Category Archives: Nutrition

Skin, Hair and Nails, OH MY!

  1. If your hair is looking super greasy, dried and straw-like, discolored, broken-off and fuzzy, frizzy, tangled, engrossed with split-ends, or you have an itchy scalp with dandruff/scaling: it’s your endocrine system.
  2. If your skin has a funny yellowish/other color tint, is producing lots of acne-causing oils and blackheads, growing abnormal amounts of hair/ingrown hairs, is dry, cracked, flaky or discolored: it’s your endocrine system.
  3. If your nails are splitting, breaking off, ingrown, bleeding or cracked at the cuticle, discolored, really thin, flimsy or extra thick: it’s your endocrine system.
  4. If you are constantly getting sick, have swollen lymph nodes, have a chronic ailment related to your immune system: it’s most likely due to a dysfunctional gland(s) within the endocrine system; unfortunately, this dysfunction may prove to be an accurate reflection of lifestyle choices.

Your endocrine system is a collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate your body’s growth, metabolism, and sexual development and function.  The hormones are released into the blood stream and transported to tissues and organs throughout the body.  The endocrine system consists of:

  • Pineal body-Involved with daily biological cycles
  • Pituitary-Produces a number of different hormones that influence other various endocrine glands
  • Hypothalamus-Activates and controls the part of the nervous system responsible for many involuntary bodily functions (for example, regulating sleep or stimulating appetite) and influences hormones
  • Thyroid gland-Produces hormones that stimulate body heat production, bone growth, and the body’s metabolism
  • Parathyroids-Secretes a hormone that maintains calcium levels in the circulatory system
  • Thymus gland-Plays a role in the body’s immune system
  • Adrenal glands-Divided into 2 regions; secrete hormones that influence the body’s metabolism, blood chemicals and body characteristics, as well as influence the part of the nervous system that is involved in the response and defense against stress
  • Pancreas-Secretes a hormone (insulin) that controls the use of glucose by the body
  • Ovaries-Secrete hormones that influence female characteristics
  • Testicles-Secrete hormones that influence male characteristics

If any of these glands are not functioning the way they are supposed to, your body outwardly displays these problems through parts of us that essentially pertain to beauty standards (skin, hair, nails, sexual organs and our weight/body shape/size).  Maintaining a healthy endocrine system helps your body perform many of its vital functions, such as growth, development, reproduction and immunity. The endocrine system may also affect some aspects of personality and behavior. An unhealthy endocrine system can result in thyroid diseases, osteoporosis and a variety of other problems, both large and small.

Protect your endocrine system, health and overall appearance by:

  • Maintaining a balanced, healthy diet
  • Be aware of family history pertaining to endocrine problems and take preventative measures against those problems which could be hereditary
  • Find healthy ways to eliminate stress that can result in disorders or a weakened immune system
  • Take a daily vitamin or supplement such as Biotin or others that support endocrine system hormones and glands
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How to Keep the Calories off This Easter

Though Easter may have originated as a Christian holiday, it has been thought of as a time for family gatherings and feasting.  Feasting on chocolate, feasting on candy, feasting on ham, feasting on macaroni and cheese and sweet potato casserole, feasting on…OK, we get the point.  The typical Thanksgiving meal is around 4,500 calories per person: nearly twice the daily recommended allowance. The New York Times’ Tara Parker-Pope wanted to test this theory so she created a virtual Thanksgiving feast that would sit with even the most insatiable eater.

  • 6 oz. of turkey, with skin: 299 calories
  • sausage stuffing: 310 calories
  • dinner roll and butter: 310 calories
  • sweet-potato casserole: 300 calories
  • mashed potatoes and gravy: 140 calories
  • green-bean casserole: 110 calories
  • cranberry sauce: 15 calories
  • brussels sprouts: 83 calories
  • pumpkin pie: 316 calories
  • pecan pie: 503 calories
  • whipped cream: 100 calories

total: 2,486 calories

Your family probably makes a ham for Easter and substitutes banana cream pie for pumpkin pie but the point is that the meals are very similar and probably have the same caloric value.  Parker-Pope says you could push your calorie count higher by downing a few glasses of wine or pre-dinner snacks (or, adds NewsFeed, by using a Paula Deen cookbook). But at some point, the body just says no: “After about 1,500 calories in one sitting, the gut releases a hormone that causes nausea.” Still, it may be possible to overcome your gut reflexes and stuff like a champ. ‘You can stretch your stomach’s capacity (normally about 8 cups) by regularly overeating over time,’ according to Lawrence Kosinski, committee chairman of the American Gastroenterological Association.

