7 Smart Ways to Limit Food Expenses

47d9ab0122892d1b9e60f58a82f28152 - 7 Smart Ways to Limit Food Expenses

Food Expenses Image Design 1 - 7 Smart Ways to Limit Food ExpensesIf you’re taking steps to cut back on spending, one area you’ll want to look at is your food budget. The grocery shop can easily start to increase without you realizing. Food costs increase in small increments, there are always deals on, and you start thinking “one extra item won’t hurt.”

The truth is that one extra item turns into two and three and four. Before you know it, you’re adding $10, $20 and even $50 to your food expenses.

And that’s just in your weekly grocery shop. What about the one-off expenses during the week, when you’re topping up the bread and the milk? What about those late-night dinner choices or the one-off bottles of pop and bars of chocolate? They don’t remain one-offs, and you soon find you’re adding more and more to your grocery bill.

It’s time to make some small, smart changes to limit your food expenses. These seven tips aren’t going to be overly difficult. You’ll need some willpower for some, but they’re worth it. They are all tips that others have used to cut down on the costs of their food expenses successfully.

Use a Grocery List Every Single Time

Use a Grocery List Every Single Time - 7 Smart Ways to Limit Food Expenses

Don’t go to the grocery store without making a grocery list. And when you’re at the store, only buy anything that is on the list. There’s no need to top up on ice cream, chocolate, and extra creamer if it’s not on your list. If you struggle with buying bulk, you can even mark down the exact number of items you need to buy when you’re in the store.

This is something the children can help with. They’ll love sitting in the trolley and marking off anything that’s on the list. You’ll even find they’re great at reminding you that something isn’t on the list, so you don’t need to buy it.

It’s possible to save as much as 23% on your food bills by taking this step. You get rid of the impulse purchases. Just because something is on “offer” doesn’t mean it needs to be purchased. What’s this regarding dollars? Well, it can be as much as $2,650 per year. That’s an extra $2,650 better in your pocket.

Not only does the grocery list help you reduce your food expenses, but you’ll also help to support your weight loss efforts. It’s easier to make healthier choices in the store since you’re not picking up something that looks tasty just because it’s there. You’ll limit the purchase of the chocolate and crisps because they’re not a necessary part of the weekly household shop.

You will also make sure you have everything you need. This helps you keep track of bread, milk and other small item purchases. It’s possible to plan your meals out for the week, bulk cook on the weekends, and have more time to yourself and with your family in the future.

As you get used to writing out a list, you’ll find that it stays the same time and time again. You’ll get into the habit of your food choices and find it easier to make choices when you’re out. Over time, you will forget about the extras you used to buy. They no longer seem necessary, and you don’t get the cravings for them. You’re protecting your budget and your waistline at the same time. Why don’t you want to make a list?

Stop Purchasing the Brand Names

Stop Purchasing the Brand Names - 7 Smart Ways to Limit Food Expenses

Okay, there are times that the branded names taste better than the others, but that’s only the case in small instances. Most of the time, you don’t need to get the branded products. You can go with generic or no-name brands to save money on your grocery bills. In fact, you can save 25% on your groceries by choosing a generic brand.

If you’re not sure about this right now, do it with the cleaning products first. This is where you’ll see little changes in your daily routine, so you’ll find it easier to get out of the habit of believing brands are better. All brands are good for is increasing your food bill.

You can then move onto some of the ingredients that get mixed in with other items. Opt for no-name beans and canned vegetables instead of the branded options. The tastes get mixed in with the other foods, so you’ll forget that you even had a non-branded item. As you get used to this, you can start opting for other non-branded items, such as your cereal, porridge oats, ice cream and more. You’ll be surprised at the benefit you gain over the downsides.

The only reason the brands are more expensive is that they get to charge that. You’re usually paying for the name or the packaging. You’re not paying for the quality. In fact, some of the non-branded options can work out better for your health!

Branded products should only get added to your shopping trolley for one reason, which we’ll move onto now.

Use Coupons and the Weekly Offers to Your Advantage

Use Coupons and the Weekly Offers to Your Advantage - 7 Smart Ways to Limit Food Expenses

Start shopping at a place that offers to price match. You can then find something cheaper in another store and buy it for that price in your preferred shopping place. Everything is in one store without feeling like you need to spend more money for that luxury.

Now take the leaflets and flyers each week. You may even be able to download an app on your phone to check the current listings on a weekly basis.

Once you’ve made your grocery list, pull out the flyers and look for your items on them. You won’t always find them, but sometimes you will come in lucky. Circle items that you’ve found and then take the flyers with you to the store. You can check which will work out cheaper and choose the best option.

This is even something you can do with meat. You’ll likely need to find the brand or exact item, but at least you’ll save money. It’s possible to save $20-$50 at a time if you’re savvy enough with the flyers, especially when it comes to the cost of your meat.

Only buy the items that are on your list in the flyers or coupons. The only time you may want to buy ahead is if you find something that doesn’t go off on offer. Coffee, cleaning products, and toilet paper can all be beneficial if you buy in the flyer a week or two ahead than normal. You’ll save money over the course of the month.

Non-perishables are those that you want to stock up when you can. Keep an extra amount aside just for the good weeks when your most common non-perishable needs are on offer. You’ll find you have something should the grocery store have a delivery problem, the weather suddenly turns, or you can’t get to the grocery store for some reason.

This is also when getting the branded products can be worthwhile. Now and then, you’ll see that the brands put their products on offer, so you can save money by choosing them. You’ll still want to compare the prices across the board to make sure you’re putting your budget first.

Do make sure the coupons are going to work in your favor. Look out for the catches. You’ll find that some offers are where you save money by buying more than X amount of a product. Buying three of something can still work out cheaper than getting four if three is all you need. However, five can work out cheaper than getting four in total, so if you were buying four then you’ll want to consider the extra!

The companies want you to buy. They want you to think that you’re saving money, even if you end up spending more because you’re getting items you don’t need or want. This is also how they get you to buy the junk food—they make you think you’re saving, even though you weren’t going to buy it in the first place!

Consider the Dollar Store

Consider the Dollar Store - 7 Smart Ways to Limit Food Expenses

It may not sound glamorous, but it’s something you want to consider. The Dollar Store offers more than just a few stationary items and cheap birthday cards. You can also get some of your more common staples there. Things liked canned goods, wet dog food (and treats) and cleaning products are all widely available, and sometimes you can get the brand names without the extra cost.

Make it a habit to try your Dollar Store regularly. Look down the canned aisles and look at getting your cleaning products from there. It’s the cleaning products you’ll save the most on, especially if you have kids and need a lot of bleach for accidents and spillages!

You can do a quick search online before you visit the store. Most of these discount stores are available online, so will make sure you save compared to your usual shop.

If the Dollar Store isn’t any good, look out for the discount produce stores and your farmer’s markets. You’ll more likely get locally grown vegetables and fruits, which are far healthier for you and taste better than the stuff you get in the store. It’s possible to save as much as 32% on your grocery shop by opting for the right places.

Do your research first and make sure you are saving money. The great thing about the internet is that you can double check your prices to ensure you save money on your items.

Go Fresh, Not Pre-Packaged

Go Fresh Not Pre Packaged - 7 Smart Ways to Limit Food Expenses

It’s time to get out of the trap of eating the pre-packaged, processed foods. They can look cheaper at first, but they’re not in the long run. Fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish, are all far better for you—both financially and health-wise. Plus, you’ll like the taste of your food more, so you’ll feel more satisfied in the long term.

Think about it; when you get the pre-packaged ham, you will usually find it lasts you a couple of days at most. If you get the real ham, you can slice it up when you need it and store it in the fridge or freezer (just remember to defrost!). It’s possible that the ham you need to cook, and slice will last a few dinners in the week and even months into the future if stored right. You save money by making your ingredients last longer.

The only time you may find packaged is financially better than fresh is when you look at canned or frozen items, especially frozen fruit and canned/frozen vegetables. The frozen vegetables and fruits can last for months, and you only need to use a handful at a time. You get all the same nutrients but at a fraction of the cost.

Frozen fruits are especially beneficial when you want raspberries, blueberries and other fruits you won’t eat as often. You don’t have to feel guilty when you don’t quite get the full packet before they go off, because they’re stored to last months.

Buy in Bulk and Separate Before Storing

Buy in Bulk and Separate Before Storing - 7 Smart Ways to Limit Food Expenses

There’s nothing wrong with buying your food in bulk. You can get a bulk of meat on offer and then use it over the course of a few weeks. This is the best way to save money on many of your purchases, but you need to make sure you store in the right way.

