Sunday, February 25, 2018

Can you lose weight without the diet? Some more habits to try.

Last week we looked at five ways you can lose weight without going on a “diet”.  Let’s look at five more habits you can adopt to drop a few pounds and start to get in shape for the summer.  Too often we go on a “diet”, lose some weight and then regain it once we go off the “diet”.  But what if we adopted habits that helped us not only lose a few pounds but keep the weight off when we do lose it. 

So instead quick diets, quack diets, fad diets, try some new eating habits and lifestyle habits to take off the extra holiday pounds.  Here are five more habits to try from the article:  10 ways to Start Losing Weight, No Matter How Unmotivated You Are.

1.  Set some health goals that have nothing to do with the number on the scale
  • Rather than just focus on losing pounds, focus on getting some health measure healthier.  Have cholesterol a little high, how can you change eating and exercise habits to bring down your cholesterol?  A relative did have his cholesterol above the normal range but didn’t want to take any drugs.  He told his doc that diet and exercise would be tried first before any meds.  Although he had a a pretty good diet, he wasn’t getting enough fiber.  Fiber, like the fiber in oatmeal or Cheerios, helps you absorb less cholesterol from food.  The “Heart Healthy” claims on the box are true.  And most of us need more fiber, a whole lot more fiber than most of us are eating each day, about 38 grams a day for guys and 25 grams a day for the ladies. 
  • Fitness goals – no, not the, “I will go to the gym everyday” goal but a more realistic goal.  I will do 10 body squats today, or 10 sit-ups, or today I will walk for 20 minutes after dinner.
  • Why does this help?  Because you want some successes – reach a goal like doing 10 sit-ups and pat yourself on the back.  I found 2 simple back exercises in a magazine.  One is the “egg roll”, you do this just 5 times a day.  I’ve tried it and in only a few days my back feels better and it only takes a few seconds to do.  So very rewarding.
   2.  Get a support team – who doesn’t want some cheering them on?  It doesn’t have to be a family member or even a close friend.  Maybe the fitness instructor at your gym can give you a thumbs up when you show up.  Or get some exercise buddies.  I have friends that I pretty much see only at the gym.  Or ask a friend to join you in exercising.  My daughter walks with a friend after work one day a week.  A time to catch up and get a few steps in. 
Walk more
           3.  Move more, sit less – Have you heard about a syndrome many people are suffering from, the “dead butt syndrome”.  Yes, Google it, there really is such a thing.  Sit too much and you can get this syndrome too.  So, focus on moving more and sitting less.  Have a sit-down job?  Then get up every hour and walk around to the water fountain to get a drink, walk around the office.  Watching TV?  Get up every 30 minutes and move.  (No, not to the fridge.)  And this “move more” also has a name. It is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).  There is actually a video you can watch about not exercising, but just moving more.  Little ways you can move more and sit less.  I am a big fan of NEAT.  I park far away.  I take the steps and walk past the elevator.  Little habits every day, that add up to your getting more exercise all day, every day. 

       4.  Kitchen food makeover – open the fridge and stock it with healthier choices – easy to grab fruit, 100% juice, 2% low fat cheese sticks.  Grab and go but not grab and calories.  Open the pantry – have some easy to eat or make snacks.  I like microwave popcorn.  Popcorn is whole grain and a healthy snack.  Buy some Sun Chips – also whole grain.  Buy some Wheat Thins, Triscuits and add some cheese for a snack.  Have some easy but healthier choices for your kids to eat after school.  Make some pudding. Yes, pudding has some sugar but it is also a way to get healthy cow’s milk and more calcium and vitamin D into your child’s day.  Let them help you make the pudding and teach them some math by measuring the milk and stirring for the timed 2 minutes. Offer your kids some milk and peanut butter cookies, or oatmeal cookies with raisins or chocolate chips.  Or let your kids have a bowl of any General Mills’ cereal as a snack.  Great way to add some whole grains and cow’s milk to their day.  Have some yogurt in the fridge for a healthy snack choice. 
Enjoy whole grain cereals
       5.    Hate that workout? Then switch to something you like.  Just because your friend walks on a treadmill for exercise, doesn’t mean you have to.  What do you like to do for exercise?  I enjoy spinning class and biking outside.  My husband doesn’t like spinning classes and prefers to bike outside.  Some people like aerobics and others like yoga.  Mix it up.  Go for a hike one time and bike another time.  I don’t like to lift free weights but I don’t mind some weight machines.  Others may prefer the free weights.  Try different classes, different exercises and find what works for you.  

