The Most Effective Beauty Products Ever!

Artwork / Photography credit: Tracy Sheppard

photography / artwork credit: Tracy Sheppard 

The most effective beauty products are the foods we consume.

 
What if I told you the foods we eat have a direct impact on how our skin, hair and nails appear? Anti-oxidant rich foods, such as dark, leafy greens, blueberries, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, like Salmon, all provide a protective benefit to our skin. Consuming yellow / orange fruits and vegetables, like apricots or carrots, provide the skin with natural beautifying properties. Did you know a bowl of oatmeal (old-fashioned, steel cut) contains an abundant source of silicon? Silicon is considered a beautifying mineral, which, among other benefits, can help restore the natural glow of the skin.

 
The best foods for our skin, hair, and nails also provide the body with the best overall health. A diet rich in vegetables, some fruit, nuts, seeds, lean protein and plenty of water, while minimizing consumption of processed foods and sugar, will help keep our skin glowing and naturally beautiful.

 

My System.  Thoughtfully Designed.  Powerfully Transforming.

 

Aging and Exercise

  • With respect to the aging process, what are some benefits derived from participation in regular physical activity?

Research shows that many of the physiological declines that are typically associated with the aging process can be reversed, or at least slowed down by engaging in regular physical activity. While exercise is not a magic pill or the proverbial Fountain of Youth; it is about as close to it as you can get.

Regular physical activity is well documented to help reduce the odds in developing heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, and diabetes. These are major reasons to develop a habit of regular exercise. There are also factors such as weight loss and control, keeping depression at bay and helping with feelings of anxiety, as well as, fostering improvements in mood and feelings of well-being. Regular exercise can boost one’s mood and feeling of self-confidence. Regular exercise can help reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension. Engaging in regular physical activity can help those with chronic, disabling conditions by improving stamina and muscle strength. Exercise can help keep the body flexible and stiff joints more pliable. Lack of exercise actually can make your joints even more painful and stiff. Keeping your muscles and surrounding tissue strong can be crucial to maintaining support for your bones. Not exercising weakens those supporting muscles, creating more stress on your joints. Certain regular exercise also helps with balance, which can enable a lifestyle of independence as well as promoting safety by reducing the risk of falling and performing routine daily tasks. Another benefit of regular physical activity is in how it aids brain function. Exercise is proven to change the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills. This is especially good news as the older we get, the more we may experience ‘brain fog’ and declining memory.

Exercise performed regularly improves physical appearance and when enjoyed in a group setting, provides a good social support. Regular physical activity is the key to staying strong, energetic, and healthy as you get older. If you find an activity you enjoy, it can even be fun. Exercise helps make life pleasurable and expands the quality of life.

by Terri L. Pouliot

 

 

High Blood Pressure and Exercise

 

 

blood-pressureMore than 75 million Americans have high blood pressure today. Of those people, three out of four over the age of 60 has hypertension. These are very dangerous statistics. If left untreated, high blood pressure can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, as well as peripheral arterial disease. It is well documented that exercise improves the overall function of the cardiovascular system. It can also be very effective against lowering blood pressure. Often, hypertension is treated and controlled with medication. A sound exercise program can help decrease blood pressure even further. In many cases, mild and even moderate hypertension can benefit from embracing healthy lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise, less salt intake, managed weight and overall healthier dietary choices.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or a combination of both. That means the aim should be for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days of the week. Most studies confirm that the hypertensive client should be exercising twenty to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise at 40-70% VO2max. This aerobic exercise may be performed three to five times a week. Heavy weight training should be avoided for the person with hypertension. This is because it can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. This depends on the amount of weight that is lifted. Since resistance training is known to have long term benefits to blood pressure levels, it can be included if you lift lighter weights with more repetitions. Always get the approval from the client’s physician prior to including any weight training in the program. A sound exercise program can decrease the systolic and diastolic values by as much as five to seven points when followed consistently. It may take up to three to four weeks to begin seeing these improved numbers.

A sound exercise program will also assist in weight management, which can in turn improve blood cholesterol and glucose levels which can lead to health issues if not addressed.

