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How to Out-Muscle Sarcopenia
by MeOnlyBetter on 


Most women know that we can lose significant amounts of bone as we get older as a result of osteoporosis. However, sarcopenia doesn’t seem to get as much notice. What is sarcopenia and why does it matter to weight control?  Sarcopenia is the age-related loss of muscle mass, quality and strength that begins to unfold pretty early in life. Even at age 30 we may begin to lose some of the muscle that we use on a regular basis. As for it’s relationship with weight management, there’s a couple of factors:


  • Muscle uses more calories than fat, so it keeps your metabolism more active.

  • Muscle can give you the strength and balance you need to exercise safely and effectively – an important part of successful weight management.


And, because no one is getting any younger, there are also other costs of sarcopenia that are worth knowing about:


  • Lose of stability and balance (and therefore an increased risk of falls – a major cause of the dreaded hip fracture and other issues with aging).

  • Decreased function. You need muscle to open jars, carry your groceries to and from the car and go for a long walk.


Are we all doomed to watching our muscles slowly waste away or is there anything we can do about it?


This is a great question, particularly for everyone out there who wants to manage their weight over the long term, rather than just accepting the yearly weight gain that can come with age. Slowing down sarcopenia IS possible if you’re willing to do some of the following:


  • Use your muscles by exercising them regularly. This doesn’t mean spending hours lifting heavy weights. It does mean that you should consider buying a few light weights that you can use a few times a week for some resistance training. If you find it hard to stick with an exercise regime without some type of accountability, consider getting a personal trainer who can create resistance exercise routines customized to your needs and preferences.

  • Both aerobic and progressive resistance exercises can help slow down muscle loss.

  • Make sure you’re getting enough good quality protein in your diet.

  • Vitamin D deficiency should also be treated as it can compound other risk factors for sarcopenia.


  • Increasing your intake of fish to four times per week and/or consider omega-3 supplementation.


  • If you’re in the middle of a weight loss journey, keep working your muscles. You want to make sure that you are maintaining muscle mass while losing weight.


Just remember that keeping your muscle mass intact, doesn’t mean your muscles will be as strong as they used to be. The natural results of aging can happen to all of us. But you can at least do your part to slow down muscle loss.  For example, in one study, people with higher amounts of body fat demonstrated quicker rates of muscle mass loss. The authors suggested that investing time earlier in life to keep your body fat in check may reduce future vulnerability to sarcopenia.


There’s a reason a cliché like “an ounce or prevention is better than a pound of cure” continues to exist, and that’s because it continues to provide wisdom in many areas. In the case of your muscles, make it easier on yourself to manage your weight, keep your balance and preserve your independence for years to come by doing your part to keep your muscles healthy and happy!


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Adaptogens and Stress
by MeOnlyBetter on 


In the health and wellness world, the word "adaptogen" is something that you've probably encountered plenty of times, whether it be in health food stores, online forums, or even in articles in magazines.  You might find this word in recipe books or pretty much anywhere else that focuses on health, fitness, and wellness.  But the question that is still on the mind of many is "what exactly are adaptogens?" 

 

What Are Adaptogens?

An adaptogen is an herb, or a plant, that is thought to help the body fight off some kind of stressor.  They help fight off physical, chemical, and psychological stressors, keeping your body and mind in great working shape.  They have been used for centuries, and can be added to food or drinks like tea, or even consumed on their own.  Yu can also buy them at health food stores as tinctures in different combinations to meet your needs.  While each adaptogen is meant to do something different in terms of fighting off stress, in simpler terms, each one does essentially the same thing - they are meant to help ground you and keep you healthy.

 

How Do Adaptogens Help?

Adaptogens are thought of as being as helpful for stress management in a similar way that we use exercise to tone, condition, and strengthen our muscular system.  It might be helpful to think of it quite like that, actually: when we exercise we feel better, our bodies feel better, and stress is lessened, and we feel more upbeat and happy.  The same can be applied to the general idea of adaptogens, only in the form of herbs that can be eaten or brewed into drinks like tea.

 

Adaptogens are commonly recommended to those who are looking to reduce the amount of stress in their life and reduce their body’s stress response.  Since it is common knowledge that when you eat healthy, you feel better, the same general concept it thought to apply to adaptogens, as well.

 

What Are Some Examples of Adaptogens?

There are many adaptogens - some are simple and easy to use and understand, while others, particularly if they are not really from your culture or part of the world, might need some research to be understood and used properly.  Most adaptogens are different from each other, each with their own application.  Some of the most common adaptogens include the following.

 

1. Ashwagandha

This adaptogen has been found to assist with anxiety and bad dreams.  It can also help with symptoms of mild forms of OCD and insomnia, and is one of the most popular adaptogens out there.  This adaptogen is also often used to treat arthritis and restless legs syndrome, as well as improve thyroid function.

 

2. Holy Basil

Holy basil is also known as Tulsi.  This adaptogen is used to assist with depression, as an expectorant, and has antiviral and antibacterial properties, and in many cultures it is often given as a way to help individuals feel better when they are suffering from a cold or virus.

 

3. Schizandra

This adaptogen, which comes from China, is well known as a tool to increase heart health.  It is also known to improve liver function and keep the liver healthy and thriving.

 

4. Eleuthero

This Chinese adaptogen is great for helping combat muscle spasms.  Due to this, many use it for restless leg syndrome and insomnia.  It is also very well know for its fatigue fighting capabilities, as well as its ability to help improve memory and fight depression.

 

5. Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola rosea is known for its ability to regulate hormones, which is great for those suffering from various hormone imbalances.  It works by regulating the amount of cortisol in your body, and will regulate it as your body needs it, whether that be more or less. As cortisol is your body’s stress hormone, this is particularly effective for those who are highly stressed!

 

A Note About Adaptogens

While adaptogens can really improve your health and well being by reducing the effects that stressors have on your body and mind, it is important to keep in mind that some of these can interact with prescription medications, and some should not be taken if you have certain ailments or illnesses.  Check with your doctor or a nutritionist before starting to take any adaptogens.

 

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Being Healthy While Eating Keto
by MeOnlyBetter on 


The Ketogenic, or "Keto" diet is all the rage right now in the weight loss and health world.  The Keto diet is somewhat like the low-carb Atkins diet of the 90s, except instead of low-carb, like the Atkins diet, the Keto diet focuses on eating almost no carbs at all.  By ingesting low amounts (or in this case, hardly any at all) of carbohydrates, your body will enter ketosis, which is a state where your body ultimately uses fat for fuel instead of using carbohydrates.  This can be a great way to lose weight, but not necessarily a great way to be healthy….

 

What Do You Eat on the Keto Diet?

When you eat a ketogenic diet, you are essentially focused on eating protein and fat instead of carbohydrates.  So many “keto-friendly” are some combination of protein and high fat foods like cheeses, butter, yogurt, nuts, and oils..  However, if you are on the keto diet, you will want to avoid foods such as pastas, grains, fruits, sugary foods, and alcohol.  This is difficult for a lot of people, so if you decide to start the keto diet, you will need to very careful about what you eat, since most all foods with carbohydrates are off limits!

 

How to Make the Keto Diet Healthier

Whether you have already started the Keto diet or are just looking into getting started with it, you need to learn the best ways to make it healthier for yourself.  Making sure you have all the information necessary before starting any diet is important, especially if you have certain health issues which might not agree well with different diets.  Keep in mind that low or no carb diets can often make you feel tired and sluggish, so you have to eat healthy substitutions.  In addition, because your body begins burning fat in ketosis, a lot of people on the keto diet tend to go overboard on the fats and the unhealthy proteins and turn this weight loss plan into a heart attack waiting to happen!

 

1. Talk to Your Doctor

If you are determined to try out the Keto diet, the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor.  If he or she cannot help you to determine whether the diet is for you, they will refer you to a nutritionist who can give you pointers on what you can and cannot eat.  They will help you come up with meal plans to help you stick to your new diet, and encourage you to try new foods you might not have otherwise picked up.

 

2. Try New Recipes

If you aren't really someone who eats a lot of fish or eggs, for example, you may think that the Keto diet will not work for you.  However, if you look up recipes or purchase a cookbook for yourself, you will find that there are so many different ways to prepare these foods that you are sure to find something that not only works for you, but something that you really enjoy.  It's all about trying new things until you find what you like, and then not only stick with that, but try more new things until you find other things that you like, too.

 

3. Drink Plenty of Water

Some people who begin their journey on the Keto diet are so focused on what they can and cannot eat that they often skip out on drinking water, which is necessary no matter what kind of diet you eat.  Keep up on the water intake.  As a bonus, it can also help you feel better if you feel sluggish.

