My Tips for Getting Better Sleep

Everyone wants a restful, uninterrupted nights sleep.  There are few things in the world that bring the joy of waking up knowing the last night’s sleep has prepared you to conquer the day.

Here are my  tips on how to get a better nights sleep!

  1. Get in a Routine:  Do your best to go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day.  Your body’s clock will get in the routine of knowing when is time to sleep and when it is time to wake up, making it much easier to fall asleep at night and get up in the morning.
  2. Get off the Couch:  By regularly exercising, your body will benefit more from the sleep you get each night.  Exercise will also increase time spent in deep REM sleep, which is the most important part of the sleep cycle.
  3. Clean Up Your Diet:  By avoiding alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and large meals before bed, your body will thank you with a more restful sleep.  It will help you fall asleep faster and have a more regular sleep cycle.
  4. Meditate Before Bed:  By clearing your head of the distractions of everyday life, your body will be more at ease when you go to sleep.  Take a moment to yourself and focus on nothing.  It will relax you and prepare you for a restful and rejuvenating night’s sleep.
  5. Sleep in the Right Environment:  Make your bedroom a place of rest.  That means eliminating anything that makes unnecessary sounds, having a bed that fits your needs, whether it be firm or soft, and keeping your bedroom at a comfortable temperature.
  6. Avoid Long Naps:  Extended naps during the day can seriously mess with your sleep schedule.  Cap your nap at 15-20 minutes.  Those short power naps will energize you without causing you to still feel awake at bedtime.
  7. Kick Out the Pets:  When you let your bed sleep in your bed, you invite all kinds of obstacles to a good nights sleep.  You could react to pet allergies or have to deal with their movement throughout the night.
  8. Late Night Drinks:  Enjoy a cup of chamomile tea or warm milk before bed.  Both of these contribute to either the production of or releasing of serotonin or melatonin, both crucial factors when falling asleep and staying asleep.

In order to get the most out of your sleep, you need to make it a priority.  When you make sleep your priority, you will end up feeling more refreshed throughout the day and will be more productive overall.  Here are just a few things you can do to make sleep a priority.

  • Take the time to look at how you sleep.  Is your bedroom a dark, safe, relaxing place?   Are your mattress and pillows comfortable?  Do they give you enough support?  If you find yourself saying “no” to any of these questions, it may be time to reevaluate your sleep environment.  On average, a mattress should be replaced every seven years and pillows should be replaced every year.
  • Look around your bedroom.  What distractors are there that keep you from getting the sleep you need?  Take out anything work related, especially things that create stress.  You should also avoid using your smartphone, laptop, tablet or television for at least an hour before bed as well.  The backlight in those objects lead to the release of chemicals that tell your body it is daytime, making it significantly harder to fall asleep.
  • Make sure that if you are going to drink caffeine, you don’t do it later in the day.  I try not to have any caffeine after lunch to ensure it doesn’t negatively impact my sleep.
  • While many think it’s no big deal to have a couple alcoholic drinks in the evening, alcohol can actually have a huge negative impact on the quality of sleep.
  • Take shorter naps!  It has been shown that taking 20-30 minute naps during the day can seriously increase your work productivity and alertness without disrupting your sleep schedule in any serious way.  So close that office door and kick back for a few minutes every afternoon!

There are many more ways to help improve sleep quality, but these are some of the most important.  If you are serious about improving sleeping habits, do more research to find out other ways you could be getting better, more effective sleep!

 

References

http://www.bettersleep.org/better-sleep/how-to-sleep-better/sleep-tips/

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/10-tips-to-get-better-sleep

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/how-to-sleep-better.htm

Ingredients to Limit on Food Labels

It is super important to read food labels.  You need to know what is really in the food that you’re eating.  My biggest piece of advice is to try to purchase foods that don’t have a lot of ingredients, maybe less than 10, or no labels at all like fresh produce.  Another tip is to see how many unfamiliar words there are on the label.  Do you really want to eat something you can’t pronounce?  I don’t!!!  At first it may seem overwhelming to buy foods this way.  Remember that moderation is key.  If it is too hard for you to limit all of the items, try cutting back on a few.  We are looking for progress, not perfection.   Little changes do add up.

Here are my top fifteen ingredients you should watch out for on food labels.

