Tag Archive | Fresh Produce

Quick, Nutritious Meals on The Go~ Intro

Eating on the Run

I had a request a while back when I thought I was going to start blogging regularly again. The request was for a post on snacks and meals for busy families that would be healthy instead of the usual grab-n-go fare.

There are several keys to maintaining nutrition while eating on the run.

  • First, preparation is important. Actually, I’d say, paramount. Without preparation, junk food and fast food will reign supreme and keep you from being as healthy as you want to be.Food Prep on Cutting Board

But you ask, “Wait, if I’m on the go, I have to grab what’s handy in the cupboard or at the drive-through.” Not if you prepare. If you know that you are generally on the go, then create snack bags for yourself and your family. When I say snack bags, I’m not talking about candy, cookies, or chips. I’m talking fresh fruit and veggies that you have already portioned out that you can take or baggies of dried fruit and nut mixes, cheese sticks, or crackers and peanut butter.

Then you say, “Not just snacks. What about meals? They require more time and prep.”

  • This leads me to the second key: have the tools on hand to help cut down your prep time and work. To which there are several tools and tricks that will help.

Crock Pot

Owning a slow cooker or crock pot is one helpful tool to get a healthy meal on the table without too much fuss. The food goes in before you leave for work and is ready to serve when you get home, so you can feed yourself and your family then get to any extracurricular activity on time. And slow cooker meals can be portioned out in freezer bags so that all you have to do in the morning is dump it into the crock pot, but again this takes forethought and preparation. So take a day to experiment. Get the ingredients for the meals you want to make, portion into freezer bags enough for at least 4 servings, and freeze them. All the chopping, peeling, and cutting is done, then all you have to do is pull them out when you need them. Follow this link to get started experimenting with your crock pot.

Rice Cooker

Another handy tool is a rice cooker. Most only take about 10-15 minutes to cook rice or other grains, such as quinoa, so you can heat up some soup, beans, lentils, or meat of some kind to complement the rice and have a meal that way. And remember to get your greens, heat up some fresh, frozen, or canned veggie to go along with the meal.

As far as tricks, this plays into preparation. Store cut lettuce in a gallon sized storage back and then your toppings in plastic containers, so you can grab and build a salad in a minute or two. Also, if you like canned fruits and veggies, this cuts down on prep time and can still be nutritious. I, personally, prefer frozen or fresh produce to canned. Though, canned beans, tomatoes, and soups can still be found in my grocery cart.

  • The third key is to buy produce in-season (this will help those here in the USA: http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?id=Seasonalfoodguides) . This will save you money and adds to the level of nutrients that you’re actually getting. (Also, consider supporting your local farmers market as an option for getting your in-season produce.)

In Season Produce

You say, “But fresh stuff is more expensive than the packaged stuff.” Generally, this is true, but when an item is in season it becomes much more economical to purchase. Take for example, citrus fruit. By mid-summer prices have gone so low that most stores offer multiples for a price (i.e. 10 for $1 on limes or 5 for $1 on lemons or 3 for $1 on oranges- all really good buys). Now, a word of caution, only buy what you will actually consume, so you aren’t wasting food or your money. Again, this takes some forethought. Plan your meals based on what you’d like to buy that’s in season.

Honestly, there’s no sure-fire way to make meals any quicker than 20-30 minutes and still keep them fresh and nutritious. But these are the things that I do when I know I’m gonna be on the go. Actually, I do the second and third regularly, not just when I’m in a rush. And there are plenty of books out there of people who have figured out their own tricks and solutions, like this one on Amazon.com.

Now, I realize I’ve been pretty general in this posting, but I did so with the intent of doing follow up articles with specific meal suggestions that are healthy and filling to get you where you need to go. Until next week, experiment with the preparation process and see what you can come up with that works for you and your family. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have a great week!

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Thoughts on the National Geographic’s August 2013 Cover Story

I had intended to write a different post today but as I stood in line at the grocery store this morning this month’s issue of National Geographic caught my eye because the cover photo seemed a little out of the norm for them and after reading the article I changed my mind on what I wanted to post.

National Geographic- August 2013

The article intrigued me because I wanted to find out what angle the writer would take with their story, “Sugar: Why We Can’t Resist It”. The author, Rich Cohen, used a lot of concrete data to support his story, a real-life spin by talking about and to a student from Clarksdale, Mississippi, as well as school personnel, and kept my attention completely until he began to use prehistoric apes to illustrate what he was trying to explain about fructose. Overall, his article is well-written and constructed. He faces head on the links of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes with excess sugar consumption, plus details the history of the sugar industry and how it came to be. Fascinating stuff, really.

