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Written by Keith Weaver JD, LCSW

This time of year is known for a time when people open their hearts both at work and home. This season often brings out the best in people (or worst). There are many benefits to helping others, but in are 7 reminders why givers also get:

#1 – Giving makes you happy

A 2008 study by Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton and colleagues found that giving money to someone else lifted participants’ happiness more that spending it on themselves [despite participants’ prediction that spending on themselves would make them happier]. When people give, it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a ‘warm glow’-effect. Altruistic behavior also releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the ‘helper’s high’. And like other highs, this one is addictive, too.

#2 – Giving keeps you healthy

Giving helps others, but studies show that giving is also good for the giver. Giving boosts physical and mental health. It lowers blood pressure, you experience an increased self-esteem, less depression and lower stress levels. It seems that, contrary to popular belief, we don’t feel good by what we get, we feel good because of what we give. In the end givers live a longer life!

#3 – Giving promotes social connection

When you give, you’re more likely to get back. When you give to others, your generosity is likely to be rewarded by others down the line. Sometimes by the person you gave to, sometimes by someone else. It’s all about karma-points! When we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them. Giving promotes a sense of trust and cooperation that strengthens our ties to others.

#4 – Giving enhances life’s satisfaction

People who give to others are generally more satisfied with their own situation and life than those who don’t. Givers seem better able to cope with problems and difficulties in their own lives, maybe because they have a good understanding of how many people are worse off than they are. Helping others gives meaning to your life and helps to make life worthwhile. While you are thinking about another person, you aren’t dwelling on your own problems.

#5 – Giving spreads joy

When you give, you will spread joy to others in ways you may not even realize. And by giving joy to others, it’s hard not to experience some joy yourself. You create a connection that you may not have had otherwise. You make the world a happier place, one act of kindness and generosity at a time.

#6 – Giving alleviates chronic pain

Physical giving, as in volunteering may help you feel better physically. You are getting out, moving around more than you normally might and spending time with others. If you feel like other people are counting on you, you may be more likely to keep moving even when you are experiencing pain. And helping others may take your mind off of your pain.

#7 – Giving is contagious

When we give, we don’t only help the immediate recipient of our gift. We also spur a ripple effect of generosity. When someone behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people. In fact, researchers found that altruism spreads by three degrees. From person to person to person to person. As a result studies say, ‘each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met.’

Whether at work or home make a point to open your heart a help others.

The post 7 reasons to not be a Scrooge this year!! appeared first on Healthy Magazine.

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Who doesn’t love the holiday season and all the occasions to dress up, hang out with family and friends and sip on eggnog or mulled wine? The problem is, that with a filled glass in one hand and endless trays of finger foods circling the room, it’s easy to lose track of how much you’re eating and drinking. Research shows that weight gained during the holidays will likely be cumulative, staying with you through next year and into next holiday season.

Written by Jo Bartell, RD

1. Pregame: If you skip meals or snacks during the day to “save up” for a holiday party, you will arrive starving and much more likely to inhale every tray of passed apps that walks by. To prevent this, plan for a small yet satisfying pre-party snack about an hour before you head to out the door. Your goal is to show up ready to focus on conversations with friends rather than ready to pounce on the buffet table. The key ingredients to an effective pre-event snack always include protein and fiber together. How about a string cheese, a handful of shelled pistachios and a few 100% whole-grain crackers? Or try an apple sliced and topped with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon

2. Dress the part: Steer clear of baggy holiday sweaters, comfy shift dresses and anything elastic-waist (or even worse, yoga pants). Loose clothing allows you to eat with abandon, making you less likely to pay attention to your brain and stomach when they are sending out, “I’m getting full” messages. You want to be able to feel when you’ve had enough to eat and drink, and a tight fitting pair of jeans or belted dress should do the trick.

