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    Natracure Blog — eating

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    How to Improve Your Digestion

    Somewhere along the line, many of us develop poor eating habits: emotional eating, stress eating, mindless eating. Over time, these habits end up causing issues like moodiness, stomach aches, and excess weight. Also, many people end up taking over-the-counter meds to treat the body’s reaction to mindless overeating. These medications may have long-term consequences on your digestive system, especially when used frequently. I don’t advocate any of these types of “solutions”; they have negative side effects and can confuse and muddy our ability to understand what’s really going on in our bodies. Most importantly, most of these issues can be resolved without popping a pill. For most of us, bad eating habits become a never-ending cycle of negative emotions that take up a huge amount of mental space. It goes like this: You hate yourself because you know you should be eating better and the fact that you’re not is your fault. You don’t think you have the willpower or strength to follow through on what you plan to do. So, you feel guilty, and in order to resolve that guilt, you turn to cookies or a bag of chips. But here’s the truth: Lack of willpower is not the reason why you eat this way. The Food and Brand Lab is a research department at Cornell University that examines all the different elements that affect how much and which foods we eat. Their research is astounding. For instance, do you know that the color of your plate matters? It does! (Hint: Choose soothing colors like blue over yellow, as bright warm colors naturally stimulate appetite.) Cornell has tons of such studies, which all support the fact that our environment has a crazy amount of power over our eating habits. Another example, if a friend says something that stresses you out at dinner, you’re more likely to order the mac and cheese instead of the veggies and fish. When you consider the results of these studies, you might rethink those bad habits you’ve developed over time. They’re definitely not all your fault! So let’s end the blame game. It. Stops. Right. Here. OK? In one of those classic Sex and the City scenes that is imprinted in my brain, I fell in love with the image of Carrie Bradshaw standing in the kitchen of her stylish apartment, eating saltines with jelly (a college favorite of mine) as she flipped through fashion magazines, something she described as “Secret Single Behavior.” It seemed so glamorous to me; it was such a marker of the independent, cool, city girl. However, this is what we do, us on-the-go-gals: we stand and eat with one hand while texting with the other. Maybe you feel busy and important and in-demand (and you are!) when that phone lights up every minute, but let’s take a second to be present with ourselves and of course, our food. HOW TO: MINDFUL EATING So what to do? First, chew. Chew until your food is mush or liquid, and eat more slowly. Use your new chewing habit to slow it all down—the whole experience. Next, it’s time to turn off the TV. It is way harder to know when you are full and satiated if you are wildly distracted as you eat (not to mention all the appetite-stimulating commercials and shows you wind up watching). When you eat with distractions, you wind up feeling as if you never ate at all. You tend to eat much faster and chew less. Practicing mindful eating is the best way to change those habits that no longer serve you and counteract the subconscious factors that get in the way of achieving your health and wellness goals. I know that the sheer mention of mindful eating usually results in an eye roll and probably a sigh. I thought that way too, before I learned what mindful eating truly was. Even after I became a health coach, I used to think I ate mindfully. I was wrong. The first time I really “got” mindful eating, I was at a retreat at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts, taking one of my continuing education programs for nutrition professionals. After I completed my own eye rolls and got to work, I realized how transformative an experience mindful eating can be. The teacher had us each take one almond in our hands. She instructed us to really look at it. What did we notice? How did it smell? How much could we observe before taking our first bites? I quickly realized how beautiful nature’s foods are. The striations in the almond, the lovely light brown color; this one little almond was a little piece of art. Next, we tasted. Anything we noticed there? Was it smooth? Rough? How exactly could we describe the texture? And then finally, we chewed. What flavors did we immediately notice? What flavors did we notice after it was completely chewed until liquid? Were they different than what we noticed at first? It blew me away how sweet the almond tasted the more I chewed—something I never really noticed before. It had taken me 10 minutes to eat one almond. It was an experience I’ll never forget. The more I incorporated mindful eating into my routine in a natural, innate way, the easier it was for me to be happy and satisfied with so much less. By Robyn Youkilis via Yahoo Health