  1.  Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): MSG is commonly found in  processed foods, everything from canned goods to potato chips.  When you ingest MSG, it damages nerves by “overexciting” them, as well as harming brain cells and sparking your appetite, causing you to eat more.
  2. Artificial Flavors: Found in a majority of foods today, artificial flavors can have serious negative effects on your health.  These effects include reproductive complications, neurotoxicity and cancer causing tendencies.
  3. High Fructose Corn Syrup: High fructose corn syrup can be found in just about any sweet processed food.  Aside from it being made from genetically modified corn, high fructose corn syrup can cause accelerated weight gain, insulin resistance and even diabetes when consumed in large quantities over a long period of time.
  4. Table Salt:  We are not talking about sea salt or Himalayan pink salt, we are talking about man-made table salt.  Table salt contains over 30 chemicals and is bleached, causing spikes in blood pressure and is detrimental to the liver and kidneys.
  5. Low-Fat or Fat-Free Products:  Low-fat or fat-free products are a sham.  Because there is less fat in the product, manufacturers compensate by adding massive amounts of sugars and artificial sweeteners to give the taste of a full-fat food.
  6. Hydrogenated or Fractionated Oils: These two types of oils are toxic.  Hydrogenated oils, in effect, are used for preserving products.  When you consume the hydrogenated oils however, it is like pouring “plastic sludge” into your blood stream.  Fractionated oil, on the other hand, is the almost solid fat product extracted from oil and has extremely harmful effects on the body.
  7. Artificial Coloring: Artificial coloring has been linked to cancer.  Different colorings, such as Blue 1 and 2, as well as Red 3 and Green 3, are connected to cancers ranging from the thyroid to the bladder.
  8. Soy:  Marketed as a healthy product to consume, soy can have serious effects on health, especially for women.  It can disturb estrogen in women, cause early puberty in girls, and contribute to a reduced sex drive.
  9. Canola Oil:  Aside from being an effective insect repellant, canola oil has no benefit whatsoever to the human body.  It is extracted from plants that have been genetically modified and extensively bred.
  10. Potassium Sorbate:  Potassium sorbate began a revolution in food preservation.  While it will successfully keep food fresh, it is a carcinogen known to cause cell mutation in animals and have “toxic” effects on organs.
  11. Enriched Wheat: You should avoid anything that is labeled “enriched,” but especially enriched wheat.  Enriched wheat has added niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, folic acid and iron after they had already been removed while the wheat was being processed.  While these have been added back, the wheat now holds little to none of the nutritional value it started with.
  12. Sugar: Sugar is in almost every single processed food you can buy today.  Such a massive intake of sugar can influence an irregular metabolism, high blood pressure and eventually have a negative impact on the liver.
  13. Sucralose: Normally found in little yellow packets, sodas and protein shakes, sucralose is extremely dangerous.  Also called chlorinated sugar, sucralose contains chlorine, which is prevalent in bleach and disinfectants.  Chlorine does not at all work with your metabolic process and can even damage it if you consume enough.
  14. Aspartame: While aspartame is 200 times sweeter than conventional sugar and only has four calories per gram, it is considered a “multi-level carcinogen.”
  15. Polysorbate 80: Normally found in ice cream and vaccines, polysorbate 80 can have severe negative effects on your health.  Toxicology reports have found that polysorbate 80 weakens the immune system, can cause anaphylactic shock, can cause infertility, bring on premature puberty and even damage parts of female reproductive organs.

 

References

http://www.wakingtimes.com/2013/03/04/20-ingredients-to-memorize-and-avoid-in-any-food-you-consume/

http://www.skinnymom.com/food-labels-translated-part-1/

The Importance of Leafy Greens in Your Diet

Many people know that eating your leafy greens is important to a balanced diet, but WHY is it so important?

Green vegetables are one of the cornerstones of any healthy diet because they contain so many nutrients that benefit your body in a multitude of ways.  They are the perfect food to keep you full because greens are so high in fiber, which is great for weight loss.

Leafy greens, especially kale and collards, are full of calcium.  The calcium you get from consuming greens can lead to stronger bones, healthier muscle function and better overall blood pressure.

Vitamins E and C, found in many green vegetables, support healthy, glowing  skin and protect it from sun damage as you age.  These nutrients can also decrease risk of cataracts or macular degeneration.

