Archive for Diet – Page 2

Are You Always Eating on the Run?

This week’s article was “inspired” by something I saw on the freeway a few weeks back. I was following a car that was going a little too slow so I passed it and what did I see?  Lo and behold a woman eating her lunch, or maybe even  breakfast although it was 1 p.m. out of a bowl with a spoon driving 70 miles an hour. You know I’m big on eating regular meals, but this is ridiculous – don’t you think?  Not only is this practice obviously dangerous, but also it’s not the best way to eat a meal.

I’m not perfect and recently I found myself munching on a small piece of sliced chicken breast while I headed out to a meeting. As I drove down my street I witnessed a neighbor – a woman – doing the same thing (well maybe not chicken breast) but she was munching on something and looking very hurried. This is another great example that we women, in particular, put way too much on our plates.

5 Tips to help prevent eating things you really don’t want to:

Tip # 1  Carry quick foods with you.  Munching on an apple or some almonds while driving is completely acceptable and easy to manage.  That is if you’re not on a curvy road requiring both hands on the wheel.

Plan for periods of possible low blood sugar by automatically taking an apple or pear with you or having a bag of almonds in your car or purse. This type of easy planning should help you out tremendously.  And this is such a great time of year for apples and pears and a bonus – they aren’t messy and are very easy to munch on.

Tip # 2   Make sure to schedule time.  Of course, there will always be some days when you can’t avoid running late for whatever reason. However, 80 % of the time you need to plan and schedule regular meals so you don’t find yourself eating on the run or worse yet – not eating anything. The latter is harder on your body than eating a little too much.  But if both become a habit, it’s time to re-organize your life and your lifestyle.

Tip #3   Fast Food – an error in decision making.  Fast food is seldom a good choice when you need to find a meal quickly. You can stop by your local grocery or Whole Foods Market and pick up something quickly and even sit down and eat it. I did just that the other day. I had only a window of 20-30 minutes for lunch. I normally bring a fresh, scrumptious salad to my office, but this particular day I didn’t plan as well as I normally do. So off I went to Whole Foods to select my “healthy fast food”. I chose a couple of pieces of Tandoori (I love spicy) chicken and a kale, brussels sprout and celery salad – yum!  Now that’s a well balanced and nutritious lunch.  Get the idea?

Tip # 4    Don’t rely on the crackers.  You may find that grabbing a piece of cheese with a handful of crackers is somewhat better than a greasy cheeseburger when on the run, but hold on.  Over the years I’ve heard many a story from clients explaining their lack of control with these common starchy morsels. Why not try a small piece of cheese (ie. string cheese) with a fresh carrot or two instead of the starchy temptation. Forego the processed crackers for real food instead.

Tip # 5   Give up something.  I had a client laugh when I asked her what she could let go of in her busy schedule. I’ve had many various responses to this question over the years. But a response so honest and refreshing as her laugh got me thinking just how far removed we are from having a normal and nourishing pace in our lives. Sure my client, perhaps like you, loves her work, her family, her community and participating in life, but if you’re overbooked and constantly living your life on the run, something is amiss. Always being on the run stresses your body, impacts your hormonal function and drains you mentally. So laugh if you like (always good medicine) but consider for a moment – what can you take out of your life to simplify it?

Enjoy walking, sauntering and meandering …and not running this week.

Are You Sure You Want to Eat That?

When your dinner host asks you would you like more?  What do you say? Yes or no? Sounds like a simple thing doesn’t it – but of course we know it’s not. Do you feel that you’d offend your host if you say No? Ask yourself – would you rather leave your dinner feeling overstuffed and guilty instead? Even though the holidays aren’t quite here yet, learning to say no graciously now will help you during the more challenging times ahead.

But what about discipline? What about contentment? In order to have contentment you must have discipline. I just heard a really great distinction made between the two. Discipline is doing the right thing even when you desire the wrong thing. Contentment is when you no longer want the wrong thing. So when you’re making healthy changes in your life think of what you really want long-term rather than in this very minute. Choosing correctly now will give you want you want most – a healthy life.

Our culture dictates that you’re supposed to be on a diet. As I’ve said many times in past articles, diets don’t work but a well rounded system and expert support does. You may be saying half-heartedly to yourself, your friend or to me “yeah I need to lose weight” and then choose not to do that for some reason or another. My client Lisa wanted health first and did what she needed to – with discipline and commitment to her true goal. She just happened to lose weight, too – a bonus.

