A balanced diet is just one part of a balanced lifestyleons

How Healthy Eating Habits, Exercise and Emotional Well-Being Are Connected

This blog was originally published on SplendaLiving.com.

As a registered dietitian I am always talking and writing about food and nutrition. I want to be sure everyone knows that a balanced diet is essential to good health. But your diet is not the only thing that must be balanced. Eating right is just one part of a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise and emotional well-being are equally important parts of a healthy lifestyle, and they must all be balanced for you to feel your very best.

What Does It Mean to Be Healthy?

The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” I think most people would agree they don’t think they’re healthy just because they don’t have malaria or some other illness. We want to feel well physically, mentally and socially, and to achieve that state of health we must recognize the connections between eating, exercise and our emotions.

Healthy eating provides the nutrients we need for a strong immune system that can help to defend us against certain illnesses and lower our risk of developing other diseases. It also provides the fuel we need to be as active as we want to be and enhances our sense of well-being when we have enough to eat and can enjoy food with others. Regular physical activity helps to keep our muscles strong and increases our stamina so we can do the things we want to do. It also helps burn off the calories in the food we eat and it improves circulation so that oxygen and vital nutrients can be delivered to every cell of the body. Good emotional health comes from having supportive relationships with others, a positive outlook on life and a meaningful spiritual connection. If one arm of this triad is weakened, the others will bend, too.

Connecting the Parts of a Healthy Lifestyle

Consider this simple example of the way the parts of a healthy lifestyle are connected. You rush to the gym after work committed to getting 45 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and 15 minutes of strength conditioning. You feel sluggish after just 15 minutes on the treadmill because you didn’t eat or drink anything for several hours before exercising. You stop exercising and feel bad for not being able to complete your workout. By the time you get home you are so hungry and demotivated that you wolf down an entire bag of potato chips instead of making the dinner you had planned.

Sound familiar? Now consider what the chances are that you’ll get a good night’s sleep and wake up early to get to the gym after a light breakfast? As you can see, the links between eating, exercise and emotions are strong, and if one breaks down your healthy lifestyle can be thrown out of balance.

In that first example, not eating before exercising puts a negative chain reaction in motion. Another trigger might be when you feel very so anxious about something – maybe an incomplete project at work or larger than expected credit card bill – that you skip going to the gym just when you need the stress relief that exercise can provide the most. Research has shown that exercise can increase the chemicals in our brains that contribute to feelings of happiness and improve our focus and memory so we perform better at tasks. Without these benefits of exercise, we are more likely to continue feeling stressed, make poor food choices and have difficulty sleeping, which compound our problems.

Healthy Eating Habits for All the Right Reasons

One thing that does not contribute to a healthy lifestyle is the feeling you must do everything perfectly, especially when it comes to your diet. I can’t think of anything that could be more stressful! The balance we are seeking allows for some ups and downs, so strive to do your best and be forgiving if you can’t always live up to your own expectations for healthy eating habits.

Here are my top three healthy eating tips to add to your healthy lifestyle.

  1. Have a plan. Knowing where, when and what you intend to eat each day leaves less room for error. Be realistic when making your eating plan and be ready to adjust it whenever needed, keeping in mind that every choice you make does count.
  2. Avoid extremes. There’s no reason to eliminate any food from your diet (unless medically required), but it’s also not wise to over-consume any food, either. Moderation is the goal. For example, if you want to reduce the amount of added sugars you consume, consider replacing some of them with a low calorie sweetener, like SPLENDA®No Calorie Sweetener, so you can continue to enjoy sweet tasting foods and drinks, but with fewer calories.
  3. Take your time. You have to eat every day for the rest of your life, so don’t try to make too many changes too quickly. Ease into what fits your current means and routines while leaving the door open to explore other options when time allows. And to get the most of your meals, be mindful of each mouthful.

I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

For more information about adopting healthy eating habits, visit the Healthy Lifestyle section of this blog.
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well. 
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Lack of sleep can contribute to overeating and weight gain

The Sleep-Weight Connection

This blog was first published on Aspartame.org on November 28, 2016

If you’ve been gaining weight and not getting enough sleep lately, some new research suggests the problems are very likely connected. A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that people who didn’t get enough sleep consumed an extra 385 calories the following day. A 2.5 ounce bag of potato chips or a banana nut muffin can provide that many calories.

