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Category Archives: wellness

WTE on a Healthy Balanced Diet?

anti-inflammatory-food-pyramid

Dr. Weil’s food pyramid, http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02995/Dr-Weil-Anti-Inflammatory-Food-Pyramid.html,

USDA_MyPlate_green

The United State’s Department of Agriculture’s, “MY Plate”, http://www.choosemyplate.gov/.

bg_food-pyramid3 The Atkins Food pyramid, http://www.atkins.com/Science/Atkins-Food-Pyramid.aspx 

On the heels of “WTF am I eating”, http://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/wtf-am-i-eating/, I thought it would be nice to also shed some light on WTE (what to eat) on a healthy balanced diet. There are so many different nutrition philosophies out there, so much confusion about what is healthy, and, not so healthy to eat and way too much controversy on what really is the “perfect” diet for you.

Take a look at the pictures above. Different food suggestions, different ideas of how to eat healthy. Yet, they have one big similarity.  There is no mention of chips, cookies or ice cream. Sure it is ok to dabble a little bit once in a while but junkie convenience foods have crept their way into daily eating and for some of us desserts are a staple after each meal.

These three diets (shown above) are examples of  the anti-inflammatory diet, the low carb diet and the calorie controlled diet; just a few of the hundreds of thousands of different ways to feed yourself. With so many diets out there, which is best? What food plans work and how are you supposed to know WTE?

A balanced diet, or food plan, is not the same for everyone. By definition, balanced eating  would apply solely to consuming a balanced ratio of nutrients from carbs, protein and fat (1:1:1) where calories are distributed evenly across the board at about 33% of total calories for each macronutrient.  You should understand that most “healthy” plans do not emphasize this balanced equation. Also, personal situations may dictate and override a general balanced diet formula.  A healthy diet will be different for everyone based on their own special circumstance. For example:

  • Being athletic can change the nutritional playing field. Athletes may benefit from eating a balanced ratio of nutrients but the formula may need a little tweaking to account for their goals to fuel,  recover and repair from the stress of long bouts of physical activity and the additional specialized needs for any particular sport.
  • Hippocrates, 460 BC377 BC,  is noted for his famous quote “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. This means that if you have a medical condition, such as diabetes, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, polycystic ovarian syndrome etc… a “balanced” diet may require tipping the scales more towards certain nutrients like healthy fats and away from others, like carbohydrates, to assist the body in equalizing the medical imbalance of that particular health condition.
  • If you are healthy, exercise and within your goal weight, eating an equal amount of calories from protein, fats and carbs should be the goal.

There is a lot of information out there on WTE. My best advice is to understand what your personal needs are and mold a healthy balanced nutrition plan that will work for you.  Nutrients can act in your favor or against you. It is your choice. If you need to use these general plans to jump start your healthy eating use them but long term, strive to “balance” and personalize your eating, tailored just for you.

 
 

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Ready, Set, Go! Make A Change

Changing behavior is one of the most difficult things to do in life and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Although “change” is a simple word, the process of change is complicated, no matter what you are trying to change. If you have diabetes (or any medical condition that can improve with lifestyle changes), wish to lose weight or want a better relationship, your readiness to change will make the difference in your long term success.

Desperately wanting something does not get you to “ready”. Trying your best or even going through the motions will not change behavior. In order to get on the right track to reach your goals, you must get “ready” to change your behavior.

READY” is defined as, “completely prepared” or “in condition for immediate action”. Therefore one of the best ways to ensure you will achieve your health goals is to get ready.

Determine what your goals are and prepare for action. Make weekly appointments with yourself. Set a date and time, put it on the calendar or you may never get the time you need to take care of yourself. This is all about Y-O-U! So, you will be the best person to determine what your goals are. No one else can tell you how to prioritize your life. You do not have to do this alone you can enlist a friend, family member or healthcare expert to help. I think it’s best to get as many people who are willing to support you on board as possible. Be honest with yourself; make sure those who support you provide unconditional help.

Be prepared to deal with those who are not supportive in any way necessary.

GET SET:

List your goals.

List specific actions that must be made.

