Archive for What to Eat

” When are you due?”

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 “When are you due?”  The red-haired lady looked at me with kind eyes and smiled as I placed the box of cookies in my grocery cart.  She’d caught me off guard.

“Excuse me?”  I replied.

“The baby.”  She nodded toward my stomach.  “When are you due?”

I responded as quickly as my mind could calculate the months.  “February.”

“Awww, well, congratulations.”  She smiled again and pushed her cart off down the aisle.  I stood there for a moment.  Processing.  Mortified.  It was all I could do to hold back the tears.  I wasn’t pregnant.  But, I was too embarrassed to admit that to a complete stranger.

I stared at the items in my cart – cookies, chips, soda, and more carbs than any one person should be consuming in a week.  I know I must have looked like a lunatic as I removed item after item from my cart, placing them back on the shelves as I reversed my trek through the store.  For the next 20 minutes, I fought the urge to cry while speeding through the produce section, grabbing anything and everything there that I knew I didn’t hate.

When I finally made it to my car, I practically threw the bags into the trunk, collapsed into the driver’s seat, cranked the car, turned the radio up...and lost it.  I sat there and just cried.  I don’t remember how many songs had played before one got my attention.   "Shine" by Anna Nalick.  Three particular lines were loud enough to pierce through my sobbing. 

"I think you need to stop following misery’s lead...Isn't it time you got over how fragile you are?  Everyone is waiting on your supernova."  I suddenly realized I couldn’t keep on thinking I wasn’t strong enough to change.  I needed to take the lead.  There were people in my life who needed me to be strong enough, who were waiting for my supernova.  They were just waiting for me to become the best version of me.  They deserved the best version  – a healthy me. 

But at the very core, I knew I had to do it for myself as much as for my children and my family.  It was time for my transformation...mentally and physically.

I drove home that day, grabbed a trash bag and emptied my cabinets and refrigerator of any junk food or foods that I knew would be a weakness for me.  I replaced it with fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grain foods.  I sat down that night and wrote my goals on a piece of printer paper and stuck it on my refrigerator door.   I put post-it notes with encouraging quotes written on them all over my house in places I knew I’d see them: my closet door, the bathroom mirror, my computer screen.  I knew I would have to find ways to keep myself on point and motivated.  The one quote that I knew would hit home every time was the one I wrote on the bottom of every sticky note. “When are you due?”

I found other ways to stay on track too. 

I write it out.  I discuss my weight loss struggles and victories on my blog and Facebook page.  It helps me to stay accountable and maybe in the process I’ll encourage someone else who might be struggling alone the way.

I load up on liquids.  I don’t mean the sugary ones, either.  Water.  Lots of water.  But I know water can get boring.  Believe me, I know.  So I like to shake it up by adding a squeeze of lemon or MIO drops (blueberry lemonade is my favorite).

I keep track.  I write down what I’m eating and how I’m feeling.  Not just to keep up with calories, but in order to see if there are certain foods that make me feel like crap.  I also don’t weigh myself daily.  Once a week is the limit, twice a month would be better.  Our bodies can fluctuate, there’s no reason our moods should too just because the number on the scale does.  Look at the overall progress.

I snack smart.  I keep my favorite healthy snacks easily available.  If I’m craving chocolate, I eat a handful of Dark Cocoa almonds (it’s pure cocoa with no sugar).  They keep the cravings satisfied and keep my friends from finding me hiding in the supply closet with two Hershey bars and a Pepsi.

We all have our challenges to face, our goals to reach, and our own reasons to stay motivated.  You just have to find yours and find a way to remind yourself daily of what they are.  Remind yourself daily that you are strong enough to overcome the challenges and reach your goals.  No matter what those goals are.  So, when are you due?

How to Eat Healthy at Chipotle

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Like so many of us, Steve grew tired of the fast food scene. He didn't like being unsure of exactly what was in between the buns of his burger, or how many chemicals were used to make it taste the same way every time. He didn't like the way a stomach groans with subtle dissatisfaction after a fast food meal. You know the groan of which we speak. 

Being a chef, he felt like there was room for food that was better for everyone in the equation, from the suppliers of the ingredients to the customers who eat it in their cars. Combining all of these sounds like an impossibility, but he managed to pull it off. 