As soon as you get home from your grocery shop, split up your food into portion sizes. This is important for meat, so you can freeze in the portions and only defrost the amount that you need for each meal you make. It saves you defrosting too much, so you end up wasting it all.

If you’re not sure on the portions because you choose not to meal plan (or it doesn’t work for you) then freeze in individual portions. You can defrost big or small amounts depending on the meal you’re making.

This tip doesn’t work for meat. You can do it with vegetables and fruits too. Some of them will freeze well, and you can defrost them when it comes to needing them. Not all fruits and vegetables work for this. Sometimes it is worth going for the pre-frozen already.

When you are defrosting your food, make sure it’s fully defrosted to cook properly. Only re-freeze when the meat is cooked to avoid food poisoning. Once that dish has been defrosted, you won’t be able to freeze it again. Bacteria grow during the defrosting period, which can leave you extremely ill.

Leave the Credit Cards at Home

Leave the Credit Cards at Home - 7 Smart Ways to Limit Food Expenses

When you know you have a budget, opting for paying in cash for everything can be extremely beneficial. It’s time to start planning and only to shop with cash when it comes to your grocery shop. This can save you almost 20% on your grocery shop.

Buying on card leads to many of us overspending. We don’t see the physical money leaving our bank accounts, and it’s much harder to track. More one-off items are likely to land in the shopping trolley, which means you’re buying off your list and spending far more than you initially wanted to. This could see you spend more than you have available in your food budget, so you must take the money from another budget.

When you buy in cash, you see the money being handed over. This will help to keep your money needs in mind. You can’t put anything extra in the trolley, because you know you don’t have the money available for it.

This will take some time to get used to. In fact, it’s likely the hardest tip on the list, because you need to get an idea of the amount your usual food shop costs. You’ll also need to keep an eye on increasing costs.

One way to make sure your shop doesn’t go up is by having a calculator on hand. This is easy now with a phone, so it looks like you actually price checking if you’re worried about what other people think. You can stay on track throughout the shop and see if there’s any money left over for something extra. You’ll also watch if you’re getting close to deciding if you need to take something out of the trolley at a later point, rather than getting to the checkout and realizing you don’t have enough money.

Eventually, this will get easier. You’ll find you get an idea of the price of your food. The good thing about having cash is that you become more mindful of the amount you spend. You can also use the roll-up method easily. Any cash that is left over can either go back into your food budget, or you can put into a savings account or piggy bank, so you save more money over the course of time.

If you don’t feel ready to do this with your grocery shop right now, try it with your top-up shops. Take the money the next time you go to the corner shop, or you decide to buy a one-off bar of chocolate. Have cash when you want to pick up lunch at the store or grab a quick coffee. You’ll start to become more aware of the amount you’re spending, which helps you stick to budgets better.

When you do use the card, get into the habit of tracking your payments weekly. Make a budget and take steps to stick to it.

Are You Ready to Save Money on Your Grocery Shop?

Limiting your food expenses doesn’t mean you have to stop spending money. You don’t have to give up all your favorites. What it means is looking at the way you shop. You want to reduce the amount you spend on a weekly basis and make sure you only buy what you need.

With the top seven smart tips, you will find your grocery shop reduces, and you get far more for your buck. Your food will last longer, and you’ll feel healthier. You’ll also find that you spend more money on fruit and vegetables, rather than the processed food that can leave you feeling sluggish and fatigued.

7 Smart Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

a615ee10ce665d3bb409ad9728b0fff1 1741x1200 - 7 Smart Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Weight Gain Image Design 1 - 7 Smart Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

The holiday seasons are just around the corner. This is the time everyone on a diet or attempting to even consider losing weight panics. It is a perfectly normal response. The holidays are the time for people to gather together, eat, and drink everything in sight.

Plus, you just must look at how unhealthy Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners can be. They are full of fattening sides, sugar-filled desserts, and bubbly alcohol. Is it really that surprising that we have this worry that we are going to pile on the pounds? Is it that surprising that most people will wait until the New Year to lose weight?

It is time to avoid the weight gain. You can do it without sacrificing the fun in the holidays. Allowances can be made for certain days of the year. The rest of the time, you can stick to a healthy eating plan and avoid the excess pounds in a short space of time. Here are seven smart tips that will let you avoid the holiday weight gain but still have fun the whole time.

Choose Smart Snacks the Majority of the Time

Choose Smart Snacks the Majority of the Time - 7 Smart Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

One of the biggest issues with the holiday season is the snacking. Companies push all types of festive theme treats and snacks. We see chocolate boxes created in a larger size purely for “sharing,” when they know that we’ll just end up eating everything ourselves. There is the focus on grazing throughout the day, but people forget about all the extra calories they end up consuming.

While there is no need to completely avoid snacking, it is worth being smarter about it. Do not just graze for the sake of it. Chances are that you are not snacking because you are hungry, but because you are bored.

Before you even think about grabbing a candy bar or the slices of Christmas treats, consider whether you are hungry. Is it time for a meal? If so, do not snack and make yourself a healthy meal instead. Could it be just a craving because of boredom or because you are thirsty? Try grabbing a glass of water first and then see if you are still hungry.

Find something else to do to avoid the boredom eating. Do not give the feelings, whether happy or sad. By cutting down on the snacking, you will reduce the calories you consume to help keep them within a manageable range.

But you do not just want to ban all snacks, do you? Of course not! Snacking is a part of the festive season; at least it seems that way. When you do snack, think about the type of snacks you are eating. Focus on healthier alternatives to the sugar-laden sweets, chocolates, and cookies. Opt for more filling snacks like nuts and seeds, fruit segments and vegetable sticks. The smarter snacks will help to fill you up while adding more nutrients to your body.

Also become more mindful of your snacking. Do not just pour a bowl of nuts and eat them until they are gone. You will only need a handful of nuts to fill you up as a snack. Pull that out of the packet and store the rest for later. Avoid snacking when watching the TV as you are more likely to eat more than you really need to!

Keep an Eye on Your Portion Sizes

Did you know it is not quite the type of food that we eat that causes holiday weight gain? It is the amount of food we consume. This includes both unhealthy and healthy food! You can snack on all the fruits and vegetables you want, but you will eventually consume too many. The extra calories will be stored, just like they are when you consume too many snack foods!

Our portion sizes are continually growing. Plate sizes have increased by at least 3 inches in the last few decades. Psychologically we feel like we need to fill the plate, or we are not eating enough. This then leads to overeating and consuming far more calories than our bodies need.

It is time to take a step back and really consider your portion sizes. There are high chances you are serving way more than you should and your body would be satisfied with a little less. Start by changing the size of your plate. Opting for a slightly smaller one will help you fill the plate with less food, so you still get that psychological feeling that you are eating plenty.

Practice mindful eating whenever you eat a meal during the holiday season. When you have eaten half of the food on the plate, put the cutlery down and listen to your body. Does it really need more food? Give yourself time to consider whether you are still hungry or if you are satisfied. If you are still hungry, eat half of the food left on the plate and repeat.

There is nothing wrong with not eating everything on the plate. As you learn more about the amount of food your body needs, you will be able to reduce the amount of food you cook so you do not waste it all!

Reduce the distractions when you do eat. Many people in the holiday seasons will sit around the TV while they eat a meal. The movie or TV show is taking up their attention, rather than focusing on the amount of food they eat. It is possible to eat too fast and cause problems for your digestion. You also end up eating more than you need without realizing.

What about seconds? There are high chances that you do not actually need to eat them. Just because the food is there does not mean it has to be used. Opt for storing the food in the fridge or freezer instead. You can reheat most dishes you make, offering easy and quick meals towards the end of the festive season.

Keep Your Stress Levels to a Minimum

Keep Your Stress Levels to a Minimum - 7 Smart Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

The holidays are full of stress. You want to get the dinner just right. You need to brace the shops with all the other Christmas shoppers. It is a struggle to get everything done that you need, especially when work puts on extra pressure to wrap up for the year. Stress is considered a normal part of the holiday season but that does not have to be the case.

The stress is causing your weight gain for a variety of reasons. When you are stressed, you will increase the amount of cortisol and adrenaline in the body. The immune system’s inflammatory response can be kicked started, causing a dip in the metabolism and pain. As the metabolism slows, your body burns fewer calories, but you do not counter that by eating less food.

At the same time, those who are stressed are more likely to eat more. You have likely heard of the term “stress eater.” People gain pounds within moments because of their eating decisions when stressed. You are more likely to consume junk food to help feel good when stressed. This does not actually work. All you do is increase the negative hormones further, so you create a difficult cycle.

