Category Archives: Health & Nutrition

Health Trends

Health trends come and go. Vegan diets, low-fat diets, Pilates, juicing cleanses, and gluten-free were all health trends. Some of them are still great, just not as common and others really were not all that great for us. Here are a few health trends that are popular right now.

1. The Elimination Diet
An elimination diet strictly restricts what you can eat. Basically it cuts out any food that your body could potentially react to. It’s great in case you think you may have an allergy to something or it can be used to minimize bloating after eating. A few ingredients to avoid in an elimination diet are soy, lactose, sugar, and gluten products.

2. The Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is inspired by Ancient Greece. It focuses on healthy fats and it is heart healthy. You mainly want to eat plant-based foods and exchange butters for olive oil. You also want to use natural ingredients to season foods and you want to eat plenty of fish and lean meat. Although fish, nuts, and bread are high in fat, they contain mainly monounsaturated fats which is good for you and will keep you full.

3. Zumba
Zumba dance has been around for a few years now but it is still very popular. It is an easy way to get cardio and have fun while doing it. The most important thing is to make it your own class. Push yourself but don’t hurt yourself.

4. Quinoa
Quinoa is a seed that actually originated many years ago. It’s a grain like seed with a crunchy texture and it is packed with nutrients. It is mainly known to be plentiful in fiber and protein and it is a weight-loss alternative to white rice.

5. Fruit-infused water
Ok, so maybe I’m a little obsessed. I not only love the way it looks, but I love the way it tastes. It’s an easy and nutritious way to flavor water. Not only are you fully hydrated, but you get the nutrients from the fruit or herbs. It promotes drinking water and it’s much better than Mio or Crystal Light flavorings.

6. Almond Milk/Butters
Almonds are full of protein and healthy fats. They are a dieter’s friend so it doesn’t shock me that almond milk and almond butter are both alternatives to regular milk or peanut butter in the health world.

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Skye, You Don’t Like Food?

Sometimes when I mention dieting, the person I am talking to says something like: “What?! You’re dieting? Why?! You’re not even fat!” Let’s be clear. When I mention the word diet, I’m talking about eating cleaner and healthier. I’m not starving myself or going on an extreme weight loss program. Also when I talk to someone else about eating healthy, sometimes their response is: “Oh, I would eat heathy, but I love food too much.” This one bugs the heck out of me. I love food. Anyone who talks about food and is interested in food this much must love it. I don’t love all food, but eating healthy isn’t a sacrifice. Once you retrain your taste buds and your mind, you will crave healthier food. I love food and just because I choose to eat a salad over chicken wings doesn’t mean that I don’t. Also, the fact that people think that they need to eat much less on a diet makes me worried. Going on a diet should be about trying different foods instead of fried or sweet foods. There are plenty of healthy alternatives that taste great. I actually would pick fish over a hamburger any day. The whole point of a diet is not to eat only leafy greens and carrot sticks. The word “diet” in the dictionary means: food or drink regularly consumed. That means that you need to EAT. If you don’t eat, you’re sending your body into starvation mode and it actually stores fat in order to survive. So yes, I do like food and you should too.

Intentions

What are your intentions? A majority of people seek to be healthy for one, two, or all of these reasons. Some people are only in it to lose weight and others want to train for a sport. Other people are in it to be an overall healthy person. Obviously I would recommend the last one to everyone. It’s a long term way of thinking about health. The other two are short-term and it’s much easier to quit your healthy lifestyle if your mind is only focused on weight loss or your sport. Whatever your intentions are, at least you’re being healthy and have goals to keep you on track.

If you’re trying to lose weight, this is the hardest mindset to keep for a long time. It’s easy to get frustrated because weight loss takes time and a lot of hard work. If there was a special pill that would make you lose weight instantly without exercise, would you take it? If you could eat junk food all day and not gain weight, would you do it? If you said yes to these questions, then your head is in weight loss mode. This is O.K. because it will keep you motivated to make better choices. Many people who start a healthy meal plan are doing it for weight loss, but how many people do we know that claim to be starting a diet, cave in, and quit.

