Friday, December 21, 2012

Are You Eating this Dangerous Ingredient?

a-Dagerious_food-itemBy Gretel H. Schueller

Camembert cheese and buttery croissants are staples of French cuisine, so you'd think France would be the last place where the government would police fat content in food. Yet, in an effort to reduce obesity, France's Senate recently approved an amendment to triple taxes on products containing one unhealthy fat in particular: palm kernel oil, which is extracted from the palm seed of palm oil trees. (The lower house of parliament still has to vote on the tax.)

It turns out that palm oil is a major ingredient in one beloved treat in France: Nutella. The French, who love to smear the creamy hazelnut-chocolate spread on toast and crepes or just eat it with a spoon, account for 26 percent of world's Nutella consumption, according to French newspaper Le Monde. The proposed tax has incited outrage among Nutella lovers. As outrageous as the tax may seem to some, the French government may be on to something. Nutella's maker recently settled a multimillion-dollar U.S. class-action lawsuit brought by a California mother who was shocked by the spread's saturated-fat content and misleading health claims.

Palm kernel oil sounds harmless and even "natural," right? And in recent years, it's been finding its way into many packaged foods as manufacturers look for low-cost oils to replace trans fats. (After federal rules mandated all packaged foods list the amount of heart-damaging trans fats they contain on their "Nutrition Facts" labels, many manufacturers reformulated their products to ferret out the offending fat and earn a better-looking label.) Highly saturated fats turn rancid more slowly, so food companies often use them to help preserve taste and texture. Trans-fat-free--and relatively inexpensive--palm oil fit the bill. Its long shelf life and semi-solid state at room temperature make it appealing to food companies.

How can you figure out if foods you are eating contain palm oil? You want to look on the ingredients list: palm oil is commonly found in packaged cookies, cakes, snacks, bakery goods, crackers and peanut butter. (Sometimes it's listed as "modified," "partially hydrogenated" or "fractionated" palm oil, which would indicate trans fats; even if the Nutrition Facts panel indicates zero trans fats, products containing less than 0.5 gram of trans fats can be labeled as trans-fat-free.) Sometimes palm oil is one of the oils listed under the term "vegetable oil."

But there are 3 really good health and environmental reasons to avoid it:

1. It's High in Saturated Fats 
While unmodified palm kernel oil is trans-fat-free, about 80 percent of its fat is saturated, with about 22 grams saturated fat in each 2-tablespoon serving (for comparison there are 14 grams of saturated fat in two tablespoons of butter). For a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet, that's the maximum amount of saturated fat you should be eating. Most experts agree that saturated fats raise levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol in the blood. That's damaging to the heart and arteries, since excessive LDL accumulates in artery walls and can trigger inflammation, eventually leading to a heart attack or stroke. (Confusingly, palm fruit oil--also known as palm oil or red palm oil--is rich in a form of vitamin E that preliminary research indicates may help fight cancer and prevent strokes; it is also lower in saturated fat.)

2. It Could Boost Your Appetite 
Some saturated fats appear more likely than others to cause cholesterol buildup in arteries. Palmitic acid, which is the main fat in palm kernel oil, is one such fat. In addition, research has shown that palmitic acid caused mice to become resistant to the appetite-suppressing hormones leptin and insulin, which in theory could make them eat more.

3. It's Bad for the Environment 
Anyone who worries about global well-being has yet another reason to avoid palm oil: the process of harvesting palm oil is responsible for significant destruction of rain forests in Indonesia and Malaysia--and threatens the orangutans and Sumatran tigers that live there. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, if the current rate of palm-oil production continues, 98 percent of forests in Sumatra and Borneo will be destroyed by 2022. (Note, Nutella's palm oil is sustainably harvested.)



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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Recognizing Your Intuition & Making it Work For You

TRUSTINGintuitionBy Susan Harper Todd

Women are very in touch with their feelings, much more so than men in general. This means that we are more likely to follow our intuition in our daily lives. A lot of the time we do it without knowing it. So when you act on a hunch, or because ‘it feels right’, if you have a gut feeling about something or you just ‘know’ that a particular course of action is the right one to take – then congratulations you’re already doing it girlfriends, you’re following your intuition!

Our intuition is our internal GPS. It is talking to us all the time, but unless we are tuned into it we don’t hear it, and often even when we do, we either just ignore it or don’t trust it and listen to our mind instead….

