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Does Counting Calories Really Work For Weight Loss?

February 28, 2015
counting-calories

Counting calories is a common practice many people turn to when they want to lose weight. The concept is pretty simple: burn more calories than what you consume, and you’re going to get thinner. If you are looking to start a new diet, you may ask yourself, “Does counting calories really work for weight loss?” We’re going to take a look at the pros and cons of this practice to determine just how effective it is overall.

Calories Are Not The Only Factors To Consider

When it comes to choosing good foods to eat, you can’t rely on calories alone. For instance, a granny smith apple has an average of 80 calories in it, which is the same as about six Milk Duds. Which one do you think is going to be better for your body, the fruit or the candy? This all comes down to good calories vs. bad calories. Your body needs other nutrients in order to function properly throughout the day, so you cannot rely on calorie counting alone to help you lose weight. You need to look at your diet as a whole and eat foods that are going to promote a healthier lifestyle.

Accurately Monitoring Calories Is Tough

It is very hard to accurately know how many calories you eat throughout the day if you rely on the Nutritional Facts in the foods you eat. This is especially true if you are eating out because restaurant portions and cooking styles can vary greatly from one serving to the next. If you order a hamburger with mayonnaise on it instead of ketchup, you have to understand the caloric differences between the condiments. This can all get a bit overwhelming, and it takes the fun out of losing weight.

Counting Calories Is A Great Guideline, Nothing More

If counting calories helps you avoid overeating, then by all means, give it a try. Just keep in mind the idea of maintaining a well-balanced diet. It’s not just about the amount of calories going into your system. It’s about the types of foods that you choose to put in your body. If you can make the right choices consistently, you are going to look great and feel great at the same time. Drink a lot of water, and find a fitness regimen that works for you. All of these components will put you on the path to a healthy life.

Blog Diet Health

How To Conquer Food Addiction

February 27, 2015

Food addiction is a growing problem in America, and it has made a huge contribution to the obesity rates in this country. If you already exemplify some signs of food addiction, now is the time to refocus your goals and take control of your life. Today we are going at how to conquer addiction so you have a path to follow moving forward.

1 – Know If You Are A Food Addict

Earlier this week, we looked at signs of food addiction that you need to watch out for, like eating when you are not hungry or feeling depressed after you eat. Any symptoms you may associate with drug or alcohol addiction can be apparent in food addiction, even if food is not designed to be addictive like hard substances. If you feel out of control when you eat throughout the day, you have a problem that needs to be solved. Keep reading!

2 – Understand Why You Developed An Addiction

Food addictions usually don’t just crop up over night. They are the result of using food as a coping mechanism, perhaps to replace a feeling that you may be missing in life. For example, if you lost a loved one and started gaining weight shortly after that, chances are you used food to compensate for the loss. Once you can identify the source of your addiction, you can work on improving the underlying problem and ultimately getting healthy once again.

3 – Avoid Processed Foods

A recent study from the University of Michigan showed that processed foods are just as addictive as hard drugs. Pizza, burgers, fries, and almost anything you can get from a fast food restaurant is highly addictive. Healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, do not send the same addictive signals to the brain that processed foods send. You can control your food intake easier when you have the right foods in your diet.

4 – Start A New Hobby

Sometimes all you need is something new to focus your energy o to get away from bad eating habits. Try a new hobby that you have always wanted to get into, like gardening, jogging. Or photography. If your hobby involves you being more active throughout the day, that’s even better. You’ll be able to use that activity to lose weight and start feeling better about yourself. If you can build up your self-esteem, you may not feel as enslaved by your food.

5 – Consciously Control Your Eating

This is the most important step of all: you must identify when you are eating excessively and make a conscious effort to cut back. In other words, “just say no.” You don’t have to stop eating entirely, but you should manage your food intake. Eat only enough to get full, and try not to eat a lot of food in one setting. If you need to curb your cravings throughout the day, keep some healthy snacks around that you can grab on the go. Once this becomes part of your routine, you won’t have to worry as much about food addiction.

Don’t wait any longer to get your body and your life back in shape. A better life is waiting for you right now.

 

Blog Diet Health

The Signs And Dangers Of Food Addiction

February 26, 2015

More than two thirds of adults in America are considered overweight or obese. For some people, this is simply due to a lack of activity throughout the day. For others, it’s a matter of eating the wrong foods at the wrong times. One of the biggest reasons why Americans gain weight is because of food addiction – the inability to control their food intake on a daily basis. If you or someone you know has food addiction, it is important to conquer that feeling and start eating well in the future.