Replace your Heavenly Ham with lean meat choices in the form of pork, lamb, veal, poultry or game at 3 g of fat and 55 calories per ounce; just make sure you don’t exceed six ounces or there will be no point in choosing a leaner meat.  These meat choices are also recommended for diabetics in the family who will appreciate the fact that you kept them in mind while cooking.  As disappointing as it might be, serve bowls of mixed fruit topped with light whipped cream to your guests instead of pie: you won’t feel as guilty the next morning when you step on the scale.  Limit the amount of chocolate/candy the ‘Easter Bunny’ puts in each basket and hold a challenging ‘post-dinner Easter Egg Hunt’ outside to walk off calories as you race each other to find eggs.  The use of incentives such as money or gift cards in random eggs is helpful in motivating just about everyone to get off the couch and join the hunt.

HAPPY EASTER, HEALTHY EASTER!

The Cheapest Health Foods

I don’t have a lot of money to overindulge in expensive super foods, dietary supplements or pre-portioned weight-loss programs but I know what works and delivers results.  The nutrients found in all foods and drinks provide nourishment for the body. This nourishment is in the form of:

  • Substances which provide energy
  • Building blocks for bone, muscle, organs, hormones and blood
  • Substances needed for processes to occur in the body (like digestion)
  • Substances that protect the body

Nutrients are drawn from a wide variety of foods and the more varied your diet, the more likely you are to obtain all the nutrients you need.  The 4 key nutrients recommended by the daily intake guide are fat, saturated fats, sugars and sodium (salt).  Additional nutrients include protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins and minerals which play many crucial roles in the body’s function and wellbeing, but do not provide energy (kilojoules).

Some nutrient-dense foods include:

  • Avocados
  • Chard, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach
  • Bell peppers
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Mushrooms (crimini and shiitake)
  • Potatoes (white or sweet)
  • Cantaloupe, papaya, raspberries, strawberries
  • Yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower)
  • Beans (garbanzo, kidney, navy, pinto)
  • Lentils, peas
  • Almonds, cashews, peanuts
  • Barley, oats, quinoa, brown rice
  • Salmon, halibut, cod, scallops, shrimp, tuna
  • Lean beef, lamb, venison
  • Chicken, turkey

All of these foods are important for building muscle, trimming fat and maintaining good health but some can cost more than you might be willing to spend.  These are my top ten cheaper food ideas that have gotten me through my college years and kept me in the same jeans since high school:

  1. Canned tuna/salmon/sardines (I mix the meat w/ spicy brown mustard)
  2. Bananas, apples and large bags of frozen mixed berries–> the mixed berries are great for smoothies and disguise the taste of added vegetables like fresh spinach leaves
  3. Eggs and Bacon–>Eat one egg and one piece of bacon for breakfast
  4. Turkey and Chicken–>Low sodium turkey lunch meat and larger packages of frozen chicken lasts you about two weeks, delivers protein and keeps you full compared to empty carbohydrates and sugars
  5. Whole wheat bread
  6. Skim Milk
  7. Water
  8. Generic low-fat yogurt
  9. Oatmeal
  10. Canned or frozen vegetables

Abnormal Eating Habits 101

“Ok, this is it.  This is the month I’m going to do it.  I’m going to diet, eat healthy and workout for that body I want.  Oh my god that brownie was good.  Er, I mean, four brownies.  Ok, those four brownies were great.  Wait, four?  That’s like thousands of calories, what was I thinking?!  Oh god I’m not eating anything else today, that’s it.  Man I’m starving from not eating all day.  Maybe a few crackers will hold me over.  How many hand fuels did I just eat?!  Seriously?  I just ingested 100 grams of carbs!  Not cool, I better run it off.”  If a similar scenario keeps playing out in your head and you are constantly worrying about food and body image, you may be suffering from an eating disorder.

