December 22, 2010
Secrets to Happiness
Here's to the New Year! It will soon be upon us - a perfect time to make changes. If being happy is what you're looking for (and who isn't?)...try this:
1. Remember whence you came. Don’t underestimate the power of nostalgia. When you swap stories about the Bad Prom of 1989 with others, you view yourself in a more positive light and form tighter bonds. You can also try “land-mining” your home with photos and memorabilia, so you’re constantly reminded of your history.
2. Don’t dwell. Mulling over past failures can be tempting. But over time this behavior may lead to feelings of helplessness. Research shows that ruminators are more likely to be depressed, due to a downward spiral of emotions. First you begin obsessing which makes you lack mental clarity to come up with potentially good solutions to problems; as a result you lose confidence and feel unhappy. Try distracting yourself with a movie or a game.
3. Spread the wealth. Giving away money can make you happier than spending it on yourself. The same may be true for buying things for others rather than yourself. So, if you’re going for coffee, take a friend’s order and foot the bill. Tip generously, the payoff will be yours.
4. Get a move on. Exercising for 30 mins, 3 times a week can have the same benefits as some psychiatric medications. A protein, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, is released during exercise and can have an anti-depressant effect. Yoga also has a calming effect on the brain and parasympathetic nervous system.
5. Start baking. Or learn to hula. Or join a quilting bee. Just find something that occupies 100 percent of your attention while you’re engaged in it. You’ll be more motivated and focused – feelings that promote happiness.
6. Make your bed. When asked what makes people happy – this is the one thing that comes up over and over and over. Turns out people are happier when everyday tasks in their lives are complete.
December 20, 2010
Think of Beverages as Desserts!
Many people put on a few pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's — and it's not just food that's to blame. Popular cold-weather beverages also can be packed with calories, fat and sugar.
Here are tips to make drinks more healthful:
Substitute ingredients. Hot chocolate and eggnog still taste great with low-fat or skim milk instead of whole. You can also use egg substitutes in eggnog and keep it liquor-free.
Take advantage of antioxidants. Look for hot chocolate mixes with dark chocolate as the first ingredient; they have more flavonoids, compounds that can reduce inflammation linked to heart disease. Add some cinnamon to hot apple cider to help improve blood sugar and cholesterol levels. And drink a glass of red wine for antioxidants that may protect against heart disease and eye problems.
Stick to small sizes. Think of treats such as eggnog lattes and mochas as desserts, not drinks.
Beware of mulled wine. Adding sugar and spices to wine boosts the calorie count: a 5 ounce glass of mulled wine has about 175 calories, compared with about 125 in a glass of red wine. Have one small glass of mulled wine and then stick to plain — or water.
Hold the toppings. Cutting whipped cream from a drink such as peppermint mocha can save 60 to 70 calories and six to seven grams of fat. Apple cider without added caramel has about 25 fewer calories a cup.
December 16, 2010
Plan Ahead. Eat Smart. Move More.
Healthful eating does not mean never, ever, eating desserts or snacks. It’s all about accurate nutrition knowledge and balance. Being overly restrictive with your intake is not only no fun, it’s also not particularly healthful, and in time leads to binges and the roller coaster of overeating and then deprivation. There is a way out of this cycle.
Holiday treats can fit into your overall balanced eating plan. It’s not an “all or nothing” proposition. Being out of balance on either end of the eating spectrum –binging or starving yourself leads to less-optimal food choices. Overly restrictive eating on a regular basis is as unhealthful as mindless overeating.
Try some or all of the following strategies to help you burn additional calories, keep your “fun foods” portion size in line, or skip the foods you don’t really crave to make room for the ones you like a lot.
1. Move It!
Strolling around the stores for a couple of hours burns up about 270 calories for a 150 pound woman. More if you pick the pace. Does tonight’s party menu include fancy desserts? Make sure to take a brisk walk at your coffee breaks today, or include a walk or dancing as part of your evening.
2. Drink Up
Drinking water, flavored seltzer, coffee, or herbal or regular tea cuts down the empty calories you might otherwise get from sodas and other sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages.
3. Waste Not
You can eat potato chips and dip any day, so why waste your “fun foods” calories on these unexciting snacks at the holidays? The most wonderful treats are those that aren’t always available, like Mom’s pumpkin roll, a favorite aunt’s pie, or homemade holiday sugar cookies. Looking forward to these special, seasonal treats is often a big part of the pleasure of eating them.