If you’re trying to be fit for a sport, you will probably be motivated to be healthy for a long time. Many people take their sports seriously. Unfortunately, an injury can ruin your whole season and motivation to be healthy. Also, most people don’t continue their sports past high school or college so this applies more to younger people.

Then there are people whose intentions are just to be healthy. This is the most successful way because you go by your own standards. If you slip-up, you’re not going to see the extra pounds or the slower mile time. After you eat unhealthy you might notice it in your mood and you might feel sluggish, but you haven’t failed. Failure is completely giving up. If your goal is just to be a healthier person, you won’t see physical signs of failure, so you will be less likely to give up.

Honestly, if you choose to eat better and exercise, I’m going to be 100% supportive. I’d love to see people wanting to look better and do better in their sport. Personally, all three of the things I mentioned are my goals. Having an understanding of your goals will help you stay motivated. It will also help you figure out what type of diet to go on. Someone who’s trying to lose weight will need a different meal plan than someone who’s training for a marathon. Whatever your goals are, don’t be discouraged if you mess up. We’re only human.

My Thoughts on Special K: A Breakdown

Special K claims to be healthy and if you follow their plan you can lose 6 pounds in 2 weeks. Basically you eat a serving of cereal in the morning and eat their products for your other meals up until dinner. Then you are allowed to eat your own food for dinner. This diet plan has worked for many people but it is an extremely hard diet to be consistent with. These restrictive calorie diets are great short-term fixes but once you go back to eating a normal amount of calories, you gain the weight back and more. I used to eat their food thinking it was healthy. My friends eat their food thinking they’re eating healthy. My mom still buys their stuff thinking it is healthy. Well, actually I’d recommend that you eat Lay’s potato chips than some of these Special K products.

I’ve never tried their cereals but they seem a little bit better than some of their other products. I’m focusing more on their granola and pastry bars. The positive thing I do have to say is that their products are very low in calories and they are super convenient. While they are low in calories, they are high in sugar, oils, and artificial colors.

Here is a breakdown of the strawberry pastry crisps since I have them in my house right now. Even though each serving has less than 0.5 trans fats, they are there. There are only 2 grams of fat and 1 g is saturated. The only strawberries in this are strawberry purée concentrate. Concentrated juice goes through a series of chemicals and evaporation to have a thicker and longer lasting juice. These bars are highly processed; the ingredients list takes forever to read. Even though the sugar content is very high, there is almost an equal amount of artificial sweeteners in this too. No wonder why I reached for these when I was craving sugar. The artificial flavors and colors in these pastries should also be avoided. There are no whole grains and barely any fiber. Those are 2 things a dieter should be eating plenty of. Fooducate gave this product a D.

Now let’s move on to their cracker chips with sea salt. They are much less processed and most ingredients I am familiar with. These have less sugar, more fiber, and no saturated or trans fat. Obviously these are not the best for you, but they’re chips (let’s be real). Fooducate rated them a C- because there really isn’t much nutrition value in these.

Lastly I am going to review their strawberry protein shakes. These I have never tried but I’m guessing they taste fine. They are described as breakfast shakes but I definitely would not want to drink these in the morning. With 18g of sugar plus all of the artificial sweeteners, your blood sugar levels are going to spike right when you wake up. These shakes have more ingredients than the pastry crisps and there are no signs of strawberries except “natural and artificial flavors.” Most of the vitamins are added from different chemicals but on the bright side, some of the sugars are evened out with healthy fats and fiber. Still, these protein drinks were rated a D as well.

So there you go. Many people are confused by Special K because they think that their products are healthy and then read everything that is bad about it. You’d be much better off making a homemade smoothie or pastries with real fruit in them. Many diet foods are actually junk food in disguise which is one of the reasons why the food marketing industry annoys me so much. I hope you found this helpful and let me know if you like these type of blog posts!

