Friday, November 30, 2012

Power Up and Slim Down With Soy

It's all in the bean! Guess what bean I'm talking about...
When I tell people that I love Tofu they always ask me "What is Tofu, anyway?" I'm not surprised that people don't know that Tofu is actually bean curd made with soybeans and was invented more than 2,000 years ago in China. Soy has been somewhat of a mystery to consumers, especially those that don't often veer from traditional American cuisine.

Soybeans also known as edamame and soy products such as Tofu or soy milk have made their way into mainstream grocery stores and restaurants. Soy-based products are a low-fat, cholesterol-free source of protein, which builds muscles, bones, skin, the antibodies that power your immune system and protect you from disease. They're also high in calcium, which builds healthy bones, teeth and can help prevent or decrease osteoporosis. If that isn't enough, this wonder bean has also been tied to weight loss.

A recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition suggests that eating more soy can lower your body mass index. The body mass index is a health indicator that compares your weight to your height. I bet you're asking yourself, what type of soy should I buy? Here are my 3 rules:

1.Keep it Simple - The only soy products that go into my shopping cart are soy milk, tofu and whole soybeans. I try to avoid meat substitutes made of soy because they're usually heavily processed and often high in sodium. Firm tofu is a great substitute for meat in salads, stir-fries or sandwiches. Silken or soft tofu can substitute for dairy in dips, soups, sauces & even pudding. If you're trying silken tofu for the first time, I would recommend a 50/50 mixture, such as half yogurt, half tofu in a smoothie.

2.Reach for the whole soy - Look for the phrase "whole soybean" or "whole soy" on the label to make sure you're getting a product high in fiber. Fiber aids in digestion and helps maintain healthy cholesterol, blood glucose levels and other healthy nutrients. Whole soy has been linked in some studies to even help protect against some cancers.

3.Look for organic choices - Organic soy is free of toxins such as pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides and doesn't contain genetically modified organisms. Currently, genetically modified organisms have been studied for their possible link to food allergies.

I'd like to leave you with a healthy soy snack that you can try and I'll bet you'll be pleasantly surprised. Small Planet Tofu, why I love it! It's flavored with seasonings like green tea and lemon grass. Make it a meal by tossing baby greens with white balsamic vinegar, citrus juice; top with chilled wild rice, green tea tofu and sliced almonds. There you have it a little about soy! Hope this helps you discover a new healthy ingredient.

Hope you enjoyed and learned how you can bring the miraculous soy bean into your diet!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

9 Tips to Stay Slim This Holiday Season

The holiday season is one of the hardest times for most people when it comes to sticking with healthy eating! However, you can stay on track and can make your holiday a feast as well. Here are my 9 tips to stay slim during the holiday season.

1. Fill Up First- About an hour before you go to a holiday party or event, eat a nice crisp green salad, a bowl of fruit or fresh veggies. This will fill you up somewhat so that when you arrive to the party you will have less of an appetite. This is also a great counterbalance to less nutritional snacks you might want to try during your night out.

2. Sip On A Schedule- Another way to fill yourself up is to drink water. You can drink sparkling water if you like beforehand, one while your dining and one before desert. This will help you eat less of the dinner.

3. Tote Your Beverage- Always carry a low-cal beverage around with you at parties. You may want to try flavored water. This will help you keep your hands busy and away from the buffet or high calorie snacks on display for the taking.

4. Downsize Your Plate- It's a fact that if you eat from a smaller plate, you will eat less. The ideal size plate is a salad plate, and have at least half of the plate filled with veggies. One quarter can hold whole grains and the rest lean protein.

5. Go For the Crunch- Crunchy foods like carrot and celery sticks are excellent choices. It will keep you fingers and mouth busy with crispy low-calorie foods. You'll be less likely to indulge in less healthy choices.

