Boy, did I get a surprise last week. My doctor’s office called to say my blood work came back fine except for my A1C test — the one that provides information about a person’s average level of blood glucose (blood sugar) over the past three months. It is the primary test used to determine if you are pre-diabetic or have diabetes itself.
Lately I’ve been hearing from many clients that the only way to lose weight is to eat lots of protein and cut carbs. “How is a diet that limits many of the foods you love like pasta, crusty French bread, alcohol, etc. going to work long term?” I ask them. “Isn’t enjoying good food with family and friends one of the things you enjoy in life?”
We actually are having winter this year in the Lowcountry even though freezes have been few and far between. That means the grocery shelves should still be full of fresh greens. If not, check out local farmers markets, especially if you’re looking for tasty kale, chard and collards.
Packed with vitamin A, C, K and E, these vegetables are also rich iron, calcium, manganese and potassium, as well as a wealth of antioxidants, which have numerous beneficial effects for our health.
Kale is one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet. Simply remove the leaf from the stem sauté quickly with a little bit of lemon juice, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. You can also make a salad with it or add it to quinoa to make a healthy and satisfying meal.
Collards here is the South are extremely healthy too. My husband and I own a farm in Hampton County where this deep green vegetable is one of our favorites. We wash our collards carefully and use kitchen shears to cut them into thick, two-inch shreds, which we add to a pot of boiling organic chicken broth and fresh green onions, including the stems, seasoned to taste. We make sure to not leave them on the stove for more than 20 minutes. The longer you boil them, the less the nutritional value. So keep sampling until they reach the consistency you like.
Collards also are excellent when added to various soups; so don’t be hesitant to experiment.
Fresh chard is somewhat of a new staple for traditional Southern cooks. A relative of the beet family, chard offers beautiful green, yellow and red color to winter dishes. Fresh young chard is great in salads, while more mature leaves can be sautéed or cooked. The bitterness typically fades with cooking, so also sample often until you get the taste and consistency you like.
So, don’t be shy. No need to wait until spring. Ask your grocer or you favorite farmer for fresh kale, collards and chard now. Your body will thank you.
Re-printed from 60 Is The New 50, by Dr. W
Basic working formula. Nothing profound. Simple math. You put 2000 calories into your body- then you must follow thru and use those calories throughout the day. Put in 100 calories per day more than you use, multiply by 7 days, then over a month you have gained a pound. The solution is found on either end of the formula or simply stated- eat less or burn more. What could be simpler? Look around you and everywhere you turn you see those extra pounds on almost everyone. What has happened? We eat too much and we move about less. So obvious and, at the same time, so difficult to surmount. foof court -image4I was at the airport last week, waiting and still waiting for my flight. Outside my gate the airline has opened a new, enticing, and seductive food court. The appeal was overwhelming. Nothing to do – eat. Hundreds of people milling about, entertaining themselves with visual delights, unable to control those leptin levels and indulging themselves regardless of the enormous physical cost. To boot, ten dollars for a tuna sandwich.
Is there anything one can do about it? Maybe the airline should give out those night masks before you get on the plane. On a serious note, exercising self-control is a challenge that so many of us fail.
However, can we do something with the other side of the formula? How do we rev up the calories out portion? Can we increase our daily energy expenditure on a regular basis? We all have daily schedules and patterns. Can they be modified to include higher caloric use? A more profound question emerges: does this higher caloric use translate into real health benefits?
Let’s begin with the famous studies done in England in the 1950’s and 60’s comparing bus drivers of double decker buses to conductors who climb up and down the stairs. The more active conductors had half the incidence of heart disease. Landmark studies conducted by Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger, spanning his career, studying the effects of inactivity, obesity and heart disease showed a strong correlation between inactivity and heart disease. One study looked at the relationship between TV watching and markers for coronary heart disease. Spending hours in front of the tube, interrupted by getting up and going to the kitchen for beer and chips, may lead to eventual heart disease. Mother was right – TV is bad for you.
So what to do? Alter the basics.
We spend too much time sitting. Take those activities that you normally would do sitting and do them standing. “Screen time” has increased exponentially in the last two decades. Time spent sitting in front of the computer, the TV and hand held devices makes up the majority of our waking hours. Use that phone standing up. It can double caloric output. Skip that spectator sports event and do that exercise yourself. Who knows? You may end up with the “bod” of that swimmer on TV.
Climb those stairs.
One now classic study compared San Francisco factory workers in a five story building with no elevator. Those working on the top two floors had less heart disease and lived longer. The message is clear: find that stairwell and use it. Up and down. Never take an elevator or escalator 1-2 floors. Make it dogma.
Next up is walking.
For those who can walk to and from work the benefit is obvious. For others who need the car or train, make small alterations that go a long way. Park your car in the parking lot as far away from your destination. NEVER look for the closest parking spot.
