Tag Archives: Know Your Food

Living A Junk Food-Free Life

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You walk into a movie theater. There it is, in shining lights, bright as day, the concession stand. The lure of the brightly popping corn, the larger than life boxes of Milk Duds, the smell of hot buttery kernels, the super-sized fountain drinks. You walk past. Halfway through the movie, you find yourself unable to concentrate; the smell, the sounds of happily munching neighbors reaching into the giant buckets for another buttery handful. You burst out of the theater, money in hand, “Give me the extra large.” You demand. If this is you, you may be having a hard time kicking junk food. After all, it’s so convenient, so cheap, so addictive, so delicious, so childlike, so seductive, so fattening. You need help. Here are some tips for living a junk free life.

Kicking Junk Food
We all know it’s hard to kick junk food. It’s set up that way. Junk food is big business and manufacturers are prepared to take full advantage. Manufacturers aim for the “bliss point’ in the product. This may think of as sort of a junk food orgasm, with the later experiencing the height of pleasure, the ultimate balance between the sweet, the salty, and the fatty. At this point, your brain reacts in a similar way to the way it would with cocaine addiction. This is the point at which temptation becomes hardest to resist, but there are ways:

Plan Ahead
A good way of handling cravings is to make sure you always have a healthy alternative prepared. This will reduce what researchers refer to as your “food cue activity”, or the time in which you are most susceptible to the influence of food advertisements, smells, and conversations pertaining to food. Aim to plan your weekly meals at the beginning of your work week. Go grocery shopping, stocking up on easy to prepare foods, like brown rice, beans, roasted and stir-fried vegetables, and cold salads. Store them in containers or foil to make them easy to grab before work in the morning. Fruit also travels well and can be an easy afternoon snack option.

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Shop Around
….and by this, we mean around the edge of the store. The dairy, fish, produce, heart healthy and meat sections are typically located on the perimeter of a grocery store, while processed foods are kept in the aisle. By purchasing from these sections, you will begin to get used to eating whole grains, proteins, fruit, and vegetables, gradually weaning yourself off junk foods.

Healthy Fats
Not all fat makes you fat. Your body needs a little fat, as long as its heart healthy. While you should avoid the trans fats and saturated fats lurking in pro chart -healthy fats, like the kinds found in nuts and avocados will reduce cravings and help you to feel full.

Change Your Thinking
Ah, the power of negative thinking! A 2013 study demonstrated that when participants were trained to look at junk food in a negative way, their desire for it decreased. Junk food junkies were asked to view the objects of their cravings as if they: We’re already full; Just saw someone sneeze on the item Could save the food for later; We’re told that the food would have a negative impact on them (weight gain, stomachache)

Eat the Rainbow
Try bringing some new foods in your diet to keep it interesting. Eating diverse foods across the color spectrum keep you from boredom and reverting back to junk food. Plus, eating the rainbow can improve health and prevent disease. Try some purple grapes, red beets, orange mangoes, green spinach, and blueberries for some healthy psychedelia.

Let us know how your battle with junk food is going. What are your best tips for resisting the “bliss point?”

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What Happens When You Go Gluten-Free

Woman eating a healthy salad

Going gluten-free.  Some need to do it, some prefer to do it, and some swear that they wouldn’t do it if gluten disappeared from every food product on this earth.  Late Night comedian Jimmy Fallon quipped, “It’s been discovered that 10% of the population is allergic to gluten and 90% of the population is sick of hearing about it.” Whatever your take on gluten, there is little doubt that its certainly controversial.  So let’s clear some of the dust out about the g-word.

Those who need to avoid gluten
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley. Celiac is an intestinal disease that can be triggered by eating gluten. Wheat allergy is a negative immune reaction to  wheat proteins that can also be triggered by eating gluten. It affects the skin, respiratory or gastrointestinal tract.  Sufferers of celiac and wheat allergy are diagnosed as gluten sensitive along with anyone who may experience distress when eating gluten.  People with gluten sensitivity need to avoid gluten.