3. Eat more: yes, you read that right– one of the keys to enjoying the holidays without feeling deprived is to focus on foods you can have more of, not less. Whether you’re at a holiday party or between big events, go crazy with anything vegetable! Veggies are not only rich in vitamins and minerals, but they are also high in both fiber and water which will help fill you up and keep you munching while crowding out extra cake, cookies and mashed potatoes. For snacks, try pairing fruit with shelled pistachios. Pistachios contribute protein, fiber, potassium, vitamin B-6, and more while also being the least caloric nut of all the nut varieties. For the same 100-calorie serving, you can enjoy 30 whole pistachios but only between 5 and 15 with other snack nuts. Setton Farms has a super convenient 100-calorie pack of pistachios with makes snacking easy.

4. Be picky: Most people tend to overeat when faced with a wide variety of options. Your best bet is to limit your choices by first doing a onceover of everything offered before taking a minute to decide what looks the absolute best and most worth-it. Then, bulk up as much of your plate as you can (about 1Ž2) with crudités or any other veggie-based sides you see. Next, fill up 1Ž4 of your plate (in a single layer) with a combo of lean protein, like chicken skewers, shrimp cocktail, or smoked salmon. For the last section of your plate, add the homemade pie, holiday cookies, casserole, or any other goodie you’ve selected as your must-have favorite of the options. Try to save the smallest part of your plate for that and savor every bite!

5. Work the room: Make the party about much more than the food and the drinks. Instead, remember that this is the time of year where you get to socialize, and maybe even reconnect with friends and family you rarely see during the year. So, instead of parking yourself at the buffet or bar, mingle at the other end of the room. This way, when you go grab your plate or drink, you’re feeling completely conscious of what you’re choosing to nibble and sip.

6. Help the host: clear plates; wash dishes; fill up champagne flutes for other guests. These tasks will not make you friend of the year, but they will also keep your hands busy and away from the snacks or desserts after you know you’ve enjoyed enough. Another great way to help your host while helping yourself is to bring your own veggie-based side dish or appetizer that everyone can enjoy. Other guests will thank you for contributing, and you’ll have a foolproof, on-track option to add to your plate. Everyone wins!

7. Drink up: A few simple tricks will keep you from packing in the empty calories that live in most holiday drinks and from getting out of control at the dessert table after a few too many cocktails. Just like you’re planning to be picky with entrée choices, be selective with the festive cocktail you choose. Decide what sounds best to you — a mug of buttered rum, a glass of eggnog, or another equally as delicious drink, and then choose to have just the one. You can sip that treat slowly, and then move onto something lighter for the rest of the evening, like a white wine spritzer, a vodka soda, or glass of champagne. Between each cocktail, plan to drink one full glass of water to help keep the drinks from piling up and to help you stay hydrated which will make the morning after that much more pleasant.

About Jo Bartell
Jo Bartell is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a mater’s degree and has extensive training and experience guiding individuals with various health conditions in achieving nutrition-related goals. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Psychology and Sociology from Skidmore College, and earned an MS in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics from New York University (NYU). At NYU, she also completed her dietetic internship. She currently lives in San Francisco with her own private practice nutrition counseling and consulting business. She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Bay Area Dietetics Association, along with several Dietetics Practice Groups of AND including Women’s Health, Weight Management, Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition, and Nutrition Entrepreneurs. When she’s not working, she loves food shopping, cooking, traveling, riding horses, and long walks around the city with her dogs, Winston and Nikki.

The post Seven Smart Strategies for Enjoying the Holiday Season Without Gaining Weight appeared first on Healthy Magazine.

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With winter creeping up on us, it means shorter daylight time and colder temperatures. For many people, it will also be a time of the year when their physical activity efforts dip. People often reduce the amount of time they spend being physically active over the winter, usually due in part to it being so cold outside. Add to that the lack of motivation that people have during the darker, colder months, and it’s a recipe for disaster. The good news is that there are things people can do to help stay motivated to keep moving all winter long.

“Although we may want to behave like it sometimes, we are not bears and cannot get away with hibernating all winter,” explains Coach Sarah Walls, personal trainer and owner of SAPT Strength & Performance Training, Inc., who is also the strength and conditioning coach for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics. “We must continue being physically active during the winter. It’s the only way that we can continue being healthy, and to help avoid seasonal weight gain.”

