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EAT WELL

Trail mix in a bowl

Pump Up the Fiber In Your Diet

Fiber is necessary for a person’s well being. It increases the immune system in the gut, keeps the digestive lining healthy, supports the good probiotic bacteria, and absorbs excess cholesterol, fat, and toxins from our bodies. Here are some ways of increasing the fiber in your diet.

Cereal
Eating whole grain, unsweetened cereal with 4 grams of fiber is the ideal, but some studies show that just any old cereal might do the trick. According to research done by the University of California, cereal eaters eat less fat and more fiber than those who make other breakfast choices.

Two Apples A Day
Keep two doctors away? Apples are a source of pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber that digests slowly and helps to keep you full. One study showed that just 5 grams of the stuff left people feeling satisfied for four hours.

yogurt parfait

Yogurt Parfait
Here’s a great breakfast idea that’s packed with fiber. Mix one small container of yogurt with 1/3 cup all-bran cereal, 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and 5 diced strawberries. Not only will you get a delicious breakfast, you’ll also get 12.2 grams of fiber, which is almost half your daily allowance.

Carrots and Broccoli in Low -Fat Ranch
Each cup of veggies will give you five grams of fiber. Snack on this three times a week.

Oatmeal
If a bowl of the stuff is not your style, you can use oatmeal instead of bread crumbs on your meatballs and meatloaf, sprinkle it on your ice cream, or bake it into cookies and muffins.

Trail mix
Mix raisins, peanuts, chocolate-covered soy nuts, and high fiber cereal for a great munchie mix. One handful makes for great high fiber between- meals snack.

whole grain crackers

Whole Grain Crackers
A little cracker can go a long way. One whole wheat cracker has 1/2 gram of fiber; do the math and that translates to 5 grams in ten crackers. Next time your looking for something to spread your peanut butter on, look for some whole grain crackers instead of bread.

Kidney Beans and Chickpeas
Lisa Andrews, RD, and nutritionist at the VA Medical Center in Cincinnati, says that you can get an additional 5 grams of fiber by adding a quarter cup of chickpeas and kidney beans to your next salad.

Switch From White to a Brown Foods
Rice is a great example. You can also switch regular pasta to whole wheat along with your corn burritos, white bread and cous cous. Working these into your diet gradually can increase your daily fiber intake by an easy ten grams without making a radical change to your diet.

What are you doing to pump up the fiber in your diet? Let us know!

Woman adding salt to cooking

Why It's Important To Manage Your Salt Intake

It needs a little salt. How often have amateur cooks heard this expression? And, for sure, what failed recipe can’t be fixed by some good old table salt? Everyone loves salt! Even the most irredeemable of culinary sins can be redeemed with salt! What dish can’t be made palatable, what omitted ingredient can’t be compensated for by the magic crystal? We should be singing the praises of salt! Right? Apparently not.

Sure, salt can enhance the taste of food, and hide a multitude of transgressions, it may not be the best thing for your health. Read on to find out how cutting down on salt may help to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of a plethora of health difficulties.

Health Benefits of Salt
While too much salt should be avoided, a reasonable amount is vital to the human body. It helps to regulate water levels, transmit nerve signals, and maintain normal pH levels in the blood. Because the mineral is not produced by our body, but is excreted, there is a daily need for salt intake.

Recommendations
The American Heart Association advises that most people keep their sodium intake under 2,500 milligrams, or per day. However, if you have high blood pressure or if you are at risk for high blood pressure, the recommendation is to reduce that intake to 1,500 mg per day. Groups at high risk for high blood pressure include African Americans, those with hypertension, kidney disease, or diabetes. If one of those groups includes you, that translates to less than half a teaspoon for all your snacks and meals.

High blood pressure has been linked to tripling the risk of heart disease and stroke, and is known to increase the risk of microvascular complications like kidney disease, eye disease, and nerve damage.

The World Cancer Research Fund found a connection between high salt diets and stomach cancer, with 14% of all stomach cancer cases in the UK attributed to diets high in salt.

