The Big Game is on this weekend and whether you are in it for the football, the commercials, or the halftime show, I know food will also play a large role in you Super Bowl experience. The traditional tailgate fare of nachos, burgers, pizza, chips, and deep-fried delicacies is not exactly health food. I’m not trying to set you up with a spread of baby carrots, celery, and hummus (although that IS delicious) but just because it’s a party doesn’t mean you have to make the worst possible food decisions. Portion control should always be your #1 strategy, but these cleaned up snacks look great too!
If you’re feeling extra fancy, and have some time to spare, homemade baked chips are a great vehicle for dips of all kinds! You can get creative here and use other veggies: beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes also make tasty chips.
Mini Cauliflower Pizza BitesPoor Cauliflower. It rarely gets the love it deserves. When was the last time you had really great cauliflower dish? This is a genius use of the cruciferous veggie, and you may even get the picky eaters in the room to eat it!
I am a big fan of winter squash, even more so now that some island-grown varieties are becoming available, including one of my favorites: butternut squash As with many things in Hawaii, butternut squash can get to be an expensive buy at the grocery store, especially considering that most squash weigh several pounds. So, whenever there is a sale, I am the crazed woman buying 5-10 at a time. They keep pretty well for several weeks, even in a tropical climate, and I can always cube and freeze a few if I can’t get to them before they would go bad.
Butternut squash is a great option if you are trying to keep you calorie and carbohydrate intake in check. It is a flavorful and filling way to add a lot of substance to a meal; I often use it in place of sweet potato. When you compare the facts: 45 calories & 11g carbohydrate in 100g of butternut squash versus 86 calories and 20g carbohydrate in 100g of sweet potato, it’s easy to see how this substitution can add up to results. Butternut squash also contains significant amounts of vitamin A, an antioxidant that protects and improves the health of your skin and eyesight and may protect against lung and oral cancers.
So how can you get some of this great stuff into your diet? Roasted, with olive oil, salt and pepper is a classic favorite, but there are a ton of options.
I really like the spice flavor combinations in this Moroccan stew. You can always add chicken, lean beef, or tofu to bump up the protein. I eat this with quinoa instead of couscous; I’d rather have a whole grain.
Personally, I’m a fan of the ban (surprise!). It’s not taking away anyone’s freedom to consume as much soda as they want, they just have to do it in steps now. Obesity is a real issue in this country not only for our health, but our pocketbooks as well. The Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a report today, F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012, which forecasts 2030 adult obesity rates in each state and the likely resulting rise in obesity-related disease rates and health care costs. The annual cost of treating obesity related diseases in the USA is anticipated to increase by $48 billion to $66 billion by 2030. I would much rather we spend that money educating our children and improving quality of live in our neighborhoods, wouldn’t you? This is not just a freedom of choice issue; the horrendous health of our citizenry has real social and economic costs!
Naysayers also claim that the ban on super sized sugar drinks won’t change anyone’s behavior, so it’s not even worth trying. I think, again, they are wrong here. Even small steps towards health can add up to a big change overall. When I was watching the Weight of the Nation a few months ago, one of the interviewees said something that really stuck with me. She said that in a country where only 1/3 of the adult population can maintain a healthy weight, something is wrong. Personal choice and responsibly play very large into taking good care of your health and fitness. But so does the system. If the healthy option is the default, more people will choose it. Simple.
What do you think about all this? Nanny state in action or public policy with the public in mind?
Last weekend I spent my Saturday morning serving up snacks and running keiki through an obstacle course at the grand opening of the Manoa Valley Public Library. I made a delicious, nut-free version of these banana-coconut cookies; I can vouch for their tastiness because I had no leftovers at the end of the day and I wasn’t the only sampler. I was really excited to come across this recipe because I wanted to serve something that fit in with my food philosophy, while at the same time was kid-friendly.
I really hate it when I go to a health-centered event and all that is available is junk. Processed, trans fatty foods after a race or a childhood obesity prevention seminar filled with deep dish pizza doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me. Not to say that I don’t like a sweet treat, but I’d much rather have one made with ingredients that carry some nutritional value along with sugar.
When indulging in dessert, you can try substituting whole grain flours for refined versions, applesauce for some of the oil (a trick my Busia used all the time in her fudge brownies), reducing the amount of added sweeteners you use, or using a lower-fat dairy.
