Woman holding head in pain

Avoid These Migraine Food Triggers

There’s possibly nothing worse than getting a migraine.

Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but still – migraines are truly awful! They make you want to simply curl up in a dark room and not leave until sound and light stop causing you pain.

If you’ve suffered from migraines, you know that there can be all sorts of triggers. And truly, the scope of triggers is quite vast. 

Now, there has been research which connects certain types of food with migraines. That means that you should at least reduce the amount of that food in your diet if you want to reduce the frequency and the intensity of your migraine attacks.

What Are Migraines?

Basically, migraines are extremely painful headaches, which can be accompanied by sensory sensitivity. Symptoms can vary from one person to another and can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours, and sometimes even longer.

Some common symptoms of migraines include:

  • Headache
  • Disturbed vision
  • Sensitivity to sensory information (i.e. to light, sound, smells)
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness

However, migraines are usually also preceded and followed by other symptoms, so the impact of a single migraine attack can actually be quite long and debilitating. It can impact your everyday life to a significant extent, especially if you get them often.

Unfortunately, there is no medical cure for migraines currently. They are usually treated with other pain-relieving medication, or, in some cases, with preventive medication taken on a regular basis, which serves to reduce their severity or frequency.

However, there are things you yourself can do to prevent getting migraines. That may not completely eradicate your migraines, but it will certainly help significantly.

Migraine Triggers

Migraines are incredibly complex (they even used to be called complicated migraines). Even though there is plenty of research being done to see what causes them and to improve treatment, it seems that there is a long way to go still.

However, what most experts seem to agree on is that migraines are usually preceded by a specific trigger. The scope of triggers varies from one person to the next. While some triggers cause migraines in some people, they have no effect whatsoever on others, who are also suffering from migraines.

In any case, the scope of triggers is truly astounding. It involves things like hormonal changes, changes in sleep patterns, too much food, too little food, too much sleep, too little sleep, too much time in front of the computer, dehydration, and even the weekend.

Yes, even the weekend is a possible migraine trigger.

Many people suffer migraines due to the change in daily routine, which is why they experience a migraine at the weekend, when they should be relaxing.

Now that’s a pickle.

When it comes to food, there have been some studies that link certain types of food with the onset of migraines. However, because of its truly specific nature, scientists have been unable to find a common thread in all people who suffer from migraines.

That is why everyone should check their specific triggers. Here are some of the common food triggers that have been linked with causing migraines, which you might want to avoid. Now, this doesn’t mean you should stop consuming them completely. You simply need to control your cravings, and you’re on the right path.

Red Wine

We know, we know.

This one hits home! How else are we supposed to (politely) manage all those boring dinners without getting (politely) tipsy on wine?

Well, if you’re a wine aficionado, we simply don’t know what to tell you.

And it’s not the wine’s fault, per se. Sulfites, which are used in red wine as preservatives, are, sadly, on the list of foods that may trigger migraines.

Additionally, alcohol in general is a major trigger. While you drink it, alcohol increases the blood flow to your brain and that, as you may have guessed, is known to trigger migraines.

Also – hangovers are simply the worst.

Dehydration, which is a common side-effect of the good ol’ hangover, can also cause migraines or, at the very least, a headache.

So, it might be a good idea to quit…

…fooling around and simply reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.

As they say, moderation is key.

Coffee

Again, no need to completely quit coffee.

In fact, caffeine aids the absorption of many pain-relieving drugs.

However, if you’re used to several cups of coffee a day, when you don’t get the amount you’re used to, that’s when migraines appear.

Look into your daily consumption of caffeine, since it is not particularly healthy overall to drink too much of it. But, if you’re thinking about reducing the amount of coffee you drink, you have to do it gradually. So, no going cold turkey. Your body will not be happy.

According to most experts, daily intake of caffeine should be no more than 200 milligrams. The bad news is – it’s only one cup of coffee.

Chocolate

Dark chocolate truffles

When it comes to chocolate, many people have also said that it triggers their migraines. However, the jury’s still out on chocolate – some people who suffer from migraine headaches claim that chocolate helps ease their headache.

A study conducted at the University of California, San Diego analyzed oral and stool samples and found that people who experience migraines after eating chocolate have higher levels of gut microbes that modify nitrates.

Now, chocolate is full of nitrates.

The bacteria in our gut modifies and then its waste product, nitrites, become nitric oxide in the blood.

Nitric oxide is usually great for many things, including circulation, but it’s not particularly great for people who experience migraines.

So, again, while chocolate itself is not too bad, having too much of it can lead to headaches.

Tyramine

Yeah, we bet you’re thinking you’ve never had tyramine in your life.

But, you have, you definitely have.

Except in other, sneakier (and tastier) forms.

Tyramine can be found in aged foods, as well as fermented foods, such as:

  • Cured meats
  • Aged cheese
  • Smoked fish

Tyramine is also found in some types of beer and even some fruits and veggies.

Food is more likely to have more tyramine if it is stored for long and if it isn’t kept in sufficiently cold environments.