Handling your stress in a different way is important. Try to make healthier choices when it comes to snacking. Opt for yoga and meditation to help manage your stress levels.

The main aim should be to reduce your stress. This will not just help avoid weight gain, but you can also improve your health. Stress raises the blood pressure and causes many other health problems. Learn how to manage how stressed you feel in situations that you cannot control, such as deep breathing and exercise. You will be surprised at the difference in the way you feel!

Opt for More Protein and Fiber in Your Meals

Having a balanced diet is important, especially during the holidays. Most of festive food is high in carbs. Sure, you get protein from the turkey, but think about the refined carbs in the cookies and cakes. Consider the carbs in potatoes and stuffing. We are surrounded by carbohydrates and we know they are not the healthiest way to get our energy.

While getting some carbs is important, we cannot overlook the fact that some metabolize in the blood and cause major health problems. They also lead to weight gain. We are not filled as well as we would be with other food groups, so we end up snacking more.

It is time to get more protein and fiber in your festive diets. Both are excellent for breaking down into the body slower, helping you burn calories over the course of a day without the physical need to snack. When you feel full, you are not going to feel like you are missing out on the festive fun.

Protein is especially beneficial for weight loss because it helps to build more muscle. The metabolism needs to work harder when there is more muscle, so you end up burning more calories throughout the day. You do not just need to eat meat for protein. You can get excellent sources through quinoa, soy, and other similar plant-based foods.

Fiber will help to improve the digestive system. The festive season can cause trouble for this part of the body. We tend to forget about the fiber count in foods, so we can be left constipated and bloated. When we eat more fiber, our bodies push the waste out better and help improve the absorption of nutrients in our meals. Not only do we feel full and reduce our weight gain, but our immune system is further supported. You can get more fiber by eating more fruits and vegetables during the day. Nuts and seeds, whole grains, and legumes are also excellent sources.

Do not forget about the healthy fats. Fat is not the major culprit in weight gain that it is always been made out to be. The fat does not turn into fat in your body. It is a crucial component in a healthy body. Of course, you want unsaturated fats rather than saturated to protect your heart and arteries.

When you get more fat in your diet, you will support the health of the liver. This helps to boost the metabolism, especially if you have a lower carb diet. Fats will also help you feel fuller, so you do not consume as many calories through the day. Your diet only needs to be around 10% fat. There are more calories in a gram of fat than the other macronutrients, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.

Savor Your Desserts and Alcohol

Savor Your Desserts and Alcohol - 7 Smart Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

If fat is not the reason for weight gain, what is? Well, the sugar industry will not admit it, but it is sugar (especially refined sugar) that causes the weight gain issue. When we eat sugar, our whole body is affected. The metabolism must store the calories from other sources while its deals with the sugars in the bloodstream. You end up with sugar crashes, which leads to more sugar cravings. Sugar is more addictive than heroin!

So, does that mean you need to avoid all desserts? Not at all! What it means is you need to choose your desserts a little better. While Christmas cake, ice cream, and cookies may be popular, there is no need to consume them with every meal. You can get dessert in a much healthier way.

Look out for sugar-free dessert recipes. Find ways to use natural flavorings to create that sweet taste without affecting your health. You may be surprised to find that the desserts are not just better for you, but leave you feeling more satisfied after eating them. They do not cause the crash later that leaves you craving more of the delicious food.

When you do eat dessert, savor each bite. It is tempting to demolish it in one sitting, just to go back for seconds. Before you know it, the bowl of ice cream is gone, and you are stocking up on more sugar. Be more mindful of each bite you take, so you give your body chance to feel full and satisfied. You will consume fewer calories, so you do not gain as much weight over the holiday season.

Likewise, reduce the number of liquid calories you drink. This is not just actually about alcohol, but alcohol is one of the biggest problems. We tend to drink more over the Christmas period and it is no surprise that drinks driving increases during this time of year.

Alcohol is full of empty calories. Even wine and beer are not going to be favorable to your waistline. Our bodies do not recognize the calories in drink form, so end up pushing you to consume more. The sweet taste of most drinks will also encourage more drinking. Not only are you putting your liver at risk, but also your weight. A glass of wine with dinner is fine, but keep the excessive drinking to a least.

And watch out for sodas, sweetened drinks, and similar beverages. They are also packed with empty calories. They offer no nutritional benefits but will be packed with calories and chemicals that can make it harder for your body to absorb necessary minerals for a strong and healthy body. Have a drink now and then, but do not make it a regular thing.

 Get in More Exercise

The last thing you want to think about is exercise over the holiday period, but it could be one of the best things you do. This does not mean you have to push for your gym to open on Christmas Day. Nor do you need to create a training plan that will help you get buff in the New Year. You just want to get a little more active to burn a few extra calories.

Exercise is a wonderful way to boost happy hormones and reduce the stress levels. This will help to curb the snacking and emotional eating, so you can focus on healthier snacks and meals. The exercise will also help to burn more calories throughout the day, helping to create a calorie deficit so you lose weight.

At the same time, you build muscle. Muscles will burn more calories, helping to further that calorie deficit. You will also feel better mentally. It is not just the stress hormones that a removed, but the other negative hormones. It is easier to bypass the winter or Christmas blues and find more enjoyment, reducing the snacking and cravings.

Exercise will also give you something to do. You curb the boredom to curb the snacking.

Get the whole family involved. Go out for snowball fights, enjoy a walk in the park, or build a snow sculpture. You will be surprised at the workout you get. And yes, even shoveling the drive will count!

Plan and Stick to It

Plan and Stick to It - 7 Smart Tips to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Finally, it is all about a plan. Create a plan to handle the Christmas period and you will find it much easier to work with. Weight gain will be the last thing on your mind because you are taking active steps to boost your metabolism, reduce calorie intake, and still enjoy the time.

The tips above will help you create this plan of attack. You can set out recipes for the holiday season, both on the day and around the big day. Plan out the snacks you will buy and make. Try to avoid the calorie-filled, sugar-filled snacks and opt for something healthier for the whole family. You are supporting the overall health and not just the waistline.

Of course, now you need to stick to it! This is often the hardest part, especially when one day goes wrong. Do not worry if you do not stick to the healthy eating plan for the day. One difficult day does not mean the whole holiday season is a write-off. Get straight back to the plan the next day and work your way through it without the guilt.

Planning will help to manage the stress. You know what you need to do and when. It is easier to manage the gift buying, recipe making, and dinner preparation when you have a plan of attack to follow.

Make This Holiday Season Successful for Your Weight

There is no need to give in to the idea that the holiday season is a time to gain weight. For many people it is, and it may have been something that happened to you in the past. However, with a few changes, everyone can either keep or lose weight throughout the festive periods. It does not matter whether you are a meat eater or vegan. There are recipes that will help to keep you feel full, bring in the festive cheer, and reduce the excess calories you consume.

Try this year to create your festive plan. This is not just about the meals you will make, but the way you will tackle every element of the season. Keep the stress to a least, opt for healthier and smarter food choices, and listen to your body. You will find the season far more enjoyable than you ever thought possible!

7 Smart Tips To Deal With Picky Eaters

4421d31529fbcd10d128e09c79f09ba3 - 7 Smart Tips To Deal With Picky Eaters

Picky Eaters Image Design 1 - 7 Smart Tips To Deal With Picky EatersMost children will go through a picky eating stage. They seem to eat absolutely anything when in day-care or being looked after by others, but will only touch the same foods repeatedly at home. It’s annoying and frustrating. You can find yourself worrying about them putting on weight.

In most cases, children will grow out of the picking eating stage. That doesn’t always happen though. You need to find ways to encourage children to eat a variety of colors and textures. Some of the reasons for being picky are due to disabilities, but others are due to preferences.

However long it’s gone on for or whatever reason, you may find yourself stressed over meal times. It doesn’t have to be like that. Here are seven tips to help you deal with picky eaters in the house and encourage trying more foods.

Let Your Kids Get Involved

Image 1 23 - 7 Smart Tips To Deal With Picky Eaters

When your kids help with some of the prep work and the cooking, they will feel more involved. They gain an appreciation for the food, which means they’re more likely to try it afterward. After all, they don’t want their hard work in preparing the food going to waste.

You can start getting them involved from a young age. Start with them just standing by while you chop up vegetables. Ask them to pass the next one to chop or ask them to get things out of the fridge and put things away. This is great for toddlers and pre-school aged children.