Describe how you will execute your plan.

List behaviors that will contribute to success.

Think about the barriers you will have to overcome and plan on how to change your behavior to achieve victory.

Learn from mistakes and plan for success the next time you experience a pitfall.

Accept the fact that changing behavior is not easy and you will experience setbacks.

Ask yourself:

How will I learn new behaviors and let go of poor behaviors?
How can I anticipate a behavior relapse?
How can I maintain motivation?
What are the benefits?
What are the drawbacks of my changes?

GO:

No one else can do this for you but you. Denial and avoidance will get you nowhere. Take the bull by the horns and GO for a healthy lifestyle, improve a diagnosis or relationship. It will likely be an opportunity for improved quality of life and good health not only for you but everyone around you.

There is no quick fix in life. Get ready, get set and go for it! No matter what it is, you can make a change for the better by taking these steps and exchanging poor behaviors for positive actions. It may take time but it will be well worth your efforts.

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2014 in behavior, weight loss, wellness

 

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Renew or Re-Do Your “New Year’s” Vow

February 2013 Calendar (Oaxaca Trees)

February 2013 Calendar (Oaxaca Trees) (Photo credit: planeta)

If you made a vow to yourself on December 31 st or any other day. Keep it. Instead of a once a year pledge, make a real commitment. Set an alarm, mark your calendar for the end of each month and re-visit your  goal to determine if the goal is realistic. If you set a general goal, it is likely you will fall into the 25% of those people whose “diet” will fail. Whether diet or lifestyle or any goal, if you stick with it, you will succeed.

Do you want to lose weight or just be healthier this year? You want to succeed? The goal and strategies you set must be front and center on a daily basis.  What is your goal? How will you accomplish it?

For example, your goal might be: I will lose 2 pounds/week.

How are you going to achieve this goal? Specific behavior strategies that you choose to assist you with daily challenges.

Strategies:

1. Switch my low nutrient snacks for real foods that nourish (100 calorie snack pack out, celery with peanut butter in).

2. I will track my foods for accountability (use an app to track daily food).

3. I will not deprive myself when I’m hungry.

Allow yourself three and a half weeks to determine if the set goal is realistic or you need to change it so that it is attainable.

Renew your vow if your are successful, it’s working for you. Add a second goal with 3 new strategies for detailed actions in February. Do this each month.

If you have not achieved your goal in 3 weeks, re-do your vow so that  it is more attainable.

Example of  a resolution “re-do”:

I will lose one-two pounds each week

Strategies:

1. If I eat a 100 calorie snack pack at work, this will be my only desert of the day.

2. I will track my foods for accountability (use an app to track daily food).

3. I will identify real hunger vs. eating when bored.

Just because your initial attempt at weight loss or better health does not work, it does not mean that within six months you throw in the towel. There is more than one way to get things done. It may take a little time to find your comfort zone. But, you will be on track to accomplishing your goals.

At the end of each month, set a time when you check-in, evaluate your progress, or lack of progress. Learn to accommodate your lifestyle, your food preferences and any other hiccup that might interfere with your goal in order to identify what works for you. When you individualize your own plan, you will beat the odds and find a lifetime of success.

So ask yourself, how did my plan go in January? Which strategies worked? What changes will need to be made to next months plan?

 
 

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Immunity Boosters

English: Various cells that participate in imm...

English: Various cells that participate in immune functions. Note that even though hematopoietic stemm cell, erythrocyte, maegakaryocyte and platelets are found in the blood, they do not participate in immune functions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do you stay healthy and fight sickness? Your immune system, its’ job 24/7 is keep you well. It wrestles with  fungi, viruses, bacteria, battles pathogens and any foreign invaders while cleaning up cellular debris. Sounds exhausting and it is, that is why as we age the immune system loses its steam. Nourishing the immune system will keep it strong and you healthy.

Eat:

All vitamins, 5 main minerals (zinc, copper, selenium, manganese and iron), all protein but especially arginine, http://jn.nutrition.org/content/137/6/1681S.abstract, and glutamine, http://jn.nutrition.org/content/131/9/2515S.full, fat (lower Omega 3 and 6 ratio to less than 1:4) and fiber.