An enzyme in the human body called monoamine oxidase (MAO) actually breaks down monoamines like tyramine. If you do not have enough of it in your system, it’s possible that you’ll get a migraine.

However, because it is such a complex issue, it’s still not completely clear how tyramine exactly triggers migraines.

Now, for some good news. There are actually types of meats and cheese which have higher and lower levels of tyramine. Here are some of them.

Meat/Poultry/Fish

Apple Cranberry Sausage Stuffing

When it comes to meat, you should avoid processed meat such as sausages, salami, as well as gravy (we know, this one’s hard for us, too). Another thing you should avoid is pickled fish, but we have a feeling not many people are dissatisfied with this one. However, this also includes smoked fish, so that might be a bit more difficult.

On the other hand, there is also meat which doesn’t have that much tyramine, such as fresh meat, fish, and poultry. Also, canned meats or fresh fish are also good for consumption and are not that likely to cause a migraine.

Cheese/Dairy

Unfortunately, some of the best types of cheese are really high in tyramine. These include all sorts of aged cheese, cheddar, blue cheese, Camembert, Swiss cheese, Parmesan, Stilton, and even feta.

This one’s sad as sad can be.

Seriously, how can you have pasta without Parmesan?

But, people with migraines have to cool it with the cheese.

On the other hand, types like cottage cheese, farmer’s cheese and even cream cheese are good. Also, yoghurt, fresh milk and sour cream are low in tyramine, so you can have them whenever you want.

Fruit/Vegetables

If you’re not a fan of sour fruit, then you won’t be too affected by this. Oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, limes and pineapple are higher in tyramine.

When it comes to vegetables, you might want to steer clear from beans and sauerkraut. Also, you should avoid fermented food. That doesn’t mean you should completely cut them out. It simply means that you might want to reduce the quantity. Fermented foods are otherwise incredibly healthy and they can have many other health benefits. However, if they trigger your migraines, you might want to cool it on the fermented food.

On the other hand, you can eat most vegetables – fresh, canned or frozen – and it is unlikely that they will cause any migraines.

How to Lower Tyramine in Food

Tyramine actually increases the longer food is held at room temperature. That is why you should store your food in the refrigerator.

When you thaw frozen foods, do it in the refrigerator or, if you have it, a microwave.

Another good tip for lowering tyramine is to cook or eat fresh meat or fish on the day you bought them. Otherwise, it’s best to freeze them.

Also, never ever eat something that has been kept in the fridge for more than a day.

Check Your Triggers

So, if you’re wondering whether food really can be a trigger for migraines, the short answer is – yes.

Your diet alone cannot cause migraines. It’s unlikely that you’ll always get migraines when eating certain food.

However, while there are types of food in general believed to be causing migraines, there is also food that specifically causes your migraine.

The best way to identify your triggers is to write a combined food/migraine diary. If you’re suffering from migraines, you already have a pretty good idea what may trigger yours. Migraines can occur a day after eating triggering food.

You should combine a food diary with a headache diary to see whether some foods cause headaches. Headaches themselves are not too bad. However, combined with other possible triggers, they may cause a full-blown migraine.

Then, the next step is to reduce the food that you’ve noticed has that effect on you. If you really like something, you don’t need to completely cut it out. But, it would be valuable for your overall health if you were to reduce it significantly.

There Are Beneficial Foods Too

Now that we’ve listed all the bad food, it’s time for a look on the other side. It has been proven that certain food is “pain-safe,” that is, it does not trigger any conditions.

Including, you might have guessed it – migraines.

Also, they are overall beneficial in reducing the frequency of your migraines and alleviating pain. The food and drinks that actually cannot trigger your migraines include:

  • Rice (especially brown)
  • Almost all vegetables
  • Fruit (which was not listed above)
  • Green tea, ginger tea
  • Fish
  • Chicken

There has even been research to show that a plant-based diet can really benefit people who suffer from migraines. So, if you want to get rid of migraines, you know what to do!

(No, you don’t have to go vegan. Simply adjust your diet a bit and you’ll see an improvement in time.)

Home Remedies for Migraines

There are ways to also naturally reduce the intensity of migraines once you get them. While they may not completely cure your migraines, these are known for helping with the symptoms. There are also cures to treat headaches, and they also might alleviate your pain.

Here is what you should do when you get a migraine:

  • Lie in a dark, quiet room. Due to sensory sensitivity, which can worsen your headache, it is recommended that you simply lie down in a room in which the blinds are drawn shut. If you live in a noisy part of the city, use earplugs to make sure the noise doesn’t bother you.

  • Cool your head down. Experts believe that cooling the head reduces the blood flow to the brain, which might lower the pain you’re feeling. When you get a migraine, you should put an ice pack on your forehead or neck. Or, if that’s too cold for you, use a washcloth that has been put under cold water and drained. The only problem is that you will have to rinse it often because it can heat up quite fast.
Woman preparing kimchi in clear jars

10 Side Dishes That Are Amazing for Your Health

Most people plan their meals around a main dish, not giving too much thought to the side dishes they add in.

