Thursday, December 31, 2009

Five Simple Strategies

Happy New Year! I'm getting ready to make steps towards losing the pounds I gained over the holidays. I really wonder why I give myself permission to eat everything I want between Thanksgiving and New Years. That's 2 months of uncensored eating and its not kind to ones body. Its my poor attempt at handling the stress of the holidays (Note to self: Next year come up with another means of handling holiday stress)

Don't beat yourself up if you've gained weight, just think of 5 things you can incorporate into your lifestyle to lose the excess weight. I call it a 'handful of hope'!

My five strategies:

1. Cut out all refined grains
2. Take my sneakers to work and walk at lunchtime (weather permitting)
3. No more midweek wine at home (still available to go out)
4. Cut out red meat
5. Get moving - back to karate and exercising

I can tell you the first 4 will be relatively easy and I suspect those modifications alone will shed some body fat but, its number 5 that is going to pose some difficulty. So in reality I only have one simple strategy that I will find truly challenging.

Come up with 3-4 easy lifestyle modifications and one challenging one. Why will this be so challenging ??


Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Cheer!

Ho, ho, ho! Yep, its that time of year. Crazy busy and little time to think about 'healthy' foods. Dunkin Donuts is making out with your debit card and you've been eating roasted nuts and humming carol songs for two weeks. Oh sorry, I'm talking about myself !

I did think of posting on how one needs to watch out for 'hidden fats,' or how one needs to exercise more, and I even thought of posting about the adverse health effects of drinking too much alcohol ! What stopped me ? Well, I've been thinking, we all know what's bad for us and whats good for us - don't we? Just do your best to make healthier choices and fit in a walk or two over the holidays.

Do I have any followers out there ?? Well if I do, the tone of this blog is "to heck with the advice - enjoy the holidays!" And lets start anew in the New Year!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ready for the Challenge?

Obesity is our current day epidemic....those of us who are overweight or obese outnumber (by a long shot) those of you who are normal weight. We win! (Although we lose in the long run)

Ready for change? Take a look at these 2 links.

The reality.

The solution ? The 50 Million Pound Challenge.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Back to Basics

I think this economy is making all of us reevaluate how we spend our money. Do you eat out less ? We do. And its OK because we're still having fun - dinner parties at home, pizza night, and even an evening of 'small bites' (appetizers only). But this change is making me take stock....

The Paleolithic diet was a nutritional plan that was largely based on what food was readily available to our ancestors. Today we don't even have to physically move our bodies to get food -- apart from pushing a button to lower the window in our cars and using our vocal cords to request our "Double whopper, larger fries and large soda, please". Or logging onto Peapod to order our groceries. Its way too easy.

Now, I know we are not 'hunter-gatherers' (well I'm a slight hunter at Marshall's or TJ's) but I like the idea of going back to the, nuts, whole-grains fruits and vegetables. Real food, not processed food. Eating in, not out. And I'm not opposed to meat - in fact I really enjoy meat. But I can't help wonder, if I don't chase and kill it, do I need to eat it more than a couple of times a month? So I'm thinking more of a plant-based diet.

Back to basics - its a nice concept. I'd like to prepare real food at every meal but it requires time and the trouble is, that despite my best intentions, I don't have the same amount of time as my caveman ancestors. There's work, game practices, meetings, school events, birthday parties and the list goes on and on....but here's the cliché "change is hard".

So here are some tips for preparing real foods....
1. Prepare for the week
Sit down on Saturday and look at your weeks schedule. Figure out the nights you can't prepare something from scratch and then ask yourself "What can I prepare in advance?". Figure out the days you'll only have time to prepare a salad or vegetable side dish. What will you have for lunch this week? What will the children have for lunch this week? Really take the time to plan upfront.

2. Go grocery shopping Saturday or Sunday morning
Why ? Because Sunday afternoon or evening you are the 'gatherer' in your family. You will gather and prepare the vegetables and fruit. Be prepared to chop, slice, mince, peal and bag your vegetables. Stir fry is so easy but only if you've chopped everything in advance. Chop and throw all the ingredients in a freezer bag and keep in the fridge, then all you have to do is heat the oil and stir fry! Cook up a batch of brown rice and let it cool, then put it in freezer bags and freeze it. This takes time plan to spend an hour in the kitchen.

3. Get lunches out of the way
Every evening take 15 minutes to get your lunch ready. If you are planning for the family, give yourself extra time. Fruit is easy as long as you have it in your house. So that is why planning on Saturday is so important. Fruit will keep if stored correctly. Need some creative lunches - go to this link - weight watchers always has handy healthy tips!