Mother and daughter

Tips
If you are having trouble ending your love affair with salt, here are a few helpful hints:

  1. Stop reaching for the salt shaker. Most food has a high enough salt content already, so chances are, you’re just putting salt on your salt. The American Heart Association says table salt consists of about 40% sodium, so no more shaking!
  2. Read food labels. If foods say how much sodium is in food, rather than how much salt, you can find out the salt level by multiplying the amount of sodium by 2.5. Look for low sodium labels at the grocery store. You’ll find reduced sodium options of several brands of cereal, pasta sauces, canned vegetables, and crackers.
  3. Eat fewer processed food. Salt is a very effective preservative, which is why it is so often included in packaged and processed food. In fact, processed foods account for most of the sodium in people’s diets. Try to buy fresh food, or prepare your own, so you know what’s going in it.
  4. Find out if the restaurants you frequent will skip or cut down on the salt in your dish. Many chefs will make an allowance, if you ask.
  5. If your restaurant posts nutrition facts on its menu, take special note of how much sodium is in a serving. Try to order lower sodium options.

Table Salt Vs. Sea Salt
You may have seen a lot of food labels mentioning the use of sea salt in their products. If you thought all salt came from the sea, this may clear up a little confusion.

Table salt has the advantage because of its finer consistency, it is free flowing and is usually cheaper. Sea salt, on the other hand, is less processed an may not include anti-caking agents (check the packaging to verify.)

Sodium Ferrocyanide is an anti-caking agent in table salts. Research on rats has revealed slink to kidney damage, although the dosage was considerably higher than that found in most human diets.

What are you doing to lower your salt intake? Let us know what changes you’re making.

Woman snacking

The Science Behind Your Snack Attacks

When you get a snack attack, most probably the only science you’re thinking about is how you can most efficiently get a bag of chips into your stomach. However, when it comes to cravings, there really is a good amount of science behind them, and it doesn’t just concern the rate of food traveling to your tummy. The fact is, certain foods, especially those high in sugar, salt, and fat, trigger a release of dopamine, which means they are hitting the pleasure center in your brain at the same time they are hitting the hunger center in your belly and the reaction is an unfailing, “Give me more!” Here are some of the most addictive foods and how they work their magic.

Cheese
Besides being high in fat and cholesterol, cheeses also contain a high level of casomorphin, which binds to the feel-good receptors in the brain. According to Neal Barnard, MD, mice aren’t the only ones susceptible to the lure of a good cheddar. “Casmorphins attach to neurotransmitter in our brain and release dopamine, feel-good chemicals that often lead us to wanting more.” Apparently, Americans are getting cheesier as time goes on. The doctor notes that the average American consumes 30 pounds more cheese per year than he or she did 100 years ago.

Woman eating chips

Carbs
It’s the quick glucose release of carbohydrates like potato chips and pretzels which keep our hands going back to the bag to reach for another. Celina Jean, nutritionist, says, ” Simple carbohydrates are seen as an addictive because they cause a quick glucose release, and this quickly increases a person’s energy. The energy will quickly be used up, and the then you’ll be forced to eat more simple carbohydrates to keep your blood sugar raised.”

Sugary Drinks
Not only do sweet sodas, lemonades, and iced tea provide us with empty calories, a 12 ounce can of the stuff can contain up to 35 grams of sugar. Sodas also trigger dopamine release. That, along with the caffeine jolt can provide a quite a hit of energy. Ashvini Mashru, registered dietician warns, “Once you’re hooked on caffeine, you can suffer symptoms of withdrawal if you try to stop, including sluggishness, headaches, and emotional distress.

French fries

French Fries
Crisp, hot, and salty, french fries have all the classic ingredients of addictive food. Mashru tells us that the fat content in the fries sends signals to our gut and brain telling us to eat more. He says, “Those little potato sticks are also a comfort food. Therefore, every time you go through a line in a restaurant and see them on the menu, you may find the urge to order them as a side to your entree irresistible.”