As they get older and their motor skills are better, you can ask them to help mix sauces or batters. Give them their little bowl for asalad to toss or hand them the bowl to do some of the mixings after you’ve mixed in most of the flour! If you can do things by hand, let them get their little hands in there to help. They’ll love getting messy.

When they get old enough to handle knives and burners, you can get them to help more with the cooking. Eventually, you can get your children to make a meal by themselves. They’ll love the independence, and it sets them up well for the future. They’re also more likely to eat something that they’ve put all the effort in. They’ll also understand why you were so disappointed when they were picky with food that you cooked.

You can also do some of this at the grocery store. Get your children to help pick up vegetables and fruits. Ask them to help with the cans on the shelves or to read out and cross items off the list (depending on age, abilities, and preferences of walking or sitting in the trolley).

Introduce New Foods One at a Time

Don’t expect your children to try everything new at the same time. This can be extremely overwhelming. They don’t know where to start and will be scared that they won’t like any of it. Rather than try anything, they push all the food to one side and stick to the food that they do like.

Ask them to try one new thing for a meal. Put a small amount of a new vegetable, sauce, or ingredient on the plate and just encourage them to at least get it passedtheir lips. Continue to do this at least 12 times if they say they don’t like it. It takes around 12 attempts for someone’s taste buds to grow an appreciation for some foods!

Once they try the food and don’t turn their nose up at it, encourage them to have a bigger portion. You can then move onto a new food next week. Take the same steps to encourage trying it. Soon you’ll have a range of new vegetables and ingredients to put in your shopping.

Don’t worry if your children suddenly tell you they don’t like something they’ve eaten all their lives. While their taste buds can change, most are doing it to get a rise out of you or to be awkward. It’s a stage as they try to gain some control over what they do and the food they eat. Encourage them to have a little and wait for this stage out.

When trying new foods, make sure there are a couple of foods that your child will love. You don’t want too many, as you still want to encourage the trying of new things.

Also, don’t tell your children that you don’t expect them to like something. You’re putting an idea in their heads. It’s common for parents to say, “I don’t know if you’ll like this…” or “this is new, so you might not like it…” but you’re telling your children what you expect (and it’s not good). Just give them the food and don’t make a big deal of it.

Don’t Force Them to Clean Their Plate

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Dessert should be part of the meal. You don’t want to force your children to clear their plate in return for dessert. It encourages the idea of overeating, as many of us put larger portions than we necessarily need.

If children say they are full, then there are high chances that they are full. If they’ve left all the new food and say they’re full, encourage them to try a little but don’t force them to clean their plates. You want to encourage a healthy relationship with the food.

Don’t hold dessert back because they didn’t do as expected. Remember that dessert is part of the food. It’s not a treat to reward them or to hold back when you deem a punishment is necessary. This is the last part of their meal, and you need to make it clear that there is no food after this. If they are still hungry, they can finish their dinner that they’ve left.

Part of picky eating is not being hungry at all. This moves us onto the next tip.

Make Sure Your Child Is Hungry

Eating too much throughout the day will spoil dinner. Children can stock up on snacks throughout the mid-afternoon that they just don’t have enough room for their dinner.

Rather than getting angry, look at the food that you offer throughout the day. Create a schedule for meals and snacks. It will be hard at first, but you need to stick to this schedule that you create.

The schedule should involve three normal sized meals at breakfast, lunch, and then dinner. Put at least two separate snack times between the breakfast and lunch and then lunch and dinner.

It’s not just about timing. You will also need to think about the type of snacks you’re offering. Try to offer some fiber, carbs, and protein with their snacks. Cheese and fruit slices, vegetable sticks and a hummus dip, or some egg with toast strips tend to be preferred ideas. They are small enough to grab and eat while keeping the body energized until the next meal. You’ll also encourage the right development and plenty of other nutrients for a healthy body.

If you find you still have the issue with the lack of hunger at meal times, consider whether the portions are too big. You’ll be surprised at how little a healthy child will need.

Give Two Choices for Food

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When it comes to meals, offer a choice. This is part of relinquishing the control over the food your child eats. It will help them to get out of the picky stage when they just want to gain some autonomy over what they put in their bodies.

Rather than giving a lot of choices, offer just two that you are prepared to make. They could be cereal or toast for breakfast, chicken nuggets or fish fingers for dinner, or chicken or pork for their salad wrap. Simple choices work just as great as complex choices. In fact, simple choices can work better.

Keeping to two choices will help to avoid the feeling of overwhelming. Think about when you go to a restaurant, and you’re given lots of choices for the food you order. It can often feel like a minefield, and you have no idea where to start. If it’s a place you’ve been before, you can end up ordering the same thing repeatedly because you’re just too overwhelmed by all the options.

Children get that same feeling. If they’re given too many options, they will recoil. They opt for something that they know they will prefer or they don’t make a choice at all. You’re left making the choices for them, and they don’t feel like they have any control over their food choices at all.

Make your two offers smart. If you’re not prepared to cook pancakes, don’t offer them! When you know they’re going to pick pancakes, don’t give the option of pancakes or a vegetable. Give them option of two different types of vegetables choose from. You still have some control without them feeling like it.

This method is also good for helping children develop decision-making skills. They’ll need these skills in the future.

Get Your Creative Side Out

Sometimes you should find a way to be creative with food. Some children don’t like eggs at all. They hate the texture and the feel, but will happily eat omelets and quiches. This is because they don’t see the two meals as egg-based, even though we know the truth.

You just need to find a creative way to offer food that your children say they “don’t like.” Most of the time they just want to have control. They will like the food, or they just don’t know because they’ve never tried it.

If it’s not a case of not liking something, it could be a case of not liking the look of something. This is perfectly understandable from an adult point of view. If a meal doesn’t look appetizing, there is no way that you will want to eat it. If it looks like slop, your opinion of the food is already jaded. Your children will think the same way.

When food looks bland, it must taste bland. Have some fun by creating “fox sandwiches” and “smiley faces” out of the ingredients. Your kids will be excited each meal time for what’s to come next.

Worried about that taking over your life? Stick to just one or two meals a week at first. Make it a surprise for them, so they don’t come to expect creativity with every single meal.

Lead by Example

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If you’re a picky eater, your children will be too. They will pick up their food aversions from you. If you want to help them get over their hatred for certain foods and textures, you’ll need to show them that there isn’t a problem.

Of course, there are going to be certain types of foods that you don’t like. If you genuinely don’t like them, you can show that you have a similar alternative. Don’t like sweet corn? Opt for peas instead. Not a fan of kidney beans? Could you replace them with baked beans or black beans instead? There are lots of substitutions that you can make.

Try to have at least one meal a week as a family. When everyone eats together, children will follow the adults. They’ll try the new dishes and will follow examples being set.

Don’t make a big deal about your children trying new foods or eating something you didn’t expect them to. Let them go at the plate and congratulate them at the end. They don’t become self-conscious while eating.

The whole reason day-cares find it easier to encourage children to eat is that they have set meal times together. Your children will see others eating, so they will do it too without any questions. You can set that expectation at home.

It’s Time to Overcome the Picky Eating Problem

Your children will likely develop a picky eating stage at some point. It’s a frustrating time, especially if they seem to eat everything at day-care. It’s time to follow the tips above. The seven tips will help you overcome a child’s hatred for certain foods, encourage the trying of new foods, and set a healthy understanding and thought process about food.

Don’t push or get angry at your children. Many will be picky to gain some control over their choices. Help them do that by allowing choices that you’re more than happy to make and encourage them to make suggestions for dinner that you’re willing to throw together.

Diet for Exams; Smart Foods and Tips for Great Grades!

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Exam season is always a hectic season for everyone involved; the kids, parents, and even the teachers! But the most stressed out could be the parents because long studying hours mean skewed diet and ultimately ill-health for your children! Don’t worry, the health experts at Truweight have come together to suggest a good diet for exams, the one that will help your little one fly and score high!

You could come visit the experts yourself and quiz away everything about nutrition that you want to know in this FIRST FREE CONSULTATION. Click here and avail!

The psychological and physiological aspects of examinations!

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Diet during exams can greatly influence the result

That is common knowledge that exams are always accompanied with stress! The increased stress, in turn, places an increased demand for certain water soluble vitamins like Vit. C and B-complex. Did you know, the levels of vitamin C in the body varies greatly with the physical and emotional stress. It dips when subjected to a lot of stress.