 

4. Eat Plenty of Greens

While you have to cut out starchy and carb-filled vegetables from your diet, you can still eat plenty of green and leafy vegetables.  Be sure you are eating plenty of them, too - they are filled with essential vitamins and minerals that will keep you feeling great, and keep your body working the way it should.  This is something that a lot of people doing keto diets tend to miss and it is an important part of keeping this diet healthy!  Consider a green smoothie, serving your dinner on a bed of greens or tossing some spinach into your eggs.

 

5. Eat Healthy Portions

Just because you might be eating healthier does not meant you should eat as much as you want, whenever you want, or even that you should eat unhealthy portion sizes.  You still need to watch how much you're eating so that you don't overeat.  You still want to stay connected to your body and it’s needs and keep all of your hormones in check by eating healthy-sized meals.   Check in with yourself throughout your meal to determine when you are full---then you will have a good idea of your appropriate portion size!

 

The Keto diet is one of the most popular diets out there today.  While cutting out carbs from your diet may have some health benefits, make sure you pay attention to all of the factors!.  By following some of the tips above, you can make the Keto diet healthier and easier for you to follow.  Talking to your doctor should always be the first step you take before starting any new diet or weight loss plan.


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All About Nutritional Yeast
by MeOnlyBetter on 


Nutritional yeast is a great way to pack a lot more nutrients into your diet, especially if you choose a vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based diet.  There are some nutrients that you may be able to get from nutritional yeast if you are trying to eat healthier.  Nutritional yeast has the ability to make this easier for you!

 

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast.  It is not at all like the yeast that you use for baking bread since it is inactive, meaning it can't cause those breads or rolls to rise and it won't be frothy if you mix it with warm water.  It's sort of like a powdery yeast that has a thick, creamy (some people even say cheesy!) taste to it, and can be added to a variety of different recipes and foods to give you a nutritional boost.

 

Health Benefits of Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast has several health benefits, with the main one being that it is a wonderful source of the vitamin B12.  Many people are actually deficient in B12, and adding a bit of nutritional yeast into your diet can really help boost your B12 levels.  B12 is an important part of your nutritional intake, as it helps create your DNA as well as your red blood cells.  While vitamin B12 is often found in milk, eggs, and meat, it can be difficult for vegetarians and vegans to get this vitamin, since it is not made by the body.  When you add nutritional yeast to your daily supplements, however, your body will get what its B12 needs met easily.

 

For those who are vegans, nutritional yeast can also give you a great boost of calcium as well, as many manufacturers of the yeast have begun adding calcium to their nutritional yeast products.

 

Ways to Use Nutritional Yeast

If you are looking for new ways to use nutritional yeast that might be beneficial to you and help you get an extra boost of nutrients, you can actually do a lot with the supplement that you might not have thought of.  Here is a list of ways that you can incorporate nutritional yeast into your daily routine and get your body feeling great!

 

1. Add Nutritional Yeast to Pastas.

Since many people believe that nutritional yeast has a nutty, cheesy flavor, adding it to pasta can give you a nutritional boost without changing the taste of many sauces.  For example, if you are serving homemade macaroni and cheese, it might be a great way to add a little extra nutrition to the dish, and the cheesy taste will accompany the cheese in the dish quite well.  It can also substitute for parmesan cheese on top of marinara sauce. 

 

2. Use Nutritional Yeast in Soups

Adding a bit of nutritional yeast to soups can really help boost the nutritional content, as well as adding a bit of a thickening agent to the soup.  If you are making a soup that requires cream to help thicken it, or if you would like your soup a bit thicker, try adding a bit of nutritional yeast to it and you might be surprised by how well it works!

 

3. Sprinkle Nutritional Yeast on Salads and Vegetables

If you are looking for an interesting way to spice up plain vegetables or add more of a taste to a salad, nutritional yeast is a great way to do this.  Try sprinkling it on tomatoes or beans, or use it in place of cheese in a salad.

 

4. Add Nutritional Yeast to Popcorn or Other Snacks

If you love popcorn, try adding a bit of nutritional yeast to your popped snack.  Instead of adding actual cheese, this topping can give your popcorn a cheesy taste, but will also boost the nutrition content of the snack.  You can also try doing this with potato chips or dried vegetables, such as kale or spinach.

 

5. Add Nutritional Yeast to Homemade Pizza

Do you love pizza and want to make something that's healthy that your whole family can enjoy?  Try adding nutritional yeast to your pizza!  It can provide flavor and nutrients, and replace the sprinkling of parmesan cheese!

 

As you can see, there are plenty of uses for nutritional yeast, and with the health benefits that come with it, you can find plenty of ways to work it into your daily food preparation and diet. 


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Breaking Free of Food Addiction
by MeOnlyBetter on 


Food addiction is a real thing, and it is something that many people find themselves suffering from on a regular basis.  From eating too much to finding yourself eating the wrong types of foods (think unhealthy processed foods, high fat and calorie foods, etc.), it can be really difficult to break free of this addiction, especially if you have spent many years eating a certain way or too much altogether.  You might not even realize that you have an addiction to certain kinds of foods.

 

While food addiction is often touted as being a sort of emotional problem or dependency, that's not the case at all: it's actually a legitimate addiction - almost like a drug or alcohol addiction.  It can affect not only your taste buds, but your hormones and your own brain chemistry as well, turning it into a full blown addiction without you even realizing it.

 

Understanding Food Addiction

The first step to realizing that you might have a food addiction and breaking free from it is to understand the addiction in the first place.  Much like those who find themselves addicted to drugs and have difficulty stopping due to the horrible side effects and withdrawal feelings that they get when they try, chemicals in foods, sugars, fats, various food dyes, and even unhealthy carbohydrates work much the same way, wreaking havoc on the body when you stop eating them.  In fact, that's exactly where your cravings come from when you have spent too long a time without eating these types of foods, and food companies prey on that! They essentially create products with these ingredients in them to help you get hooked, and stay hooked, on certain foods. (Hello Diet Coke- I’m talking to you!)

 

Signs of Food Addiction

If you are wondering if you have a food addiction, here are a few signs that can help pinpoint it and explain what is going on inside your body and brain:

 

  • Overeating and dealing with sluggishness from it
  • Craving certain processed foods, such as chips or cookies, too often
  • Eating foods even when you aren't hungry
  • Frequently using "comfort foods" to help you feel better
  • Worrying about eating too much of a certain food
  • Having mood swings when you want a certain food badly and cannot have it

 

How to Combat Food Addiction

Combating food addiction is obviously easier said than done: after all, you're going to have cravings and you might even have mood swings, thanks to your brain demanding those constant chemicals.  But it's still worthwhile to fight through it and not give in.

 

You can either quit your food addiction cold turkey, which can be pretty difficult, or you can start out slowly and replace highly addictive foods in your system with more nutritious, healthy options instead.

For example, the first thing that you can do is eliminate any sweetened beverages or artificially sweetened foods in your home.  This can include candy, soda, and juice that isn't 100 percent juice.  These items, innocent as though they may seem, are often the foods and drinks that we find ourselves most addicted to.  Instead of soda or juice, try drinking water.  If you need to drink something with flavor, consider purchasing an infusing pitcher and adding real fruit to your water.  Instead of candy, keep raisins and nuts stocked in your pantry, giving you access to better snack choices. 

 

If these changes sound like too much too soon, start with a certain time of day and focus on that.  For example- no processed foods at breakfast.  Or no processed foods after 6 pm.  Once you get comfortable there, you can start expanding your time period.

 

Eating breakfast, especially a healthy one with high protein, gives you a great energy boost and can help you start your day off right.  Skip over the bacon and pancakes and aim for healthier options, such as eggs, nuts, yogurt, and oatmeal.

 

Eat several small, healthy snacks throughout the day to balance out your blood glucose levels and prevent you from crashing, making you reach for the closest thing, which may be unhealthy.  Eat healthier snacks, such as nuts, whole grains, and protein rich choices like a hard boiled egg or a piece of chicken.

 

Grocery shop and stick to your list: filter out the unnecessary items and choose to load up on fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and yogurt instead.  This can really help your body and keep you feeling fuller longer.  Avoid the snack section and the candy in the check out aisles, even though it might seem difficult.  Chances are if you only have healthy options at home, you will be more likely to eat those instead of going out to purchase a snack, such as candy or donuts.

 

Food addiction can feel hopelessly inescapable, but that is far from true.  You can work your way through it and break your addiction and you feel amazing for doing so!


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Whole-Food Plant-Based vs Vegan
by MeOnlyBetter on 

If you are looking to start a new way of eating, you're probably overwhelmed by all of the types of diets and lifestyle choices that you can make to help you reach your goals.  There are plenty of them, and among them are plant-based eating options: whole food plant-based, and vegan.  In order to decide which one is best for you and which choice would better fit your lifestyle, it is important for you to know the differences between the two, and fully understand what each of these eating styles represents. 

