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Discover the Secret to Avoiding Winter Weight Gain by Passing Up Comfort Foods

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Studies have shown that during the months of December and January, many people gain at least one pound , every year. Why? One main reason is that besides being less active during the winter months, we also turn to comfort foods to get us through those dark, dreary winter days.

According to WebMD there are many culprits for winter weight gain including less outdoor exercise, endless weeks of holiday celebrations, ultra fattening comfort foods, and more layers of clothing to hide our expanding waistlines. It's ok to splurge on occasional small portions of decadent foods and holiday delights but if you want to prevent packing on those unwanted pounds you may want to steer clear of the following foods or eat them in moderation:

Macaroni and cheese- An all-time favorite comfort food for children and adults alike, a healthier modification to this classic fat bomb is to use low-fat cheese, low-fat milk and add additional veggies.

Cream based soups and bisques- Anything loaded with cream is also loaded with calories, so instead you may want to choose warm winter soups that are broth based like vegetable or minestrone.

• Cream and cheese based casseroles- One serving of a traditional hash brown casserole topped with cheese, bacon, or fried onions has nearly 600 calories, 40 grams of fat and 21 grams of saturated fat. To shave calories off of this seasonal favorite by substituting low-calorie mix-ins such as fat-free sour cream, low-fat cheese or reduced-fat soups or try over-roasted veggies for a healthy side dish.

Cheesecake- Try to stick to small amounts of cheesecake or try satisfying your sweet tooth with a 150 calorie sugar free ice cream dessert or suck on a peppermint stick.

Chili and stews loaded with ground beef, sausage and cheese- If making this dish yourself stick to small portions of lean meat, lots of vegetables and beans, sprinkle with low-fat cheese and skip the crumbled crackers on top.

Cookies- Nothing says the holidays like Christmas cookies and enjoying one small cookie isn't a problem. At around 200-250 calories make sure you only eat one or split one half and eat the other half later.

Creamy pot pies (with pastry top and bottom)-When you have pastry on the top and bottom, you get a double dose of high-fat crust plus the fatty filling. Forget the creamy pie and enjoy a roasted chicken breast and a whole-wheat roll for a fraction of the calories.

A few bites of even the most fattening foods can fit into your diet, but it's important to consume these types of food in moderation. Keep in mind that most adults need fewer than 2,000 calories, 65 grams of total fat and 20 grams of saturated fat each day.

Just by making some slight alterations and by avoiding these fattening foods you will see that you will not only feel better but you can prevent packing on those unwanted pounds, too.

 

Weight Loss around the World

Written by Lisa Jillanza

travel destinations Even though we constantly hear about the obesity rate in the United States, people all over the world are struggling with weight loss. Every country seems to have some custom that many are following to help drop the pounds and slim the waistline. Here are a few weight loss tips from around the globe.

Germany: A whopping 75% of Germans eat breakfast every morning compared to only 44% of Americans. British researchers have found that if you haven't eaten breakfast, your brain's reward center will light up more vividly when you see a high-calorie food making you more likely to indulge.

Japan: Take a page out of the Japanese residents' book and take time for a nap each day. Even just a 20- or 30-minute nap per day makes a huge difference when trying to lose weight. Studies show that sleep deprivation raises the risk of weight gain due to two hormones, leptin and ghrellin, that lead us to believe we are full and triggers hunger, respectively. The less sleep you get the lower your leptin levels and the higher your ghrellin levels. This causes people to think they are hungry when they are really just sleepy. According to lifemojo.com fish is also a very important part of the Japanese diet. Fish is a very good source of essential fatty acid like Omega 3 which help you get rid of cholesterol and raises your metabolism. Always steam or stir fry rather than fry in heavy oil.

Brazil: Brazilians stay slim by eating red beans and rice basically with every meal. Studies show that a diet consisting of these two items lowers the risk of becoming overweight by 14% when compared to typical Western meals.

Hungary: Pickle fan? Well maybe you should be! Hungarians have found that eating pickles help to keep them thin, primarily because of the acetic acid, the main component of vinegar. The acid is known to reduce blood pressure, blood sugar levels and the formation of fat.

Stock PhotoMexico: Eat like the Mexicans for your midday meal. Mexicans traditionally eat their largest meal between the hours of 2 and 4 p.m. If you eat less at night, you will wake up hungrier and you will eat a bigger breakfast, thereby maintaining the best weight control. A general rule of thumb reminds us to get the bulk of your calories for breakfast and lunch.

China: Start your meals with soup. The Chinese philosophy of having a soup before a meal actually helps them to reduce their calorie intake. Soups are usually broth based and low in calories. As they are enjoyed before a meal, they reduce your hunger and help you eat less.