How do I know if I have an eating disorder and what could it be?

  • Anorexia nervosa: When you have anorexia nervosa (an-o-REK-see-uh nur-VOH-suh), you’re obsessed with food and being thin, sometimes to the point of deadly self-starvation.
  • Bulimia nervosa: When you have bulimia, you have episodes of bingeing and purging. During these episodes, you typically eat a large amount of food in a short duration and then try to rid yourself of the extra calories through vomiting or excessive exercise. You may be at a normal weight or even a bit overweight.
  • Binge-eating disorder: When you have binge-eating disorder, you regularly eat excessive amounts of food (binge), but don’t try to compensate for this behavior with exercise or purging as someone with bulimia or anorexia might. You may eat when you’re not hungry and continue eating even long after you’re uncomfortably full. After a binge, you may feel guilty or ashamed, which can trigger a new round of bingeing. You may be a normal weight, overweight or obese.

When to see a doctor

  • If you feel ashamed, sad, hopeless, drained, irritable and anxious.
  • You’re experiencing a host of physical problems such as irregular heartbeats, fatigue, and bowel or menstrual troubles

 

What’s a healthy weight goal for you??

As bikini season approaches, women across the country are starving themselves or dieting like crazy to shed their winter coats.  Many take it to the next extreme to lose the weight in time which can endanger health and cause for a relapse of extreme binge eating.  Regular bing eating can lead to:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gallbladder disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Sleep apnea

 The best way to figure out how much weight to lose for your body type will depend on how you were your senior year of high school.  Most people are fully grown for a couple of years at that age and physically fit from sports or activities.  If you wore a women’s size 00 pants your senior year of high school then there is no reason you can’t strive for that 108 pound body again and reasonably obtain that goal over a two or three month period.  However if you were a women’s size 6 pant in high school and were active playing sports, that’s the size your body is at its most healthy weight.  You should never malnourish your body.

If you can afford it, try a healthly meal plan for two months like NutriSystem or Shakeology.  Both of these systems are designed to be low in carbs and high in protein and fiber, helping you lose weight consistently and safely.  Take a personal challenge to avoid all junk food and cravings everyday for two months; reduce cravings by chewing sugarless gum or drinking water when tempted.  I recommend Extra Dessert flavored gum to simulate the sensation of indulging in real treats without actually doing so.  Calculate your BMI and follow guidelines to reduce it to the recommended 18.5 %.  Use a daily moisturizer with Vitamin E and shea butter to reduce the chance of stretchmarks during weight loss and to protect against dry skin as you expose more of your body in the upcoming months.

Detox Diet Vs. Clean Eating

“The idea that your body needs help getting rid of toxins has no basis in human biology,” says Frank Sacks, MD, of the Harvard School of Public Health. “Your organs and immune system handle those duties, no matter what you eat”. A detox diet may be a quick and temporary solution for losing weight but you’re likely to gain the weight back after you go off of it, as with any extreme diet.   I’ve heard of detox diets like drinking nothing but water with lemon juice and cayenne pepper for a week straight but to not consume any calories or nutrients all week sounds absurd to me.  This is the week everyone should be eating their healthiest, avoiding alcohol and drinking plenty of liquids to avoid bloating, cellulite, extra pounds and thin skin.