Here are few ways to help you decide if you really do want to eat that – ask yourself the following questions.

5 Tips to help prevent eating things you really don’t want to:

Tip # 1  Have you eaten regular meals throughout the day?  If not there’s a high likelihood you’ll say yes to that extra helping at dinner or to the mouth-watering dessert when offered it. If you have eaten well all day long you will not be as tempted or have a need to overdo it. You’ll find that you have more self-control and feel proud and comfortable in your clothes when it’s time to go home.

Tip # 2   Are you hanging around the snack table?  Step away from any area in your environment that’s loaded with chips, pretzels, brownies etc. Appetizers are really unnecessary. If you’re having dinner soon why bother adding more empty calories? And yes, they are usually empty. This pre-meal habit is pervasive in our culture. Again, unnecessary so stay away.

Tip #3  Are you holding out for dessert?  When we have visitors over to our  house they know not to expect any dessert (maybe that’s why we don’t have as many visitors as we’d like – just kidding). Well, there may be crunchy grapes or sliced watermelon served but that’s about it.  Even while celebrating a birthday – is cake necessary? I went looking for a birthday card the other day and noticed 95% of the cards had a picture of cake on them. Tradition is hard to change. But why not try something different like berries topped with frozen coconut yogurt and don’t forget the candles.

Tip # 4   Have you turned into an Evening Muncher?  If you feel tired and feel like you need something to keep you going, pay attention to what your body is telling you. It’s probably telling you it’s time to go to bed and get some rest rather than propping yourself up with evening snacks. If you’re bored find something more nurturing to do than raid the cupboards. Look at your evening meal – was it balanced with proteins and good non-starchy carbohydrates? If yes, this munching your about to embark on may be more emotional than actually hunger. Ask yourself – what am I really hungry for right now?

Tip # 5  Is your Resistance Down?  When invited to have more food while your resistance is down due to fatigue, hunger or cravings you’re setting yourself up for making poor choices.  Becoming aware of how vulnerable you are at certain times of the day or in certain situations is really essential to gaining control of your eating habits. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can do it on all on your own. If you haven’t been successful yet you may need some help getting a handle on your deeply ingrained, unhealthy patterns.

And remember just say NO when you need to.

Enter the Cellulite-Free Zone

Have you ever wondered how to get rid of it – who hasn’t?  You know even though summer’s pretty much over most us are still burdened with that dimply, ripply unpleasant effect on our skin.  We still what to show off our arms and legs when we can – right? Having it is a good indicator that something is out of balance in your body and most likely your diet.

Even though for some it is genetic and determined by how thin your skin is.  For many of us, however it’s due to an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, estrogen levels, high body fat composition and/or insufficient hydration.  The good news is there are simple things you can do about it.

Here are 6 Dietary Secrets to putting an End to Cellulite:

1)    Stop drinking carbonated fizzy drinks– they only increase water retention that causes puckering beneath the skin’s surface

2)    Drink more water – this will actually prevent water retention and create a healthy fluid balance in your body

3)    Eat more non-starchy carbohydrates – they are the high water content vegetables such as leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower.  The starchy carbohydrates are root vegetables such as yams, beets, potatoes, squash, beans and grains.

4)    Food sensitivity may cause some of that unsightly puckering and a tendency to retain water.  Try eliminating some of the main culprits such as dairy and eggs for a couple of weeks and see what happens.

5)    Super Diuretic Vegetables are asparagus, cucumber, cabbage water cress, red onions.  Use these in your daily diet.

6)    Increase Protein slightly and lower your starchier Carbohydrates like grains, root vegetables and beans as we’ve already discussed.

Keeping a healthy water balance will boost metabolism, burn more fat, and lower your insulin.  Higher insulin levels will often cause inflammation in your body which can be a big contributor to the cellulite problem causing fat to get caught deep below the surface making your skin have the unwanted and unsightly cottage cheese look.

Take some of these steps today and you’ll be able to say bye to cellulite and hello to smooth, beautiful skin soon enough.

A Calorie Is Not a Calorie?