Now, you can only take all of this lightening so far before your favorite cookie starts to taste like cardboard diet food, which is the total opposite point of indulgence. In situations like these your #1 best option is to watch your portion size! This is important for all foods, actually. Devouring 10 small “healthy” treats is not a great option either. Having one, small full fat, sugar laden cookie will not ruin your health or your training plan. Having three bites (actual bites, not enormous, mouth-filling, I’m-only-going-to-record-three-bites-in-my-food-journal bites) of chocolate cake will not be the end of you. Just make sure that you really want whatever it is you’re about to indulge in, take the time to enjoy it, and don’t enjoy it too often. Fresh, ripe fruit should be your everyday go-to sweet fix.
Do you have any cleaned-up desserts you really enjoy? Please share them!
Summer is right around the corner, and the results from the Spring Shape Up are in! Dozens of women across Oahu participated in this year’s challenge, and I’m really proud of the hard work everyone put in. Ladies were running races for the first time, setting new personal records, fitting back into their smaller jeans, and improving their health. But there was one participant who really stood out, the winner of the Transformation Challenge: Mayumi Ogumoro!
Mayumi got involved in the challenge for a few reasons. She was at her heaviest weight ever; she had just received the frightening news from her physician that she was pre-diabetic; and she wanted to be a healthier, more active role model for her young son. She set a short term goal of losing about 25lbs during the three month challenge: a great start to her long term 80lb goal. Mayumi has lost about 30lbs so far during the course of the challenge, and she is well on her way to reaching her ultimate goal! She also got the great news last week that her blood sugar is now well within the normal healthy range!!
Initially, Mayumi did 2-3 strength training workouts a week with me. She also put in a lot of work on her own time: she started taking long, daily walks with her dog, and testing out all different types of exercise options available at her gym. Then her husband got involved, and the two of them became exercise partners as well as friendly competitors. The variety of her workouts, plus the extra support and accountability Mayumi was getting at home and and in her sessions kept her on track.
But she didn’t only focus on her activities. Mayumi made some really important changes to how and what she was eating. She swapped out heavily processed foods for a whole foods diet based on plants and lean meats. She even tried some new interpretations of her family’s favorite not-so-healthy BBQ staples, and to her surprise, they loved them!
I’m really amazed by all the hard work Mayumi has put into this transformation, and I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes in the next 12 weeks!
Do you need a little motivation? We all do! That’s why I’m running the Spring Shape Up Transformation Challenge! Earn the chance to win fabulous prizes by setting and working toward a fitness goal. For more information, click here.
It can be really challenging to make good decisions when you are at the grocery store. It’s hard enough to choose between, virgin, extra virgin, or organic olive oils that are all basically the same, much less decipher the food marketing campaigns companies use to entice you. This is why I’m currently in LOVE with the Fooducate app. It takes out a lot of the detective work that comes along with making healthy choices. (And it’s free!)
You can either scan a bar code, enter it manually, or search for a product by name. Each product in the Fooducate data base is given a letter grade. The really cool part is that each entry gives you the product highlights (both good and bad) so you can easily find the facts about added sugars, trans fats, artificial colors, and misleading serving sizes that food manufacturers don’t necessarily want you to see. You’re also given a list of alternatives you can look for if the original product isn’t really as great as it seemed at first.
I’ve found this app to be especially useful when buying things like cereal and yogurt: products that are always touting their health benefits, maybe a little too loudly.
I’m brand new to this iPhone app thing, so I’d love some comments about any health and fitness apps you like to use!
If a food product is marketing itself as being healthy, it’s generally not. Think about it, do kale, brown rice, and chicken breast have multi-million dollar healthy eating advertisement campaigns behind them? No. But they are all great parts of a healthful diet. Here are some claims and labels you should watch out for:
Fat Free. This does not mean calorie-free, nor does it mean low calorie. In fact, sometimes the fat free version of a product has more calories than the original! Often times the fat has been replaced with added sugars (which can wreak havoc with your weight and blood sugar) and may even have toxic tran-fat replacing some of the naturally occurring fat.
Cholesterol Free. All animal products contain cholesterol, and eating dietary cholesterol has not been linked with high blood cholesterol levels in most people. So what if there’s no cholesterol? Read the ingredients label to see what else is in it.