    The Hottest New Diet Isn’t a Diet at All

    Meet the dietary pattern, a style of eating with a proven record of success. Diets are out; dietary patterns are in – at least, that's what the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans seems to say. That's big news for those of us who like to incorporate the report's nutrition advice into our personal eating habits when it comes out every five years. This time, the government suggests we abandon diets that glorify or shun single foods and nutrients (think butter, eggs, fat and fiber – past years' targets) and shift our attention to overall eating patterns, or the sum total of what, how often and how much we eat, as well as what we eat it with. Why the move away from "good food/bad food" diets? For one, nutrition science is continually evolving and we are learning from our mistakes. Back in the 1980s, for instance, the guidelines told us to cut back on "bad fats" to lower our risk of heart disease – the No. 1 cause of death for Americans. But people who followed that recommendation filled the void on their plates with simple carbohydrates, such as pasta, bagels and fat-free cookies. In time, we learned those foods weren't any better for our hearts (or waistlines) than the high-fat fare they replaced. So in 2000, we tried again. The guidelines issued that year redeemed fats – as long as they were "good fats." This recommendation was based on newer research linking populations that regularly ate olive oil, avocados and almonds with a lower incidence of heart disease. We followed suit, dipping our bread in olive oil, adding sliced avocado to our burgers and making almonds our go-to snack. But so far, the only thing that has improved is sales of those foods. Our single-minded pursuit of the perfect food (or fat) to fight heart disease has kept us from seeing everything else that contributes to its lower rates in people with different dietary patterns. Now, after spending more than two decades rationing just three eggs into our weekly menus, we're being told cholesterol isn't as bad for us as we once thought. Does that mean it's time to order the broiled lobster tail with drawn butter to celebrate? Not so fast. What it means is precisely what the latest Dietary Guidelines concluded: When it comes to diet, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Put another way, when you eat foods together, their health benefits are greater than a single food could produce on its own. For example, eating eggs every day can lower your risk of heart disease if you are also eating plenty of vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, whole grains, fish and olive oil. On the other hand, eating eggs every day along with regular servings of fatty meats, refined grains and excess sodium from highly-processed foods can increase that risk. That's because the connection to heart disease isn't just about the eggs – it's also about everything else we consume with them. Another advantage of adopting a healthy dietary pattern is that the benefits are cumulative, like compounded interest. So, people who have been eating a Mediterranean-style pattern all their lives, for instance, get an immediate return on investment by meeting their nutritional needs early in life to support optimal growth and development. Later, they receive a long-term dividend by preventing, or greatly reducing, their risk of suffering from the noncommunicable diseases of adulthood, such as arthritis, osteoporosis, macular degeneration and the ubiquitous heart disease. But this payoff requires making consistent contributions to your healthy eating plan, just like building retirement wealth depends on making consistent contributions to your 401K. Both are more effective the sooner you get started. Choosing a healthy dietary pattern over a diet also leaves more room for the occasional holiday food exemption. (Sorry, but weekends don't count as "occasional.") That approach is different from the can-eat-can't-eat diet style, in which we're open to every loophole that might give us a free pass. Have you ever rushed off to work without eating breakfast so you feel entitled to partake in the office pastries? How about arriving home from work too tired to chop vegetables, so you eat pizza (without a salad) for dinner? What about the Sunday you finally get the whole family together for brunch and end up eating eggs benedict and a Belgian waffle to celebrate? You get the picture: Food choices can change with the seasons, but a dietary pattern remains the same. Convinced yet? If so, the highly-regarded Mediterranean and DASH plans are a great place to start. Those patterns offer the best of what is known about the food-health connection when put together right, so you won't have to upgrade to something new in another five years. You also won't have to worry about getting caught up in the next fad diet that promises to solve all your health and weight issues because history has shown us they don't work in the long term. Think gluten-free, low-glycemic index, high-protein, low-carb, antioxidant-rich, paleo and probiotic diets, to name a few. It's time to move on something more sustainable. You can start transitioning to a healthier pattern by following some of these simple tips. The goal is to make the right choice a habit so it becomes your default option. Eat at least one piece of whole fruit daily. Order “whole wheat” as your bread choice for sandwiches, toast and pizza crust. Choose fish over meat or poultry for an entree at least once a week. Drink one full glass of water with each meal. Add a layer of fresh or grilled vegetables to every sandwich. Use nuts or seeds instead of croutons on salad. Make chili with more beans and less (or no) meat. Have brown rice with all Chinese takeout. Include some vegetables whenever you grill. Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in cooking and baking. Make your meat portions no larger than the palm of your hand. Choose vegetables to top pizza, fill an omelet, stuff a potato or stretch a soup. Keep hummus, salsa and sliced vegetables on hand as your go-to snack. Be more inclusive of fruits and vegetables by including fresh, frozen, canned and dried varieties in your repertoire. Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report