Chocolate
Chocolate gives you kick because it binds to the same pleasure centers in your brain as drugs and alcohol. A study conducted by Drexel University found chocolate often provides a nice “mouth feel” which triggers the production of the feel-good hormone oxytocin. Dan Defigio, author of Beating Sugar Addiction for Dummies, explains, “Over time, our brains start looking for that dopamine hit, and every time we eat chocolate, it reinforces that wiring.”

What foods are you addicted to? Tell us your shocking stories of how your battles with food addictions. We want to know!

Sad woman with cup of tea

Causes of Adult Malnutrition

Malnutrition. It is defined as an excess or deficiency in intake of nutrients It refers to both the overweight and the underweight and, for the first time in centuries, the numbers are getting close. While feeding the hungry has always been always a priority, it is increasingly becoming the case that hunger is merely being traded for obesity, with one form of malnutrition simply being replaced by another, resulting in heart disease, cancer, chronic illness and shorter life expectancies. Ironically, at time when out nation has the most potential to eliminate the epidemic, it has boosted to record levels. Here are some of the most common causes of adult malnutrition.

Poor Diet
One of the leading causes of malnutrition is a poor diet. When an individual does not eat enough food, or if the food they do eat does not provide them with the nutrients required for good health, malnutrition may occur. Improper diet my be cause by several factors, including dysphagia, which is a difficulty swallowing due to an illness.

Sad woman

Mental Health Disorders
Poor mental health is often linked to a malnutrition. Depression may interfere with healthy eating habits and patients with eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia, may also suffer from malnutrition.

Limited Mobility
Individuals who have a hard time getting around may become victims of malnutrition because of difficulty getting out to go shopping or simply finding food preparation difficult.

Digestive disorders
Despite eating properly, certain people have health conditions which prevent their bodies from absorbing the nutrients necessary for good health. Examples include individuals with ulcerative colitis of Crohn’s Disease.
Patients with Celiac disease have genetic disorders that make them gluten intolerant. This results in an increased risk of damage to the lining of their intestines. This condition also results in poor food absorption.

Woman drinking

Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a long-term disease that can result in gastritis or pancreatic damage. These conditions interfere with the body’s digestion and prevent the body from absorbing vitamins and producing hormones necessary for the regulation of metabolism. In addition, the calories supplied by the alcohol may reduce food cravings, and result in the person’s lack of desire for food. Consequently, the person’s meager diet may not supply him or her with essential nutrients.

Food Shortages
Poor and developing nations often suffer food shortages due to lack of agricultural technology, such as fertilizers, pesticides, and advanced methods of irrigation.

Food Prices and Distribution
Shockingly, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, 80% of malnourished children live in nations that actually produce a surplus of food. In these cases, economist blame high food prices and problems with distribution of food to the needy.

Lack of Breastfeeding
Certain experts believe that much of the world’s malnutrition in children and infants is due to lack of breastfeeding. Some women are of the belief that bottle feeding is better, while other mothers, usually in the developing countries, abandon breastfeeding because their babies do not latch on properly, or the mothers find breastfeeding to be painful and uncomfortable.

Do you have any ideas for combatting malnutrition? Let us know how you believe this worldwide epidemic can be addressed. We’d love to start the conversation.

Flat lay of healthy food

Popular Health Food Myths

Eating pop rocks with soda can make you explode. This is perhaps the most popular and most bizarre food myths of all time. Although some may argue that the two together may be a lethal combination, it is not because of its likelihood to cause human combustion. While the fate of Mikey of Life Cereal fame may be unknown, it is safe to say he did not suffer death by Poprock. With the rate at which information about food changes , it is often hard to determine which facts from fiction. Here are some of the most commonly believed food myths that may seem all too easy to believe.

Low Fat Food is Better for You
Look at food labels to determine what kinds of fats are in foods before reaching for the low fat version. Seattle based dietitian Andy Bellatti says, “A good intake of healthful fats is beneficial for cardiovascular health. Prioritize mono saturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Many low fat diets are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates which are increasingly becoming linked to increased heart disease.” Low fat food are often low in good fats, which are necessary to cholesterol management and absorption of nutrients and also contain high levels of sugar and sodium to compensate for the blandness of the taste quality.