Steve is Steve Ells, the founder of Chipotle. Founded in 1993, Chipotle now has over 1400 locations, and they continue to push his vision of "Food with Integrity." Their 2013 "Scarecrow" campaign went viral, and ruffled the feathers of many of their fast food rivals. 

Chipotle is known for their fresh ingredients at surprisingly fair prices. But is it healthy? Organic, home grown, sans hormones...none of these guarantee that you'll be slimmer or live longer for eating them, though you certainly stand a better shot with these types of foods. 

We poured through the Chipotle menu to find the best, healthiest items that match up with our preference: the Mediterranean Diet. This diet emphasizes olive oil, fruit, veggies, nuts, whole grains, beans and fish, with other meats and processed foods deemphasized or forbidden altogether. 

Next time you roll into a Chipotle, try these dishes for an even healthier experience: 

Burrito Bowl/ chicken or pork - This is everything you love in a burrito, just minus the high-calorie flour tortilla. Guacamole, lettuce, black beans...so good. Skip the rice and cheese if you really want to stick close to the Mediterranean Diet. 

Crispy Tacos- While the corn shells are a bit iffy, everything else is good. 

Guacamole - All that cheese you skipped out on is replaced in flavor by a bit of guacamole. Chipotle makes theirs with simple avocado, salt, jalapenos,cilantro, lime and diced onions. It isn't low cal, but avocado and the other fresh ingredients make up for it with other health benefits. 

Beware of: Really, they've done a great job of limiting their menu, so there isn't a ton to avoid. The flour tortillas and chips are really our primary threats, and they're both very easy to avoid. 

Hey, sometimes you have to hop out of the car and grab something quick. 
It happens to us all. Chipotle is one of the places you'll do well to drop in to, because they have a rare combination of fresh ingredients and reasonable prices. 

Chipotle is known to make orders any way the customer wants, so we'd love to hear your ideas and healthy menu secrets. Let us know in the comments!

 

Willpower – Practice makes Discipline

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Lori laid down the spatula and poured a glass of milk.  She told herself that one brownie wouldn't hurt.  Minutes later, an entire row of brownies had not-so-mysteriously vanished.  She hadn’t intended to eat any of them.  After all, how was she going to lose weight eating brownies?  But the sight and smell of them had led her to eat just one, then just a second, third, and fourth – until half of a pan of brownies was MIA.

I’ll be the first to admit, my willpower looks like the Fellowship of the Ring members against an army of Orcs when facing the temptation of chocolate.  But like the Fellowship, it can sometimes overcome.

You see, willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.  It’s not always easy, especially with a busy lifestyle.  We have to contend against coffee and dessert dates with friends, family dinner nights and Sunday lunch at Grandma’s house.  If you're like me and have an old-fashioned family that eats big, calorie-loaded meals together all the time, telling Mom or Grandma that you're trying to cut back practically assures that you'll get handed a second helping even bigger than the first!

There are ways to help you reinforce and sustain the willpower you so desperately want to say you have.  Try a few of them for yourself.

  1. If you must eat, drink and be merry - at least make it healthy! OK, so everyone's idea of merriment is not a demanding hike or an hour at the gym, and let's face it: big meals are always going to be a popular way for loved ones to gather together.  So try going to a restaurant that serves healthier choices, or offering to help with dinner so you can offer options that are both more nutritious and perfectly delicious to boot.  It's easier to have the willpower to stay focused when you make sure healthy choices are readily available.
  2. Don’t forget portion control. Even after making the switch to healthier foods, eating colossal amounts of them won't help trim down your waistline.  Be aware of your portions.  Leave the last bite or two unfinished. Never go back for seconds. And if you have an adult beverage, sip it slowly, and limit yourself to one. Believe it or not, you'll still feel full and satisfied without busting the button off your favorite jeans.
  3. Allow yourself a day off and a well-deserved reward!  You somehow managed to make it through the day (or week) defying the forces of darkness.  You've stuck to your guns.  Go you! Now, treat yourself to a relaxing massage or a day out with friends. Do something that will encourage you to face the constant pitfalls again next week without caving.

If you slip now and then, don’t beat yourself up.  We all do.  Just get back at it.  It’s about staying the course and controlling all the typical ways your determination can be worn down, and doing so more often than not.  When you can keep getting back up, keep practicing your resolve, it only makes your discipline, your willpower—and you—stronger.