Another essential vitamin prominent in leafy greens is vitamin K.  It prevents multiple age related conditions, as well as cardiovascular disease and kidney calcification.  The good news is that in just one cup of most green vegetables, there is at least your recommended daily value in vitamin K.

Incorporating at least five servings of green vegetables, especially leafy greens, into your diet every day, will support optimal health and vitality.  The age prevention qualities and benefits to your overall health are truly significant and can make an impact on the aging process.

Either raw or prepared, green vegetables can liven any dish with their bright green color and taste great with their soft, sometimes earthy taste and texture.  Expand your horizons and try new leafy greens whenever possible…..your body will thank you!

What is your favorite leafy green vegetable?

 

References

http://www.joybauer.com/food-articles/leafy-green-vegetables/

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-eats/healthy-eating/6-health-benefits-of-leafy-greens/3/

 

Healthy & Delicious Snack Ideas

It’s 3 to 4 PM and you haven’t eaten for a few hours.  You’re sipping on coffee or maybe water and feel like you need a “pick-me-up” to finish out the workday.  You don’t want to take on hundreds of calories or spoil your dinner.  Please don’t run to the kitchen or vending machine and grab a bag of chips or a candy bar.

Here are my top five quick and easy snack foods that are both healthy and filling:

  • Banana/Celery and Peanut or Nut Butter:  The classic after-school snack of a banana or celery with peanut or nut butter is the quintessential fast and easy snack that is satisfying and healthy.  In it, you get potassium, protein and healthy fats to get you through the rest of the day!   I also like apples with nut butter 🙂
  • Green Smoothies:  Take any variety of raw greens (kale, spinach, chard, etc.) and blend them with sweet fruits, such as mixed berries, to even out the taste.  This snack is filling, with lots of fiber, while still low in calories.  You can make several and grab them out of your refrigerator at any time for an on-the-go snack!  And if you find you need your green smoothie to be a bit more sweet, just add 1/2 dropper of liquid stevia.
  • Nuts:  Never underestimate the power of a handful of assorted nuts.  Whether you prefer almonds, cashews, pistachios or walnuts, they are all high in protein, give you a boost of energy and contain essential healthy fats.
  • Jerky:  Jerky is not only for hiking trips.  Grab yourself a few strips of beef, turkey or bison jerky for those afternoon blues.  Brands like Epic make all natural, low sodium jerky that is high in protein and tastes great!
  • Leftovers:  Odds are, you made just a little too much dinner last night.  Throw those leftovers on a pan and heat them up for a hot, healthy and satisfying snack in the middle of the day!

What is your favorite afternoon snack?

What’s the Big Deal With Coconut Oil

and Some Surprising Ways to Use It

Coconut oil ought to be a staple in every household!  Its myriad of benefits ranges from cosmetics, healthier cooking and different uses around the house.  In this article, I will show you why you need a bottle of coconut oil in your home and how it can positively impact your everyday life.

Cosmetically, coconut oil is a lifesaver.  Having coconut oil on your vanity can provide many money-saving options and alternatives to conventional, expensive, chemical-infused products.  Using coconut oil as a conditioner is extremely helpful to getting that beautiful glisten you look for when buying a conditioner at a store.  It also strengthens your hair and makes hair fuller.  When you use coconut oil as a face moisturizer, the natural antioxidants in it help to prevent wrinkles and irritation while giving you that smooth skin you work so hard for.  You can also combine coconut oil with other natural ingredients to make lotions, soap bars , deodorants and lip balms.

Coconut oil is an extremely useful resource in the kitchen.  My favorite ways to use it is to season my cast iron pans or use as cooking oil with fresh vegetables.  Coconut oil is also the perfect addition to your morning smoothie.  You can use coconut oil to make a variety of different snacks such as granola bars to add a healthy energy booster into the mix.

The benefits of coconut oil do not stop at the vanity or in the kitchen.  By combining certain essential oils and coconut oil, you have yourself an effective, natural bug repellent.  You can also use coconut oil in treats for pets and as a way to combat skin issues for those pets with irritation.  Another effective use for coconut oil is rubbing small amounts into leather to act as a conditioner and keep the leather strong.  My final, and favorite, coconut oil trick to use around the house is to moisturize your hands with coconut oil after washing dishes to avoid itchy, dried out skin.