How Many Times A Day Should I Eat?

Growing up we learned that we need to eat 3 balanced meals a day to be healthy. Now diet gurus and nutritionists are saying that we need to eat twice as many mini-meals because that will boost your metabolism and help you lose weight. Does it really speed up your metabolism though? Our metabolic system is definitely something I need to understand more, and I’m not sure if eating more often really stimulates it that much more. This is where misinformation occurs and there isn’t enough scientific research yet to tell whether this is true or not.

Eating 6 times a day does prevent binges because if you eat a meal at 6 am and then wait until 12 pm to eat another meal, you’re more likely to be hungrier and eat more. Also, if you know you’re not getting another meal until 6 hours later, you might eat a lot so you won’t be starved by the time it comes. If you proportion your meals correctly, eating more often will keep a more stable blood sugar level. By eating more often, your blood sugar levels won’t spike as dramatically than if you ate only 3 meals. Having more steady insulin (a hormone that stabilizes blood sugar levels) levels does help you not gain weight after you eat. Many people have proven that eating 6 smaller meals helped them lose weight.

Some people gained weight from eating this many times a day. The big things to remember are that you need to control your portions. Just because you are allowed to eat more often does not mean that you can eat more food. Eating 6 meals a day is not the answer to weight loss. One of the main goals is to curb your cravings while eating less food. Each meal should not be the size of a meal that you would eat if you were only eating 3 times a day. An example of a meal on a 6-meal plan would be an apple with some almond butter. Some of these meals should be more like a nutritious snack than a meal. You really shouldn’t gain weight if you do this meal-plan correctly.

Personally, I stick with a basic 3-meal plan and snack when I’m truly hungry. Eating small proportioned meals all day long might give people more opportunities to snack, which leads into overeating without realizing it. If I eat a little bit when I’m hungry, I don’t need to be thinking about food all day long. Some people would argue that on a 3-meal plan I would be constantly wondering when my next meal will be, but honestly, if I’m busy and satiated I would not even think about food until I was hungry. I actually think that theory applies more to people who eat more often. People who have tried this method of eating every 2-3 hours and found it successful obviously will promote their weight loss trick. However, there are plenty of people who have lost weight just as easy on a traditional diet. Every body is different and all of them react to different changes. Eating more often is not for everyone, especially people who are in school or work and can’t eat every 2 hours. To me, losing weight is determined by what foods you put in and how much exercise you do on a regular basis, not by the frequency of your meals. If you’ve tried the 6-meal diet plan, let me know your response either by leaving a comment or direct message me on Twitter (on my About page). I’d love to see which one works better for you! If there is new information that proves that every human will see dramatic changes in weight loss by eating more frequently, I will definitely promote it later. Until then, I’m not biased either way.

Foods That Claim To Be Healthy, But Aren’t

This is one of the things that annoys me most about the food industry. They package food that say things like “low fat” or “100 calories” and lead people on to think that they will lose weight after eating it or it is the healthier option. An obvious one is Diet Coke. We all know right now that people used to drink this thinking that it was better for them than regular Coca-Cola. It is a well-known fact that Diet Coke actually isn’t that healthy for you, but some of these aren’t as obvious.

1. Skinny Cow/Weight Watchers/Other Diet Products
These products do a good job of portion control so you don’t overeat. The problem is when they make sweets and treats using artificial sugar and even though their foods are low calorie, they rarely leave you feeling full and artificial sugars make you crave sugar because it tricked your body into thinking you were going to feed it something sweet.

2. Light Yogurt
The commercials for Yoplait Light make you believe that you are going to lose weight and still taste Key Lime Pie and the other flavors they made. Unfortunately they also used artificial sugar and fake flavorings. Also, fruit on the bottom yogurts usually have a ton of added sugar and preservatives so be cautious of that. You should make the swap-ortunity from a light yogurt to fresh fruit.