Some examples of aerobic activity that may be included in the client’s exercise program:

Treadmill walking

Stair climbing

Cycling

Rowing

Swimming

Mild aerobic exercises, such as walking or cycling, have the capability to help reduce blood pressure as much as more vigorous exercises, like jogging. The client should be able to carry on a conversation while engaging in these exercises. Many hypertensive clients will be on medication that may alter the blood pressure response to the exercise performed. Always be aware of the list of medications the client is taking and how these drugs may interact with exercise. It is also very important to allow for proper warm-up to avoid a sudden rise in blood pressure during the activity. This is essential. Just as important is the cool-down for the client. Always include an adequate cool-down in your exercise program so the client’s heart rate, and cardiovascular system can safely return to pre-exercise condition.

When including resistance training in with the program follow these guidelines from the American Heart Association:

Single set of 8 to 10 different exercises such as chest press, shoulder press, triceps extension, biceps curl, latissimus pull-down, lower back extension, abdominal crunch, leg press, leg curls, and heel raise.

These resistance exercises may be performed two or three days a week. These moves may be added slowly and monitored carefully. Never include isometric exercises. These strengthening exercises can be incorporated along with the aerobic activity two to three times a week with the physician’s approval.

This web site is for informational purposes only. Consult a physician before performing this or any exercise program. It is your responsibility to evaluate your own medical and physical condition, or that of your clients, and to independently determine whether to perform, use or adapt any of the information or content on this web site. Any exercise program may result in injury. By voluntarily undertaking any exercise displayed on this web site, you assume the risk of any resulting injury.

by Terri L. Pouliot

 

HOW TO STAY HEALTHY and FIT OVER THE HOLIDAYS

holidaycocktails

 

We are quickly approaching that time of year when all five of the senses can be tempted by decadent treats, tantalizing aromas, and endless buffets. The reports vary, but generally suggest that most people gain between five to eight pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years. While I’m not sure how accurate those numbers are; it is easy to believe most of us are at risk of putting on weight if not careful.

Winter, in general, may cause a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in many people, especially if you live in the part of the country that becomes cold and gray at this time of year. This can cause even the most energetic person to become more lethargic, to lose their focus and drive. In other words; your ‘get up and go’ seems to have ‘got up and went’! This time of year can tend to make you ‘fluffy’ and soft as you slack off on workouts and dietary discipline. Maintaining a healthy balance can be challenging, at best.

It’s not impossible to maintain your weight during the Holiday Season. It does take some strategic planning on your part. You can enjoy the festivities and maintain a lean physique if you practice these successful tips I’m going to share. I’ve gathered these helpful tips from the Pros in every field,  from Dietitians to Physique Competitors. These folks make it their business to know lean and healthy. So listen up:

 

Erin Stern, Ms. Figure Olympia offers these tips:

         1. Be efficient in the weight room. employ compound movements, supersets, and keep recovery to a minimum between sets. Even if you have a dedicated “arm day,” start with close-grip pull ups and close-grip bench or dips. The excess calories can fuel your workouts! I have been known to rearrange my lifting splits so my leg workout falls after a treat meal.

         2. Be aware of NEAT. NEAT is non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or the amount of calories we burn in daily activities. When we’re indoors, eating a lot of food, we tend to nap and sit around. Simply getting up and going for a walk, stretching, and consciously being more active can burn 600-1,000 calories per day. Get up and get moving!

       3. Be strategic about big meals. Who doesn’t want to just dive right into the rich, fatty foods? Before loading up your plate, look at all of the foods. Notice which ones are your favorite ones, and put those on half of your plate first. On the other half of the plate, add some nutrient-dense, low calorie foods like salad and fruit. This way, you’ll fill up on the foods you love, and also on foods that won’t contribute to weight gain.

  1. Chuck the guilt. I know I’m not the only one who is stuffed after a holiday meal. Enjoy and savor the food. Be mindful of every bite. Don’t feel badly if you ate more than you were planning! Wake up the next day, eat balanced meals, and train hard. Guilt can cause us to overeat repeatedly, especially if we try and make up for the excess calories by not eating the next day. Our bodies are amazingly adaptive, and a treat meal here and there won’t have any lasting effects if we just move on and continue to eat balanced meals most of the time:

 

Dietitians offer these tips:

 

  1. Talk about it. Get support from family and friends. Keep yourself honest. Maintain a food journal and write down what and how much you eat. Documenting can show what healthy foods are missing from your diet, as well as when you’ve included too many treats in your day.   

