The holiday season brings with it many tasty temptations. When is come to homemade goodies shared at the office, festive cocktails at holiday parties and rich hors d’oeuvres, our regular eating patterns can be dramatically affected. Indulging is part of the holiday season but its important not to let it get too out of hand. Here are a few tips on how to maintain healthier eating habits over this busy and festive time of year.
- Eat the healthiest options first. For example, hot soup as a first course―especially when it’s broth-based, not cream-based―can help you avoid eating too much during the main course. Or when there is a selection of finger food, try and fit in some crudité before going for the latkes.
- Don’t go to the mall hungry. Try and tackle your Christmas shopping after lunch or brunch. At the very least, have a snack before you head out the door. This will help you fight the urge to get that jumbo pretzel or cinnamon bun at the food court.
- Keep track of what you eat. Try keeping a food diary during the month of December. Writing down what treats you have consumed will likely keep you from going overboard.
- Eat healthy when you are not at the party. If you know that Friday and Saturday are going to be big party nights, try and keep your meals during the week lean and healthy. You may also want to not drink alcohol during the week if you know you will be drinking a lot on the weekend.
- Avoid sugary cocktails. When it comes to alcohol, try and avoid the fruity martinis and beer. Instead opt for wine or champagne which generally have lower sugar content than mixed drinks that have liqueur and soda.
Detoxifying is a trend that seems to have taken hold of the masses in 2013. It is true that our bodies are exposed to toxins from air pollution, preservatives in processed foods, chemicals in household cleaners on a regular basis. While the body has natural functions that eliminate toxins from our bodies (such as breathing, sweating, urinating and bowel movements), sometimes it’s not a bad idea to give it a little help very so often.
A “detox” or “body cleanse” can take on a number of forms. It can also jump-start a weight-loss program, help you transition between seasons, regulate digestion and help you identify food allergies or trigger foods. It can also help you heal from a illness or health problem.
Here are 3 types of short-term detox plans
1. Fruit and Veggie Detox
Best used for: A quick cleanse of your system; a good beginning detox.
Length: 2-3 days
This option is relatively easy to do. “The idea is to give your body a break from processed foods, dairy and animal products. During this diet no processed foods or animal products are consumed. Animal products have protein and fat. Although both are essential nutrients, they create more work for your digestive tract, so it makes sense to avoid them while trying to cleanse. You can eat your fruits and veggies raw or cooked, but avoid additives like butter or sugar.
2. Juice Cleanse
Best used for: A deep cleanse that speeds up the rate of toxin clearing; not recommended for people with high caloric needs.
Length: 3-5 days
This is a deeper cleanse. The juice detox is ideal for people who want to jump-start a weight-loss program. Drinking only nutrient-rich fruit and vegetable juices and vegetable broths can feel surprisingly energizing. An added bonus to this program is that if you’re sick, the nutrients from juice are quickly absorbed and help speed the body’s natural healing process. There are a lot of new companies that supply people with fresh juices but you can also make your own at home with a juicer. You can also supplement with vegetable soup, or even add a few solid fruits and vegetables to help deal with your hunger. Note: This diet isn’t for meant for active people with high caloric needs.
3. Sugar Detox
Best used for: Abstaining from sugar for a while can help break your sugar addiction. As a result, you’ll consume much less of the sweet stuff and have more energy throughout the day. You’ll also lose weight more easily.
Cutting out sugar completely can be hard emotionally but it can be an excellent experiment to determine how much you rely on sugar. Many people do not realize how dependent they are on sugar which can compromise your body’s ability to fight illness, fill you up with empty calories and leave you feeling sluggish. While on this detox, you will need to avoid white sugar, candy and baked goods. You will also need to watch for hidden sugars in things like ketchup, salad dressings, lunchmeat and soups. Opt instead for fruits (fresh, frozen or unsweetened dried), nuts, beans, whole grains, vegetables and lean proteins. Try it for a few days or a few months, and notice if you feel different.