But what if your side dishes could provide your body with an even bigger nutritional boost than your main dish?

Here are 10 side dishes to cook up that are amazing for your health, and are also a delicious accompaniment to a wide range of main dishes.

Kimchi

To put it simply, kimchi is basically the Korean version of sauerkraut.

What’s the difference between the two?

When it comes to making them, a few different things, ranging from the time that they take to ferment to the amount of salt used.

In terms of taste, kimchi is much punchier, but that’s usually because it contains a number of other ingredients in addition to the cabbage. Kimchi often boasts several different seasonings to give it more flavor, including garlic, ginger, fish sauce and spring onions.

Try mixing some kimchi through some rice – it will truly transform the rice into such an exciting side dish!

Sauerkraut

Often referred to as a superfood, sauerkraut is made from sliced cabbage, making it similar in a way to coleslaw.

However, the two are actually quite different…

While coleslaw is full of mayonnaise, sauerkraut is fermented, making it so much better for you.

Here are just a few of the benefits you will experience from eating more sauerkraut:

  • Better antioxidant protection thanks to the vitamins and minerals in sauerkraut. The fact that these are fermented means that your body is able to absorb them much more easily
  • Sauerkraut is full of probiotics, which improves the health of your gut, your brain and your immune system
  • Full of fiber but low in calories, sauerkraut will keep you feeling fuller for longer

Before you run out and buy yourself a jar of sauerkraut, there’s something you should know…

Store-bought sauerkraut is usually pasteurized, meaning that it has been treated with heat. This destroys the beneficial probiotics in the sauerkraut, while also reducing the potency of its vitamins. Store-bought sauerkraut also usually contains preservatives and sugar, neither of which are good for you.

On the other hand, homemade versions are packed with probiotics and other potent nutrients. The homemade version also usually tastes better too.

Wondering if it’s easy to make sauerkraut at home?

Yes, all you need is some cabbage and salt. There are various recipes online, some with the addition of other ingredients, so take a look at what’s out there to see what appeals to you the most.

Teff Bread

Never heard of teff bread before?

You’re probably also wondering how a bread made it onto this list of healthy side dishes…

Well, teff bread is pretty different from standard bread.

Teff is a gluten-free grain that is packed with nutrition. It is native to Ethiopia, although it is now being grown in countries around the world, including a couple of states in the USA. 

When it comes to nutrition, teff contains high amounts of:

  • Protein
  • Fiber
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Manganese
  • B Vitamins

All of these nutritional components mean that teff is able to help with everything from circulation to digestion to immune function. It even helps to re-balance hormonal levels, making it useful for treating the symptoms of PMS.

In order to make teff bread, the grain needs to first be fermented, which then gives it probiotic benefits too.

Not keen on bread making?

Teff can be used in other ways too. You can use it as a side dish in the same way that you would quinoa, although teff requires slightly more water when cooking.

Although teff grains are smaller than quinoa, they fluff up beautifully, making for a tasty and filling side dish.

Fresh or Fermented Salsa

Looking for something healthy to eat with the teff bread mentioned above?

Salsa will do the job perfectly.

Salsa is usually served raw, meaning that your body is able to obtain maximum nutrition from each of the ingredients.

It is also such an easy side dish to make, and can store in the refrigerator for a few days, during which time the flavors will only intensify even further.

If you want to make your salsa even healthier…

Try fermenting it!

This will provide the salsa with probiotics and live enzymes, making it even better for your body.

Salad with an Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing

Apple cider vinegar is another fermented food, which is why it is known for having so many health benefits.

How exactly is apple cider vinegar good for you?

In a number of ways, including:

  • It keeps the body’s pH level balanced, enabling the body to function in the best way possible
  • It lowers blood sugar levels
  • It increases good cholesterol in the body
  • It detoxifies the liver
  • It keeps the appetite under control, reducing cravings
  • It protects the bones by improving calcium absorption
  • It contains antioxidants that help to slow down the aging process
  • It contains anti-cancer properties, and can even shrink tumors 

After reading all of that, why wouldn’t you want to be eating more apple cider vinegar?!

The one thing that people struggle with is knowing how to actually make use of this star ingredient…

The easiest way is by turning the apple cider vinegar into a salad dressing. There are several recipes for this out there, each one containing various other healthy ingredients, from garlic to mustard to olive oil. No matter which you choose, the apple cider vinegar will add a beautiful tanginess and brightness to your salad, turning it into an incredible side dish.

Herring Platter

This is a popular dish in Sweden, which also happens to be one of the healthiest countries in the world.

What does a herring platter actually consist of?

Well, as you can tell from its name, herring is the star of the dish. Being an oily fish, herring is packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, with both of these being essential fatty acids that your body cannot produce on its own.

A herring platter usually consists of herring in a few different forms, such as raw, pickled and smoked. This already gives you a variety in terms of flavor and texture.

What else should the platter include?