    By Robyn Flipse via msn health

    8 Reasons You Can't Stop Eating

    Hunger is your body telling you it needs sustenance so it can operate efficiently. Yet sometimes, it can feel like all our hunger is a little… excessive. We’re talking about those days when just 20 minutes after lunch (after you ate a meal big enough for two) you’re already starving again. Maybe it happens every day—you find yourself jonesing for another snack before you can even lick all the white cheddar popcorn off your fingers. Either way, you’re always. so. damn. hungry. But why? “It is normal to experience an increase in appetite after going hard in the gym or during your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or breastfeeding,” Amanda Foti, M.S., R.D., a senior dietitian at Selvera Wellness, tells SELF. “But if you feel like a bottomless pit, something might be up.” Luckily, tweaking some of your daily habits can help keep your appetite in check so you’ll keep all that eating to when you’re truly, really, actually hungry. 1. You’re not eating often enough. It might sound counter-intuitive if you’re trying to curb your eating, but spacing out your meals too far can make you constantly hungry. “When your stomach is empty for too long, your body will release more ghrelin, an appetite-stimulating hormone, leaving you feeling famished,” Foti says. Which over time, leads to overeating. Try eating a meal or snack every three to four hours. Foti also recommends keeping an emergency snack on you, like a piece of fruit, for when you’re tight on time. 2. You’re not getting the right balance of nutrients. “Satisfying snacks have three components: fiber, protein, and a little healthy fat,” explains Caroline Kaufman, R.D. All three can help slow digestion, which keeps blood sugar stable and keeps you full for longer. Some of her suggestions: a serving of plain popcorn (fiber) with roasted almonds (protein and healthy fat); vegetable sticks (fiber) with hummus (protein and healthy fat); or cherry tomatoes (fiber), avocado (healthy fat) and part-skim cottage cheese (protein). 3. You’re eating too many simple carbs and sugars. On the other hand, eating lots of simple carbohydrates (think: white bread, pasta, bagels, pastries) and sugar will make it impossible to feel satisfied. “Your glucose will rise at first giving you a burst of energy, and then crash rapidly causing your body to crave more fuel,” Foti explains. This can become a vicious cycle, where you never feel satisfied no matter how much you keep eating. 4. You’re dehydrated and confusing thirst for hunger. Our thirst and hunger cues both come from the same part of the brain, the hypothalamus, making it difficult for our bodies to know the difference, Foti explains. Keep a water bottle at your desk so you remember to sip throughout the day. “You’ll know you’re drinking enough water when your pee is light yellow or clear,” Kaufman adds. 5. You’re stressed. Simply put, stress increases the body’s production of the hormone cortisol, which boosts appetite, since your body thinks it needs to prepare to fight. “According to the Harvard School of Public Health, many studies have found that stress can increase cravings for sugary, fatty foods,” Kaufman explains. “These foods may actually comfort you on a physiological level—they seem to inhibit parts of your brain that produce stress emotions.” This may make you feel better temporarily, but it ends up increasing snack cravings. (Trying to manage your stress? Here are six easy ways to feel less stressed in under five minutes.) 6. You’re not paying attention to what you’re eating. Eating mindfully—that means actually paying attention to what you’re eating instead of shoveling it in your mouth as you’re running off to do something else—is important for your body to register when it’s hungry or not. When you don’t fully experience a meal, you may still feel hungry even when your body is full, because you essentially forget you already ate. “In addition to sensing when you’re hungry and full, mindful eating can help you decide if food is even satisfying,” Kaufman explains, or if your hunger is something else entirely, like dehydration or stress. “Maybe you think you’re hungry, but when you start eating your yogurt, you realize you’re not hungry at all. The yogurt isn’t satisfying that feeling.” If you weren’t paying attention to the eating process, you’d just down the yogurt and still feel hungry. 7. You’re not getting enough sleep. Sleep is very closely linked with two hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Leptin reduces appetite, and ghrelin stimulates it. “When you’re sleep-deprived, leptin levels drop and ghrelin soars—no wonder you’re hungry!” Kaufman says. Plus, when you’re exhausted, your body craves a quick fuel source, glucose, which gets you reaching for those sugar-laden foods. “These ‘comfort carbs’ set you off on a hunger rollercoaster, since they give you a quick (but fleeting) energy boost, followed by a sugar crash that makes you crave more.” 8. You have an underlying medical condition that’s messing with your appetite. If you’ve checked all the other potential causes, and you’re still eating nonstop, it may be worth seeing a doctor to rule out any real health concerns. Diabetes, hyperthyroidism, depression, and anxiety (along with some medications) can all amp up your appetite. By Amy Marturana via msn.com