By using these tricks and the many more you can find online, coconut oil can make a real difference in your life.  Try your best to implement them one at a time and see for yourself how well they work for you!

Here is a list of eight surprising ways to use coconut oil!

  1. Many people do not realize that coconut oil works as the perfect moisturizer.  Using coconut oil on your skin has shown to reduce wrinkles and give your skin a younger, more radiant look.
  2. Use coconut oil as massage oil.  Coconut oil is already the base for many massage creams and moisturizers, so save money by going straight to the source.
  3. Toss your burning mouthwash for a bottle of coconut oil and try oil pulling instead.  Coconut oil has been proven to reduce bad breath and fight against viruses or fungi in the mouth, as well as preventing tooth and gum decay.
  4. Avoid that nasty hairball your cat left for you in the hallway.  Simply rub your cat’s feet with coconut oil and they will lick it off, preventing the formation of the hairball in the first place.  You can also rub your cat’s coat with coconut oil to give it a healthier, fresher look.
  5. Enjoy healthier baked goods with coconut oil!  Substituting coconut oil for butter in your next baking expedition will produce a healthier, fluffy and flakey baked treat.
  6. Stop buying expensive shaving cream when you could be using coconut oil.  Rubbing coconut oil on your legs before shaving will  make your skin soft enough to shave, while also giving your legs a younger, shinier look.
  7. Make your own deodorant.  By mixing coconut oil, baking soda and 10 drops of your favorite essential oil, you can create a great smelling, healthy and effective deodorant in your own home.  And it’s not loaded with harmful toxins!
  8. Boost your immune system by ingesting a combination of coconut oil and ginger.  A study at the Khon Kean University Faculty of Public Health suggests that those who consumed the mixture had higher white blood cell counts which better prepared them for any viruses or diseases that attack their bodies.

How will you use coconut oil today?

 

References

http://www.activebeat.com/diet-nutrition/15-ways-coconut-oil-can-change-your-life/15/

http://wellnessmama.com/5734/coconut-oil/

Tips for Better Digestion

Healthy and regular digestion is imperative to leading a productive and comfortable day.  Here are my eight tips for better digestion!

  •  Stay away from ice.  Food and drink are digested easier when they are consumed at body temperature.  Drinking something cold can slow down the digestive process.
  • Try fasting to give your digestive system a rest.  Starting a simple 24-hour fast will help your digestive system reset and get back into rhythm.  Always remember to drink lots of low sugar vegetable and fruit juice during your fast.
  • An obvious, but very important tip, is to actually chew your food.  When you fail to chew your food enough, it is significantly harder to digest food and you don’t absorb all of the nutrients.
  • Go sour!  Squeeze the juice of one lemon into 8 to 16 ounces of filtered water and consume it first thing in the morning.  This practice is very alkalizing and will eliminate any extra stomach acid and give you a boost of energy.
  • Pop open a nice bottle of organic apple cider vinegar – with the mother, of course.  One to three teaspoons of apple cider vinegar mixed with an 8oz glass of apple juice will balance your digestive system and leave you feeling refreshed and ready for the day.
  • Eat lean meats.  When you eat meat that is too fatty, it causes uncomfortable bloating and occasionally gas during digestion.  Only consume lean proteins to avoid the nausea and clean out your stomach!
  • Drink lots of water.  Staying hydrated through out the day will help your body dissolve fats easier and keep you regular.
  • Incorporate probiotics into your daily routine.  Whether through taking probiotic supplements or just having a spoon full of Greek yogurt, probiotics will help your digestive system run more smoothly overall.  The probiotics help reinforce your immune system and flood your digestive tract with good bacteria.

I also wrote a post a while back, Love Your Gut,  with some additional tips to improve gut health.  Check it out and let me know if you try any of the suggesitons I mention.

References

http://alternative-healthzine.com/top-10-tips-to-better-digestion/

http://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/healthy-eating/tips-for-better-digestive-health/

 

My Top 8 Things to Know About Autoimmune Disease

Heart disease.  Cancer.  Diabetes.  These are commonly understood health conditions.  However, unless someone is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, or knows someone who is, there seems to be a lot of confusion about what autoimmune disease is and how it develops.