Many people tend to gain weight over the holiday and winter season. Not only have their physical activity efforts decreased, but their calorie consumption has usually risen. Rather than curl up on the couch with a blanket and the television remote, there are many good health benefits to staying active all season long. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physical activity can improve health, and can help people live longer. Being physically active also helps to lower risks of stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some types of cancer.

Read: Why Working Out Doesn’t Always Lead to Weight Loss

Here are 6 winter workout tips to help keep you motivated:
  1. Enlist a workout partner. Who no-shows on their workout partner? Not many people, and if they do, a good partner won’t let them hear the end of it. If you’re worried about missing an appointment with yourself, get a workout partner and set up a schedule – it’s likely you will show up for many more sessions with a friend to hold you accountable.
  2. Stay focused on healthy eating. It’s easy for one holiday to flow right into the next. There are parties with alcohol and calorie-dense foods, and it may seem never-ending. When you are having fun, it can have a dramatic effect on how you are feeling. The alcohol and unhealthy party foods will wreak havoc with your energy levels immediately, so one of the best ways to stay motivated to get your workouts in is to start with what you are (or rather are not) eating. If you feel good, you’ll probably want to keep that going with a workout. If you don’t feel good because of all the unhealthy foods, it’s likely you’ll spiral out of control a bit when it comes to keeping up your exercise routine.
  3. Try something new. The winter is a great time to try out a new class. Gyms are always coming up with something new and different, and this might be just the right time to add in something you’ve never tried. Trying new activities will help you find ones that you love, and help keep things interesting.
  4. Define (and track) small goals. Whether it is learning to do a certain exercise, getting stronger, or improving your endurance, it’s a great idea to write down and track goals. Start with the biggest one and then break it down into weekly and daily tasks that will get you there. Hold yourself accountable, track where you are at with reaching the goal, and give yourself some non-food rewards when you reach milestones.
  5. Have a fallback plan. What is your plan B for when you walk out of your office at the end of the day and it is unforgivably cold and dark? Do you need to call a friend to remind you how much you love working out? Do you have a secondary workout to do in front of the TV at home? Having a plan B is a good idea, because you will automatically revert to it, rather than coming up with an excuse.
  6. Try a virtual coach. A virtual coach will help you reaching your fitness goals all winter long, all from the comfort of your home or office. You won’t have to go out in the cold air, rather you can get the motivation and guidance you need in a setting that is comfortable for you, and during a time frame that works best for you.

“There is nothing to gain from not adhering to a workout plan all winter long, except for weight,” added Coach Walls. “When you hold yourself accountable and actively look for ways to keep yourself motivated and pushing on, you will be more successful at it, and you will emerge next spring feeling amazing.”

Sarah Walls has over 15 years experience in coaching and personal training. She is the strength and conditioning coach for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, and has over eight years of experience working as an NCAA D1 strength and conditioning coach and personal trainer. To learn more, visit the site: www.saptstrength.com.

Gear Tips

Winter workouts can be miserable if your extremities are cold. Invest in quality socks and gloves to avoid the misery that comes from being cold while working out.

The post 6 Winter Workout Tips to Keep You Motivated appeared first on Healthy Magazine.

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Written by Daniel G. Amen, M.D.

Physicians have been trying to drug the brain into submission since the 1950s. The outcomes have been poor because doctors too often ignore the necessity of first putting the brain into a healing environment by addressing issues such as sleep, toxins, diet, exercise, and supplementation. Dr. Thomas Insel, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, wrote, “The unfortunate reality is that current medications help too few people to get better and very few people to get well.”

In contrast with antibiotics, which can cure infections, none of the medications for the mind cure anything. They only provide a temporary bandage that comes off when the psychotropic medications are stopped, causing symptoms to recur. In addition, many of these medications are insidious; once you start on them, they change your brain chemistry so you need them in order to feel normal.

Honestly, I undervalued brain health for nearly a decade as a young psychiatrist until our group at Amen Clinics found a practical way to look at the brain. Before we started our brain imaging work in 1991, I had been trained and board-certified as a child-and-adolescent psychiatrist and general psychiatrist and was busy seeing children, teens, adults, and older adults with a wide variety of issues connected with mental health, including depression, bipolar disorder, autism, violence, marital conflict, school failure, and ADHD. During that time, I was flying blind and not thinking much about the actual physical functioning of my patients’ brains. Researchers at academic centers told us that brain imaging tools were not ready for clinical practice—maybe someday in the future.

