Sunday, August 30, 2009

Diabetes Prevention and Healthful Living -Part One

With Diabetes so rampant in society today, what can you do to safe guard yourself, and your family, from this serious disease? Diabetes education starts very young. It is important to take the time with your children to instill proper eating habits. If they are not fond of vegetables, do not give in. Vegetables, and other critical nutrients, are essential in a healthy diet, and lifestyle. Find creative ways of presenting things that they resist. Interesting shapes and colors are ways of "presenting" vegetables, and other items, to the discerning young pallet. Make it into a game if you have to, presentation is everything to curious growing children.
Remember, healthy eating is important for your child to do well in school.
According to recent studies less than 15% of all school age children eat the recommended amount of fruits for the Food Guide Pyramid, and less than 20% eat the recommended amounts of vegetables, only about 20% eat the right amount of WHOLE grains (processed white floor is not a whole grain), 30% consume the recommended amount of milk (necessary for growing bones.) (Nutrition For Professionals, Jane Penz, PhD, 2009) Childhood obesity is a national epidemic. These children need proper guidance, starting at home, at a very early age. "Unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are causes of obesity and chronic disease, resulting in at least 300,000 deaths per year. Poor nutrition associated with heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes, alone, cost in excess of $71 billion a year" (These statistics were in 2003, Dr Jane Penz.) For the exact guidelines for your family, and a variety of educational materials, check out and click on resource library. Kid Health ( is another nutritional site to help you with family meal planning, eating issues, and how to eat a variety of healthy foods.
Food is a necessary element for survival. We need it for energy to maintain life. Sure it's great to enjoy your food- and we should! We can learn to enjoy healthy, wholesome, natural foods at an early age. We can learn to eat proper portions- at an early age. The key is the age. Snacks do not have to be greasy potato chips. They could just as easily be carrot sticks with humous- at an early age. You program your child at a young age as to what their preferences will be. If you are health conscious, your child will be too! They are imitators of you! Chips and cakes and ice cream are not necessary for a happy child, or person- health is!! Watermelon and seasonal fruits are just as a enjoyable, with very little preparation time- and a fraction of the real cost in the final analysis.
Exercise is the other missing link in this puzzle. Our children need to be encouraged to get outside and participate in something! Family outings can consist of hiking, running, walking, physical sports and a variety of things. It is truly endless what can be done together. Once again this should be instilled at an early age. Their is not time like the present with your children. Encourage them to participate in school sport and other outdoor activities. And, once again, if you are active- they probably will be too.
If you and your spouse are overweight, or obese, there is an 80% chance that your child will be as well. This is a lifestyle issue we are discussing. True prevention of obesity and chronic disease and illness are issues that start early in life, in the home. It is important to take the time for valuable sit down meals with a balanced, healthful menu. Menu's can be prepared in advance on days off. Extra portions can be frozen for future meals. Planning is the key to success. There are plenty of magazines and web-sites that feature a variety of low fat, high fiber balanced meals that promote good health for the whole family. I subscribed to 'Prevention" on line. They send me a steady stream of recipes that can be pre-made and can be enjoyed at any family meal. Remember, home is where it all begins!! You hold the key to your child's good health, and habits.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stay Young, Play Young.... Exercise!