Mingled throughout the article are charts and pictures with more information about the various forms sugar can come in and how it can be snuck into the human diet.

Cohen does a superb job of explaining how the human body processes sugar through his source in Aurora, Colorado, nephrologist Richard Johnson. In particular, Johnson’s explanation of how glucose and fructose (the two halves of sucrose or table sugar) are processed is telling. Cohen states,

Johnson explained to me that although glucose is metabolized by cells all through your body, fructose is processed primarily in the liver. If you eat too much in quickly digested forms like soft drinks and candy, your liver breaks down the fructose and produces fats called triglycerides.

Some of these fats stay in the liver, which over long exposure can turn fatty and dysfunctional. But a lot of the triglycerides are pushed out into the blood too. Over time, blood pressure goes up, and tissues become progressively more resistant to insulin. The pancreas responds by pouring out more insulin, trying to keep things in check. Eventually a condition known as metabolic syndrome kicks in, characterized by obesity, especially around the waist; high blood pressure; and other metabolic changes that, if not checked, can lead to type 2 diabetes, with a heightened danger of heart attack thrown in for good measure (96).

In summation, too much fructose and not enough physical activity to burn off the excess calories lead to a fatty liver, high blood pressure, and a fast track toward having metabolic syndrome develop and later Type 2 Diabetes. Cohen goes on to state, “As much as a third of the American adult population could meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome set by the National Institutes of Health” which he unfortunately does not go on to detail (96). But after googling the National Institutes of Health (NIH), I found the info I sought. There are five conditions which the NIH uses to describe Metabolic Syndrome and they are as follows:

    • A large waistline. This also is called abdominal obesity or “having an apple shape.” Excess fat in the stomach area is a greater risk factor for heart disease than excess fat in other parts of the body, such as on the hips.

    • A high triglyceride level (or you’re on medicine to treat high triglycerides). Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood.

    • A low HDL cholesterol level (or you’re on medicine to treat low HDL cholesterol). HDL sometimes is called “good” cholesterol. This is because it helps remove cholesterol from your arteries. A low HDL cholesterol level raises your risk for heart disease.

    • High blood pressure (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood pressure). Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage your heart and lead to plaque buildup.

    • High fasting blood sugar (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes. (online)

Also, “You must have at least three metabolic risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome” (Web). According to the site, metabolic syndrome is on the rise because obesity is also on the rise and a lifestyle change is the best way to prevent or delay the onset of this syndrome and its subsequent after effects of diabetes and possible heart attack.

Current estimates show the average American consumes 22.7 teaspoons (tsp) of sugar per day! To give you an idea of equivalents the charts and diagrams on pages 84 & 85 says, “22.7 tsp equal the natural sugar contained in each of the following: 7 red apples ~ 454 eggs ~ 1,135 cups of rice ~ 27 ears of corn”. Could you imagine eating that much of any of those food items in a single day?! And yet many of us drink that in a day! Wowza!

In terms of your liver, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is more taxing because it is 55% Fructose and 45% Glucose. So try to cut out as much excess fructose out of your diet as you possibly can because that will help your body to balance out a little better. Granted some of the cheapest foods (the ones we often reach for) contain the most HFCS and other forms of fructose, so that means spending a little more to have higher quality foods. But if you switch to more whole foods and less processed foods, then you may not even notice too much of a difference to your pocket-book. I know people say produce and other whole foods are more expensive and that’s why they buy more of the processed stuff, but if you buy your produce while it’s in season and store it yourself (whether through canning or freezing) then it’s actually pretty inexpensive.

Okay, I know this ones a little shorter than normal, but that’s all I’ve got for now as I’m under a time crunch today. Best wishes to your health and wellness! Have a fantastic week! See you in another week or two as time allows. 😀

Stress Eating~ PART Seven~ the finale

Who knew that when I began this series it would take nearly five months to complete? Life certainly has a way of getting in the way sometimes. Well, here we are at the conclusion of the Stress Eater Series (finally) and I truly hope you’ve gleaned some useful information to apply to your life.

What exactly is a Stress Eater?

Compulsive Eating

A person who consumes excess food (usually junk food) during periods of extreme stress (whether it be in the form of physical, mental, or emotional) as a means to bring comfort or alleviate the feelings of stress.

