HOW DO YOUR PORTION SIZES MEASURE UP?

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OK, you’re trying to lose weight and you’re doing everything right:  exercising daily, drinking tons of water, getting lots of sleep, and eating all the right foods…but the scale refuses to budge.  What can be the problem?

Portions!  When we’re trying to lose weight, we need to eat the right amount of healthy foods.  Portions are the amount of food you SHOULD be eating.  In other words, serving size.  And, yes, it is possible to gain weight from eating too much healthy food!!

No one expects you to walk around with a food scale and measuring cups, but there is a way to measure food portions without the equipment – and it can be easy once we know how to use simple tools that are always on hand… literally.  J

Not everyone’s hands are exactly the same size, but below is a general guide that can be effectively used to estimate basic serving size equivalents.

1 CUP = 2 handfuls – a perfect serving size of berries or a serving size of cooked pasta

½ CUP = 1 heaping handful – great for a single serving of dry pasta, hot oatmeal, or cooked quinoa

¼ CUP = 1 level handful – good for a single serving size of nuts (approximately one ounce or 1/4 to 1/3 cup). 

1 FINGER SCOOP = 1 teaspoon for a single serving of butter or oil (a single serving of almond butter is typically 2 teaspoons).

2 FINGER SCOOP = 1 tablespoon – a single serving of hummus is usually 2 tablespoons.

You can also use your hands when measuring portions of meat and produce. 

For example, a single serving of chicken, beef, or fish is approximately 3-6 ounces, roughly the size of your palm (or a deck of cards). 

For fruits and veggies, a one-cup serving is roughly the size of your closed fist.

A single serving of cheese is approximately the size of your thumb.

When at the grocery store, many food packages look like they provide a single serving size but actually provide enough for 2-3 servings!  Make sure to read the nutritional facts label, which will help give you a good idea of a reasonable serving size.

If you’re going out for dinner, eating the right portion size can be even more challenging.  Most entrees can serve 2-3 people.  So try splitting an entrée with a friend or order an appetizer for your main course.

When eating at home, using a kitchen scale will offer the most accurate results of course, but if you don’t own a scale or are in a rush (which we always are!), using my guidelines above will be very… HANDY!
These simple skills – knowing how to measure our food portions accurately – is important to our overall health, especially if we’re looking to lose some weight or maintain what we have.   So take some time to learn and master checking food sizes and read those nutrition labels  and ingredient lists! 

Let me know how you are doing. I would love to hear from you!

 

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HUNG OVER?

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HUNG OVER?

I don’t know about you, but I tend to drink a bit more in the summertime – something about the warm sun, the beach, the sand… and suddenly I’m craving glasses of chilled Rosé and Tequila (with lime of course!).
 
Drinking alcohol always seems like a great idea…at the time.  But by morning we may wish we didn’t have that extra glass: will we ever learn?
 
Unfortunately it’s all too easy then to justify eating a greasy egg sandwich or downing that sugary drink – anything to make us feel....less terrible.   But all those sugar additives and heavy foods – although maybe seem comforting at the time – more than likely makes us feel worse in the long run.
 
Having had a hangover once or twice in my life :),  I’ve researched what to eat – and what to avoid eating – in order to feel better ASAP in a healthful way.  There’s no getting around the fact that simply the passage of time will help us, but what we ingest definitely makes a huge difference in how long that time is.
 
Below are some of my healthy recommendations for helping us feel better when we wake up from that great time we so enjoyed the night before:
 
H2O
Alcohol acts as a diuretic, which can cause dehydration.  Dehydration in turn plays a big role in those hangover symptoms, such as headache, nausea, fatigue, and dry mouth.  Drinking tons of water helps us rehydrate and assists in replenishing the electrolytes (potassium and magnesium) that we lose when we have too much to drink.
 
GOT BANANAS?
Potassium rich foods – think bananas, avocados, spinach, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, and tomatoes – are super helpful and nutritious. In order for our bodies to work properly, we need this type of electrolyte.  In conjunction with lots of water, eating these foods will help alleviate the symptoms of a hangover big time!
 
MAGNESIUM RICH FOODS
In addition to potassium, another electrolyte that gets lost in our urine when we drink too much is magnesium.   Find foods rich in magnesium, such as beans, nuts, whole grains, dark leafy greens, chicken, and dark chocolate (my personal fav).  So eat up: we need to replace them!  Coconut water is a great choice, as well, because it’s packed with electrolytes – but without all that added sugar and additives found in sports drinks.
 