No High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Great! But there may be tons of sugar in the form of sugar, honey, evaporated organic cane juice, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, dextrose, fructose, or one of the other numerous aliases sugar goes by. Your consumption of added sugars by any name should be limited. Check out the nutrition information!
Gluten Free. Gluten is a type of protein that is commonly found in wheat, barley, and rye.The only people who need to avoid gluten are those with celiac disease and those who have an intolerance to gluten For everyone else, the current explosion of gluten free bread, cracker, and pasta products are not necessary, and will not help with weight loss. Many of the products have significantly more calories than the original. Gluten free doesn’t mean low carb either: rice is gluten free. You would be better off focusing on whole grains and trying to avoid refined flour and products with added sugars instead of gluten.
Natural. This means nothing. There are absolutely no regulations and guidelines for labeling products as natural. At the grocery store, a box of cookies, corn fed beef chock full of hormones, and eggs from chickens dosed with antibiotics can all carry the title of natural.
Organic. There are specific guidelines farmers and producers have to follow in order to call something organic, but that label basically only insures that certain pesticides were not applied to the produce or product ingredients. It DOES NOT mean that it is low calorie, low fat, low sugar, or healthy or not. Use common sense. A organic cupcake is still a cupcake and should be treated as such!
Are there any labels or marketing claims that bother you? Have you purchased something based on the nutrition marketing only to find out you’d been tricked?
One of the most common reasons my boot campers and personal training clients say they have difficulty sticking to their nutrition plans that they don’t have time to cook. With just a little bit of planning, taking advantage of the evening or weekend afternoon when you do have some time spend in the kitchen, you can make several meals at once. I’m not talking about eating the same leftovers for days, either. In the video below, I’ll show you can get a main dish salad, a soup, and a quiche out of a couple trays of roasted beets and carrots. Please leave a comment if you have any big batch cooking tips to share!
Oat Flour Pie Crust
1 1/2 c oat flour, plus additional for work surface
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/3 c low-fat milk
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1. Preheat over to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and baking powder.
2. In a spouted bowl, whisk together milk, egg yolk, oil, and vinegar. Slowly pour ½ of the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly and repeat with the remaining liquid. The mixture will be partially crumbly, but will stick together when squeezed.
3. Dump dough out onto a well-floured surface. Squeeze dough together into a singular mound and pat it down together into a disc.. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out until 12 inches in diameter. Transfer dough to 9 inch pie dish. Gently press dough into the edges of the dish and up the sides. Fold excess dough under and pinch, creating a roughly 1/2 inch rim. Using your fingers, or with the tines of a fork, crimp entire rim. Poke Dough all over with fork to create stream holes.
4) Transfer to over and bake 20 minutes, until edges and center are just golder. Remove dish from over and cool completely before using.
VARIATIONS: Substitute 1/4 cup of oat flour with 1/4 cup unsalted nuts of your choice, finely chopped or ground.
So if you didn’t follow all the advice out there to avoid sweet Halloween treats yesterday, you may be experiencing a severe sugar hangover this afternoon. This doesn’t have to be the kickoff to the season of wild, inhibited consumption that leaves you unable to fit into your clothes at New Year’s! When your body digests sugar, your brain releases endorphins that make you feel calm, relaxed, and happy. Your body will also release insulin, which causes your blood sugar to rise dramatically. After a few hours, your blood sugar will tank, leaving you craving more sugar. But you don’t have to be trapped in this cycle!
Get rid of leftover candy. If it’s not in your house, on your desk, or socked away in your car, you will be far less likely to eat it. Who cares if you paid for it? You are not a garbage disposal. Or better yet, have your family participate in the Halloween Candy Buy Back and send your candy to our troops overseas. Find a close drop off nationwide at www.http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/.
Eat regularly. If you wait to long to eat, your body will crave the easiest, quickest way to get your blood sugar back up: sugar. At the same time, eating balanced meals consisting of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, instead of carbohydrates alone, will help keep you balanced and sugar cravings at bay.
Exercise! Physical activity releases the same feel-good endorphins and raises serotonin levels that sugar digestion does. Get up and get moving your sweet tooth kicks in: a brisk walk can be just as effective as a more intense workout. You’ll even burn some extra calories while you’re at it.