I have an autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and know many people that have various autoimmune diseases including Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.  There is a lot of misunderstanding and I want to help clear up as much I can.

To break it down for you, here are my top eight things you should know about autoimmune disease:

  1. First off, what is autoimmune disease?  Autoimmune disease is essentially when your immune system goes into high gear and mistakenly attacks healthy tissue instead of foreign invaders.
  2. Women are more likely to get autoimmune disease than men.  It is estimated that over 12 million people in America are fighting cancer and that 25 million Americans suffer from heart disease.  These diseases can run in families, but females are more susceptible.
  3. Once you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, you are far more likely to have a second autoimmune diagnosis within five years.
  4. It is a myth that side effects from autoimmune disease medications will not be noticeable.  Oftentimes, the side effects from these medications are severe, harmful and disrupt everyday life.
  5. By improving your gut and digestive system health, it is possible to reduce or eliminate your autoimmune symptoms.  Because much of your immune system is in your gut, bettering your digestive system can go a long way in offering relief.
  6. Reducing chronic, silent inflammation is imperative when you suffer from an autoimmune disease.  Drugs such as corticosteroids are often prescribed to combat inflammation, but living a healthy lifestyle, reducing stress and doing things within your control to limit inflammation can be a significant supportive measure.
  7. Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease can be difficult.  The symptoms of these diseases blend together and can, in many cases, mislead doctors to incorrect diagnoses.  Autoimmune diseases affect everyone differently; meaning two people with the same disease can have very different symptoms.
  8. Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease does not mean you will have a “poor quality of life.”  By taking the correct medications as prescribed by your doctor, adjusting your diet to combat your disease and changing small things in your lifestyle, it is quite possible that you could live a happy, normal life.

Do you have an autoimmune disease?  Do you have any tips to share?

References

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-17014/8-myths-facts-about-autoimmune-disease.html

http://www.outofthewoodsnutrition.com/blog/2015/7/15/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-autoimmune-disease

 

Three Must Eat Breakfast Foods

Do you love your breakfast?  Do you have a short list of “go-to” recipes?  Do you need a bit of inspiration to start eating breakfast again? Getting some protein at each meal can help with blood sugar management, metabolism and weight loss.  This is because protein helps you feel fuller longer and uses up a bunch of calories to absorb and metabolize it.  I’m going to show you how to get the protein, as well as some veggies and healthy fats for your soon-to-be favorite new “go-to” breakfasts.

Breakfast Food #1: Eggs

Yes, eggs are the “quintessential” breakfast food.  And for good reason!

No, I’m not talking about processed egg whites in a carton.  I mean actual whole “eggs”.

Egg whites are mostly protein while the yolks are the real nutritional powerhouses.  Those yolks contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats.

Eggs have been shown to help you feel full, keep you feeling fuller longer, and help to stabilize blood sugar and insulin.

Not to mention how easy it is to boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in the fridge for a “grab and go” breakfast when you’re running short on time.

And…nope the cholesterol in eggs is not associated with an increased risk of arterial or heart diseases.

One thing to consider is to try to prevent cooking the yolks at too high of a temperature because that can cause some of the cholesterol to become oxidized.  It’s the oxidized cholesterol that’s heart unhealthy.

Breakfast Food #2: Nuts and/or Seeds

Nuts and seeds contain protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  Nuts and/or seeds would make a great contribution to breakfast.

You won’t be fooled by “candied” nuts, sweetened nut/seed butters, or chia “cereals” with added sugars – you know I’m talking about the real, whole, unsweetened food here.

Nuts and seeds are also the ultimate fast food if you’re running late in the mornings.  Grab a small handful of almonds, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds as you’re running out the door; you can nosh on them while you’re commuting.

Not to mention how easy it is to add a spoonful of nut/seed butter into your morning breakfast smoothie.

Hint: If you like a creamy latte in the mornings try making one with nut or seed butter.  Just add your regular hot tea and a tablespoon or two of a creamy nut or seed butter into your blender & blend until frothy.

Breakfast Food #3: Veggies

Yes, you already know you really should get protein at every meal including breakfast; but this also applies to veggies.  You know I would be remiss to not recommend veggies at every meal, right?