I loved being a psychiatrist, but I knew we were missing important puzzle pieces. Psychiatry was, and unfortunately remains, a soft, ambiguous science, with many competing theories about what causes the troubles our patients experience. In medical school and during my psychiatric residency and child- and-adolescent psychiatry fellowship, I was taught that while we really didn’t know what caused psychiatric illnesses, they were likely the result of a combination of factors, including genetics, abnormal brain chemistry, toxic parenting or painful childhood experiences, and negative thinking patterns.

“The unfortunate reality is that current medications help too few people to get better and very few people to get well.”

-Dr. Thomas Insel, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health



IMAGING CHANGED EVERYTHING

My lack of respect for the brain vanished almost instantly when I started looking at the brains of my patients with a nuclear medicine study called Single-Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT). It is different from CT or MRI scans, which look at the brain’s anatomy or structure. SPECT looks at brain function, which is helpful because functional problems almost always precede structural problems. SPECT is a leading indicator of trouble, pointing to issues years before they manifest, while CT and MRI are lagging indicators of trouble that reveal abnormalities later in illnesses. SPECT answers a key question about each area of the brain: Is it healthy, underactive, or overactive? Based on what we see, we can stimulate the underactive areas or calm the overactive ones with supplements, medicines, electrical therapies, or other treatments, all of which optimize the brain. We can also help patients ensure that the healthy areas of their brains stay healthy.

Almost immediately after starting to look at scans, I became excited about the possibilities of SPECT to help my patients, my family, and myself. The scans helped me be a better doctor, as I could observe the brain function of my patients. I could see if their brains were healthy, which meant the issues they were facing were more likely to be psychological, social, or spiritual rather than biological in nature. I could see if there was physical trauma from concussions or head injuries, causing trouble to specific areas of the brain, or if there was evidence of toxic exposure from drug or alcohol abuse or other toxins, such as mercury, lead, or mold. I also could see if my patients’ brains worked too hard, which is associated with anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

SPECT is a leading indicator of trouble, pointing to issues years before they manifest, while CT and MRI are lagging indicators of trouble that reveal abnormalities later in illnesses.

Now, close to 30 years after we started to look at the brain at Amen Clinics, we have built the world’s largest database of nearly 150,000 brain SPECT scans on patients from 120 countries.

The post SPECT Imaging appeared first on Healthy Magazine.

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Here is list of things we’ll buy without bothering to look at the price: a pack of gum, a coffee, and… knee surgery?

There are several reasons why people don’t “shop around” for healthcare prices. Underlying this phenomenon is the fact that we’ve been shielded from the true cost of healthcare for so long, we’ve been conditioned to not care about knowing costs.

As healthcare reaches reaches a crisis state, however, more people do care about costs, from executives to legislators to consumers. But there still reasons why the average consumer won’t compare prices. First, if a person is on employer-sponsored health insurance, they might assume they’ll pay the same thing regardless of which hospital or surgeon they choose. “Premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket, blah, blah, I just need this hernia repaired, not a math test.” Second, a person might just assume prices don’t vary that much (wrong, they vary to an absurd degree). Third, people don’t know where they’d look to find pricing.
Let’s break down these barriers to better healthcare consumerism.

“I Don’t Price Shop Because I Have Good Insurance. They’ll Cover It.”

This is an unwise attitude to have, and it will come back to haunt you, even if you don’t feel the consequences directly.

Say you chose to have a hernia repaired for $10,000, when the same repair could have been done elsewhere by a higher quality provider for $2,000. If your deductible is $2,000, you’ll pay $2,000 for either place. Okay, no difference, right?

Well, many plans only cover 80 percent after the deductible. If you’ve opted for the more expensive procedure, 20 percent of $8,000 is $1,600. That comes from your bank account.