 

  1. Don’t neglect your exercise program. Even on the most time crunched days, you can find 15 minutes to fit in some form of exercise. Go for a walk, take the stairs, find ways to move more. We tend to have an ‘all or nothing’ mentality when it comes to exercise. Just because you don’t have an hour to devote purely to your exercise program doesn’t mean you can’t do something. Compound Moves are the perfect answer for those days when you may be short on time. Work as many body parts as possible in one move. Weighted overhead Squats are an example of a compound move.

 

  1. Prevent overeating. Avoid skipping meals with the idea that you can eat more at a party. Eat a light snack before you head out the door so you are less likely to over indulge later.

 

  1.  Plan Ahead!  If heading to a ‘Potluck Gathering’, choose to bring a healthy option to the party, such as veggie tray, so you won’t be forced to make unhealthy options.

 

  1. Keep an eye on your portion sizes!. Moderation is key. Taking a small ‘taste’ of something that you can’t resist is okay. Just be careful of ‘overdoing’ it. It’s not about deprivation, but about keeping it in check. However; if you know that one little taste will lead to a ‘slippery slope’ and derail your diet; then don’t go there. Choose something healthier.

 

  1. Don’t stay glued to the food…mingle with the guests and keep your mind off the food.

 

  1. Avoid alcohol. This is a tough one, but the reality is; alcohol can make us ravenous and reduce our inhibitions. Another thing to bear in mind is that alcohol contains calories. It’s easy to ‘drink’ your entire days’ worth of calories if you’re not careful.

 

  1. Be sociable. Just make sure your are socializing away from the buffet table. It ‘s very easy to nibble and nosh while catching up with people. Be mindful.

 

  1. Get out and Shop. Walking can burn as many as 275 calories Take stairs instead of escalators and park away from the entrance. Walk, walk, walk!

 

  1. Be prepared: while out running errands carry a healthy snack with you such as a single portion sized bag of raw almonds, apple slices, or raw veggies. This way, you won’t be tempted to dodge in to the nearest fast food establishment.

 

  1. Divert your attention at your next gathering. The Holidays focus on food and drink. That’s no secret. But there is more to be savored than food. Focus on the music, the stories, laughter and dancing. Take your primary focus off the food and allow people to become the reason for enjoyment.

 

  1. Use the smallest plate available at the Buffet. Don’t pile your food on your plate, but keep it to one layer. Choose vegetables and lean protein, such as shrimp. Avoid the dips and sauces. They are notorious for hidden fat, sugar and calories.

 

  1. Watch the Sweets. This is one area that can really wreak havoc on the waistline. If you know you’ll cave once you have one taste; then don’t go there. If you’re that person who has to try ‘one of each’, you’ll be better off having one of something than a whole plateful of ‘a bit of everything’. If you have to have something sweet, then choose dark chocolate. A small portion. If you are in charge of bringing dessert, think fruit. Almost everyone welcomes fresh fruit on a buffet. Even though fruit does contain sugar, it has other healthful benefits.

 

  1. Don’t forget to hydrate! I can’t stress this enough. If you have to have something to drink in your hand while socializing; make it water. No one need know what’s in your glass but you. Keeping your body hydrated will provide endless health benefits in addition to keeping your skin clear and body functioning.

 

  1. Relax! This can be one of the most stressful times of the year. We pile too many social obligations onto our schedules. We expect more of ourselves during this time of year than any other. We feel frazzled and frayed from every angle. Just remember that stress creates higher cortisol levels which can lead to weight gain if not kept in check. According to Prevention Magazine, this is what happens to your body on stress:

 

Here’s what happens: Your body responds to all stress in exactly the same way. So every time you have a stressful day, your brain instructs your cells to release potent hormones. You get a burst of adrenaline, which taps stored energy so you can fight or flee. At the same time, you get a surge of cortisol, which tells your body to replenish that energy even though you haven’t used very many calories. This can make you hungry…very hungry. And your body keeps on pumping out that cortisol as long as the stress continues.

But few of us reach for carrots in these situations. “Instead, we crave sweet, salty, and high-fat foods because they stimulate the brain to release pleasure chemicals that reduce tension,” explains Elissa Epel, PhD, a researcher on stress eating at the University of California, San Francisco. This soothing effect becomes addicting, so every time you’re anxious, you want fattening foods.