Five more “habits” to try this week.  Living a healthier life in 2018, isn’t about “giving up” foods you like.  So many people look at a healthy lifestyle as going on a diet and “giving up” all the food they like.  Actually, adopting a healthier lifestyle is adding foods and exercise to your life.  Just adding a glass of 100% orange juice every day is a healthy habit.  Adding oatmeal or Cheerios or any General Mills’ cereal is a healthy habit.  Taking a walk most nights after dinner is a healthy habit.   Eating a yogurt at lunch every day is a health habit.  What healthy habit will you add to your life this week?
Pudding makes a great snack

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Can you lose weight without the “diet”?

Did you make a resolution to drop a few pounds in 2018?  Or are you thinking about summer, swim suits, shorts and want to just drop the few pounds you gained over the holidays?  Are there some “habits” you can adopt to help you take off some weight without going on a crazy diet?  Just listening at the gym, one hears all kinds of myths and crazy diets people go on to lose weight.  Many of these diets result in you losing more nutrients than pounds.  Many people are trying the Whole30 diet and then surprised to hear that the U.S. News & World Report has ranked it as one of the worse diets to be on in 2018.  In fact, the experts ranking the diets tied the Whole30 diet with the Raw Food Diet “as the worst of the worst for healthy eating.  Probably because the diet bans grains, dairy grains and beans so you are cutting out important nutrients like calcium and vitamin D from your day.  Probably a good thing it is only a 30 day diet and not a diet to be followed for a long period of time. Then there’s “ketosis” diets that restrict the carbs to “burn the fat”.  Surprisingly, some athletes have tried this diet thinking it would improve athletic performance. Kind of surprising since one of the side effects of the keto diet is fatigue – just what an athlete needs or wants.  Some dietitians describe the risks of a keto diet as: loss of muscle, extreme fatigue, and damage to the heart.     

So instead of a quack diet, what are some habits one can try to lose a few pounds?  Not a diet plan, but changing some old habits.   Here are some of the suggestions from the article:  10 ways to Start Losing Weight, No Matter How Unmotivated You Are.

    1.    Eat for Hydration – not just water but there are foods that help hydrate you.  Fill up on food rich in water like fruits, vegetables or broth. 
a.       Broth soup before a meal – a study in “Appetite” found having a bowl of broth 15 minutes before your meal will cut back on the number of calories you eat at the meal.  The broth helps fill up your stomach before you take that first bite.
Enjoy some broth before a meal
b.      Salad – start your meal with salad first.  Get some of the lower calorie food into your stomach first.  Not a salad loaded with a high calorie dressing, but a low-cal dressing of your choice.  Skip the fat-free dressing as you need some fat in the dressing to absorb the nutrients in the salad.

      2.   Protein – at breakfast and at every meal.  Cereals like oatmeal or Cheerios are a great breakfast choice but adding protein to breakfast will help you feel  fuller longer.  I make my oatmeal with organic milk and not water.  This boosts the protein in my morning breakfast. Making a smoothie? Add a scoop of protein powder to the smoothie. Make the smoothie with yogurt or real milk.  Or use the fa!rlife milk which provides more protein and calcium but is made from real milk.  (Read more about fa!rlife milk and why the nutrition advisor for Men’s Health magazine recommends it to his clients as a post workout drink at What is fairlife milk?) 
A healthy post workout drink
           3.   Give up the baggy clothes – yes, when you have put on a few pounds, the sweat pants or “comfortable” pants will feel better. But if you are wearing baggy pants every day you may be ignoring that waist band that is getting a little tight. And you may be putting on some weight and not even realizing it until you get back into your “real” clothes, the go out of the house clothes.  Even dressing up for Sunday church may help you realize a few pounds have snuck onto your frame.