4. Starve Not
Wait too long before your next meal or snack, let yourself get absolutely ravenous, and the first foods you reach for at a holiday gathering will likely be high-calorie snacks. Try planning to eat your lunch or dinner before you go, instead of making a meal of snack foods at the party. At the very least, before you go, have a small bowl of whole grain cereal, or apple slices with a little peanut butter to take the edge off of your appetite.
By planning in this way, you won’t be ravenous at the party, and you will be more likely to keep your “fun foods” portion size in balance.
5. Portion Positive
When you are eating for health and enjoyment, you are paying attention to the taste, texture, and pleasure you derive from eating. When you are fully, enjoyably conscious of the food you eat, you tend to become satisfied with a moderate portion size. Take the time to truly enjoy eating the “fun foods” you choose to fit into your eating plan.
6. Conscious Eating
Tasting and enjoying each bite of food is always a great idea, but maybe even most importantly when eating those great-tasting, high-calorie treats that make their appearance during the holiday season. Mindlessly eating these foods leads to missing out on a wonderful and satisfying eating experience. Binging is not done in a conscious, leisurely, “savor-every-bite” way.
Make a conscious choice about which of these treats you will enjoy. Don’t just sidle up to the dessert and hors d’oeuvre tables starving and ready to eat everything. Make a plan ahead of time. Scope it out and decide what you’ll choose and what you’ll leave behind this time. Then slowly enjoy every bite.
7. Alcohol Awareness
Just as with “fun foods,” your alcoholic beverage choices, if you’re not paying attention, can hinder your plan for everyday healthful eating. A 3½-ounce glass of red wine contains 75 calories; a 12-ounce bottle of regular beer contains 150 calories. A glass of wine, however, is not in the same league as a 4½-ounce piña colada at 245 calories.
A single 1½-ounce jigger of “coffee with cream” liqueur will set you back 150 calories to start, with additional calories for other ingredients in the cocktail. A standard 2½-ounce martini, shaken, stirred, or sitting quietly still “costs” about 170 discretionary calories. Restaurants and bars often serve larger-than-standard-sized drinks, so you may have to increase the calorie estimates given here.
Try alternating a caloric drink with a no-calorie water or seltzer to limit the empty calories from alcohol.
December 13, 2010
Spicy Maple-Cashew Popcorn
For a more kid-friendly version, omit the ground red pepper. Store in an airtight container for up to two days.
Total: 20 minutes
Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup)
* 1 tablespoon canola oil
* 1/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels (about 6 cups popped)
* 1/4 cup dry-roasted cashews
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1/3 cup maple syrup
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1. Heat canola oil in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. While saucepan heats, line a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper; set prepared pan aside. Add popcorn to oil in saucepan; cover and cook 2 minutes or until kernels begin to pop, shaking pan frequently. Continue cooking 2 minutes, shaking pan constantly. When popping slows down, remove pan from heat. Let stand 1 minute or until all popping stops. Stir in cashews.
2. Combine sugar and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cool 1 minute.
3. Pour hot syrup mixture over popcorn mixture; toss well to coat. Immediately spread popcorn mixture out onto prepared jelly-roll pan. Cool 3 minutes.
Fat: 7.3g (sat 1.9g,mono 3.4g,poly 1.2g)
December 9, 2010
Managing Diabetes Over the Holidays
Preparation is the key to managing diabetes during holiday travel and festivities. Know what you'll be eating and how to enjoy a few traditional favorites while sticking with a healthy meal plan.
Feasts and Parties
Before you go, take these steps to make sure you stick to your healthy meal plan.
* Eat a healthy snack to avoid overeating at the party.
* Ask what food will be served, so you can see how it fits into your meal plan.
* Bring a nutritious snack or dish for yourself and others.
You don't have to give up all of your holiday favorites if you make healthy choices and limit portion sizes. At a party or holiday gathering, follow these tips to avoid overeating and to choose healthy foods.
* If you're at a buffet, fix your plate and move to another room away from the food, if possible.
* Choose smaller portions.
* Choose low-calorie drinks such as sparkling water, unsweetened tea or diet beverages. If you select an alcoholic beverage, limit it to one drink a day for women, two for men, and drink only with a meal.
* Watch out for heavy holiday favorites such as hams coated with a honey glaze, turkey swimming in gravy and side dishes loaded with butter, sour cream, cheese or mayonnaise. Instead, choose turkey without gravy and trim off the skin, or other lean meats.