That’s enough extra calories to gain one pound every 9 days! While sleep deprivation has its own health consequences, the potential weight gain from consistently not sleeping enough is also a concern.

How Are Food Choices Affected by Lack of Sleep?

In this study, the researchers reviewed 11 other studies made up of 172 participants and compared people who didn’t get enough sleep (3.5 – 5 hours/night) to people who got adequate sleep (7 – 12 hours/night) and what the subjects in each group ate afterwards. What they found was that the sleep deprived people didn’t necessarily eat more, but they did choose foods higher in fat and lower in protein, with about the same amount of carbohydrate. The additional calories in the food choices of the sleep deprived people resulted in weight gain since they weren’t using those calories with increased physical activity.

The studies in this review were not designed to explain why people change their food choices following sleep deprivation, but the answer may lie in the reward center of the brain. The results of another study of sleep deprived adults showed greater activation in areas of the brain associated with reward when subjects were exposed to food. This suggests they would be more motivated to seek food when sleep deprived. Another study found higher levels of a lipid in the bloodstream known as endocannabinoid, a naturally produced compound that binds to the same receptors as the active ingredient in marijuana. Activating this part of the brain has been shown to make eating more pleasurable and result in a greater desire for palatable food.

How is Appetite Affected by Lack of Sleep?

 Another proposed reason for the change in food choices by sleep-deprived people is a disruption in their hormones that control appetite, or the desire to eat. The natural circadian rhythms, or biological clock, of the body regulate our sleep-wake-feeding cycles to 24 hour periods. When those cycles are thrown out of sync by external influences, such as staying awake too long, other biological functions of the body are affected. Studies on sleep deprived people have shown they have reduced levels of leptin, a hormone that produces satiety, and increased levels of ghrelin, the hormone that regulates hunger. The change in these hormones in sleep deprived people supports their reports of having an increased appetite, even though they shouldn’t be hungry.

 How Does Food Affect Sleep?

There’s one more twist to the sleep-weight gain story worth mentioning. When certain foods or beverages are eaten at night, they can interfere with the ability to fall asleep, or stay asleep. That can leave you feeling tired the next day. When you feel tired during your waking hours, you may turn to foods and beverages that will help you stay awake, such as those containing caffeine or high amounts of added sugars. This eating and drinking is not in response to hunger, but a way to temporarily become more alert. It not only introduces unneeded calories, but can create a vicious cycle of being overstimulated during the day, and unable to sleep well at night.

While there are still a number of unanswered questions, the evidence is growing that sleep and weight gain are connected. Fortunately, the solution for many people may be as simple as pulling down the shades, powering off all screens and turning out the light for a good night’s sleep so you can wake up ready to start the day with your appetite under control.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian, cultural anthropologist and scientific advisor to the Calorie Control Council, whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness. Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.

Are there side effects from artificial sweeteners?

Are There Artificial Sweeteners Side Effects?

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Many things in our lives are now easier thanks to the Internet. We can book our own flights for a vacation, check what the weather will be when we arrive and order new clothes before we leave. But finding good health advice online is not an easy task.

If you’ve ever tried to get an answer to a health question you’ve probably ended up more confused – or even frightened – about your condition, after scanning all of the possibilities. That is especially true when it comes to alleged (or suspected) side effects of artificial sweeteners (commonly known as “sugar substitutes” or what I call “low-calorie sweeteners”).

I have written about the myths associated with sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweeteners) and other sugar substitutes before in individual blogs. For this blog, I thought it would be useful to pull together the most commonly asked questions so you have the answers you are seeking all in one place.

Dispelling the Myths about Artificial Sweeteners Side Effects

Q: Do artificial sweeteners, like SPLENDA® Sweeteners, cause weight gain?

A: No. Artificial sweeteners can help decrease caloric intake when they are used in place of sugar, so they can help you lose weight when part of an energy-balanced diet with regular physical activity.

Learn more about misinformation regarding weight gain and low-calorie sweeteners. Also, read about how low calorie sweeteners can support yourweight loss efforts.