A study found that students experiencing exam stress may have an increased craving for high fat and high sugar snacks. At the same time, the physiological demand of certain nutrients like vit. C, B5, B6, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and the protein tyrosine shoots up. These are the nutrients required for the generation of adrenal hormones or the stress-fighting hormones.

Now, would you still allow your child to give in to the temptation of eating junk food?

So what are the best foods to eat when studying for exams?

It starts from here! Remember the saying, ‘you are what you eat’? So if your child feeds on easily available junk food, then their brains will perform poorly. Not really the best scenario for exams that are looming close. Instead, it would be wise to chart a good diet for exams with the following food groups incorporated wisely!

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Fruits and vegetables are an important part of the diet during exams!
  • High-protein foods like lean meat, fish, eggs, dairy, pulses, sprouts, nuts etc
  • Fruits and vegetables.
  • Whole grains like oats, brown rice, quinoa among others
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Ample water

While these may seem uninteresting to a student, the trick lies in adding them in innovative recipes. More on that later in the article.

What foods are good for memory?

Wondering what foods stimulate the brain? Think colour to boost memory! If you could imagine a rainbow but made of foods then what would they be? Think of berries (every colour and type), whole eggs (especially the yellow or yolk), green leafy veggies and colourful fruits, the pink of salmon, and the earthy colours from nuts and seeds! Notice how these foods provide every nutrient: vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants, healthy carbs, even water! These act as brain foods for memory.

Smart exam time diet tips for great grades!

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Diet during exams

1.Eat smaller, frequent meals

Yes, the age-old weight loss advice holds true for preparing for exams too. Small meals will provide a steady supply of energy to the exam fatigued brain. If you feed your child a large meal, then he/she will experience a dip in energy and also the alertness to study for hours on end.

2.Have a healthy, wholesome breakfast

While we do suggest small meals to be eaten frequently, breakfast doesn’t feature in that list! Your budding expert has to sustain through the periods of study and even rigorous periods of writing the exam. Hence, a combination breakfast of whole grains and protein will do the trick.

3. Pay attention to snacks

Snacks take on a whole new meaning when catering to someone cramming away their woes! It is best to steer clear from high fat and high sugar snacks. This will help in maintaining a stable blood sugar.

4. Ensure the exam time diet is rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids

While you may have heard the mention of Omega-3 fats as heart-protective. However, they also play an important role in memory, concentration, even relieving depression. Studies have found omega-3 fatty acids, especially docosahexanoic acid (DHA), has shown to increase the brain volume. The sad fact is that our body can’t make any of the omega-3 fats and hence it has to be derived from the diet. So what better time than providing it to your child during exams!

Sources of omega-3 fats in the diet: Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, halibut, trout; seeds like flax, chia, melon seeds, sunflower also provide omega-3 fats. You can make a powder of the seeds and nuts and drizzle them over soups, dals, salads, chapati flour, and almost anything you can think of.

5. Water is your best friend

Do you recollect how you feel when you were thirsty? You are irritable, listless, and can’t concentrate. Now these aren’t the virtues you would want in a student preparing for exams. Hence, it is important to stay hydrated. Ideally drinking 1.5 litres of water a day is recommended. Coconut water, buttermilk, milky drinks, some special teas like chamomile tea can not only help meet the recommended fluid intake but also help in providing nutrients and provide a sense of calm.

Coffee and exams: Coffee seems like a favourite answer to ‘ how to avoid sleep during exams’ however, it is seriously not recommended for students. Not only is it dehydrating, the initial boost can be followed by a serious low. It is definitely not a good beverage to be drunk in the night. Instead, if coffee is drunk during the morning and that too in moderate amounts can actually help in alertness and not cause issues with sleep deprivation. Also, remember that too much tea or coffee can cause heartburn and acidity.”

Diet for exams by Nutrition experts at Truweight

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Truweight expert recommended diet during exams

We asked the head of nutrition in Truweight Mrs. Suhasini Mudraganam to help us with a general diet plan for exams that will help the students in need. Remember this is just a general guideline and shouldn’t be used as a replacement for a proper nutritionist consultation.

Early morning: 3-4 soaked almonds with the skin and 3 walnuts.

Breakfast: 1 glass of milk / Fruit milkshake without added sugar + 2 Whole grain bread and egg omelette sandwiches / 2 mixed veg and paneer parantha with a bowl of low-fat curd / 1-2 whole grain or multigrain wrap (chapati will do fine as well) with baked beans and veggie saute / 1 bowl of savoury (with chopped veggies and masala) or jaggery sweetened oats with seeds, fruits and nuts.

Mid-morning snack: A colourful fruit platter / 3-4 Flaxseed and till laddoos or dry fruit laddoos + 1 glass of whey protein shake.

Lunch: It would be wise to include oily fish twice a week in lunch.

3 phulkas + 1 bowl fish curry + 1 bowl sprout salad / 1 bowl brown or red rice + 1 bowl of palak dal with Truweight Seeds Cocktail

Half an hour after lunch: 1 glass spiced buttermilk.

Either make spicy curries or make a smoked salmon sandwich for lunch. Make a powder of the seeds and nuts and drizzle them over soups, dals, salads, chapati flour, and almost anything you can think of.

Mid-evening snacks: 1 bowl of fruit and nut muesli with milk / 1 plate of moong sprout  veg red rice poha + 1 glass of fruit milkshake /  1 plate multi-grain upma + 1 glass of whey protein shake

Dinner: 1 bowl grilled chicken or fish preparation + 1 bowl brown rice pulao + 1 small bowl mixed veg raita / 2 Whole grain Chicken veg sandwich + 1 glass of skimmed milk.

Post dinner snack if needed: Trail mix containing nuts, seeds, and fruits /  puffed quinoa and pulse snacks; healthy khakras; flaxseed and til laddoos; healthy cookies made from jowar, oats and other whole grains.

What should you eat before a test?

So what to eat right before reporting to the examination hall? Well, the key point is to eat light and healthy. Hence whole grain meals are definitely in but not so much to make the student feel lethargic or sleepy. A tuna or a paneer sandwich; Chapati and paneer subji or egg vegetable bhurji with seeds and buttermilk; Whole grain bread roll stuffed with chicken and vegetables are some good options for pre-exam time diet.

Being active during exams

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Physical activity helps boost studies and productivity

While the focus during exams are entirely on studies and a good exam time diet, the one neglected part is being physically active. Waste of time? Oh definitely no! If anything it will increase the rush of oxygen to your fatigued brain and will make you study better! We can already sense ‘ifs and buts’ forming on your lips! Let us give you some easy tips on how to incorporate a sport or just be physically active while preparing for exams.

  • Small breaks that are taken often: Pouring over the books or on the computer maybe a common sight but taking small breaks like a walk to the nearby store can refresh you greatly to return to studies and also make you active.
  • Know your study schedule: Some people prefer studying in the morning while some others in the night. Know what works for you and get some outdoor time when you know you won’t be able to study! Remember not to do any stimulating activity just before you hit the bed as sleep will evade you.
  • Have a study and activity schedule: You could try to catch some sunshine or outdoor time on every alternate day. A schedule will help you keep track.
  • Walk to the exam centre: Is it somewhere close? Then rather walk it because it will help you relax for the marathon to follow.

Sleep during exams

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Sleep and exams; a very important link

Getting a good night’s rest is equally important to acing the exams! It not just helps beat the stress but also helps to study better. We provide you with some simple tips so that your child has a sound sleep during exams:

  • Put it in the schedule: If you are a schedule person, you would surely have one for studies. Key in sleep and make time for it.
  • Watch what you eat and at what time: If you eat a heavy dinner or are almost starving too close to the sleep time, then your sleep quality is affected. Rather, eat an early dinner by 8 or 9 and just supplement that small hunger with light healthy snacks.
  • Banish coffee, teas, cola: That is because of the caffeine content. It is better avoided very close to bedtime.
  • Consecrate bedroom as the peace room: Which means no laptops, books for revision before sleep, TV or even the smartphone is allowed. Your brain should lull you to sleep the minute you enter the bedroom.

So there you go, some handy tips to beat the exam time stress and ensure you bring your A-game to the examination hall!!

6 Smart Ways To Reduce Thigh Fat

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Reducing fat is one of the worries when it comes to health, appearance, and weight loss. There are different types of fats depending upon their areas of fat concentration, like face fat, belly fat, thigh fat and likewise. Usually, fat accumulation and concentration is more around the belly(tummy), hips, face, thighs etc.