And our mind is a VERY different kind of voice! It never shuts up for one thing! Do you find that you have this constant commentary going on in your head about EVERYTHING? It’s so boring isn’t it? Your mind is a constant worrier. It just loves to have something to worry about. And the moment you start to feel happy about something your mind will jump in and say “Ah but it won’t last…”. Now that is something your intuition would never say.

So, if you’re not sure how to tell the difference between the voice of your intuition and that of your mind, listen up…. The voice of your intuition is soft and subtle and never pushy. It suggests and doesn’t insist. Intuitive messages come in the form of feelings and emotion as well as in the form of words in your head. Your intuitive voice is not the voice of fear and would never suggest you harm anyone. The mind on the other hand….whoa!…is loud and insistent, demanding that you listen. It is authoritative and will tell you not to listen to your intuitive feelings and hunches, because it always wants to be in charge. It wants you to think it knows all the answers, but believe me it doesn’t! It knows what it’s learnt…which may well be a lot, but it’s limited and it’s definitely not always right!

Let me give you an example, which happened to me today, of hearing my intuition loud and clear but not paying attention to it because what my mind was saying seemed more logical….duh…and I should know better!

I was in my local supermarket. I hadn’t taken a shopping list because I didn’t need many things and I thought I would remember what I needed (first mistake..). I was buying vegetables and looked at the mushrooms. And then looked away again. There was no way I needed mushrooms.

The recipe I was cooking had red peppers and courgettes, but I was pretty sure I didn’t need mushrooms. I turned away but something in me was saying mushrooms! However my logical mind was saying why do you need mushrooms? I went through the menus I was going to have over the next few days and mushrooms were not there… so I walked away. When I got home I was intrigued by what had happened, so I went straight to my recipe book and found the recipe I was wanting to cook. It’s called “Mushroom and bacon risotto” (also containing red peppers and courgettes…).. Ouch! So that means I’ve got to go back to the shop for some mushrooms! After that incident today I reminded myself to PAY ATTENTION to my gut feelings and intuition and ACT on them… It makes life so much easier – and that girlfriends is how life is meant to be… I teach this and should know better, but my mind still gets in the way. We’re just not brought up to live in that intuitive way.

I have got lots of examples of times when I did and when I didn’t follow my intuition, but really the most important time in my life when Idid follow it was when it came to climbing Mount Everest. When I decided I wanted to climb Everest I had no idea how on earth I could ever do it, as it costs so much money. My logical mind was immediately saying go home and write letters to potential sponsors, but for some reason I totally ignored it and absolutely followed my intuition, which took me out on a limb down a very scary path – scary because I was totally out of my comfort zone going in a direction I had never considered before… I will write about all this in another article… But suffice to say that this experience was onehuge lesson in how following your intuition can lead you to your dream. That is what happened for me – and I absolutely know that it can happen for you too. 

I would LOVE to hear about your intuitive experiences – the times when you followed your intuition and the times when you didn’t. Even if you think you’ve never heard the voice of your intuition let alone followed it, if you think back over your life there will definitely have been times when you acted on a gut feeling or a hunch – as well as times when you didn’t act on those feelings, and like me today, wished you had! So please share your experiences in the comments box below, we can all learn from each other. If you have any questions I’m happy to answer those too. And don’t forget to sign up for my Free Intuitive Tips, to help you live your BEST life.


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Friday, December 14, 2012

Catch Anger Before It Catches You

At-peaceby Sandra Pawula -

I’m not an angel. In fact, my husband used to lovingly call me a “fierce creature.” This fiery inclination can be due to inborn temperament, but it can also be a result of post-traumatic stress or similar brain-impacting life events.

It’s taken a concerted effort, over many years, for me to become more loving, tolerant, and peaceful.

But I still lose it from time to time. Like today, for example, it must have been a triple critical day because I lost it three times in a row. 

It started with an unusually frustrated phone call with a relative. Then, an empty granola bar box made me furious enough to fling it across the room.

Lastly, a well-meaning guardian at the visitors’ center of a private yoga resort challenged me. Yes, heaven forbid, I walked up the driveway, but honestly I didn’t cross the gate.

In fact, I was in my car, about to leave, when she came flying over to warn me the resort property is off limits without a guest pass. I became curt and defensive, cold anger seeping through. After all, I’ve already been on the grounds at least a million times.