Q: Will using SPLENDA® Sweetener Products or other sugar substitutes make me crave sweets?

A: No. Research shows food cravings are not the same for everyone and not triggered by the same foods. Since sucralose, the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweeteners, is 600 times sweeter than sugar, some people believe it will trigger cravings for them if they like sweets. But studies on people who are regular users of SPLENDA® Products and other artificial sweeteners show that these products can be an aid to weight management. Read more in my blog about sweet cravings and satisfying our desire for sweet taste with fewer calories.

Q: Can no- and low-calorie sweeteners like SPLENDA® Sweeteners make me have an increased appetite?

A: No. It is normal to want more of a food that tastes good to us, but if we pay attention to our hunger and satiety signals we can avoid overeating. Low calorie sweeteners have been shown to be a useful tool in weight management by helping people feel more satisfied with their food and beverage choices.

Learn more from my blog about the appetite myth, and about signs of hunger vs. appetite.

Q: Do artificial sweeteners, like sucralose, cause digestive problems?

A: No. Data from over 100 studies show sucralose has no side effects. Changes in our stomach sounds and bowel habits can be triggered by many healthy foods we eat and are a sign of normal digestion at work.

Read more about sucralose and digestive health.

Q: Can sugar substitutes cause diabetes?

A: No. People who have diabetes are advised to reduce their sugar and carbohydrate intake by using sugar substitutes (such as SPLENDA® Sweetener Products). Sucralose is not a carbohydrate so it does not affect our blood glucose levels or insulin requirements.

Learn more of the “sweet truth” about artificial sweeteners and diabetes.

Now that you have all the answers to your questions about side effects and artificial sweeteners you can get back to planning your next vacation via the Internet!

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

There is a long tradition of using spices to spice up your love life

Spice Up Your Love Life With Spices

THERE IS A LONG TRADITION OF USING HERBS AND SPICES TO SPICE UP YOUR LOVE LIFE

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

If you’re looking for ways to spice up your love life, you can start in the kitchen. Or more specifically, the spice rack. Adding more spices to your meals is a widely used practice to bring more passion into the bedroom.

Historians say spices are responsible for the spread of civilization across the continents (though not because they are aphrodisiacs.) The desire for more spices is what made people in Asia, North Africa and Europe venture out beyond their familiar borders over 5000 year ago. They crossed desserts, mountains, and oceans to get to the peppercorns, cinnamon and nutmeg on the other side.

As a result, the spice trade is credited with having caused one of the biggest population explosions of all time!

Can Spices Help Your Love Life?

If you understand the placebo effect, then spices will definitely improve your libido and increase fertility. If you need cold, hard, facts before spicing up your menus, then your coupling may be a bit bland.

Spices have long been used for medicinal purposes, including improving sex drive. Many of those traditional remedies have now been proven effective. Others have not, but belief in them remains strong, and that is often rewarded with good results.

Sexy Spices From Folklore and Science

Basil: The sweet scent is believed to make men lust after a woman wearing it. Ancient Greeks gave it to horses before breeding them.

Cloves: Used in aromatherapy to increase sexual desire. It improves blood flow and body temperature when eaten.

Coriander: In the tale, The Arabian Nights, a merchant who was childless for 40 years is cured by a concoction that includes coriander. Hippocrates made a wedding drink containing it to stimulate libido of the newlyweds.

Fennel: Contains estirol, an estrogen-like substance. Ancient Egyptians used it to boost libido in women.

Fenugreek: The seeds contain saponins, which play a role in increasing testosterone production. A 2011 study showed it raised libido in men.

Ginger: Improves circulation and is believed to increase blood flow to sexual organs.

Ginseng: Used by traditional healers to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) related to stress. Early evidence suggests it may be effective, but more research is needed.

Nutmeg: Valued it as an aphrodisiac by Chinese women, referred to as the “Viagra for Women” in Africa. Can produce hallucinations when used in quantity.

Saffron: An extensive review of food aphrodisiacs done in 2011 found just a few threads can improve ED, but was not as effective as Viagra.

When cooking, the amount of each spice used and when to add it is an important part of the recipe. Unfortunately, there are similar no recipes for properly seasoning your sex life. But don’t let that stop you. McCormick has plenty of ideas to help get your started.