Here are a few other foods to add in:

  • Wholegrain crackers – a healthy source of fiber
  • Raw vegetables – full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  • Pickled vegetables – these need to be fermented pickles in order to contain probiotic benefits
  • A sauce – the sauce is often made from mayonnaise and fresh herbs. For added benefits, swap the mayonnaise for a creamy sauce made from kefir or yogurt instead. Don’t hold back on the herbs, as these are a fantastic source of antioxidants

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Have you ever tried poblano peppers before?

They are basically the green version of red Ancho peppers. While some of them can be quite hot and spicy, they are generally quite mild. In fact, a jalapeno is said to be about five times hotter than a poblano.

The fact that they aren’t too spicy means that you can eat more of them when compared to other types of hot peppers, which is something that would be hugely beneficial to your health.

Wondering how poblano peppers are good for you?

They have a number of different health benefits, such as:

  • They contain powerful anti-cancer properties, largely due to their capsaicin and riboflavin content
  • They are packed with antioxidants, with just a single poblano pepper containing almost 100% of your recommended daily allowance for vitamin A
  • They improve the strength and function of the immune system
  • They provide a natural form of pain relief, thanks to their quercetin and capsaicin content
  • They are a powerful anti-inflammatory ingredient 

That’s probably enough to convince you to give them a try, but what do you actually stuff them with?

Well, since you’re trying to be healthy, stay away from fillings with bad fats, such as cream cheese and chorizo.

Instead, give barley a try.

Although barley is a grain, it contains over 80 different nutrients, as well as plenty of fiber.

You could also try stuffing poblano peppers with:

  • Brown rice
  • Pinto beans
  • Quinoa
  • Salsa
  • Cooked vegetables

Try combining a few of those filling ideas for a delicious flavor explosion!

Miso Soup

Wooden bowl of miso soup, with wooden spoon

Looking for a healthy soup to serve alongside a meal?

It doesn’t get much healthier than miso soup!

Miso is a fermented food, and is a traditional ingredient in Japan.

What’s it actually made from?

It basically consists of fermented soybeans, along with fermented grains. As you can imagine, there are so many different types and varieties of miso out there, each one varying depending on region, culture and more.

Here are a few of the more common varieties:

  • White Miso – quite a mild-flavored miso since it is only fermented for less than two months
  • Red Miso – fermented for up to three years, red miso has a deeper flavor and should be used in heartier dishes
  • Barley Miso – this is also quite mild and sweet, although it is fermented for longer than white miso 

Foodies would say that miso provides an exquisite umami flavor to food, and can be added to everything from soups to salads to vegetables to marinades.

In terms of health benefits, miso is packed with vitamins and minerals, along with gut-friendly probiotics.

When making miso soup…

You can add in so many other healthy ingredients too. From chilli, garlic and ginger to onions, chard and tofu, miso soup is an easy dish to personalize and make your own.

Black Beans

You probably already know that beans are good for you. The fact that they contain high amounts of protein and fiber is no secret.

However, black beans, which are also known as turtle beans, have a few other nutritional components that make them even better than the rest…

The minerals within black beans, particularly calcium, iron, phosphorus and zinc, play an important role in maintaining the health of your bones and joints.

Black beans are also able to decrease blood pressure, help manage diabetes, protect against cancer and heart disease, and aid with digestion

If all of that wasn’t enough…

Black beans are packed with a wide range of phytonutrients, all of which provide antioxidant properties.

How do you actually cook black beans?

It takes a while to cook dried black beans – you need to begin soaking them the day before.

However, the canned versions are much quicker and easier to cook up.

Try cooking them Mexican-style with onions, garlic, cumin and cilantro. Alternatively, turn them into a chilli or a curry for a heartier side dish.

Roasted Beets

Roasted beets are simply exquisite. Roasting brings out such a sweet and intense flavor that even those who don’t usually like beets cannot say no to them.

If you have never tried roasted beets, now is the time to do so.

All you need to do is place some whole beets into a baking tray with some olive oil and seasonings. Garlic, onion, thyme, salt and pepper work especially well.

Then, roast them for an hour or so, until they are tender. Their skin will pretty much fall off at this point, making them easy to peel.

Then, either slice them or mash them, and then serve them up!

What makes beets so healthy?

They are full of nutrients but low in calories. They help with:

  • Inflammation
  • Cancer
  • Detoxification
  • Blood pressure
  • Immune function
  • Brain and bone health

Plus so much more!

It is always fun to experiment with new dishes in the kitchen, especially when you know that they are good for you. Whether you opt for a spoonful of sauerkraut, a bowl of miso soup or a beautiful herring platter, these side dishes will really help to give your health a huge boost.

Young blonde woman checking skin in mirror

Dehydrated Skin? Try These Easy Tips

Dehydrated skin can lead to so many different skin problems, from premature aging to a dull and rough complexion, making this an issue worth dealing with as soon as possible.

Not sure where to begin?

Here are 12 tips to help you to treat your dehydrated skin.

What’s the Difference Between Dry Skin and Dehydrated Skin?

Many people often think of dry and dehydrated skin as being the same thing, but this is not at all the case.