I know you’ve heard “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie” or even “calories in calories out” when referring to one’s ability to gain or lose weight.  Culturally we either view calories as the enemy or an expected (maybe even welcome) guest.  Needless to say this topic can be quite confusing.  With some not caring at all while others care way too much.

You’ve heard the common sense advice of: “lower your calories if you want to lose weight” or “burn more calories so you can eat more later and not gain an inch”.  Or how about “I can’t have that there are too many calories in it”.  And then there are those who blindly indulge in the latest super-sized whole lot a latte filled with a whopping amount of with hidden empty calories.

The contrast of obsession with laxness makes it all so confusing. So where do you go for sound advice? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are 5 Tips on how to get the most from the calories you consume:

Tip # 1   What’s a calorie anyway? It’s a measure of heat. To be more precise, it’s the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius.  So it’s neither an enemy or a friend it’s just a calculation used to determine the energy produced by the food you consume. You need a minimum amount of food energy in order to maintain your metabolism and drive your muscles. There are foods or substances that are considered thermogenic or have fat burning effects; things like grapefruit, tomatoes, chile, and green tea for example.

Tip # 2  Why should I care?  It’s important to have an idea of the general caloric content of what you’re consuming.  I even get shocked when I randomly get to read the “Eat this, Don’t eat that” newsletter online. Usually restaurant foods are the worst culprits.  From cronuts (combination croissant and doughnut) to “the healthy salad” loaded with excess sugary and fatty dressing, bacon, cheese (lots of it) and everything but the kitchen sink. Bringing in a whopping count of nearly 1000 calories, oftentimes more than half of your daily caloric need. Yes, this is why you need to care.  Just because it says, “natural”, “healthy” or “leaner” doesn’t it mean it is.

Tip #3  It matters where your calories come from: So two foods may have the exact number of calories – however one nourishes you with the right kind of nutrients and the other robs you of nourishment – even though it may taste soooo good!  A piece of salmon may have the same amount of calories as a piece of chocolate cake but with the high sugar and unhealthy fats of the cake it robs you of your health instead of giving you health.  Yes, of course you may occasionally like to have a bite here and there. But just know for most people this saying is true: “one bite is too many and a thousand bites are not enough”.  Best to eat the good stuff and then you probably won’t want any nutrient-robbing calories in your diet. The quality of the calorie matters a great deal.

Tip # 4  Forget the Calorie Counting.  I believe that most of your food should come from items that are not labeled whatsoever.  Fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds and quality protein come without labels. However there are certain food items that do come packaged and you are sure to include in your daily diet.  Food items like: almond butter (should only be almonds), quinoa, cheese for example. Make sure these foods are pure and don’t have a lot of additional ingredients in them – which can not only add calories, but is also unnecessary. Nutrition labeling is very important when you have a health condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, to make sure that the sugars aren’t too high or the sodium is in a healthy range.

Tip # 5    Dispelling the Calorie Myth:   Again a calorie is simply a form of measurement.  Don’t be obsessed with them, rather appreciate a healthy, wholesome diet devoid of junk and high calorie/low nutrient types of foods.  If you’re spending a lot of your time looking at labels there’s something wrong.  Remember garden fresh is the rule of the day. Enjoy the best calories mother earth can provide.

Eat well and forget about counting!

Stay Skinny This Summer… Even While Traveling

It’s not impossible to eat well while vacationing. Your vacation state of mind can include light eating and better choices or it can run amok.  Here are a few ways to help you stay on track.

Here are 5 Healthy Tips while Traveling:

Tip # 1  Choose Light.  It’s not just about eating a lot of fresh fruit during the summer.  Even though juicy and refreshing, don’t overdo the fruit.  Chances are you are most likely choosing sweeter fruits. One or two fruits should be it for the day. Stick with most of your plant foods being vegetables.  There is an overabundance of fresh vegetable produce to pick from this time of year. 

 

Tip # 2  Go outside:  Take advantage of the wonderful weather.  If it’s too hot, aim for starting your outdoor adventure early in the morning before it gets too hot.  Take that early morning walk, run or hike.  Forego outdoor activities midday when the sun is at its peak.  And remember to always bring water with you.  I remember several years back going on a hike in the local Santa Monica mountains.  I was a rather inexperienced hiker and so I was not well equipped with the necessities.  I found myself feeling faint as we neared the peak and I almost passed out.  Something I’ll never forget – I now know to always have water and a snack with me even if it’s only a brief 30 minute walk around the neighborhood.