Cooking together is enticing for me, what turns you on in the kitchen?

Diet for a healthy heart also helps to keep the brain strong

Diet for a Healthy Heart is Good for the Brain

FOODS THAT HELP MAINTAIN A HEALTHY HEART KEEP OUR BRAINS STRONG, TOO

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.

If it seems to you the foods that can help prevent heart disease grab all the headlines, your eyesight is fine! Heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women alike in the U.S., so controlling it makes news. Keeping the brain sharp is also on people’s minds, but it takes more than cross-word puzzles to do it. What you eat can also help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The good news is that the diet that’s good for your heart is good for your brain, too!

The dietary guidelines that support a healthy heart include foods that won’t clog your arteries, supply plenty of anti-oxidants, help to keep blood pressure low, and deliver lots of nutrients.

To keep your heart and brain healthy you should be eating:

  • Dark green, deep orange, yellow, red and purple vegetables and fruits, such as spinach, carrots, peaches, tomatoes, and berries.
  • Whole grains and products made from them, such as whole oats, brown rice, whole wheat bread, and whole grain pasta.
  • Oily cold-water fish containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna, salmon, sardines, lake trout, and herring.
  • Beans, nuts and seeds for their fiber, essential oils and micronutrients, such as kidney beans, chick peas, almonds, walnuts and sunflower seed.
  • Nonfat and low fat milk and milk products, such as yogurt and cheese.

Added Ways to Feed the Brain

Eat Fish Often –People who eat baked or broiled fish at least once a week – regardless of type – have been found to have more of the gray matter in their brains in the areas related to Alzheimer’s. Scientists believe the larger and stronger that area is, the longer it takes for the disease to destroy it. Eating fried fish was not found to provide the same benefits.

Season with Curcumin – This spice is the active ingredient in turmeric and used in Indian curries. Animal research has shown it reduces amyloid plaque, which is what accumulates in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Human studies have also found that those who ate the most curried foods had the highest scores on cognition tests.

Supplement with Vitamin B12 – Even if the diet is nutritionally adequate, certain medications and changes in digestive secretions can interfere with the absorption of vitamins needed for vital brain functions, such as Vitamin B12. Older adults with deficiencies of Vitamin B12 have been found to have smaller brains and lower scores on test measuring their memory, thinking and reasoning.

Sweet cravings are often a learned response to stress

How to Control Sweet Cravings with New Coping Skills

This post was written as a guest blog for SplendaLiving.com. You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

The connection between certain foods and our emotions can be very strong. I know having carrot cake with cream cheese frosting puts the “happy” in my happy birthday celebration, but it isn’t the only way to put a smile on my face. Yet many of my clients have told me they find it difficult to cope with the ups and downs of everyday life without turning to sweet treats to lift their spirits.

If you’ve ever eaten your way through a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies to help you deal with a difficult situation, you know what I’m talking about. Whether it’s an overwhelming project at work or an extended to-do list at home, using food to “feed” your emotions can become an unhealthy habit.

The desire to eat sweets can feel so strong to some people they call it a craving. But is it really a food craving or just a long-used coping mechanism?

I’ve written about the power of perceived food cravings before. Their connection to coping mechanisms is very strong. Simply put, if we have always relied on certain foods to help us get through tough times we can feel very deprived without those foods – but that isn’t a craving. It is a learned way to cope. Unfortunately, the pleasure of eating a favorite food is short-lived, while the excess calories that go with those foods can last forever. And eating doesn’t solve the problem at hand.

What you need if you’ve become conditioned to think of food as the fix for everything that hurts are new coping skills. The goal is to learn how to deal with whatever comes your way so you can feel good about yourself for handling the task rather than giving in to sweet cravings to feel good. The more you practice these skills, the less you’ll rely on food rewards for your happiness. You’ll soon discover that nothing tastes as sweet as success!