Do you have any strategies for getting back on track once you’ve had a sugar overload?
Last week the USDA released it’s new food guide visual, My Plate, to much praise and enthusiasm. The overwhelming response from those in the health and fitness fields has been a resounding “it’s about time!” I have to agree.
The old food pyramid was confusing, and it encouraged the over consumption of refined carbohydrates. It was a great guide for how to fatten up livestock (feed them as much grain as possible!) but not a very effective tool for helping American mange their weight.
My Plate stresses the importance of eating produce: fruits and non starchy vegetables should account for half you plate. This is something I’ve been telling my clients for years. Lean proteins and whole grains or starchy vegetables should account for around a quarter of every meal.
The other trick to using MyPlate as a healthy eating guide is to examine the size of your plate. The average dinner plate in America is now 12 inches in diameter, compared to 10 inches in the 1970s. The larger your plate, the more food you’ll put on it, and the more you’ll eat! Just by switching out your enormous dinner plates for a more reasonably sized salad plate can cause to to eat 20-30% less food, no mental anguish or battle of will power required.
I don’t think that the USDA’s new visual aide will suddenly reverse the obesity problem in America, and it doesn’t address the more complicated questions of WHY people overeat, but I do think it’s a better starting point to talk about proper nutrition than the now thankfully defunct pyramid.
What you choose to eat for breakfast has a huge impact on how the rest of your day will go. Are you going to set yourself up for a 10am blood sugar crash which will be repeated several times throughout the day, or will you choose something that will keep you full and balanced until your next meal or snack? Most standard breakfast options like cereals, pancakes, pastries, and flavored yogurts will set you up for the spike and crash option. Why? Because of all the sugar and refined flours (which behave like sugar in your body) that these desserts masquerading as meals contain.
To help you stay on track you should include a bit of protein and fat and choose whole grain options at every meal, not just breakfast. This mix will help keep you full and help you avoid the mid afternoon sugar snack attack. But what can you do if you still want something sweet? Fruit! But fruit alone will not fuel you until lunchtime; you’ll need to get creative.
I’ve made these savory-sweet quesadillas for breakfast a few times now and not only are they super tasty, with a subtle sweetness to them, but they are really satisfying as well. The original recipe I found called for mozzarella, but I chose goat cheese because it has a much stronger flavor, and I can get away with using a lot less of it without feeling like I’m depriving myself. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think apple-brie would also be a nice combo. A cup of Greek yogurt served alongside this would make for an extremely satiating meal.
Pear Goat Cheese Quesadillas
1 large high fiber tortilla
½ pear, sliced
1 ½ ounces goat cheese
1. Place cheese and pear slices on on half of the tortilla and fold in half.
2. Heat skillet on medium heat, then place folded tortilla in pan. Cook until lightly browned, pressing the quesadilla with a spatula to seal. Carefully flip and brown other side. Cut in half and serve immediately.
Nutritional Information per quesadilla: 244 calories, 11g fat, 24g carbs, 10g fiber, 13g protein.
This may be a bit TMI for some, but I cannot stand for any more women to suffer in silence and shame! After having yet ANOTHER conversation last week with a client who confided that they suffered from chronic constipation, it became painfully obvious to me that far too many ladies are literally full of crap! The statistics bear this out as well: about 20% of Americans are affected by chronic constipation and significantly larger percentage experience occasional difficulties. This backup can cause uncomfortable bloating, abdominal pain, and other rather unpleasant symptoms. Now, constipation CAN be a sign of a very serious medical problem, and you should see a doctor if you are really concerned about it. However, the reason it comes up with my clients so often is that it is usually related to diet.
Americans eat a very low-fiber, high fat, refined, and processed diet. Fiber, as I tell my AINA IS students, acts as the “body’s broom,” sweeping out all of the waste products left over after your body digests the food you eat. The American Dietetic Association recommends most adults consume 20-35 grams of fiber every day, but most people only get 5-14 grams. No wonder things aren’t moving! Inadequate hydration and activity, as well as stress, certain medications, and disruptions in routine (like travel) can also contribute to the problem.
But what if you are an active, well-balanced, hydrated, fiber consuming, and otherwise healthy person and you STILL have problems?