 

Portion Control – Because Size Matters

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I walked into the den to tell my grandmother dinner was ready.  She sat in her favorite chair, shaking her head at the television as a reporter talked about the obesity rate in America.  When I asked about the scowl on her face, Grandma replied, “In my day, the fat lady was something you only saw at the circus.”  With that, she turned off the television and made her way to the dinner table.  As we filled our plates, my brother commented jokingly that his plate wasn't big enough.  That’s when it hit me. 

Size matters.  The bigger our plates, the bigger our portions, the bigger our caloric intake.  And I'm not the only one who has noticed the circus of events.

A 2009 study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine looks at cookbook recipes (mainly from the classic The Joy of Cooking) over the last 70 years or so.  What it found was that calorie counts per serving have gone up considerably as the writers of said cookbooks have increased portion sizes to conform to changing cultural norms.  For example, the 1936 edition of the kitchen classic averaged 268 calories per serving, the 2006 edition averaged 384 calories.  That’s a pretty considerable jump.

So how can we control our portion sizes?  Here are a few simple ideas:

  1. Downsize your plate. One thing the study pointed out is that the average plate size has increased over the years, which means the portion size has kept pace.  Try eating your meals off a salad or dessert plate.  A smaller plate will make portions look larger, it’s a visual trick that will make your brain think you're eating more. You could also cut down any shoveling behavior you might be tempted to engage in at the dinner table by switching to a smaller fork.
  2. Divide and conquer.  Depending on what the meal is, you can divide your food onto two plates—one for now and one for lunch the next day. As a bonus, this can help you tighten your wallet while you tighten your waistline.
  3. Timing is everything.  I takes your stomach about 20 minutes to tell your brain you're full. So try this: Before reaching for seconds, glance at the time (you know you have your cell phone handy). Spend the next 20 minutes having dinner conversation, reading, or playing candy Crush (ok, so that might just be me).  Anyway, after 20 minutes, see if you're still starving for another plate of lasagna. Chances are, your cravings are gone. If you're still hungry, fill up on some low-cal veggies or have a big glass of water. Sometimes it's easy to confuse thirst with hunger.
  4. Embrace your inner child.  That’s not permission to have candy for dinner. It is permission to order from the kid’s menu  when you're out and about.  Don't be ashamed, the kid’s menu often has the most sensibly sized and nutritious options available.  Not to mention, if you play your cards right, free toy.  Enough said.

Give Yourself a Hand

It's kind of crucial to understand what a portion actually is. So here is what may prove to be an invaluable tip: Use your hand as a guideline for portion sizes. (If your hands happen to be extra-large or extra-small for your size, adjust accordingly.)  

Palm = Proteins: Make protein portions the size of your palm. Protein would be products like fish, poultry, meats, and cottage cheese. Some veggie protein sources include legumes (beans, etc.), tofu, tempeh, and wheat glutens.

Thumb = Fats: Fats are important, but also very dense, so use the rule of thumbs...match fat portions to the size of your thumb. Good fat sources are avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.

Fist = Fruits, Grains, etc.: Your bread, fruit, cereal, rice, and grain portions should be about equal to the size of your closed fist. Remember whole grains are best.

Hand = Veggies: Open your hand and spread your fingers as wide as you can. That's a good vegetable portion. Raw veggies are loaded with fiber and nutrients and contain very few calories.

We've grown accustomed to eating more and more per meal, but with these tips and adding in healthy snacks between meals, maybe we can avoid the circus life. 

Ten Cancer-Fighting Foods

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Food doesn't cause cancer, does it? 

Gayle will tell you so. She’s a typical working mother of two, with a lot 
of stress and not much time for healthy eating. A steady diet of sugary 
drinks and fattening foods was about all she had time and money for. The 
wages of such a diet have typically been obesity and heart disease at 
worst. 

Gayle was diagnosed with endometrial cancer, which recent research 
shows caused primarily by a bad diet. Endometrial cancer affects about 
50,000 women in the US each year, and is triggered primarily through estrogen, which fatty cells produce. Luckily for Gayle and others, it’s a fairly 
treatable form of the disease. 

It shouldn't come as a surprise that an unhealthy diet can bring on cancer 
alongside the other innumerable awful illnesses and conditions. The good 
news is you can use food as a weapon against cancer, especially in the 
preventative stages. Check out this list of ten foods you can start eating 
today that can either help your body fend of cancer, or in some cases, beat 
the disease. 