Remember when you were little and you would run and jump, just to run out of breath? Jumping was fun! Running was easy (and fun), riding your bike was just "something to do." You would play "tag" and all kinds of crazy games, that involved running and jumping. It was fun! Crazy to think that a body that was not even fully developed could withstand all that activity, and still grow! What an amazing creation our bodies are. Where did all that energy, and enthusiasm go?
After 28 years of research, Exercise Physiologist Fred Kasch has decided that "aging naturally accounts for about one-third of the body's aerobic decline. Inactivity accounts for the remaining two-thirds of the downward slide."(Health, May/June 1993 p.62) Jim Graves from the University of Florida Center for Exercise Science adds that, "Exercising will prevent most age related deteriorations through age 60." Research confirms that "the fountain of youth" lays within you, and within your grasp.
An example of remarkable health, and a well being would be fitness pioneer, Jack LaLane. We all remember him, and his simple routines developed to get the homebody up and moving. At age 60 (Well above the age 60 indicated above!) he is still a monument to fitness, nutrition and well being. He still sports a 32-inch waist, 44-inch chest, and 15-inch biceps! No atrophy here! He can still easily touch his hand to the floor, without bending his knees. His resting heart rate is the equivalent of an athlete, at 55 beats per minute. How, you might ask, has he managed to keep his youthful physique, and energy level up? He follows a vegetarian diet, and works out vigorously everyday, still. Here are a few other suggestions from our fitness example:
*Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes per day, three to five times per week. Change your routine every three to four weeks.
*Set short term fitness goals, and follow through.
*Slowly change a few "bad" habits for "good" habits.
*Eat food in its natural state and in as many varieties as possible.
*Pass on caffeine, sugar, alcohol and cigarettes.
Drink plenty of plain water.
(CNN Interview, Monday, January 19 2004, Posted 2:22PM EST) Jack is an inspiration to all and his life is a testimony to the benefits of healthful eating and exercise.
Other suggestions if you are new to exercise would be:
*start slow, and build.
*Make sure your doctor has given you a clean bill of health.
*Work with a fitness professional, even for a short time, who can help assess your strengths and weaknesses. Your program should be about you, not a cookie cutter program. Make sure that this person has the proper credentials, and maintains them.
*Keep a journal for food and exercise. It will keep you informed as to progress, moods, and habits you might not otherwise notice.
*Try new things. It is important to stimulate your body and mind with a variety of exercises, and exercise modalities. The same old same old, will not give your any progress. Your body adapts in four to six weeks of continuous training. Exercise should be progressive to avoid repetitive stress. It also keeps the mind active throughout the activity, preventing boredom and injury.
Additionally, exercise makes us feel better. This also contributes to a youthful attitude. Scientifically, exercise directly impacts the brain chemistry. Sleep, mood, memory and behavior are all influenced by a chemical in he brain called Serotonin. Persons with low serotonin levels have bouts of depression, have trouble sleeping, memory problems and can even have episodes of violent behavior. Regular exercise has been proven to positively influence serotonin levels. Increases of serotonin from exercise improves mood, decreases stress, aids in sleeping, and improves memory.
A positive impact has also been noted in cognitive function in individuals that regularly exercise. From childhood through to old age, improved scores in mental acuity have been noticed. In a study of forty-one adults, aged 58 through 78, that was conducted for six weeks saw an increases in brain wave activity after only three weeks. This was measured by use of magnetic resonance imaging. (MRI) These individuals programming consisted of three 45-minute walks three times per week. These individuals also displayed an increase in their decision-making abilities.
Exercise, for me, takes me to another level of existence, one where anything is possible- as long as I keep trying!! Exercise is not about the superficial results, it is about so much more than that. While a complete exercise program is multifaceted, it is important to find the RIGHT components for your body (physiologically , physically(mechanically), kinesthetically (neurologically), aerobically, and mentally/spiritually), experience level, and of course interest level. Exercise is movement based. It is important to do the right movements for your body, with the right amounts of intensity, with the correct amount of frequency to ensure healthy results. It is about the inside, not the outside. The outside is just the side effects of a healthy, whole person.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Emotional Side Of Eating, Summer Eating Tips, Good Fats For Weight Loss