Tip #3  Pick Salads Instead of Burgers: I’m not opposed to burgers. Should you decide to have one, make sure you limit all or most of the bun. Also, french fries are usually part of the equation, so ask for a side of salad instead.  Main course salads are always a good pick. They are crisp and nutritious, however watch all the extras like highly caloric dressings, croutons, excessive amounts of ingredients like avocado, bacon, cheese. Although all of these are healthy, there just might be too much of it for one serving size.  While traveling, it’s not very easy to use a doggy bag, unless of course you have a fridge back in your hotel room or bed and breakfast.  If you don’t have any refrigeration order a small size or split a large size with your travel partner.

Tip # 4  Good Stuff Available Everywhere:  Believe it or not there is healthy food available everywhere you travel. Many foreign countries eat better than we do here.  Most cultures pride themselves on fresh fare and healthy portion sizes, as in enough to satisfy your hunger and not feeling overstuffed. Even if your host country offers greasy, large entrees you can still opt for something else.  Even though Mexico has now officially surpassed the U.S. as being the most obese country in the world (I would suspect it has a lot to do with processed foods having become more prevalent there) there is still plenty of excellent, healthy foods to choose from while visiting there.

Tip # 5   Alcohol Not Necessary:  Choose a Skinny drink – not necessarily a Skinny Girl Margarita. I like the “Skinny Girl” brand concept, but not so happy about the aspartame found in these drinks.  Aspartame, an unhealthy artificial sweetener, is known to be toxic to the brain. If you are choosing a cocktail you can make your own skinny version by replacing soda with mineral water instead.  Remember alcohol can cause you to overeat and crave certain foods like more sugar in the form of dessert.  So taste a little not a lot and save your waistline this summer.

Happy Trails!

Are You on the Heavier Side of Light?

Every week I have clients come into my office who inspire me.  Often in our sessions amazing ideas come to me for article topics.  Last week one of my clients was claiming that her summer clothes were tighter this year.  Even though she had maintained most of her  initial weight loss from when we first started working together – she had gained 4 lbs in the last 4 months.  It may not seem like a lot, but because she’s tiny to begin with – it was enough to put her into another size – up.

So I ask – are you also on the Heavier Side of Light right now?  Almost sounds like a movie title – doesn’t it?  Like the Unbearable Lightness of Being, for example?  But what I’m asking here is have you lost weight and now some of it has crept back on?  You aren’t feeling that far behind the eight ball, but just enough to have your new smaller sized clothes feeling a little snug.

You must admit you are lighter than you were before – maybe by a lot or maybe just a little.  But you’d like to get back to the smaller size, but maybe you’ve lost the motivation to do just that.  Maybe you don’t want to feel like you have to deprive yourself of sandwiches or desert or that glass of wine at dinner.  Maybe you just don’t want to live that way and the extra 2-12 lbs (or whatever the number is for you) is not worth being upset about.

If you are at that cross roads in maintaining your healthy lifestyle – you may want to ask yourself the following questions to determine if you are willing to do what it takes or simply accept where you are right now. 

Here are your Questions:

Question #1  Do you Like your Body Today?  Perhaps you’ve reached a point where you actually approve and love your body just as it right now.  You realize you will never be perfect or look like a movie star and finally you’re actually OK about that.  You still like what you see in the mirror.  Most of your clothes fit you just fine.  It’s not like it was.  You did dispense with all your “big clothes” long ago or you had your favorites taken in – that’s always a good thing.  So stay proud of how far you have come and the progress you’ve made.  Think of all the things you continue to learn and admire about yourself today.

Question #2  Do you plan to yoyo?  If you feel like you just may end going up and down & up and down for the rest of your life, ask yourself if you’d like to live with these planned fluctuations?  I don’t really advise planning to yoyo – it’s hard on your body, mind and spirit.  Normal fluctuations are common due to water retention, menstrual cycles, or exercise levels.  Eating larger portions than you’re used to or having foods you don’t normally eat are all  part of the “fluctuation dance”.  Watch for  incrementally continuous rises in weight – stopping this pattern as soon as it starts is essential for helping stay in your healthy weight range.