Wondering what the difference is?

The main difference is that dehydrated skin lacks water, while dry skin lacks oil.

Since water and oil are so different, you need to know for sure whether your skin is dry or dehydrated before you begin treating the problem.

Here are a few more details about each condition:

  • Dry Skin – becomes more prevalent with age, due to the skin’s natural lipid barrier decreasing. Symptoms include redness, itchiness and ashy areas, especially for those with a darker skin tone
  • Dehydrated Skincan be caused by a number of factors, such as not drinking enough water, sun exposure, and indoor heating or cooling systems. Symptoms include tightness, a scaly, rough or flaky texture, and the appearance of smaller pores 

If you think your skin may be dry rather than dehydrated, then you will need to look for ways in which you can counter that.

Make Sure That You Are Drinking Enough Water

Do you drink around eight glasses of water a day?

If your answer is no, then this could be one of the reasons as to why your skin is dehydrated.

All of the organs in your body need water in order to properly function, and each time you drink some water, this gets distributed to the organs that need it the most. These usually tend to be the vital organs, and the skin is last on the list, meaning that it often misses out when it comes to this dose of hydration.

However, while many may recommend drinking more that the recommended amount of water a day, this will actually not benefit dehydrated skin, unless you do feel thirsty. Any excess water will only end up being flushed out of your system, and not much of this will actually reach the skin.

To keep your skin at its healthiest, try to drink around eight glasses of water a day, or more if you are overly active.

Eat More Moisture-Rich Foods

As mentioned above, water that you drink ends up being directed to your vital organs first, meaning that your skin can sometimes miss out.

So how do you ensure that your skin is hydrated from within?

By eating moisture-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables. 

These contain water, but in a more structured form, and rather than flushing out your system in the way that a glass of water would do, moisture-rich foods provide your body with long-lasting hydration. This water is released into your body slowly, making it more likely that your skin will receive some of this hydration. 

Wondering which fruits and vegetables contain the most moisture?

Here are some of the top moisture-rich foods out there:

  • Watermelon, Green Peppers and Strawberries – 92%  water
  • Cucumbers96% water, with most of this located in its skin
  • Iceberg Lettuce96% water
  • Celery95% water  
  • Cantaloupe90% water
  • Pineapples, Oranges and Raspberries87% water 

Make Use of Hydrating Skin Care Ingredients

There are so many different skin care ingredients out there, and each one will bring its own range of unique benefits to the skin.

When it comes to hydrating ingredients, there are plenty to choose from, but one of the most effective is definitely hyaluronic acid.

Never heard of this powerhouse before?

Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning that it draws moisture from the air towards the skin. It is able to hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, making it key when it comes to helping your skin to retain moisture.

Your skin naturally contains hyaluronic acid, but applying some more topically can make a huge difference. Look for this ingredient as part of a moisturizer or a serum for best results.

Other ingredients to look out for include:

  • Urea – has strong water-binding properties
  • Plant oilsimproves the skin’s water retention
  • Glycerine especially hydrating when used along with hyaluronic acid 
  • Ceramideshelps with the skin’s hydration balance
  • Niacinamidealso known as vitamin B3, this helps to heal and strengthen the skin’s barrier, preventing moisture loss

Stay Away From Dehydrating Skin Care Ingredients

While some ingredients are known for the way in which they hydrate the skin, others are infamous for being dehydrating.

If you already have dehydrated skin, then dehydrating skin care ingredients are the last things that you want to be applying to your skin.

These are a few of the ingredients that you should try to stay away from, at least until you have managed to treat your skin dehydration:

  • Alcohol
  • Fragrances
  • Harsh exfoliants  
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Salicylic acid

Make Use of Hydrating Face Masks

Face masks are designed to remain on the skin for an extended period of time, meaning that all of its active ingredients have enough time to properly penetrate your skin and work their magic.

Of course, there are so many different types of face masks out there, and not all of them are suitable for dehydrated skin. 

So, which ones do you go for?

Cream masks are great, because these are rich in oil and moisturizing ingredients, with many of them also containing hyaluronic acid.

Gel masks are also incredibly hydrating, especially since these tend to be infused with antioxidants, while sheet masks can also be beneficial, especially if you apply an extra layer of hyaluronic acid underneath the mask. 

Wondering which ingredients to look out for, as well as to avoid, when it comes to hydrating face masks?

The same ingredients mentioned above, as those apply to all skin care products.

Be Extremely Gentle With Your Skin

Dehydrated skin is usually a sign of some form of skin damage, meaning that you need to treat it just as gently as you would any of your other organs if they were to become damaged.

When touching your face, whether this may be to cleanse your skin or to apply a cream, allow your hands to smoothly glide over it, avoiding any scrubbing, rubbing or tugging motions.

Invest in a Humidifier

A humidifier and dehydrated skin go hand in hand, because this is something that can really help to add moisture back into your skin.

The optimum humidity level for your skin is around 55%. However, if you use central air in your home, this can bring the humidity level in your house down to 10%. As you can imagine, this is not good for dehydrated skin.