Targeted Weight Loss On Thighs

Although, targeted weight loss around particular areas such as hips, belly, thighs etc., is difficult, here we would like to discuss about weight loss with the concentration on reducing thigh fat. Fat concentration is high on thighs. As far as appearance is concerned, you may look clumsy. It is a sign of excess weight when it comes to health & fitness. It is a caution for many health disorders such as Obesity, Lipedema, hypertension, fatigue, weakness, depression & and other disorders due to excess weight.

The accumulation of fat mainly depends on the lifestyle, food habits, lack of nutrition food, unbalanced diet, lack of physical activity and as such. Hence, Methodical attention to these will help reduce thigh fat naturally and fast. To make it easier for you, the information on this blog will help you towards reducing thigh fat.

6 Easy Ways to Reduce Thigh Fat

As we discussed in the earlier section, methodical attention is required to lose weight. Here are the important tips to include in your methods to lose fat on thighs.

1. Nutrition Food and Diet To Reduce Weight & Thigh Fat.

It’s important to know the nutrition foods that aim at reducing weight. As we’ve discussed earlier, efforts to reduce overall weight will, in turn, reduce weight around thighs. Here are a few of those to help you out.

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Nutrition Food To Reduce Thigh Fat

-Eat Protein-rich foods such as fish, lean chicken, cheese, yogurt, milk, beans, eggs, Nuts and seeds with protein such as pumpkin, squash, watermelon seeds etc.
 

Check out this video to know about protein food sources.


– Include legumes like peas, beans, lentils into your diet as they are high on protein, fiber and other beneficial nutrients.

– Eat fiber-rich fruits and vegetables such as berries, potatoes, apples etc. Fiber lets your stomach feel full which in turn, reduces food intake.
– Consume low cholesterol foods such as whole wheat varieties, carrot sticks, apples, blueberries, oats, barley, soya food, sweet potatoes, nuts, sweet potatoes, broccoli etc.
– Use oils with less saturated fat like mustard oil, rice bran oil, canola oil etc.

Recommended read:  42 weight loss foods which will help you in weight loss around thighs, hips, belly and overall weight.

2. Exercises To Reduce Thigh Fat with Overall Weight.

Exercising with proper balanced diet will help lose thigh fat and also to reduce overall weight. These exercises include leg exercises and workouts, thigh exercises.

 

Exercises To Reduce Thigh Fat - 6 Smart Ways To Reduce Thigh Fat
Exercises To Reduce Thigh Fat


– Yoga – The following are certain leg and thigh exercises of Yoga: boat pose, locust pose, upward dog pose, triangle pose and plough pose. The above image shows triangle pose and plough pose which are more effective for losing thigh fat.
– Split squat exercises are good leg exercises to reduce fat in thighs and hips.
– Leg toning sitting postures and similar exercises are good for thighs and legs.
– Discreet office chair workouts with special thigh exercises, leg exercises.
Watch this video for discreet office chair workouts.


– Furthermore, Basic exercises like walking, running, jumping, jogging are essential to lose thigh fat.

Visit our page that gives more information on weight loss exercises at home.

3. Diet Charts To Lose Thigh Fat

It’s recommended to follow a regular diet chart that is prescribed by a certified nutritionist. As different individuals have different classes of food preferences and habits, it is important to get customized diet plans. Specialized and customized diet charts are also essential since people differ in their health and weight characteristics. Here are a few popular diets:
Calorie Diet (1200 calorie diet)
Paleo Diet
Protein Diet (intake of Protein foods for weight loss around thighs and other parts of the body.)

In addition, Other well-known diets are Salt diet, Cholesterol diet, Dash diet etc.
Read our blog-page to know about balanced diet plan which will help you with thigh fat or overall weight reduction.

4. Avoid The Following To Lose Thigh Fat.

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Foods To Avoid For Thigh Fat Reduction

 

– Processed food.
– Junk food.
– Food with excess fat such as salt, sugar, oil etc. – Meat with fat contents.
– Habits like sitting at one place with very little physical activity.

5. Self-Motivation.

Self-motivation is required towards the following:
– Nutrition,
– Diet
– Exercises
– Consultation with expert dietitians
– Minimum physical activities
– healthy lifestyle

6. Minimum Physical Activity.

Minimum Physical Activity To Reduce Thigh Fat - 6 Smart Ways To Reduce Thigh Fat
Minimum Physical Activity To Reduce Thigh Fa

Required minimum physical activities include
– Walking,
– Jumping,
– Running
– Other simple activities as such.

In conclusion, After reading through this blog, we hope you have made up your mind to reduce thigh fat with the above six useful tips. So what are you waiting for? change your lifestyle with the above tips to lose thigh fat naturally fast. One of TruWeight’s nutritionists, can help you out with this. Book your first consultation FREE now.

 

Part I–Heart Smart: Natural Solutions for a Healthy Heart

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In this three-part series, we will take a look at the real cause of heart attack and other cardiovascular events and talk about nutrition and other lifestyle factors that can significantly reduce your risk of an event. In Part I we will discuss tests that your doctor can do to more accurately assess your risk of heart disease and foundational nutrition to address it. In Part II, we will discuss additional nutrients that are important to heart health and in Part III we will address other factors that affect heart health and how you can manage those factors.

New information shows that the top 5 risk factors on which the medical profession has been evaluating the risk of heart disease for years do not fully predict the risk of a cardiovascular event. Little emphasis is placed on nutrition, exercise, and stress management, three crucial factors in the management of heart disease. As far back as 2004, the medical journal Lancet published a study purporting that exercise, optimal nutrition, optimal body weight and composition, moderate red wine consumption, and smoking cessation could decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by a whopping 80%! More than 50% of those who have heart attacks have “normal” cholesterol, yet we are lead to believe that taking a statin drug is our main ally in avoiding a heart attack.

Newer research suggests that 1) looking at the make-up of cholesterol and other lipids 2) attention to markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, 3) testing for high blood sugar and insulin 4) looking at immune system dysfunction and 5) appropriate detoxification will allow us to better predict the risk of a cardiovascular event. Once that risk is determined, we can use diet, supplements, exercise and stress management to better manage it.

Let’s take a look at numbers 1) and 2) above, tests your doctor can do to more accurately determine your risk of heart disease. The beauty of this early testing is that once you have an accurate picture of your risk you can use natural means to reduce it.

A VAP panel is advanced testing of cholesterol and other lipids. It further analyzes components of fats in your blood. For example, you may have low LDL (the “bad” cholesterol), normally considered a good thing, yet have a high particle number, indicating a risk of heart disease. Or you may have very high HDL (the “good” cholesterol), normally considered a good thing, but it may not be functioning correctly because the particle size is too small.

The test measures subclasses of LDL and HDL, triglycerides, IDL (intermediate-density lipoproteins), VLDL (very low-density lipoproteins) and Lp(a), or lipoprotein (a). High triglycerides alone do not cause heart attack, but are a driving force behind an increase in both small LDL and VLDL. High triglycerides also signify issues with blood sugar management. Lp (a) is a direct cause of plaque formation and rupture that can cause a heart attack. High Lp(a) is often implicated in the early heart attacks that occur in 40-50 year olds. Using the VAP panel to identify your own risk factors will allow you to target nutrients that address them.

Tests that identify the potential for damaging inflammation or oxidation are as follows:

  1. Homocysteine. This is an inflammatory marker that, when elevated, causes injury to the arteries, increases oxidation of LDL (promoting plaque), constricts arteries, and provokes blood clot formation. The net result is a 3-fold increase in the risk of heart attack.
  2. C-Reactive Protein. Another marker that measures systematic inflammation. High CRP increases the risk of heart attack 3-fold. When you also have high small particle LDL, there is a 6-fold risk.
  3. Fibrinogen. A principle blood-clotting protein that, when elevated, can indicate a risk of blood clot formation. In the absence of a blood clot, it can also accelerate plaque formation.
  4. MPO (myeloperoxidase). An inflammatory and oxidative stress marker that has anti-infective functions but at higher levels oxidizes HDL, the good cholesterol, rendering it ineffective. It also oxidizes LDL, promoting plaque. Elevated levels increase cardiovascular risk by 16-fold!