Here are some signs and dangers of food addiction to watch out for.

Signs Of Food Addiction

The signs of food addiction vary from one person to the next, but they are similar to many other addiction symptoms. The body is tricked into thinking food is a drug, so a person begins to crave it more aggressively than normal eating habits would suggest. Common indicators for food addiction include:

  • Feeling “High” While Eating A Meal
  • Hoarding Food
  • Eating In Secret
  • Lying About Your Food Intake
  • Eating When You Are Not Hungry
  • Going Into Debt To Buy Excessive Food
  • Eating Past The Point Of Being Full
  • Eating When You Are Bored
  • Getting Depressed After Eating

If you find yourself ignoring important aspects of your life because you’re thinking about food, you have an addiction you need to take charge of. We will go over ways to fight food addiction in our next discussion, so you can have the tools you need to get back to a healthy life.

Dangers Of Food Addiction

Why is food addiction so significant? Because it directly ims your long-term health. This is just as powerful as any eating disorder you may face in your life, and it can be just as difficult to get past. Some dangers of overeating include:

  • Rapid Weight Gain
  • Increased Risk Of Diabetes, High Cholesterol, And Other Health Conditions
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Difficulty Walking
  • Developing Depression And Anxiety
  • Debt Due To Food Costs

When food starts to control your life, you need to make a change. Don’t succumb to the power and temptation of greasy foods that add inches to your waistline and take years off your life. Stay tuned for more posts later this week where we go over how to get over food addiction and truly start enjoying your life.

Blog Diet Health

How To Cook Healthy Meals In A Dorm Room

January 5, 2015

Once of the biggest fears new college students have is putting on the “freshmen 15.” This instant weight gain may come from binge drinking and poor diet choices, but it can also spark from the limited cooking options available in dorm rooms. When you only have a microwave and a mini-fridge to work with, you may struggle to make anything more than popcorn and Cup-a-Noodles for dinner. Check out this guide explaining how to cook healthy meals in a dorm room so you can maintain a nutritious diet in school.

Invest In Dorm-Friendly Appliances

Before you can think about cooking healthy food in a dorm, you need to have the right equipment on hand. A small fridge and a microwave are pretty much standard in dorm rooms, but have you thought about a blender, a food processor, a toaster, or a tabletop grill (George Foreman grill, for example)? Some dorms have rules against certain appliances, so make sure you know what you can use in your dorm.

One cool appliances that could significantly increase your cooking options is the Nuwave PIC. It’s a burner that directs all of the heat to the pan you are using. The rest of the plate is cool to the touch. You can cook stovetop food in your dorm without worrying about the smoke alarm, and all you need is a basic electric plug to work it.

Use Natural Ingredients That Store Well

Nuts, grains, fruits, and vegetables can all be used in healthy recipes. You might make a simple salad to eat for dinner, topped with a piece of grilled chicken if you have the right appliances on hand. When possible, try to buy natural ingredients with a long shelf life. This better your ingredients are, the healthier your meals are going to be.

Explore Healthy Recipes For Dorms Online

There are plenty of recipes online that are specifically made for people in a dorm room. From homemade mac-n-cheese to super-healthy protein bars, you can make just about anything you want from your teeny tiny dormitory. I love searching through the dorm room recipes on Pinterest, even though I live in a house with a full kitchen. It’s just nice to see how creative ingredients can come together to form amazing food.

Check out some of the different dorm room recipes you can make with the tools you have access to, and you’ll soon feel like a gourmet chef!

Blog Health

Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner: Part 4 – The Pumpkin Pie

November 18, 2014

What is Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie? Aside from turkey, this is the food dish that almost everyone associates with this holiday, topping off a great meal with a great dessert. Like most desserts though, pumpkin pie can be loaded with sugars, fats, and calories that won’t work well on a diet. If you want to get the best of both worlds, the healthy pumpkin pie recipe below will give you the flavors you love with less of the negatives than normal.

Ingredients For Pumpkin Pie Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose or pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup xylitol or any other sugar you like
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or canola oil
  • 2-4 Tbsps water

How To Make Healthy Pumpkin Pie Crust

  1. Preheat oven to 200°F.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add oil to the mixture and stir.
  3. Add water in small quantities until the mixture becomes sticky but not gummy.
  4. Press the crust evenly into the bottom and sides of a 10″ pie pan. Set in the oven. Raise the temperature to 350°F immediately. Use pie weights to avoid rising, if possible, or press the crust back down when cooled.
  5. Bake 15 minutes. Set aside to let cool.