Dairy Is Best For Healthy Bones
According to Bellatti, too many people confuse dairy with calcium. “Dairy contains calcium, but so do dark-leafy greens. Milk is fortified with vitamin D, just like all milk alternatives. Additionally, bone health goes beyond calcium and vitamin D.” Vitamin K is important for bone health and leafy green have it while dairy products do not. Magnesium, also absent from dairy, is important for bone health as well.

Assorted dairy

If you’re concerned about the health of your bones, you’re best bet is to make sure you get enough calcium in your diet and, as the Harvard School of Public Health points out, “milk isn’t the only, or even best source of calcium.” Collard greens, kale and bok choy may be considerably better sources of both calcium and vitamin D.

Drink 8 Glasses of Water per Day
Boston based nutritionist Alannah DiBona says there is no given rule for how much water a person needs in a day. “Water’s been touted as the cure for all sins, and in some ways, it’s true – proper hydration is necessary for just about anything body and mind-related. However sixty- four ounces per day isn’t always going to be the right number for you.” Instead, try to determine your water intake by dividing your body weight in half and trying to drink that number in ounces of water daily.

Dibona also urges us to “Remember that water is available to you through all liquids, fruits, vegetables, and that the mark of proper hydration is a very light yellow-colored urine.”

Eating Eggs Raises Cholesterol
According to DiBona, “More often than not, a person diagnosed with high cholesterol will go out of his or her way to avoid eggs, which is really unnecessary. The body’s cholesterol levels are influenced by certain saturated and trans fats; eggs contain very little saturated fat and absolutely no trans fat. Depriving yourself of an egg means foregoing 13 naturally occurring vitamins and minerals and a really delicious breakfast item.”

Poached egg

High Sodium Foods Taste Salty
While there is no doubt that management of salt and sodium intake are important, especially for those with diabetes and hypertension, you should know that salty taste is not necessarily characteristic of high sodium foods. Belatti explains, “While surface salt is noticeable, stealth sodium, added during processing, is harder to taste. This is why many people don’t realize that a Dunkin’ Donuts corn muffin contains as much sodium, as 9 McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets.” He stresses the importance of looking up nutrition information to check the sodium content of foods at your favorite restaurants and eateries.

What other food myths do you want to debunk? Let us know!

Healthy salad on wooden table

Tips For Changing Your Diet

It’s time to face facts. You’ve outgrown your diet- in more ways than one. Your waistline has matured and its time for your tastes to do the same. It’s come down to saying goodbye to your Oreos or your skinny jeans, and nothing comes between you and your Calvins. You need to revamp your diet or restock your closet, and you’ve made your choice. The only thing is, you’ve gotten so comfortable eating junk food, you don’t know where to start. Hold on to your cutoffs; here are some tips for changing your diet.

It’s Hard
We’ve all heard the expression, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but that doesn’t mean there are no exceptions. John Foreyt, PhD, says, “Many people are skeptical about changing their diets because they have grown accustomed to eating or drinking the same foods, and there is fear of the unknown or trying something new.”

He also notes the tendency to lapse into old habits during times of stress. “Everything can be going along just fine until you hit a rough patch.” To combat these feelings, Foreyt advises that you acknowledge the habits you want to fix, figure out why you have these habits, and make a plan to slowly change your bad habits into healthy ones.

Steps to Fixing Bad Eating Habits

Go slowly
Make changes slowly. Experts recommend starting each day with a good breakfast and getting 8 hours of sleep a night to avoid stress eating.

Work on structuring your meal habits. Eat seated at a table without distractions and try to eat more frequently with family. Try to learn to eat only when you are hungry and stop when you are full.

Make dietary changes. Aim to reduce portion sizes by 20% and no second helpings. Use whole grain bread for sandwiches and swap mayo for mustard. Flavor coffee with skim milk instead of cream and eat a healthy meal or snack every few hours.

Mother and daughter making salad

Change your cooking methods. Use cooking spray and nonstick pans instead of oil to reduce fat and experiment with more nutritional ways of cooking, like roasting, baking, grilling, or poaching.

