Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Actual Amount of Fruit and Vegetable Servings We Should Get Daily and Here's Why

Fruit and Vegetable Servings
Fruit and Vegetable Servings image courtesy of Pixabay

Remember the old food pyramid? That old thing that used to tell us the right foods and quantities to eat for a well balanced, healthy and nutritious diet? For those that can not recall, or maybe are too young to remember, in the early 90’s the United States Department of Agriculture released the first real traditional food model specifically focused on dietary consumption and provided within it were the recommended values of the varying food groups. The pyramid put a big focus on whole grains and the inclusion of fruits and vegetables and dairy products for a healthy, well balanced diet.

Throughout the 90’s as dietary fads grew, carbohydrates began to become more feared and the diet went through all sorts of transformations from being turned upside down, made into circles, squares, and all kinds of new trending shapes. One thing however that did not seem to be changing was the amount of servings of fruit and vegetables that should be present in a well balanced diet. Until recently the recommended amount was consistently four to five servings of fruit and vegetables a day and was treated only as a supplement to main, carbohydrate and protein-centric dishes rather than being the bulk of our fiber and carbohydrate intake.

So are we getting enough fruit and vegetable servings in our diet with four to five servings a day?

Info on Fruit and Veggie Intake Quality and Quantity

The thing about the intake of fruits and vegetables is that they can offer fullness through fiber content, a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals, and provide a lighter feeling throughout the digestion process, all while not destroying your daily calorie count as you munch away. The main things to consider in eating your 7-8 servings of fruit and vegetables a day is sugar intake and variety; you want to shoot for a ‘produce-rainbow’ and avoid overeating the same fruit multiple times.

For instance, bananas are power packed with potassium and and B-6 but are also on the higher side when it comes to sugar and carbohydrates, now while these natural sugars and carbohydrates shouldn’t be treated like processed sugars and carbs as they digest faster and provide healthy regeneration of energy stores necessary for physical activity, you still don’t want to overdue your glucose intake by eating 4-5 bananas a day.

An Example of a Good Day's Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

In the following I will provide a normal day's intake of fruit and veggies as an example of how to eat and when. For best digestion, all fruit and vegetables should be eaten first with any meal; avoid eating any acidic fruits after other foods as this complicates digestion and can lead to stomach ache.

Here's what a normal day's diet looks like when shooting for 7-8 servings:

  1. First serving: Morning Coffee with Banana and Oatmeal - (Pros: Potassium, B-6/ Cons: 12-16g sugar)
  2. Second and third servings: 10 am Carrots and Grapefruit - (Pros: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, low sugar content, energizing/ cons: prep work)
  3. Fourth serving: Something Green With Lunch - Kale/Broccoli/Spinach (Pros: Calcium, Iron, Fiber)
  4. Fifth serving: Mid Day Snack - Berries and mint leaves (Pros: refreshing and energizing, heart health, focus)
  5. Sixth, seventh and eighth servings: Dinner should be 70% Veggie 30% other. Finish your day off with vegetable based carbs and avoid large meals or bread right before bed. Think beats, tomato, chard, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, sweet potato.
Why the Fruit and Vegetables? As a vegetarian, I am always asked if I think it is worth it to diet my whole life in some weird attempt at trying to live forever. In response I offer that it is not about living forever, but rather about being able to use my body to the fullest extent while I am here. As you phase more servings of healthy fruit and vegetables into your daily routine and diet you will not only notice a difference in energy stores and alertness, but you will also be helping yourself to lower your blood-pressure and strengthen your heart.

At the core of our cardiovascular issues as a human race is poor diet and exercise, if you up your raw fruit and vegetable content to 7-8 servings per day you are doing your due diligence to ward off disease by creating a strong immune system and building a powerhouse of antioxidants in your body.

It is not easy to go from zero to 100 in fruit and vegetable consumption, especially if you do not know where to begin. I encourage trying to take on the dietary change with a friend and doing as much further research as you can to learn how to add variety and zest to your diet.

Eating beautiful raw fruits and vegetables should be one of the joys of living on this wonderful earth, so do your best to get as many of the proper servings a day and you will feel light and invigorated, your skin will look beautiful, and you will be on your way to a healthier you!

