Monthly Archives: April 2015

Earth Day: Protect the Environment and Your Health

EarthDay

Every year on April 22 we celebrate Earth Day and the importance of protecting our environment. Maybe you started recycling or swapped plastic water bottles for a reusable one in the past few years. This year, celebrate Earth Day by improving your health and the Earth. Here are six things you can do:

Bike or Walk Instead of Driving

With warmer weather here, take the opportunity to enjoy more time outdoors and consider walking or biking instead of driving. Try bike commuting or taking public transportation to work once a week or walking to a nearby restaurant or store instead of always driving. This will cut back on emissions (better for Earth) and help you burn extra calories (better for you).

Plant a Garden

Home grown vegetables taste better. Consider planting a small outdoor garden, and then you’ll have access to delicious and healthy vegetable right in your backyard.

Eat Local Produce

Don’t have a green thumb? Visit a Farmer’s Market or make a point to buy local produce available at the grocery store. Food in the U.S. travels an average of 1,500 miles to get your plate. This uses a large amount of natural resources and contributes to pollution. Buying local produce (or growing your own) means your food will travel a shorter distance to get to your plate.

Go Meatless on Mondays

Reducing the amount of meat you consume can help lower your risk for preventable diseases like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The effect on the environment can be huge. It is estimated that nearly one-fifth of man-made greenhouse gases come from the meat industry and as much as 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef! If a four–person family skips meat one day a week for an entire year, it’s like taking your car off the road for almost three months, according to the Environmental Working Group.

Eat Safe Seafood

Seafood is a great low-calorie, high-protein food source. Many types of seafood are also high in heart healthy omega-3. However, you want to make sure the seafood you’re eating is healthy for you and the environment. Make a point to eat seafood that is low in mercury and doesn’t have environmental problems like overfishing. Visit www.fishwatch.gov to help guide your seafood purchases.

Waste Less Food

Nearly one-third of food production for human consumption is wasted or lost. That is 1.3 billion tons of food wasted every year.  Not only are we wasting  food, we’re wasting the energy used to produce, grow and transport that food. Help cut back on food waste by freezing leftovers, making more trips to the grocery store and cooking appropriate portions.

5 Strategies to Overcome Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is using food to fill an emotional need rather than to fulfill a physical hunger.

People often say they have “fallen off the wagon”, meaning they made positive lifestyle changes and then life got in the way and they slipped back into their unhealthy routines. This situation seems to be common, however, there is actually no such thing as “falling off the wagon,” simply because there is no wagon to begin with.

Everyone has their struggles and their bad days. It’s important to know that health is not a destination that you arrive at; it’s a journey and a lifestyle that you consciously work for every day. Try to make small improvements and learn from your mistakes to become the healthiest version of yourself.

Emotional Hunger v. Physical Hunger


Emotional V. Hunger

 

5 STRATEGIES TO OVERCOME
EMOTIONAL EATING

Strategy 1: Set up a Healthy Home Environment

Emotional eating is often automatic and mindless. If you plan ahead and prepare a healthy home environment, you are setting yourself up for success. Next time you are in an emotional state, you will be less likely to reach for the comfort of food.

Three things to help you set up a healthy home environment:
Clean out your fridge or pantry

If you don’t have unhealthy foods in your house, then you’ve created a buffer for emotional eating.

Rearrange your fridge and pantry

Behavioral studies have shown that foods in visible sight or at eye level are more likely to be eaten. Keep your “treats” hidden away in a drawer and the healthy options front and center.

Portion out your food

Did you know eating from a smaller diameter plate will give you different brain reactions? For example, switching from an 8 inch plate to a 4 in plate might be a helpful tip to control overeating. Also, portion out food that comes from a bag, like chips or nuts, and put them in a smaller bowl when eating.

 

Strategy 2: Identify Triggers & Bad Eating Habits

What situations or feelings make you reach for the comfort of food? Are you eating comfort foods at a certain time of day or after certain interactions?

Two tips to help you identify your triggers and bad eating habits:
Think about the why

Next time you feel yourself reaching for food for a reason other than physical hunger, stop and think about the reason WHY you are reaching for that food. Is it because you had a stressful day at work? Is it because you had a fight with a friend?