Yes, the same seed that can sprout a glorious head of hair on a decorative Mr. T planter can also help you poop. A tablespoon at night may just be that miracle natural cure you’ve been looking for. Chia is extremely fibrous and is the richest plant source of heart healthy Omega 3. It’s also a great source of calcium and protein. You can sprinkle this tasteless seed over your oatmeal, stick in baked goods, take it straight up, or mix it with water. If you let the seeds stand in liquid for a few minute, they turn into a thick gel, which you can also slurp down if that doesn’t gross you out too much. Chia seeds can absorb up to 9 times it weight in liquid, making it ideal for endurance athletes who have hydration concerns. Most importantly to me however, is chia’s amazing ability to regulate the digestive system!
Have you ever used chia seeds as a nutritional supplement?
The US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services released the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 last week, but it contained few surprises. The report urged Americans to reduce their portion sizes, reduce their intake of refined carbohydrates, added sugars, sodium, and solid fats, and increase their consumption of whole grains, vegetables, and other nutrient dense foods. Overall, it is hard to argue with the recommendations (perhaps except for the HUGE push to consume more low-fat dairy products, even in the face of lactose intolerance) but whether or not Americans will follow them is another story. You can get the full report here.
Some of my favorite statistics included in the report:
Alcohol is the #5 top source of calories for adults! It is right below soda. Grain based desserts like cakes and cookies are #1. Whoa. That’s a ton of calories consumed with no nutritional value. A diet centered on whole grains, fresh produce, lean protein sources, and healthy fats will provide all the health supportive nutrition you need while helping you maintain a healthy weight.
Less than 5% of American adults get the recommended 30 minutes of light to moderate activity a day. Exercise does not have to occur in 1-2 hour blocks in a concrete gym. You can add a 10 minute walk to the end of your lunch break, actively play with your kids for 10 minutes, and add another 10 minute post dinner walk (which will also aid your digestion) and reap most of the health benefits of exercise. This type of activity will probably not leave you with rippling muscles and 15% body fat, but it will lower your risk of all sorts of lifestyle-related diseases.
Solid fats and added sugars account for about 35% (around 800) of the calories the average American consumes every day. A much more reasonable percentage would be somewhere between 5-15%, according to the report. Beverages alone account for about 450 of those calories. Think about this, a pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories. If you cut out 700 of these solid fats and sugar calories (you can even keep some in my hypothetical example!) you could lose 10 pounds in less than 2 months!
What’s your take on the updated guidelines? Do you think they will have any effect on people’s behavior? What about on your own dietary decisions?
The New York Times published an article about a study about breakfast this week that left me scratching my head. In the study, subjects were instructed to track what they ate for two weeks. Researchers then determined that contrary to popular belief, the subjects that ate a bigger breakfast did not see any subsequent reduction in total calorie intake over the rest of the day.Therefore, the study concludes, having breakfast must NOT be a helpful weigh management strategy. One of the scientists is even quoted saying, “Eating breakfast is just added calories. You’ll never compensate for them at subsequent meals.” Umm…what!?
Maybe the problem is not the fact that the subjects ate breakfast, but the fact that many breakfast options are not high quality. If you are eating donuts, pastries, candy disguised as cereal, white sugar masquerading as white bread, then yes, you may have a issue keeping your total calorie intake in check. Eating mostly carbohydrates (and refined carbohydrates at that) WILL leave you feeling hungry few hours later and can lead to overeating throughout the day. Also, consuming a huge 1200 calorie breakfast of bacon, pancakes, and a three egg omelet with cheese in the hopes that you won’t eat the rest of the day is not a very good strategy either. Just like with many other things in life, too much of a good thing (in this case breakfast) CAN be bad for you.
Numerous other studies over the course of the last decades have proven time and time again that people who consume breakfast not only maintain a healthier weight than those who don’t, but the also have improved cognitive function as well. Plus, eating in the morning kickstarts your metabolism and gets your body out of the conserve mode it goes into while you sleep at night. I think the key here is to have a QUALITY, SATISFYING meal. Breakfast, just like any other meal, is going to be most beneficial to you if it is a low sugar, high fiber mix of whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. This combination will keep you full and give you the energy you need to make it through your morning. Most American breakfast options as I said before are nothing but sugar, especially the most popular and convenient item of all: cold cereal. If you want to find you what you should look for when you purchase cereal, please check out my video below.