 

It's important to remember that while neither of these types of eating are technically "diets," they are often referred to as such.  In fact, they are more of a lifestyle change than anything else, as you are going to be changing different aspects of the way you eat and be much more aware of the food you are putting into your body.

 

What is the Vegan Diet?

If you know any vegans, you’ve probably heard them talk about their way of eating and living, and how much it has truly changed their lives.  However, you might not be all that familiar with what veganism entails.

 

For those who choose a vegan diet, they do not consume any foods that are made from animal products (such as beef, chicken, or pork), or animal byproducts (think milk, honey, or eggs).  Often times, those who are vegans substitute these products with artificial sweeteners, egg products, and meat substitutes that are made from plants, such as soy. 

 

Many people who choose to become vegan do so out of compassion for animals, with many vegans even going to far as to avoid certain makeup, shoes, jackets, and many other products that might be made with animal byproducts.  While the vegan lifestyle is quite popular among many who are looking for a great way to lose weight and get (or stay!) healthy, many of those who choose this path do so out of their compassion for animals (and there isn't a single thing wrong with that!).

 

What is the Whole Food Plant Based Diet?

The whole food plant based diet is different from the vegan diet in that its focus is on choosing whole foods over processed foods.  While the vegan diet allows you to have processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and refined grains, such as white flour, the whole food plant based diet does not. 

 

For those who choose this way of eating, the motivation is mostly health-based.  This is a great reason to choose this lifestyle, as eating primarily plant-based items is incredibly healthy and can do wonders to help you get manage your long-term health.  This lifestyle choice can help to control health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, and prevent disease development, such as cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

 

How to Know Which Diet is Best For You

 

If you are interested in choosing a diet that supports your animal rights agenda, veganism can be a truly good choice for you.  Keep in mind that vegans can often eat snack foods and other processed items that might not be the healthiest (such as potato chips and vegan candy and cookies), while those who choose to follow the whole food plant based way of life would not.  Those who follow the whole food plant based diet do not eat processed foods or artificial foods, instead opting for meals and snacks that come from whole food sources, such as plants, vegetables, and fruits.

 

In order to choose which diet would work better for you, you should take a look at your lifestyle and your nutritional needs.  If overall health is important to you, and you are looking to eat healthier, more nutritious meals that are whole and unprocessed, you might choose the whole food plant based diet as opposed to the vegan diet.  If you want to stay away from any animal product or byproduct, then the vegan lifestyle might just be for you!


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How You are Sabotaging Your Weight Loss
by MeOnlyBetter on 

When you first start out with a weight loss goal in mind, you try to be conscious to everything that you are doing.  You probably work hard to make sure you eat healthier, exercise more, and keep the lifestyle changes up.  However, you can unknowingly be sabotaging your weight loss efforts without even realizing you're doing it, preventing you from achieving success.  Pay attention to the following points to see if you are doing any of these things without even realizing it, and maybe you can get your healthy lifestyle back on track toward and headed towards your weight loss goals!

 

1. Not Eating Enough

Not eating enough can actually cause your body to hold onto excess weight, believe it or not.  When the body does not get adequate calories, it switches itself over to starvation mode, holding on to any excess weight that it can in order to keep you from starving.  So if you aren't fueling your body with enough healthy calories, you aren't giving yourself enough to work from in order to lose the weight.  It also can hinder the amount of energy you have, making you feel sluggish and fatigued. 

 

You can help your body get enough calories by consuming the proper amount of healthy food each day in order to meet your recommended caloric intake.  Add a few healthy snacks in between meals (some nuts, fruit, or even cheese), and make sure to eat healthy, balanced meals at least three times each day.

 

2. Eating too Much

Eating too much tends to be one of the main reasons people find their weight loss efforts coming to an abrupt halt.  You might think that just because you have been eating healthier foods like raw nuts, avocado, and seeds, that you can eat as much as would like, but that isn't the case.  Again, moderation is key, so be sure not to overeat or eat too much altogether, because even though they are healthy calories, they are still calories.

 

Create yourself a meal plan to help you stick to eating well and in the right amounts.  Portion sizes are important, so keep them in mind when dishing out meals.  Record the foods you eat daily into your fitness tracker or an app that is made to track calories so that you can get a good idea of just how many calories you are taking in each day.  Also, consider proportioning snack foods like nuts to ensure you are always eating the correct portions.

 

3. Using the Fitness Tracker Wrong

Many of us have fitness trackers these days: they are helpful ways to keep healthier and make better choices in terms of food and exercise.  The problem?  They're still pieces of technological equipment that can make mistakes and mislead you, especially in terms of the amount of calories burned during activity.

 

In order to account for any variables, keep in mind that just because your fitness tracker says that you burned a few hundred calories during that bike ride, they aren't always accurate and tend to be just an estimate, so take it with a grain of salt.  And don’t use the calorie burn of exercise as an excuse to overeat.  They pretty much never balance each other out!

 

4. Not Drinking Enough Water

One thing that might seem like common sense when you are trying to lose weight is to drink more water, but you would be very surprised by the amount of people who don't actually drink the proper amount of water.   Because we are often unable to differentiate between hunger and thirst, not drinking enough water (and the subsequent thirst) can sometime mask itself as feeling hungry and cause us to eat unnecessarily. 

 

If you are working out, be sure to drink the proper amount of water and listen to your body: if you feel thirsty, drink a glass of water.  If you are exercising more, drink more water to keep up with your body's need for hydration.  If you feel hungry shortly after eating a meal or snack, a glass of water might be the answer, as your body might be mixing the signals.

 

5. Not Sleeping Enough

When it comes to sleep, everyone is different with the amounts that they need.  Some people need eight or nine hours, while others need only six.  How much sleep you need depends on your own body, but it is also important to keep in mind that a lack of sleep can cause serious illnesses, conditions, and even cause you to make food choices that aren't exactly positive.

 

Look at it this way: if you are out all day at work, and then go out for a run, put the kids to bed, and finally have time to decide what you should have for dinner, it might already be 9 p.m. and you might feel too tired to cook, which can prompt you to just order pizza or take out.  Instead, cook meals ahead on your days off and freeze them - all you have to do is pop them in the oven when you're ready to eat, and you can have an early bedtime so that you can get the sleep your body needs. 

 

It is important to look at all of these variables when wondering why your weight loss plan isn't going the way you want it to.  Between getting enough sleep, working out properly, drinking water, and eating the proper amount of calories each day, it can feel exhausting just thinking about losing weight, so why make it harder?  Listen to your body and take care of yourself, and you will end up going a long way in terms of reaching your goals!


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8 Rules for Navigating the Grocery Store
by MeOnlyBetter on 

Grocery shopping is a task that many people are not crazy about, even though it's one of the most important household tasks out there if you plan on eating well!  Since you can't rely on fast food and take out for every meal without suffering health issues, you will need to keep fresh groceries in your home, which means you have to shop for them!

 

This list will provide you with a few "rules" to keep in mind when shopping for your groceries.  They can help make the task easier and allow you to figure out how to make the most out of your shopping trip without overspending, purchasing too much junk food, or buying items that you aren't sure you can use right away.

 

1. Grocery Shop After Eating

This might seem like a strange rule, but did you know that if you go grocery shopping after eating a satisfying meal, you are less likely to make impulse purchases that can add a hefty sum to your grocery bill?  Go shopping after breakfast or lunch, and you can avoid those purchases.  Since food tends to look better if you're hungry, you are more likely to add things to your cart that aren't on your grocery list, or things that might not be as healthy (such as junk food).  It's better to just have a light meal before going out to shop, plus you'll have extra energy too!

 

2. Create a Healthy Grocery List

When you are coming up with a grocery list, make sure that the majority (if not all) the foods on it are healthy  By stocking up on healthy foods, you are more likely to say no to impulse dinners out or junk food binges, especially if you don't have them in the house.  Create a grocery list based on a few meals for the week, and that way when you go shop, you will be able to stick to your list.  As a bonus, this allows you to focus on only items you need, instead of making purchases that will cost you more money, pantry space, and potentially nutrition.

 

3. Skip Processed Foods

When you are doing your grocery shopping, try to keep yourself in the fresh produce area as much as possible, skipping over the cases and shelves lined with processed foods.  As a general rule, you should keep packaged foods to a minimum, and be sure to read the ingredients label before purchasing, making sure to keep the ingredients at five or under.  This way, you can ensure that you are only getting the healthiest foods possible without worrying about too much in the way of processed ingredients, or foods that are just worse off than not.