Do certain foods actually reduce stress and stress-induced cravings?

Veggies1

Yes, there are many foods which help reduce stress. For the most part, these are whole, fresh foods. Green leafy vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and certain meats and dairy products are good selections to make instead of junk foods like cookies, cakes, and ice cream.

Also, foods containing tryptophan, B-vitamins, Magnesium, and Selenium all aid the human body in recovering from and managing periods of high stress.

And remember to select produce from a wide range of colors. Variety is key.

Why shouldn’t I give in to my body’s sugar cravings when I’m feeling stressed?

The simplest answer is this: That extra sugar being consumed when you’re under stress is a piece of the puzzle to weight gain and maintenance. When the human body is under stress it produces a hormone called cortisol which has been linked to unhealthy weight gain in the abdomen. According to Posner and Hlivka, “Not only will less sugar help you lose weight, but it will also break the cycle of stress eating and craving more sugar” (82). Excess sugar during times of stress has a negative impact on the body’s metabolism as well.

Why shouldn’t I eat a low-fat or fat-free diet when I feel like I’m fat and need to lose weight?

Because the human body needs a certain amount of fats to do certain things and to complete processes which require essential fatty acids (EFAs). By the by, it is much better to get your EFAs through food sources rather than buying a supplement.

What is the difference between physical and emotional hunger?

Physical hunger is created through chemical processes and communication between the digestive system and the brain. It is how the body knows when it needs more raw materials to keep all systems running smoothly. Conversely, emotional hunger is created by cravings instigated by high stress levels. It is habit-forming and reactionary, not from actual hunger.

How can I reduce my cravings for junk food and hunger in general?

Dehydration the silent killer

Drink more water. In fact, try drinking a glass of water prior to meals and you may be surprised to find you eat a more sensible portion of food.

Eat more consciously. Focus on what you are eating when you are eating it, so that you won’t be mindlessly consuming. This will help prevent overeating.

Eat less man-made sugars. Consuming less sugar will help with weight-loss. This will also, in the words of Posner and Hlivka, “break the cycles of stress eating and craving more sugar” (182).

Find other, possibly more active, ways to handle and process your stress. If your first reaction to a stressor is to visit the refrigerator, pause and evaluate why you are reaching for food. Ask yourself: Am I genuinely hungry in this moment?

Waistline Wasteland

In Conclusion:

Be more active. Drink more water. Eat more nutrient-dense foods that help alleviate stress instead of sugar laden foods. Be mindful of why you are eating. Find activities to help you manage your stress (i.e. yoga, pilates, swimming, running, bicycling, deep breathing exercises, stroll through a park, and many more).

An important thing to remember, you didn’t get to where you are in a single day so just try to take things a day at a time. Once you break the cycle of bad habits, it will become easier to make better food choices. We only get our one body, so instead of filling up on nutrient deprived foods load up on the good stuff that is packed full of vitamins, minerals, and the macronutrients which the body truly needs for fuel. You can take control of your health!

This concludes the Stress Eater Series, but there will be future blogs which relate to topics brought up throughout this series. Have a fabulous week! And I wish you all the best with your future endeavors!

Important Note about this blog’s author:

While I do, indeed, have my Associate Degree in Health & Wellness since May 2013, I am not a doctor, nor am I aware of your medical issues. The health, nutrition, and wellness statements made in this blog should be taken in conjunction with advice from your healthcare professional. This is especially important if you are under constant supervision by a physician for a chronic health condition.

So again, if you have any food sensitivities or allergies, please avoid those foods which you already know to cause you issues. There should be plenty of options to select from each category that Posner and Hlivka cited in their book, which I have taken verbatim from the pages of Stress Eater Diet.

Here’s a Recommended Reading List:

~ Take Control of Your Health by Dr. Joseph Mercola

~ The Maker’s Diet by Jordan S. Rubin

~ The Completely Revised and Updated Hypoglycemia Healthcare Handbook by Jeraldine Saunders and Dr. Harvey M. Ross

~ Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies by Frances Sizer and Ellie Whitney (We used this book in our Nutrition class at school.)

~ Books on the fundamentals of cellular biology, human biology and physiology, and human anatomy are all good places to start learning the hows and whys of body processes. The book we used in Intro to Cell Biology was surprisingly easy to read and understand for a textbook. If you can find a used book on any or all three of these topics that is no more than 3-5 years old, they would hold more up-to-date information than older ones.