6. Check Your Choices- We all know that crunchy foods tend to make us feel full, but the same is true of low-calorie foods that are high in water content. Some examples are cucumbers, tomatoes, grapes, fish, whole grains & citrus fruits. A quick tip is that most people need to consume about 150 calories every 3 hours or so to keep from overeating.

7. Reduce the Pile- Even a smaller size plate can be filled high and carry a hefty calorie wallop. Keep the level of food on your plate to half an inch high or less.

8. Don't Go Hungry- Eat small, healthy meals or snacks of 150 calories or less several times per day. That way, you don't get to the point of wanting to gorge.

9. Take a Day Off- Reward yourself for eating healthy by having one day that you select during the holidays to eat the foods you like on that day. Go ahead and eat what you like! But when the day is over, it's time to return to eating normally. You can also incorporate this in your eating plan by designating one day of the week where you eat just one item you wouldn't ordinarily eat to reward yourself.

There you have it! These are my 9 tips for staying slim during the holiday season. Happy holidays to all of my readers!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

5 Tips to Setting Realistic Weight Loss Goals

Unfortunately, research shows that unrealistic goals elevate the risk of dropping out of a weight loss program. It has been found that dieters will temporarily eat less when their weight loss goals are high, however under-eating may be replaced by overeating at the very next temptation. 

The best way to lose weight and keep it off is to go: smaller with realistic goals, says Janet Polivy, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, Canada.
This leads me to the #1 question: How do I set realistic weight loss goals? There are a few strategies and before you put any of my tips to use, please consult with your physician. Here are my 5 tips to setting realistic weight loss goals.

1. Lose the weight slowly- Most clinicians and experts will state that losing 5-10 percent of your start weight is an achievable goal. So if you weigh 200 lbs., a reachable goal would be to lose 10-20 pounds.
2. Do the math- A realistic goal is losing 1-2 pounds per week to stay healthy. This means that if you want to lose a total of 25 lbs., your time frame to lose the weight the healthy way is to take 3 months. If your weight loss is 50 lbs., then your time frame would be at least 6 months. Aim to burn at least 500-1000 calories per day by eating less, exercising more, or both.
3. Set short-term goals- People that go on diets get discouraged if they don't see their losing the weight quickly. So you must set milestones or short-term goals. Instead of focusing on the 25 lbs. you want to lose, go for and celebrate the 1-2 lbs. per week that you need to lose to accomplish your final goal.
4. Track your progress- This is a must to not only keep on track but to celebrate each of your milestones as well. Record all of your successes in a method that works for you. For example; a journal, excel spreadsheet, etc. Whatever keeps you on track of your progress.
5. Think about your long-term goals- It's okay to think big, but it may mean starting small and working your way towards the big goal. The big goal by the way should be to change the way you think of food and stay eating healthy with exercise! If your long-term goal is to lose 50 lbs. in a year maybe your short-term goal is getting through the day without overeating. Find the triggers that make you want to eat as well is a good way to change your habits to a healthier way of living.

In conclusion, there is an old saying and it's true "lose it slowly, keep it off". This saying makes sense if you think about it because losing slowly will give your body and mind time to adapt to new behaviors, like eating healthy & less plus exercising more. When you focus on the process of changing your habits not just on losing weight, those new and healthier habits will be the big boost you need in helping you meet your weight loss goals.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Are the 3 Types of Fats in Food

Today I'd like to talk about fats in the foods that we eat. It's important that if you want to eat healthy and maintain a good weight that you know about fat in your diet. Here is a quick explanation of the fats in our food and how they affect our overall health. 

What is Saturated fat?

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, which is why they're known as "solid fat". Saturated fats are mostly in animal foods such as cheese, milk, and red meat. When it comes to poultry and fish they have less saturated fat than red meat. This is why it's a great idea to substitute turkey ground for hamburger meat. Saturated fat is also in a variety of oils like tropical, coconut, palm & cocoa butter. Usually you'll find tropical oils in many snacks and in nondairy foods, such as coffee creamers. There is a high content of saturated fat in foods made with butter, margarine or shortening such as cakes, cookies, and other deserts. Saturated fat can raise your cholesterol and can put your health in a higher risk category. A healthy diet should have ideally less than 10% of daily calories from saturated fat. This may seem difficult to do but once you get really good at reading labels, learning to substitute when cooking and focusing on what you're eating, it will become very easy.