In each case, I was caught in an almost automatic response. But I quickly recognized the error of my ways. Why? Because, in addition to harming others, I know that indulging in anger harms my own health and detracts from my own happiness too.

Take a moment to tune in to yourself the next time you get angry. By doing so, you can discover anger’s harmful impact for yourself.

When I’m triggered by anger, I feel an upsurge of energy at first—almost a high—as adrenalin surges through my body. But this feisty response quickly dissolves into feeling all churned up. If I start replaying the scene in my mind, easy to do, the emotional turmoil can keep on for days.

On the other hand, genuine regret might pop up. Then I feel bad about myself. I get caught up in how to fix the mess, pulled between my self-righteousness and an ardent wish to let go. 

Almost always, healing the wound I’ve imposed takes considerable time—time that could have been used for better purposes if I had only held my tongue.

Anger is like a boomerang. It always comes back to haunt you in negative ways.

Scientific research verifies how chronic anger is injurious for your health. In fact, anger especially hurts your heart. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease can result from an untamed anger response. Anger may be implicated in diabetes too.

When aggression activates the body’s “fight or flight” system—the adrenalin response—the immune system also goes on hold. This can cause further wide-ranging effects. All this means that angry people are more likely to get sick. 

In addition to the physical effects, no one likes to be around a raging, irritated, or frustrated person. Anger just makes you look ugly and unapproachable.

Taking all the ill effects of anger into account, who would knowingly act in a vexing way? While anger may seem out of our control, that’s not truly the case. The mind is pliable and flexible; it can be trained. You can learn to cultivate love, patience, and tolerance in place of aggressive ways.


Once you’re already caught in anger’s snare, what to do? When I lose it, like I did today, this is how I intentionally turn anger around and sculpt a new route of joy and happiness in my brain.

1. Take responsibility.

Whatever the circumstances, anger comes from within. I take responsibility for my emotion and don’t try to pin it on anyone else.

2. Breathe.

I allow myself time to calm down. I don’t re-engage until my heart and mind feel steady and clear.

3. Apologize.

I backtrack and apologize for my errant words. Harmful words endanger trust in a relationship.  An apology may not immediately repair the hurt that’s occurred, but it’s the right thing to do and creates the space for healing to take place in the right time.

4. Transform the Negative Energy.

Think a positive thought. I try to put myself in the other person’s shoes, understand their perspective, and counter my anger with love, patience, and tolerance. 

5. Resolve.

I resolve to never express another angry thought in words or deeds. Not to even let an angry thought tumble around in my mind endlessly. I know I can’t stop difficult thoughts or emotions from arising in the mind because they are the result of long entrained habits; but I don’t have to fuel or act upon them.

Realistically, I will probably trip up again, but setting a positive intention steadily reorients my behavior in a positive way. 

6. Forgive Yourself.

I’m only human. I forgive myself.

7. Move On.

I let go of any thoughts about the event. It’s over and done. Better to stay in the present moment than rehash the past or artificially construct a future, which may never come to pass.


Anger tends to create an explosive mess that quickly becomes more and more entangled. Isn’t it smarter to avoid anger in the first place if you can?

Love and patience are the two most powerful antidotes to anger.

The tendency to get angry slowly erodes when you actively cultivate love and patience every day. Just as darkness cannot exist in the light, love and patience will outshine anger every time.

An easy way to cultivate love is to recall a memory of a time you felt deeply loved as a child or as an adult. If it was a moment of unconditional love, all the better, but any glimmer of love will serve as a spark.

As the sensations of love begin to arise in your heart, allow them to grow stronger and stronger.  Bask in this feeling of warmth and then start sending love to your self by softly repeating the phrases, “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe.”

Next, progressively extend these feelings of love to your family, close friends, strangers, and even people you dislike. It might be hard at first, but little by little, through dedicated training, you will be able to encircle the whole world with love.

Another way to inoculate your mind and heart against the vagaries of anger is to reflect on the benefits of patience each day. Consider how patience will help you become:

  • More peaceful and gentle

  • More open, flexible, and relaxed

  • Easier to get along with

  • Able to turn around negative circumstances

  • Grounded, courageous, and confident

By infusing your mind with the wonder of patience again and again, it will be easier to pause and meet dissatisfaction or anger with a more enlightened response.