~ Scientists are discovering new things about the workings of the human body every year, but it takes time for doctors and healthcare professionals to catch up. Subscribe to a scientific health journal if you want to keep abreast of developments in the health field.

~ Another book, which I picked up at a used book sale, is The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health by Robert Young, Ph.D. and Shelley Redford Young. (I haven’t read it yet, but it seemed like a promising title at least.)

Part FOUR~ Surprising Fat Facts

Perhaps your first thought is “Okay, let’s hear all about the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats.” But that’s not going to be our focus here… I don’t agree with the cut and dry approach of this variety of fat is good for me and that variety is bad for me. The issue of fats is so much more complex than that. For instance, coconut oil is a saturated fat (you can tell because it’s a solid at room temperature), but it has also been found to have health benefits in the form of its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. (Check this link for specific facts.) But definitely stay away from trans-fats which are the hydrogenated (hydrogen added to an otherwise healthy polyunsaturated oil) spreads (i.e. margarine).

Compared with the risk to heart health posed by saturated fat, the risk from trans fats is similar or slightly greater” (Sizer, 173).

Fat Facts Blurb

Fats have gotten a bad rap. Not only are they all not bad for you, but your body actually needs some! In particular, essential fatty acids (EFAs) like those found in nuts and many different types of fish. EFAs “serve as raw materials” or building blocks that the body uses to create other things it requires (Sizer, 151). Believe it or not, but fats are what helps tell our brains when we have had our fill of food or are satiated which is “the satisfaction of feeling full after a meal” (Sizer, 152).

Have you noticed that since the 1980s, when low-fat dieting became a craze, that people have just continued to get bigger and bigger? There are so many factors that have gone into the weight issue, but I believe this could be one of the big contributors along with a sedentary lifestyle and too many empty calories. We, Americans, still eat like we physically work hard and play hard when the reality for most of us is that we… Sit. All. Day. Long. We sit in our cars on our way to and from work, sit at our desks for seven hours or more a day, and then sit in front of our T.V.s to unwind from our mentally taxing day. Then go to bed.

And yet, many people still believe fat consumption is equal to fat accumulation in their body; that fats are the enemy to weight control. It’s simply not true! Empty calories, on the other hand, are a different story.

Here’s another thought: Some important nutrients are fat-soluble, meaning that fat is a vital component in the body’s ability to absorb and assimilate the given element. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble. So if you’re consuming a diet with little to no fat or have liver disease, you may be deficient in these vitamins. Though, it can be just as bad to consume an abundance of these vitamins.  The normal (safe) ranges for each as well as some food sources are as follows:

Vitamin A and Beta-Carotene (its precursor)- 500-3,000 micrograms (μg) per day. The Daily Recommended Intakes (DRIs) are 700 μg for women and 900 μg for men. And 3,000 μg is the Tolerable Upper Intake Level for adults, but this is only for Vitamin A and not Beta-Carotene.

Food Examples: 1/2 cup Carrots (cooked), Spinach(cooked), and Sweet Potato (baked) provides 671 μg, 472 μg, and 961 μg (respectively).

Vitamin D- 10-50 micrograms (μg) per day. The DRIs are 5 μg for 19-50 year olds, 10 μg for 51-70 year olds, and 15 μg for over 70 years of age (no matter gender). The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 50 μg (or 2,000 International Units (IU)) per day, but “[s]ome experts are calling for significant increases on both the target …. and in the Tolerable Upper Intakes” (Sizer, 237). They believe it should be raised to no more than 125 μg per day; a substantial increase.

Food Examples: “Vitamin D is unique among nutrients in that the body can synthesize all it needs with the help of sunlight” (Sizer, 235). 3 oz. of Salmon (15.3 μg) and a teaspoon of Cod Liver Oil (11 μg) are the best food sources though, if you aren’t getting enough sun.

Vitamin E- The DRI is 15 milligrams (mg) per day for adults. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 1,000 mg per day. Because it’s an antioxidant, it fights “unstable molecules known as free radicals.” Here’s a fun fact: “Free radicals, left unchecked, cause inflammation that may contribute to some cancers, heart disease, or other diseases” (Sizer, 239).

Food Examples: 1 oz. Wheat Germ and 2 Tablespoons of Sunflower Seeds provide 4.5 mg and 5.8 mg, respectively.