Now that we have covered the basics of how your heart disease risk can be accurately assessed, let’s talk about what you can do about it! Below are 3 foundational nutrients that can be used to manage your risk of heart disease:

  1. Healthy Fats. Low fat is old news and the right fats are what you should be focused on. Omega-3 fats, found in fish oil and certain plants like flax, chia and hemp, are ultra-important to heart health. Omega-3s bolster the health of the cell membrane, increase HDL, and reduce IDL, triglycerides, VLDL and C-Reactive protein. A true bonanza for improving blood markers for heart disease! Three servings of fatty fish per week will protect a healthy person against a risk of heart disease. The highest fish sources of omega-3s are salmon, cod, mackerel, anchovies and sardines. If you eat less than this, taking a fish oil supplement is a great way to protect against heart disease. A typical dose is 1200 mg, but your doctor may recommend in the range of 3000-10,000 mg on a short term basis if disease is present. Other plant fats like those found in avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, and nuts are very heart healthy. The most important thing to stay away from are trans fats and hydrogenated fats, found mainly in packaged foods. Saturated fats from animal sources are okay in smaller amounts, say 1-2 servings per week. The key is to find meats and dairy that are grass-fed, pasture-raised, and free of antibiotics and growth hormones. Grass-fed meats contain CLA, a fat that has been found to reduce the visceral fat surrounding the organs, a factor in heart disease.
  2. Magnesium. Low magnesium levels are the greatest predictor of heart disease according to a 2013 study that reviewed cardiovascular studies over the past seven decades. A deficiency of this macronutrient is common in the U.S. due to over-farming and the resulting depletion of magnesium in our soil. For blood pressure that is trending upward, greater than 120/80, this is the first nutrient you should look to. It relaxes the blood vessels, calms the nerves, assists in blood sugar management (a factor in inflammation), and balances calcium in the blood. Magnesium works in concert with calcium in the pumping action of the heart, and the contraction/relaxation of the blood vessels. Add 250-400 mg of magnesium a day to manage stress, support healthy blood pressure, and balance calcium. Magnesium can be laxative at higher doses, so be aware of that. Great food sources of magnesium are kelp, dark, leafy greens, nuts, avocado and dark chocolate.
  3. Fiber. Boring, but important! The recommended amount of fiber per day is 35 grams, but in Paleolithic times we consumed almost 3 times this amount. Many Americans fall short of even the lower amount and average 10-15 grams per day. Fiber is a true superstar in heart health. It reduces markers that are negative for heart health including Lp(a), triglycerides, VLDL, and CRP. It also binds heavy metals and other toxins that can negatively affect heart health. Using a fiber supplement before bed is a great way to improve your heart health and manage blood sugar. Another key way to add more fiber is more fruits and vegetables! Apples are considered a superfood for the heart due to the pectin fiber they contain, along with a higher level of potassium. Whole grains can also provide fiber, but grains in excess of 2 servings a day can contribute to heart disease due to their effect on blood sugar. Adding 2 tablespoons of ground flax seeds, chia seeds, or hemp seeds to a protein shake in the morning is another great way to add fiber. It’s a simple and effective way to manage heart health!

Those are our top 3 for now. Remember that protecting your heart health is not just about low cholesterol and being on a statin drug. There are important nutrients and diet changes you can make that can have a profound effect on heart health. Above we have summarized tests your doctor can do to identify your true risk for heart disease, along with three foundational nutrients that all of us should consider taking for heart health. Tune in next week for additional supplements that can be used to improve heart health…

 

7 smart ways to spend your tax refund

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It’s easy to think of a tax refund as getting back “mad money” to blow on fun stuff and little (or big) extravagances. But used wisely, this year’s windfall could contribute to improving your financial well-being and advancing a more secure future—the greatest payoff of all! Here are some tips to follow.

Reduce what you owe. Using at least some of that refund money to reduce debt–whether it’s on credit cards, mortgage, student loans or car payments–can help you reduce your interest. Aim to pay the debt with the highest interest rate first. For more tips on how to improve your credit, click here!

Sock it away for a rainy day. A sudden job loss, medical emergency or any other unexpected expense could turn into a financial disaster without at least a little monetary cushion to fall back on. Experts recommend 3 months’ salary to stash away in an emergency fund. But if you aren’t anywhere near that goal, putting away any dollar amount from your refund is a good way to help you get there over time.

Contribute to your retirement account. No matter your age, the earlier you start to plan for your senior years when you no longer work, the better. While you may not be able to add your tax refund to a 401(k), there are other options. Individual retirement accounts, or IRAs, allow you to save and invest money for retirement on your own. Learn more about IRAs here.

Add to your kid’s college fund. Just as with saving for your future retirement, for parents who want to help their children pay for college, the earlier you can start putting money away in an account, the better. Getting a refund is an ideal time to set up a savings account for college. Learn more about college savings plans here.

Stash it away for that big purchase. Is a new car, appliance or home repair on the horizon? Even if you have to pay a portion of the item with a credit card or loan, having set aside savings for the item beforehand can help keep the interest down, allowing you to more easily pay off the purchase.

Invest in yourself. Is there a class, workshop, webinar or certification that could help you to advance your career and possibly earn you more money? If so, it may be in your interest to sign up while you have the funds to pay for it.

Hire a financial planner

Financial planners can help you reach your savings and retirement goals as well as help you achieve financial stability. Learn more about what to look for when choosing a financial planner here.

For Health Advocate members

If you are a Health Advocate with access to our EAP+Work/Life service, call us! We can connect you with a financial expert and direct you to other helpful resources—including the member website for a full range of online resources—to help you reach and maintain financial wellness.

Mental Contrasting: A Smart Alternative to Positive Thinking

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Source: Pixabay

A few months ago, I read a fascinating article by Gabriele Oettingen, a professor of psychology at New York University and the University of Hamburg. It was titled “The Problem with Positive Thinking” and ran in the New York Times on Sunday, October 26th 2014.

Dr. Oettingen wrote about the downsides of what’s come to be known as “the power of positive thinking.” Studies are showing that when people limit their thinking to imagining positive outcomes, they tend not to put forth the effort to make those outcomes come about. As she put it:

Positive thinking fools our minds into perceiving that we’ve already attained our goal, slackening our readiness to pursue it.

It’s as if we assume that we can ride the wave of positive thinking all the way to the shore without putting in any effort.

By contrast, when people balance positive thinking about a desired outcome with a realistic look at the challenges and obstacles that might arise, they are much more likely to achieve their goals. She calls this balanced process “mental contrasting.”

She uses the goal of losing weight at an example. According to Dr. Oettingen, if you confine your thinking to fantasizing yourself in a thin body, you’re much less likely to find yourself in one than if you also pay attention to what obstacles might arise.

This got me thinking about what obstacles might arise if you have weight loss as a goal. In an effort to make yourself feel better, perhaps you respond to painful emotions, such as loneliness, by eating. If this is the case, it makes sense to me that balancing positive thinking about losing weight with the resolve to remain aware of your tendency to overeat when you’re feeling lonely would be a smart way to help you reach your goal.

I see mental contrasting as a type of mindfulness practice. You set the intention to pay attention to your tendency to eat too much when certain painful emotions are present. This awareness then triggers the need for you to exercise extra will-power to refrain from eating simply as a way to soothe yourself emotionally. I’m not suggesting that this would be easy, but if Dr. Oettingen is right, positive thinking alone won’t take those pounds off. On the other hand positive thinking plus mindfulness plus doing the best you can to change your behavior (based on what mindfulness has revealed to you), can get you to your goal.

Here’s an example of how I could have benefitted from mental contrasting. In 2014, I went with my husband and my son and his family to Dillon Beach in California for a four day stay at a cottage. (I wrote about the experience in “What It’s Like to Take a Vacation While Chronically Ill.”)

It was a difficult four days for me. One reason I struggled so much physically and emotionally was that I’d approached the trip with only positive thinking: “I can do it! It’s only four days!” “If I just keep reminding myself how much I love the beach, I’ll have a great time.” As a consequence, when I had to spend a good part of the day in bed, I was bitter and resentful about being chronically ill, even though it’s not my fault and it’s not something I can control.

When I read Dr. Oettingen’s article, I realized that I’d have fared better had I engaged in mental contrasting instead of thinking solely in positive terms. With mental contrasting, in addition to conjuring up positive images of myself at the cottage with my family, I’d have balanced those images by considering the difficulties and the obstacles presented by taking a trip while chronically ill. Such an approach might have sounded like this:

I’m really looking forward to this trip, but I need to remember that even when I’m at home, I’m not able to spend the entire day out of bed. In addition, the preparations for going, the 1 3/4 hour drive from where we live to the cottage, and the extra company once I get there might take so much out of me that I’ll have to rest a lot, even though it means time away from my family and from ocean-gazing.

