Weight Loss Starts at Breakfast

There’s no doubt that breakfast is the clear winner when it comes to ranking the importance of meals.  Breakfast literally means “breaking the fast” of the night, as it’s the first meal you will eat after a night’s sleep. Breakfast also sets the stage for the rest of the day and is a key factor in helping you stay on track with your health and fitness goals. Just to mention a few reasons, the right morning meal can help with weight loss by revving the metabolism, can jump-start the brain, and stabilize blood sugar to control cravings. Research shows that regular breakfast eaters tend to be leaner and more successful at losing weight—and keeping it off—when they eat breakfast. So whether you’re too busy or just not hungry in the morning, here are 5 top breakfast ideas that are nutrient rich and quick to prepare to help ensure your day kicks off right:

images-131.  Green Protein Smoothie

If you’re not a breakfast person, ease yourself into it by sipping on a smoothie throughout the morning to start your day with vitamins and nutrients. Adding a protein powder (for example whey, hemp, or spirulina) will keep you satiated longer and ward off cravings. The greens can be in the form of a green superfood powder (my favorite is Amazing Grass), or a handful of fresh spinach or kale. The greens are detoxifying and help stabilize blood sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 cups baby spinach or baby kale or green powder
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (1 scoop) protein powder
  • 1 cup ice (optional)

Directions:  Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

2.  Greek Yogurt Parfaitimages-14

Greek yogurt is all the rage right now and right fully so. Creamy and decadent, it’s an indulgence without the guilt. Packed with 30% protein and 20% bone-building calcium, making it an ideal food for breakfast or snack. Layer Greek yogurt with a high fiber cereal or granola and berries for a satisfying morning meal.

 3.  Eggs and Avocado

Eggs are a great weight loss food. The secret lies in their ability to keep you full much longer than fat or carbohydrates. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, high quality proteins, good fats. Eggs also contain small amounts of almost every vitamin and mineral required by the human body. While the whites are mostly protein, the nutrients are all found in the yolks. A whole egg is a perfect superfood. For breakfast try two eggs any style with avocado on sprouted grain toast.

4.  Oatmeal

Oatmeal can help you lose weight in two ways: first, it is high in fiber, which means it will keep you fuller longer. Second, since oatmeal is a complex or slow-release carbohydrate it will keep your blood sugar stable. According to recent research, a breakfast of oatmeal eaten 3 hours before exercise can help you burn more fat due to lower blood sugar levels.

images-155.  Breakfast Burrito

Try a breakfast burrito full of heart-friendly monounsaturated fats. Fill an Ezekiel wrap with sliced avocado, scrambled eggs, brown rice, beans, and a splash of salsa. Use your imagination and get creative with the ingredients! This balanced meal will keep you satisfied and help you consume less calories for the entire day.

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The Wonders of Lemon Water for Fat Loss

Lemons can help aid weight loss
When life gives you lemons – make lemon water!

It appears, lemons are not just for lemonade!  Lemons have a barrage of uses and benefits from beauty regimes, cleaning products, cooking, to fighting infections.  Lemons are also a very powerful agent in fat loss.  It’s the citric acid in lemons (containing the highest amount of any other fruit) that make them such a powerhouse among fruits. One of the reasons we hold on to extra body fat is related to a poor functioning digestive system.

Poor digestion is a very common problem with most people and is often caused by an inconsistent diet, meaning, a diet lacking in certain nutrients.  Those that follow different types of diet trends can aggravate digestive problems by restricting certain essential nutrients that the body needs to burn fat.  Without the proper nutrients, digestion slows down which, in turn, slows down your metabolism and makes fat loss impossible.  When the body is not receiving proper nutrients, it triggers a craving for these nutrients making you feel hungry when in actuality, you are not.

How can lemons help this? It’s amazing what this little fruit can actually do!  Most people eat foods that create an acidic environment in the body, which leads to all sorts of digestive and health problems.  Ironically, lemons (even though they are high in citric acid) have an alkalizing or neutralizing effect in the body.  The benefits stem from this alkalizing effect.

Why You Need Lemons

  • Lemons help purify the liver by removing toxins. When there’s a build up of toxins in your body, it can result in feeling sluggish, bloated, and depressed.  Toxins in the body also hold on to fat, so in order to lose the fat, you need to flush out the toxins.  The added benefit of clearing toxic waste is a clear and glowing complexion!  Add a wedge of lemon to your glass of water.
  • A great weight loss aid! The peel of the lemon contains pectin which is a great source of fiber.  Pectin helps slow down sugar absorption in the stomach which helps keep hunger cravings at bay, for up to 4 hours!  A great way to get pectin in your diet:  grate some lemon zest on your salad or in your pasta sauce.
  • Can relieve digestive problems. According to The Lemon Juice Diet, drinking warm water with lemon juice first thing in the morning will stimulate the digestive system and have revitalizing effect on the liver.  It can relieve digestive problems such as nausea, heartburn, constipation and parasites.
  • Helps heighten immunity. Lemons contain Vitamin C which helps to prevent and treat different types of infections, allergies, and symptoms of asthma.