Vitamin K- The DRIs are 90 μg for women and 120 μg for men. Because toxicity is so rare in healthy adults, a Tolerable Upper Intake Level has not been set. However, extreme caution should be used with synthetic, supplemental forms. In case, you’ve never heard of Vitamin K, it is a necessary part of blood clotting.

Food Examples: Dark green leafy vegetables (or dark GLVs) are the best and richest sources of Vitamin K, providing “an average of 300 μg per 1/2 cup serving” (Sizer, 242). So eat your leafy greens!!!

{Fat-free and low-fat diets are often harmful because they prevent the proper uptake/ absorption of these essential nutrients. I’m thinking, now that I’ve done this overview, a more thorough post on each may be smart because I’ve realized in recent years that not everybody knows this stuff. Not everyone has taken the time to learn about it or take a class on it. So a weekly post on different nutrients will be a definite sometime in the future. :D}

The Difference in Fat Cell Size

Since taking both the nutrition and anatomy/ physiology classes at university, I have been turning a thought around in my head and pondering its meaning. When most people think of fat storage in their body, they imagine a collection of excess fat cells. (Or at least, that’s how I used to see it.) In reality, when our bodies store fat, we don’t gain fat cells, our fat cells simply expand and grow. My nutrition book put is this way, “These fat cells seem able to expand almost indefinitely– the more fat they store, the larger they grow. An obese person’s fat cells may be many times the size of a thin person’s” (Sizer, 150). So the thought, I’ve come to think about stems from seeing an advertising flier for liposuction… If a person’s body has the exact same number of fat cells as the day they were born, no matter how much excess has been stored, then once a person has had liposuction would their body become misshapen if/when they lose weight naturally? Liposuction is often done on the midsection and/or hindquarters. I don’t know, but I’m thinking liposuction may not be a good thing for body image in the long run.

NOW…. On to some points from Posner and Hlivka:

Cortisol is a stress hormone that our bodies produce when we are under stress and it is connected with the retention of abdominal fat. There have been commercials in recent years of diet pills that supposedly block cortisol production. Honestly, I don’t know if any of those work or not.

~ “[S]tudies have shown: A connection between stress, weight gain, and increased ‘belly fat,’even among lean women with no propensity towards obesity” (Posner, 56). Stress impacts the body in a myriad of ways beyond this, but not all have to do with fats.

The following excerpt from pages 114-115 of The Stress Eater Diet concurs with my Nutrition textbook:

The Skinny on Fat

 “Since 1980, the amount of fat in the average American diet has decreased from 40 percent of total calories to 33 percent. Although this is a positive trend, people have more than made up for lower fat intakes with larger portion sizes of other types of foods. Larger portion sizes equal more calories and more calories lead to weight gain, regardles of whether it’s fat, protein, or carbohydrates.

“Fat provides a feeling of fullness, which can help control overeating [emphasis mine]. By cutting fat out of their diets, people may lose the ‘satiation’ signal. In addition, many ‘low fat’ and ‘no fat’ foods can be just as high in calories compared to the regular versions, since fat is replaced with sugars or high calorie sweeteners to add back flavor. So when losing or maintaining your weight, pay attention to calorie counts to decide which product to use. Along with fewer calories, the ‘real’ version may have a better balance of nutrients, and you’ll feel fuller faster without sacrificing taste.”

{Isn’t that crazy?! How did people buy so easily and readily into the fat-free craze? I don’t know if you have this problem where you live or not, but there are certain grocery stores here that only give the option of fat-free and low-fat. I find it frustrating! Especially when I’m looking for plain yogurt; I only like the regular version. Look closer the next time you go grocery shopping, see if you’re even offered the regular versions.} One thing which I have not focused on in this talk about fats is the impact the excess weight has on the body, but I will be sure to cover that in the near future! I’ll also do a more detailed blog on EFAs in the future. 🙂

SO… Remember the rule of calories in and calories out when selecting your foods:

Caloric Balance

Important Note about this blog’s author:

While I will, indeed, have my Associate Degree in Health & Wellness in May 2013, I am not a doctor, nor am I aware of your medical issues. The health, nutrition, and wellness statements made in this blog should be taken in conjunction with advice from your healthcare professional. This is especially important if you are under constant supervision by a physician for a chronic health condition.

So again, if you have any food sensitivities or allergies, please avoid those foods which you already know to cause you issues. There should be plenty of options to select from each category that Posner and Hlivka cited in their book, which I have taken verbatim from the pages of Stress Eater Diet.

