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    Natracure Blog — Breakfast

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    How to Become a Morning Person: 7 Easy Steps

    Mornings are not for everyone. Even scientists have given us consolation by discovering that there are genetic differences between larks and owls (granted, the study was done on fruit flies, but we’ll take it). Knowing that our own bodies may be wired to prefer a certain time of day is certainly a relief—less pressure to be that chirpy, already-ran-7-miles-by-dawn superstar—but the fact of the matter is, many of us still have to wake up and function during those first daylight hours. So what can we do? To find out, we tapped a variety of experts—from sleep experts to nutritionists to life organizational pros—to share their tricks on how to hack the day from dawn until dusk to make mornings less stressful and more pleasant, so that even the most after-hours of night owls will look forward to sunrise. (Lose up to 13 pounds in under 2 weeks with this Liver Detox plan!)   Nix night wakings Poor sleep quality can explain why we sometimes wake up from 8 hours of snoozing and feel like we only clocked in at 4. “It’s normal to awaken five to seven times a night as we move through sleep cycles; we generally just fall right back to sleep after each cycle and don’t remember those brief awakenings,” explains Shelby Harris, PsyD, director of the behavioral sleep medicine program at Montefiore Medical Center. “And as we get older, it’s normal to have one or two awakenings that we remember, but more than that leaves us feeling groggy in the morning because of the fragmented sleep.” What’s more, researchers from Johns Hopkins University found that sleep interruptions were worse for mood than sleeping less overall, so hitting 6 full hours of sleep can leave you more energized and peppy than 8 hours of interrupted slumber. (Drinking tart cherry juice can help you sleep more each night.) The most common causes of poor sleep quality are sleep apnea, sleep talking, insomnia, drinking too much alcohol, and even hormonal changes. If you find yourself alert more than once or twice a night, talk with your doctor to figure out if you should enroll in an overnight sleep study to pin down the culprit, Harris says. Related: 7 Reasons You’re Tired All The Time   Understand the science of snoozing While slamming the snooze button can feel like winning the sleep lottery every morning, it actually does more harm than good. “When you are waking up, your body is in the process of sleep inertia, a mental and physical sluggishness that will go away after about 15 minutes,” explains James Wyatt, PhD, director of sleep disorders and sleep research at Rush University in Chicago. Nodding off again sends you into a light and fragmented sleep—it’s not even good sleep!—and then back into sleep inertia once the alarm rings again. Multiple snoozes can leave you feeling groggier than just sucking it up and getting out of bed the first time. What’s more: Hitting snooze steals away your willpower, and we only have a limited supply of it each day, says Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It and What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. “Successful people don’t use it up on something as small stakes as whether to get out of bed.” Instead, be honest about the time you intend to get up—even if it’s a little later than you’d prefer—and then enjoy every last minute of shut-eye until then so you can wake up alert and ready to go.   Do something enjoyable right after waking  The trap that many people fall into is choosing a morning activity that they feel like they “should” do, like running, instead of one that truly speaks to them. Not only is this the fast track to ditching goals, it also makes mornings—which are already difficult—more miserable. “Humans don’t do well with suffering long-term,” says Vanderkam, “so if you’re going to exercise, find a kind of exercise you like enough that you’re willing to set the alarm a little earlier. If you intend to work, make it the part of work you’re excited about. It’s easier to stick with habits we enjoy for their own sake, not because we know we should do them.” (Try working in this 10 minute total-body routine and feel great all day.)   Make breakfast really count What do green juice, a bagel and cream cheese, and a latte en route to the office have in common? They are not breakfast. While these items have found their way into our AM routines, two of them are beverages, the other is a calorie-bomb, and none will give you lasting energy. “Ideally, breakfast includes a source of lean protein; high-fiber carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits, or vegetables; and some healthy fat,” explains Caroline Kaufman, a New York City–based nutritionist. Achieving this trifecta is easier than it sounds, and you can check off all the nutrients in just a few steps. Kaufman likes oatmeal with frozen berries and a dollop of nut butter or premade mini egg frittatas (bake them in muffin cups for a grab-and-go breakfast) made with chopped veggies, skim milk, and shredded cheese. Still feel like leaving the house with something to sip on? Ditch the vegetable juice and make a hearty, healthy smoothie with energy-sustaining protein like almond butter or chia seeds.   Don’t ease into your workday It can be tempting to plow through the easy things early on—checking e-mail, scanning the headlines—but it’s wise to tackle the bigger stuff first. “Getting to work on the most important tasks not only ups the chances that they actually get done, but it also leaves you with a burst of accomplishment to take with you the rest of the day,” explains Jason Selk, coauthor of Organize Tomorrow Today: 8 Ways to Retrain Your Mind to Optimize Performance at Work and in Life. Though it may not seem like it, most of us have more brainpower earlier in the day, so even if an assignment is more difficult, it can usually be checked off with more ease and you can stress less knowing you got the biggies done. Selk suggests choosing three important goals that you want to take up each morning and creating a deadline to complete them by.   Save social media for later First you’re innocently scrolling through Instagram. Next thing you know, it’s been 45 minutes and you’re looking at vacation photos from your coworker’s sister’s best friend’s trip to Mexico. We’re all guilty of falling down the social media rabbit hole, but when you’re pressed for time in the morning or just want to be productive early on, it can be a serious time suck. Hanging out on social media does come with benefits—it can motivate you to exercise and allows us to catch up with long-distance friends and family—so the key is moderation and timing. Schedule a social media block later in the afternoon to check in when you’re likely to need a break anyway, and save the morning for the important stuff.   By lunch, make a to-do list for the next day The day is not even halfway over and you want us to think about tomorrow? Truth is, the closer you get to the end of the day, the less likely and motivated you are to think about what really needs to get done tomorrow. Making a plan earlier—Selk thinks around lunch is the sweet spot—helps you start the next day with clarity and eliminates those feelings of disorganization and scrambling that often pop up in the morning. “You’ll be amazed at how much clearer your decision-making becomes and how much more efficiently you’ll use your time,” he says. And when your mornings don’t look harried anymore, there’s nothing to dread. What snooze button?   By Maggie Puniewksa This article ‘7 Tricks Guaranteed To Make You A Morning Person’ originally ran on

