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You Are What You Eat

Knowing the right foods to choose for a healthier life and maximum weight loss may not seem that difficult, but you’ll be amazed at just how bad some seemingly innocent popular foods are for you and how they can prevent you from shedding those extra pounds. What you eat does make a difference in not only your weight, but also your overall health. Banana chips and granola or energy bars may seem healthy, but that’s not always so. Some granola/energy bars are loaded with sugar and banana chips are fried, with fewer nutrients of a fresh banana.

Choosing healthy foods means never having to diet again.

Or as Ali MacGraw from “Love Story” might say, “Eating the right foods means never having to say your sorry.” Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch, but it is true. When you make smart food choices, your body thanks you with a healthy weight and plenty of energy. Processed foods are not on that list. The closer you come to whole foods, foods with very little processing, the better off you are. Whole foods contain more vitamins, such they aren’t destroyed by heat from cooking. They provide fewer hidden ingredients, especially if they’re organic. (Some of the hidden ingredients in some non-organic fruits and veggies may be pesticides.) You can eat as much as you like when you’re eating whole foods. It’s hard to eat enough fresh fruit and vegetables to put on any weight.

What you drink makes a huge difference.

Stop immediately before you reach for your next can of soda. Pop is one of the biggest offenders when it comes to poor nutrition. It’s sugar water with flavoring. Even fruit juice can be a little bit of an enemy, since much of the bulk and fiber is removed, so you have to drink more before filling up on it. It also is missing the bulk that helps slow the absorption of the sugar in the fruit in your intestines. Even in a smoothie, where you put the whole fruit and vegetable in the blender, you may be getting all the vitamins, but not nearly the same satisfaction or feeling of satiety. While smoothies are better than juice and juice is 1000 times better than carbonated drinks, water is probably the best drink for you if you’re trying to shed extra pounds.

You need fat in your diet.

Too often people cut out all fat when they diet, even healthy fat. That’s not good nutrition. Healthy fat has a lot to offer. It keeps you feeling full longer, promotes good metabolism, aids in the absorption of vitamins and is good for the heart. Avocados, salmon, real butter (particularly from grass fed cows) and coconut oil are examples of healthy fat that actually aids in weight loss and makes your body healthier.

Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, but get a broad mix of colors. A simple way to insure you’re getting all they phytonutrients and vitamins and minerals from fresh fruits and vegetables is to insure you have a broad mix of colors.

Learn to cook foods differently. When you steam vegetables instead of boil them, more of the nutrients stay in the veggies. Baked or grilled meat is always better than fried.

Learn to make substitutions in cooking. Some of the fat or sugar in baked goods can be replaced with unsweetened applesauce.

Find lower calorie substitutions. If you want the richness of sour cream, but with fewer calories, use Greek yogurt instead. There are hundreds of small changes and substitutions you can make to lower calories, but get the same flavor.

Fight The Holiday Blues

fight-holiday-bluesIf you have to fight the holiday blues, you’re not only missing much of the enjoyment, you also probably dread the coming of the season. The holiday blues can occur for a number of reasons. With days getting shorter and chillier, getting out for a day in the sun is often not an option. That may lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder—SAD. One of the reasons for the depression, besides the lack of sunshine, is a lower amount of vitamin D that sunshine helps the body create.

Eat for a healthier mental attitude.

A healthy diet is important to preventing depression, but some foods are actually better than others to help lift your spirits. Even though sugary treats may be comfort foods, they will only lift you up for a while and then body slam your emotions back into the ground. Walnuts and cashews contain Omega-3 fatty acids that can help lift your spirits and improve brain health. High fiber carbohydrates such as whole wheat breads, as well as green tea can help make you feel good too. Turmeric spice is an antidepressant. Foods high in vitamin D and B complex are important to a healthier mental attitude.

Exercise for relief.

Exercise is a stress buster and can help you relax, but it also can stimulate the body to create natural anti-depressants. After exercise burns off the hormones from stress, such as cortisol, it causes the production of dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. Endorphins make you relax, raise your pain threshold and makes you feel good. Serotonin is often called the happiness hormone. Dopamine improves your mental alertness.

Treat yourself to a wrap, massage or aromatherapy.

All three of these things will help lift your spirits. Massages help eliminate pain and relaxes you, taking away anxiety in the process. Saunas can supply heat therapy to alleviate adrenal fatigue syndrome, while wraps embrace your body and help detox it. All of these therapies go hand in hand with aromatherapy, by integrating the essential oil into the massage, sauna or wrap. You’ll be treating yourself to a relaxing time, which will lift your spirits, lower anxiety and help you enjoy the holiday time more.

Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep can cause depression even if it isn’t a holiday. Exercise can help you sleep better at night.

Stick to your routine or add to it. You may feel like staying at home under the covers, but that only makes depression worse.

Volunteer to help others. Doing something positive to make someone else’s life better can be so rewarding it can lift you from depression. You’ll not only be doing something for someone else, you’ll be making yourself feel good in the process.

Have fun with a friend. Whether you workout with them in the gym, go shopping with them or just have a cup of coffee, good friends and good conversation are important to lifting you out of a holiday funk.