But say your insurance is awesome, and covers 100 percent after your deductible. Lucky you. The more expensive procedure doesn’t take more of your money. But you’ve tipped a domino. The insurance took that $8,000 gut punch. “Good,” you’re thinking, “they probably deserve it.” Regardless of who deserves what, that unnecessary financial burden is simply placed back on consumers in the form of premium and deductible hikes in the future. That means companies won’t be able to offer as good of health plans to employees, and healthcare coverage will become more expensive in general.

So by not price shopping, you are contributing to the ruin of the healthcare system.

“Healthcare Prices Don’t Vary That Much.”

Let’s look at average knee replacement surgery prices across the country:

  • Sacramento: $57,000
  • Miami: $27,000
  • New York: $36,584
  • Tucson: $21,976
  • Philadelphia: $33,338
  • Dallas:$45,275
  • Source: npr.org

Are we saying that if you live in Dallas, flying to Arizona to have surgery could save you $10,000? Yes it could.

Similar variation is seen in everything from MRIs to colonoscopies to C-section deliveries. In a word, prices vary wildly, not just from state to state, but from city to city, and especially from hospital to hospital, and doctor to doctor, even within your network.

The savvy reader may wonder, doesn’t higher price mean better quality?

Research suggests that price is not a good predictor of outcome. In fact, many hospitals aren’t aware of how much a procedure actually costs them. They are simply setting the best price they can. It’s a business run on profit, after all. The disconnect between price and costs is the heart of the problem.



“I Don’t Know How to Find Out the Price of Procedures.”

Imagine grocery shopping with all the price tags removed. One loaf of bread will cost you $2, and another $50, but you won’t know which until paying.

That’s what it’s like for healthcare consumers. While most states require hospitals to report price information, many simply don’t give that information to patients, even when asked. In a recent study by from the University of Toronto and Boston University School of Medicine, researchers canvassed hospitals and surgeons to get price quotes for a full hip replacement surgery. They got a complete or partial price about half the time. Compared to a previous study conducted by the same researchers, the number of hospitals that could provide any price information actually dropped. In other words, prices might actually be becoming less transparent.

Currently, there is little incentive for doctors and hospitals to lower costs, because patient’s can’t factor price into their decisions when there is no price tag to be found. Price transparency would provide incentive to lower costs, according to Anna Sinaiko of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. After all, nobody is going to pay for $50 loaf of bread.

“Increasing transparency could also benefit the health care system broadly because it would be increasingly difficult for clinicians to charge significantly higher prices than others without commensurate differences in quality,” she wrote, commenting on the study. “These high prices are a key contributor to higher health care spending in the US relative to other countries.”

Wouldn’t it be great if doctors and hospitals had to compete for your business? That’s how an economy is supposed to work, and why prices go lower.

Price transparency isn’t a new issue. In 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services were asked to make pricing information available. But as this recent research shows, transparency still isn’t where it needs to be. Even if prices are available, a patient has to put forth a lot of effort to find them.

Part of the problem is that prices aren’t always easy to calculate. In many cases, it is hard to determine, in advance the health services a patient will need. For example, if an unexpected complication comes up in surgery, that’s added cost. Additionally, charges often originate from many providers, so costs are hard to nail down and appropriately aggregate.

But for something common like hernia repair or appendix removal, shouldn’t a price estimate be easy to acquire? Yes. For this reason, some insurance companies and third parties are starting to offer price transparency tools. Remember, insurance companies are happy if they can pay less to cover your procedure.

A white paper from Thomson Reuters found that the United States could save $36 billion in healthcare spending with price transparency. For this reason, governments, anxious to lower healthcare costs, also see a benefit to price transparency. Some states, like New Hampshire and Massachusetts, passed price transparency laws, with the hopes that it will drive a more competitive marketplace and lower prices. Most states, however, are terrible with medical care price transparency.

Pushing to know prices is one way consumers can help to correct a flawed healthcare system. One tool consumers can use to know fair prices is the Healthcare Bluebook (www.healthcarebluebook.com). Another is clearhealthcosts.com, which actually lets consumers contribute data about what they’ve paid for medical care, so others can see pricing.