So, how does a humidifier help?

They work by adding water vapour into the air, therefore increasing the air’s moisture content, and therefore the humidity of a room. By increasing the air’s moisture levels, you then help to prevent it from pulling out moisture from your skin.

Wondering where to keep your new humidifier?

The best spot is usually in the bedroom.

Why?

Because the time during which you are asleep is when your skin cells are healing and regenerating, meaning that this is the time in which they require the right amount of moisture in order to properly function. The humidifier will help it with this, at the time when it needs it the most.

Can’t decide between a warm mist and a cool mist?

Experts recommended going for a warm mist, as this is much closer to the skin’s natural temperature. 

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Sun Protection

If you often neglect to wear sunscreen, then this could be one of the big causes of your dehydrated skin.

Exposing your unprotected skin to the sun for an extended period of time leads to water evaporating from your skin, leaving it dehydrated.

How do you prevent this from happening?

With the use of sunscreen.

When it comes to choosing a sunscreen for dehydrated skin…

Many find that the physical sunscreen formulas often exacerbate any flaky or scaly areas.

Why is this?

Because the mineral filters used in a physical sunscreen, such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, also work as an astringent, meaning that they can have quite a drying effect. 

The best way around this is to either apply a layer of moisturizer on to your skin before applying a sunscreen, or opting for a chemical sunscreen formula instead.

Cleanse Your Skin Each Evening

Cleansing is actually extremely important for dehydrated skin.

Why?

Because if you do not remove the layer of dirt, dead skin cells, oil and more that settle on the surface of the skin throughout the day, any hydrating skin care products that you apply will not be able to properly penetrate into your skin.

Attractive woman washing face in mirror

Of course, with your skin being dehydrated, you do need to make sure that you opt for a gentle, moisturizing cleanser, staying away from foaming formulas.

Wondering why it is better to cleanse at night rather than in the morning?

Because this allows you to wash away all of the dirt from the day, while giving your skin the ingredients needed to help it with all of the work it does at night. If you cleanse immediately before going to bed, and sleep on a clean pillowcase, then your skin will still be clean in the morning.

Don’t be tempted to cleanse twice a day, as over-cleansing can cause even more problems for dehydrated skin.

Use Oil-Blotting Paper for Excess Oil

As mentioned above, over-cleansing your face can cause numerous problems, but what happens if your dehydrated skin is oily as well?

While it may be tempting to scrub at your face a few times a day, this will only lead to even more breakouts.

One easy way to clear your skin of excess oil throughout the day is to use blotting papers, as these gently remove the oil without damaging your skin in any way.

Give it a Month

You are likely tempted to try some of the new skin care ingredients or techniques mentioned above, but patience is key here…

It takes, on average, about 28 days for your skin regeneration cycle to go through one round, meaning that this is how long it takes for your old skin cells to be replaced by new ones. The older you are, the longer this takes.

This means that, when trying anything new on your skin, you need to give it at least a month before deciding whether or not it works.

Of course, if anything you are trying is clearly affecting your skin in a negative way, then you should cease this immediately.

Dehydrated skin can definitely be frustrating to deal with, but you need to make sure that you treat it with the care it requires, otherwise it will only get worse. From knowing which ingredients to avoid to providing moisture to your skin in different ways, these tips will help you to rehydrate your skin in no time at all.

Couple holding up bottled juices

10 Foods You Think Are Good For You, But Actually Aren’t 

Have you been trying to improve your diet and eat in a healthier way?

This can sometimes seem quite easy, thanks to the wide range of foods available that are touted as being healthy.

However, while you may think that you are doing your body some good by consuming everything from agave nectar to store-bought green juices to coconut oil, you could actually be causing more damage than you realize…

Store-Bought Green Juices

Green juices have exploded in popularity lately, and for good reason too…

Juicing fruits and vegetables means that you are extracting the fiber, which means that, when you consume them, your body is able to absorb and make use of the nutrients within them at a much more efficient rate. This then gives you the fantastic surge of energy that green juices are so famous for.

There are so many green juices available in stores these days, and while some of them may be quite healthy, the majority are likely not.

So, how do you go about making a decision?

Many people think a juice that comes in a vivid shade of green is definitely going to be healthy, but it actually only takes a tiny amount of spinach, or another green, to achieve this color. The rest of the juice will tend to mainly consist of fruits, rather than vegetables, as this not only helps the juice to go further, but it also makes the taste one that will appeal to a wider audience.

The only way to decipher whether or not a store-bought green juice is good for you is by taking a look at the ingredients list. Not only do you need to be looking at which fruits and vegetables have been used, but make sure you also examine how much sugar the juice contains.

You will find that many juices out there are actually packed with sugar, with some even containing just as much as a fizzy drink

Of course, the best way to enjoy a green juice without worrying about whether or not it is bad for you is by making your own.

This is actually easy to do, and can be made in larger batches so that you have some juice ready for whenever you need a kick of energy.