Those who prefer to avoid gluten
You may have heard of the gluten-free diet being tossed around.  Many of the followers are people who have self diagnosed a digestive problem as gluten sensitivity while others claim that cutting gluten out of their diet has made them feel less bloated and depressed and has even helped them lose weight.

What’s wrong with the gluten-free diet?
It seems that studies find that gluten-free diets can be very low in fiber, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, zinc, phosphorous and vitamin B12.  This is because unenriched starches and grains are used in “gluten-free'” products and tend to have lots of calories, but not many vitamins.  The result is that gluten-free diets can actually lead to weight gain.  Experts find that in the case many of those who report weight loss as a result of going gluten-free, the shedding of pounds is due more to cutting out excess calories found in flour based food. Registered dietitian Cynthia Sass says ditching carbs, like pasta and bagels, “automatically cuts excess carbs… ups fiber and nutrients and results in soaring energy.”  On the other hand, if you replace products with gluten in them with gluten-free versions, you will probably get more fat and sugar.

How to check if you need to go gluten-free?

  • Have your family physician perform a checkup.
  • Consult an allergist if you have a wheat allergy and a gastroenterologist for celiac and other gastrointestinal disease.
  • If you are not diagnosed with celiac disease or a wheat allergy, see a dietician to determine whether or not you are getting a balanced diet with nutrients, foods rich in fiber and are staying physically active.

If you need to go gluten-free
If you are diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, you are best advised to see a dietitian.  Sheila Crowe, of Celiac Disease’s Medical Advisory Board says, “The average doctor a) does not have the time and b) the knowledge to counsel them (the gluten sensitive) on the nutrients they’ll need, the addition of fiber and, what grains are naturally gluten-free.”  Make sure that you have substitutions for anything vital that may be lacking from your diet as a result of giving up gluten.

Feel free to let us know if you’ve gone the gluten-free route out of necessity or otherwise and what your take on it is.

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Why Eating At Home Is A Healthier Option

Young women cooking at home.

You go to your favorite vegetarian restaurant, Veggies R Us. You like this place. The food is delicious and its really healthy. The restaurant advertises itself as offering clean, meatless, protein sources. They shun saturated animal fats, cholesterol and trans fats in favor of monosaturated fats like rice bran oil, canola, and seeds oil. You feel comfortable at this restaurant and have the impression that you really can do no wrong here. Anything you choose from the menu will be a healthy and relatively low calorie. You decide to order the Crispy Veggies for starters. How bad can veggies be? Would it shock you to learn that those veggies have 22 grams of fat and 4 grams of saturated fat, not to mention 84 grams of carbs and 880 milligrams of sodium.

It seems that as we look for healthier and healthier food choices the foxier these restaurants and food sellers become. They make the claims that lure a health conscious clientele and cleverly omit some of the less appealing facts. Face it, the only way you know what goes in your food is to make it yourself. Here are some other reasons why eating at home is becoming more and more popular.

Know Your Food
When you cook your own food, you get to know which foods are high and low in minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. You get to know which foods work best for your body and provide your body with the particular nutrients you may be lacking or just want to get more of. It will also allow you to experiments with healthy recipe combinations.

Portion Control
Although many high-end restaurants are known for their small portions, many chain restaurants offer quite the opposite. Face it, Americans like to get more for their money and food is no exception. When you make food at home, you can be the judge of the serving size and avoid overeating.

Food Safety
According to the CDC, food poisoning affects 1 in 6 Americans every year. Although some tainted foods may come from the grocer’s, at least you know your food is fresh and stored and cooked at the correct temperature.

Cleanliness
Really, who knows what goes on behind the scenes at some restaurants. It doesn’t bear thinking about. When you cook at home, you know exactly what’s going on in the kitchen and how clean your silver wear and dishes are.

Allergies
Cooking your own foods lets you avoid intake of food allergens which may harm you or your family members. Restaurant prepared food may include nuts, gluten or shellfish which are known to commonly irritate sensitive eaters.

Save Money
Cooking your own food is not only healthier for you it’s healthier for your wallet. So eat at home and watch your bank account grow while your waistline shrinks.

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