* Look for side dishes and vegetables that are light on butter, dressing and other extra fats and sugars, such as marshmallows or fried vegetable toppings.
* Watch the salt. Some holiday favorites are made with prepared foods high in sodium. Choose fresh or frozen vegetables that are low in sodium.
* Select fruit instead of pies, cakes and other desserts high in fat, cholesterol and sugar.
* Focus on friends, family and activities instead of food. Take a walk after a meal, or join in the dancing at a party.
December 6, 2010
Hunger Meet Satiety
The key to losing weight and keeping it off is not a strict, oppressive diet but making permanent lifestyle changes that you can live with.
Here are 10 tips on how to lose weight without going hungry.
1. Eat filling foods with a high water and fiber content, such as fruits and vegetables. Fiber takes a long time to digest and will keep you feeling satiated longer. Trade white flour pastas and bread for whole grain options, which tend to have fewer calories and are more nutritious.
2. Try to include some protein with each meal you eat. Protein moves slowly through the digestive system and can release a hormone to give the feeling of fullness. Three eggs for breakfast have the same number of calories as a bagel, but will keep you feeling satisfied longer.
3. Eat a moderate amount of fat (30 percent or less of your calories) each day. Healthy fats include olive oil, avocado, salmon, nuts and seeds. Try a glass of milk or some cottage cheese with fruit and flaxseed as an afternoon snack.
4. Give into cravings, in moderation. If you want chocolate, have a small piece of chocolate and really enjoy it. Otherwise, you'll binge later.
5. Eat smaller, more frequent meals. If you're trying to consume 1800 calories a day, try six 300 calorie meals rather than three 600 calorie ones. Eating smaller amounts more often will keep your blood glucose level stable and stave off the lethargy that can send you to the vending machine.
6. Never skip breakfast. Skipping meals will cause your body's metabolism to slow down. When this happens, your body will store calories as fat rather than discarding them. Skipping meals and forgoing necessary calories can cause a permanent slowing of the metabolism leading to lifelong weight struggles.
7. Reduce meat consumption to no more than five ounces a day. Choose lean cuts and cut off any visible fat. Remove skin from poultry before cooking.
8. Get enough sleep. Poor quality sleep can raise stress hormones, which causes extra calories to be stored as fat. Getting sufficient sleep can raise metabolism, which might cause an increased appetite, but the reduced stress hormone will permit you to make better decisions.
9. Drink plenty of water. The recommendation is eight cups, or 64 ounces of water daily. Avoid sugary drinks and sodas.
10. Eat slowly. It takes a while for fullness signals to kick in. Really take the time to taste and enjoy your food. It is not the enemy. Let eating be an experience.
December 2, 2010
The cranberry steeping liquid clings to the berries and helps the sugar adhere for a sparkling, jewel-like effect. You can use the liquid (which is drained from the cranberries) in cocktails or over ice cream. If you can't find mascarpone cheese, use regular cream cheese.
Yield: 8 servings
* 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar, divided
* 1 cup water
* 1 cup fresh cranberries
* 1/2 cup sparkling white sugar or turbinado sugar
* 3 tablespoons cornstarch
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 1/2 cups fat-free milk, divided
* 2 large egg yolks
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
* 1 cup frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
* 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1. Combine 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup water in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat. Combine the sugar syrup and cranberries in a small bowl. Cover and chill for 4 hours.
2. Drain cranberries in a colander over a bowl, reserving liquid for another use, if desired. Place sparkling sugar in a shallow dish. Add cranberries, rolling to coat. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet; let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until dry.
3. Combine remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well. Combine 1/2 cup milk and egg yolks in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Heat remaining 2 cups milk in a medium heavy saucepan to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Stir egg yolk mixture into cornstarch mixture. Gradually add half of hot milk to sugar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add egg yolk mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and chocolate, stirring until chocolate melts. Spoon pudding into a bowl; place bowl in a large ice-filled bowl for 15 minutes or until pudding cools, stirring occasionally. Cover surface of pudding with plastic wrap; chill 20 minutes.
4. Combine whipped topping and mascarpone in a bowl, stirring until well blended. Spoon about 1/3 cup pudding into each of 8 bowls or footed glasses; top each serving with about 3 tablespoons mascarpone mixture and about 2 tablespoons cranberries.
Fat: 11.7g (sat 6.5g,mono 3.5g,poly 0.7g)