Coffee - The popular morning drink was cited as a way to prevent 
endometrial cancer, among others, due to its antioxidants and ability to 
balance insulin levels. 

Mushrooms - There are nearly 40,000 types of mushrooms in the world, and 
a large percentage of them possess anti-cancer benefits. Many varieties, 
such as Shiitake, are available at your local neighborhood market. 

Soy - A 2012 study found that soy intake among women suffering from breast cancer reduced the chance of dying and recurrence of the disease. The American Cancer Society urges you to not get too carried away with it, however. 

Green Tea - This easily available beverage features antioxidant 
compounds that helps suppress cancer-causing enzymes.

Carrots - Carrots, kale, sweet potatoes and tomatoes, among others, are 
rich in carotenoids, which is proven to help prevent cancer, specifically 
breast cancer. 

Turmeric - This popular Asian & Indian spice also inhibits many 
cancer-causing cells. A 2013 study suggests it has a direct role in the prevention of cervical cancer. 

Garlic - Besides fighting off vampires, garlic is rich in allicin, which 
is like a heat-seeking missile set to destroy malignant cells. 

Broccoli - Along with cabbage and other cruciferous veggies, broccoli 
features glucosinolates, namely sulforaphane, which attacks cancer cells 
before they make their home in your DNA. Sulforaphane even killed breast 
cancer cells in rats back in 2010.

Beans - Have we mentioned we love beans? This staple of the Mediterranean Diet has tons of great stuff for you, from fiber to antioxidants, that can keep cancer away. 

Speaking of the Mediterranean Diet, check out our other posts about how you 
can use it to your advantage. As Gayle learned, food affects pretty much 
every part of our health, a little bit of smart eating can go a long way 
toward a long life!

How to Eat Healthy at Arbys

How to Eat Healthy at Arbys

Kim Medford was thinkin’ Arbys. The Asheville, N.C. native placed an order with a coworker who was picking up lunch from the beef-centric fast food chain. Like any rational human being, she was probably pretty excited about their curly fries. 

She reached into the little cup Arby’s provides and grabbed a curly fry. 
She pulled it out. Then kept pulling it out. Then continued pulling it out 
some more. Eventually she found 38 remarkable inches of curly fry, enough 
to set a world record
 
While it’s unknown if Kim ate her corkscrew monstrosity, it certainly shows 
that you can find yourself having an interesting experience when you go to 
Arby’s. 

But can you have a healthy experience? 

As we have with many other restaurants and fast food joints, we took a 
close look at the Arby’s menu to find healthy (or at least less-unhealthy) 
items. Our standard? The popular Mediterranean Diet, which promotes fruits, 
vegetables, nuts, olive oil, beans, whole grains and smaller portions of 
meat. 

Try these on next time you’re thinking Arby’s: 

Grand Turkey Club - With a pile of turkey on a “Harvest Wheat” bun, this 
sandwich has the basics of a pretty good fast food option for Mediterranean 
folks. Strip off the mayo and processed cheese and it’s even better. Taking 
off the bacon would help greatly, but we understand that’s a dealbreaker 
for many folks. 

Roast Turkey & Swiss Wrap - This has just about everything you would 
want from a healthy fast food option: whole grain wrap, a couple veggies, 
and not too much meat. You probably wouldn’t even notice the swiss cheese 
missing if you had it taken off, but it would certainly help cut down on 
the 490 calories the wrap packs. 

Roast Turkey Farmhouse Salad - More turkey, this time in a salad that 
features bacon. Keep the pig in this one, but look for a lighter option for 
the dressing, such as the balsamic vinaigrette.  

Kids Jr Roast Beef Sandwich - This being Arby’s, we had to throw in a 
roast beef sandwich. Red meat is frowned upon in the Medi Diet, but small 
amounts of it are okay. If you have to get a roast beef sandwich fix, this 
smaller version is your safest bet. 

Beware of: the sandwiches on the Market Fresh menu. While “fresh 
sandwiches” on “bread made with whole grains” sounds pretty healthy, these 
sandwiches all come with mayo and can pack in as many as 800 calories. And 
the whole grain bread? It’s made with some whole grains, but the primary 
ingredient is still enriched flour. 