With your adrenal glands pumping out cortisol, production of the muscle-building hormone testosterone slows down. “Over time, this drop causes a decrease in your muscle mass, so you burn fewer calories,” explains Shawn Talbott, PhD, author of The Cortisol Connection. “This occurs naturally as you age, but high cortisol levels accelerate the process.” Cortisol also encourages your body to store fat—especially visceral fat, which is particularly dangerous because it surrounds vital organs and releases fatty acids into your blood, raising cholesterol and insulin levels and paving the way for heart disease and diabetes.

 

Take time out each day to meditate, do deep breathing, sit quietly, read a good book, listen to soothing music or soak in a hot tub. But find something to relieve the stress.

 

 

The Great Holiday Clean Up

 

Steps to a Healthy and Natural Post Holiday Detox:

The Holidays are now behind us and if you are like most people, you may have ‘Decked the Halls’ a bit too much over the last few weeks.  That can be so easy to do, since our Holidays seem to revolve around rich, fat-laden meals, sugary, sweet treats and a few too many alcoholic toasts.

You may be ready for a major detox right about now.  I can almost hear the ranting–No More Candy!  No More Alcohol!  No More JUNK FOOD!

Be forewarned.  New research shows that a sudden transition away from fatty and sugary foods can cause symptoms similar to those seen during a drug withdrawal, according to an article in Prevention Magazine.   By making simple changes in your daily meal  plans, you can get your system back on track and minimize the ‘withdrawal’ effects of  cleaning up your diet.

Bear in mind that many of us were a bit sleep deprived over the Holidays.  This lack of sleep can aggravate irritability and enhance sugar cravings.  Make an extra effort to get your sleep pattern back on track and give your body the rest it deserves. Without proper sleep, your physique goals will suffer dramatically.

Here are some tips and steps to take to clean up your diet:

Concentrate you improving the quality of your meals.  By making sure your meals are well-balanced,  you can improve your blood sugar levels and make sure your metabolism is optimized.   This means, including high quality protein,  and fiber-rich carbohydrates, plus some healthy fat in your meal plan.   Eating every 3 to 4 hours will help keep your energy levels up and prevent blood sugar levels from dropping. These spikes in your blood sugar are what contribute to sugar cravings and a less than effective metabolism.

Hydrate!  I can’t stress enough the importance of drinking plenty of water throughout the day.   I also highly recommend drinking a ‘Green’ Juice or Smoothie for one your meals.  I will provide some delicious Green Smoothie Recipes in a post to follow.    Including a Probiotic is also very beneficial in aiding the body to get back on track.  Kefir is an excellent choice.  I prefer low fat, plain Kefir that is Organic, but if you simply cannot get past the taste, you may want to try a flavored Kefir.  You can find this in your dairy aisle.

Include alkaline-forming foods in your meal plan.  Include more alkaline-forming foods in your meals, such as parsley, kale, pears, and lemons, which balance the body’s pH levels, reduce inflammation, and keep blood sugar levels under control.

Foods that can naturally detox your body:

Onions.   This ubiquitous kitchen staple is as healthy as it is tasty. It’s brimming with sulfur-containing amino acids, which efficiently detox the liver. Raw onions deliver the most health benefits.

Beets.  This brightly colored root vegetable is a great source of betacyanin, which has cancer-fighting properties.   Plus, it’s full of magnesium, iron, zinc and calcium to help flush out toxins.

Basil.   Basil has anti-bacterial properties, and it’s full of antioxidants to protect the liver.

Ginger.  Kick your natural detox process into high gear by adding ginger to your diet. It spikes your metabolism and flushes out waste. Plus, a recent Columbia University study found that eating more ginger may help keep your appetite in check.

Pineapple.  This tropical delight contains bromelain, a digestive enzyme that helps cleanse your colon and improve digestion.

Avocado.   Avocado is one of those fiber-rich foods I mentioned previously.   This will not only help your metabolism operate effectively, but will help to keep your colon cleansed due to its good source of  insoluble and soluble fiber.

Cinnamon.  Sprinkle this delicious spice on your morning bowl of Oats!    Not only will it taste good, but it’s loaded with iron, manganese and calcium.    Manganese is a good for helping regulate blood sugar levels and helping to process fatty acids.