GIVE ME A B!
Feeling weak and shaky in the AM?  That's because alcohol causes our blood sugar levels to drop.  To counteract that, try going for some of those healthy, starchy carbs like oats and whole grains (instead of bagels and pancakes!).  They’ll help get our glucose levels back on track, while providing the much-needed B vitamins we lose while drinking too much.
 
BAD STOMACH?
Feeling sick to your stomach the next morning?  Try to stay away from high-fiber and high-fat foods.  And dump the sugar and artificial sweeteners – choose foods that are sweetened naturally (like fruit!).
 
Protein works wonders for that first morning-after meal, as well – it serves as a calming agent for our stomachs. I personally love eggs – just without all that cheese and bacon.  What about Vegans, you ask?  No problem:  just add your favorite plant-based protein powder to your favorite smoothie…that works too.
 
The most obvious solution to a hangover, of course, is to not put ourselves in this situation in the first place – but we know temptation happens, especially when we’re out having a good time and our defenses are down and…things happen :)
 
So instead of saying “I’ll never drink again!” try following these recommendations and see how you feel.
 
Cheers!
 

You Had Me At Vacation

 

Who doesn’t love a vacation?  Time to relax and have fun and not be concerned about calories and diets, etc.  That's the point, right?  We’re on vacation and we want to… indulge!  But then it happens: we return home.  And the reality hits us that all that indulging threw us off our  healthy routines – and gave us a higher number on the scale. We’ve all been there, but no worries! 
I’ve put together some simple tips to help keep us healthy – and happy – while on vacation.
 
WORK OUT!
Even if you find yourself eating more while you are away, you can still set aside time each day to exercise.  Try and block out at least 45 minutes a day to do some sort of physical activity.  If your hotel doesn’t have a gym, long walks on the beach or swimming laps in the pool work just as well.  If you’re in the mountains, go for a hike!
 
DON'T OVERINDULGE AT MEALS!
Of course, when we’re on vacation, the last thing we want to feel is deprived – so go ahead and enjoy yourself, but just in moderation. You can have a taste of that yummy dessert your family ordered –just don't eat the whole thing! And if you know you’re having a bigger meal at dinnertime, try eating lighter throughout the day.  Also, make sure you ask a lot of questions:  Dressing on the side?  What kind of oil do you use?  Is there butter in that?  Can i get an appetizer portion, etc?
 

AVOID THE MINI BAR!
Will help you physically and financially!
 
DRINK TONS OF WATER!
When we travel we are out of our normal routine – we may be imbibing more margaritas, or maybe we’re at a higher altitude (or both!) and this can contribute to dehydration. So please be sure to drink plenty of water regularly throughout the day.
 
PACK YOUR PROBIOTICS!
We’ve all heard of Montezuma’s Revenge – and let me tell you, it’s no myth.  So if you take only one supplement with you on vacation, make sure it’s your probiotic.  When we travel we tend to eat and drink all sorts of of stuff we don’t normally eat and drink at home – and this can wreak havoc on our gut, digestion, and overall health.  Taking just one probiotic daily while traveling aids in avoiding these stomach issues.
 
GET YOUR SERVINGS OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES!
Be sure not to skimp on these essentials – eating plenty of fruits and veggies makes our meals more filling and satisfying.  And – a bonus – they provide us with much needed fiber.
 
BE PREPARED!
Be sure to pack some of your favorite dry food items for the plane ride.  Items such as protein bars, nuts, dried fruits, and protein powder for drinks, to name a few, will get us healthily to our destinations.
 
So if you're a traveling this Spring Break, heed these suggestions and I promise you will feel healthy and energized on your return!
 
Save travels and Bon Voyage!
 

Why We Should Eat Chocolate on Valentine's Day

You know you’re going to indulge today and I’m here to tell you… go for it!
 

If you haven’t already heard, chocolate is good for us!  In its purist form – raw cacao – chocolate has a plethora of benefits.  So the good news is:  eating something sweet and delicious can actually be rewarding for us health-wise!
 
Here’s why:  dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, which makes it pretty powerful.  Dark chocolate has more antioxidants than green tea and red wine.  On a day that celebrates the heart, that's good news!
 
Having said that, I may have to ruin your plans to grab that handful of Hershey’s kisses next to your long-stem roses.  The fact is, not all chocolates are created equal.  Many manufacturers sell chocolate – or items that contain chocolate – but they really have zero cacao. 
 