3. Sub sandwiches
Even though Subway says that they use all fresh ingredients, the bread in a subway sandwich is a huge diet buster. The processed wheat and sugars in the bread can sabotage your diet. Lunch meat can have unnatural flavors or preservatives and usually have a lot of sodium, too.

4. Protein bars
This one used to get me all of the time. At field hockey camp they fed us Powerbars to increase our energy and performance so I used to stock up on these. Many dieters hoard protein bars because they do keep you full for a very long time without eating as much food. That’s the problem. Instead of eating real, nutritious food, they are eating protein, fiber, and a ton of sugar.

5. Breakfast cereals
It’s obvious that Lucky Charms and Cap’n Crunch aren’t the best for us. We’re not fooled; we know Fruit Loops don’t have real fruit. But some of these cereals like Kashi and Mini Wheats are tricky. Special K, Fiber One, and all of these other health brands claim to be natural and eating their cereal will help you have a great, heathy start to your day. Not exactly. Most of these cereals do have some whole grains, fiber, maybe some bran. But they sweeten them so people will repurchase them thinking that they taste good are healthy. Even granola can be high in sugar and calories. The nutritional facts label can you trick you also by setting a smaller serving size than what you pour into your bowl.

6. Smoothies
This one is the saddest diet unfriendly food. The good thing is that not all smoothies are unhealthy. I used to go to Smoothie King thinking that I was super healthy and smart. Little did I know that a small smoothie was packed with sugar, calories, and carbs. Many places don’t use real fruit but fruit purée, powders, and juice. The easiest way to be healthy is to make your own smoothies. You can add kale and protein powder if you wish. I personally blend a little bit of spinach; you really can’t taste it at all.

6. Pre-packaged 100 calorie snack packs
This goes along with the first one. They are pre-packaged and portion controlled. They are only 100 calories as they claim to be. The problem is that these honestly do not have any nutritional value at all. 100 calories of almonds are worth more than 100 calories of cheez-its. I’m also starved after eating these, they’re almost like eating air. These are empty calories because you are not full or satisfied and you would’ve been better off eating something with a little bit of fat or fiber.

7. Sorbet
This one really shocked me. I watched a youtube video explaining why this is a diet buster. Cassandra Bankson reviewed a small container of sorbet vs ice cream. She found that the sorbet had twice as much sugar than the ice cream and less fat and calories. Basically the fat in the ice cream causes your blood sugar to spike less so your body produces less insulin for you to have to work off. This I have not researched into besides this one video so I cannot take credit for this. What I have researched is that fat takes longer to digest so you feel full longer after eating it. A bowl of ice cream is going to leave you more full than a bowl of sorbet which is basically sugar ice. Monounsaturated fat is not your enemy, but be wary of saturated and trans fats.

Non-GMO Project

What are GMOs? GMOs are genetically modified organisms created through biotechnology. Basically it merges two different types of genes and breeds two plants or animals unnaturally. Supporters of GM products claim that these modified crops are healthier and reduce the use of pesticides. Also they say that more crops can be picked and it will help “feed the world” because of the lower prices. Scientific evidence has shown that these crops attract bugs that are pesticide tolerant, so in order to kill them farmers use harsher chemicals. These toxins not only damage the soil but also make the foods more dangerous to eat. There is definitely a lot of misinformation and controversies about GMOs and stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes claim to be GMO-free.

The non-GMO project is a non-profit organization and its goal is to inform consumers whether or not there are GMOs in their foods. They are also trying to educate the community about the hazards of eating foods that are genetically modified so less people buy these type of foods. Many companies, such as Kashi are joining the non-GMO project and as more research is being done on the topic and the more knowledge people have about it, the more likely this organization is going to work.

If you want to see a list of non-GMO products, click here