What is Trans fat?

Trans fat is fat that has been changed by a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenation increases the shelf life of fat and makes it even harder at room temperature simply put hydrogenation preserves fat. When fat is harder it makes crispier crackers and flakier pie crusts. Trans fat can definitely raise your cholesterol, so eat as little trans fat as possible. You'll find trans fat in processed foods, snack foods like chips and crackers, cookies, some margarine and salad dressings, and foods made with shortening or partially hydrogenated oils. So, you must read the nutritional labels and learn to cook healthier meals.

What is Unsaturated fat?

Unsaturated fat is in liquid form at room temperature. You will find unsaturated fat mostly in oils derived from plants. It can help improve your cholesterol level if you eat unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat. You should eat mostly unsaturated fats whether their monounsaturated or polyunsaturated types. Monounsaturated fats help prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) "bad"cholesterol, increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) "good" cholesterol, and lowering blood pressure. Foods rich in monounsaturated fat include canola and olive oils, almonds, and avocados just to name a few. Polyunsaturated fats also help improve your cholesterol and reduce blood pressure. These fats are mainly in vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, sesame, soybean, and corn oils.

The most heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats are the Omega-3s, which are found in high content in fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, and herring. Plant sources include flax seeds and walnuts. Omega-3s are the super heroes of the fat world because, in addition to their positive effect on cholesterol levels and blood pressure, they can also help reduce inflammation, the risk of blood clots, and decrease triglycerides which are fats that circulate in your bloodstream. A healthy diet should include 8 ounces or more of Salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, Pacific oysters, trout & mackerel per week, which contain the wonderful Omega 3 fatty acids. Also, it's important to note that Omega-6 fatty acids are found mostly in liquid vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil, and safflower oil.

So in conclusion, it's important to read the nutritional label on all the foods that you buy and learn the art of substitution when cooking. These two points are pertinent to eating a healthy diet and controlling the fat that goes into your body. Total fat includes saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fat on nutritional fact labels. Food labels are not required to list monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat so, keep this in mind when reading nutritional fact labels. Now that you're armed with a little information about fats, you can make informed decisions on your choices when at the grocery store and preparing your meals!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why Am I So Tired?

I have many people I talk with daily about health and often I hear how they're fatigue or tired all the time. My previous post regarding "energy drinks" is proof that so many need energy. The lack of energy can be caused by many different medical issues which is why you should always consult with your physician right away when you notice fatigue. When you let your physician know right away medical issues can be ruled out so a diagnosis and treatment can be determined for you. There is one medical issue that comes to mind when someone is fatigue or lacks energy which is my topic today "Hypothyroidism". 

What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism can be called underactive thyroid disease and it's a common disorder. This disorder occurs when the thyroid gland doesn't produce enough thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone is essential to the function of the body and lack of this hormone can affect almost every part of your body from your heart, brain, muscles to even your skin. Yes, even your skin! 
The thyroid gland is positioned in the front lower part of your neck.  As the gland releases the hormone, it travels through your bloodstream. The thyroid is so important to your body functioning properly. Its main function is to control how your body's cells use energy from food which is a process of metabolism. Your metabolism is very important and affects your body temperature, heartbeat, and also how your body burns calories. Therefore; if you don't have enough thyroid hormone, your body processes will slow down and can cause the fatigue or lack of energy and weight gain.