Read labels!   When eating chocolate, the darker the better. When chocolate is darker, it contains less sugar and more cacao, the superfood.  Although many nutritionists and health care professionals recommend people consume dark chocolate containing 50% cacao, I recommend we eat dark chocolate containing no less than 70% cacao.  This is a healthier ratio and means that the 70% chocolate bar we’re ogling contains significantly less sugar than bars with 50% cacao – but it will still satisfy your sweet tooth!
 
OK, so now that I’ve given you the green light for dark chocolate, here are the reasons why eating it is so beneficial to our health:

 
Healthy Heart!
Studies show that eating dark chocolate can decrease the risk of heart disease because dark chocolate aids in lowering blood pressure and can reduce hypertension.
 

Reduces cravings!
Including dark chocolate in our diets helps prevent sugar cravings, which then helps us to reduce all that snacking and bingeing which can lead to weight loss.   Best news ever!
 

Elevates our moods!
Who needs Xanax when we can have dark chocolate?  The cacao in dark chocolate has been shown to significantly increase feelings of calmness in adults.  It also contains phenylethylamine, the same chemical our brains create when we feel like we’re falling in love.  Dark chocolate just makes us feel happier – it’s the perfect treat for Valentine’s Day!
 

 Good for our brains! 
Eating dark chocolate can help improve cognitive function and helps reduce the risk of stroke. Genius!
 

Energy boost! 
Science shows that eating dark chocolate can give us surges of extra energy.  Dark chocolate contains theobromine, which is a mild stimulant.  Maybe not as strong as caffeine, but it’ll definitely give us a bit of a boost and – let’s face it – it tastes a whole lot better!
 
So today, when your Valentine gives you chocolate, go for those darker ones and indulge…just not the whole box of course – despite all its benefits, dark chocolate does still have calories, so try and stick to no more than one to two servings a day....
 
And remember: the purer the chocolate, the more satisfied you will be.
 
All we really need is love… and a little bit of chocolate!
 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Dump Your Sugar Daddy!

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Only if you live under a rock can you possibly not know that sugar is bad for you!  The crimes of sugar are numerous, but let’s start with some obvious ones:  it rots our teeth, packs on the pounds, and provides zero nutrition. 

If that's not enough for you to toss that candy bar into the trash, how about this:  sugar has also been linked to everything from diabetes and heart disease to skin problems, depression/anxiety, and even cancer!

Sugar is one of the most pro-inflammatory foods out there – and that’s the reason it’s associated with so many chronic illnesses.  Chronic inflammation is the basis of most diseases, so when we eat too much sugar, it can be detrimental to our overall health.

You don’t suffer from heart disease, diabetes, or chronic illness?  Wonderful, but!  Reducing our intake of sugar regardless – and giving our bodies a sugar “detox” while we’re at it – does our bodies (and minds!) endless good, especially if we’re feeling tired, moody, stiff, and/or achy. 

Do you think you’re a sugar addict?  You can break the sugar habit!  OK, it isn’t easy – studies show that sugar can have a stronger effect on our brains than cocaine and heroin – but that’s why I’m here:  I’ve come up with some helpful tips for dealing with sugar addiction!

Eat Naturally Sweet Food! 

They’re naturally sweet and healthy – and best of all, they’re delicious.  The more naturally sweet veggies and fruit we eat, the less we crave sugar. 

Replace Sugar with Healthy Fats!

Eating healthy fats, such as avocado, nuts/nut butter, hemp seeds, eggs, and hummus can really fill us up, keep up satiated, and we will be less likely to crave sweets.

Remember H2O!

Very often our sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration.  Before reaching for the Ben & Jerry’s, have a glass of water.  Now just wait a few minutes and see what happens.  I guarantee that sugar craving disappears.

Say No to Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar Substitutes!

Why?  Because they’ve been linked to increased sugar cravings and weight gain! If you need a sweetener, go for sugar in its most natural form:  pure maple syrup, coconut nectar, raw honey.  Just make sure you are consuming minimal amounts!

 Distract Yourself!

Next time a craving for sweets sneaks up on you, grab a turn on Words With Friends, send out a tweet, or just go outside for a short walk.  Most cravings only last a few minutes, so by the time you’re done distracting yourself, hopefully that craving will have gone bye-bye!

Zzzzzzz’s!

Go to sleep!  When we’re constantly stressed and/or sleep deprived, our bodies crave the quickest form of energy out there and unfortunately we know what that is:  sugar!!

Read Labels!

Avoid anything that contains added sugar, which turns out to be most fat-free and low-fat packaged goods.   Look for products that contain no more than 15 grams of sugar per serving. 

Spice Up your Life!