In order to consume all these nutrients, you must eat a variety of low glycemic fruits, a colorful assortment of vegetables, protein from whole eggs (The yolk has choline a precursor to phosphatidylcholine which helps repair cell damage.), fish and grass-fed beef (also contain more Omega 3 essential fatty acids) turkey, sources of arginine (pumpkin/sesame seeds and almonds/cashews) and glutamine (cottage cheese and plain 2% Greek yogurt).

Drink:

tea-white (anti-bacterial and viral), elderberry and green

water with lemon

Green drinks, http://greensplus.com/index.php, any that contain sea vegetables

Practice:

Healthy habits and hygiene. Washing your hands and brushing your teeth is as important as keeping active and avoiding obesity as a study from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine found that in comparison to normal weight mice obese mice were unable to fend off flu and other types of infections, http://www.unc.edu/news/archives/apr05/beck040405.html.

Stress reduction techniques can also boost immunity.

Understand:

Just because these nutrients are immune enhancing, does not mean excess amounts will be helpful. In fact, too much omega 6 fat, iron and vitamin E will actually have detrimental effects on your immune system. The same is true for some medications, such as antibiotics or corticosteroids.

Supplement Foods with Herbs and Spices

Herb and spice supplements boost immune system and protect against aging too.

Curcumin, cloves, basil, garlic, oregano and ginger all ward of sickness and can specifically help in preventing colds and flu.

Reminder:

Avoid consuming products that have been shown to weaken your immune system like soda, alcohol and sugar (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published results of a study that found lowered immunity for up to 5 hours after eating 100 grams of sugar or 3 cans of soda).

Maintain gut acid-base balance with proper foods (vegetables) or a probiotic supplement

Avoid allergic or sensitivity reactions as they produce inflammation

Stay healthy!

 

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Holiday Indulgence Guide For Guiltless Eating

160 reasons to be glad the holidays are over (...

160 reasons to be glad the holidays are over (168/365) (Photo credit: reallyboring)

Who doesn’t gain weight during the holidays? Dieting or not, the holiday season is jam-packed with food and “FULL” of complaints about gaining weight. Five months filled with family and social gatherings  focusing on nothing but food and drink.

So what I’m about to say might be surprising but it provides important details on weight gain during the holidays.

A study tracked 165 middle age culturally diverse men and women about 40 years old to identify actual weight gain during the holiday season. Results suggest that weight is the main factor in determining the amount of weight gained over the course of the holiday season.

People who weigh more gain more.  The results showed a 1-5 or more  pound weight gain over the course of the holidays. For many, damage done during the holidays was not that bad,  only about a pound of weight gain. For others who are overweight or obese, maintaining weight was more challenging.  More weight, was gained (greater than or equal to 5 pounds) by individuals who were overweight or obese. And, this pattern held true in different studies for children too.

If that was not enough to swallow, sink your teeth into this.

Holiday indulgence is not just an isolated event, you will be amazed to find out what happens after the holidays. You might think that as time goes on and all the foods associated with the holidays are no more, New Years‘ resolutions are made and preparations for bathing suit season begin with diets and other weight loss tools, that the weight gained during this time frame would melt away. Yet to the contrary, this study suggests that holiday indulgence may be more powerful than you realize.

It seems that fat gained over the holidays is stubborn and participants in this study had not lost the seasonal weight that was gained. Something to think about as Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day approach. The authors also admit that although their methods helped produce reliable results, there are demographic groups that may not be represented and that people who are not as health conscious or those who fall into a lower socioeconomic group may have different more dramatic results.

Over indulging during the holidays is not benign, it can be fatal to long-term dieting and good health. Consider this in planning your diet strategies over the next month or two. Of course, there is no reason to deprive yourself this season but there is a difference between indulgence and over-indulgence. Keep the odds stacked in your favor, follow these “Holiday Rules” or create your own.