Question #3  Does your new weight require less effort to maintain?  If your new “heavier side of light” weight requires less effort you may want to consider that this is your new normal and stick with it.  You may want to enjoy more of this or that and find that the cost benefit is worth it to you.  Just make sure you stick with your healthy food choices 80-85% of the time.  

Question #4  Are you trying to maintain some fantasy? If you’re trying to maintain an unrealistic weight – a weight you may have been when you were 16, but not at 40 or 50.  This unrealistic weight may become impossible to maintain and will only set you up for further frustration.  Your hormonal balance is so much different now than when you were a teenager.  You most likely got away with a lot when you were younger; but now these indiscretions count – both on the scale and in how you actually feel.  Whether you are getting into your Skinny Jeans or not, you must make sure your weight goal is attainable – long term.

Questions #5   Do you just want to have fun?  You want to forget about constant control – you just want to be free from the scale, calorie counting and “weighing in” – is that right? You just want to let loose and enjoy your life – don’t you – after all isn’t that what life is all about?

This can be a beneficial strategy for some, however for most people too much letting go and having fun may set you off in the wrong direction completely. You may end up several weeks or months later, after having caused more damage and feeling worse, having to start over from scratch.  Now who wants to do that?  You don’t want all weight that you’ve worked so hard to lose. Consider all the time, energy, and money you’ve spent to accomplish a healthier and leaner life and now it’s all gone. So go ahead and have a little fun and know that discipline is not such a bad thing when it comes to your overall sense of wellbeing, pride and respect for yourself.

Hoping For a Miracle to Your Weight Loss Challenge?

It can be daunting. You’ve tried everything.  You lose, you gain, you lose, you gain. It’s a nightmare –right?  But it doesn’t have to be that way. Keeping yourself in the zone of let’s call it “Weight Awareness” doesn’t need to be a full time job. However, only thinking about making changes and never actually taking the first step will keep you more in “Weight Denial” Zone for awhile than anything else. So how can you become more aware and realistic and less frightened or paralyzed?

Here are 5 “Miracles” for You to Consider:

Miracle # 1  There are no Miracles.  It’s as simple as that.   Real change requires effort, commitment and trust in the process and in yourself. You may not see results right away, but when you put one foot in front of the other and do what it takes on a daily basis, the results of all your effort is bound to show.  However, I must add, that if you’ve been at it for awhile trying to lose weight and are not making headway, it’s time to consult a professional.

Miracle # 2  Realistic Dreaming is Good for You:  Yes go ahead and imagine being healthy, lean and fit.  Studies show the powerful effects of visualization in   achieving any goal.  In your mind’s eye you can see yourself energetic, fit and wearing clothes you love and dream of putting on someday.  Just like Olympic athletes – you can train your brain to think positive thoughts and allow yourself to emotionally experience a New You.

 

Miracle # 3  Think Opportunity Not Challenge: Your weight loss and healthy eating program can be a wonderful adventure into self realization.  Most people enter a “diet” with trepidation and not excitement.  Try and change your thinking, suspend all judgment and just go for it.  Whatever you are doing is better than doing zero, unless of course it’s downright unhealthy, unsound and unproven.

Miracle # 4  One Small Step:  No leaps required.  The slower and more aware you are in your Weight Loss Journey the better.  Don’t think of this as “oh in a few weeks or months I’ll weigh such and such”.  Think more long term – how will I feel and look in a year or two. Think one meal at a time if you need to.

Miracle # 5   Being Healthy is Never Done:  It is a practice of being healthy, not a one time event.  So keep at it – there are no failures. You are never done – this is a lifelong process – so enjoy it – there’s no hurry!

Are You Afraid to Eat That?

You may have gotten to the point where you just don’t know what the best thing for you to eat really is.  There are so many food philosophies; yes I call them philosophies, out there that you’re just not sure where to turn for the best advice.

Well, if you aren’t working with a professional right at the moment, figuring it out on your own could be a challenge.  You wonder “how much protein is actually healthy for me?”  You ask: “Doesn’t high protein and especially saturated fat cause heart disease?”  “Wouldn’t a vegetarian or even a vegan diet a la “Forks over Knives” method work the best for me?” you inquire. “How about all the genetically modified stuff out there – how do I know if my family’s safe?” you ask. And if you’re gluten free you want to know “What can I have instead of gluten?” So many questions and so paths to entertain.