Apples.  There are plenty of good reasons why the expression,  “An apple a day keeps the Doctor away, ” has been quoted.  Apples are a great detox food. Theyare nutrient-rich, plus they contain pectin, a soluble fiber that helps remove food additives and metals from your system.

Fennel.  Fennel is  a root vegetable that tastes like licorice, and it’s packed with dietary fiber that will help you flush out toxins and boost digestion.

Parsley.  Parsley is not just a  pretty garnish on your plate. Parsley boasts plenty of beta-carotene and vitamins A, C and K to protect your kidneys and bladder.

Mushrooms.  Shiitake, maitake, and oyster mushrooms are types of mushrooms you look for.  All three are potent immunity enhancers. 

Magnesium-Rich foods.  Include foods that are rich in magnesium, such as pumpkin seeds,  or almonds.  Magnesium can help your body cope with the stresses of the Holiday.   Place serving-sized portions in ziploc bags to prevent overeating.  A serving of almonds is about 18 to 24 almonds and no more.

Asparagus.  Asparagus supplies inulin, a special fiber that helps the “good” bacteria in your digestive tract.

Cherries.  Cherries are high in antioxidants called anthocyanins, making them potent healers reduce inflammation and cleanse the joints. Cherries promote healthy connective tissue and clean out the free radicals, reducing “oxidative stress” – the stress created by free radical formation.  It has also been widely believed that tart cherries contain natural melatonin, which improves sleep.

Lemons.  Lemons are a great source of vitamin C, which is known to help the body detox and burn fat.

Broccoli.  This green superstar is loaded with nutrition and health benefits.  Broccoli contains sulforaphane, a powerful phytonutrient that fights bacteria and helps the body detox naturally.

Garlic.  Research suggests that garlic seems to have a significant impact on the build-up of plaque in blood vessels.

Green Tea.  Green tea contain catechins, powerful antioxidants that can raise resting metabolism by 4% (about 335 kJ, or 80 cal, a day). A recent study in The Journal of Nutrition found that exercisers who drank the equivalent of approximately 4 cups of green tea a day for 12 weeks lost over 8 times more ab fat than those who drank an ordinary caffeinated beverage did. Researchers speculate that catechins (phytonutrients in green tea) may help speed the breakdown of fat.

Cabbage.  I’m sure you have heard of the Cabbage Soup Diet?   While I don’t recommend any ‘Fad’ Diet, there may have been some benefits to a pot of this delicious soup.  Cabbage contains fiber and 84% of your recommended intake of vitamin C.   Cabbage is a great detoxifying food.

Beetroot. Not only can beetroot help lower blood pressure and reduce the amount of oxygen that active muscles need, it can also help support liver detoxification, making it an ultimate detox food.  Beets can be a delicious ingredient in your Smoothies.

The key to a healthy and natural detox is avoiding processed foods.  The more processed foods you eat, the more unwanted ingredients, such as hidden sugars, fats, and sodium in your diet.  Be sure to include plenty of whole foods, such as vegetables, some fruits, and high quality, lean protein.

 

sources:  

Prevention Magazine

Huffington Post Healthy Living

Fabulous Fall Foods

There are plenty of good reasons to include Pumpkin in your meal planning.  Not only does Pumpkin add a rich, nutty taste to many stews and soups; it can provide your body with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.  Pumpkin also helps the immune system work properly and protect the body from disease.  Pumpkin is low in calories and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol.  It does contain monounsaturated fats;  the fats that are good for the heart.  Pumpkin is a good source of dietary fiber, which not only helps with weight management, but aids the body with proper digestion. Pumpkin is also known for its anti-inflammatory properties.  Inflammation present in the  body is believed to lead to many chronic health conditions.