Coping Without All the Calories

  • Have a backup plan.You need a new strategy that can be implemented in a moment’s notice to replace reaching for a treat. An easy one is to drink a 12 ounce glass of cold water and avoid eating anything for at least 30 minutes. That will give you time to deal with the problem and break down the need for instant gratification.
  • Use the escape route. When thoughts of food are distracting you, let your mind take a rest and put your body to work instead. Go for a short, brisk walk or get up and do some jumping jacks or find a stairwell and make a few trips up and down to provide a physical release for your pent-up frustrations. Getting away from the situation for a few minutes can’t hurt, and the activity just might help to clear your mind so you can see your way to a solution a little faster.
  • Reach for a lifeline. Sometimes our problems are just too big to handle on our own, especially when facing unrealistic expectations imposed by yourself or others. Knowing when it’s time to reach out for help can save both time and unnecessary stress. Focus on getting the job done using whatever resources you can rather than trying to go it alone.
  • Fortify your fortress. Keeping tempting foods out of sight can certainly make it easier to stay on task, but that doesn’t mean you can never eat something sweet. That’s where low calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA®No Calorie Sweetener, can come in handy. Using a low calorie sweetener instead of sugar makes it possible to satisfy your sweet tooth with fewer calories as a regular part of your meal plan. Whether used in a cup of your favorite herbal tea, to flavor a Sweet and Spicy Snack Mix or make a batch of Deep Chocolate Shortbread to stash in the freezer, you can enjoy a sweet treat just because it tastes good, not because it helps you cope!

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

 

The healing powers of tea are on the calendar for January

The Healing Powers of Tea

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE HEALING POWERS OF TEA DURING HOT TEA MONTH THIS JANUARY

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read it here.

It isn’t always clear who makes up these declarations, but the calendar is full of days and months dedicated to particular foods and health causes. I personally think it is a good way to focus our attention on things we can eat or do that can have a big impact on our well-being. One month at a time.

This year I plan to highlight my favorite food or health “occasions” at the start of each month so you can “celebrate” them right along with me. Who said eating well wasn’t fun!

My pick for January is the celebration of Hot Tea Month. Why not get a cup to sip while reading this?

Tea is now the most widely consumed beverage around the world next to water and the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc. reports that 80% of U.S. households have tea in them.

Legend has it that tea was accidently discovered over 5000 years ago when some tea leaves blew into a pot of boiling water belonging to a Chinese Emperor who was known as a “Divine Healer.” The flavorful drink was believed to cure a variety of ailments and its use soon spread throughout China and Asia into Europe and the New World. What few tea drinkers could have known then is that the real benefits they received from this simple beverage were due to the purifying effects of boiling the water before drinking it.

Recent studies done on both Black and Green tea provide significant evidence of their health benefits. The naturally occurring compounds in tea leaves called flavonoids hold the key to many of their benefits. Just like the antioxidants found in other fruits and vegetables, the flavonoids in tea have been found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers while supporting the immune system and bone health. Preliminary research also suggests that drinking tea may have beneficial effects on body weight, fat accumulation and insulin activity.

While researchers continue to study the exact mechanisms by which can tea heal and strengthen our bodies, I prefer to focus on its more ethereal properties. Drinking hot tea has always involved certain rituals for me, and those rituals have comforted me in an otherwise unpredictable world. For instance, when I drink tea:

  • Water must boil and a kettle must whistle for me to enjoy a cup of tea. It cannot come from a microwave oven or hot water faucet.
  • My tea must be consumed from a bone China cup with a thin lip. No chunky coffee mugs or, heaven forbid, disposable cups, thank you very much.
  • Drinking tea makes me sit still, to possibly stare out a window or get lost in my thoughts. No chance to multitask with my hands wrapped around a cup of hot tea.
  • Drinking tea is my way to slow down, to recoup, regroup and reflect. Don’t offer me tea if I’m in a hurry, I need time to enjoy it.

Drinking tea makes me feel good. It is a ritual I participate in several times a day and feel so richly rewarded by. And now that it’s Hot Tea Month, I hope you will enjoy it, too.

Use these simple eating tips for form good eating habits in the New Year

Eating Tips for Good Health and Weight Loss in the New Year

USE THESE SIMPLE EATING TIPS FOR FORM GOOD EATING HABITS IN THE NEW YEAR

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read it here.