    7 Not-So-Obvious Healthy Snack Options

    Struggling with the urge to snack during the day at the office or on the go? Don’t beat yourself up about it! In fact, snacking in between meals is great for your metabolism, your brain and more! The key is what you’re snacking on. Avoid the temptations and reach for a snack packed from home or carefully selected from the breakroom. Yes, fruit is the most obvious healthy snack choice. But there are many other healthy choices that you may not be aware of. Here are 7 not-so-obvious snacks you can munch on throughout the day and not feel guilty about it!   1. Tomato Juice Here’s a freshly squeezed take on snacking. Reaching for a tomato juice is a smart way to fight hunger. Often times when you think you’re hungry, or in dire need of some sugar, your body is actually telling you that it’s thirsty! A nice low sodium glass of tomato juice (or other vegetable juice) can fight the hunger while giving you a solid boost of energy from a very natural and healthy source!   2. Wasabi Peas Now here’s an adventurous twist on snacking! Grab some wasabi peas to spice up your work day or when you’re out running errands. These bad boys will not only satisfy your hunger, but they will provide you with a strong amount of protein and fiber. All in all, they are a fun and tasty way to add some flavor into your snacking!   3. Dry Cereal Go ahead and snack like a little kid! Just be sure to avoid high-sugar cereals and stick to the classics, like Cheerios or Special K. Dry cereals provides a boost in metabolism while offering a great source of energy and brainpower!   4. Cottage Cheese Cottage cheese is a delicious snack choice that’s packed with protein! It will have you feeling full for longer since protein helps to maintain blood sugar levels. Pair cottage cheese with fresh fruit and you’ll have an incredibly healthy snack that will taste like you’re treating yourself to a delicious dessert treat!   5. Hard Boiled Eggs Making hard boiled eggs at home to eat on-the-go will provide you with a delicious source of protein and healthy fats to help you get through your day. It’s an easy snack option to cook at home since you can boil a dozen eggs at once!   6. Almonds Almonds are a sneaky source of goodness in so many ways! They have the highest protein levels of all nuts while boasting 9 essential nutrients for the body. Couple that with the fact that almonds have a lot of fiber and there’s just no reason NOT to include them as a snacking option!   7. Hummus You can really add a whole new dimension to snacking on veggies with the addition of hummus! Not only do the vegetables provide you with a crunchy sweet snack, but the hummus adds chickpeas to the mix. They are an excellent source of goodness—boasting calcium, iron, protein and fiber. This delectable combo is too good to pass up whether you’re trying to eat well or not!   A satisfying snack does not need to have an unhealthy experience. Keep changing up your daily snacks with these not-so-obvious options and you’ll be doing yourself a favor!   By Pat DeRiso Source: inc.com