 

Pumpkin has many healthy benefits

Pumpkin is a rich source of Vitamins and Minerals

  • B-complex group (Folates, niacin, vitamin B-6, Thiamin, Pantothenic acid)
  • Copper (strengthens the connective tissue and brain neurotransmitters)
  • Calcium (necessary for bone and teeth health, muscle function, nerve transmission, vascular contraction / dilation)
  • Potassium ( necessary for fluid and electrolyte balance as well as the role in muscle contraction and nerve impulses)
  • Phosphorus ( a component of DNA and RNA)

pumpkin-isolated

Pumpkin is a rich source of Anti-oxidants

  • Helps the immune system work properly and protect the body.
  • Leutin ( for your skin and vision)
  • Xanthin (helps protect against “age-related macular disease”)
  • Carotenes (converts to Vitamin A in the body)
  • Vitamin A ( necessary for good visual sight and maintains skin and mucus membranes)
  • Vitamin C ( helps make collagen that helps heal wounds)
  • vitamin E (fights viruses and invading bacteria)

pumpkin2

Health Benefits

  • Low in Calories ( 110 grams provides 26 calories)
  • No Saturated Fats 
  • No Cholesterol
  • Monounsaturated Fats which are good for the heart
  • Rich in dietary fiber ( good for digestion and weight management)
  • Rich in anti-oxidants
  • Rich in Vitamins and Minerals
  • Disease Prevention (fights against certain cancers, such as lung cancer)
  • Reduces inflammation (inflammation may lead to many chronic health conditions)

Asparagus

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One of the first foods that signals the start of spring is the appearance of fresh asparagus at local farmers’ markets and grocery stores.  Take advantage of this seasonal gem.  It is not only delicious, but nutrient dense, as well.

According to Web MD, the name for asparagus — a member of the lily family — comes from the Greek word meaning “shoot” or “sprout.” Now widely cultivated throughout the world, this regal vegetable is believed to have originated 2,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean region, where it was prized for its unique texture and alleged medicinal and aphrodisiacal qualities.

Asparagus is loaded with nutrients and disease fighting abilities.

  • Asparagus is an excellent source of folate, fiber, Vitamins A, E, C, and K as well as chromium.
  • Asparagus is a rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and harmful free radicals.
  • Asparagus is a rich source of Antioxidants, ranked as one of the top vegetables for its ability to neutralize cell damaging free radicals.
  • Asparagus contains anti-aging properties and is believed to help our brains with cognitive decline.
  • Asparagus contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine, which can act as a natural diuretic.
  • Asparagus can assist the body in eliminating excess salt.
  • Asparagus is considered a digestive support food.  One key factor in this regard is its inulin content.  Inulin is a unique type of carbohydrate called a polyfructan, and in practical terms, healthcare practitioners often refer to it as a “prebiotic.”
  • Asparagus is rich in B Vitamins
  • Asparagus contains approximately 26.80 calories per one cup serving (raw).
  • Asparagus should be roasted, grilled or stir-fried to maintain its nutritional content.

 

 

source:  Web MD

source:  Eating Well

Asparagus Tips

Keeping the Holidays Healthy

holidaycocktails

Keeping the Holidays Healthy

Tips for a healthier holiday season:

Many people experience weight gain of 1 to 2 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years.  For others, it can be as much as ten pounds. Research shows that for most people, this extra weight never goes away after the New Year.  This Holiday weight gain is considered a major contributor to obesity. Holiday parties, the office cookie tray,   even temptations in your own kitchen can wreak havoc on waistlines.  It doesn’t have to be that way, if you carefully plan.

Most experts agree that it can be perfectly healthy to indulge in a treat or two over the Holiday Season.  Moderation is the key.  If you know that the very taste of a Christmas Cookie will send you down a slippery slope and end in binge-eating, don’t go there.  For most, however, a seasonal goodie can actually be healthy.  One thing to bear in mind is to not starve yourself or skip meals in anticipation of treating yourself.  That usually results in overeating.

There are other things to consider when limiting your Holiday treats.  It is so easy to stray off your healthy diet plan during the Holidays.  With a batch of cookies an arm’s reach away, it’s easy to eat poorly during the holidays. And when we overindulge on treats, our waistlines aren’t the only things that suffer. Sweets can also wreak havoc on our mood. According to Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of Eat Your Way to Happiness, when stressed, people are more likely to choose sugary carbohydrates that deliver a quick shot of energy to the system. Unfortunately, these same foods cause us to bottom out just as fast — leaving us irritable and exhausted. Instead, choose complex carbohydrates, like whole-grain bread, combined with protein, such as turkey or low-fat cheese, to keep your mood on an even keel.

 

Here are a few things you can do to stay in control this Holiday.