So there you have it. Kim Medford’s 38-inch curly fry put this man’s 24-incher to shame, but someone trying to eat a little more healthy would probably avoid them altogether. That doesn't mean you need to stay away from Arby’s, just stick with our recommendations and you’ll be a-okay. 

What do you order when you’re thinkin’ Arby’s? Do you know any tips or 
secret menu items that can help those who are also thinkin’ healthy? Sound 
off in the comments!

 

Fats- The Good, Bad and the Ugly

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There were little ones, big ones, short ones, fat ones. There were scary looking ones and cute ones. The kind you wanted to squeeze to death until you couldn't squeeze anymore. There were curvy ones, thin ones, light ones and dark ones. So many choices and only a few dollars in her hand.

 Teresa knew that she'd have to choose wisely. The decision she would make here could affect the rest of her life. She looked up at her mom for guidance and received only the shoulder shrug she'd grown accustom to. That meant she was on her own. This pick could determine her destiny.

 She reached for the first one that had caught her eye. It was a cute bunny with a carrot sewn into its hands. Her six year old hands turned it over and over, looking for any signs of imperfection.  Then she noticed it. A small hole forming at the bottom of the stuffed animal. Teresa put it back.

The next one she picked up was a fluffy dog. It was soft and floppy. Her eyes scanned it thoroughly. It looked great. This was the one. After all, she only had enough money from her chores for one stuffed animal and it had to last. They all weren't made equally. She understood that now and looked up one more time at her mother to signal the decision had been made. This one would accompany her bed for the foreseeable future, cuddly enough to bring her peace in the dark, sturdy enough to deal with the tight hugs it would endure all through the night.

There is a persistent myth out there that fats are bad. We crave as a nation low fat foods. We think that low fat or fat free is a good thing. Well I'm here to tell you something many health experts have been screaming from the top of their lungs for a long time. Not all fats are bad! Some are actually good for you! And some...are essential to your overall health.

Let's start with...

The Good

Fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fat types are absolutely pivotal in any healthy eating regiment. They can be found in olive oil, nuts, seeds, shell fish and avocados (who doesn't love guacamole!)

Some benefits to eating foods with monounsaturated fats:

  • Hammers down BAD cholesterol
  • Pumps up GOOD cholesterol
  • Keeps your heart smiling and happy
  • Keeps the inflammation down!

The Bad

Saturated fats can take a toll on the body. It goes without saying that these fats should be marginalized as much as possible. Its tough to steer clear of all saturated fats (if you did, you'd feel kinda like a rabbit). This type of fat can be found in certain fatty cuts of beef, cheese, butter, dairy milk and ice cream. Giving up all or some of these foods can be tough. Reward yourself every once in a while with them. Don't live off of them.

The Ugly

Trans Fats are man made fats that are used in foods such as fried chicken, candy bars, doughnuts, potato chips. You see the pattern. Fried this or processed that. Not good for the body at all. Avoid at all costs! Food companies can get sneaky too because they know transfat is a TERRIBLE word. So keep your eyes peeled for the term “Partially Hydrogenated Oil” on the ingredients label. Its code for TRANS FAT!

Making the right choices on the foods (and fats) we put in our body can make a huge difference in the long run. Just as Teresa. She made the right choice and is reaping the benefits. So can you!

Good Mood Food- PMS playlist

Good Mood Food - PMS Playlist

I can honestly say I've never seen a waiter move so fast.  Laura sat across the table from me crying.  No.  Sobbing.  It was only moments earlier that this same waiter had leisurely placed a stack of pancakes on the table in front of each of us.  Laura stared at her plate, her eyes welling with tears, as he sat the syrup between us.  Within seconds, she was quietly sobbing.  I opened my mouth to speak, but the poor, unsuspecting waiter beat me to the punch, asking if something was wrong with her order.  I’m not sure how, but she managed to sputter out that he had forgotten the blueberries that should have accompanied her blueberry pancakes.  By this time, the sobs weren't so quiet.  Suddenly, we were being served by Flash Gordon himself.  And you should have seen the mountain of blueberries that showed up moments later. 

Now, I myself have never burst into tears over a missing item from my breakfast order, but I've also never ordered a side of Reese’s Cups and had the server not bring them either.  I can see how that could send me into a sob spiral during a specific few days each month.  