Experiment with spices!  Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom are just a few of the spices we can use to naturally sweeten our foods and reduce cravings!

 

Ready to get that sugar monkey off your back?  Just a warning:  when we start reducing our sugar intake, our bodies initially don’t like it and you may feel, well…  awful at first (depending on how much sugar you are used to consuming!). 

Don’t let that stop you!  This yucky feeling shouldn’t last more than two or three days and then… you will feel GREAT!!

When sugar is the driving force behind our fatigue and mood swings – and so much else that plagues our systems – detoxing from or reducing sugar has us feeling fab right away.

Stay Sweet!

 

 

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

I don’t know about you, but I hate the cold!  Once the temperature dips below 50 degrees, I find myself less motivated to exercise and all those crisp, green salads and healthy meals I was eating all summer and fall abruptly seem so much less…appealing.  Not only are so many yummy veggies and fruits no longer in season (or just not as fresh), but let’s face it:  once Mother Nature brings on the brrrrr, our craving for comfort foods comes on full force!

 For me winter brings on major cravings for sweets – and chocolate is my weakness.  It’s as if all those cookies, candies, and cakes we resisted so well during the holidays suddenly form one giant dollop of whipped cream and all our defenses come crashing down – or maybe it’s just that, when Ol’ Man Winter shows up on our doorsteps, he brings a boatload of comfort food cravings at the same time!

 The reasons don’t matter – launching a counterattack does! So in 2017, combat that urge to dig into the mac ‘n cheese on a snowy afternoon and look for foods that are just as warming and comforting… without the guilt!

 Comfort foods don't have to be bad.  Real comfort foods can leave us feeling fab from the minute we dig in.  With these practical tips for healthy eating during these winter months, I’m confident we can maintain a healthy nutritious diet filled with whole foods that will warm – and nourish – our bodies from the inside out.

 Slurp up!

Soup is the perfect winter food choice:  warm, nourishing, and filling.  Look for soups that don’t contain dairy and are low in sodium.  Soups containing lots of veggies or a good chicken broth are the way to go.  Slurping soup as a first course can also fill you up, which we know can help us limit our calories for the rest of the meal!

 Shop seasonal!

Even though some of your favorite fruits and vegetables may not look as good during the winter, this doesn't mean you shouldn’t be filling your shopping cart with produce.  The best way of managing our weight is by eating lots of fruits and vegetables.  They are loaded with nutrients and fiber, and have a high water content, which makes us feel full.  Look for seasonal items such as butternut squash, beets, grapefruit, pears, clementine, and healthy greens like kale, collard greens, brussel sprouts, and broccoli.

 Oatmeal is our friend!

Not only is oatmeal a convenient breakfast food, but it’s also uber-nutritious!  Loaded with vitamins and minerals and antioxidants, this super food not only helps control weight; it’s also great for the ticker and helps reduce high blood pressure and build immunity.  Look for all natural old-fashioned oats.  Add nut butters or pure maple syrup (no Aunt Jemima, please!) and you’ll find it warm and delicious.  My favorite winter comfort food by far!

 Warm up those salads!

Because our bodies crave warm foods during the winter, those cold, crisp greens don't seem quite as appetizing now as they do in July.  But instead of saying no to salads, I suggest topping your favorite greens with warm chicken, roasted veggies or potatoes, toasted nuts, or crispy chickpeas.  Adding this warmth to our salads will provide the same feeling that those naughty comfort foods do – but without the guilt!

 Never eat ingredients you can’t pronounce – except quinoa!

Quinoa, in my opinion, is the best grain to eat – especially during these winter months – because it absorbs a lot of water, which keeps us full for a long time.  This is an awesome grain for weight loss and, since it contains marvelous amounts of fiber, vitamins, and healthy fats, it may be one of the healthiest things we can eat.  Don’t forget it’s also a complete protein, which makes it an excellent choice for anyone who is staying away from animal proteins.

 Quinoa can be prepared just like rice.  I like to make extra and keep it in an airtight container in my fridge for the week. Try adding your favorite veggies – yum! 

Quinoa also makes a great porridge, ideal to eat for breakfast during these wintry months.  Add one cup of cooked quinoa with about a cup of milk (I like almond milk, of course) to make it warm and creamy.  Also feel free to add cinnamon, honey, or maple syrup.

 

So don’t let Jack Frost tempt you to crawl under the blankets and order pizza.  Put on your hat, boots, and scarf and go for a walk outside.  When you come back, try some of these healthy comfort foods I mentioned. I promise: you’ll feel – and look – great when you do! 

 

Stay warm!