Love your Lemons

10 Tips to Help Kids Eat Healthy

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Creating a Healthy Home can be easier than you think.

Creating a nutritionally healthy home is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure the health of your child. To start, make smart food choices, and help your child develop a positive relationship with healthy food. Your children will learn their food smarts from your example.

Here are the top 10 tips for getting children to eat healthy food:

1Do not restrict food. Restricting food increases the risk your child may develop eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia later in life. It can also have a negative effect on growth and development.   Also by restricting food you will actually increase the risk of overeating later in the day which will cause weight gain.

2Keep healthy food at hand. Children will eat what’s readily available. Keep fruit in a bowl on the counter, not buried in the crisper section of your fridge. Remember, your child can only choose foods that you stock in the house, by limiting junk food you will, by default, teach your child how to choose healthier foods.

3Don’t label foods as “good” or “bad.” Instead, tie foods to the things your child cares about, such as sports, academics and hobbies. Let your child know that lean protein such as turkey and calcium in dairy products give strength to their sports and academic performance, the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables add luster to skin and hair and the carbs in whole grains will give them energy to play.

4Praise healthy choices. Give your children a proud smile and tell them how smart they are when they choose healthy foods. Kids thrive on positive reinforcement!

5.  Don’t nag about unhealthy choices. If your child chooses unhealthy foods infrequently, ignore it. However, if your child always wants fatty, fried food, redirect the choice. You might try roasting potato sticks in the oven (tossed in just a bit of oil) instead of buying french fries. Or, if your child wants candy, you might make fresh strawberries dipped in a little chocolate sauce. Too busy? Then keep naturally sweet dried fruit at home for quick snacks.  With consistent effort taste buds change and soon your child will be craving healthy foods.

6.  Never use food as a reward. This could create weight problems in later life. Instead, reward your children with something physical and fun — perhaps a trip to the park or a quick game of catch.

7.  Sit down to family dinners at night.  If this isn’t a tradition in your home, it should be. Research shows that children who eat dinners at the table with their parents have better nutrition and are less likely to get in serious trouble as teenagers. Start with one night a week, and then work up to three or four, to gradually build the habit.

8.  Prepare plates in the kitchen. There you can put healthy portions of each item on everyone’s dinner plate. Your children will learn to recognize correct portion sizes.  Too often people go for seconds and even thirds just because the food is right there.  You might notice that you need less food to feel full!

9. Give the kids some control.  Ask your children to take three bites of all the foods on their plate and give it a grade, such as A, B, C, D, or F.  When healthy foods – especially certain vegetables — get high marks, serve them more often. Offer the items your children don’t like less frequently. This lets your children participate in decision making. After all, dining is a family affair!

10.  Consult your pediatrician.  Always talk with your child’s doctor before putting your child on a diet, trying to help your child gain weight, or making any significant changes in the type of foods your child eats. Never diagnose your child as too heavy, or too thin, by yourself.  If weight change is recommended seek the help of a professional Dietitian.

Guilt-Free Brownie Bites!

These are so absolutely delectable that you’ll never know they’re guilt-free!  The texture comes out perfectly moist and the flavor is so rich and fudgey that a mini bite-size muffin is all it really takes to satisfy that chocolate craving.  The best part is they contain only a fraction of the calories and fat!  The mixture for these can make 12 regular size muffins or about 30 generously topped mini muffins.  The rule of thumb seems to be 1 regular muffin to 3 mini muffins, but I like to make my minis a bit more substantial, therefore, I only get about 30 minis instead of 36.

I’ve omitted the eggs and oil in this recipe and replaced it with a healthy natural substitute that doesn’t alter the taste.  The secret ingredient in this recipe is pure pumpkin puree, which is naturally low in calories, zero fat, and provides dietary fiber (and who couldn’t use a little extra fiber!).  Sounds really healthy right?  You wouldn’t know it from the taste!  These are super easy to make and a great way to sneak in some extra veggies for the kids.  To make them even more decadent, add a cup of chocolate chips.

Guilt-free Brownie Bites

1 pkg Devil’s Food Cake mix
1 can pure pumpkin puree
¼ cup milk (skim or low-fat)
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl blend together the pumpkin and milk.  Add box of devil’s food cake mix, combine well.  Batter will be sticky.  Fold in the chocolate chips, if using.