Spices and herbs are a great flavor enhancer for your food, and while they pack tons of taste, they contain virtually no calories! But these are no nutritional lightweights; herbs and spices also have extremely valuable medicinal properties and can be an important component of your overall health and nutrition plan. For example, cinnamon helps reduce blood sugar, and LDL (the bad kind) cholesterol levels. Cayenne pepper improves circulation and boots metabolism. Turmeric acts as an anti-inflammatory and is especially helpful for people who have arthritic conditions.
The only caveat here is that spices and herbs do not have a endless shelf life, and their potency and flavor will deteriorate over time. How many years have you had that giant container of ground cinnamon in your cabinet? 6? A good rule of thumb is to toss anything that no longer has an aroma (or it’s proper aroma, perhaps I should say). Whole spices will keep for about 2-4 years, ground for 2-3 years, and dried herbs for 1-3.
I hate throwing money away in the form of spoiled or old food, so I buy my spices from the bulk bin. This way I can get exactly as much as I want, I don’t end up throwing a half full spice container out a few years later, and I don’t have to feel the pain of the upfront cost of an entire 4 ounces of cardamom. However, I had been storing my spices in little plastic bags secured with twist ties that I jammed into a plastic storage container. After using a spice there was always some mess to clean up, and I never really knew what I had on hand.
No more! I don’t know why I procrastinated for so long, but I finally crafted my own spice rack out of stainless steel containers and some magnetic tape! It is super convenient to have everything in plain sight on my refrigerator, and I don’t have to deal with tiny plastic bag spillage anymore! Yay!
What other methods bedsides herbs and spices do you use to add flavor to your food without adding tons of extra fat, sugar, or salt?
It’s no secret that Americans love their pizza; the average American will have eaten 23 lbs or around 46 slices of it this year! That can mean some serious damage to waistlines, blood pressures, and hearts, but it doesn’t have to be this way. You can have your pizza and eat it too!
I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to swear off popular comfort foods in order to lose weight or maintain your health, you just need to degunk them a bit. I love pizza just as much as anybody, but I do not love the nutrition facts that generally come with a grease-stained box of delivery. According to the company website, an Italian sausage personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut contains 720 calories and 36 grams of fat, 14 of which are saturated, and 1 gram is ultra horrendous trans-fat. Now don’t think that it’s only the sausage doing all the contributing to those facts either, a plain cheese personal pan pizza still weighs in at nearly 600 calories and 24 grams of fat, 14 of which are saturated, 0.5 grams of trans-fat.
My healthy pita pizza to the rescue!
As I said before, I really do like pizza, and sometimes I’ll even make dough from scratch so I can experiment with different whole grain flours like rye and buckwheat in addition to whole wheat. But that requires time and planning, which sometimes even I can’t manage. So, in times when I’m craving pizza but don’t feel inspired enough to do it all by hand, I DO NOT pick up the phone! Instead, I pick up a bag of whole wheat pita bread (make sure it’s really 100% whole wheat!), spread some toppings and pop it into a 400 degree oven for about 8-12 minutes. That’s it! And, perhaps most importantly, not only is this pizza healthy, it is super delicious!
These basil, feta, chicken sausage pizzas each came in right under 300 calories, with only 8.5 grams of fat, 5 amazing grams of fiber, 17.5 grams of hunger stomping protein, and only 39 grams of carbs. If you wanted to lower the calorie and fat count even lower, you could try topping your pita pizza with a leaner protein (maybe shrimp, chicken breast, or even edamame) and omitting the cheese. I always advise people to go with a stronger tasting cheese (not just for pizzas, but anything you make that you really want some cheese on) because you can get away with using a lot less of it without feeling like you’re depriving yourself. Think about a bag of shredded mozzarella. How flavorful is that? Compare that to a small slice of goat cheese, brie, or blue. You want to go for taste and quality NOT quantity.
The fact that I use whole wheat pitas also boots this pizza’s nutritional value; the fiber and protein in the pita itself will help keep you full (so you’ll be satisfied with less) and will not wreak the havoc on your blood sugar that white dough does. That type of dough also tends to stick in your intestines and cause all sorts of distress, which besides being uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing, can also contribute to bulging out the area right below your belly button.