You pick up the phone, it's been a tough day, call up a friend and say, "Let's go for pizza, I't been a doozy!! (Or something like that.)." Sound familiar. Or you run ( as close as you get to running) to the vending machine when your last phone call at work puts you over the edge. Habits, ingrained habits, of an emotional eating response to situations in life.
As a young child, often we are "rewarded" with "treats" in conjunction with either a) a celebration of a positive occasions (special occasions, being obedient to the parent, social events)or b) the parent wants us to adhere to their requests, or to "cheer us up" when a situation has soured. We come to relate to food as a reward, or a comforter. Food and emotions become intertwined. Triggers develop that we are not eve n cognitively aware of. Eating from urge versus necessity.
How many times have you eaten something out of a "feeling' of commitment, versus a feeling of need or hunger? How many times have you eaten something because you were in a bad mood...? How many times have you stuffed your words, and thoughts, and sat down to a sugary snack, trying to "sweeten" the mood? These emotional and social cues have been instilled in us from a very young age. These feelings often dictate to us what we "feel" is acceptable- versus what is truly necessary.
So how do we overcome these ingrained patterns? How do we overcome emotional patterns that we have had for so long? Like any other thing you wish to overcome firstly you need to acknowledge you need to overcome it. Acceptance of a problem can sometimes be the biggest hurdle to overcome.
Often the best way to realize a problem is to see the evidence of it. Food journaling is a great way to get a handle on diet issues. Persons who journal are more successful long term "losers," than non-journalers. I believe it is because writing makes you more aware of "patterns" of eating. There is also a greater accountability. This allows for "realizations" not experienced without being mentally involved in the eating process. By recording the food, quantity of food, the time the food was consumed, emotions and situations linked to eating (hunger, anger, fear, fatigue, frustration, boredom, habit (time of day) joy, celebration, social outing) we can begin to understand our habitual patterns that produce the cycles of eating without need. At this point maybe we can begin to focus on the emotion(s), outside of the food issue.
I know from my own personal experiences that I have had problems with "emotional eating."
Often out of fearful feelings (not sure about the future, not sure about my finances, not sure about my friends, not sure about whatever job I had at the time, not feeling accepted by others.) General life insecurities. These would "send" me into a negative cycle. Usually, I would start with some drinks, to cheer me up. This would lead to less than healthy food choices (Naturally, I was dieting and under-nourished, already.) Now, breaking my "diet" I would feel even worse about myself. I consumed more out of this feeling of depression. Negative cycle. These cycles can be dangerous, they can lead to severe eating disorders. I myself, became bulimic. Over run by self- doubts and fear. Emotions controlled my eating. This dangerous cycle ran my life from my first year of University through to my late thirties.
These are learned from a very young age. My mother also had an eating disorder. Therefore, I thought many of our "eating rituals" were normal. She was ruled by her emotions, and alcohol. She had a sickness of spirit that overcame her physical well being. She sought after some form of perfection that was never achievable. When I grew up I sought after the very same thing. This is something that is learned and passed from generation to generation. Parents have a very key role in educating their children in proper foods, proper food timing, the correct manners to decline unnecessary foods that can contribute to diseases of the body and spirit. Any parent with a disorder needs to address it, and work on finding a higher ground, not to pass this message on to their children. Young children are often led to mimmick the parents. They learn what they see, and are very impressionable up to the age of twelve.
Eating disorders, and their counterpart emotional issues, manifest themselves in many ways. Not everyone becomes bulimic (thank God). Other manifestations of inappropriate emotions, and relationship with food are in being overweight, obese, severely underweight (anorexic), over exercisers/achievers, judging others in their food habits, eating differently alone than with others, thinking about food all the time, there is zero variety in your diet, and habitual eating (time of day dictates eating versus actual hunger. This shows a detachment from natural patterns.)
Many of these disorders have physiological impacts, effecting hormonal balance and neurotransmitters in the brain. They are hard to overcome. It can be done, though. As stated earlier, you must be willing to admit there is a problem. You must own it. Not in a negative way, though. Negative emotions are part of the issue. Remember, this is a negative cycle that needs to be reversed.
The change has to start with your view of you. Find something positive, focus on that. One small thing you know in your heart of hearts is good! We were all created with special gifts, and special purposes. Look at your gifts. Look outside of yourself for purpose. You may need to change some things in your life, do it. Get out of the box!! Get rid of the negative that is literally "eating you alive." What I did was rediscovered the passions of my youth, before I was overcome with the negatives- fitness and God. I found a better state of physical and spiritual being. This is a good recipe. We are not only physical beings, we are spiritual beings. We are not one dimensional, and cannot live one dimensionally either. We need to nurture our "whole" selves more. I have learned to appreciate myself more, and my God given abilities, appreciating my creator more. I spend my time studying and focusing outside of me. My life does not revolve around me, and my needs like it used to. I have also come to appreciate my experiences more, good and bad. There really is no such thing as a bad experience, it is all in how you apply it to your life. How YOU can use IT, for the betterment of this world. Bitterness doesn't hurt anyone but the one who is bitter. We all must walk away from self and self doubts and self- centered attitudes. Your very life and health depends on it!!
Often when we first change our habits it is a struggle. We have not clearly learned what is good for us. We eat often from habits learned. I wanted to include some other good food options in this post/article. The dispute about good fats and bad fats continues on. These are examples of good clean, natural fats that will prolong good health, and help you lose weight. Naturally, all these should be eaten in moderation. Just because something is "good for you," doesn't mean you need to eat huge quantities.
1) Almonds/almond butters are an excellent source of Vitamin E, and antioxidant (fights free radicals.) 2 Tablespoons, small handful are one serving size. Great as a snack with an apple.
2)Avocados contain 20 vitamins and minerals. It is a great source of potassium to regulate blood pressure. Wonderful instead of mayonnaise on whole grain wraps, also on whole grain crackers.
3)Dark Chocolate, more specifically cocoa from organic ground, defatted cocoa beans. The more natural the better. These beans contain antioxidant properties.
4)Flaxseed oil is the best plant source for Omega 3 fatty acids, critical for good health. These type of fatty acids are critical for heart health, cancer prevention and alzheimer prevention.
Put 1 tablespoon of cold-pressed ( kept cold AT ALL TIMES) in a smoothy for breakfast, blend well.
5)Natural Peanut Butter, I like Marathon Nutter Butter At Dingy Docks here in town. Peanut butter contains vitamins E and B6 (important for immune system health.)
6)Olive oil instead of butter, or other oil choices. Olive oil is better if it is greener in color, containing more antioxidant properties. Extra virgin olive oil is recommended. Also, remember that oil oil, just like other quality oils, looses it's antioxidant value when it is heated. Use broth for cooking.
7)Sunflower seeds and oils are great for flavor and hunger control. They contain B vitamins and are great for fighting inflammation. They are also wonderful on salads, only about 2 tablespoons, though.
8)Walnuts are also powerful Omega 3 rich nuts. They too prevent inflamation which has been linked to many diseases, heart disease, cancer, alzheimer's. I love these on my oatmeal in the morning. 2 Tablespoons is one serving.
Last week we looked at quick lunch tips. This week we are going to focus on BBQ meals, and quick summer dinners.