Consumers can also turn to alternative health plans. Some companies offer high deductible health insurance plans attached to a health savings account (HSA), as an option to increase member awareness and encourage them to compare costs. An HSA is essentially a tax-advantaged savings account that can be used for certain qualified medical expenses. Unlike health insurance premiums, contributions are made tax free and anything contributed to an HSA rolls over from year to year, allowing funds to aggregate. Healthcare consumers can therefore take ownership over their healthcare decision making rather than pay dues to the system for a dubious return.

HSA Healthplan in Utah is one such company that combines high deductible health insurance with an HSA. They’ve built a database of pricing for a variety of medical procedures, and push members to compare pricing before receiving medical care/treatment. When members choose more affordable, high value providers and facilities, the company rewards them by putting some of the savings towards the members out-of-pocket costs for the procedure or back in the members’ individual health savings accounts. These funds can be used to pay for current medical needs or future medical, dental, vision and prescription expenses.

As demand for price transparency increases, price will begin to more closely coincide with actual costs. When the two are disconnected, we don’t have a competitive market. When they are connected, costs go down, and the healthcare economy becomes healthier.

Sources:

http://www.akleg.gov/basis/get_documents.asp?session=30&docid=14495
https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/newsletter-article/health-care-price-transparency-can-it-promote-high-value-care
https://www.kqed.org/stateofhealth/19612/share-your-bill-make-health-costs-transparent-in-california

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https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/2682614

The post Why Don’t People Price Shop For Medical Services? appeared first on Healthy Magazine.

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Jennifer Christman, RDN, LDN, CPT, Clinical Nutrition Manager at Medifast, Inc.

The holiday season can be a time of excess, both in eating and in celebration. It’s easy to overindulge in large portions of high calorie foods; tis the nature of holidays for many people. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. If you’re looking to maintain your healthy habits and your waist line, consider the following tips:

1. Don’t change your eating pattern.

Have you ever planned on “saving” your calories by dodging food all day for a party later that evening? Many people do, but what they don’t realize is that the body will naturally try to compensate for the lack of calories and nutrients later in the day. By skipping meals and starving yourself prior to the event, you’re more likely to overindulge and eat more than you would normally would have had you maintained your normal eating pattern! So, stick to eating every few hours to help with metabolism, normal blood sugar levels, and preventing those binges later on.

2. Eat breakfast.

Start off the day with a balanced breakfast. Include at least three of the following for a nutrient dense and energy-packed meal: low-fat dairy, fruit, whole-grains, lean protein and vegetables. This will give you the nutrition you need to plan holiday activities, run errands, shop, or wrap gifts. Try a veggie omelet made with egg whites, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and low-fat cheese. Include a glass of unsweetened almond milk or skim milk and a cup of berries to round out the meal. A balanced breakfast will help jump start your metabolism and give you the energy you need to stay focused throughout the day.

3. Avoid grazing.

Prior to arriving at a holiday party, make a plan to avoid grazing. How many times have you stood by the buffet table and mindlessly ate whatever was being served while catching up with family and friends? By the end of the night, the number of calories you consumed is a complete and utter mystery. High-calorie foods, such as sweets and high-fat dips, are often a part of the holiday menu and can cause unwanted calories to add up fast. To prevent yourself from overeating, make a plan to create distance between you and the buffet table. Talk with friends in a different room other than the one with food in it to avoid grazing.

4. Be picky!

Let’s face it; there are bound to be several tempting treats that you cannot completely avoid because making and serving them are truly a part of your family’s holiday tradition. If you were completely honest with yourself, it wouldn’t be the holiday season without a taste, right? So, be picky when it comes to indulgences. Have a plan and carefully choose which higher calorie foods are truly worth it. Does your mom make the most amazing chocolate chip cookies? Is your aunt’s double chocolate cake a tradition? Choose wisely and watch your portion size to keep overall calories down.

5. Water, water, water!!!!

Staying hydrated is one of the habits to help you sustain your energy level and keep you feeling your best. Keep a reusable water bottle with you at all times throughout the holiday season. When you go out shopping, refill it at a water fountain for free. When attending a party, try adding a little fizz and/or flavor to your hydration regimen with options like seltzer or sparkling water with a lemon or lime wedge.