Common emotional triggers are stress, comfort after a bad day, anxiety and depression.

Keep a food and mood journal

Log what you’re eating and what your emotions were. Tracking these instances and identifying triggers are an important step for changing unhealthy behaviors.  A food journal is meant to be temporary. Once you’ve identified your bad eating habits and improve upon them, feel free to ditch the journal and eat in a natural and healthy way.

 

Strategy 3: Pause When Cravings Hit

When you find yourself craving something, take time to pause and think about it and give yourself the opportunity to make a different decision. When you have a specific craving, ask yourself “Am I hungry? Or am I actually bored or stressed?”

Think back to the emotional triggers you have identified. Then ask yourself another question: Is there a better way to address whatever emotion I am feeling, instead of turning to food.

Two things to help yourself during a moment of craving:
Take a breather

Wait five minutes instead of immediately indulging. If you need to, set a timer. Tell yourself to wait and see if you still want that food after you have time to clear your mind and think rationally.

Think past the craving

How will you feel after you give into your craving? Will you feel better? Will you feel worse? Will it address your problem or the emotion you’re feeling? Most likely, the answer will be no.

 

 

Strategy 4: Find a New Outlet Besides Food

Once you’ve identified what is causing you to eat emotionally, finding a different outlet for that emotion is the next step.

A few things to try:
Find an alternative activity to eating

Find a physical alternative to eating. Try going for a walk, working out, reading a book, playing  a game with your children, or some other fulfilling hobby.

Get outside

Studies have shown that as little as five minutes of nature can improve your mood and boost your self-esteem. Get outside, take a walk and breathe in the fresh air.

Talk about it

Holding in feelings of stress or anxiety is only going to make you feel more stressed or anxious. When you’re distressed, find someone you can talk to about your emotions, whether that is a spouse, a friend, a co-worker or a pet. Talking about it and venting can be a powerful emotional release.

 

Strategy 5: Improve Overall Health & Well Being

If you’re well-rested and healthy, it will be easier to handle day-to-day obstacles that may otherwise have derailed you from your health goals.

Focus on what you’re doing to improve your overall health.

Healthy Foods = Healthy You

Maintain a well-balanced diet of lean proteins, vegetables, quality carbohydrates and healthy fats. Keep your body hydrated with water and not sugary drinks.

Stay active

Make daily exercise a priority. Staying active doesn’t mean spending hours at the gym. You can incorporate activity into your day: take the stairs, go for a walk, play with your kids. Exercise releases endorphin and can be a powerful mood booster and increase your overall energy levels.

Stay well rested

When you’re sleeping, your body is repairing itself. When you’re not well rested, you feel sluggish and tired and are less likely to stick to your health routines.

Daily Decompress

Find your “me” time to relax and decompress. Set aside even just 10-15 minutes a day to relax and do something you enjoy, whether that’s going for a walk, meditating, reading a book or watching a TV show.

Make meaningful connections

Studies have shown people with strong social connections live longer, so maybe laughter is one of the best forms of medicine after all! Make time for friends and family and spend time together in a meaningful way.

 

Tips for Managing Stress

Stress Management

Stress is a part of almost everyone’s life. In fact, 35% of Americans said their stress has increased in the past year and 62% say their job is the main point of stress. Chronic stress can have an impact on your physical and mental health. It can lower your immunity, cause sleeplessness and headaches, and make you feel anxious and angry. The negative effects and feelings associated with stress can pile up, so learning to cope and deal with it is important.

5 Tips for Managing Stress


1. Learn to Say No
A healthy work-life balance is important. Learn to say no to things in your personal and professional life. An overloaded schedule is a sure-fire way to increase stress.

2. Manage Your Time Better
When you’re running behind for an appointment or a deadline is looming your stress levels are going to sky-rocket. Learn to manage your time, plan ahead and stay focused on one thing at a time.

3. Stay Positive
Next time you feel stressed and negativity starts to take hold, pause and take a moment to think about all the good things in your life.

4. Learn to Move On
Things that are out of our control, like the actions of other people, can be a huge cause of stress. While you can’t control everything or everyone, you can control how you react.