 

4. Read Nutrition Labels

It might go without saying, but reading the nutrition labels on food before purchasing it is always a must.  If a product seems like it has no nutritional properties to it, or is overloaded on sodium, sugar or just a lot of ingredients, it might just be better to skip it altogether.  While reading the nutritional facts label, it's also important to take a peek at the ingredients labels to make sure you have a great understanding of all of the ingredients that are in the food you are purchasing.

 

5. Spend Most of Your Shopping Trip in the Produce Area

Spending most of your grocery shopping trip in the produce area will allow you to skip over the processed snacks area of the grocery store, especially if you aim to purchase berries and other fruits to use as desserts or with breakfast!  You are also more inclined to spend money on fresh produce if it is the first thing you shop for when you're in the store, and you will have more ability to turn down sweet snacks and items that aren't as healthy!

 

6. Choose Whole Grains

When it comes to rice, pasta, cereals, and breads, it's always important to say yes to whole grains and stay as far away from processed or nutritionally devoid products as possible.  You get more nutrition from whole grain products, allowing you to feel better about serving them to your family. 

 

7. Be Mindful of Frozen Food Items

If you are purchasing frozen food items, be sure to keep to frozen meats such as chicken breasts, fruits, and vegetables, and steer clear of sodium loaded frozen dinners, breakfasts, and meals that promise plenty of nutrition but fail to deliver.   Not only are these dishes unhealthy, but they also rely on a high sodium content to keep them tasting fresh for so long.

 

8. Stay Away From Soda and Sugary Drinks

If you are going to be purchasing drinks at the grocery store, make sure to stay away from sports drinks and sodas, which contain too much added sugar to be a healthy part of your diet.  If you do choose to purchase fruit juices, make sure they are juices labeled 100% juice.

 

By following these simple rules each time you go to the grocery store, you are likely to keep to your list and budget with ease.  You will also benefit by reading nutrition and ingredient labels, as you will be able to determine which foods are the healthiest for your lifestyle and family.


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Teens & Eating Disorders: Be on the Lookout!
by MeOnlyBetter on 

Eating disorder rates in teenagers continue to be on the rise.  Teens often feel pressure to look and act a certain way and this mindset can cause disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder.  While some eating disorders are more easily recognizable than others, it is important to keep in mind that all four of these eating disorders exist and can cause problems with loved ones, friends, and family.

 

While all parents have the hope that their children will not develop eating disorders or have any trouble with food, the scary truth is that it does happen, and you need to be on the lookout for signs of these eating disorders, as well as have an understanding of what each eating disorder is.  Also, keep in mind that eating disorders do not just affect girls, either - every year, there are plenty of males who are also develop eating disorders!

 

Anorexia

Anorexia is one of the most common eating disorders that teens struggle with.  Anorexia is characterized by a severe restriction in calories leading to significantly low body weight.  Individuals with anorexia often have an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted body image.  Anorexics may also engage in other weight loss activities such as excessive exercise, use of diuretics, and self-induced vomiting.

 

Bulimia

Bulimia is another common eating disorder that many teens face.  Bulimia is characterized by recurrent episodes of binge eating (eating excessively in a small window of time and feeling a lack of control over that eating), along with compensatory behaviors to prevent weight gain such as self-induced vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics, or excessive exercise. 

 

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is a newly recognized eating disorder, and is also the most common eating disorder in the United States, topping both anorexia and bulimia.  The eating disorder is characterized by the person's eating large amounts of food in one sitting to the point where they might even feel sick (binge episode).  Often binge eaters feel shame, guilt, or disgust towards themselves immediately following a binge eating episode.  The primary difference between binge eating disorder and bulimia of the absence of compensatory behaviors following the binge.

 

Signs of Eating Disorders in Teens

If you believe your teen or a friend or family member might be struggling with an eating disorder, it is important to keep watch for signs of the disorder.  Some signs of an eating disorder in teenagers include:

 

  • Eating in secret
  • Cutting food up into small pieces, pushing it around on plate
  • Not eating lunch in school
  • Eating more than normal
  • Eating less than normal
  • Being preoccupied with food
  • Excessive calorie counting
  • Skipping meals
  • Purging or using laxatives frequently
  • Binging
  • Food avoidance or food phobias
  • Constant fear of and talk about becoming fat
  • Too frequent exercising
  • Extreme weight loss or weight gain

 

What You Can Do to Help

If you have noticed these behaviors in your teen or a friend or family member, it is important to sit them down and talk to them about your concerns, but do so in a friendly manner so they do not feel as though they are being attacked.  Keep an eye on their behaviors, and if you still believe they might have a problem, or if they've told you they may have a problem, get help.  Seek counseling for them, speak to them, and get them involved in a therapy program that might help them come to terms with what is going on in their lives, and change it.  A visit to their doctor is also important, as they can help decide what to do and give their opinion as a licensed medical professional.  Sometimes rehabilitation at a therapy center might be helpful, where they can be monitored and cared for during their recovery.  No matter what stage they are at, it is crucial to get them help as soon as you notice something, before the disorder escalates too far and becomes more difficult to treat.

 

Identifying eating disorders in teens might seem difficult, but if you pay attention, you can often notice the smaller, more subtle signs that they are putting out there, such as avoiding food, counting calories, eating a lot in one sitting, and big changes in weight.  As a parent, friend, or family member, it is important to keep an eye out for these telltale signs that something might be wrong so you can help guide them to treatment.


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What Berries Can Do for You!
by MeOnlyBetter on 

You've heard it many times - berries are beneficial to your health and can be one of the best fruits you can choose in your quest for a healthy lifestyle.  Each berry has their own set of nutritional value - some more than others, and can offer you plenty of different benefits to help keep you healthy.  Berries have actually been thought of as one of the healthiest foods on the planet!

 

From raspberries to strawberries to blackberries, each variety of berry has something to offer you that can keep you healthy!  For example, did you know that berries tend to be very high in vitamin C, even higher than oranges?  This can help you to fight off germs and keep your immune system boosted.  Let's take a look at some of the most popular berries and see what kinds of health benefits they offer!

 

Strawberries

Strawberries are one of the most popular fruits available, and when many people are asked to name a favorite, strawberries are often their choice!  Strawberries are loaded with health benefits that can help keep you healthy.  Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C and vitamin K, which boost your immune system, can help you heal from colds and infections faster, and can even keep your skin looking young and vibrant.  Strawberries are also loaded with fiber (three grams per serving!), folic acid, manganese, and potassium!

 

Blueberries

Blueberries are often thought of as one of the "super foods" available, due to their rich antioxidant content, which can help fight off a variety of diseases, such as diabetes, chronic infections, and heart disease.  They are also great for those looking to lose weight, as they contain plenty of fiber to help you feel full longer.  Blueberries are surprisingly good for aiding with digestion, so if you are prone to having digestive issues, these little berries can be a huge help.

 

Raspberries

These red berries are not only delicious, but pack a huge punch when it comes to nutritional benefits.  Not only can raspberries help with weight loss thanks to the high amount of fiber in each serving, but they also are ideal for helping fight fine lines and wrinkles on skin, as well as lending it that youthful elasticity that we love so much!  Raspberries are also great for fighting off macular degeneration, which is a vision problem that affects many with age.  They also help strengthen the immune system and help to fight off infections and illness, which make these awesome little berries a great choice to have daily!  If you are a breastfeeding mother, these berries can help encourage milk production, and drinking raspberry tea is known to help regulate the menstrual cycle as well.

 

Blackberries

Blackberries are another long time favorite berry of many, and the blackberry is also full of great nutritional value and health benefits.  For starters, these berries are loaded up with vitamin C, which really help your immune system to kick in and work to fight against infections and colds.  They are also ideal at helping your body absorb iron, so if you have low iron counts or are taking supplements, blackberries can be helpful.  These berries are also high in fiber, which help your body to feel full longer and aid in digestion.  Blackberries are known for their high levels of vitamin K, which can help your body form blood clots and slow bleeding earlier.  Their anti-inflammatory abilities work well to keep your body feeling better, and are also great for dental health as well.

 

Elderberries

Elderberries are well known for their abilities to fight the cold and flu and bring relief to those who are suffering from these ailments.  They offer huge boosts to the body's immune system, which is why they are so popular during cold and flu season (remember seeing all of those articles about elderberry syrup for the flu?).  Since they have such high anti-inflammatory properties, they are also often used to fight sinus infections and bring about relief.  High blood sugar can also be treated with this berry, and many use it to aid in controlling their diabetes.  The elderberry is also a natural laxative, so if you are suffering in that department, these berries can help!

 

There are plenty of berries available, and taking a trip to your local market or farm stand can really shine light on these beautiful and nutritious staples.  Whether you are eating the berries in yogurt, cereal, making juice, or using them in tea, each berry has its own set of health benefits that are just waiting to be tapped into.