Poland: Poles spend typically only 5% of their family budget by eating out compared to approximately 37% of American families who spend their budget eating out. Most people who don't cook at home tend to eat less healthy food and make the wrong choices at the wrong times.

France: A leisurely family meal is the biggest secret of the French. An outrageous 92% of French families eat together on a nightly basis. American families rank at about 28%. Studies show that lengthy meals actually encourage less eating because conversation interrupts the eating process. In addition, the French philosophy, according to lifemojo.com is ‘eat petite, be petite' (literally meaning eat small, be small) plays a crucial role in their diet. They regularly eat small portions but they eat very frequently (sometimes 4-5 meals a day). This keeps their metabolism active throughout the day helping them burn more calories.

Finland: The Finns suggest taking up Nordic Walking to help lose the weight. All you need to get started are two inexpensive, lightweight walking poles. Because you are using so many muscles to use them (shoulders, arms, torso, legs) you get a total body workout that burns 20% more calories than typical walking.

 

Atkins Diet- Revamped

Written by Lisa Jillanza

low carb diet The Atkins “carb-cutting” craze has produced controversy since its debut in the 1970s. Yet the popular diet plan is not only still around, but it was also recently revised. The latest version, The New Atkins for a New You, is a more flexible approach to “carb cutting,” according to an article on WebMD.

Under the old plan, dieters could eat as much high-protein food such as red meat and cheese as they wanted, but most carbohydrates were banned. The latest 12-week program is split into four stages. Within each stage the amount of carbs one is allowed to consume is increased. The basic principle, however, remains the same: to train your body to burn more fat by cutting back on sugars and other refined carbohydrates. Dieters count carbs, not calories.

According to the dailymail.co.uk, the rules advise dieters to get the fat intake right, exercise, eat until they are full and include protein in every meal. For the first two weeks, dieters eat only 20g of net carbohydrates (carbohydrates minus protein) made up of foods such as seeds and berries.

In the period called 'ongoing weight loss', this allowance rises to between 30g and 60g and includes carbs such as oatmeal, brown rice, wholegrain pasta and whole wheat bread. Those who want to eat more carbohydrates just balance the increased intake with exercise.

When thin enough, it's time for the 'life maintenance phase', in which white bread, sandwiches and desserts can be introduced with about 120g of carbs a day.

While the old Atkins diet did include vegetables, the new version encourages even more greens. Dieters, though, are warned to stay away from the starchy ones, such as corn. In addition, dieters are now advised to subtract the amount of fiber, which doesn't affect blood sugar levels, from the total number of carbs in a food. This focus on "net carbs" allows more vegetables to be eaten.

Take a look at a sample plan on your new Atkins diet revamped:

Breakfast: 2 eggs Sausages Steamed spinach

Snack: String cheese Half an avocado

Lunch: Roast beef on 4 cups mixed salad ½ cup mung bean sprouts 5 black olives Onions 2 tablespoons vinaigrette

Snack: 10 green olives 1 slice cheddar cheese

Dinner: Salmon with 2 tablespoons garlic mayonnaise 6 asparagus spears2 cups arugula 5 cherry tomatoes ½ cup sliced cucumbers 2 tablespoons Italian dressing

The new version of Atkins does not come unjustified. In fact, more than 50 research papers verify the safety of low-carbohydrate diets. However, it seems likely that the latest plan will come in for similar criticism to its predecessor. In 2005, an Oxford University study found the diet could damage the heart. And demand further dropped after founder Dr Robert Atkins died in a fall in 2003, at 72. A report showed he had heart disease and was clinically obese.

In the new version of the Atkins Diet, besides sticking to the diet in each of its phases, the new plan also recommends that you take a daily multivitamin and mineral with an omega-3 fatty acid supplement.

For more information on the new Atkins diet, please visit www.atkins.com.

Spring Picnics and Gatherings Don't Have to Mean Packing on the Pounds

Written by Lisa Jillanza

picnic image As the weather gets warmer and spring turns into summer, the season of picnics, barbecues, and outdoor parties is almost upon us. But that doesn't mean that just because you aren't choosing all of your meals, that you have to pack on the pounds this summer.

Traditional picnic fare often consists of starch-laden fatty foods such as potato or pasta salads. According to MSNBC.com just a half cup of either of these salads is packed with 180 to 260 calories and 7 to 16 grams of fat. A substantial portion of just one of these salads can easily end up with almost a meal's worth of fat and calories.