 

  • Hydrate.  Drink plenty of water throughout the day and especially before heading out to a party.
  • Don’t skip meals on the day of a party.  Eat small, mini-meals that are filling and nutritious.  Make sure you are including high-quality protein with your small meals. Include complex carbohydrates and watch the fat intake.
  • Limit alcohol.  You can quickly consume your daily calories in beverages if you aren’t careful.  Sip water if you need to have a beverage in your hand.
  • Never go to a party hungry.  Have a healthy snack prior to heading out the door.
  • Exercise.  The holidays can be a busy time.  Find the time to fit in a daily workout.  When short on time, choose some form of your favorite cardio.
  • Practice mindful eating.  Savor each bit.  Eat slowly, chew thoroughly and enjoy your senses.
  • Wait before heading back for seconds.  Allow your food to digest and settle.  It takes approximately 20 minutes for your stomach to register that it is full.
  • Sleep.  Make sure you are getting adequate rest. Research proves that when we are sleep-deprived, the stress hormone cortisol is released at an increased level, which makes us feel hungry, even if we are full.
  • Use a smaller plate.  It will hold less, so the end result is, you will eat less.
  • Fill up at the Veggie Tray.  Not only will you feel fuller, you will be doing your immune system a favor.
  • Choose protein.  Include plenty of high quality protein with each meal.  Protein keeps you feeling full, longer.
  • Step away from the buffet table.  Socialize away from the food.  It will only cause you to nibble mindlessly.
  • Bring a Healthy Dish.  If asked to bring food to a party, make it healthy and low fat.  You will at least have one smart option.
  • Bake Healthy.  There are many delicious recipes available for everything from appetizers to desserts that are not fat-laden and sugar-loaded.  By making simple recipe swaps, you can create a healthier dish which will benefit everybody.

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Fall is the perfect time to enjoy the distinctive taste of pumpkin.  The bright orange flesh of this fruit, as well as the seeds, are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.  Pumpkins are good for more than pies and jack-o-lanterns.   They add a delicious flavor to many dishes as well as nutritional boost.  Pumpkin is not only a good source of fiber, but a low-fat, low-calorie addition to your meals.

Pumpkin a fruit?  Yes, you read that correctly. According to Wikipedia, pumpkin belongs to the fruit family.

Nutritional Benefits of pumpkin:

Vitamins C and E

Excellent source of fiber

Alpha-carotene

Beta-carotene

Potassium

Magnesium

The beautiful bright orange color that is characteristic of pumpkin indicates that it is an excellent source of the antioxidant, beta-carotene.

People who consume a diet rich in beta-carotene are less apt to develop certain cancers than those whose diets are lacking beta-carotene rich foods .  Pumpkin also contains another bonus carotenoid,  beta-crytoxanthin, which also aids in cancer protection.  Alpha-carotene  is also found in pumpkin and like beta-carotene is a potent antioxidant.  Alpha-carotene and beta-carotene are considered pro-vitamin A carotenoids, which means the body converts them to vitamin A.  Not only does vitamin A promote healthy vision, but it does wonders for the immune system.  The beta-carotene is also believed to help reverse skin damage caused by the sun as well as act an an anti-inflammatory.  Alpha carotene is believed to reduce the risk of developing cataracts as well as prevent tumor growth.  Carotenoids are true immunity boosters and can help lessen the risk of heart disease.

Pumpkin is considered an outstanding source of fiber.  A one-half cup serving provides 5 grams of fiber.  Fiber is considered a healthy part of  any diet and an excellent help in weight management.  Not only does fiber help reduce cholesterol, but it helps maintain blood sugar levels and helps protect the body against heart disease.  Fiber is an essential part of healthy digestion.

Most people know the importance of vitamin C in the diet.  Pumpkin is a great source of this immunity boosting vitamin that also reduces the risk of blood pressure and heart disease.  Pumpkin is also a good source of vitamin E, which protects the skin form sun damage as well as protect against the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease.

Potassium is necessary for balancing the body’s fluid levels, promote healthy bones and in keeping your blood pressure under control.  Pumpkin is a good source for not only potassium, but magnesium as well.  Magnesium also assists in bone strength and helps promote a healthy immune system as well as many other essential functions.

 

 

Sources:

Wikipedia

Pratt, S. (2004) SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life.  New York: Harper Collins