Coconut Oil

Around 72% of Americans think that coconut oil is a healthy food, but recent reports from the American Heart Association dispute this

While coconut oil does contain some good fats, around 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, which is a higher amount than everything from butter to pork lard to beef fat.

Cutting back on the amount of saturated fat in the modern diet is something that has been advised for a while now, and while coconut oil can have its benefits, it should not be consumed in copious amounts, which is what many do.

Coconut oil is also quite calorie-dense, with just one tablespoon of it containing around 120 calories.

While consuming small amounts of coconut oil is no doubt good for you, you would be best off sticking to healthier oils for daily use, such as extra virgin olive oil.

Of course, do not forget that, when used topically, coconut oil has some fantastic antifungal and anti-bacterial properties. 

Agave Nectar

If you have been looking into sugar substitutes, you have likely already come across agave nectar quite a few times, and maybe even used it yourself.

Agave nectar comes from the same plant that tequila is made from, and has a syrup-like consistency, making it a convenient sweetener to use.

But is it actually better than sugar?

Well, agave nectar does have a low-glycemic index, meaning that it does not cause sharp fluctuations in blood sugar levels. 

However, this only means that it does not contain glucose…

So what about fructose?

Agave is actually packed with fructose, which is the same substance that you would find in unhealthy high fructose corn syrup. There are a number of studies out there linking a diet high in fructose with a range of different medical issues, including heart disease. 

While agave nectar may be a better option than other artificial sweeteners, it is still a food that you should really try not to consume too much of.

Gluten-Free Foods

For those who have celiac disease, or a gluten sensitivity, a gluten-free diet is essential.

However, for everyone else, a gluten-free diet can actually be detrimental to your health.

How?

In a few different ways:

  • Gluten-free foods usually contain less fiber, which is necessary for bowel health
  • When gluten is removed from a food, it loses its elasticity, so other refined ingredients, such as stabilizing gums, are added in instead
  • Gluten-free foods often contain more calories, fat and carbohydrates than their standard alternatives

With so many different celebrities deciding to adopt a gluten-free diet, it seems to have become the new dietary trend, even though there is really no evidence that points to gluten being detrimental for health unless you have celiac disease. 

Pink Himalayan Salt

Pink Himalayan salt is another ingredient that has become quite trendy in recent years, and its distinctive pink hue not only looks pretty on kitchen shelves, but also contains small amounts of minerals. These include calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium.

However, have you actually looked into how much of these minerals are in the salt?

The answer is close to zero. While there are minerals present, these are in such tiny amounts that they really will not be making much of a difference at all to your health.

Many people use more Himalayan salt than regular salt, thinking that, because of the minerals, it is better for them. But, it is still just a salt, meaning that you need to be cautious with how much you use.

Low-Fat and Skimmed Milk

If you have been trying to watch your weight, then making the decision between a full-fat and a low-fat milk can seem like a no-brainer.

However, the low-fat version is actually something that you should avoid…

Why?

Well, to begin with, while whole milk does have more fats in it, many of these are good fats, and do everything from improving your metabolism to helping keep you feeling full.

Milk also contains a number of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E and K. Without the fat, skimmed milk will have far less of these vitamins.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you…

When skimmed milk is made, its consistency is nothing at all like whole milk. In order to make skimmed milk more palatable, the producers add in powdered milk, as this helps to improve its texture.

Why does this matter?

Because this process actually results in the milk containing oxidized cholesterol, which causes even more damage to your arteries than regular cholesterol.

There are many studies out there that point to the various reasons for which low-fat milk should be avoided, for both adults as well as children.

Store-Bought Almond Milk

One of the reasons that plant-based milks have become so popular recently is because their shelf life tends to be much longer than dairy milks.

But have you ever wondered why this is?

The answer is because the majority of plant-based milks are packed with preservatives, as well as a range of sugars, thickeners and stabilizers, as they need these to obtain their milky texture.

When it comes to almond milk in particular…

One of the most common additives that you will find in store-bought versions is carrageenan.

Have you ever heard of this before?

It is a common preservative, which has long since been linked to everything from intestinal inflammation to cancer.

You will also find a range of vegetable oils in almond milk, many of which do not actually benefit the body, as well as added vitamins and minerals that come in a form that the body cannot easily absorb and make use of.

For those who think that they are getting plenty of almonds in their milk, think again…

Studies have shown that many brands of almond milk out there contain no more than 2% almonds

The milk itself is also produced in a similar way to coffee, meaning that water is strained through ground beans, or, in this case, nuts. This means that the majority of the almond milk you buy is just water, and also does not have much of a nutritional value. 

Still need a dairy-free milk?

Try making your own! You can use just about any nut or seed that you can get your hands on, or even a mix of them, such as:

  • Almonds
  • Coconut
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pecan nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Cashew nuts
  • Hemp seeds

You can then either store it in the fridge for a few days, or freeze it in batches so that you always have some to hand.

Trail Mix

Trail mix is often marketed as a healthy, on-the-go snack. While this is true in some cases, the majority of pre-made trail mixes out there are usually filled with calories, and contain ingredients that are actually rather unhealthy.