Every woman reacts differently to PMS.  A lucky few don’t really react at all.  But research tells us that approximately 70-80% of women suffer from PMS-related food cravings, bloating, fatigue, sleep disturbances, mood swings, and irritability – all of which have the potential to sabotage any attempt at a healthy eating routine. 

PMS is actually kind of a double whammy.  First, you get the cravings.  If you're like me, it’s typically for sweet, starchy foods with a back up punch of fat, like, say, chocolate fudge ice cream with brownie pieces (admit it, you’re wondering if there’s any in your freezer right now).  Then, your mind says “you don’t need that” but your mood says “the hell I don’t!”  And you dig in.  A half a carton of ice cream later, you’re standing on the scale freaking out when, really, that three extra pounds you’re seeing isn’t the ice cream and will just as mysteriously disappear from the scale in a few days.

Ultimately, it’s probably a safe bet that if you’re craving something that’s a healthy eating no-no, then your PMS mentality is saying “yes-yes.”  Here are a few foods that your healthy diet and your PMS can agree on.

Chocolate – That’s right ladies...I said chocolate.  You can run to the store right after you finish reading this.  Our bodies crave certain foods for a reason – whether its PMS related or not.  Chocolate happens to release calming endorphins that reduce anxiety.  Not to mention, it’s high in magnesium which lifts moods and reduces water retention.  Now, don’t go out and clear the shelves at the Godiva store.  Overindulging in sugar, salt, and caffeine can backfire and cause bloating and fluid retention (not to mention weight gain). So, the word to remember here is moderation.

Carbs – The healthy ones, that is.  Not simple carbs (sweets, breads, sugars) that offer a brief feel-good high, followed by a wicked mood change and energy crash.  You want the ones like us...the complex ones (whole grains, beans, nuts, etc.).  Complex carbs decrease premenstrual depression, moodiness, irritability, and those cravings for their counterparts – simple carbs.  Complex carb-rich foods help the mood-enhancing amino acid tryptophan to make serotonin.  Low serotonin levels can lead to PMS-related depression, fatigue, and sleep problems.  So, you don’t want to have that gauge sitting on the E like my gas tank often is.

Fat – Yes.  Fat is your friend.  I know, you’re loving me more and more right now.  A study in the Journal of Reproductive Health found that women who were given a pill containing a mix of essential fatty acids significantly reduced their symptoms of PMS.  Another study published in Nutrition Research, found that women who supplemented their diet with omega-3 also found relief.  Bottom line?  Don't be shy of healthy fats (avocados, salmon, nuts, olive oil) or you can always consider a high quality supplement too.

Obviously, food isn’t the only way to help ease the symptoms of PMS.  You can always participate in mind-body activities such as yoga or tai chi to help calm yourself and increase serotonin levels.  Or, my personal favorite, get a massage by an experienced therapist.  It offers the same benefits, which is why you’re so sleepy when it’s over and won't leave you crying over blueberries.

 

 

Foods that make your skin Glow

Foods that make your skin glow

 “Wow, Mom.  You looked so young there.”  Candice cringed as she remembered those words slipping from her daughter’s lips.  The photo had only been taken three years earlier.   She studied herself in the mirror, thinking about the stress the last few years had brought on.  Work, her father’s illness, and a divorce had clearly taken more of a toll than Candice realized.  She wanted that healthy glow from the photo back.

We all want to hold on to healthy, youthful, glowing skin for as long as we can. These days with top skin creams averaging as much as $400 per ounce ( you thought filling your gas tank was expensive) and with most offering little proof they do half what they promise, it might not be the worst idea to swing by the market and pick up a few foods that are skin doctor recommended.  According to top dermatologists, there are skin friendly foods loaded with nutrients that happen to be known for having sun-protecting, skin-hydrating, and even wrinkle-preventing powers.  That’s right.  Powers!

Want to save a bundle and improve your skin?  Skip the $400 price tag and take a peek at what you’d likely find in your dermatologists shopping cart if you ran into her (or him – no stereotyping here) at the market.

Fruits and veggies.  You're probably up to your eyebrows (Botoxed or not) with the hearing "eat your fruits and vegetables." If you haven’t taken that advice to heart yet, maybe knowing that they prevent wrinkles will coax you into the produce isle.  If you want to replenish your skin's supply of antioxidants, so they're ready to take out free radicals whenever they show up, (here it is again) eat your fruits and vegetables.  