Information from The Stress Eater Diet book as well as:

~ Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies by Frances Sizer and Ellie Whitney (We used this book in our Nutrition class at school.)

I got to looking at the resource pages in the back of Posner and Hlivka’s book and found these two links:

www.stresseaterdiet.com (Book support website)

www.stresseaterdiet.com/blog (The author’s blog offering new studies, research, tips, and advice)

One final thought, I love the little things that Vitacost puts on their Facebook page; sometimes they’re funny and other times merely informative:

Waistline Wasteland

Part THREE- The Sweet Facts Continued

What we consume yearly

Many people (not just Americans) consume way more calories than their body needs in a single day. This is a major factor in weight retention and gains. The following meal calorie totals are over HALF of the daily 2,000 calorie diet. (Let’s put this in perspective: Men’s average is 2,500 per day and Women’s average is 1,700 per day.)

Fast Food Facts

Now, those french fries you ate, what will it take to work those calories off? A heavy person expends more effort because of their excess weight than a lighter person, that’s why the time frames for the 150 lb person is longer.

Exercise Needed to Burn Off Fries

The bottom line about sugars and “empty” calories in general? Pay attention to your foods each day. Limit excesses. Cut back on sodas if that’s where you find most of your empty calories coming from and switch to more water (flavored water, if you don’t like it plain).

Water is THE most essential nutrient to the human body! (Well… aside from oxygen, that is. Lol.) It cushions our cells from each other and our organs as well; it is inside and outside every cell inside our bodies; it flushes out the toxins and waste products we don’t want/need accumulating in our tissues and organs. So please drink more, you may be surprised if your headaches disappear. Oftentimes, those little headaches we get are just a sign of mild dehydration. Your body will thank you for giving it what it needs when it needs it.

{Oh! And if your argument for not drinking more water is because you’ve tried in the past and it made you pee more… I learned in my nutrition class that happens because your body took advantage of the opportunity to flush out the toxins it had been storing. Once your body has finished with that (depending on how toxic your system is, can take up to a week of drinking the recommended 64 oz. daily), it will level off to a more normal and acceptable amount of bathroom visits.}

For other tips to cut calories and still satisfy thirst, visit HERE.

Remember: It’s better to get your sugars from whole foods than from processed, lifeless foods. BUT always be mindful of how many carbs you are consuming compared to protein and fats. Strive for a balance.

Time to focus a little on what Posner and Hlivka say about sugars:

“On average, Americans consume 156 pounds of sugar a year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). For those who are chronically stressed and stress eaters, it can be MUCH more” (emphasis mine, 181).

Only 29 pounds come from naturally occurring sugar, or sucrose [defined as table sugar], according to the Sugar Association, a trade group of sugar manufacturers” (emphasis mine, 181). Neither fresh produce nor High Fructose Corn Syrup fall under this category as they aren’t backed by the Sugar Association. So, if you factor that in, it’s probably between 50-75 pounds. (Though that is a total guesstimation on my part!)

In a ten year span, “consumption of added sugar in the United States grew 20 percent.” A trend now gaining a foothold in the developing world “according to the World Health Organization (WHO)” and WHO guidelines released in 2003 state that “no more than 10 percent of daily calories” should come from sugars. (pg. 182) To put that in perspective, if you consume 2,200 calories a day then 10% is 220 calories. Now look at the nutrition label of your favorite beverage and snack to see how many calories you go over the 10% recommendation.

Here’s the kicker, to rephrase it from my ranting in Tuesday’s part one:

“Obviously, the less sugar you consume, the better your health. Not only will less sugar help you lose weight, but it will also break the cycle of stress eating and craving more sugar” (182).

One thing which the authors advocate on page 183, which I do not agree with, is supplementing real sugar with artificial sweeteners such as Splenda (discovered while developing rat poison) and NutraSweet (if I remember correctly from nutrition class, discovered in a similar way as Splenda). However, they do list Stevia as an alternative too. Stevia is a plant native to western North America down to South America in tropical and subtropical climates. Its sweetness is so concentrated that it takes personal experimentation to find what is just the right amount of sweetness for you. Make sure to read labels though, if it says a bunch of other stuff other than Stevia or the scientific name of the plant… put it back on the shelf because then you may be getting something with an artificial sweetener added. (I’ll try to add a blog about this sometime in the future because there is so much information out there about it. But for now try http://www.stevia.com/, to find out pertinent facts. And here’s another blogger’s discoveries about Stevia as a substitute: http://holisticsquid.com/is-stevia-healthy/) Sugar names ending in -ol are sugar alcohols which are also another topic.