Ingredients For Pumpkin Pie Filling

  • 1 can pumpkin puree (15oz) – or sweet potato puree or about 2 cups of homemade pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbsps ground flax
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 can coconut milk (13.5oz)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsps cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar or
  • A pinch of pure stevia – or 2 Tbsps extra brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

How To Make Healthy Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Blend all of the ingredients together until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pie crust prepared above.
  3. Bake 27 minutes and set out to cool.
  4. Refrigerate uncovered for at least 5 hours so the filling can thicken and set.

BONUS RECIPE! Healthy Whipped Cream For Pumpkin Pie

Instead of eating this delicious pumpkin pie with Miracle Whip, try this healthy whipped cream alternative:

  1. In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup of reduced-fat Greek yogurt (2%), 1/3 cup of heavy-whipping cream, and 2 tablespoons sugar.
  2. Beat at medium speed with a mixer until soft peaks begin to form on top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of our healthy Thanksgiving dinner series for even more ideas of how to spruce up this food-driven family holiday!

Read The Green Bean Casserole In Part 3 

Blog Health

5 Healthy Halloween Candy Alternatives

October 10, 2014

Want to treat your kids on Halloween without sending them on a sugar rush? All you need is a few “tricks” up your sleeve. There are plenty of great foods out there that are yummy to taste and still healthy to eat. Try these instead, and your child’s health won’t suffer after Halloween. Here are five healthy alternatives to Halloween candy your kids are going to love.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

When you finish carving your pumpkin, hold onto the seeds. They make great healthy snacks for kids. Wash the seeds thoroughly and toss them in a small bowl of olive oil. Put them into a pan and add a sprinkle of salt on top. Then bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until they are toasted. Cool and enjoy. Pumpkin seeds are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and heart-healthy unsaturated fats, and they taste great too!

Frozen Bananas With Chocolate

Bananas are a fantastic source of potassium, fiber, and an assortment of nutrients our bodies need, Throw a couple bananas in the freezer and wait for them to turn into popsicles. Then drizzle them with some melted dark chocolate to add a little extra flavor. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, and its flavor complements the bananas perfectly. You could also try peanut butter as a substitute.

Jell-O

Jell-O tastes great, is easy to make, and is low in fat and calories. This makes it the perfect snack for kids and parents alike. Have a little fun with your Jell-O and add some real fruit chunks in while it is cooling. This will make it taste great, and it will make it even healthier for your kids.

Honey Popcorn Balls

With some homemade popcorn and a little honey, you could make fun popcorn balls that are much healthier than trick or treat candy. Melt a little butter in a pan and put honey into it on low heat. Once the solution is warm, you can pour it over a big bowl of popcorn and start making balls of the mixture. Set the balls on wax paper to harden, and then sprinkle them with a pinch of salt.

Chocolate Covered Fruit Kabobs

Put your favorite chocolate covered fruit on a skewer for your kids to enjoy like a kabob. Strawberries, pineapples chunks, and bananas are great for this. Put all of the fruit on the skewer before dipping it, and then just set it out to dry when you’re done. Grab a kabob and enjoy!

Blog Health

Go on a Motivational Weight Loss Shopping Spree

September 6, 2014

We all need a little motivation to keep our bodies in shape. This motivation may come from a specific weight loss goal you have set for yourself, or it may come from the encouragement of friends and family. Believe it or not, your clothing could also help you get excited about working out. You just need to know what to buy and why. Here is a guide for your next motivational weight loss shopping spree so you can keep your spirits up.

Show Off Your New Figure

One great way to keep your energy up about losing weight is to appreciate the weight you have already lost. If you’re still wearing the same baggy clothes you had from before, it might be time for you to get something a little more flattering. You might not be where you want to be with your body yet, but that does not mean you have to run around in muumuus all day long. Get something that shows off your small waist and gives new life to the curves you’re still working with.

Get One Achievement Outfit

Invest in one outfit that you want to be able to fit into by a certain time. This could be anything from a cute cocktail dress to a summer-worthy bikini. You don’t want to spend a ton of money on clothes you can’t wear yet, but it may be nice for you to have one outfit that you’re always thinking about. Hang this in a prominent place in your closet or bedroom so you have to confront it every single day. It will be a subtle reminder of the work you still have left to do.