So rather than invest in a diet where you practically starve yourself, try a clean eating or organic diet for the week.  Shape Magazine’s Cynthia Sass recommends this seven day clean eating challenge to bring you ‘skyrocketing energy’, weight loss, better control over your appetite and yes, better looking skin.  Follow these 5 simple rules to slim down and feel your best before spring break:

  1. Eat only whole foods: If a food contains any ingredient you can’t pronounce or don’t know what it is, don’t buy it for the week you eat clean.  Ex: Blueberries and oats instead of a blueberry muffin
  2. Keep meals simple.  Your body only needs sources like whole grain, lean protein and healthy fat during each meal.  Ex: Veggies and shrimp over rice
  3. Eat slower.  Put your fork or spoon down during every bite and actually enjoy the different tastes and textures instead of inhaling your food like you’re in a hotdog race.
  4. Eat on a regular schedule.  Sass suggests not letting more than 4 hours go by between each meal to better regulate your digestive system, blood sugar, insulin levels and appetite.
  5. Listen to your body.  Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied, not stuffed.

You’ll thank yourself for eating healthy all week when you have a slim stomach on the beach and more energy to cram spring break activities.

Helpful Hints to Track Your Progress

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Making a change in your life can seem like it’s taking forever to notice progress and stick to the ritual.  But if you push through the long hours, annoyances and in some cases, the pain, the changes become routine.  After something becomes routine and habitual in your life, you barely even worry about why you wanted to make those changes in the first place!  As this Huffington Post article explains,  something as simple as making your bed every morning can kick-start positive changes in other aspects of your life: “first the bed, next the world.”  In the case of working out and eating clean (unprocessed foods with no chemical additives), I have found several strategies to be especially helpful.

  • Join My Fitness Pal online and download the app on your smart phone to keep track of what you ate, when you ate it and the nutritional facts as they pertain to your weight loss goals.  The app even has a barcode reader so you can scan items for instantaneous answers.  Medical studies show that maintaining a food diary doubles your weight loss and this online tracker is free and easy to use.
  • Use a separate calendar for tracking and staying on top of your fitness.  It’s nearly impossible to squeeze a description of the day’s workout and meal plans in the same box that you scribbled your [school]work obligations.  Referring to separate calendars for different types of schedules and goals will help ease the stress of balancing the already-busy life you have with your new ‘fit and healthy’ life.
  • If you get discouraged looking in the mirror day after day, tape newspaper over your full-length mirror so you won’t be tempted to obsess after your shower or workout and complain that you can’t see any differences.  Take a ‘before’ picture on the first day of your routine and only take the newspaper off the mirror every 30 days to take monthly progress pictures.  Compare the pictures after three months and I guarantee you will be much happier with what you see.

It takes a lot of time to get that beach body but stick to a plan and repeat to yourself, Just Do It!

Hair’s to Change!

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As the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, 2014, millions of people lifted their glasses and toasted to a new year with new resolutions to which they swore to follow. “One drink/piece of chocolate/cookie/a million other things won’t hurt me.”  But giving in one time turns into ten times and before you know it, you are no closer to reaching your goals and in fact, you may be further behind than before.  This scenario has already played out for me twice thus far; but for the past week, I have pushed past temptation and ignored ailments and negative thoughts.  The hardest hurdle for me to jump over when working out and eating healthier is reaching four days in a row.  If I can push myself on day five to work out and avoid unhealthy foods, I look forward to extending my willpower to day six.

I ombred my roommate’s hair last night for four long hours, applying dark brown to the crown of her head and bright red from the chin down.  Over these four hours, I felt productive and skillful which inspired me to write about how something as simple as dying your hair a different color or several colors can be exciting and refreshing, helping you accomplish resolutions and goals that the old you couldn’t/wouldn’t.  You can also use this tactic to motivate and reward yourself; once you have worked out for x days/months in a row, treat yourself with something that you have been craving or wanting to do.  Try using these tips to push yourself closer to your resolutions:

  • Reward yourself to frozen yogurt instead of ice cream at the end of every successful workout week.  Frozen yogurt has a load of healthy benefits but use caution with size and toppings! http://bit.ly/1bKZWek
  • Get a manicure or pedicure–What could be better than a stranger massaging your hands, legs and feet making them soft and beautiful?
  • Buy a new form-fitting top to show off your progress at the gym and your newfound abs

Whatever you are working for or toward, just keep your imagined result in mind and repeat to yourself, “I am the only one who can make this vision a reality”.