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Moving from Dieting to Healthy Living
by MeOnlyBetter on 


There is a big difference between dieting and healthy living, and while the two of them can often go hand in hand, they are also very different.  Both dieting and healthy living can have a place in your lifestyle, and both of them can be acknowledged for different purposes throughout your life.

 

What is Dieting?

Dieting is the act of restricting certain foods and/or counting calories, carbohydrates, sugars, etc.  Dieting is often used in conjunction with rigorous exercise to try and bring about weight loss.  You might hear of some people trying to lose weight before a big event, such as a wedding, so they try dieting as a means of doing so.

 

While dieting itself isn't a bad thing, it rarely works for any type of long term weight loss or health benefit, so it's also important to look into changing tactics – moving from a temporary solution to something more permanent, like healthy living.

 

What is Healthy Living?

Healthy living isn't dieting, but weight loss and overall health and wellness can be achieved by following a healthy living lifestyle.  While counting calories, sugars, and carbohydrates can be a part of healthy living, you can cater healthy living to your own dietary needs and lifestyle choices to help make it work out for you.

 

Healthy living involves making good and balanced choices when it comes to food, exercise, and how you generally take care of your body.  Those who focus on healthy living tend to abandon the idea of fad diets and diets in general, and focus more on being healthy and choosing healthy things to put into their bodies and their lives.

 

Healthy Food Choices

For those who are both dieting and focusing on healthy living, healthy food choices are always important.  While many who diet end up restricting many foods that have health benefits (like healthy fats in foods such as olive oil and avocado), those who follow healthy living guidelines aren't opposed to including those in their diets, and wind up reaping the nutritional benefits.

 

Many times those who follow diets choose foods that are low in calories and are made with a lot of processed or chemical laden ingredients, such as a wide variety of protein shakes available on the market.  While they do include plenty of nutrients, it is more beneficial to your body to get those nutrients by consuming unprocessed food, such as fruits and vegetables.

 

Exercise

Some people who have a history of dieting may focus more on their food intake than exercise and physical activity, and others find themselves overdoing physical activity, spending too much time exercising, which can be bad for your body and your health. 

 

Those who have decided to ditch dieting and move on to healthy living learn to find the perfect balance between food intake and exercising.  While exercise is always important, it's important to find a healthy way to get in enough physical activity without overdoing it, as well as eat the right foods and take in enough calories to keep your body staying healthy and strong.

 

Moving From Dieting to Healthy Living

When deciding to move on to healthy living from dieting, you may need to make a few adjustments when it comes to the food you eat, making healthy choices for yourself, and getting enough exercise.  Try to not focus on being so strict about counting calories and worry more about eating whole foods that are healthy and bring you the most nutrition.  Eat healthier snacks and meals instead of eating less food overall.  Small changes, such as more fruits and vegetables, healthier options when it comes to salad dressings and take out, and choosing water instead of sugary beverages, are small steps that you can take to make a bigger change in the long run.

 

Make your life healthy and embrace the healthy living lifestyle! J

 

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Aromatics and Your Health
by MeOnlyBetter on 

There are many different kinds of vegetables out there - green veggies, such as broccoli and kale, root veggies, such as potatoes and beets, and aromatics, such as garlic, onion, and ginger.  If you're wondering why these aromatic vegetables are so important (aside from how wonderful they can make a dish taste), and whether or not you should add them to your regular cooking regime, here are a few things that you might find great to know!

 

What Vegetables are Aromatics?

There are many different types of vegetables in the aromatics category, and chances are high that you have cooked with them plenty of times before, taking in their delicious smells, and you might not have even known they were called aromatics.  So what are some of these vegetables?  Here is a brief list:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Shallots
  • Bell Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Ginger
  • Celery
  • Leeks
  • Parsnips

 

 

What Makes A Vegetable Aromatic?

An aromatic vegetable is a vegetable that can be cooked, crushed, or heated, and develops a deep, robust scent or flavor.  These types of vegetables give dishes signature smells - for example, if you've ever roasted a chicken in the oven, you might have smelled strong garlic and onion scents coming from the kitchen.  If you've made homemade soups, perhaps you've smelled the same.  Have you ever fried up some bell peppers and onions to create a dish, or used ginger in a sauce for your food?  Chances are, you've used these aromatic vegetables, and they probably created a happy, healthy mindset for you as you cooked!

 

How to Use Aromatics In Cooking

If you are looking to create more dishes using aromatics, whether they are ones that you have already tried or if you want to vamp up your recipe collection with new ideas, there are a few things to take into consideration when planning on cooking with these special veggies.

 

First, it is important to remember that to really enjoy the full benefits of cooking with aromatics, you should not load them up with oil or other cooking fats before cooking them.  Sure, you can sauté them in a little olive oil if you are cooking them on their own, but you don't need to overload them, as it can take away from their benefits.\

 

It is also important to remember that if you are cooking with aromatics, it always works best to use fresh aromatics, instead of frozen.  While frozen can work well for certain recipes, you will get the full flavor and smells from aromatics that are fresh, as they will not be nearly as moist during cooking.

 

What Are The Benefits?

Each aromatic has benefits that are wonderful to reap, and aside from helping you get into a happy, healthy cooking headspace, they do offer nutritional benefits, as well. 

 

If you're curious about how aromatics can help you get into a happy headspace while cooking, think back to a time in your life when you were gathered around a meal with family - remember how wonderful everything smelled?  These types of smells can bring you back to those special times, as well as create new memories, just by smelling the food you are cooking.  Also important is the fact that because these foods smell so wonderful while cooking, it can actually help to boost your mood and look forward to mealtimes.  Another added benefit is that if you are cooking aromatics, chances are you are cooking healthy meals from scratch, allowing you to avoid the processed food that causes cancers, obesity, and other health issues.

 

The first and probably most popular aromatic, garlic, is also one of the strongest smelling of the group.  Garlic is great to eat both cooked and raw, and can add a lot of flavor to any food.  Garlic has been known to help prevent some cancers, such as stomach cancer, when eaten regularly, and might also help lower cholesterol.

 

Onions are also a popular aromatic - they go well in most savory dishes, and can even be eaten raw and still smell and taste wonderful.  Along with high amounts of vitamin C, they have also been known to fight off various cancers and promote healthy digestive functions.

 

Ginger is used in a lot of Asian dishes, and is gaining popularity in American dishes, as well.  This almost sweet scented aromatic is full of vitamin C, and is known for how well it can eliminate nausea.  This aromatic might be a great choice for expecting mothers, and many obstetricians will recommend ginger tea in pregnancy.

 

Peppers are full of vitamin C and are great for immune system health, as well as smelling delicious in fajitas, stir-fry dishes, and salads.  These veggies are perfect for adding a little color to your dishes, as there are multiple, with green, red, orange, and yellow being the most popular.  Some of them are sweeter than others, and can compliment meats and other vegetables quite well.

 

Carrots and celery aren't just for homemade soups - although they can be spectacular flavor boosters when added to a pot!  Celery is full of vitamin A, vitamin K, and lots of potassium, as well as being known for being a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.  Carrots have fiber and vitamin B6, and when cooked, they will give off plenty of beta carotene, which will allow your body to better benefit from these nutrients.

 

Now that you have read about some of the delicious ways that aromatics can help benefit your body as well as your mood, it's a great time to try out some of these wonderful additions next time you cook.  Try adding a favorite to a new dish, or think up something new that you aren't sure about, allowing you to try something completely different.


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Cortisol: Its Impact on Weight and How to Reduce It
by MeOnlyBetter on 

 

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced in the adrenal gland, and many people have thought of cortisol as the “stress hormone”, as it tends to be released during times of great stress.  When it comes to weight, cortisol is usually thought of negatively, as stress, and the resulting cortisol response, can actually hinder your weight loss efforts, and sometimes even cause your body to gain weight.

 

What is Cortisol?

Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released when the person in question is under stress or going through some very difficult times.  It is released into the body, and this causes rapid heart rate, sweating, increased blood sugar and blood pressure, muscle tension, as well as increased respiration and hyperventilation.  While this hormone can be useful in a tricky situation, such as when the body feels threatened, it can also be made and released during panic attacks and anxiety issues, which can cause the effects of the hormone to occur even when the body is not under any stress.

 

How Does Cortisol Affect Weight?

Stress is well known to be linked to weight gain and the inability to lose weight.  Therefore, it is easy to understand that the stress hormone might actually be causing you to not be able to lose weight or keep it off. 

 

When cortisol is released, it stimulates part of the emotional center of the brain, which causes pleasurable activities, such as eating food, to become even more pleasurable.  It is this idea of eating becoming more pleasurable, that can make it that much easier to overeat.  When one discovers that overeating can make them feel better at the time, they are more likely to fall into a habit of continuously overeating each and every time they feel stressed, which can in turn lead to weight gain and difficulty losing weight.