You may not realize it but sodium in almost everything that we eat. Many of us consume significantly more that the recommended daily intake. If you eat processed foods such as canned soups, frozen entrees and deli meats on a regular basis your sodium intake is definitely on the higher end. You may also be surprised that large amounts of sodium are also present in sweet foods like breakfast cereal and granola bars. While a certain daily amount of sodium is recommended, ingesting high amounts of sodium for a long period of time can result in health issues such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis and kidney stones.
Here are a few tips on how to keep your salt/sodium intake under control
- Read the labels. You will find that not all products are the same. Sodium content in different brands of canned soup or frozen dinners can vary. Take the time to compare and inform yourself of the choices that you are making. When reading the label, don’t forget to take note of the serving size.
- Reduced Sodium options. Many soups, cereals and packaged foods now come in reduced sodium or no added salt versions. If what you need does not, try a stay aware from foods that contain more than 15% of your recommended daily intake of sodium intake per serving as those are considered very high sodium foods.C
- hange your sandwiches. Deli meats contain high amounts of sodium. Instead of your typical smoked turkey or ham sandwich, why not grill chicken, sausages or beef at home and use that in your lunch sandwiches?
- Change the recipe- a little bit. When following a recipe, you can usually reduce the recommended salt by 1/3 or ½ without a noticeable change the in the finished dish.
Being mindful of your sodium intake is the first step in keeping it under control. Integrating one or two of these tips consistently can really benefit you in the long term.
The last time you were on the treadmill, did you take the time to check the built-in calorie counter? Most cardio machines at the gym provide you with statistics that help you evaluate the effectiveness/productivity of your workout. They measure your heart rate, RPM and how many calories you are burning. While some people watch the calorie counter religiously others choose to cover it with a towel or a magazine. While it isn’t a good idea to obsess over these numbers, it can give you a better idea of how to maximize your workouts when you have limited time. However, the numbers that you see may not necessarily tell the truth.
The problem with the calorie counter on your elliptical or treadmill is that manufacturers mostly base their formulas on an “average” and do not consider individual differences. You cannot rely on them to be completely accurate. Fitness experts say they are accurate within (give or take) 10 percent which for some people is accurate enough. Although other fitness experts say that some machines can inflate numbers by 20 to 50 percent. Even machines that ask for your age and weight may not give entirely true numbers.
Fitness researchers do say that newer machines tend to have more accurate measurements of calories burned during a workout. We still can’t assume they are 100% accurate but they provide a better estimate than outdated models. Regardless, watching that number get bigger is motivating and keeps people goal oriented. If looking at that number keeps you sweating just 10 minutes longer than more power to it!
More and more people are making the transition to a plant-based diet. There’s no argument that a plant-based diet is a healthy one. Eating less meat is linked with protection from heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer.
When making this transition, it would be smart to consult a nutritionist or diet specialist to ensure your diet changes will still ensure you get the nutrients that you need. Giving up meat can be a challenge. If this is the case for you, you may want to consider slowly phasing out meat from your diet. Gradually converting to a plant based diet also increases the likelihood that you will maintain it for a long-term period of time.
1) Start with what you know
Most people already eat 100 per cent plant-based meals, even if only every once in a while. Isolate those dishes you are already eating and rotate them into your menu more often.
Familiar plant-based meals include pasta primavera, vegetable stir fry, omelettes, and minestrone (made with vegetable broth)
Try and designate one or two days a week to only eat vegetarian and slowly increase it to everyday over a few months.
2) Redistribute your plate
If meat, poultry or fish make up the balance of your meal, downsize its ratio to grains and veggies sides. Three-quarters of your plate should be filled with plant foods like grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit.
3) Makeover Snack Time
Eat more plant-based snacks. For a midday energy boost, reach for fruit and nuts, crudité and hummus, whole grain crackers with almond butter, instant bean soup, a soy smoothie or a vegan energy bar such a Larabar, Kind Bar and Vega Vibrancy Bar.
These strategies will help you transition – rather than jump in immediately – to a plant-based diet and perhaps, eventually, eat a meat-free diet.