Anyone old enough to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve will probably make a resolution to drop a few pounds in the coming year. It’s one of the top resolutions made in the first minute of the first day of every new year. If it’s on your list, I have a few eating tips that can help you reach your health and weight loss goals in 2013.

The key is forming good eating habits so the preferred behavior happens automatically. A habit is a habit whether good or bad, so swapping out your old way of eating for something new, and better, solves the problem for good.

The biggest challenge is interrupting the status quo. It’s like switching off the cruise control in the car when we’re driving on a highway. Once we do, we’ve got to think about maintaining the speed limit again. The same is true when we‘re making food decisions. It’s not that we dislike every brand of high fiber cereal on the shelf; we just keep selecting the same low fiber one over and over again because that’s what we’ve always done.

But that does not mean you should skip the resolutions when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. If you’re really willing to leave the old year behind, let this be the year you ring in good health and weight loss for the very last time.

Top 10 Eating Tips For 2013

  1. Pick a start date that works for you. There’s nothing magical about January 1st, or the 52 Mondays in the year, or your birthday. There’s also no reason to wait a minute longer if you’re ready. You can start right now.
  2. Be brutally honest with yourself about what has blocked your success in the past. Do you feel entitled to eat certain foods? Procrastinate about meal planning? Blame others for your food choices? It’s time to deal with those disabling thoughts and beliefs.
  3. Make educating yourself about good nutrition part of your commitment. It is much easier to eat well when you understand why it matters.
  4. Talk about the changes you’re making to those who need to know so they can be supportive of your efforts and so they’ll understand why you stopped eating the way you used to do.
  5. Don’t try to make anyone else change along with you, just be an example for them. You can only change yourself.
  6. Plan each meal and snack around a fruit or vegetable – or both – instead of thinking about the meat or starch first.
  7. If you eat out more than once a month, it’s not a special occasion. Those meals should be as well- planned and carefully selected as the meals you eat at home.
  8. Don’t worry about disappointing others if you don’t eat as much as you used to or celebrate with food the way you once did. Worry about disappointing yourself.
  9. Small changes are all it takes to overhaul your life as long as you make enough of them and you stick with each one.
  10. Make sure you never view any food as a reward, no matter how tempting or delicious. If you’re thinking, “I deserve to eat this,” don’t eat it unless you can say, “I choose to eat this.”

How many of your resolutions from last year did you keep?

Tips for dealing with depression brought on by seasonal affective disorder (sad)

Feeling SAD? Seasonal Affective Disorder & The Winter Blues

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. This site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can view it here.

TIPS FOR DEALING WITH DEPRESSION BROUGHT ON BY SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD)

We’re two-thirds of the way through winter, and I’m SAD. Not in a way that means I’m unhappy to see winter coming to an end, but the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) kind. I get the winter blues when I don’t get enough sunlight.

This condition is most common in places where there are big differences in the amount of daylight from one season to the next. Being an outdoorsy person, I notice those things. If you’re dealing with depression caused by too many clouds and not enough blue sky, you may have the winter blues, too.

Women are more likely to suffer from seasonal affective disorder than men, and it typically begins in the teenage years. If you have a close relative with SAD, your chances of having it are higher, but the older we become the lower the risk is of getting it for the first time.

Fortunately, Daylight Savings Time begins on March 10th this year, so the days will soon start getting longer.

If you’re in a funk for no particular reason, I have some strategies to brighten your outlook. They don’t require hopping a plane to a tropical place, but by all means take the trip if you can! Instead, I’m going to show you how to beat the winter blues with a trip into your own kitchen.

Change the Scenery

Hit the Winter White Sales to get a colorful new tablecloth, placemats, towel set, seat cushions, window valance, or area rug. Hint: I took down my old valance to replace it and never put the new one up when I realized how much more light streamed into the room without it. The point is to turn your kitchen into an oasis, a welcoming place to come home to each night.

Alternate Appliances

Dust off those little-used small appliances you have tucked away in closets and read the user manuals for inspiration. Your culinary repertoire and mental outlook can be revitalized just by switching from a slow cooker to a wok. I know I’m ready for a sizzling shrimp stir fry made with perfectly julienned vegetables using my mandolin slicer.