The aim of our practice isn’t to suppress or deny anger. When anger arises, don’t try to push it away. It will only grow stronger if you do. See it clearly and apply love, compassion, and patience to melt anger away.

Isn’t it clear? We’ll never find happiness with anger by our side. Anger immediately disrupts our own mind.

By cultivating love and patience, even just a few moments a day, you’ll gradually overshadow anger and feel greater peace and contentment too. And, should anger ever come to visit, like on my triple critical day, you’ll know exactly what to do.



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Thursday, December 13, 2012

7 Foods for Healthier Skin

fruitsNveggiesSKINBy Mattie Kemmel

As beauty products get more high-tech, the top complexion cures still come from the most natural quarters: the aisles of your super­market. "Increasingly, studies are finding links between certain nutrients and wrinkle reduction, radiance, and acne prevention," says David Bank, MD, a dermatologist in Mount Kisco, New York. Here are 10 cream-of-the-crop ways to nourish your skin from the inside and out.

Get Glowing with Chocolate 
Cocoa hydrates your skin, making it firmer and more supple, Dr. Bank says. "And dark chocolate contains high levels of flavonols, a potent type of antioxidant," adds Nicholas Perricone, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. For maximum flavonol content, eat chocolate that's at least 70 percent cacao. A couple of squares a day should be enough to improve luminosity. "When applied topically, the caffeine in chocolate may temporarily reduce skin puffiness," says Jessica Wu, MD, a dermatologist in Los Angeles and the author of Feed Your Face.

Protect with Pomegranates 
They're packed with polyphenol antioxidants, Dr. Perricone says. Polyphenols fight free radicals and regulate skin's blood flow, giving it rosiness. One pomegranate or a few glasses of juice daily should do the trick. When applied to skin, the fruits' antioxidants help smooth lines and moisturize,

Soften Skin with Walnuts 
"Walnuts contain omega-3 essential fatty acids, which can improve skin's elasticity," Dr. Bank says. The nuts are also loaded with copper, a mineral that boosts collagen production. Snack on a handful of walnuts each day to improve your complexion's texture, and slough tough calluses.

Fight Crow's-Feet with Peppers 
"Women who eat green and yellow vegetables regularly tend to have fewer wrinkles, especially around the eyes," Dr. Wu says. Also, studies found that carotenoids -- the antioxidants in yellow and orange veggies -- can decrease skin's sensitivity to the sun, Dr. Bank says. Aim for about two cups of peppers daily.

Brighten Up with Sunflower Seeds 
Loaded with vitamin E, sunflower seeds keep your skin supple by protecting its top layers from the sun. Eat a handful daily. A high essential-fatty-acid content makes sunflower seed oil a treat for parched body parts, such as lips and heels, when topically applied. 

Zap Zits with Kidney Beans

They're high in zinc, and studies indicate a correlation between blemishes and low zinc levels, Dr. Wu explains. "That may be because of zinc's healing properties." Have a four-ounce serving of kidney beans to help you stay in the clear. In addition, studies show topical zinc to be as effective against acne as antibiotics are. Body lotions with zinc.

Look Younger with Oatmeal 
Steel-cut oatmeal is less processed than other varieties, so it retains more vitamins. "Plus, it takes longer to break down in your body, which helps keep your blood sugar stable," Dr. Wu says. "This is important because studies found that spiked blood sugar elevates your body's level of androgens, hormones that can contribute to wrinkles." Oats are also exceptionally skin healing.



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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

6 Keys to Transition

healthBy Sue McIntosh, M.D.


1. KNOW that we are eternal spiritual beings on physical journeys.

Each of us contains a spark of the divine. Now is the time to fan the spark into flame, fusing with our soul/higher self, opening the other 80% of our brains and using the “junk DNA” in each of our cells.

Our purpose in this life is to make a huge leap of evolution, from third to fifth dimension and beyond. Planets, stars, and the entire cosmos are aligning with their own central sun for the first time in 180 million years, providing us energies and possibilities never before imagined by our species. Benevolent off-earth inhabitants support each of us in ways beyond our wildest dreams. This is the time dreamed of for millennia—the time of the New Jerusalem, the New Earth, Heaven on Earth.

2. BE in the moment.

Each of us is a portal for higher powers, but we look to our own hearts and souls for answers, rather than expect external “them” to “fix stuff.”