Does your trail mix contain just nuts, some dried fruit and some dark chocolate?

If so, you are on to a winner!

However, the majority of brands out there contain ingredients such as yogurt or chocolate covered raisins, sesame sticks, candy, and fried banana chips, all of which are packed with sugars, fats and refined carbohydrates.

Just like when it comes to plant-based milks, your best option is to make your own trail mix. This is so simple to do, and you will actually find that you end up saving money, and can also tailor your trail mix to suit your own personal tastes. 

Multivitamins

Research has shown that around half of American adults take daily vitamin supplements, but there are actually no studies at all out there that justify this.

In fact, the over-consumption of certain vitamins can actually lead to an increased risk of cancer.

Of course, from vitamin A to vitamin C to vitamin E, your body requires vitamins in order to properly function, but studies have shown that these vitamins are consumed in adequate quantity in the average diet. 

If you are taking multivitamins or another form of vitamin supplement, it may be worth looking into this in more detail, so that you can decide for yourself whether or not they are actually benefiting your body.

Sushi

High in protein and low in carbohydrates, sushi is definitely one of the more healthier meal options out there.

However, the problem here lies in the fish that is used…

Most of the time, you will find fish such as tuna, sea bass and swordfish used in your favorite sushi dishes.

Wondering what is wrong with these?

They are known for being some of the worst fish to eat when it comes to mercury contamination. This is something that cannot be detected on a fish in terms of sight, smell or taste, and also cannot be destroyed by cooking or preparing the fish in a certain way.

Here are some of the fish types that you should avoid:

  • Tuna, which is the most common source of mercury exposure in the USA
  • Mackerel
  • Seabass
  • Yellowtail

Instead, opt for smaller fish varieties, such as sardines, scallops and anchovies, as these are much lower down on the food chain in the sea, and therefore contain less mercury

Worried that you may have already consumed high amounts of mercury?

Fortunately, you can have this tested, through a blood test, with your physician. If you are a woman who is trying to get pregnant, you may want to wait on this until your mercury levels have dropped back down to a safer amount.

For many people, a healthy diet can be difficult to stick to, especially when foods that you think are healthy are actually not. The best way around this is by being diligent with every single ingredient that you put into your body, making sure to fully scrutinize the ingredients list of every pre-made product that you purchase.

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!

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 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.

Woman measuring her dress size

What It Takes To Drop Two Dress Sizes

You just got an invite to your high school reunion. Great, right? You’ve stayed chummy with all your old friends through social media; now you’ll get some time to catch up face to face. There’s only one problem. The picture on your Facebook page is about two years old and you’ve gone up about two dress sizes since you took it. What are you going to do? You can’t possibly show up looking like you spent the last ten years channel surfing with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s! You need to drop two dress sizes and you need to start now! What can you do?
Well, Khloe Kardashian did it, Jennifer Hudson did it, and Oprah Winfrey did it, several times! Here’s what you need to do to drop two dress sizes in a few weeks time.

Eating
Leading naturopath Max Tomlinson says, “You need to be clever with your diet to see optimum results, especially within a relatively short time frame. Crash dieting or starvation will only lead to weight gain down the line,” These are some of the suggestions Max recommends:

Eat Regularly
If you skip meals, your body will store the food you eat rather than burning it as a source of energy. Regular eating will kick start your metabolism and help you lose weight. Breakfast is the most important meal for raising metabolic rate and ensuring that the body uses food effectively for the remainder of the day.

Control Portions
Try to reduce food intake by 45 percent. Try to consume 1,000 calories per day to lose weight without slowing metabolism.

What to Eat
Avoid empty calories and make sure to eat food that is nutrient rich. Plan a menu consisting of foods such as organic fish, eggs, poultry, lean meat, brown rice, quinoa and oats. Satisfy the RDA with two servings of fruit and three of vegetables, sticking to leafy greens and avoiding peas and sugar rich roots vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes.

What Not to Eat
Steer clear of junk food and saturated fats. Restrict dairy intake, or cut it out completely, and replace it with goat milk and soy cheese. Limit treats like cakes and chips and don’t drink too many fluids. Many people up their liquid intake when they diet, but water can be taxing on your kidneys causing poor digestion and bloating.

Training
Tomlinson says, “When you diet without exercise, at least half of your weight comes for lean body mass. (muscle and non-fat tissue.) This slows your metabolism, setting you up for weight regain as soon as you increase your food intake.” Here’s one of the exercises Tomlinson suggests for his celebrity clientele.

Pile Squats
Stand with your feet a hip-width apart with your feet turned out holding dumbbells in each hand with your palms facing inward. Put your weight on your heals and squat, curling arms to your shoulders and keeping your elbows tucked in. Hold squat, and push your arms up, locking your elbows. Lower arms and come out of squat. Repeat 20-30 times.

Let us know your tips for keeping slim and, if you ever dropped a dress size or two, we’d love to hear how you did it! Let us know!