Drink more water and cut down on sugary sodas and juices. Limit alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks per day. Try to eat large portions of foods with high water content, like salads and veggies, instead of calorie dense foods, and flavor foods with herbs, vinegar, lemon, or mustard instead of fattening sauces.

Pay Attention
Become more aware of what you’re eating. Keri Gans, MS, RD, advises, “Read food labels. Become familiar with lists of ingredients and start to take notice of everything you put into your mouth.” Once you begin to assess your diet, you will probably realize the need for improvement.

New Week New Goal
Maybe one week your goal will be to try a new vegetable, or a new exercise. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too much at one time. Take it slow and figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Be a Realist
Don’t expect to see results right away and keep in mind that it usually takes about a month to adapt to new habits.

Diet planning

Have a Plan
Be specific. “To say ‘I am going to work our more,’ won’t help you,” says Gans, “what will help is thinking about when and how you can fit it into your lifestyle.” Plan certain days on which you will go to the gym and stock up on healthy food.

Manage Stress
Change can be stressful. To handle it, Foreyt advises, “Focus on dealing with stress through exercise, meditation, or whatever works for you, so you don’t fall back into those bad habits during periods of stress or use food to help you cope with the situation.”

Are you working on changing your eating habits? Let us know how its going and add your comments and suggestions!

Woman holding organic foods

Make the Switch To Organic Foods

What does it mean to “go organic?” Is it the environmental equivalent of buying Christian Louboutins? Does it mean meeting friends for organic Suncrust Pizza at the LYFE cafe followed up by a trip to Dunkin’ Donuts? Making the switch to organic foods is not a trend, its a commitment. It means being diligent about shopping practices, and may even require some economical sacrifices. However, it also means taking steps toward a chemical free environment. If you’re considering making the switch, here are some things you need to be prepared to do.

Make Room In the Fridge
Since organic produce typically does not last as long as inorganic, you’ll have to inspect your refrigerator and food storage areas to make sure you have room to store it. Clean out rotten produce to make room for your newer, healthier items.. Consider stocking up on frozen organic versions if frequent trips to the market are inconvenient.

Make a List
Make a list of items that you are running low on and gradually replace them with organic versions. This will cut down on waste and stretch out your finances while you are making the transition.

Organic Produce Shopping
Thin skinned produce or produce without peels have the least protection against pesticides. When switching to organics, berries, celery, apples, bell peppers, peaches, greens, and potatoes should be your first priority. Thicker skinned produce, such as avocados, pineapples, melons, and mangoes pose less of a health risk, and can be held off on, if you need to make the transition slowly.

Shopping for organic food

Organic Dairy
Switching to organics will also mean converting to organic milk and dairy products to avoid antibiotics and pesticides. Although there may be a significant price difference, keep in mind that the switch will help to support and more natural agricultural system.

Meat and Eggs
If meat and eggs are dietary staples for you, you will want to purchase hormone free and organic forms of these proteins. Organic meat will probably be the most costly of all your switches. You may want to accompany this swap with the purchase of few organic flavorings, seasonings, and condiments, to keep your transition tasty.

Read Labels
Look for the “USDA organic” certification on the label of your food to make sure the Department of Agriculture has deemed it free of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and that no ionizing radiation was used in the processing of the food. “100% organic” indicates all ingredients are organic, whereas simply “organic” means 95 % organic, and “Made with Organic Ingredients” means that 70 % of the ingredients were not genetically modified.

Shop Around
Go to different grocery stores to find the best prices and selections of organic food. Your regular grocery store probably has an organic food aisle, and you may be able to find organic foods place next to the nonorganic. Health food stores, membership stores, and farmer’s markets can be good organic food sources and you can always consider starting your own garden, if you are so inclined.

Eating out

Eating Out
Do your research when it comes to restaurants. Some restaurants may claim a dish is organic, but key uses seasonings, oils, and other components that may not be. Specialty restaurants are generally most reliable.

What do you think? Are you prepared to take the steps for a healthy environment and a healthy you? Let us know!