Everyone is unique.  My husband has Kidney Disease and can’t eat greens, nuts, cheese, most fruits, potatoes and several other seemingly healthy foods, but for him those foods aren’t healthy ones.  They elevate his potassium and phosphorous which can have extreme consequences for him.  But if you’re relatively healthy, these kinds of foods are excellent to help maintain good health.

But let’s face it – it’s all very confusing.  Being too rigid is not a solution. There is a condition called Orthorexia, like anorexia it is a serious eating disorder. Orthorexics are so rigid with their healthy eating regimen that they become overly obsessed to an extreme. Unlike anorexia, those with orthorexia do eat but are so fanatically focused on only eating healthy that no food considered unhealthy passes their lips. Even though this is a serious illness, recovery is possible.

So how can you be OK with what’s available and what you put on your plate?

Here are 5 Tips to Help You Be Unafraid of Your Food Choices: 

Tip #1  Relax:  No need to get upset if you happen to eat something that is less than healthy every once in awhile.  Everyone faces this dilemma and we’re often tempted more that we’d like to admit. If you can make healthy food choices 70-80% of the time you’ll be in good shape.  Remember this is never about being perfect but about being healthy.

Tip #2  There is no BAD Food:  Labeling food good or bad can pose a problem.  As I mentioned my husband can’t have greens yet greens are something I recommend all the time to my clients and readers. It’s not good for him but for nearly everyone else greens are good.  Using the word BAD to describe a food can make it emotionally charged and a huge negative punch to your psyche. This association leaves you feeling guilty, miserable and more susceptible to reaching for those types of commonly considered “bad” foods over and over again, especially when things go wrong in your life. A better categorization for food might be: those that nourish and give energy and those that make you not feel good, create symptoms and deplete you of vitality.

Tip #3  Check the Labels:  Even though I encourage you to primarily choose real, whole, fresh foods without labels, sometimes you can’t avoid it.  Make sure the packaged foods you are choosing are GMO free and don’t contain highly modified corn or soy ingredients.  Stay away from unhealthy syrups and sweeteners as well, they are first off  artificial or secondly toxic and you wouldn’t want either in your tummy.

Tip #4  Ask your waiter/waitress or grocer:  If you have any doubt about what’s in the dish you’re ordering tonight for dinner – ask. No need to feel embarrassed or feel like you’re  causing a scene. You don’t need to have a food allergy in order to gain permission for a query. Most restaurants nowadays have become quite used to the more educated consumer wanting to know more about what they are putting into their mouths.

Restaurants have become quite adept at answering most questions the diner has.  Even your grocer is there to help. If you’re uncertain about something, do ask. Also, if your local grocery store doesn’t carry some of your favorite healthy foods, ask them to either stock it or special order it for you.  They’ll be happy to do so and keep you as their loyal customer.

Tip #5 Drop the Jitters: No need to go overboard about the food you eat.  Every food you consume does not have to be gluten, dairy or whatever “free”. Remain calm and do your best to enjoy your meals, savor every morsel and if you don’t like it don’t eat it. Unless you, of course, are more accustomed to eating only junk food, greasy burgers and fries – your palate then needs to be trained for healthier fare. Food should taste good all on its own without the need for sauces, dressings or extra salt.  Whole, fresh food has so much inherent flavor and goodness in it.  Give yourself time to experience the true JOY OF EATING!

Eating Light

The Sun Season is upon us. Here in Southern California where early March or mid December can also bring balmy 90 degree weather; it is sometimes hard to distinguish summer from any other season.  We therefore need to be even more diligent on how to take care of ourselves with heat and sun beating down upon us throughout the year.    Summer is definitely a time to shed clothes, and for some also shedding some pounds as well. This bathing suit season prompts us to get our bodies in tip top shape which means eating right and exercising appropriately.  Many come to see me for my successful weight loss programs throughout the year but I especially have a surge this time of year.  Getting into those shorts, skirts and bathing suits can certainly be a big motivator to lose those extra 5 or 10 or more.

Eating Light 

There are so many fresh great foods that you can enjoy at this time of year.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are chockfull of nutrients.  Here in Southern California, we are very lucky to be able to pick so many fresh fruits and vegetables from the vine, tree or ground – some all year round.  Daily fresh salads are  a big favorite summer fare for many.  Fill your salad with a wide array of fresh garden vegetables not just lettuce – add some fresh tomatoes, fresh herbs, cucumber or radishes.  One of my all time favorites in Greek Salad with tomatoes, cucumber, red onions and kalamata olives.  I even like to top it off with walnuts for an extra crunch and add an olive oil and apple cider vinegar or balsamic dressing.  This salad is so refreshing - just the thing for a hot summer day or evening.

Summer is also a very social time of year – more family get-togethers and vacations.  You may run the risk of putting on some weight if you over indulge – so stick with lighter meals. Visit your local farmers markets where you will find all the vegetables you can imagine.  Or even better still plant a garden filled with vegetables and herbs and you are set for many months to come. Even though the U.S. government’s 2005 dietary guidelines indicate four-and-a-half cups of fruits and vegetables each day, I recommend you increase it to 6-8 ½ cups each day.   Add some vegetables to every meal they will give you even more anti-oxidant and phyto-nutrient “Omph” throughout your day.   All fruits and vegetables are good sources of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber.

Here are some examples

Oh those Yummy Tomatoes and Peppers Who can resist a juicy summer tomato - loaded with Vitamin A, C and Lycopene.  Lypcopene from cooked tomatoes has shown to help with prostate health.  Recent research indicates that lycopene also reduces the LDL “bad” cholesterol therefore making it a heart healthy nutrient.  All peppers contain the antioxidant beta carotene which is powerful immune booster.  Both tomatoes and pepper are high in vitamin C.

Those Little Bundles of Goodness – Berries!

We hear so much about the importance of berries these days – blueberries, raspberries, cherries, blackberries, boysenberries and the list goes on.  They satisfy your sweet tooth and are rich in nutritional bonuses, such as vitamin C.  In fact, strawberries have the highest amount of vitamin C of the berry family.  Berries by their very nature have skins that protect the vulnerable fruit inside from damage, sun radiation and infection.  This gives them incredible antioxidant protection for those who consume them.  With their high fiber content, berries also very helpful in lowering cholesterol.

Smoothies for Everyone!

To eliminate the need to overindulge in ice cream when it’s too hot – how about something less caloric and very nutritious.  Try a smoothie – add some yogurt, ¼ banana, some berries and a couple of scoops of high quality protein powder and – Voila - a wonderfully rich, creamy, fruity and cold beverage to satisfy your summertime cravings.  You can even add a few nuts or nut butter i.e. almond or peanut butter to give additional flavor, a little crunch and some added nutrient value.  Make sure you use a plain yogurt without additional fruit on the bottom which usually contains more sugar than you need.  Of course a good yogurt will also give you those extra good bugs that help your immune system stay healthy.

No Fooling Yourself… The 5 Myths Behind Think and Grow Thin

Nice idea  – wouldn’t it be great to just think yourself thin?  I don’t think we are that evolved yet to actually manifest this – we need to take action – so many of us don’t know what to do or maybe we actually do know what to do but simply can’t do it for one reason or another.

Myth #1 – you really can be thin and healthy without exercise or how about the opposite – you can be thin and healthy only with exercise and get away with eating whatever you want. Wrong – both matter when it comes to sustaining health – long term.

Myth #2 – Eat small portions. That’s half right – but if you are only eating carbohydrates in those small portions – well that can be a problem. If that is what you are doing then you will never be able to maintain your weight loss as you have lost muscle and not actual fat.  You want to lose weight in the form of fat loss.

Myth #3 – My husband or wife likes me just the way I am and if I change they will feel uncomfortable.  This is often a true hard fact that those close don’t really want us to change because they will have to change as well – or so they think.  However, this is no reason to refrain from going after what you want – ever.

Myth #4 – At social functions in order not to insult the host I must eat what they serve – everything and all of it!  They may not invite me back or what will they think of me?  Fear of loss of a friendship or family relationship can be an interesting motivator to do the wrong thing for yourself.  If your loved ones are thinking this –maybe your relationship might need a little improvement in honest communication.

Myth #5 – I need to eat packaged foods because I’m not a cook.  You don’t need to be Julia Child – you can eat clean, wholesome and fresh very easily – and I do mean easily.   Here’s an idea – some chicken or fish with steamed broccoli and carrots and a small green salad with pine nuts and red peppers – easy – right?

Many myths to be busted …stay tuned for more…