  4.    Buy the Pre-portioned snacks/food.  One of my daughters likes to pack the 100-calorie dessert cookies in her lunch.  She can enjoy the “treat” without going overboard on calories.  I like the 100-110 calorie bagels as I know exactly how many calories I am eating.  Buy the smaller chip bag, not a large bag that seems to be calling to you from the cupboard.  One good thing about eating at Subway is that their chips bags are a normal serving size. No need to tempt yourself, buy the pre-portioned snack. Yes, you pay a little more but you won’t be as tempted as you can eat the whole bag and not feel guilty.

Buy the 100 calorie packs
  5.    Add exercise to your day with small goals at first – Yes, it would be nice if you went to the gym every day and worked out for an hour a day. But probably not happening.  So tell yourself, “this week I will take a 10 minute walk after dinner on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.”   Then take the 10 minute walk on those days.  Get someone in the family to join you or take the dog for a walk.  Mark each day you do this on the calendar.  Better yet, buy some gold stars and each day you walk, put a gold star on the calendar as it is a gold star day if you met your exercise goal.

Five “habits” to try this week.  Next week, we’ll look at 5 more healthy habits to try out.  None are “quacky”, none will cost you to lose muscle mass or become fatigued like some quack diets do.  But just building some muscle in your eating habits by changing bad habits like switching from sitting on the couch after you eat to taking a 10 minute walk after dinner.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Food and your mood

Feeling upbeat?  Feeling down in the dumps?  Can the food you eat affect the mood you are in?  Apparently so, according to How Food Affects Your Mood.  Although most “experts” will tell you there is no relationship between eating a lot of candy and a sugar high causing hyperactivity.  But ask any Mom or Dad and they will dispute this.  Want to improve your mood with food?  Here are some suggestions from WebMD and other sources:
1. Don’t Forget the Carbs  - so many times we hear people say, “I am watching my carbs.”  So many times I hear my students say, “that food is high in carbs” as if that is something bad.  We want carbs in our diet – lots of carbs.  Carbs are our primary energy source.  Low carbs=low energy.  But we want “good” carbs in our diet to give us energy. Not refined carbs loaded with added sugar.  Sure that will give you an instant energy boost and then a crash when you feel even more tired.
a.       Is there some science behind carbs and mood?  Yes.  WebMD notes that the amino acid tryptophan enters our brain and promotes synthesis of serotonin.  This promotes a good mood. So one would think protein foods rich in tryptophan would be good mood promoters. Scientists have found that our brains are better are making serotonin from carbs as the amino acids in carbs are better at getting from our bloodstream into our brains. 
b.      What carbs to choose to improve your mood?  Not just any carb will do.  Forget loading up on candy and donuts.  Good mood carbs are also the good-for-you carbs, the whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans.  They not only will improve your mood but also add important nutrients and fiber to your day.
Choose some whole grains 
      2.  Shun the Low-Carb diet.  Want to feel tired, fatigued?  Then shun those carbs.  WebMD notes scientists from Arizona State University studied a very low carb (ketogenic) diet and discovered this diet led to more fatigue and actually reduced the study’s participants desire to exercise.  All this in just two weeks of being on the low carb diet.