Flat lay of heart-healthy foods

Foods That Boost Your Cardiovascular Health

When we use the term “hungry heart,” we are usually not speaking in the literal, scientific sense. The Hebrew bible associated all feelings with the heart, hunger and thirst included and quoted Abraham as saying we shall eat to “sustain our hearts.” However, today we tend to more often associate these signals with the mind and brain. However, is the whole body concept so far-fetched? After all, if our heart does fuel our body, and our stomach does fuel our heart, then maybe the heart can be hungry. And if the heart is hungry, what should we feed it?

The Food-Heart Connection
According to Julie Zumpano, RD, LD, and dietitian for the Preventive Cardiology and Nutrition Program at Cleveland Clinic says, “You can definitely reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by eating certain foods every day. Try to eat foods that are in their natural form, as they come from the ground.” Here are some suggestions for a heart-healthy diet.

Fish
Fish are packed with omega-3’s to support your heart. Eating fish with a high omega-3 content, such as salmon and mackerel can help prevent the formation of blood clots, and help maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

Salmon

Almonds
A handful of almonds contains a huge load of nutrients! Not only do these nuts have protein, magnesium, and fiber, but they are also high in vitamin E, biotin, monosaturated fats and antioxidants to protect against oxidative stress. They have also been shown to help reduce risk of heart disease and lower bad cholesterol levels.

Beans
Beans, beans, good for your heart! Beans are rich in soluble fiber and help decrease blood pressure and reduce inflammation. They are also full of phytochemicals that reduce oxidative stress, a known contributor to heart disease.

Pomegranates
These lovely seeded fruits have incredible anti-inflammatory properties to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and blood disease. They also contain punicic acid, a fatty acid proven to combat risk factors associated with heart disease.

Pomegranates

Whole Grains
If you want to improve heart health, swap out that white bread for whole wheat. Web MD cites research showing that the consumption of just 25 grams of whole grains per day can reduce heart disease by 15%.” A diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer,” says the website.

Red Wine
Don’t get too excited. Moderation is the key. Scientist suggest that one glass of red per day can raise HDL, or good cholesterol, which prevents blood clots and inflammation that can contribute to a stroke or heart attack. However, they also warn against too much of the good stuff, which may have a detrimental effect on mental and physical health.

Dark Chocolate
Bring on the dark chocolate to help protect your cardiovascular system. This wonderful treat contains flavanols. an antioxidant which has been shown to lower blood pressure, increase blood flow to the heart, and decrease the likelihood of blood clot formation.

Dark chocolate

Tomatoes
Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants, folic acid. and beta carotene, but it’s lycopene that really gives these veggies their heart healthy kick. Lycopene reduces risk for heart disease and reduces blood pressure, inflammation, and stroke which make these veggies a great pick for a snack or salad topper.

What do you feed your heart to keep it healthy? Let us know! We love to hear it!

Woman with insomnia

Foods That Fight Insomnia

If you suffer from insomnia, you may look back nostalgically on Thanksgiving nights falling asleep in front of the TV with the taste of sweet potato casserole still lingering on your tongue. While it’s easy to understand how the concept of self-induced food coma may seem tempting to the sleep deprived, it may not be the best health option, and there is only so much leftover turkey one can take.

However, that is not to say there is not a link between eating and sleeping. There is scientific proof that certain foods are more conducive to sleep than others. But before you establish running credit at the deli counter, you may want to know your options.

Walnuts
No only do walnuts contain heart-healthy fats, they also have been found to contain melatonin, a bodily hormone that plays a role in regulating sleep cycle. Dr. Erin Palinski Wade, RD, CDE says, “Try snacking on a small handful about 20 minutes before bed to help you relax and reach a deeper state of restful sleep.”

Walnuts

Bananas
In addition to having high levels of serotonin and melatonin, bananas are also packed with magnesium. Magnesium promotes sleep by decreasing levels of cortisol in the body, a hormone know to interrupt sleep patterns. Although eating the fruit itself has its calming benefits, most of the sleep-inducing power is in the peel. The daring may consider sprinkling banana peels with cinnamon to make them more palatable.