Veggies are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fiber, and water.  You can’t go wrong adding them into every single meal of the day so if you don’t already you should definitely try them for breakfast!

And no, you don’t need to have a salad or roasted veggies for breakfast if you don’t want to but you totally can!  You wouldn’t be breaking any “official” breakfast rules or anything like that.

Adding some protein to leftover veggies is a great combination for any meal.  Including breakfast.

I’ve included a delicious recipe below for you to try (and customize) for your next breakfast.

Recipe (Eggs & Veggies): Veggie Omelet

Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1 or 2 eggs (how hungry are you?)

¼ cup veggies (grated zucchini and/or sliced mushrooms and/or diced peppers)

dash salt, pepper and/or turmeric

 

Directions:

Add coconut oil to a frying pan and melt on low-medium heat (cast-iron pans are preferred).  In the meantime grab a bowl and beat the egg(s) with your vegetables of choice and the spices. Tilt pan to ensure the bottom is covered with the melted oil.  Pour egg mixture into pan and lightly fry the eggs without stirring. When the bottom is lightly done flip over in one side and cook until white is no longer runny. Serve & Enjoy!

Tip:  Substitute grated, sliced, or diced portion of your favorite vegetable.  Try grated carrots, chopped broccoli or diced tomato.

You may also want to check out Breakfast in a Pinch, a give you a few ideas for quick healthy breakfasts.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/eggs-worse-than-fast-food

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/eggs/

https://authoritynutrition.com/eating-healthy-eggs/

https://authoritynutrition.com/12-best-foods-to-eat-in-morning/

Why Your Waist Circumference Matters More Than What You Weigh

and 6 tips for helping reduce belly fat

You totally want to ditch your scale, don’t you?

You may have this weird kind of relationship with your weight.

I mean, it doesn’t define you.

What you weigh can matter but only to a certain extent.

Let’s look at your waist circumference (well…you look at yours and I’ll look at mine).

Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”?  The apple is kinda round around the middle (you know – belly fat-ish, kinda beer belly-ish) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.

THAT is what we’re talking about here.

Do you know which shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases).

Yup – that apple!

And it’s not because of the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that you may refer to as a “muffin top”.  The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other organs there.

This internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that’s where a lot of the problem actually is.  It’s this “un-pinchable” fat.

The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.

And the apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do.

So as you can see where your fat is stored is more important that how much you weigh.

Are you apple or pear shaped?

It’s pretty simple to find out if you’re in the higher risk category or not. The easiest way is to just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape.  You can do it right now.

Women, if your waist is 35” or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and be in the higher risk category.  Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course.

For men the number is 40”.

Of course this isn’t a diagnostic tool.  There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases.  Waist circumference is just one of them.

If you have concerns definitely see your doctor.

6 tips for helping reduce belly fat:

  • Eat more fiber. Fiber helps you feel full.    Some examples of high-fiber foods are lentils, brussel sprouts, flax and chia seeds, avocado, and blackberries.
  • Add more protein to your day. Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer.  It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles.
  • Nix added sugars. This means ditch the processed sweetened foods especially those sweet drinks (even 100% pure juice).
  • Move more. Get some aerobic exercise.  Lift some weights.  Walk and take the stairs.  It all adds up.
  • Stress less. Seriously!  Elevated levels in the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and drive abdominal fat.
  • Get more sleep. Try making this a priority and seeing how much better you feel (and look).

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/research-abdominal-fat-and-risk

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/visceral-fat-location

http://www.drsharma.ca/inspiring-my-interest-in-visceral-fat

Why You Should Ditch Sugar Today!

And The Top 10 Sugar Laden Foods

Everyone knows that too much sugar is unhealthy and that moderation is key, but why should you ditch sugar completely?  Here are my top eight reasons to eliminate sugar from your diet today!

