Snacking has gotten a bad rap, thanks to our tendency to choose empty-calorie snack foods like candy or chips to ease between-meal cravings. But when your stomach starts growling hours before your next meal, healthy snacks are actually a good idea, to hold off hunger and keep energy levels high. Healthy snacks are also key in avoiding weight gain.

With that in mind, here are some helpful tips for healthy snacks

Limit Empty Calories – Empty calories are a killer for your diet. First it’s important to define exactly what they are. Empty calorie foods contain high amounts of calories with little to no nutritional benefit. In essence, your body is taking in calories but not getting anything of benefit out of it. Empty calorie foods and beverages like soda, chips, fruit juices, cakes, cookies and other pastries will cause you to pack on the pounds more than other types of food, meaning you’ll want to steer clear of them as much as possible.

Add More Fiber and Lean Protein to Your Diet – Fiber. It’s the secret weapon for avoiding weight gain when it comes to healthy snacks. Why is that? Because fiber, by its very nature, makes you feel more full. It expands in your stomach, making you feel full more quickly and for a longer period of time. The same goes for protein.

Turn Your Traditional Snacks Into Healthy Snacks – There’s no reason you can’t still enjoy your favorite holiday treats. But there are plenty of different ways to prepare those classic holiday recipes without all the calories.

For example, instead of using a whole stick of butter in your favorite recipe, try replacing half of it with the same volume of apple sauce. You’ll get the same rich flavor and texture, but without all the calories. Most recipes that call for eggs can be made just the same by eliminating the yolk and just sticking with the egg whites. That cuts out most of the saturated fat, but still gives you the healthy lean protein. Take time this year to experiment, you might be surprised what you can come up with.

Everything in Moderation – While it’s important to focus on high-quality ingredients and avoid fatty or empty calorie foods, you’re also entitled to indulge yourself a bit every now and then. The key? Choose smaller portions and snack in moderation. Instead of lingering around the snack table at the holiday party, grab a small plate, choose a few of your favorites including some healthy snacks and mill around the room.

The Importance Of Breakfast

One of the biggest nutritional mistakes many people make is skipping the breakfast meal. There are plenty of reasons why individuals do this, be it that they are too busy to prepare something, think that saving the calories from this meal will help them with weight loss or simply just do not like breakfast foods.

The Benefits Of Breakfast

This is unfortunately because not eating in the morning is going to cause you to become ravenous later on in the day, making it that much harder to control your hunger and food selection. When you are out at work or running errands, you might find that your selection of foods to choose from is much more limited to vending machine fair and that is not something that is going to do your diet justice.

It is generally seen that individuals who do consume up to a 1/3 of their daily calories in the morning meal will eat less later on that day. When you don’t, your body tends to want to play catch-up with the calories and often surpasses what you would have eaten otherwise.

Additionally, without having some fuel in your system, you simply will not have the same concentration levels that you otherwise would and your work or school performance is going to suffer. You wouldn’t try and drive an empty car to work would you? So why drive an empty body?

Breakfast doesn’t have to always be traditional breakfast food. It is perfectly fine to have last night’s leftovers the next day if you simply cannot stomach typical cereal or toast. You might even find that dinner type food is more easily transportable to take to the office so if you are in a rush you can just eat at your desk. We all know that milk and cereal wouldn’t quite hold out in this circumstance.

Another option for those who have issues with solids in the morning is to simply create abreakfast shake. There are a multitude of recipes out there that will work with any taste bud preferences. The important thing is to try and get some protein and carbs in with the shake as well as preferably some fat. This will provide some sustaining energy that will power you through the morning.

Beware Of Carb Only Meals

Whatever you do, just do NOT eat a carbohydrate only breakfast. This will cause a drastic increase in blood sugar levels, particularly if they are refined carbohydrates, and then a significant drop, which will have you turning to any edible product around. Examples of what not to eat would be a single donut, a plain bagel, one apple, etc. Rather have (if you must) a donut with some yogurt, a bagel with peanut butter, and apple with a small piece of low fat cheese and so on. This will help to give you a complete meal, one in which your body will appreciate much more.

There are many different cereal bars that are out on the market today and I would caution you against grabbing one of these for breakfast. Typically they are simply just carbs and only about 100-200 calories. This is not substantial enough to pass for a meal and the fact it is just simple carbohydrates again will leave you with the problem presented above.

So tomorrow morning set your alarm 10 minutes earlier to give yourself a chance to have a morning meal. Your body and mind will thank you later on in the day.

Myths and Facts about Eating Breakfast

Myth:  It is okay ro skip breakfast, because it is not an important meal of the day. Fact:  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Myth:  Eating breakfast will make you tired during the day. Fact:  Breakfast provides the energy needed to start the day off right!

Myth:  A healthy breakfast consists of high protein, low carb foods such as eggs, sausage & bacon. Fact:  A healthy breakfast consists of milk, fruits, and cereal.

Myth:  Children who eat breakfast tend to have poor performance in school. Fact:  Children who eat a good breakfast perform better in school, pay more attention, are more creative, think better, score higher on tests

Myth:  Children who eat breakfast tend to be overweight. Fact:  Children who eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight.