By  IWrite4U!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Commitment: The Key to Successful Weight Loss

While losing weight and keeping it off is almost like a living mat equation, with the calories you eat and activity you expend equaling either your weight loss or gain, according to the Mayo Clinic, the key to successful weight loss starts in your mind.

Weight Loss image courtesy of MorgueFile

While weight loss success or failure is linked to how well you implement dietary and exercise changes, it starts with your commitment to lose weight. 

If you've struggled to lose weight in the past, only to end up with unsatisfying results, first, give yourself a break, then get your mindset ready to move ahead. Obesity, stress, and depression are so tightly linked that pushing ahead with weight loss without finding a way to cope with the other emotions is practically setting yourself up to fail. But, it doesn't have to be like that...

The Energy Imbalance Equation Behind Weight Gain

The NIH sums up the cause of the human body storing excess fat with an equation, and it's pretty simple as far as math goes.

Energy In ≠ Energy Out

What that simple equation means is, if you take in more calories (consumed or energy in) than your body burns (energy out) then your body still has to DO something with that excess energy, so it turns it to fat to burn later. But, as you've probably noticed if you're here, reading this, once it turns to fat, it's hard to get rid of, and that's where your mindset becomes the key to your weight loss success.

6 Tips for Creating a Weight Loss Mindset That Works

The excess weight you carry is going to hang around on your body until you are ready, in your mind, to let it go. This can take a lot of self-analysis, and it can take years to get it right if you're going it alone - but every step is one step closer - and even steps that feel like setbacks can be successes if you let yourself learn from the experience.

  1. Think of losing weight as a long term goal, but set smaller goals that let you measure success in increments.
  2. Expect it to take a while to lose excess weight, after all, you didn't gain it all in one day or even a week, so it isn't going to go away in a single day or a week either. 
  3. Expect to have 'bad' days, when you just absolutely NEED that hot fudge sundae, chips or whatever your comfort food is - and know that indulging isn't failure - plan for it ahead of time and make it a reward so it feels like part of your success
  4. Experiment with new recipes. Have fun with it and let it be a good experience. You'll find that some of your favorite comfort foods are perfect for you just as they are - and that's okay but you may need to reduce the quantity of those to meet your weight loss goals. And, you'll find there are some foods you can make more diet-friendly without wrecking the flavor with the addition of things like high-fiber chia seed or flax. 
  5. Keep a food journal that details what you eat, what you're doing when you eat, and how you're feeling both before and after eating.
  6. If you're surrounded by invasive, nosy, critical, or toxic people, you'll want to find a way to do these things while keeping those people out of your weight loss efforts. Using the food journal as an example, you may want to create a password-protected document in your computer or a password-protected blog that only you can access.  
Create a real commitment to yourself and your health, so when the occasional setback occurs, which it invariably will, you will be able to keep forging ahead and succeed with your fitness and weight loss goals.

Other reading material:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Abs Are Made In The Kitchen

Image of fit, strong abs courtesy of Pixabay

When it comes to fitness, there is a wide variety of options for workout plans that are often tailored to the desired results of the individual. Whether the goal is losing ten pounds or a six pack stomach or toned legs and glutes, there are countless programs available on the market today for whatever your fitness goals.

Among those programs, what may not be taught and is often under-explored, is one of the most important and simple ideas to getting that abdominal tone and definition that needs to bellowed from hilltops far and wide - ABS ARE MADE IN THE KITCHEN!

You can spot train all you want, doing dangerous crunches for hours that contort and hinder your spinal health but the lack of results is due to a simple formula that abdominal training follows and that is that ab definition consists of a delicate formula: genetics + muscle +body fat + diet = shredded tummy. A trimmed and defined six-pack can be revealed through the simple addition of healthy alternatives to some of the most over-consumed foods that we will look at below.


Flax seed bread and veggies image courtesy of Pixabay
While cutting out carbohydrates altogether is very dangerous, particularly for more active people, the consideration of healthy alternatives will leave you feeling energized and looking lean. Although whole-wheat is a good emerging option to the standard white bread, it is important to inspect labels for ‘enriched whole wheat flour.’ Enriched whole wheat flour is a variety of carb production where the actual natural nutrients we require from our carbs are removed and added in a chemical compound form on the back end of the food creation.