  1. Too Much Sugar Can Lead to Diabetes:  Sugar has been proven to play a large factor in the development of type II diabetes.  Even people seen as “skinny” are at risk of becoming pre-diabetic if they over consume sugar.  The best way to avoid this is by significantly reducing your consumption of sugar.
  2. Sugar Messes With Your Head:  Consuming large amounts of sugar can cause major hormonal issues.  Because the added sugar manipulates your hunger hormone receptors into not receiving the message that you have eaten, you will never feel quite full, explaining why you may feel hungry when you eat a diet high in sugar.
  3. Sugar Can Accelerate the Progression of Cancer:  Because sugar is essential for malignant cells to grow, sugar can “feed cancer.”  Need I say more?
  4. Sugar Makes You Fat (Obviously):  If you consume a large amount of sugar every day, you may notice fat accumulating in places you have not noticed before.  Because sugar signals your body to store fat instead of burn fat, your body will immediately begin to hold fat in places that make it extremely hard to work off.
  5. Sugar is Genetically Modified:  More than 50 percent of sugar in the United States comes from genetically modified crops.  To avoid this genetically modified sugar, seek out sugar or products labeled as 100 percent organic.
  6.  Sugar is Addictive:  Consuming too much sugar can lead to the “shut down” of your neurotransmitters that signal the release of dopamine.  This causes you to eat more and more sugar until the neurotransmitters are triggered.
  7. Sugar Clogs Your Arteries:  Yep, you read that right.  Over time, eating too much sugar will ravage your endothelium.  The endothelium is a layer of cells that protect your red blood cells.  Once the endothelium is damaged, red blood cells will have a significantly harder time getting oxygen to parts of your body, causing clogged arteries.
  8. Sugar Can Kill Your Sex Drive:  Because sugar plays a massive part in clogging your arteries and restricting blood flow, when the time comes, you may not be able to perform.  Taking in too much sugar during the day can result in erectile dysfunction in men and sexual arousal disorder in women.

Here are 10 sugar-laden foods you may not have known are so high in sugar: 

Canned or Packaged Fruit:  You may think eating foods like packaged mandarin oranges or applesauce may be good sources of fruit, but you would be misguided.  A small package of Mott’s applesauce can contain up to 23 grams of sugar.

Muffins:  Muffins are constantly thought of as being extremely carb and calorie dense, but they are also dangerously high in sugar.  One Weight Watchers blueberry muffin can have up to 22 grams of sugar.

Granola Bars:  Just one Quaker oatmeal bar can contain up to 19 grams of sugar.  Marketed as a healthy snack, these bars are not as healthy as they seem and use sugar for better taste.

Breakfast Cereal:  Even the so-called “healthy” breakfast cereals contain a large amount of sugar.  In a 3/4 cup of Special K cereal, there is up to 11 grams of sugar.

Bottled Spaghetti Sauce:  Many wouldn’t think spaghetti sauce has a large amount of sugar, but a half cup of Prego’s mushroom spaghetti sauce contains 11 grams of sugar and carries little nutritional value.

Bottled Tea:  Black tea or green tea, a common alternative to sweet tea, is viewed as a healthy, tasty drink helpful with weight loss.  In fact, just 16 ounces of SoBe green tea contains a whopping 50 grams of sugar.  It is always best to drink unsweetened teas.

Frozen Breakfast Foods:  While frozen breakfast foods are not often seen as healthy because of their lack of nutritional value, they are also very high in sugar.  Just one Jimmy Dean Breakfast Entrée can contain up to 21 grams of sugar.

Condiments:  An after thought nutritionally, condiments that go on sandwiches and burgers alike carry shocking amounts of sugar.  Just one tablespoon of ketchup has four grams of sugar.  When people use a large amount of ketchup, they do not realize that it is possibly the most sugar dense part of the meal.

Yogurt:  Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, has been marketed as a healthy breakfast alternative or snack.  In reality, you need to be weary of what yogurt you eat.  A single cup of low-fat fruit yogurt can contain up to 47 grams of sugar.  Plain yogurt with added berries, and stevia to sweeten if you need it, is your best bet.

Protein Bars:  Many people use protein bars as meal replacements or as post workout supplements, but they often contain a staggering amount of added sugar.  Many protein bars contain approximately 30 grams of added sugar.

Use these tips to eliminate the hidden sugar in your diet today!

 

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/18-surprising-foods-high-in-sugar/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/food/article-2982540/The-surprising-foods-high-levels-sugar-revealed.html

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/sugar-shockers-foods-surprisingly-high-in-sugar#5

http://thefittutor.com/sugar-body/

http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/food/sugar-health-effects/slide/8