Stevia Extract PureStevia Plant

Please check out the recommended food guidelines HERE.

Chronic diseases have increased exponentially over the past few decades due in part to diet and lifestyle. As our sugar consumption increases and our activity levels decrease, heart disease and diabetes (among other chronic/ lifestyle diseases) have increased. Is it really any wonder why our waistlines are growing and chronic diseases like diabetes are on the rise, too?

Important Note about this blog’s author:

While I will, indeed, have my Associate Degree in Health & Wellness in May 2013, I am not a doctor, nor am I aware of your medical issues. The health, nutrition, and wellness statements made in this blog should be taken in conjunction with advice from your healthcare professional. This is especially important if you are under constant supervision by a physician for a chronic health condition.

So again, if you have any food sensitivities or allergies, please avoid those foods which you already know to cause you issues. There should be plenty of options to select from each category that Posner and Hlivka cited in their book, which I have taken verbatim from the pages of Stress Eater Diet.

Still to Come in This Series:

Part FOUR= Surprising Fat Facts

Part FIVE= Physical Hunger Vs. Emotional Hunger

Part SIX= Tricks to Reducing Hunger and Cravings

Part SEVEN= Conclusion and Encouragement

Stress Eating- Part TWO B:

The Wonders of Fresh, Whole Foods

Now that you’ve learned specific food for helping your body cope with stress, let’s look at the other benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables. Variety is a key to keeping your body happy. It is thought that if a person only consumes a limited set of foods that their body and its digestive abilities become sluggish. This can be especially true if you (like the majority of Americans) do not get enough fiber in your diet. Now, if you find yourself continually eating the same foods and discover you have a rather limited palate, it may be time to start experimenting and introducing new produce items to your mealtimes. Think of fruits and veggies that you normally have the automatic thought of “Yuck!” even though you’ve never had it a day in your life.

Yucky Face

I’d never had Brussels Sprouts as a kid because it was one vegetable my mom couldn’t stand (turns out my dad loved them though) and truth be told I probably wouldn’t have wanted to eat them had they been offered. But I am now in my early 30s and a few years ago I was talking to a longtime friend of mine about how I wondered if I’d even like them. She had been wanting to try them, too, but didn’t want them to go to waste if she and the kids didn’t like them. We made a plan to have dinner together at her house and we included Brussels Sprouts… and what do you know? We both liked them! But it was hit and miss with the kids. 😀 Can’t win them all, I suppose.

Happy Thumbs Up Face

So check out your fresh and frozen produce options at your local grocery store and you might be surprised to find your favorite among those you’ve never had before! 😉 My two favorites, that I’d never dreamed as a child I would ever consume let alone love, are Lima Beans and Brussels Sprouts. 😀

Now let’s start looking at the other healthy benefits of produce based on color:

A Note From the Authors of Stress Eater Diet: Remember “[healthy fruits and vegetables] are not calorie or carb-free…. This means portions need to be controlled” (178) and not to exceed the daily recommendations of the food pyramid (now called Choose My Plate and can be found at choosemyplate.gov).

Fresh Fruits and Veggies (pages 177-180)

Think of the color wheel and apply it when choosing your produce:

Red-Purple= Blueberries, Blackberries, Beets, Grapes, and Plums are perfect examples. These foods are said to “improve circulation, contain antioxidants that aid in cancer prevention, and protect the brain” (178).

Red= Tomatoes and Tomato Products, and Red Grapefruit are prime examples. They “aid in cancer prevention, specifically prostate cancer” (179).

Cherries, Strawberries, Raspberries, and Watermelon are other examples. They “improve circulation, aid in cancer prevention, protect the brain, and reduce stress” (179).

Orange= Carrots, Pumpkins, Apricots, Mangoes (Oranges are in the next group). These foods “protect cells, neutralize free radicals, enhance immune system, especially when stressed” (179).

Orange-Yellow= Oranges, Peaches, Pineapples do the same as the Orange category, but without the clarifier of “especially when stressed” (179).

Yellow-Green= Spinach, Kale, Collard Greens, Bell Peppers, Corn fall in this category and are said to “protect the eyes” (180).

Green= Cruciferous Vegetables like Broccoli, Cabbage, and Brussels Sprouts. These foods “aid in cancer prevention” and “in reducing stress” (180).