There’s nothing like promising yourself a hot new bod at the beginning of the year to make the everyday mundane goings-on take on new meaning – things like walking (counting your 10,000 steps versus the old rambling shuffle), drinking (it’s water in Mama’s sippy cup now instead of “adult” beverages) and grocery shopping with a new eye towards healthier selections. I’ve been doing grocery shopping for so many years that I could do it in my sleep. It has long since lost its charm for me and has its place of dread right up there along cleaning toilets and taking out the garbage. I used to send my husband out shopping but because it is still such a novelty to him, he winds up spending way too much money on brand names and exotic items. But now that I’m in full health-conscious mode, I’ve had to smarten up and pay more attention to how and what I’m buying

With so many of us pressed for time, we often take the quickest route to meal time. I must confess that in the recent past if dinner preparations required more than opening one box or two cans, I was over-thinking it. No more. Here are some easy tips on navigating the grocery store with a healthier mindset.

  • Plan ahead and make a list – This keeps you on task and focused. Trying all those new light recipes will require new ingredients so write them down. No more excuses for “wandering” over to the Hostess aisle. There’s no way you can make a Snowball fettuccine under 500 calories (It’s not important that you know how I know this – just trust me).
  • Don’t go grocery shopping when you’re hungry – I used to think this was kind of a lame tip until one day I shopped while ravenously hungry and wound up buying lots of fast, easy, fattening food that I could inhale as soon as I got home. Once home, I had buyer’s remorse but not quite to the point of throwing it out. My thinking then was better to eat something bad for me instead of wasting food and money. If I’d been better prepared ahead of time, I wouldn’t have been faced with this problem.
  • Shop the perimeter of the store – This is generally where the freshest, more wholesome, less processed foods are such as fruit, veggies, dairy, meat and fish. The aisles can be real junk food minefields.
  • Keep the ingredient count as low as possible – The lower the number of ingredients (5 or less), the better, as this means the food is less processed. Avoid artificial and multi-syllabic ingredients requiring a chemistry degree to decipher. And be really careful about buying anything with corn syrup in it. If it’s listed in the first 4 ingredients, you don’t want it. (Some experts think that the introduction of corn syrup into the food system might be one of the reasons for the obesity epidemic.)
  • Shop for colors – I’m talking about fruits and veggies here – not the kind of food/cereal that changes the color of the added milk to something resembling Chernobyl run-off.
  • Avoid foods targeted to kids – If it’s got cartoon characters on the label then that may be pretty much the extent of its appeal. Nutrition has taken a back seat to entertainment. Also, be wary of labels “certifying” its nutritional value as many of these are merely marketing ploys.
  • Bag your own grocerie – (my own personal recommendation). Why spend all this time and thought on food shopping when Zeke the bag boy is going to place the watermelon on top of the blueberries and you’ll need a freaking payloader to lift the bag when he’s done?

Making progress toward your goals is as easy as initiating the buddy system. Having a workout partner is critical to making gains. Whether your focus is getting to a group exercise class, or benching your body weight…you need a buddy.

Accountability is the first key to success with your buddy. Knowing someone is counting on you to show up increases your chances of getting there yourself. You are accountable to them and vice versa. The beauty of the buddy system is it works both ways.

Support and positive peer pressure is the next benefit. Having someone push you will help you get past the barriers you’ve falsely put in place for yourself. They’ll get you to do one more repetition, or five more minutes. You will push each other. It works.

Finding the right person is what makes this work. You’ve got to be able to count on them. They’ve got to have similar goals, be willing to do a similar workout, and be able to meet your schedule.

If you’ve got a workout partner, and it’s the right match, you know what a difference it makes. If they just sit on the bike next to you and dump all their problems on you…you might need to find a new partner. Just a thought.

Having trouble finding the right person? Many people do. It’s a big, important role to fill. And that’s why a lot of people hire a personal trainer. Their trainer fits the role by definition: accountable, reliable, knowledgeable, someone to push you toward your goal.

When you are ready to make your fitness your success…buddy up!

There are so many beneficial reasons to staying active, which are important to your health, welfare, and well-being. Even if you consider yourself a healthy person, there are unhealthy aspects to not staying active. An active lifestyle can help everybody. You don’t have to be as fit as a professional athlete to benefit from physical activity. If you think you’re too busy with work, family, and all the other demands in your life, it is important to be aware of that if you don’t spend time staying active, you won’t reap the many benefits of staying active. In fact, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (activity that increases your heart rate) is all you need to:

  • Lower your risk of getting heart disease, stroke, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes
  • Lower or prevent high blood pressure
  • Possibly help protect against breast cancer
  • Help control joint swelling and pain from arthritis
  • Reduce mild to moderate anxiety and depression
  • Promote psychological well-being
  • Help you handle stress
  • Help control your weight
  • Make you feel more energetic
  • Help you sleep better

As automobiles, automation, computers, television, and other influences play greater roles in peoples lives around the world, people tend to become more sedentary.

Being sedentary is essentially–not being active. It affects, or can affect all ages, sexes, and plays a major role in how people function in all aspects of their lives, lifestyles, and their ability to function, prevent disease, and lead healthy lifestyles.

It eventually causes sickness, disease, and leads to increases in drug, alcohol, and tobacco usage. As it also manifests itself–in medical and other problems–it causes significant monetary costs to society.

Continue reading at The Importance of Staying Active | NowPublic News Coverage

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