 

Cortisol can also affect weight in another way: cortisol can actually increase the amount of fat deposits that are found throughout the body, typically in the abdominal area and stomach.  Ugh- double bummer!

 

How to Reduce Cortisol Production in the Body

For those who are beginning to notice a problem with weight and believe it might be coritsol to blame, the first step is talking to your doctor to rule out any underlying issues, such as thyroid problems.  Adrenal disorders are actually quite common, and there are medication that can be taken to reduce the effects.

 

If stress is the culprit, the best thing to do is to learn to control it, either with medications or therapy, or a mixture of both.  Talking about your stress is a great way to get it off of your chest, which can help lead to a reduction in panic attacks and anxiety problems.  Medications can help control these issues, as well, so it's a bonus to talk to your doctor or set up an appointment with a therapist.  Finding stress relieving activities, such as coloring, knitting, cooking, or even dancing, can be ideal for those who deal with panic and anxiety on a regular basis. 

 

Skipping the second trip to the gym and taking it easy can also be good for reducing cortisol levels.  It has been shown that over-exercising can actually lead to an increase in the hormone, which can in turn lead to slower weight loss. 

 

Eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep are two more things that you can do to properly take care of yourself, which is essential to keeping stress levels at bay.  Healthy eating (making sure not to skip meals or reduce calories by more than your body can handle), including vegetables, fruits, and the right type of carbohydrates in your diet, is what you need to keep your body going strong.

 

While it might seem like beating stress and dealing with higher than average cortisol levels can be difficult, it is possible!  Once you understand what cortisol is and how it acts, you can start taking better care of your body in order to pinpoint why the levels are elevated in your body.


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The Effects of Binge Eating on Your Body
by MeOnlyBetter on 


Even if you try your hardest to maintain a healthy diet and get in regular exercise, sometimes it can be more difficult than others.  And binge eating only further complicates those efforts!  In fact, binge eating can have some serious negative effects on your body.  From causing too much bloating to making you feel sick the next day, binge eating can also wreck your metabolism and make it difficult for you to lose weight and keep it off in the future!

 

A Note on Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder that is recognized medically throughout the world.  It affects roughly three to five percent of American women, and is more common than anorexia and bulimia.  Binge eating disorder is categorized by repeatedly eating food well past the point of feeling full.  While there isn't any purging of the food typically, most who are affected by this might decide to fast or try out different diets.  Binge eating disorder is treatable with therapies, and by staying away from diets and learning to take hunger cues from your own body.

 

Fatigue and Lethargy

Those who binge eat might feel tired or sluggish after consuming a large amount of food.  The body does not need to continue to eat past the point of feeling full; it also does not require eating several large amounts of food in a single day.  Therefore, if you find yourself binge eating, you are likely to be tired, as your body needs to digest all of that food.  Think about how you might feel after a big Thanksgiving dinner - too full, exhausted, and in no way ready to do anything except sleep!

 

Heartburn and Indigestion

When you binge eat and consume too much food, your stomach might not be able to handle it, making you feel kind of queasy.  Whether you have an upset stomach, sour stomach, or too much acid buildup making its way up your esophagus, it can be a really uncomfortable day or two until your digestive system is able to calm back down.

 

Weight Gain

If you binge eat too many times, you might find yourself gaining weight.  Too much weight gain can lead to obesity, which can bring about a whole slew of medical problems, such as sleep apnea, heart disease, cancers, or diabetes.  The more you binge eat, the more weight you might find yourself putting on, which in turn can lead to complications such as those listed above, and more.  Binge eating can also have an effect on your metabolism, which can make it harder to lose weight in the future.  This is all surprisingly counterintuitive, since binge eating is a common response to excessive dieting!

 

Diabetes

There are links that show that those who binge eat regularly are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in their lives.  This happens when you binge eat and your blood sugar spikes out of your control, and then drops again.  If you already have diabetes, binge eating can cause life threatening complications and be even more dangerous for you.

 

Depression and Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are common amongst those who binge eat.  Some people with depression and anxiety might turn to binge eating and food as a way of dealing with those mood issues, which usually make you feel even worse as time goes on.  Alternatively, some people can develop depression and/or anxiety in response to their binge eating behavior.  Treatment for depression and anxiety might make it easier to avoid binge eating in the future.

 

What to do About Binge Eating

While it isn't a problem from time to time if you eat a little more than you should, it can become an issue if this overeating is excessive, or if you notice an unhealthy cycle developing.  If you find yourself engaging in binge eating, there are things that you can do to stop it before it becomes a problem.   First, recognize that you have an issue that needs to be dealt with.  Second, seek a therapist that specializes in eating disorders.  This therapist can help you get in touch with some of the root causes of your binge eating behavior, develop alternative coping strategies and also rule out anxiety and depression as core issues. 

 

If you don’t want to wait and want to get control of your binge eating behavior NOW, be sure to check out my Binge Free For Life program!


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Your Guide to Healthy Smoothie Additions
by MeOnlyBetter on 


Creating your own healthy meals can be both one of the most rewarding, yet difficult, decisions to make when you are striving to eat healthy.  There are so many different possibilities of ingredients that you can add to your smoothies to increase the amount of nutrition, but you also have to remain mindful of things like added sugars which, if aren't watched, can add up quickly, making your healthy eating go straight out the window.  So what are some of the best things to add into your smoothies in order to make them more nutritious, vitamin packed, and full of good-for-you foods?

 

Maca Root

Maca Root has been around for thousands of years and has often been used for its medicinal properties.  However, it has just recently gained popularity, and along with it, a superfood status.  Maca Root is a type of vegetable that is similar to a radish or turnip in appearance, and is typically sold in health food stores as a powder that you can add into your food or drinks.  Maca Root, which is rich in antioxidants, balances estrogen levels, and improves mood, memory, and energy, which is ideal if you are sipping a healthy smoothie before a morning at the gym.

 

Kava Kava Root

Kava Kava Root, which is usually a powder form of a plant that is found on islands within the Pacific Ocean, is perfect for mixing into a smoothie.  Not only does it blend in well with drinks, it offers a lot of benefits to the person who ingests it, including stress relief, anti-anxiety effects, insomnia relief, and relief from the symptoms of PMS.  It is important to only add small amounts of Kava Kava Root to your smoothies, however, as there are several side effects from ingesting too much, including headaches and fatigue.

 

Flax Seeds

Flax seeds are used in a variety of drinks and foods, including baked goods, to boost their nutritional properties.  Flax seeds are small golden seeds which are a fantastic source of dietary fiber, with a superfood label that has plenty of other nutrients.  Other nutrients in flax seeds include manganese, thiamine, magnesium, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.  You can eat flax seeds whole (such as on muffins), but they can also be ground into a powder and added to smoothies for an extra nutrition kick.

 

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are probably one of the most popular superfoods on the market right now, and with good reason.  They can be used for a variety of things, such as baked goods, puddings, and even smoothies, in order to give your body a health boost.  Some benefits that come from chia seeds include healthy skin, an energy boost, support for the heart, support for the digestive system, and even a reduction in visibility in the aging process!  Rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, such manganese, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, and potassium, these tiny little seeds pack a big punch!

 

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens might not sound like the most appetizing ingredient for a smoothie, but in fact, they are quite good!  Raw greens such as spinach and kale offer quite a boost to the immune system and give the body a great dose of fiber, iron, and potassium - not to mention other essential vitamins and minerals!  When mixed with fresh fruit, such as pineapple and bananas, leafy greens offer a healthy boost to your day and can be customized to taste any way you like!

 

Soy Milk or Almond Milk

Soy milk and almond milk offer healthier alternatives to regular milk, with a boost of calcium and protein.  As long as you are using the plain versions of these milks, it won't be adding too much extra sugar into your smoothie, and it is easier and more gentle on the stomach than regular milk.

 

Fruits

Fruits are one of the key ingredients people think of when planning out a smoothie.  Use fresh or frozen fruits to get the most nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from your fruits.  Using fruit that is in season or purchasing at your local farmer's market is a great idea, as you can always freeze the fruit for later in the year.

 

Making your own smoothies can be fun and a great healthy start to your day.  Remember to use ingredients that offer health benefits and to ditch those that do not.  For example, don't load up your smoothie with too much sugar or ingredients such as ice cream, but instead load them up with fresh fruits and vegetables, and other items such as chia seeds, Maca Root, leafy greens, and soy or almond milk.


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Cruciferous Veggies & Your Health
by MeOnlyBetter on 

 

Cruciferous vegetables offer a plethora of health benefits that make them worth incorporating into your daily diet.  There are plenty of these vegetables out there, and they can easily be worked into lunches, dinners, and even breakfast smoothies to give you a boost of nutrition in the beginning of your day.  Easy to prepare and include in many different dishes, these vegetables are often rich in many vitamins and minerals and are great choices for your body.