A few top picks: sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and cantaloupe.

Vitamin C.  Your body can't store much wrinkle-fighting vitamin C, so you need to replenish your supplies regularly.  Have some citrus every day.  Ounce for ounce, oranges are the top citrus source of Vitamin C, but you can only eat so many, right?  You can always find a high quality supplement to take.  Vitamin C helps keep collagen (the supportive protein fibers that stop skin from sagging ) strong and resilient. None of us want sagging wrinkles.

A few top picks: oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit

Vitamin A.  Certain dark green vegetables, whether they're fresh, frozen, raw, or steamed, really deliver on vitamin A, one of the most skin-essential vitamins on the market.  What so great about Vitamin A?  It supports skin-cell turnover, which promotes cell growth and development. Without it, skin gets dry, tough, and scaly.  No one wants that.  No one.

A few top picks: spinach, turnip greens, and broccoli

Tea.  There's an exceptionally powerful antioxidant known as EGCG that does all kinds of good things for skin. Where might you find it, you ask?  True teas – black, green, or white (not herbal).  All true teas contain EGCG (by the way, that stands for epigallocatechin-3-gallate), however, green tea varieties have the most.  Brew a full teapot every morning and sipping 4 to 6 cups throughout the day will be a no-brainer. 

Top pick: green tea

 Fish.  Several cold-water catches offer your skin a double win: age-fighting omega-3s and the restorative powers of protein. Omega-3s fight inflammation, a top skin ager and protein is required to build and repair skin cells and to make enzymes and hormones that help keep your skin glowing. Try not to go, umm, overboard with it though – mercury can be a concern if you eat seafood more than a few times a week.

A few top picks: salmon, trout, tuna, sardines, Atlantic mackerel, Pacific herring, and most shellfish.

We all know it isn't always easy or convenient to eat the foods your body needs, but it’s important to get the nutrients we can't always fit into our diets.  If you choose to supplement, do so with high quality supplements.  If you want a good place to start looking, see what supplements the Rag-Tag Geeks have researched and recommend.  Also, don’t forget, while it can’t be found on the food chain, exercise is also important for promoting healthy, youthful skin.  

Want to Lose the Weight? Ditch the Guilt.

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“...food eaten in secret is delicious.” - Proverbs 9:17

No really, that’s part of a verse in the Bible, as many a chubby churchgoer will tell you whilst chuckling. Bryan doesn’t know the verse, but he does know a thing or two about hiding his eating habits.

He’s tried every diet in the book. He’s even had success with a lot of them. But he always gave in to cravings: dollar cheeseburgers, ice cream, potato chips...basically anything sounds good when you’re on something like a shake cleanse diet. Those secret food dalliances led to guilt, which led to more eating, and more guilt. Eventually, that guilt killed every last one of his diet efforts.

Guilt is a strong driver for some people who are seeking to lose weight. For many like Bryan, it only pulls them further and further away from their goals. To get where he needed to go, he needed to slay the guilt.

There’s actually some science behind the shift away from guilt. Recent research at the University of Canterbury found that people who feel guilty while eating things such as cake have less control over their eating, and struggle to maintain their weight over an 18-month period.

The researchers polled 300 people on whether they felt chocolate cake was associated with celebration or guilt. 73% said celebration, 27% guilt. A year later, the guilty folks had gained significantly more weight, while the partiers tended to lose weight.

The point? Your attitude toward food may have as much of an effect on your diet success as what it is you’re choosing to eat in the first place.

Guilt and other improper emotional connections to food are often core to eating disorders such as bulimia. Food and the act of eating, at least in moderation, should always be celebrated. Even if you do go overboard at the buffet, don’t beat yourself up - consider it fuel for your workouts over the next few days, and leave it at that.

In general, bringing guilt upon yourself is rarely a good idea. Oftentimes, you’ll get the opposite of what you’re looking for.

Bryan’s life changed when he decided to ditch the ridiculous diets and the guilt that they made him feel when he did normal things, like having an occasional handful of chips, or sharing a piece of cake with his daughter. He focused more on eating better foods, but stopped beating himself up for being the kind of example that Proverbs spoke of.

So go on, have that piece of cake, and feel good about it. It’s even more delicious when eaten not in secret, but with friends.