Buy Some Fun Workout Clothes

I own this one pair of yoga pants that I absolutely love, and when I’m in them, I just feel like I’m doing something with my body. If you invest in some good workout clothes, you may get to the point where you actually wan to exercise. It’s no longer a hassle for you. It’s a fun way to make your body look its best. Start hunting for the perfect workout gear, and you won’t be able to get yourself away from the gym!

Try On something Complete Different

When you start shopping for clothes, don’t be afraid to try on something that you would normally never wear. You may find that it makes your body look absolutely amazing. All it takes is that one chane in perspective to make you see just how much your hard work has already paid off. This will encourage you to continue working out in the future.

Blog Health

Common Healthy Eating Mistakes

July 5, 2014

When it comes to losing weight, many people don’t know where to start. Between the Internet, TV, magazines and books, there are so many different opinions out there that people simple do not know what to believe. Often, this means that people will be certain to make common mistakes. These can be based on bad advice dispensed by any number of “self-proclaimed experts” or just from misleading advertisements.

Fat-Free Lies

Recent research has begun to expose the falsehood behind the fat-free craze of the 80s and 90s but the concept is still stuck in people’s minds. Instinctively, we associated eating fat with being fat. The truth, however, is that your body stores all excess calories as body fat – more correctly called adipose tissue – regardless whether they come from fat, protein or carbohydrates. The studies that linked fat consumption with heart disease have also been mostly debunked. The fact is that eating healthy fats is extremely good for you and can support your weight loss. There is also the fact that once fat is removed from a food, it tends to lose most of its flavor thus reducing satiety and increasing hunger and appetite. To combat this, manufacturers load the products up with sugar, salt and fat substitutes. In the end, these low- or no-fat foods often end up having just as many calories if not more than their traditional counterparts – while providing empty non-nutrient dense calories

 

High Fiber Hype

healthcarbandgrainsThere is no question that fiber is an important part of a healthy diet. This indigestible portion of plants aids in digestion and has been shown to decrease cholesterol. Fiber also makes you feel more full and can help you to eat fewer total calories. The issue arises, however, when companies use the fiber content of a food as the selling point. Often touted in conjunction with “low-fat,” high fiber is a widely used marketing technique. Since fat not only gives food flavor but also texture, companies sometimes add fiber to their foods. This allows them to mimic the texture of foods while claiming greater health benefits. Unfortunately, this fiber generally comes from rather unsettling sources – like wood pulp. While there is nothing unhealthy about this additive, it is a dishonest and somewhat upsetting practice. You are much better off eating foods that are naturally high in fiber, like greens and fruit.

Not Always Natural

Many people assume that because a food or supplement is labeled as “all natural” it is automatically assumed as a safe and healthy food. This marketing phrase always penetrates our minds into believing that foods labeled as natural have no additives and are whole and unprocessed. This perception could not be further from the truth as many substances labeled as natural are not healthful – such as arsenic. While this is an extreme example of a toxic substance, it proves the point. Do not allow yourself to immediately trust a natural product. The same goes for food additives and flavorings. Although “natural flavoring” looks much more appealing than “artificial flavoring” these additives can be anything that is naturally obtained. The list includes things ranging from horse urine to extract from the anal glands of a beaver. Again, like wood pulp, there may not be any defined health risks associated with these things but do you really want to eat them? Or feed them to your children?

The point is that marketers have successfully created or monopolized on misunderstandings about food and nutrition. Beware of food marketing gimmicks and strategies to sell whole products, which are highly touted, overpriced, highly marketed and lack any more nutritional components than simple ingredients. Keep these simple points in mind to help make better food choices the next time you make a run to the grocery store.

Blog Diet Health

How to Eat Healthy at Fast Food Restaurants

July 3, 2014

The health gurus of the world avoid fast food at all costs because of the terrible ingredients that go into the food. With that in mind, you might not have a choice but to eat fast food when you need a quick lunch at work or you’re in an unfamiliar place. When that happens, there are some things you can do to eat healthy at fast food restaurants. Follow these tips to learn more.

Look For Salads

A lot of fast food restaurants offer salads now, which could give you a healthy boost on the go. Wendy’s and Chick-Fil-A have some great low-calorie options that taste fresh and delicious. When you order a salad, the main thing you have to watch out for is cheese and dressings. Rather than getting a cobb salad with ranch, try to get a mandarin orange salad with ginger vinaigrette. You don’t have to sacrifice flavor to eat well. You just need to make sure you’re consuming the right ingredients.