Had I engaged in mental contrasting, I’d have been better prepared for the trip—emotionally and physically. For example, by considering the challenges and obstacles before embarking on the journey, it’s likely that I’d have decided ahead of time to take an extra nap or two each day. Because I didn’t do that, when I had no choice but to leave everyone’s company and go lie down, I was bitter about it. At times, I even convinced myself that the entire trip had been a mistake. But had I’d known to balance my positive thinking with a realistic assessment of my capabilities and limitations, those naps would have simply been part of the plan all along.

Realizing how much better the trip would have gone had I engaged in mental contrasting ahead of time, I’ve been putting it to use in other settings. This past Thanksgiving, we hosted our son and his family, my husband’s brother and sister-in-law, and a few friends. Instead of engaging solely in positive thinking by imagining the perfect gathering, I balanced that fantasy with a realistic look at the difficulties that might arise for me.

On the positive side of the gathering, I was definitely looking forward to seeing everyone. But I also reminded myself that it was highly unlikely I’d be able to get through the day without lying down for a while. This helped me to plan the day ahead of time: I’d visit when people first arrived, then I’d lie down, then I’d join everyone for dinner, and then I’d lie down again.

This practical assessment put me in a balanced frame of mind for the occasion: I knew I’d enjoy myself, but I also knew I’d have to miss some of the fun because, through no fault of my own, I happen to be chronically ill. This frame of mind enabled me to retreat to the bedroom to lie down without feeling resentful about my life and about the occasion.

***

Like the Buddhist practice of equanimity (which I’ve written about many times in this space and in my books), mental contrasting is grounded in the recognition that life is a mixture of positives and difficulties. By engaging in mental contrasting, we can use both to our advantage—inspiring ourselves with the positives while also remaining aware of the difficulties and obstacles that might arise so that we can best plan how to reach our goals. I hope you’ll try it.

© 2015 Toni Bernhard. Thank you for reading my work. I’m the author of three books: 

How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide (2015)

How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow (2013)

How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers (2010) 

All of my books are available in audio format from Amazon, audible.com, and iTunes.

Visit www.tonibernhard.com for more information and buying options.

Using the envelope icon, you can email this piece to others. I’m active on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

You might also like “How Distorted Thinking Increases Stress and Anxiety.”

Body Smart

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diaphragm - Body Smart

Source: Veterans Administration

Your diaphragm plays a huge role in your tension and relaxation. It is always busy making space for your lungs to suck in air, and then relaxing the space so you can exhale. You can’t inhale unless you exhale, and a relaxed diaphragm makes it happen.

When you laugh, your diaphragm is working hard, and when you cry, it’s on overdrive. When you exercise, you give it a real workout, but of course, it is giving you the workout with extra oxygen.

You don’t consciously control your diaphragm, and it’s not easy to control intentionally. But you can make peace with your diaphragm. Here are three strategies:

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Source: Cindy Black, L.Ac.,LMT Big Tree Healing

Visualize: Imagine you have a balloon expanding and contracting. Imagine your lungs relaxing on a a buoyant balloon. A very different visualization exercise is to check out a skirt steak in the supermarket. It’s a cow’s diaphragm. Look at it up close and appreciate what a big hunk of meat you have working for you. (Thank you Cindy Black.)

Accept: You can accept your diaphragm instead of making unreasonable demands on it. When you want a power boost, your diaphragm is doing its best to provide it. When you want to relax, give it the time it needs. You can trust it to do its job.

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Source: Malene Thyssen, Wikimedia commons

Learn: The fastest animal (a cheetah) owes its efficiency to a special diaphragm attachment that pistons a huge intake of air every time it thrusts its legs back. You have the same diaphragm attachment, and it can expand your torso too. The muscle is actually called a “thoracic diaphragm” because you have other diaphragms too. There’s a lot more to know about your diaphragm. 

Here’s a little story that helped me visualize, accept, and learn about my body tension. One day I started putting on a necklace and discovered it was full of knots. I threw it in my pocket so I could unknot it while sitting on the bus. The knots were bad so it took me a long time. When I finally succeeded, I breathed a sigh of relief and looked up. It seemed like many people had been watching me and they were breathing a sigh of relief too! Their mirror neurons had felt my tension, and then enjoyed my release of tension. That helped me notice my own tension and appreciate the release. 

The story continues a year later. I was studying French and used the world debroiller, which means to triumph over obstacles. I started wondering what the literal meaning was, and when I looked it up, I was amazed to find that it means to untie a knot! Now, when I feel like my diaphragm is tied up in knots, I remember that moment on the bus and it helps me enjoy the release.

This story is from my book I, Mammal: Why Your Brain Links Status and Happiness. Read more on the brilliant survival skills of the body we’ve inherited from our ancestors.

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Source: Huxley, 19th cen.

7 Eating Tips for People Too Smart to Diet

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Source: Lucky Business/Shutterstock

Most approaches to weight loss are ineffective, as I explain in Smart People Don’t Diet: How the Latest Science Can Help You Lose Weight Permanently. While scientists know conclusively that typical diets do not work, there is less consensus about what does work. I summarize some of the latest evidence for a gradual, sustainable approach in my book, but different approaches may work for different people.

“Give me the brief summary of what I should do to lose weight,” people often ask me. to answer, I’ve turned to some of my favorite experts in the field—including a registered dietician, a nutritionist, and a weight loss coach—for their most essential advice. Surprisingly, no two people offered the exact same advice, but all of it was evidence-based.

Here are 7 pieces of advice that you may not have considered: 

  1. “Your current habits support your current weight. If you start changing your habits from unhealthy to healthier ones, then your weight and body will change. Focus on changing just one habit each week. This will move you closer to your weight-loss goals. Remember: It takes time to change. Many of your current habits were formed over years, so be patient and kind to yourself.”

    — Heather Robertson, life and weight loss coach
     

  2. “Stop counting calories and tune into your body’s hunger and satiety signals instead. If you’re not hungry, you don’t need to eat, no matter what your calorie budget says; if you are satisfied, there is no need to keep eating, no matter what your calorie budget says.”

    — Georgie Fear, registered dietitian and pro nutrition coach; author, Lean Habits For Lifelong Weight Loss
     

  3. “Sell your car and take public transportation to work. If you don’t live within walking distance of a train or a grocery shopping center, move! Studies show we walk or move 2.5 hours less per day than the previous generation did. The only way to make this up is by designing our environment so that we have to move more. Having a car outside your house is too much of a temptation. Of course, the above is impossible if you have kids.”

    — Joe Dixon, Ph.D., associate professor of nutritional science, Rutgers University; author, Ancel and Margaret Keys and the Discovery of the Mediterranean Diet
     

  4. Eat less, exercise more. Four easy words to understand that have proven results for weight loss, albeit difficult to follow. To incorporate this mantra into your life, make the environment work in your favor. Eat off of smaller plates, keep fruits in a bowl on your table, and store cut-up vegetables at eye level in your refrigerator. When parking your car, consider a spot far from your entrance location and always take the stairs when available. These simple tips have proven to promote smaller portions, increased fruit and vegetable intake, and increased exercise,  without you having to be cognizant of weight loss efforts on a daily basis.”

    — Peggy Policastro, M.S., registered dietician, instructor and director, Healthy Dining Team, Rutgers University
     

  5. “Weight loss boils down to one concept—calories in and calories out. Maintaining a low-calorie diet composed of nutritionally dense foods, and exercising to enhance the calorie deficit, will yield weight loss.”

    — Nicole Matsuk, M. A., community assistant in the SNAP-Ed program
     

  6. “Don’t over-rely on exercise to lose weight. Exercise is great for getting and staying healthy—and we should all exercise frequently—but eating well, and not too much, is what helps you lose weight. So engage in activities that create channels that lead you toward eating healthier and smaller portions of food, such as making lists of healthy foods you like and keeping them on your cell phone to refer to when you are grocery shopping.”

    — Lorie Sousa, Ph.D., CEO of SmartenFit
     

  7. “Don’t completely restrict yourself from foods that you enjoy. Life is too short to forgo the pleasure derived from food. But to live a long and healthy life, it is essential to make smart choices most of the time.”

    — Charlotte Markey, Ph.D., professor of psychology, Rutgers University; author, Smart People Don’t Diet: How the Latest Science Can Help You Lose Weight Permanently
     

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Source: Charlotte Markey

@Copyright Charlotte Markey 2015

Smart People Don’t Diet (Da Capo Lifelong Books and Nero) by Charlotte Markey is available now where ever books are sold. You can follow Markey on Twitter (@Char_Markey), Facebook (Dr. Charlotte Markey), Pinterest (Dr. Charlotte Markey) and on her website.