We learn to hone our own awareness, using all our physical senses and, through meditation, our spiritual powers as well.

Everything in our universe is energy. Everything has consciousness. Everything vibrates. Our very thoughts send ripples into the deep; our words are swelling waves that lap many shores.

We retrain our minds, releasing all fear, limitations, expectations and plans and trusting ourselves to know our next step.

In each moment is eternity. In each moment is pure potentiality. In each moment is the zero-point.

3. LOVE.

Our bodies mirror the planet, galaxy and space itself. We learn to love our trillions of intricate biological cells, thanking them for years and decades of service.

We acknowledge that we eat and drink toxins with most meals and drinks, and we commit to nourishing our bodies with only real, non-genetically modified organic food and drinking only clean water.

We understand that our very DNA is resilient, malleable and responsive to our thoughts and wishes.

We must love ourselves before we can love anyone else. Each person has their own journey.

We detach from criticism, evaluation and judgment and bring our minds and hearts back to ourselves.

4. BELIEVE differently.

It is time to release our dependence on science and education. Turn inward. Each of us has the answer to any question, and we learn to have faith in our knowing.

Homo sapiens is a composite of many extraterrestrial and interdimensional beings, who have adjusted our DNA at various times in our evolution.

Each cell of our physical body contains memories of this and other lifetimes, and repeated forgiveness of trauma allows clearance of stumbling blocks.

Energetic templates from our auric fields determine physicality, and physicality, including genetics, can be changed with thought or intent.

Our current life purpose is to free ourselves by changing the ways in which we operate. Our long-unused spiritual and mind technology, along with a little help from our friends, are leading us to a life based on intuition and compassion.

We are at the fork in the road, the moments of choice between fear and love. Our current world is based upon fear, control and greed. We have been enslaved to it for many generations through limitation, self-doubt, lies and victimhood. In choosing love, self-empowerment, peace and compassion, we will help birth a new world, a new society, a new species.

5. ASK for help.

We are babies just discovering our senses and abilities. Benevolent spirit-beings of all kinds surround and comfort us and want only to be asked for assistance. We need not know how the magic works. Non-physical beings are light-years ahead in all technologies and spiritual growth.

6. BLESS and thank everything and everyone.

We are creators of our lives. In dwelling in each fertile moment, gratitude births a new moment of beauty and miraculous potential.

Each of us is our own messiah


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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Your Body Wants You to Stick to a Schedule

body_scheduleby Bettie Andrews

Most of us are essentially living life on repeat: wake up, have coffee, eat breakfast, go to work, do your thing, eat again, work out, eat again, and sleep. So, why not make the nitty gritty stuff you always do work for you? Turns out, there are subtle changes you can make in how and when you execute tiny tasks each day that can offer a big payoff down the line. Make the most of your daily routine with these tweaks from Dr. Oz Garcia, a nutritionist and wellness expert in New York City. 

When You Wake Up 
Beep. Beep. BEEEEPPPPP. Sound familiar? Yeah, not fun. Instead of a beyond-annoying blast of noise to jolt you out of bed, set your alarm to your favorite song (and veer on the upbeat side, no Goyte "Somebody That I Used To Know" BS). "Hearing something pleasant is a way better way to start your day then dreading a sound you hate - it can truly set the stage for your attitude and mindset," says Garcia. And, while the glare of streetlights and your next-door neighbor's TV could be far from zen when you are trying to fall asleep, if you can, open up the shades, pre-bed. "Leaving the blinds up allows natural sunlight into the room in the morning, and signals to the body that it is time to get up in a soothing, natural way," says Garcia. And, because the body takes a little time to get going (your body temperature gradually increases after you get out of bed, which in turn boosts alertness and memory), you should do just that right away - as in, get your heart rate up. "Try to do some yoga moves in your living room while you watch the news or go for a light run to jumpstart the body and raise your body temperature," he says. Feeling lazy? Just jump in a warm shower instead. It won't have calorie-blasting benefits, but it will get your temp - and you - up. 