5. Find a Healthy Outlet
Find a way to unwind and let go of your stress at the end of the day. For some that’s running or yoga, others it’s taking a hot bath or meditating. Talking about your feelings, laughing at a funny movie, and getting outdoors are all healthy outlet options. Find an outlet that works for you.

Staying Healthy at a Baseball Game

healthy at a baseball game

Happy Opening Day! In addition to the fresh air, cheering, and the excitement of the game – ballpark food and beer are a part of the experience. Just because you’re at a game doesn’t mean you have to toss your healthy habits aside nor does it mean you have to deny yourself a treat. Here are a few ways to make your next game a healthier experience.

  • Avoid the Nachos
    You’re looking at more than 1,200 plus calories! If it’s your favorite item, try sharing the order with a group of friends.
  • Buy Me Some Peanuts and Cracker Jacks
    Buttery popcorn isn’t your best option.  Go for a box of Cracker Jacks, which has only about 120 calories compared to over 1,000 for popcorn.
  • Swap the Burger for Chicken
    Once you add the cheese and toppings, the calorie-count can sky-rocket. Opt for a leaner protein and eat the grilled chicken sandwich instead.
  • A Healthier Dog
    It’s the toppings that are a nutrition killer. I’m looking at you Bacon and Blue Dogs. Select a regular size hot dog and toppings like relish and onions. Ketchup can be high in sugar, so reach for the mustard instead.
  • Load Up On Vegetables
    There are plenty of vegetarian options throughout most baseball stadiums like wraps, sandwiches, salads, and veggie dogs and burgers.  Check out places that have a make your own salad option. Remember to skip the cheese and select a non-creamy dressing.
  • Limit Your Beverage Intake
    Whether it is beer or soda, try to limit yourself to only one or two beverages.
  • Pack a Lunch
    Did you know that most stadiums allow you to bring your own food? Pack a healthy picnic lunch or snack, plus bottles of water.


Add More Activity Into Your Game Day

  • Bike to the Game
    Avoid the parking hassle and burn extra calories by biking to the game. Utilize the bike lanes throughout the area if they are available and be prepared for the weather.
  • Take a Lap
    Don’t just walk to your seats, take a lap around the stadium in between innings.
  • 7thInning Stretch
    Avoid sitting the whole game and take your own 7th inning stretch by standing up, stretching and moving around. Walk up and down the stairs a few times to get some blood flowing to your legs.

Hunting for a Healthier Easter

Easter Eggs

 

The best approach for a healthier Easter:  shift your focus to the meaning of Easter and the nonfood traditions behind the holiday. Then, once you’re looking at the bigger picture — not just candy-filled Easter baskets — you can figure out how to get the best out of your “Easter Eggs.”

Plan for Sweets

Make smarter choices elsewhere in the day to allow for a small splurge later. Remember, Easter is only one day so try to only indulge on those chocolate eggs on Sunday and not ruin the rest of the week! Some chocolate can be good for you but try buying small, individually wrapped chocolate eggs and avoid the giant chocolate bunnies, no matter how cute they are.

Break an Egg

One of the big heart myths is that eggs contain harmful cholesterol. However, eggs aren’t a problem unless they are fried in oil or loaded  up with cheese. For a filling and healthy start to your day try a boiled, poached or scrambled egg loaded with fresh vegetables.

Don’t Come to Dinner Hungry

Try snacking on some of those colorful hard-boiled eggs you may have made earlier — one large egg has around 76 calories. It’s a filling and nutritious option before the big meal.

Slow Down

When has there ever been a shortage of food or drinks at holiday events? Eat and drink slowly and allow your brain to catch up to your stomach.

Be Active

Plan fun activities with your family and friends to stay active and motivated over the weekend: go for a walk, run, swim, bike ride, kick a ball around, whatever you like… just move that body and enjoy the time spent together!

Rethink the Easter Basket

Nontraditional gifts such as jewelry, books, and clothing are even more appreciated than those sugary little peeps.  Who wouldn’t love seeing a Fitbit in their Easter basket?!

Consider Making Healthy Meal Substitutions

Try serving chocolate covered strawberries instead of a carrot cake or even steamed carrots instead of honey glazed carrots.  Add in more vegetables and make sure to savor every bite!

Written by: Rachel Corcoran, Weigh and Win Health Coach