6. Keep the drinks skinny or avoid them all together.

Free flowing alcohol tends to be a staple during the holiday season and can be a trigger for many people. A few drinks add extra, non-nutrient calories while lowering inhibitions, which leads to overeating. Avoiding alcoholic beverages when possible will help keep your calorie intake down. If you do choose to imbibe, stick with zero calorie mixers and light beers. Fill your glass with ice to add water and reduce the volume of the alcoholic beverage. While enjoying spirits, drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage to ensure you stay hydrated.

7. Fill up with color.

Fill your plate with low calorie, nutrient dense fruits and vegetables. Enjoy vegetables like; peppers, carrots, sugar snap peas, celery, cauliflower, and broccoli. Seasonal fruits like pomegranate, pears, oranges, and clementine make a sweet addition to any buffet. Filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables can ensure you keep your overall calorie intake low and get the fiber you need to stay full and satisfied.

Try incorporating these tips during the holiday season to avoid over indulging and maintain your healthy lifestyle.

Source:

Jennifer Christman, RDN, LDN, CPT, Clinical Nutrition Manager at Medifast, Inc.

The post Avoid Over-Stuffing This Holiday Season appeared first on Healthy Magazine.

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For some reason, family get-togethers are a breeding ground for fierce debate. Whether it’s dad bashing Obama or your cousin ripping on the wealthy, tension will find a way in. Here are some important things to remember to keep family gatherings joyful.

1. Politics, the president and elections

Just acknowledge opinions, don’t contradict them. Family is more important than politics, and there are better places to discuss these things, especially when some family members are disinterested and feel excluded.

2. Holiday workload

Breakdowns often come because someone has been doing “all the work” while everyone else just watches football, eats and enjoys themselves. Be mindful of the amount of work required to throw a holiday party, especially when it comes to cooking and expenses.

3. Past grievances

It is a huge mistake to address grievances at your family or friend party, unless you want to ruin the atmosphere for some reason. Even if it isn’t a loud argument, everyone can feel the tension. Work things out before the gathering.

4. The complainer

Somebody at the party is going to want to complain about everything: money, dating, teens, you name it. If someone just has to complain, find a common enemy to complain about. Hunger, for example.

5. Money

Money is a touchy subject, especially when various family members have different incomes and different views on money. Just leave money out of family parties.

The post Avoid Arguments at Family Parties appeared first on Healthy Magazine.

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It’s the time of year so many people dread. Just when the last of the Halloween candy is either consumed or discarded; BAM! Thanksgiving. And the sugar binge begins anew.

The holiday season is a three-month junk food marathon, but Thanksgiving is the foremost culprit. Why? The entire holiday is based around a meal! Sure, we drive (or fly) for hours to visit family and friends, but what do we do when we get there? Eat. We eat like it’s our job.

Before you start dreaming about the pumpkin pie and stuffing, consider this: On average, Americans tend to gain weight over the holidays every year, and it often accumulates over time.

1. Drink Water

Make it at least a gallon a day. It sounds like a lot if you’re not used to drinking water, but the benefits of keeping yourself hydrated are something you can really be thankful for. For a food-based holiday like Thanksgiving, drinking water is key, because it makes you feel full. If you feel more full, you’re less likely to have that second helping of stuffing, or that third piece of pie. In addition to that, every time you drink a glass of water, you didn’t drink a glass of soda, or beer, or any other beverage that hides sugar and empty calories.

2. Sleep

I know, easier said than done, right? Still, the holidays are stressful enough without denying your body the time it needs to recover and rejuvenate itself. Sleep is the most important thing you can do for your health, and so before the weekend with the in-laws, make sure you’re getting a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night. Keep in mind, that most people need more. If you don’t sleep enough, your body is going to think it’s starving, and it’s going to retain water, and store as much fat as it can. Not only that, but your body is going to start craving sugar to help keep you awake. Add on three days of binging on sweets and carbs, and that ten pounds could pile on pretty quick.

3. Change the Menu

I know the traditionalists out there just cringed, but really, what’s more important, your health or yams with marshmallow? From introducing low-carb substitutes, to simply making less of certain dishes, there are plenty of menu-fixes which can help keep you trim this November.