Line mini muffin tins with paper liners and spray the inside of the liners with cooking spray.  This will keep the brownie from sticking to the paper when you are peeling the liner off.  It would be a shame to waste any of the brownie goodness to the paper, especially since they’re mini muffins, every bit counts!

Spoon the batter into the liners, bake for 12-15 min.

Makes 24-36 mini muffins, each serving is 70 calories

Or 12 regular sized muffins, each serving is 183 calories

Weekly fitTip: Make ‘Room’ for Treats

Now that Halloween’s come and gone, what’s left behind is the hoard of candy and the daily temptation that comes with it.  An ideal solution would be to get rid of it by giving it away, sharing it, or just throwing it out.  In reality, that’s just not going to happen!  Whose going to take your candy when everyone’s got tons of their own.  Throwing it away seems a little extreme and irrational, I mean, why take it in the first place to throw out in the end?

The reasonable solution is what I like to call, “making room”.  Allowing yourself a treat is fine, even if it is daily, but you need to compensate for that treat.  In order to ‘fit’ that treat into your diet, you’ll need to make room in terms of calories.  Give up some extra calories during the day, like a soda, latte, cookies, or chips, to make an allowance for the treat calories.  I emphasize giving up ”extra calories” because these are calories that you could otherwise do without, as opposed to nutrient rich calories which are a necessary part of your daily dietary requirement.  By practicing ‘making room’,  you can enjoy your treat guilt-free without consuming extra calories or packing on extra pounds.

Be sure to watch the portion size of your treat and avoid over indulging.

The Only Thing Scary About Halloween are the Calories!

Halloween is only a few days away. Do you have a game plan? Have you thought about how you’re going to handle having an abundance of candy around? You can’t go into this unprepared or it will only lead to complete sabotage!  Planning is a powerful tool and can help keep you on track.  The American Council on Exercise has some great suggestions in their article “How can I avoid Halloween weight gain without missing out on the fun“.

When we do indulge our sweet tooth, it helps to know how many calories we’re actually consuming.   Women’s Health Magazine has put together a list of 100-calorie candies in their newsletter, “The Healthiest Halloween Candy“.

With all this great advise, there’s no reason to stress about calories, everything is under control!  You can now focus on having fun, Happy Halloween!

Weekly fitTip: Know what’s in your food

Whether you are uninformed or misinformed, not knowing the contents of the foods you eat will sabotage your weight loss efforts.  Packaging of food products can be deceiving and don’t really convey the healthfulness of the product.  Manufacturers use packaging as a marketing tool for the sole purpose of sales.  They want you to believe in the healthfulness of their product so that you will purchase it, mission accomplished!  Regardless of whether the package states (example: 0 Trans Fats, Low fat, Reduced Sodium, Reduced Fat), it is your responsibility to yourself to find out exactly what the specific ingredients are.

Read food labels
Food labels turn knowledge into action.

Solution:  Read nutritional labels on the package

Food labels contain a wealth of information and at first glance, can look intimidating. You don’t need to be a nutritionist to make sense of it, you just need to be able to pick out the pertinent information.

Food Labels 101

First off, start with the list of ingredients.  If the list of ingredients looks more like a short story, then there’s a good chance the product is highly processed and contains high quantities of chemicals and preservatives.   You may want to choose a healthier alternative, one with a shorter ingredient list.  The ingredients are listed in order of quantity, the first ingredient being the highest.   It’s important to scan the list to see what the first few ingredients are because that’s what the bulk of the product is made of.  Common sense plays a big role here, if you don’t know what a particular ingredient is or you can’t pronounce it, then it is probably a chemical or additive.

Next look at the calories, grams of fat (specifically saturated fat), cholesterol, sodium, sugars;  these are the enemies, so, try and eat less of these.  Foods containing high amounts of these can be harmful to your overall health and can contribute to conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes.  Simply choose foods with a low % Daily Value of these nutrients.

Lastly, make sure the values for protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins are high.  These are beneficial to your health and well- being.  Protein is important for repairing and building muscle, however, protein from animal sources (lean meat, fish, poultry) also contains fat and cholesterol so eat smaller amounts of these.  Other sources high in protein are low-fat or skim milk, yogurt and cheese.  Vegetable proteins like beans, seeds, nuts, and whole grains are considered super foods because they are also high in dietary fiber and other minerals.

However, if all this is still too confusing or overwhelming, there is the NuVal™ Nutritional Scoring System that can take the guess-work out of making healthy food choices.

So there you go, food labels in a nut shell!  This basic information should be empowering and should help you make healthy food choices that will support your fitness efforts.