3.  Add some Omega-3 fats to your day.  In the nutrition class I teach, I ask students day one what is the healthy fat in fish?  Very few students know the answer.  The answer is Omega-3 fats.  These fats are not only heart healthy but Omega-3 fats also promote a good mood. But you don’t have to eat fish to add these good fats to your day because there are 2 kinds of omega 3 fatty acids – one found in fish and one found in plant foods.
a.     What fish provide Omega-3 fats:  Fatty fish such as salmon , lake trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies and tuna are all good sources of omega 3 fats.
b.      What are plant sources of omega-3 fats?  Walnuts, Flaxseed, flaxseed oil, canola oil and soybean oil.  
Add some walnuts to your salad
c.       How can you add some omega-3 fatty acids to your day?  I sprinkle some ground up walnuts on my oatmeal.  One of my students adds some flaxseed to their morning smoothie.  You can cook with canola oil.  And, of course, add some fish to your weekly menu.  I am not a “fish” fan but enjoy a tuna fish salad sandwich.  Many kids will eat fish sticks.  Yes, it has a coating but a way to get some healthy fish into their diet.
      4.  Start Your Day with a Good Breakfast – it is called the most important meal of the day for a reason. And eating breakfast every day not only  leads to improved mood, but also better memory and you will have more energy all day long.  Skip your breakfast and you may feel more anxious and tired during the day.
a.       What to Eat for a “Healthy” breakfast?  Focus on a whole grain cereal or whole grain bread – all General Mills cereals are whole grain.  Or enjoy a whole grain English muffin, whole grain bagel.  Add some protein like yogurt and some fruit like 100% orange juice, grapefruit juice or fresh fruit like a banana or orange. If you want to add some fat to the meal, spread some tub margarine on your English muffin, buy whole milk yogurt.
   5. Exercise – how does exercise help your mood?   No exercise in your day and you are more likely to be depressed or down in the dumps. 
a.       How does exercise improve your mood?  The Mayo Clinic notes regular exercise leads your brain to release the feel-good endorphins.  And getting in shape builds your self-confidence and helps you feel better about yourself.
b.      Do you have to go to the gym to exercise?  Working out is great but you don’t have to go to the gym to add exercise to your day.  Shovel the snow, wash your car, rake some leaves, gardening in summer or even a walk around the block can all add some movement to your day.
   6.   Eat the Mediterranean Way.  See Best Diets for Health 2018 as the Mediterranean Diet, is ranked as one of the healthiest diets we can eat for overall good health.  Focus on whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  So many people are “watching carbs”.  Yes, start watching how many good carbs you eat each day and aim for at least 3 whole grain foods and 5 A Day of fruits and vegetables.  Not only for good health but eating the Mediterranean way can decrease depression and improve your mood. It may be that the Mediterranean diet add more of the folate vitamin to your day or more vitamin B12.

7.     Focus on Vitamin D – so many Americans, including children, are lacking vitamin D in their day. A lack o, f “D” can result in lower levels of serotonin in your brain.  How much do you need?  600 IU per day.
a.       What foods have vitamin D?  Choose cow’s milk as all cow’s milk is fortified with D.  And cow’s milk may be the best dairy choice for growing kids as drinking cow’s milk seems to lead to better growth in children.  As I noted in my blog, Non-Cow’s Milk and Children’s Height, kids who drank cow’s milk were taller than kids who drank non-cow’s milk.   Choose yogurt fortified with vitamin D.  Most yogurt is but some brands are now on the market that are not fortified with vitamin D.  And choose a yogurt that is 8 ounces or at least 6 ounces.  A serving of dairy is 8 ounces so choosing a yogurt with more ounces means you get more calcium, protein and vitamin D.  
Choose yogurt fortified with vitamin D
b.      Go Outside – our bodies can make vitamin D when exposed to the sun.  A little harder to do in winter when we are covered up but going outside can always boost your mood.  

So improve your mood with food this week.  Add some carbs to your day, some whole grain carbs, some fruit and veggies.  Enjoy that whole grain cereal for breakfast.  No time for cereal, then make a smoothie with some cow’s milk or yogurt fortified with vitamin D and add some flaxseeds.  Pack a yogurt fortified with vitamin D in your lunch.  Bring a handful of walnuts in a baggy to eat as a snack or sprinkle some chopped walnuts on your cereal or evening salad.  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Good tips for Weight - Loss

Trying to drop those few pounds?  Are there tips and tricks one can use to help them be successful in taking off a few pounds?  Last week we reviewed the Best Diets for Weigh Loss as ranked by the U.S. News & World Report.   Time magazine has an excellent article on 8 Weight-Loss Strategies That Actually Work in their Feb. 5, 2018 issue.  There are numerous articles on helpful tips for weight-loss including 9 Habits of People Who Have Successfully Lost Weight.  What are some of these strategies and habits?