By keeping these simple tips in mind when you attend or host your next picnic, party or barbecue, and your diet won't go down the tubes this summer:

Choose lean ground meat when making burgers. You should also try low-fat hot dogs, sausages and bratwurst and other grilled favorites. The intense heat of grilling can produce carcinogens in animal proteins, so keep your portion to the size of a deck of cards. To reduce this risk, lower the temperature, flip the meat frequently, and avoid burning or charring.

If you can't resist bringing your famous pasta salad use whole grain pasta instead of the traditional refined versions. You can also limit fat content by using reduced-fat dressing or mayonnaise, or changing the proportions of oil and vinegar in a homemade dressing.

Seafood and chicken are great grilled foods and are both still healthy picnic options.

Bring whole grain buns or rolls instead of the white, refined version.

Put a new twist on potato or pasta salad by substituting chopped veggies for high-calorie potatoes or pasta.

Bring trays of fruits and veggies to brighten up an overly starchy picnic spread. Remember your veggies as they are also great on the grill and in side dishes, especially summer time veggies like squash and zucchini.

Instead of chocolate desserts, think fruity desserts instead, and take advantage of a season when fruits are plenty.

If you prefer chocolate desserts such as brownies try cutting a pan of brownies into two-inch square portions and let those who want more take two. Smaller portions will help picnickers who are watching their calories avoid the challenge of trying to stop halfway through a brownie that is too large.

 

Avoid Summer and Sports-Related Injuries by Adjusting Your Diet

Written by Lisa Jillanza

sports related injury The summer months are the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy sports and other summertime activities. But sports and activity-related injuries can happen at any age, so it's best to be made aware of foods that can reduce inflammation, the leading cause of summertime injuries.

There are a number of anti-inflammatory foods that are out on the market that you can buy and add to your daily diet that can help reduce the number of injuries that may plague you over the summer. According to MSNBC.com, some of these include:

Omega-3 fatty acids- While other foods increase levels of inflammation in the body, omega-3s actually work to decrease inflammation by suppressing the production of cytokines and enzymes that erode cartilage. Some of the best foods for Omega -3 fatty acids include: salmon (wild, fresh or canned), herring, mackerel (not king), sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout, Pacific oysters, omega-3 fortified eggs, ground flaxseeds, walnuts, seaweed, and soybeans.

Extra virgin olive oil- Olive oil contains the “good” monounsaturated fat, which protects the body against inflammation because it contains antioxidants called polyphenols. Try using olive oil when cooking, instead of vegetable oil or butter. Don't load it on; just substitute one for the other in equal or lesser amounts. For the highest antioxidant content, choose “extra virgin” olive oil.

Antioxidants- Inflammation produces free radicals, those cell-damaging molecules that are formed in response to toxins or natural body processes. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, selenium, carotenes, and bioflavonoids, protect the body from the effects of free radicals, and are a critical part of an anti-inflammation diet.

Vitamin C- Some of the best foods include guava, peppers (yellow/red/green), oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, pineapple, kohlrabi, papayas, lemons, broccoli, kale, potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

Selenium- Some of the best foods include Brazil nuts, tuna (canned light in water), crab, oysters, tilapia, lean beef, cod, shrimp, wheat germ and whole grains

Beta carotene- Some of the best foods include sweet potato, carrots, kale, butternut squash, turnip greens, pumpkin, mustard greens, cantaloupe, sweet red pepper, apricots and spinach.

Beta cryptoxanthin- Some of the best foods include winter squash, pumpkins, persimmons, papaya, tangerines, peppers (red chili and red bell), corn, oranges, apricots, carrots, nectarine, and watermelon.

Quercetin- Some of the best foods include onions (red, yellow, white), kale, leek, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, blueberries, black currants, elderberries, ligonberries, cocoa powder (unsweetened), apricot, apple with skin (*Red Delicious), and red/purple/black grapes.

Anthocyanidins- Some of the best foods include blackberries, black currents, blueberries, eggplant, elderberries, cherries, boysenberries, red/black/purple grapes, strawberries, plum, cranberries, rhubarb, red wine, red onion, and apples.

Vitamin D- Although we mostly think of vitamin D as important for bone strength, it is also critical for a number of other body functions, including joint health. Some of the best foods for Vitamin D include, wild salmon, mackerel (not king), sardines, herring, milk (skim, 1 percent, low-fat, skim plus), enriched soy milk, egg yolks, and mushrooms.

Spices- Certain spices, such as ginger and turmeric, seem to have anti-inflammatory effects. Among the most promising are ginger and turmeric.

All of these foods will help to reduce inflammation and help you better enjoy your sports and your summer, too.