For example, milled whole grains used to produce the necessary food compounds needed but by upping production and lowering costs companies found a way to essentially create a bread void of any required nutrients that they added through a chemical compound in the baking process. This can cause the carb stores to be misplaced in the body (i.e. sit on the stomach) and also leave you with digestive issues. For all carbs, reach instead for buckwheat alternatives. Buckwheat is an ancient grain that has the most bang for buck on healthy proteins and carbohydrates. This brittle pasta, found in most international sections of your grocery store will leave you with a lighter feeling of fullness and not fill up heavy stores around your stomach region. Quinoa is also an option of ancient grain that supports high levels of protein and needed fibers and makes a good addition to any meal.

Fruits and Veggies for Fullness

Snacking in between meals can be a healthy way to keep your metabolism churning if done correctly. Avoiding processed foods and designing your caloric intake in between meals to consist of mainly fruits and veggies will leave you feeling full while avoiding unwanted food stores around the waistline.

Hummus image courtesy of Pixabay
Some options for healthy snacking include:

  • Tub of hummus and assorted veggies: buy a two-pound tub of hummus (make sure first ingredient is chickpeas) and heads of bok choy, broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower. Nature already provides a perfect dippable delight with these foods so simply clean the raw vegetables and dip and eat with the hummus
  • Nuts: although the overall amount of consumption should be monitored, mix an assortment of nuts in a Tupperware or big bag and keep it handy in your desk or car for a quick bite on the run. Avoid processed ‘trail-mix’ as the sugar content is always more than needed
  • Peanut butter and Banana: ensure that you have correctly processed peanut butter (ingredients should just be peanut butter and salt) and spread it on banana slices for a filling and delicious snack

Healthy Fats and Sugars

Kombucha tea image courtesy of Pixabay
While we need healthy fats and sugars to support brain functionality and energy, as a culture, we consume too much of, or the wrong fats and sugars altogether. Put down the Gatorades and soft drinks and the stores of fat around your stomach will begin to dissipate. If you must have a sweet drink throughout the day reach for a kombucha tea and check the ingredient list for a low sugar content (this will also provide awesome cancer fighting antioxidants).

Replace cooking oils with coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil for a healthier fat option and aim to get all of your sugars naturally from fruit and vegetables.

The pursuit for trimmed six-pack starts with a conscious focus on ingredient lists. Be sure to keep your sugar and fat content down and aim to avoid processed foods by all means. One of the easiest ways to start is to write down a list of the foods you like and piece together a diet based on the raw ingredients rather than processed foods. Fruits and veggies should be your best friend on the way to a toned core!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

5 Healthy Dessert Ideas for Summertime

Looking for those perfect healthy dessert ideas to keep the waste-line thin and the body feeling refreshed and healthy in the summertime can be a bit of a chore. Read on for five delicious, easy, and refreshing desserts to try that won't wreck your diet.

Healthy Summertime Dessert image courtesy of Pixabay

5 Healthy Summertime Dessert Ideas

Here are five ideas for hot weather dessert to keep your taste buds and your beach body happy and smiling.

Honey Lemon Gelatin

Take your desired powdered gelatin and add the zest of fresh lemon, squeeze in a bit of lemon juice and add a few drops of local honey, let it settle in the fridge and serve with a small dollop of homemade whipped topping. Also great with lime or tangerine.

Berry Parfait with Greek Yogurt and Golden Flax

Combine your choice of fresh picked summer berries, drizzle them with honey and layer them in a small glass dish with low-fat Greek yogurt and whole-grain oats. Sprinkle some golden flax seeds on top and you have yourself a perfect blend of protein and sweet to add to your summertime dessert idea book.

Angel Food Cake and Blueberries

Already a light and airy sponge cake, add zest of lemon or orange and serve with chilled berries. The fruit adds color and an amazing sweet-tanginess that makes this a great summertime treat.

Melon half with Strawberries and Mint

Carve and de-seed your melon of choice. Fill the center with diced strawberries, top it with fresh mint leaves and serve chilled.

Cherry- Mint Lemonade Slush

Take your frozen or fresh cherries, blend them with fresh squeezed, sugar-free lemonade and ice for a refreshing, sweet drink. Zest a lemon or add fresh mint to put this joyful summertime treat over the top!