Unclutter the Cupboards

Buy some new shelf paper and use it to line the shelves and reorganize what you put back in. Give away odd mugs, unmatched glassware, and unused baskets that are taking up space. Sort and toss any plastic ware without its proper lid. Clean out the junk draw and be sure to identify what all those power cords belong to so you can label them before winding them up and putting them back in.

Bring on Spring

You don’t have to wait until the ground thaws to have edible plants in your home. Start a window sill herb pot for instant flavor in a pinch, sprout some beans for added crunch on sandwiches and salads, force some flowering bulbs with edible petals, such as tulips and daylilies, or make a centerpiece from pansies and violets and snip the flowers for edible garnishes.

Cook Out Often

Your kitchen can take on the tastes and smells of summer by just lighting the barbeque grill. Marinate some chicken, toss a potato salad, grill some vegetables and squeeze some lemons for fresh lemonade.

And when it snows, be sure to have extra burgers on hand to grill for the crew doing the shoveling.

Plan a Luau

Let everyone wear a Hawaiian print shirt and put on some music from The Beach Boys. There’s plenty of tropical fruit in the stores, so you can start with a halved and hollowed pineapple filled with pineapple chunks, kiwi and banana topped with toasted coconut. The rest of your menu can be as easy as some take-out seaweed salad and a sushi platter or easily prepared fish tacos and oven-baked sweet potato fries. And don’t forget to stop at the party goods store for the little cocktail umbrellas!

Not getting enough sleep is only one reason why people feel tired all the time

Tired All the Time? 11 Reasons Why (Besides Lack of Sleep)

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, but you can read the blog here.

NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP IS ONLY ONE REASON WHY PEOPLE FEEL TIRED ALL THE TIME

We’ve all felt exhausted at one time or another, but what if you’re tired all the time? While that’s definitely not good, it may help to know you’re not alone. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control has increased its surveillance of sleep-related disorders in recent years in recognition of the problem.

The issue of inadequate sleep is a national health concern because it is associated with a higher risk of several chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cancer. It also increases the risk of motor vehicle accidents and industrial and occupational errors.

Since no one wants to drag themselves through each day feeling tired and weak, what’s keeping them from getting all the rest they need?

Snoring, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and insomnia are the most common sleep disorders that keep people from getting a good night’s rest. Each can be diagnosed and treated to restore sound sleep to the sufferer and his/her sleeping partner. But many other conditions can leave you feeling sluggish no matter how many hours of sleep you get.

There’s no reason to take feeling run down as the new normal, no matter how long you’ve suffered or how many other people you know who have the same complaint. A simple change of diet or medication may be all that is needed to correct the underlying problem.

11 Reasons Why You May Be Tired All the Time

  1. Allergies – Some food cause sudden sleepiness right after eating them. Allergies to dust, mold, pollen and other things in the environmental can trigger allergic sinusitis, which can cause fatigue.
  2. Anemia – Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common blood condition in the US and a common cause of fatigue.
  3. Thyroid Problems – The thyroid gland regulates metabolism. If it is under active, you will feel sluggish.
  4. Rheumatoid Arthritis – This inflammatory condition can produce extreme fatigue along with pain and joint stiffness.
  5. Diabetes – The cells are deprived of glucose in undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes, so they can’t produce energy.
  6. Depression – The chronic feelings of sadness, worry, and hopelessness that accompany depression can result in feeling sluggish and tired all the time.
  7. Dehydration – When fluids are not regularly replaced, blood volume falls and the heart must work harder to pump the blood the body needs, which can lead to fatigue.
  8. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – There is no known cause for this syndrome which often includes headache, inability to concentrate, and muscle weakness.
  9. Poor Diet – Deficiencies in Vitamins D, B12, and folate or minerals potassium, magnesium and calcium can lead to muscle weakness and fatigue.
  10. Lack of Fuel – Skipping meals or not eating enough can deprive the body of sufficient calories to fuel everyday activities.
  11. Heart Disease – Fatigue while doing things that were once easy can be a symptom of undiagnosed heart disease.

When is the last time you got through the day without running out of energy?

Check these related blogs for more information of feeling tired:

  • Anemia Causes Higher Risk of Death After Stroke
  • The World’s Most Popular Drug: Caffeine