    6 Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving

    Let’s face it, Thanksgiving is a time for feasting. As much as we are happy to give thanks, what most of us are looking forward to is the meal itself. This isn’t a bad thing. But wouldn’t it be nice if we found ways to stay healthier on the annual day of overeating? Here’s a small list of ways you can feel a bit better as you push yourself away from the table this year.   1. Get Out and Play Having the family over for Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get out and be active together! Would you rather catch up with everyone huddled around the TV or outside over some fun backyard games? This is a great way for you and the family to get some much needed exercise before or after the big feast! Create memories for a lifetime and burn some calories in the process of creating a new holiday tradition.  

    2. Go Heavy on the Veggies
    It’s easy to eat too much of the bad stuff on Thanksgiving. And you know who the culprits are: Stuffing, finger foods, chips, etc. The list goes on and on. I’m not saying to avoid these delectable holiday staples, just be sure to ration them. Go ahead and enjoy your favorites, but be reasonable! If you are still starving come time for the big meal, be sure to eat plenty of the vegetables at the table. You will feel better about the delicious desserts that are on their way!
      3. Slow Down! One of the biggest reasons for weight gain on Thanksgiving is over-eating. Sure, you may think this is a staple of the holiday. But, it certainly doesn’t have to be. You’ve waited all year for this moment. Shouldn’t your goal be to savor the meal? Eat as slow as you can. This will give your body time to realize it’s full and control its caloric intake. Be sure to put the fork down when your body says it’s had enough!
      4. Lose the Diet for the Day Don’t try to stick to a strict diet on Thanksgiving. It is simply unfair to your mental health to put unreasonable constraints on yourself during the holiday meal. Instead, focus on weight management. Don’t be thinking about weight loss on Thanksgiving, but rather an objective of maintaining your current weight. Save your diets for after the holiday when you can realistically achieve your goals.
      5. Don’t Skip Breakfast
    The big meal of the holiday is daunting. You know you are going to eat. And despite my advice, you will probably eat too much! That’s fine. But, the worst thing you can do is skip the most important meal of the day! Many people will opt to skip breakfast when the big meal is on the way. However, eating a healthy breakfast will kick-start your metabolism and prepare your body for the feast. Not eating in the morning will actually cause greater weight gain. So grab a light breakfast and your body will be thankful!
      6. Take Time to Be Thankful This may seem very straightforward and a bit cliché. However, there are few better ways to improve mental health than reflecting on what it is you and your family are thankful for. Take time out of the chaotic day to reflect on all of the good in your life and your mind will certainly be grateful.
      These are just a few ways for you to be healthier this Thanksgiving. The important takeaway here is to have fun and not worry about your diet or weight gain so much. Follow these simple tips and you can feel confident about your health this holiday weekend!   By Pat DeRiso Sources:,