Smart Dogs (Tofu), or Nitrate Free Dogs (Nitrates have been linked to many forms of cancer, they are in most, if not all, processed meats. Nitrate Free dogs are available here in town at Dingy Dock's )
Whole Grain buns, or wraps. (I like wraps, they are fun and don't fall apart.)
Veganaise ( also available at Dingy Docks), tomato, and low sodium pickles.

Mixed Greens, whole sweet baby peppers, cut thinly, cucumbers, red onion, sunflower seeds toped with raspberry walnut vinegar dressing.

3 bean salad

4oz chicken breast, serving size (Dingy Dock's has fantastic organic, pre-sized chicken breasts, reasonable priced in their freezer. Great flavor.)
Marinade these overnight in Teryaki
Baby tomatoes
Baby sweet peppers
Red onion

Skewer and BBQ
Arugala and baby greens salad with oranges, red onions, walnuts and balsamic vinegar drizzled on top. Top with small amount of goat cheese.

Try a veggie burger!! They are available at Dingy Docks and at Von's
Add a little Newman's Own Bean and Corn Salsa

4oz Wild Salmon, grilled
8-12 asparagus spears
1/4 cup Near East Tabloule (Prepared with olive oil, baby tomatoes, cucumbers, lemon, and olives) (Von's)
1/4 cup of Soy Licious Chocolate "nice" cream

Summer is here!! Don't let your new found life interfere with enjoying all that is good. You will find the more you practice good healthy habits, the easier they are to follow, and the easier many other things will become because of the extra care you take for yourself, and the others around you. Have a GREAT summer!!