Tart Cherry Juice
A study published in the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology tracked the effectiveness of tart cherry juice, which contains melatonin, on older adult insomniacs. The participants who were given 8 oz of tart cherry juice twice a day slept an average of 87 minutes longer each night than those who received a placebo. Nutritionist Kayleen St. John, RD, explains, “Other study data has shown a significant elevation in melatonin in groups consuming cherry juice.”

Basil
Palinski Wade says, ” The plant contains sedative properties, which can help you fall and stay asleep. And as a bonus, it not only helps promote sleep, but is great for reducing indigestion,” a further sleep interrupter. She continues, “Research on this shows the sedative properties come mostly form the hydroalcoholic extract and essential oil of O. basilicum.” She points out that liquid basil extracts are available at the market and can “be used to flavor food, as a supplement, or as an essential oil.

Basil

Milk
It seems the common beliefs about the sleep-promoting abilities of milk are not without merit. “Milk may control melatonin production since it is a great source of calcium, ” Palinski-Wade explains. “Milk is also rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which has a calming effect on the body.”

Vitamin B6
According to Mary Hartley, RD, ” When we fall asleep, levels of serotonin rise and adrenaline levels fall. Serotonin, the relaxing hormone, is partly made from the amino acid, tryptophan, which is activated by Vitamin B6.” Fortunately, B6 can be found in a wide variety of foods, such as potatoes, fortified breakfast cereal, chicken, fish, peanut butter, fish, bananas, and several vegetables, so deficiencies are uncommon.

Do you go to the fridge when insomnia strikes? Tell us about it. And let us know how the cinnamon banana peels turned out!

Woman eating burger

Taming Your Fast Food Craving

Are you a fast food junkie? Do you religiously monitor news reports and commercial advertisements to hear the latest concoction your favorite fast food restaurant has on offer? Were you the first to try the Taco Bell Naked Fried Chicken Chalupa? Do you regularly challenge your new friends to Doritos Loaded eating contest? Are you willing to travel several miles out of your way to the nearest Weinerschnitzel to eat “Pastrami with your Mommy?” If so, have you read the nutritional information on that stuff?

Fast food can be hard to resist. After all, how can you compete with companies willing to spend millions of dollars on discovering the right level of crunch in a potato chip? But there are ways to fight back. Read on to find out how you can tame your fast food craving.

Why We Crave

Vanishing Food Density
Cheetos are a classic example of a food with vanishing caloric density. It melts in for mouth quickly, before your brain realizes there are calories in it. The result? Your brain thinks you’re not eating as much as you are and you overeat.

Sensory Response
The brain craves variety. The more familiar the brain becomes with a food, the less pleasure it will derive from it. Fast foods are designed to provide enough taste to remain interesting without dulling the sensory response. This is why many fast foods are covered with sauces and glazes.

Memories
When you eat something you like, the pleasurable response is registered in your brain, creating a trigger. Every time you see or even think about that food, memories and responses can cause cravings, and even physical responses, like salivation.

How To Fight Back

Woman with healthy groceries

Rules and Strategies
Research has shown that the less junk food you eat, the less you will crave it. Your first step in fighting your fast food craving is by cutting down on processed and packaged food.

Try using the “outer ring” strategy at the grocery store. If you aim to purchase foods on the outer ring of the store, you will generally be selecting from whole foods like meats, eggs and produce.

Also, try and follow the “five ingredient rule” and avoid buying foods with more than five ingredients, which are more likely to contain empty calories.

Choose From a Wide Variety of Foods
The brain needs novelty to remain stimulated. If your craving the crunch of a Nacho, you may not be able to replicate the taste, but you may be able to get a similar sensation by dipping a celery stick in hummus. Try and get creative with food textures and flavors to keep things interesting.

Learn To Cope with Stress
Stress causes the brain to release chemicals, like opiates and neuropeptide, Y that trigger mechanisms similar to those you get from sugar and fat. Learn to handle stressful situations without reaching for junk food. Try a simple breathing exercise or quick meditation. Exercise and activity are also great stress relievers and can provide distractions from food cravings.

If you have a mild fast food obsession, how do you control your cravings? Let us know how you managed to avoid the lure of the Bacon Cheese.

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