When You Eat Breakfast 
The upside of having a healthy meal first thing is undeniable: It helps boost your metabolism and keeps you more satisfied, so you don't feel like you want to scarf down a Big Mac by 1 p.m. And over time, that can greatly affect your waistline. In a study published in Cell Metabolism, one group of mice ate a high-calorie diet whenever they wanted to, the other ate the same diet only during active hours - and the latter were almost as healthy as the control group which ate a healthy diet, while the former were pretty much obese. But, don't take that as a green light to just pop into the bagel store every morning. "Refined foods such as bagels, muffins, or croissants can raise your blood sugar and leave you feeling hungry," says Garcia. "It's better to have some protein so that you can stabilize your blood sugar levels through to lunch." His top pick: a DIY smoothie  with superfoods such as chia seeds (newly popular and omega-3 and fiber-rich), maca (a nutritionally packed medicinal herb) or goji berries. "Berries are great for increasing your metabolism and energy," he says. He also suggests adding in some be-healthy supplements in the a.m., such as AHCC (short for active hexose correlated compound) to round out your morning nutrition: "AHCC, is a natural, mushroom-based supplement that helps support and boost the body's immune system and may also aid in healthy blood pressure," he says. 

When You're At Work 
Okay, so you hit your desk, coffee in hand, and what do you probably do to ease your way in? Open up your email, right? Well, you're not alone. Research shows that early a.m. emails are the ones that are most likely to be read. Can't get your boss to answer you about that new project? Send it first thing so it pops up as soon as she/he is in and can to respond before getting sidetracked. And don't forget to scroll through your Twitter feed. Research shows that the most positive messages are posted between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., so that's the best time to get your fix (and possibly use other peoples' shout-outs to help your day go better, too). 

When You Eat Lunch 
The bad news: as soon as your body temperature hits its max, your brainpower starts to decline. So, as soon as you get all powered up, your alertness starts to go blah. And then it hits an all-day low at around 2 p.m., which makes eating an early-ish power lunch even more crucial - and it's not enough to just grab a latte when it's too late. Garcia suggests having a handful of almonds or a hardboiled egg for a snack - not hitting the vending machine. "Almonds contain vitamins, minerals, protein, and essential fatty acids; eggs contain choline, a nutrient beneficial for the brain," he says. And when you do eat lunch, try not to munch in front of the computer. "It is better to eat away from your desk to change your environment, as being relaxed while you eat improves digestion," he says. And if you've got an all-out creative meeting midday, don't ask the intern to go for a Starbucks run. Research shows that being a little fatigued can actually increase creative thinking, possibly because your brain isn't able to be overly analytical and can be a little more 'free' in its thinking.  

When You Work Out 
If you're a morning worker-outer, good for you. If you tend to hit the gym or Barry's post-work, also a big thumb's up! The only downfall: studies show that muscle strength tends to reach its optimum level before 2 p.m. (again, tied to that whole body heat rising thing mentioned earlier); and lung capacity also surges around early evening. Now, telling your boss you need to cut out for that midday gym class or leave before 5 p.m. to have your best run might not go over well. So, try working up a sweat during those time slots on the weekends, when you have more control over your day - or just add in a morning workout here and there (to reap the benefits of that early strength). And if all else fails, Just. Do. It. Whenever you can - and stick to it. "Often it's the consistency of working out the same amount of days per week in similar time frames that really helps the body change," says Garcia. 

When You Eat Dinner 
You're stressed, you're hungry, and the next thing you know, you've had more carbs than you can count and downed your body weight in vino. Immediate satisfaction granted. Long term? Less so. The smarter bet to calm you down and keep your blood sugar levels balanced? Be like Elaine and have a big salad - or tons of veggies. Think of carbs like the crack of the food world: they hit all the feel-good dopamine receptors in your brain, so you feel a whole lot happier, but then you start to crash (along with your insulin levels). And then? No bueno. And although eating a few hours before bed is recommended by nutritionists, it's not always possible in real life. Instead, try the 12- hour rule. Have a healthy din (whatever time that is), then don't snack, and eat breakfast 12 hours later (so, if you eat at 9 p.m., have breakfast at 9 a.m. the next day). Experts say this helps give the digestive system a break - it's been working all day to process what you've put in there, so at night you need to cut it some slack. 