    8 Things Nutritionists Want You to Stop...Right Away!

    Nutritionists have had enough. They’re up in arms over the misinformation people are being fed and the healthy choices people are failing to make! These health experts are looking out for us and our wellbeing. It’s certainly in our best interest to take their advice and it’s high-time we start doing so! I’ve compiled a list of 8 things nutritionists want us to stop doing in order to achieve better health and longevity.   1. STOP CUTTING CALORIES – Jennifer Pullman, MA, RDN, LDN Jennifer Pullman has a problem with many of her clients cutting out calories. The idea that taking in less calories will cause weight loss is true to a point. However, Jennifer states that you will hit a level where your calorie intake is just too low. Your body will adjust to the new reduced amount of calories and actually slip into starvation mode! Make healthier choices on the foods themselves, not the numbers they carry.   2. STOP DETOXING – Monica Reinagel, MD, LDN, CNS Reinagel has a bone to pick with those claiming they are “detoxing”. She claims the idea that foods and beverages working to clean out the toxins from your body does not have legs to stand on. Instead, she suggests limiting the amount of toxins you put in your body in the first place!   3. STOP STARVING AND THEN BINGEING – Abby Langer, RD In Abby Langer’s opinion, too many people are skipping breakfast and eating light lunches, only to make up for it by bingeing at night.  One of the worst things you can do to your body is starve it during the day and then binge at night. She recommends eating multiple protein-heavy meals and snacks throughout the day to combat the snacking urges and general hunger at night.   4. STOP THE “CLEAN EATING” DIETS – Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD and Elizabeth M. Ward, RD Both Upton and Ward agree that people need to stop using the term “clean” eating and just refer to it as healthy eating. Clean is becoming a buzzword among marketers and they are using it to fool consumers. Clean isn’t a defined term at all in the food world and it can mean anything. Also, they feel as if people who say they eat “clean” may look down on others who they perceive to not be eating clean. In addition, this labeling can make people feel that they may be eating “dirty” if it’s not clean. We need to stop labeling our diets and just make conscious efforts to eat healthier!   5. STOP ASSUMING ALL SMOOTHIES ARE HEALTHY – Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD Marisa Moore has noticed what she refers to as a “health halo” surrounding smoothies. She feels people assume that by having a smoothie, they’re making a healthy choice. However, many smoothies and fruit juices are loaded with sugar and empty calories. We need to make sure we are reading nutritional value labels and are aware of the ingredients. Only then can you be sure you are actually having a healthy drink.   6. STOP EATING PROCESSED DIET FOOD – Alexis Jospeh, MS RD, LD Alexis Joseph swears against processed foods, but not just any processed foods. She specifically advises avoiding foods that marketers tout as “fat-free”. These products are actually loaded with chemicals and other unnatural ingredients. Although they are marketed as diet foods, these processed options are absolutely terrible for you. Avoid them at all costs. As Joseph proclaims, “Eat real food!”   7. STOP AVOIDING FRUIT – Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD, LDN Dawn Blatner does not want to hear that you aren’t eating fruit because of the high sugar content. Not only is this sugar natural, but fruit brings a plethora of other nutritional values along for the ride. Fruit boasts antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and more. There are few ways to get more natural nutrition than from fruit! Blatner suggests two cups or pieces of fruit daily.   8. STOP SKIPPING PROTEIN AT BREAKFAST  – Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD Moore is sick of people that are not only skipping breakfast, but when they do have a morning meal, they avoid protein. Having meat, eggs, yogurt, and nuts can all provide you with protein. It will keep you full for longer and will help you avoid trips to the office vending machine or local coffee shop for snacks.   Take this advice from nutritionists to heart. Avoiding certain foods, being smarter in the grocery store and having the right mind-set are all tools to use in your quest to be a healthier and more fit you.   By Pat DeRiso Sources:, HuffPost Blog

