that individuals following the “weekend cheaters” diet gained an average of nine pounds per year.

thisorthatAnother remark I have heard many people make (even myself) is “I only indulge on special occasions.” My concern with this statement is the fact that “special occasions” can occur much more frequently than we actually think.  For example, it’s your birthday, it’s Aunt Mary’s birthday, it’s Bob from Accounting’s birthday, the Illini are playing, it’s Friday, it’s summertime, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, etc. Depending on the way you look at it, special occasions can occur almost every weekend and even throughout the week.  Of course, the occasional indulgence is quite appropriate and can fit into most individuals’ healthy lifestyles. Once per year, I enjoy a good slice (okay, maybe two) of deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s; but, most of the time, I choose the same delicious and nutritious foods on the weekends as I do during the week.

Here are some tips for having healthier weekends:

1) Squeeze in a longer workout since you have a little more free time than on a weekday. Remember, a one-hour workout is only four percent of your day!

2) Eat like it’s a weekday. That means consuming three nutritionally-dense meals and choosing healthy snacks.

3) Try to stick to your usual sleep schedule. Research regarding whether or not we can actually “catch up on our sleep” on the weekends is debatable.

4) Break the on-again, off-again diet mentality and make eating right a part of your everyday habits.

5) Limit alcoholic beverages. Remember, alcohol depresses our central nervous system which can inhibit our decision-making skills (especially when choosing food/menu items).

6) Order well when dining out. Just because you’re eating healthier is no reason to skip dinner with friends. Look for baked or grilled proteins with side vegetables on the menu.

7) Plan ahead. Typically, my Saturdays are spent running a ton of errands, but I always have a bag of almonds or pistachios with me so I’m not tempted by the candy bar at the checkout counter.

8) Remember to hydrate. Keep a water bottle with you at all times.hydration

 

Eat right and live well—your way, every day.

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