 

What are Cruciferous Vegetables?

Cruciferous vegetables belong to a certain family of plants known as the Brassicaceae family.  This family of plants includes cruciferous vegetables such as the following:

  • arugula
  • broccoli
  • maca
  • turnips
  • watercress
  • radishes
  • mustard greens
  • cabbage
  • kale
  • cauliflower
  • collard greens
  • rutabaga
  • cabbage

 

While there are many other cruciferous vegetables available, this list contains some of the vegetables that contain more nutrients than others, making them an ideal place to start when looking to include them in your diet.

 

Health Benefits

The health benefits of cruciferous vegetables are many; from cancer fighting properties to simply providing a large dose of fiber to your diet, there are a lot of reasons to choose these vegetables into your daily meal plan. 

 

Fighting Inflammation

When you eat foods that aren't healthy for you, your body is unsure of how to process them, and thus you might feel the discomfort of inflammation.  While inflammation is a typical bodily response to infection, it can also indicate when there is another problem in the body, such as a health concern like a digestive issue, heart issue, or diabetes.  Cruciferous vegetables are amazing at reducing the body's inflammation, helping it to restore to its natural state.  By choosing to consume these vegetables regularly, it will help get your digestive system back on track.

 

Regulating Blood Sugar

Choosing cruciferous vegetables to add to your plate will actually help you to regulate your blood sugar.  This is amazing news for diabetics and for those who are watching their sugars.  Since most servings include a decent portion of your body's daily fiber needs, you can eat one or two servings of these vegetables each day.

 

Cancer Fighting Properties

The antioxidants in cruciferous vegetables are known for their cancer fighting properties.  They work to keep the body healthy by providing the body with compounds that are known to help fight off cancers, such as indole-3-carbino and glucosinolates.

 

Balances Estrogen

Cruciferous vegetables are also widely known for their ability to balance estrogen levels in females.  If you are suffering from too high estrogen levels in your body, you might feel symptoms such as bloating, headaches, and a decreased sex drive, so it is important to regulate those levels if you feel ill effects.  Cruciferous vegetables have the ability to regulate estrogen levels by introducing indole-3-carbinol into the body, which is known to help regulate estrogen levels.

 

Promotes Heart Health

It's already known that vegetables are good for you - but did you know that eating vegetables, such as cruciferous vegetables, can actually help to promote heart health?  By eating these vegetables you can actively work to reduce your risk of heart disease, which is one of the most dangerous health problems today.

 

Vitamins and Minerals

There are plenty of vitamins and minerals in each vegetable you eat, and cruciferous vegetables are no exception!  These vegetables are loaded with fiber, manganese, phosphorus, vitamins C, E, and K, as well as folate and iron. 

 

With so many different cruciferous vegetables to choose from, there are plenty of ways that you can introduce them into your daily diet.  From cancer fighting ingredients to having the ability to regulate blood sugar, these vegetables pack quite a punch.  Pick out a few that you want to try, get some recipes together, and find yourself enjoying the health benefits that come with consuming these delicious and health boosting vegetables!

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Gym Rat or Gym Obsession?
by MeOnlyBetter on 


It's not a bad thing to want to be healthy.  In fact, getting fit and focusing on your physical, mental, and emotional health is a great way to tackle day to day life.  For those who are looking to better themselves physically or to get in shape, joining a gym is often the way to go.  Spending hours each week sweating out stress and trying to be your best physical self can make all the difference in your life - but it's important to remember that there is a fine line between being a gym rat and being someone who has a gym obsession.

 

What is a "Gym Rat?"

You may have heard the term "gym rat" in reference to someone who spends a lot of time at the gym, but what exactly is a gym rat?  A gym rat is a person who goes to the gym frequently, if not daily, and is usually recognized by the gym staff and other gym-goers.  A gym rat may or may not have a specific routine, and he or she tends to know the ins and outs of the gym relatively well.  In some instances, gym rats know others who frequent the gym, and are able to tell what type of exercise equipment they work out on the most, who spends a lot of time there, and who is new. 

 

Oftentimes, those who consider themselves "gym rats" are healthy and passionate about fitness, exercise, and their health, as well as the health of others.  They want to look their best and are willing to put the time into taking care of themselves.  Some are offended by the term "gym rat," while others embrace it. 

 

What is a Gym Obsession?

While some are passionate about fitness, health, and exercise, and can be called "gym rats," others take that passion a bit too far, becoming obsessed with the gym, exercise, and fitness.  In some cases, this obsession fills up their thoughts and they might spend an unhealthy amount of time at the gym - sometimes several hours every single day.  Those who are obsessed with being at the gym might have a negative opinion of themselves, always striving for perfection, and sometimes even endangering themselves by exercising too often, for too long of periods of time.

 

Gym obsession is a real thing, and some have often gone on to consider it a disorder.  While going to the gym is a great way to get in shape, blow off steam, or even relax while taking a jog on the treadmill, others find themselves obsessed with it, and spend too much time at the gym.  Here are some signs that you or someone you know might actually surpass the "gym rat" title and are heading into gym obsession.

 

Always at the Gym

While gym rats might spend a few hours a week at the gym, such as an hour a day, those who are obsessed with the gym and exercising might spend three or four hours there each day, or frequent the gym a few times a day.  

 

Always Being Exhausted

Those who have a gym obsession might appear to be tired, from spending too much time working out and not enough time taking care of their bodies.  This can put stress on their bodies and the body's systems, causing them to become sick or injured from spending too much time in the gym.

 

Changing Plans

Those who are obsessed with the gym frequently find themselves changing their plans or planning activities and social engagements around the time they usually would spend in the gym.  For example, someone who is gym obsessed might turn down going for dinner with friends because it interferes with the hours they would spend in the gym.

 

Bad Body Image

A lot of people who are gym obsessed find that they have a poor body image.  They see an unrealistic version of themselves and strive to perfect it, even if it's not healthy for them to keep indulging in.  Unrealistic body image can lead to eating disorders as well as over exercising.

 

What's the Difference?

The difference between being a gym rat and gym obsessed really lies in the amount of time that you spend in the gym and exercising and how it impacts your life.  If you spend a few hours each week, or even an hour a day, at the gym, it's not much of a big deal.  Sure, you've spent an hour there each day or escaped when stressed, but it doesn't mean you're gym obsessed.  As long as you have realistic body image, you take care of yourself, eat correctly, spend time socializing, and don't let the gym become your entire life, you're simply a gym rat.  However, if the gym is taking over your life, you might want to look into cutting down a bit and rethinking your personal care and priorities, because it could be becoming an obsession.


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Cooking without Oil
by MeOnlyBetter on 


While cooking with oil can make food taste delicious, brown better, and add flavor, it can also add extra calories and fat, as well as take away from the healthiness of the dish you are preparing.  Because of this, many people are choosing to use healthier oils or cook without oils completely, coming up with new ways to prepare beloved dishes that might have once relied on oils heavily.

 

There are a variety of ways to cook without oils, or with minimal oils, allowing you to still retain a great amount of flavor in your dishes while making them healthier. This way you can consume your favorites more often or without any of the guilt that you might have if you were coating them in oils.

 

Nonstick or Ceramic Cookware

If you are looking for a way to cook your favorite foods without using a lot of oils (or any at all), one way that you can do this is to check out some of the new cookware that has been hitting the market lately.  Stainless steel cookware and cast iron cookware require oils when cooking to prevent sticking, but others can make cleanup a breeze and food come out of the pan with no problems.

 

Using nonstick and ceramic cookware to prepare your meals might be a more pricey way to prepare food without oil, but it can definitely bring a lot of nutritional benefits to the table.

 

There are various types of nonstick cookware that you can choose from, such as hard anodized aluminum with nonstick coatings and ceramic cookware.  These types of cookware don't need any oil to cook with, as the food will release easily from the pan.  Some types of nonstick cookware, like Teflon, aren't safe around pets such as birds, so it is important to do plenty of research into these types of cookware before purchasing.

 

Air Fryers

Air fryers are relatively new to the market, and they can allow you to prepare some of your favorite types of foods without the guilt of excess oils and fats.  For example you can prepare frozen French fries, onion rings, and even breaded mozzarella sticks without adding any oil to the pan before cooking.  If you are preparing homemade foods, you can add a single squirt of a healthier oil, to the food by using a spray bottle, which will coat the food and help to make it crispy.

 

Air fryers are being used for lots of things now, including fresh fish, chicken, and even homemade desserts such as cakes.  Since the air fryer is essentially a table top convection oven, it cooks faster, more evenly, and makes your food crispy and delicious with little to no oil at all.