When You Go To Bed 
Sleep is the ultimate get-healthy Rx: Not only does it allow you to re-boot basically every system and cell in your entire body, but how much and how little you get of it also can greatly affect the choices you make the next day. Research shows that when you're exhausted, you're more likely to crave and indulge in subpar food choices without knowing it - this is believed to be because a lack of zzz's skews your right-from-wrong nutritional filter. And although eight has always been deemed the magic number when it comes to the hours you should try and rack up, nightly, experts are now saying that seven is enough - just make it count. As in, shut off your phone and the reality TV, and hit the sack before midnight. "The quality of your sleep declines in the later hours due to a dramatic decrease in melatonin production, which is the chemical needed for deep sleep," says Garcia. And popping Ambien isn't a great choice on a regular basis, as it doesn't help with your body's natural sleep hormones. Instead, try a melatonin supplement, as well as one laced with minerals such as magnesium, which helps relax muscles, naturally.




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Monday, December 3, 2012

7 Skinny Foods You Should Add to Your Diet

Eat_skinny_foodsBy Lisa Montgomery 

According to a 2008 article in The Sun newspaper, eating diet foods can actually lead to weight gain. This is because many diet foods are likely to contain no fiber, which is essential to keeping you full. Low-fat foods are often full of sugar to make up for the loss of taste that occurs when you remove fats. Instead of choosing diet foods that contain no nutrients and offer few benefits, stick to a more natural, basic diet that takes advantage of natural "skinny foods."

Hummus and Veggies 
The Middle Eastern chickpea spread is an easy, protein-rich snack that fights hunger and balances blood sugar levels -- and a little goes a long way. Baked pita chips aren't the worst thing you can eat, but substituting some veggies can make a bigger impact than you think. "Hummus boosts energy because it contains iron, and red bell pepper slices are high in vitamin C, which helps to utilize and absorb the iron from the hummus," says holistic nutritionist Peggy Kotsopoulos, author of Must Have Been Something I Ate. Follow her easy recipe for plain hummus by throwing 1 can of chickpeas in a blender with a dash of ground cumin, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, and splash of lemon juice. Keep a few batches in the freezer so all you have to do is thaw. 

When not paired with greasy fried tortilla chips and margaritas, salsa is surprisingly low in calories. Kotsopoulos suggests buying yours from the refrigerated section of the grocery store where it's the freshest. Make an easy low-cal substitute for nacho layer dip by putting hummus on the bottom of a dish, layering with salsa, and then topping with olives or lettuce. Instead of chips, try Mary's Gone Crackers, which are made of brown rice, flax, and sesame seeds 

Raw Almonds and Almond Butter 
While peanut butter is packed with protein, almonds are better quality nuts that are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that counteracts free-radical damage. Not only are almonds good for your hair and skin, they're also rich in magnesium and vitamin B2, which help calm nerves and combat stress. "When you're stressed out, cortisol is released in the body and causes weight gain. The B2 vitamin in almonds helps with that while boosting your energy levels," says Kotsopoulos. 

Chia Seeds

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and iron, chia seeds are great for weight loss because they act like a sponge, absorbing sugar and stabilizing blood sugar levels, says Kotsopoulos. Because of their high fiber content, the tiny seeds can hold up to twenty times their weight in water, so when they're mixed with liquid they plump up and absorb excess moisture. Add them to your oatmeal or put them in a bowl with unsweetened chocolate almond milk-they will absorb the liquid and gelatinize, similar to the consistency of a rice pudding. 


This gluten-free grain can be made in bulk and keeps in the fridge for up to five days. Eat it plain or with just about anything -- veggies, a midday salad. Or for breakfast, try Kotsopoulos's favorite meal: A bowl of quinoa with shredded coconut or almond flakes, banana, and cinnamon plus a little vanilla. "Buy the plain kind, just like you would rice," she advises. "Only eating a bowl of white rice is like eating a bowl of sugar, because that's what it turns into." Quinoa is a complete protein source because it has amino acids, as well as stress-busting B vitamins. 

Sprouted Grain Bread 
Both Kotsopoulos and Frankel keep this in their kitchens at home. Kotsopoulos uses it for sandwiches with apple or almond butter, while Frankel prefers hummus or soy cheese on hers. "When the grains are sprouted, the nutrient profile increases, which makes your body assimilate the nutrients better," Kotsopoulos says. Look for it in the freezer section at your grocery store. 

Greek Yogurt

A top belly-flattening favorite, yogurt is stacked with probiotics, bacteria that may help reduce the amount of fat your body absorbs. Pick a Greek yogurt over the regular kind, says Kara Lydon, a registered dietitian at Chobani. Greek nonfat or low-fat versions contain only half as much sodium as regular yogurt -- and no artificial sweeteners or preservatives. 

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