    What's Worse? Missing Breakfast or Eating a Doughnut

    We are constantly reminded that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Health experts and doctors alike will tell you that a hearty and nutritious breakfast is key to a healthy lifestyle. But let’s be honest. We’re all busy. And we’ve all been through the following scenario: The alarm doesn’t go off. You have to sprint out the door. There’s no time for breakfast at home, but as soon as you get to the office there’s a glorious spread of donuts and pastries with a tantalizing aroma. You choose to skip-out on the temptation, stick to your healthy diet and eat nothing. It’s the responsible decision, right? Maybe not. Read on to discover if you may or may not In what may be the best news of the day, you can go ahead and chow down on those delicious morsels. Studies have shown that when you sleep at night, your body goes into fasting mode. When you wake up in the morning, it is your job to turn your metabolism back on. We do this with the food we eat. By skipping breakfast you are actually hurting your body far more than that doughnut ever could. Leaving your stomach empty will cause you to feel sluggish as your body is working harder to do even the simplest of tasks. Your body needs fuel to function properly, even if it has to be some sweets.
    Of course, this doesn’t mean you should be shoving muffins in your face every morning. You still need to consistently make healthy choices for breakfast. However, when in a pinch, you really should eat something. If it has to be a yummy-in-the-tummy treat, then so be it!
    But, wait a minute here. Maybe you’re the type of person that never eats breakfast. Don’t fret! You may be doing just fine. There are additional studies that say skipping breakfast isn’t the worst thing for your body. In fact, some experts preach that passing on morning meals can be a form of intermittent fasting. If done correctly, you can effectively suppress your appetite. In addition, if counting calories is a concern for you, you will certainly take in fewer calories by not eating in the morning. If you are steadfast on skipping breakfast, then be sure to eat a well-balanced meal at dinner the night before which is rich in fiber, carbs and lean protein. Basically, there are proven benefits to both sides of the coin. In this writer’s opinion, it is certainly best to get something in your body in the AM. However, the decision is entirely up to you. Whatever you choose to do, just keep trying to make healthy choices and live an active lifestyle. That’s the fool-proof way to achieve a healthier you!
    By Pat DeRiso Source:

    5 Reasons You're Tired and What to Do About It

    As the day goes on many of us feel fatigue setting in. Our eyelids become heavier and heavier as we stare into our computer or smartphone screens. Why do we feel like this? And what can we do about it? The answer includes more than just getting more sleep. There are many factors to reactivating a more alert, energized you.  Here’s a list of 5 ways to stop yawning and feel more perky today!   1.  Drink More Water Water does much more than just quench your thirst. Even slight dehydration (as little as 2%) can cause fatigue. The problem is that most people don’t drink nearly as much water as they should. But how much is enough? Take your body weight and divide it by 2. Health experts say to drink that number in fluid ounces of water each day. Tip: Buy a refillable water bottle and sip on it all day long. The ounces will pile up quickly and you will most certainly feel less tired!  

    2.  Clean Up Your Workspace
    A cluttered workstation causes distractions during your day and actually restricts your brain from processing information. The harder your brain is working, the more tired you will become. If your mess is large, chip away at the problem by scheduling 15 minutes a day to tidying things up. Regardless of the size of your clutter, make an effort to clean up your desk and your mind and body will thank you.   3. Stop Skipping Breakfast This is an all-too-common mistake. Many people say that they don’t have time for breakfast or enough room for the calories. However, breakfast is essential to kick-starting your metabolism and providing energy for your body. While you sleep, you are still burning all of the food from dinner the night before. You have to provide your body with more fuel to burn through in the morning. So feed the fire and you’ll be rewarded with more energy.   4. Avoid the Junk Food When you’re tired, the easy fix seems like sugar. Foods like donuts and cookies are easily accessible around the office or on-the-go. But you must work to resist their call. The sugar-rush will be extremely temporary and the crash will be hard on your energy levels. Reach for smarter snack options like fruit, vegetables, or whole-grains to fuel your body.
      5. Exercise ...even when you're tired It is so easy to hit the couch and not the gym when you are feeling run-down. Relaxing with a nap instead may seem like a quick fix, but most naps go too long and will leave you feeling more tired than before. A workout, however, will actually help you gain energy and feel less fatigued in the long-run. Next time you feel sluggish, get outside and get moving! Your energy levels are sure to increase.   Now you’re equipped with some tools to fight your fatigue. These 5 simple tips are guaranteed to help you lose that groggy feeling and get the pep back into your step!   By Pat DeRiso Source: