Posts tagged diet

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How to Practice Conscious Eating

There are a million reasons behind what and why eat. Conscious eating is where we stop ourselves and choose to take control of this aspect of our lives. The following tips can help with this:

1. Do your own grocery shopping and pack your own snacks and meals.

2. Don’t eat while you are doing other things.

3. Be aware of the nutritional content of food. Decide to mainly eat for nourishment and health.

4. Only eat when you are hungry. (Learn to identify genuine hunger pangs.)

5. Learn to separate emotions and food. Don’t eat because someone asks you to, or has prepared food for you (eg if you are at a social event), or because you want to get your money’s worth (in a restaurant), or because you feel you should finish what’s on the plate, or because you’re bored, or for emotional reasons.

6. Chew your food very slowly and deliberately. Feel the texture and savour the taste.

7. Stop when you feel full, or have consumed enough calories for the meal. (Learn to identify feelings of satiation.)

8. Avoid addictive foods and super-size meals.

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Facts about our Weight

1. Genes play a role. Scientists have discovered that individuals who inherit two copies of the FTO gene are 60 percent more likely to become obese than those who only inherit one copy. This has led researchers to conclude that there may be a number of genes which play a similar role in weight gain and weight loss.

2. We each have different fat cell counts. This stays the same regardless of whether we gain or lose weight.

3. Exercise can increase your metabolism (which helps you burn calories more efficiently at the cellular level).

4. There is an association between high levels of stress and weight gain. This is because stress provokes us to reach for high carbohydrate foods – which contain stress relieving hormones.

5. Sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain. This is because lack of sleep is associated with lower levels of leptin (which causes us to feel full) and higher levels of ghrelin (which causes us to feel hungry). Thus, we feel hungry – even although we’re not hungry.

6. Ear infections can damage taste nerves found in the middle ear. This can hamper our ability to taste sweetness and fattiness. The effect can be eating more of those kinds of foods because we want to taste the food!

 7. Foods that are high in antioxidants can also help us to manage our weight. The reason? Free radicals have been linked to a weakening of the “stop eating” signal. However, eating fruits and vegetables that are high in antioxidants can help to combat this effect.

8. When it comes to health, fitness is more important than weight. A growing body of research indicates that overweight people often have normal levels of cholesterol, and other indicators of good health. What matters more, is how much we exercise as that has a greater effect on our health.

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Diet and the Brain

1. Junk food triggers the same pleasure centres in the brain as drugs do. That could be one reason why so many people binge on those foods.

2. The brain uses a disproportionately large amount of our calorie intake. Hence, poor nutrition may have negative consequences for the brain.

3. Ensuring an adequate and steady calorie intake throughout the day is the first step to keeping focused and alert all day long. (Note: Eating regularly - three meals a day - helps you to concentrate.)

4. Omega-3 oils (found in oily fish, walnuts, pumpkin and flax seeds) help build and maintain the myelin sheath around brain fibres. This is crucial for peak mental performance.

5. Slow release, protein-rich foods help to maintain a healthy level of dopamine. This helps us to feel peaceful, positive, enthusiasm, motivated and, generally, happy. However, falling levels are associated with a sense of emptiness, sadness, irritation and boredom.

6. Chocolate is one of the best quick mood boosters as it contains anandamide. (This fat molecule resembles the active substance found in marijuana.)

7. The neurotransmitter serotonin also helps us feel serene, and helps to combat anxiety. Although carbohydrate snacks raise these levels quickly, they also cause us to feel sleepy. Thus, it is better to reach for foods that keep the level steady. (Eggs and meat are helpful foods for that.)

8. A small amount of caffeine (one espresso coffee) will boost your energy and wakefulness. However, too much caffeine (two or more espressos) will cause you to feel anxious and muddle your thinking.

9. Vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower seem to help boost memory, as do eggs.  These appear to stimulate the brain. This is important as we tend to remember events which happen when we are feeling emotionally or intellectually stimulated.

10. High levels of stress hormones lead to the development of compulsive behaviours, including eating large quantities of sugary food and drinks. The only way to counteract this is to avoid foods you’d rather not be addicted to!

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Sensible Guidelines for a Healthy Diet

1. Eat foods that are as close to nature as possible. As a general rule of thumb, if it’s highly processed then it’s bad for you.

2. Don’t focus on calories (and, related to this, avoid dieting). Those tend to lead to an obsession with food. Instead, eat plenty of raw fresh fruits and vegetables, go for smaller portion sizes, only eat when you are hungry, and stop eating when you are full.

3. Make sure you have some protein at breakfast. That will help stave off the hunger pangs and stop you reaching for quick and empty calories before lunch (like donuts and pastries).

4. Don’t eat after 7pm – unless it is some fruit or veggies. Food eaten late at night tends to lie in the stomach, and is much more likely to be converted into fat.

5. Pay attention to the kinds of fats you eat. It’s crucial that you include the essential fatty acids in your diet – but avoid saturated fats when you can. The former are critical for your health and cannot be produced by the body; the latter clog up your arteries!

6. Eat foods that you enjoy. You only live once, so take pleasure from your munching! There are plenty of options so don’t fixate on a few foods. Also, indulge and splurge on whatever you enjoy – as long as you restrict it to once or twice a week.

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Tips to Stop Emotional Eating

1. First, listen to your body and learn the difference between physical hunger and mindless snacking. In the former, your stomach growls and you begin to feel lightheaded. In the latter, you eat because you’re bored, to give yourself an emotional boost, or to calm yourself down.

2. Eat slowly, listen to your body, and decide to stop when you’ve had enough. Make that a habit, instead of always eating.

3. Don’t have food around when you’re sitting mindlessly in front of the TV. If you have to do something to relieve the boredom, then go on tumblr, or send some texts to friends.

4. Don’t say “no” to food you love as you will start to crave for foods or snacks that are forbidden or framed as being “bad”.

5. Also, exerting self-control for too long can lead to bingeing. So, allow yourself a snack at times – but  limit what you have.

6. Decide to only eat at the table, from a plate. Don’t eat straight from a packet or an ice cream container. Also, don’t eat on the sofa, in your bedroom, or while standing. If you implement that change then it will really make a difference.

7.  Look for patterns and connections that highlight when you’re weak and vulnerable to over-eating. Simply noticing these patterns can help you, in advance, to brain storm different strategies to bolster your defenses.

8. Related to that, identify the triggers that make you reach for food and deal with the issues – instead of masking them.

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Top diet and nutrition tips for women

· Focus on whole, plant-based foods. Fill most of your plate with fruits and leafy green vegetables. Also include a variety of whole grains, beans, and legumes to give you filling fiber and keep you going throughout the day. Try to find minimally-processed or locally-grown foods whenever possible and make these foods the mainstay of your diet.

· Bone up on calcium. Women are at a greater risk than men of developing osteoporosis, so it’s important to get plenty of calcium to support your bone health. While dairy products are high in calcium, their animal fat and protein can accelerate bone loss. So also consider plant-based sources of calcium like beans, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens.

· Don’t eat too much protein. Protein is an essential part of any healthy diet, but eating too much animal-based protein—such as the levels recommended in many low-carb, high-protein diets—is particularly dangerous for women. Eating lots of protein causes calcium loss. Over time, this could lead to a decrease in bone density and osteoporosis.

· Make sure you get enough iron. Many women don’t get enough iron in their diet. On top of that, women lose a lot of this important mineral during menstruation. Boost your intake by eating iron-rich foods such as lean red meat, dark poultry, lentils, spinach, almonds, and iron-fortified cereals.

· Cut back on alcohol and caffeine. Women who have more than two alcoholic drinks a day are at higher risk of osteoporosis. Caffeine consumption interferes with hormone levels and also increases the loss of calcium. Try to limit alcohol consumption to one glass a day and caffeine to one cup a day.


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The Best Brain Foods

1. Coffee:  Boosts short-term memory; improves attention and problem-solving skills; slows down the aging process.

2. Blueberries. Improves thinking, and helps with long-term memory. Also, the antioxidants found in blueberries are believed to protect the brain from free-radical damage - and thus reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

3. Salmon or mackerel: Speeds up, or increases, your thinking power. Omega-3 fatty acids (found in these fish) are a primary building block of brain tissue. They also contain niacin which helps to slow down the rate of cognitive decline.

4. Low-fat yogurt or mixed nuts: Helps you to relax. Specifically, these 2 foods significantly reduce the levels of stress hormones in the blood.

5. Leafy green salads: Improve your mood and increase subjective happiness. These foods are a great source of B vitamins - which are important for manufacturing feel-good hormones (serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.) They also protect against irritability and depression.

6. Flaxseeds: Helps us process information; sharpens the senses; heightens our experience of pleasure.

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You are What you Eat

Eating fruit is beneficial to your health. For example:

Cherries – Relax the nervous system and help to calm us down.

Grapes – Help to purify the blood, and fight disease.

Apples – Promote healthy hair and skin. They also boost the immune system.

Watermelon – Helps to control the heart rate so that we feel more balanced and calm.

Oranges - Promote healthy skin, assists with vision, and helps fight colds and infections.  

Strawberries – Potentially fight cancer and the aging process.

Bananas – Provide energy and have a calming effect.

Blueberries – Fight infection and disease, and help to boost the immune system.

Mangos – Are believed to help the body fight cancer.

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Eating and Exercising for your Blood Type

A controversial book by Dr. P.J. D’Adamo suggests that to have a long and healthy life we should eat food to suit our individual blood type. We should also pay attention to our exercise regime. In summary:

  • Blood type O: The person with this blood type should eat meat (a high protein and low carbohydrate diet) and eliminate wheat and most other grains. Incorrect eating puts these individuals at risk of developing ulcers and inflammatory diseases like arthritis. They should engage in vigorous aerobic exercise
  • Blood type A: The person with this blood type should adhere to a vegetarian diet. This should be high in carbohydrates but low in fat. Incorrect eating puts these people at risk of developing cancer or heart disease. They should meditate and engage in gentle exercise like yoga or golf.
  • Blood type B: The person with this blood type should follow as varied a diet as possible. In addition to grains, fruit, vegetables and fish, people with this blood type can eat meat and (unlike the other blood groups) dairy products. Incorrect eating puts this group at risk of developing slow-growing viruses that attack the nervous system. They should engage in more moderate forms of exercise like swimming or walking.
  • Blood type AB: The person with this blood type has both the benefits and the intolerances of blood types A and B. Hence, their diets should be based around the recommendations for these groups. Saying that, they have the strongest immune system of all the blood types. They should avoid more rigorous forms of exercise and engage, instead, in exercises and techniques that focus on relaxing the mind.

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Feed your Brain

Although the average brain only weighs 3lbs it uses 20% of the calories we eat. To maximise the benefits of food to the brain, think about including the following:

1.       Foods to boost concentration – Anything containing mega-3 oils. For example, oily fish, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds.

2.       Foods to improve mood – Anything that’s rich in dopamine or serotonin. For example, beets, soybeans, almonds, eggs, meat, grains and dark chocolate.

3.       Foods to boost memory – Anything that’s rich in acetylcholine. For example, eggs, liver, soy beans, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage.

However, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries and tumeric (commonly used in curries) are believed to be the best food of all for the brain. They improve brain performance and enhance our memory. Thus, since research confirms that “you are what you eat” make sure you are eating to feed your brain!

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