White-Green= Garlic, Onion, Pears, Apples, Asparagus, and Celery are said to “protect cell membranes” and “may lower LDL (bad cholesterol)” (180).

Important Note about this blog’s author:

While I will, indeed, have my Associate Degree in Health & Wellness in May 2013, I am not a doctor, nor am I aware of your medical issues. The health, nutrition, and wellness statements made in this blog should be taken in conjunction with advice from your healthcare professional. This is especially important if you are under constant supervision by a physician for a chronic health condition.

AND, Please, I cannot stress enough, if you have any food sensitivities or allergies, please avoid those foods which you already know to cause you issues. There should be plenty of options to select from each category that Posner and Hlivka cited in their book, which I have taken verbatim from the pages of Stress Eater Diet.

Stress Eating~ Part TWO-A

Stress Relieving Foods- part a

{Sorry for the delay in this week’s post!}

After last week’s intro, you may now know for a fact that you or a loved one are indeed a stress eater. Now, you want to know more.

* What foods should I eat?

* How can I differentiate between stress-induced hunger and bonafide hunger?

* What can I do to curb the intense cravings I get for sugar/ chocolate/junk food when I feel stressed?

I’ll address each of these concerns in this and subsequent parts of this series on Stress Eating.

You might be wondering, “Which foods are stress relievers?”

According to the authors (Posner and Hlivka), Tryptophan-containing foods, foods containing B-vitamins (including B-5, Pantothenic Acid), and foods containing minerals such as Magnesium and Selenium help the body to reduce stress.

Example foods for each category and reasoning behind it:

Tryptophan-containing foods= Red meat, Turkey, Bananas, and Nuts

 Because they “enhance moods and provide a calming effect” on the body (175-176).

B-vitamin foods= Beans and Lentils, Tuna and Mackerel, and Green Leafy Vegetables (including, collard greens, kale, chicory, mustard greens, and broccoli because GLVs aren’t limited to lettuce and spinach).

 Because they contain B-vitamins such as Riboflavin, Thiamine, Niacin, Folic Acid, and B12. All of which “help life your mood and relieve stress” (176).

Veggies1Veggies2

Magnesium= Squash, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, Celery, Cucumbers, Cheese (though I’m thinking you’d want to watch quantity eaten since it can be fattening), Yogurt, Whole Grains, and Tofu (I cannot stand the texture of tofu, but if you like it I say, “More power to you!”).

Because it can help “improve a depressed mood and relieve stress” (176).

Selenium= Halibut, Scallops, Brazil Nuts, GLVs, Tuna, Oysters, and Chili Peppers all contain adequate amounts of the mineral.

Because it is “a chemical element that helps the body produce Serotonin,” a neurotransmitter responsible for “boosting mood and a feeling of well-being” (176).

Vitamin B5 got a category all its own= Beef, Brewer’s Yeast, Eggs, Fresh Vegetables, Kidney, Legumes (think peanuts), Liver, Mushrooms (though if you are on a fungal-free diet steer clear), Nuts, Pork (please do not eat if you have an allergy or religious rule to avoid), Saltwater Fish, and Rye and Whole Wheat Flours.

 Because it is the “anti-stress vitamin” and is thought to “enhance the activity of the immune system and improve the body’s ability to withstand stressful conditions” (176). Our immune system takes a beating when the body is under stress.

~ Again, if you have any food sensitivities or allergies, please avoid those foods which you already know to cause you issues. There should be plenty of options to select from each category that Posner and Hlivka cited in their book, which I have taken verbatim from the pages of Stress Eater Diet. ~

More foods to be mindful of (not so much for stress relief, but for an overall improved feeling of well-being):

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (part two B), and Sugars(part three).

*** Always be mindful of your body and its reactions to foods and activity! You are the only one who can fully know the goings-on in your body. Do NOT ignore telltale signs of an allergic reaction or over do exercises which may lead to injury to your person! ***

Note to those with allergies:

If you find that in each of the categories above, you either are allergic to or simply do not like the food options listed, there are others that can be easily researched either through googling the nutrition facts of a given food or the given nutrient to find other food sources than from the list above.

Important Note about this blog’s author:

While I will, indeed, have my Associate Degree in Health & Wellness in May 2013, I am not a doctor, nor am I aware of your medical issues. The health, nutrition, and wellness statements made in this blog should be taken in conjunction with advice from your healthcare professional. This is especially important if you are under constant supervision by a physician for a chronic health condition.