What Causes Hypothyroidism?
I know you’re asking yourself this very question. Well, the most common cause of Hypothyroidism is called "Hashimoto's Thyroiditis". This is an inflammation of the thyroid gland and it's an autoimmune disorder.  Hashimoto's Thyroiditis produces antibodies that will attack and can destroy the thyroid gland. This disorder has been known to also be caused by viral infections. There are other causes of Hypothyroidism as well. Here is a list of a few:
* Iodine Deficient Diet- The thyroid gland needs iodine in order to produce thyroid hormone. The body doesn't produce iodine therefore we have to get the needed iodine from our diet. Food sources such as iodized table salt, shellfish, saltwater fish, eggs, and dairy products to name a few are rich in iodine.

*Radiation Therapy- People that are treated for certain cancers, such as lymphoma requires radiation therapy to the neck area. Radiation damages the cells in the thyroid. It's more difficult for your thyroid to produce the hormones needed due to the damage caused by the radiation therapy.

*Medications- Certain medications such as those used to treat psychiatric conditions, heart problems and cancer can affect the production of the thyroid hormone. Check with your doctor to determine if your medications are causing you thyroid problems.

*Pregnancy- It's not clear why pregnancy can cause Hypothyroidism however, sometimes after pregnancy inflammation of the thyroid occurs. This is known as postpartum thyroiditis. Women with this medical issue usually have an increase in hormone levels which is then followed by a drop in thyroid hormone production. This usually will pass and the woman will regain their normal thyroid function.

*Thyroid issues at birth- Some babies can be born with a thyroid gland that didn't develop properly. This type of Hypothyroidism is called congenital hypothyroidism. In the US babies are screened at birth for this disease. 

*Iodine Treatment- Radioactive iodine is commonly used in the treatment of an overactive thyroid gland, a condition known as Hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is a condition where your thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone. Being as radiation destroys the cells in the thyroid it can lead to a Hypothyroidism condition.

*Pituitary Gland Damage- It's rare that a problem with the Pituitary Gland can interfere with the production of thyroid hormone. The pituitary gland produces a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH which tells your thyroid how much hormone it should produce and release into your bloodstream.

*Hypothalamus Disorder- This is very rare form of Hypothyroidism however, it does occur. The hypothalamus in the brain produces a hormone called TRH which affects the release of TSH from the pituitary gland. Naturally, if there isn't enough being produced it will cause Hypothyroidism. 

Who is at Risk?
Women, mostly older women are more likely to have Hypothyroidism than men. Those of you that have a family member that has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease will be at a higher risk as well. There are other risk factors such as race, age and bipolar disorder just to name a few!

What are the Symptoms? 
 Here are a few:
*Weight Gain

You can Click Here to read more on Hypothyroidism. 

An interesting product that is currently sweeping the Internet and is stated to be a 3 step Hypothyroidism Treatment Process. It's getting great reviews and I'm currently researching this product further. Click Here to check it out and try the product.

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Are You An Energy Drink Junkie?

I wanted to talk about energy drinks today because so many people I know are hooked on these blasts of energy. We all have days when we need help with our energy levels however, increasing your energy level in a healthier fashion is optimum.The current news is that there have been 13 deaths linked to energy drinks. The main ingredient in the energy drinks is caffeine. It's amazing but one 5 Hour Energy Extra Strength Drink has 242 milligrams of caffeine compared to an 8 ounce Starbucks coffee which only has 165 milligrams. Check out this article 13 deaths linked to energy drink.

Okay, so you want to have more energy right? Then quit being a couch potatoe! Do some exercise, eat healthy and take some health supplements that will give you the energy your lacking. Don't rely on a magical drink that will give you energy for only 5 hours. I know about low energy levels because I've lost a total of 200 lbs and talk about no energy! Let me share with you a fact that eating healthy will definitely give you the right balance of vitamins, minerals & nutrients which are essentials to feeling great and you'll have plenty of energy! Eating healthy can even help you handle stress better as well. 
Remember eating healthy doesn't mean you go on a diet which is a temporary fix. You need to make a lifestyle change and get healthy which starts by your eating habits. So, get started today and make that change to live a healthier life. Click Here to read this interesting article breaking news this week regarding several energy drinks on the market today! 

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