A final thought for you. If you were to swap out your 23lbs a year of takeout pizza with my pita pizzas, you would lose roughly 5 lbs! How do I know this? A pound of fat is 3500 calories and the difference between a year’s supply of my pizza versus that standard takeout is a bit over 17,500 calories. The math is clearly in my favor!
What other “diet disaster” foods have you cleaned up so that you can still enjoy them on a regular basis?
The best way to stay hydrated while exercising is to drink water
Here’s a newsflash for you: sports drinks are basically nothing more than sugar water, similar to soda in the amounts of added sugars they contain. They are also not really necessary or even appropriate for the average exerciser. But why then did you see all those New York City marathoners guzzling it along the route a few weeks back, and why do football teams always seem to have it on hand. Aren’t all those beneficial electrolytes supposed to help stop you from becoming dehydrated?
The simple answer to this question is that most people are simply NOT training like endurance or professional athletes and will do fine just using plain water for hydration. If you are training strenuously (a leisurely stroll doesn’t qualify here!) for more than an hour, and sweating like crazy, a sports drink may help you restore your glycogen levels(what you body uses for fuel) so that you can continue going and replenish some of your electrolyte stores. However, if you are working out to lose weight, burning 300 calories in an hour, and then pouring 120 calories of sugar into your body right after that, you are undermining a lot of the hard work you just put in.
Sports drinks are among the many “health halo” products that people consume without paying attention to what’s really in it. Protein bars can also fall into this category. Have you ever read the label on some of those bars? There may be 400 calories, more than 50 grams of sugar (1 ½ cans of soda worth of sugar) and tons of unpronounceable chemical additives in a bar like that, but people feel OK about snacking on them because they are “supposed” to be healthy. You’d be better off eating a Snickers Bar!
I will say it again, READ LABELS! If something tastes like a candy bar or soda, and has a comparable amount of sugar in it, treat it as such. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that because something is marketed as a healthy lifestyle option that it must be.
Are there any “health halo” products you have been confused by? Tell me about in the comment section below!
Local, organic produce is certainly the nutritional gold standard, but don’t be defeated if you can’t eat that way all the time! As I’ve stated here previously, Americans are not eating enough vegetables, and our collective health is suffering as a result. Supplementing fresh produce with frozen can be an time-saving, economical, and PRACTICAL way to get more veggies into your diet, and depending on certain conditions, the frozen produce you buy may be fresher than the “fresh” stuff from the supermarket!
Whenever you consume food, your blood sugar is affected. You ideally want to have a relatively stable blood sugar throughout the day, no big spikes, but no huge crashes either. This will help you maintain energy, improve your mood and immune system function, and help you maintain or lose weight.
A food’s Glycemic Index score measures how fast the carbohydrates in a food are broken down and released into your bloodstream. Foods that break down quickly (sugar, white bread, potatoes) have a high GI and trigger your body to rapidly release large amounts of insulin, causing a spike and subsequent crash in your blood sugar levels. Foods that break down more slowly (whole grains, legumes, most fruits and veggies, nuts, and animal products) have a lower GI and do not trigger as large of a response. Insulin causes your body to store fat, rather than use it is fuel. When your blood sugar crashes your brain no longer has the glucose it needs to function and craves highly refined, quick digesting carbohydrates (candy! soda!sugars!) to get glucose as soon as possible. The vicious cycle has been set in motion!
So what does all of this mean for you practically? Try to limit high GI foods in your diet! This is especially true for those of you who are trying to lose weight or need to keep a close eye on your insulin levels. Does this mean you can never have white rice again? No! The best time to consume high GI foods is right after a hard workout, when your glucose stores have been depleted. However, make sure you still exercise portion control, and also be realistic about what qualifies as a hard workout: a short, leisurely walk down the street doesn’t cut it.
Carbohydrates have gotten a really bad rap in the past few years, but carbohydrates in and of themselves are not bad, and in fact your body needs them to function. Refined carbohydrates that zap your energy and cause your body to store fat are the thing to stay away from. A thought for you to contemplate: refined white sugar has a GI of 70, white sandwich bread 85, and corn syrup 110. Considering what you now know about how your body responds to quickly digesting sugars, is it surprising that things like soda, which are chock full of corn syrups, high fructose and otherwise, are being implicated in our current health crisis?