 

Different Methods of Cooking

If you are looking to cook without oils, there are plenty of different methods you can use that don't involve them at all.  For example, you might cook some dishes on the stovetop, which can require oil to prevent sticking and making the food have more flavor.  However, if you use another method of cooking to create the same dishes, you can have flavors meld together better and make the dish taste even more wonderful.

 

If you are willing to try new methods of cooking, some of the best to try that do not require oil while still retaining flavor are cooking in a heavy, porcelain Dutch Oven at a low temperature for several hours, or even using a slow cooker to turn tough cuts of meat into tender, moist, delicious meals that are bursting with flavor.

 

Pressure cookers, whether electric or stovetop versions, can produce similar results in a faster time period, making them great choices for busy weeknights.  They often have a bit of a learning curve, but once you master this method of cooking and see how healthy it can be, you will definitely use it often!

 

Grilling is another method of cooking that is great for when you are looking to use less in terms of oils and fats.  Marinade the meat before you grill it, and if you tenderize it first, you will get a huge amount of moisture and delicious results, each and every time.  Grilling vegetables is another way to create a flavor packed dish in a healthy way, too.

 

Eliminating oils from your diet while cooking can have plenty of health benefits, especially if you use a lot of oil on a regular basis to cook your foods.  Just eliminating half of the oil that you use or switching types of oil can be beneficial.  If you are looking to eliminate all the oils from your cooking, you can always choose a different type of cooking to create delicious and healthy meals for your family.

 

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Is Instagram Impacting our Body Image?
by MeOnlyBetter on 


Instagram is a fun way to share photographs with friends, family, and the rest of the world.  It features everything from pets, to food, to fitness and models in exotic locations.  It can be a great way to meet new people and fall in love with new places and things (finding a new favorite restaurant, for example).  But what happens if Instagram starts to impact out lives in a negative way?

 

Instagram Envy

Instagram can cause some negative emotions and feelings - including those of envy.  For example, say you see a fantastic meal at a fancy restaurant in a different country that you wish you could visit - you might feel a bit envious or wish you could be the one there, taking pictures and enjoying the sights, but you aren't able to. 

 

The same is true for body envy- It can be common these days to see people posting pictures of themselves wearing very small bikinis, showing off their abs or booty, or doing their makeup flawlessly.  Seeing these imagines over and over may make you feel that you aren't thin enough or pretty enough, and despite how untrue that is, you might become preoccupied with it, causing stress and anxiety.

 

Unrealistic Body Image

Instagram can cause lots of people to have an unrealistic body image of themselves.  The pictures that are available to view, such as those of clothing and makeup models, might make it seem as though they are perfect, causing you to wish for that type of perfection in terms of body image, the ability to apply makeup, or even flawless curls in your hair. 

 

When an adult or a teenager (because oftentimes teens are more susceptible to the negativity that is promoted via social media) browses Instagram feeds of popular celebrities, models, and makeup artists on, they are seeing filtered, edited products, and they can wind up comparing them to their own self images, forming an opinion that they are not as good as these other, famous people who have millions of followers, and they might wonder what they are doing wrong, and how they can change themselves.  This can often lead to body dysmorphic disorder, eating disorders, low self esteem - the list goes on.  These issues are quite damaging to not only teens, but adults as well, and it can affect the way they see themselves and how they believe others perceive them.

 

Social media can be a battleground for those who suffer from any of the above conditions, or those who are younger or more easily impressionable.  For this reason, many parents ban social media accounts, such as Instagram, from being used in their homes.  Once this type of damage occurs, it can be difficult to repair.

 

How to Change It

Let's face it - it can be difficult to cut out social media from our lives permanently.  Often it can be our only way to communicate with friends and family, and it's always interesting to see what those we care about are up to.  However, it is important to keep in mind that if you are going to spend time on social media each day, that you do not let it interfere with your life, or how you see yourself.

 

Spending less time on social media is a great start - if you usually browse Instagram for an hour each day, cut it down to a half hour, and eventually cut it down to half of that.  This gives you more time to focus on other things in your life.

 

Be more discriminating about who you follow.  If you are following lots of models and people who post pictures of their body, ask yourself how it makes you feel to see those images.  A lot of people think they are following them for inspiration and motivation, when what they are really doing is causing shame, frustration and an unhealthy body image.  Ask yourself how you feel when you see certain peoples’ posts and if it’s anything other than positive- UNFOLLOW THEM!  Make Instagram a happy and positive environment for yourself. 

 

Make lists of what you love about yourself - nothing negative, just all positives.  Don't be shy, either - if you can think of twenty things that you admire about yourself, then list them all. 

 

Realize that many of the things we see on Instagram are edited with programs such as Photoshop.  Those models aren't always quite that thin and chiseled, and that beauty blogger who posted the flawless makeup more than likely used filters and edited their shots to make their makeup look perfect.

 

Post your own photos on Instagram - and remember that it isn't always about the followers.  Post pictures of yourself without makeup.  Post pictures of yourself having fun, even if they don't appear to be perfect.  These are the real pictures that you should be looking for and they are pictures that others will appreciate you sharing!

 

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Baking without Sugar: What Are the Healthy Alternatives?
by MeOnlyBetter on 


Whether you are trying to lose weight, stay healthy, or just looking for an alternative to regular sugars when you are cooking and baking, there are a variety of alternative sweeteners out there that can easily help you take charge of your healthier lifestyle.

 

There are a great deal of sugar alternatives on the market today, so it is important to take a look at your dietary needs and what you plan to do with it.  Here is a brief listing of some of the more popular sugar alternatives, what makes them different, how to use them, and when to use them.

 

Honey

Using honey as an alternative to sugar is a great idea for teas, baked goods, and fruity dishes, as it adds a bit of an earthy undertone to the food you are preparing with it.  By substituting honey in place of sugar, you are actually cutting down on the amount of sweetener that you need to use, as honey tends to have an overall sweeter flavor than that of real sugar.  You will also need to keep in mind that when using honey in baked goods, you will need to cut the amount or liquid down - it is a general rule that when you are using honey as a sweetener, you will need to subtract about a quarter cup of other liquid from your recipe, because there is a lot of water in honey.  Also add a bit of baking soda to your recipe to counteract the natural acidity of the honey.  Honey can make wonderful muffins, cookies, and other baked goods that have a bit of a fruity taste to them.

 

Molasses

Molasses is for using in things such as spice cookies, ginger cookies, cakes, and pies. Molasses is the perfect sugar alternative when you are creating a dish that has a bit more of an earthy flavor, or one that relies on spices such as allspice, ginger, and cloves.  The molasses really brings out the taste of the baked goods.  While not as sweet as refined, white sugar, it does add a darker color to the finished product and can be healthier, thanks to the fact that it contains some iron, calcium, and B vitamins.  To use molasses, you should use roughly 1/3 cup extra for each cup of sugar your recipe calls for.  For example, if your recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, use 1 1/3 cup molasses, and then subtract some of the liquid from the recipe so that it still comes together properly.

 

Maple Syrup

There's a huge difference between the highly commercialized syrup products on the shelf in the breakfast food aisle and real maple syrup, so be sure to select only real maple syrup when substituting, otherwise you will be adding even more sugar and corn syrup to your finished product.  Maple syrup isn't as sweet as sugar, so while your finished product won't be as sweet as the recipe calls for, it will have a distinctive maple flavoring that makes great cookies, scones, and oatmeal.  You can also rest assured that maple syrup is one hundred percent natural, so there are no chemicals or additives that you will need to worry about!

 

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is a sweet "sugar" like substance that has a bit of a flavor and texture like brown sugar.  It can be used in any baked good recipe just like sugar, and is lower in calories and is lower on the glycemic index than regular sugar, making it a better choice for those who need to watch their blood sugar.  Coconut sugar is easy to use and imparts a more syrupy taste - making this substitute perfect for cookies, cakes, and even breakfast foods.

 

Agave Syrup

Agave syrup is a natural sweetener that has been used for hundreds of years, despite the fact that it is only now becoming popular in the United States.  The plant that Agave syrup comes from, the Agave plant, grows in Mexico, other parts of South America, as well as the very southern United States.  You probably know that Agave sap and syrup is a major ingredient in tequila, which can really add some deliciousness to your cooking! But if you are looking to add that to any of your sauces (think spaghetti sauce), you can even bypass the alcohol and use a tiny amount of Agave syrup to add extra flavor.  Refined Agave syrup has a high fructose content, which makes it ideal for using in just about any baked goods as well.

 

There are plenty of sugar substitutes out there, and while some of them are processed and full of chemicals and should be avoided, some, like the ones listed above, are perfect for those looking for healthier sugar alternatives.


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