Too many people throw down completely unhealthy food because it’s tradition. Cranberry sauce? You might as well serve Jell-O, for the amount of sugar that’s in a typical can of that stuff. Wherever you can, try to eliminate as many carbs, and as much sugar, as you can from the menu. Maybe your family will enjoy mixed berries and homemade whipped cream just as much as apple pie.

Now, I’m not saying cut out all of the family favorites, but recipes can be tweaked, like using stevia instead of sugar in the apple pie, or fresh sweet potatoes instead of canned yams. Try topping those yams with pecans instead of marshmallow. Finally, if there’s something your family absolutely HAS to have, like stuffing, make half as much. Nobody needs to eat 8 ounces of bread on top of a full meal folks; nobody.

4. Cauliflower Is Your Friend

Speaking of tweaking recipes, cauliflower’s so good that it gets its own point. You all know broccoli’s pale cousin. Well, there are so many empty carbs in the Thanksgiving meal that you can replace with this one vegetable, it’s amazing.

  • Replace breadcrumbs. Grate the cauliflower with a cheese grater (or buy it pre-riced, many supermarkets now sell it this way) and bake it on a cookie sheet.
  • Pureé and use it to thicken gravy instead of cornstarch or flour.
  • Don’t mash potatoes. Boil cauliflower and mash that instead. Throw in some garlic and butter, or sour cream and chives, and it’ll taste so good, the substitution will go unnoticed
5. Portion Control

It’s only a salad plate if there’s salad on it. Seriously, serve your meal on salad plates. It’s ingrained in us to go back for seconds on Thanksgiving, so make the portions smaller. Dinner plates are enormous, and if people fill those up knowing that they’re going back for more, there’s no way their bodies are going to be able to process all of that.

Speaking of seconds, make a mental note to have a full glass of water after your first plate. A good 16 ounces of water after your first helping, and maybe you’ll decide you don’t really need that second one. Not only that, but the Thanksgiving meal is heavy in sodium, so your body will be grateful for the extra water.

6. Assign Dishes

A lot of people do this already, and it can really work to your advantage. If you’re the chef this November 23rd, focus on the turkey, and assign your guests a side dish. It’s too easy to graze when you’re preparing the whole show, and regardless of where you eat what, the calories always count. Save yourself the hassle of picking while you cook, and outsource the fixings.

In addition, there’s no law against doubling down on protein. Instead of stuffing and mashed potatoes, maybe you offer turkey and ham?

While you’re at it, disposable Tupperware is cheap. Send all your guests home with leftovers, so you don’t have to eat it every day. You’re much less likely to eat stuffing if it’s in someone else’s house.

7. Arrive Prepared & Don’t Graze

So, maybe you’re the guest and the food is taken care of. Bring what YOU need to stay on track! If you know folks are going to be drinking wine, or cocktails, bring along some sparkling water for yourself so you can feel fancy too. Or, if you’re worried about the pre-meal spread, bring something you know you can eat that isn’t crammed with sugar and carbs. Crudités (sliced veggies and dip) is something everyone can eat, and it’s a pre-meal snack that won’t dump sugar into your bloodstream.

There’s no rule saying you have to eat all day long. Arrive fashionably late. Don’t show up until the main event. And remember there’s nothing like a walk after a big meal to clear your head and get you away from the dessert table. You can play with the kids, take the dog for a walk, socialize with friends, or anything; just don’t put yourself in the same room as the food.

Remember, Thanksgiving is the beginning of a three-month long chow-fest. The habits you set and the tricks you use can use this November 23rd can set you up for success in the coming months. Drink your water, get as much sleep as you can, and avoid the sugar and carbs. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about being with the people you love; don’t make it about food.

About the Author: Cristy “Code Red” Nickel is an author, speaker, and celebrity nutritionist. Since 1994, she has helped thousands lose weight by eating real food. She is the author of The Code Red Revolution, which details her 7 simple rules for losing all the weight you want without pills, shakes, diet foods, or exercise. Learn more about Cristy “Code Red” at http://www.CodeRedRevolution.com

The post Seven Strategies to Not Overindulge During Holidays appeared first on Healthy Magazine.

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