Choose Grilled Chicken Over Fried Chicken

If you’re going to eat chicken at a fast food restaurant, go for grilled instead of fried. You might not get the crisp crust you’re craving, but you also won’t get the extensive calories that come with it. Just about every fast food restaurant that serves chicken has a grilled option, including KFC. Try that instead, and you might be surprised by how good it is.

Avoid Condiments

Condiments will get you every time. They pair well with almost everything on a fast food menu, but that does not mean they will sit well in your gut. If you’re going to get anything at all, get mustard. It has lower calories than ketchup and mayonnaise, and it will still give you a little zing on your sandwich (if you get one). The best option is to order your food dry (without sauce) and then use vegetables to add flavoring instead.

Drink Water

Don’t get lured into the temptation of a large soda for $1. You deserve better than that! Get a water cup or a bottle of water to drink with your meal and use that to keep your belly full. All you need is enough food in your system to get to the next meal. Stay hydrated, stay focused, and stay positive, and you won’t have to worry about the side effects of eating fast food.

Blog Health

When To Skip “Whole Grains”

July 2, 2014

There are have always been certain buzzwords that immediately make us think, “That must be good for me!” Specifically you might think of “antioxidants,” “high-fiber” and/or “low-fat.” One of the longest-running and most prevalent sales tactics, though, is that of labeling things as “whole grain.” Before you opt for that hearty-looking, brown bread over the starchy white stuff, there are some things you should know. Namely, what really is “whole grain” and is it actually better for you? Are there times when you should avoid whole grain products?

What Are Whole Grains

As their name suggest, whole grains are grains that still retain all of their various parts. When grains are processed, these sections – the bran, the endosperm and the germ – are separated and the majority of the grain is left out so that only the starchy endosperm remains. In whole grain products, though, every part is included in theory, but we’ll talk more about this later.

Let’s just be clear, including all three parts of the grain does absolutely render better health benefits. The bran, particularly, is incredibly rich in dietary fiber, which has been shown in study after study to improve your overall colon and cardiovascular health. Whole grains also contain more fat and protein, giving them a slightly better nutritional profile.

The Not-So-Good

That being said, whole grains are not necessarily the cure-all that they are sometimes presented as. In fact, if you are trying to follow a low- or no-carb diet, whole grain products are essentially the same as other options. Despite their more well rounded nutritional profile, whole grains still have a large impact on your glycemic index.

The real problems, though, arise from the issue of poor food-labeling practices. Basically, the logical definition of whole grain that we discussed above is not the same definition that many manufacturers of these products use. This is because, ultimately, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not set clear limits on what companies are allowed to call specific foods, “whole grain.” There is also a terrible loophole in our food laws that states in order for a food to be called “whole grain,” only 51 percent of the product has to consist of the entire grain. Surprisingly, take bread for example; this means that the other 49 percent of that whole grain bread can consist of the same questionable ingredients that you are trying to avoid by avoiding the consumption of white bread.

In fact, a study published in the Public Health Nutrition journal compared 545 different whole grain products that fell into at least one of five different standards. Specifically, the products had to either:

  • Be labeled with the gold “Whole Grain” stamp. This stamp means that the product contains at least 8g of whole grains per serving and is earned by both meeting this standard and by paying membership dues to the Whole Grain Council.
  • Contain any whole grain listed as the first ingredient.
  • Contain any whole grain listed as the first ingredient and having no added sugars in the first three ingredient slots.
  • Have the word “whole” before any grain in the ingredient list.
  • Have a ratio of 10:1 regarding carbohydrates and fiber.

The researchers found that the widely used “Whole Grain” stamp was actually the worst indicator of healthfulness. Products sporting this label consistently contained significantly more sugar and calories than those that did not have the stamp. The other criteria all had mixed results. The 10:1 ratio – as recommended by the American Heart Association – however, proved to be the best indicator to look for. Overall, the products that met this standard had more fiber, less fat, less sugar, less sodium and fewer calories when compared to the other product groups.

What You Can Do

Here’s the problem, though: There is currently no label for products that meet the AHA standards for carbohydrate and fiber content. While you could do the math yourself, this is just impractical. So, what can you do?

Read the labels. Select products that contain a whole grain as the first ingredient and no added sugars in the first three ingredients.

The best strategy, though, is to avoid processed grains altogether. Instead, purchase whole, raw grains that you cook yourself. This is the best way to know what you and your family are eating.