     1.  Breakfast – we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  But what should you eat at breakfast and should you eat a big breakfast?  Skipping breakfast and you are more likely to be overweight?  Why?  Probably because you hit the candy bar or soda machine around 10 AM or so.  Not only can skipping breakfast routinely increase your chances of being overweight, it apparently isn’t good for your arteries.  Breakfast skippers are more likely to have that bad plaque buildup in your arteries according to the article, Hearty Breakfast for Healthier Arteries in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 
a.       What should you eat for breakfast?
                                                               i.      Breakfast is a great time to add some whole grains to your day.  Enjoy a bowl of oatmeal or Cheerios – 2 super healthy cereals.  Or choose any General Mills cereal as all are whole grain.  Some higher in added sugar than others but one still gets a serving of whole grains.  Parents, grandparents – let your kid, grandkid choose any General Mills cereal and you know you are getting some whole grains into their day.  If you don’t have time for a full breakfast every week day, then enjoy that oatmeal or Cheerios on the weekends.
Enjoy oatmeal for a healthy heart
                                                             ii.      Protein – adding some protein to your breakfast has “staying power” as protein stays in your stomach longer.  Add some milk for your cereal, some yogurt or enjoy a smoothie. 
                                                           iii.      Juice or Fresh fruit – I always eat a banana for breakfast for my “instant energy”.  Bananas are full of nutrients and add some fiber to your day.  They are also digested fairly rapidly so you get an “energy boost” almost right away.  When choosing juice, make sure it is 100% juice and not a juice drink.  Choose 100% orange juice, or 100% grapefruit juice.  Actually, grapefruit choice is a good choice as there is some research indicating it helps “cut the fat”.  I often enjoy a glass of grapefruit juice at breakfast.  Be sure to avoid the sugary drinks masquerading as juice such as Sunny D and Hi-C.  
Enjoy some 100% juice
 2.  Cut back on Soda – even cutting back on one less sugary soda a day can have big benefits when trying to lose weight.  One key to a smaller waistline is cutting back on the sugary drinks.  Or if you enjoy sweetened ice tea, cut back on how much and how often you drink it.  Or start making it half sweet tea and half unsweetened tea.   
Cut back on the sugared soda
3.  Eat the Mediterranean Way see my blog post Best Diets for Health 2018 for more detailed information on this healthy way to eat. Eat this way to live longer and live healthier.  It is not really a weight loss diet but those that follow this eating pattern have lost weight. Focus on eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and use olive oil in place of the cooking oil you are now using.  5 A Day is usually the motto for how many fruits and vegetables you should eat a day.  The Mediterranean Diet focuses on at least 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables but 9 is quite a goal to aim for.
       4.   Exercise – find a way to add some movement to your day.  So many people make the resolution, “I will go to the gym every day.”  When that doesn’t happen, they don’t have an alternative.  Park your car far from the front door when you go to work or shopping.  Commercial on TV?  Good time to walk up and down some stairs.  After dinner go for a walk – take the dog, it will be good for both of you.  My daughter walks her dog, Ziggy, every day and they both enjoy the time outdoors. As I noted in a previous blog post, WebMD has good advice to follow:  to prevent disease and stay active for life, you do need to exercise.
       5.   Change your habits more slowly -  trying to eat healthy, exercise, lose weight all at once, sounds great but too many changes at once may lead to your just saying, “Forget it” and then you go back to your usual habits.  Introduce more healthy foods to your day.  Always have a fruit or vegetable at lunch.  Bring an apple or some baby carrots with you to work.  Add a yogurt to your day – a super healthy food to add.  Enjoy fast food?  Cut back on it.  Find some changes you can make that will be lasing changes for you.

You don’t need to copy your friends or go on a fad diet like the Whole30 diet.  But adding a few new habits to your day and following some of these tips can lead to a healthier you in 2018.