4. Host a cooking party for busy parents
If you have a friend who has the perfect kitchen, multiple ovens and lots of space, choose their house. Let the hostess know she doesn't have to purchase the food - she'll be psyched and only too eager to host this cooking fest. Then invited a small group of busy Mums (or Dads) to participate, brainstorm on what you'd like to cook, and then assign each friend a shopping list. Spend a Saturday afternoon cooking with friends and then freeze the food in batches! Soups, casseroles, lasagnas, meatballs, curry sauces (Thai/Indian), chicken cutlets and other bite size treats ! Real food prepared with real friends.

Lets see if this Mum can make this 'back to basics' concept work ! Tips welcome.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dump refined grains from your diet.....

.....and replace them with whole grains.

I spend a lot of time researching the health benefits of whole grains. Recently I was grocery shopping with a friend and we got into a conversation about the different types of breads. It went something like this...

"What's the difference between a whole and a refined grain bread - the color right?"
In order for a food to be called a 'whole grain' it must contain all the parts of the kernel (the seed) of the grain. There are 3 parts to a grain, the outer bran layer, the inner germ layer, and the starchy endosperm. During the milling process of whole wheat into refined white (or wheat) flour, we remove the germ and bran and discard it! The goodness of the grain is gone, and the result is a loss of dietary fiber and several nutrients.

Its hard to know without looking at the food label if a bread is made from refined flour or whole wheat flour. Most breads appear as if they are whole-grain but you need to look at the ingredient list. If the first ingredient is 'enriched wheat flour' then it's a refined grain bread (i.e. the bran and germ have been removed). BUT if it says "whole wheat flour" or "enriched whole wheat flour" then its a whole grain bread. The key word to look for is WHOLE.

"So most baked goods, like cookies & cakes are made with refined white flour, right?".

Yes, although there are many types of flour available for us to use in baking, we most commonly use 'all purpose flour'. This refined flour is used in cookies, cakes, donuts and muffins. Take a look at this booklet that gives tidbits to help you with your baking needs and perhaps you'll come up with some ideas on how to incorporate whole wheat flour into your everyday baking !

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Picky Eaters.....

  • Does your child only eat white foods (bagels, breads, rice, pasta)?
  • Do you joke that your child is on the Atkins diet (eats only meat)?
  • Does your child freak out if one food touches another food on his/her plate?
  • Does your child refuse to eat soft food ?
  • Does your child examine food before eating it? If a fruit has a brown spot, it has to be removed. If a bagel is too toasted, it's not right. If a chicken nugget isn't crunchy enough its left to the side of the plate?
Sound familiar?

The vast majority of children exhibit some 'freakish' food habits that make you question your parenting abilities. But what do you do if you're really concerned about your childs eating behavior(s)? For instance, your child is anxious at birthday parties because they don't like pizza and so they don't really enjoy themselves. Or your child refuse to go to a friends house because they worry about whether they will like the food that is being served. Or your child dreads family gatherings because everyone comments on what they don't eat! What do you do? I don't know.

I am a parent of two children, my son eats lots of different foods but dislikes vegetables, while my daughter eats lots of fruits and vegetables, but refuses to eat soft food or foods that have more than one ingredient! I'm fed up cooking different dinners for the family or serving different foods.

I'm researching the topic on 'picky eaters'. Do you worry about your child's eating habits and rituals ? Share your story.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Timing of Carbohydrates During Exercise

I'm sorry for dropping the blog - life got in the way. But I'm back now and I hoping to have some guest writers post on this site too!

I was recently asked, what should I eat to help improve my exercise performance ? Good question.

You have 3 goals to consider when you are involved in competitive sports and the 'timing' of carbohydrate food sources is important.

1. You want to minimize fatigue by making sure you get enough energy during exercise.

Between 2 to 4 hours before exercise you eat 150 to 300 g (depending on sex/body size) of carbohydrate from foods that are low in fat and fiber and moderate in protein.

Suggestions: Whole wheat bread with peanut butter; turkey sandwich; scrambled egg with English muffin

2. You want to maintain your glucose supply to working muscles.

Drink a 4 to 6 oz sport beverage containing 60 to 80 grams of carbohydrate per liter every 15 to 20 minutes.

3. You want to maintain glycogen synthesis, especially if you work of daily.

Suggestion: Immediately after your workout you should drink a carbohydrate-protein drink, containing 3-4 g of simple carbohydrates (sucrose, fructose, or malodextrin) for every gram of protein. The amount depends on your weight but ranges between 1.0 to 1.2 g/kg carbohydrate, 0.3 to 0.4 g/kg protein.
And remember to stay hydrated !!