How To Indulge Without Over Indulging

1. Ask yourself, “Is one or five days worth a lifetime of being heavier?”

2. Commit to losing a few extra pounds before or during the season

3. Follow a 3 teaspoon taste rule: One spoon because it is a special holiday food. Two, because you know you want seconds and three is “one for good luck”. An incentive to stick with the plan. Then the rest is given to someone else or thrown out.

4. Do not deprive yourself. Pre-select the foods and the amount of food you will eat on each of these holidays.

5.  Pace yourself and take specific intervals of time between eating

If your weight has not budged or has only moved in the wrong direction, try sticking to a nutrition plan over the holidays as a self commitment promise knowing that the same foods will be waiting for you next year when you weigh less.

Some tips that can help get you through the holidays

http://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/three-holiday-tips-to-maintain-control-of-your-goal/

http://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/30-days-30-ways-to-stick-with-your-meal-plan-during-the-holidays-or-anytime/

http://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/10-winter-warm-and-healthy-low-carb-foods-and-beverages/

Eat to make a change, eat to lose weight and be healthy. Eat during the holidays just do not overeat. But if you do, if you gain weight, how will you prioritize the weight loss so you can prove this study wrong and lose the seasonal weight gain?

 

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Yin and Yang for the Health of It

Yin and Yang is an ancient Chinese concept that emphasizes the notion that each body function works in harmony and not in isolation. With western medicine physicians specialize in specific areas like the heart or the feet or the brain.

Most people in the U.S. focus on keeping calories and fat low or hone in on one particular aspect of how food affects your health; for example, eating fish will help prevent a heart attack. While this is one way to approach optimal health, my philosophy expands on this to include more of an oriental medicine, yin and yang approach in the sense that balancing other foods with the fish will help build superior heart health and provide added nutrients for the rest of your body.

Here’s what I might consider if someone were concerned about heart health: I might start with considering fish consumption for additional omega three and then add to the nutrients provided by the fish such as an avocado (folic acid) or spinach (iron) that you might eat with your fish to help expand on the nourishment you feed your heart making it a more powerful meal. More powerful because you:

1. bathe your heart in ALL the nutrients it needs not just one

2. get the added benefits of nutrients that affect other areas of your health, for example folic acid is also important for brain health and iron helps transport oxygen to your cells increasing energy levels

Realizing that all foods contribute to a variety of nutrients to get your body in gear and function properly means that you should eat as much of a variety of foods, spices, herbs…as possible in order to maintain good health.

Don’t get stuck in a food rut. Eating a serving of “heart healthy” cereal everyday may help to cut calories but it does not fill your need for omega three, folic acid or any other nutrient that you are not eating because:

1. you are being boring and eating the same thing each day

2. you think focusing on calories only is going to bring you closer to good health

3. you are now eating too much of the nutrients in cereal not any nutrients from other foods

Focus on your Yin and Yang!

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2011 in wellness

 

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Want Success? Get Used to it! Part II

Me sequel to Part I:

Wow! I thought to myself, she is right on the money. She is obviously “USED TO IT” and I need to get used to this hell so that it is not hell anymore.

You see, if you get used to living healthy, it’s not painful, it’s as much a part of your life as waking up in the morning and brushing your teeth. It does not have to be a favorite hobby but it’s necessary, just like brushing your teeth.

I’m not just talkin’ exercise, if you’re in the habit of doing a Starbucks Latte, save yourself 200 calories by trading it in for a TAZO tea (0 calories) and “GET USED TO IT”, so that it is now your new “Habit”.

Here’s the upside of allowing Angela to kick my butt, after she is through, nobody or nothing else that day can get to me. If I survive her class I can get through anything; my mind is clear and ready to be challenged my body feels no pain (actually I cannot feel it at all ’till the next day :)). I feel good because I did something for myself and I know this will help me reach my weight goal!

I look forward to seeing Angela every week. She is in her fifties and going strong, she is fit, she has tons of energy believe me she’s got it over a lot of younger people .  And me, I’m going to follow Angela in her footsteps. I’m a few years younger and there is no reason I cannot achieve the same level of fitness or at least 3/4 of it.

I want good health, energy and I want to fit into my size 6, pre-pregnancy cloths. I want success and I’m gonna GET USED TO IT! How about you?

 
 
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