Park a few blocks away from your destination. Need the train or bus, get off a stop before. Minimize emailing or texting a colleagues at work. Get up and speak to them. Walk to the theater or restaurant. Walk to the gym. Walk your children or grandchildren to school – the obesity epidemic has spread to them as well. Whenever you open that door and leave the house, ask the question- can I walk there? And back? Sure, it means spending time that can be used for other things. However, you are adding “time” down the “long road” ahead. Nothing is better than that.
Final message: calories in <CALORIES OUT
See more at 60isthenew50.com
Over the holidays, I read a book by David Perlmutter, MD, called the “Grain Brain.” It has been on my bookshelf for a couple of years but only recently caught my eye. Maybe subconsciously I knew I was eating too much grain, especially wheat, over this holiday season. After reading this book and skimming another one, “Wheat Belly” by William Davis, MD, I decided to make some changes. Now don’t get me wrong, I love wheat products. However, what I read has encouraged to cut way back, if not eliminate, whole wheat from my diet.
Historically, wheat is not bad for you. But since the 1980s, the new forms of wheat that have been genetically modified cause inflammation in our bodies, our guts to leak and trigger the increase in autoimmune diseases.
So, what’s the solution? Resorting to the new gluten-free replacements foods on the market today? And why is wheat bad for you? Here’s what I have learned from Dr. Perlmutter, a neurologist, and Dr. Davis, a cardiologist:
- Did you know whole wheat is full of sugar? Yes, eating two slices of whole wheat bread could spike your blood sugar as much as eating two tablespoons of pure sugar. Not good because it could put you on the path to diabetes.
- This chronic spike in blood sugar and insulin can increase visceral fat around your belly. This abdominal fat manufactures excess estrogen in both men and women and can lead to breast cancer in women, “man boobs” in men.
- You may know that skin is our largest organ and part of our immune system. But did you know that excessive amount of wheat can advance aging and cause wrinkles? Wheat has also been linked to skin inflammation and psoriasis.
- And it doesn’t seem to matter what type of wheat. Organic, sprouted or stone ground, it’s still wheat. Wheat in and of itself triggers high blood sugar, visceral fat and inflammation.
- Wheat and baldness are linked. It seems that eating wheat can fuel a certain type of baldness, alopecia areata. This is the non-heredity kind, a type of hair loss that occurs in patches, usually from the scalp. Dr. Davis says he has patients who quit eating wheat products and regrow hair in their bald spots where skin once had inflammation.
- Wheat is the only plant food that generates an acidic by-product, which can affect your body’s PH level. You need to maintain a healthy PH level and non-acidic environment in your body so you don’t pull calcium from your bones. Bones that have become calcium depleted are ripe for fractures and osteoporosis.
- And lastly, elimination of wheat from your diet can help with fewer mood swings, better moods, deeper sleep and better concentration. But caution! If you decide to take yourself off wheat, be careful. Some folks experience withdrawal symptoms that include brain fog, irritability and extreme fatigue.
Although wheat hides in foods besides the bread aisle, going wheat-free is easier than you think. Eliminate processed foods and start cooking from scratch again. Create simple salad dressing from extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and spices. Avoid fast-food restaurants and convenience foods in the grocery stores. You’ll save money and your health.
After you lose weight, your metabolism slows down, thus it is easier to regain the weight you lost. And once you gain back the weight, the harder it is to lose it. It’s a vicious cycle. But you can get it back under control. By employing a few helpful nutrition and lifestyle changes, you will be on the road to optimizing your metabolism for life.
What is metabolism? It’s the sum of all the chemical reactions happening in your body. Based on the science of food metabolism and the way our bodies burn energy, here are four ways to boost your metabolism for lasting weight control:
- Distribute your intake of protein throughout the day. Don’t let dinner be the meal where you consume most of your protein. Spread it out among all your meals for more efficient use.
- Work out daily: But mix up what you do every day. Combine resistance, aerobic and flexibility training to five consistent workouts per week. Maybe 2-3 times a week do an aerobic or cardio workout like jogging, my favorite, or biking. Balance this out with 2-3 days of some form of stretching like Yoga or Pilates. The objective is to not solely burn calories but to boost your body’s metabolism and response to exercise through recovery and rebuilding.
- Manage stress: Stress is not something we are going to eliminate, and a little bit is not necessarily a bad thing. But when your stress level gets out of whack, your metabolism suffers. Stress causes your hormones, such as cortisol, to overproduce and affects your insulin sensitivity. You tend to sleep less and gain weight. We also tend to overeat and exercise less when we are stressed.
- Sleep well. Even a single interruption in your normal 6-8 hours per night sleep pattern has a detrimental effect on fat metabolism and tissue recovery from exercising. Plan your sleep routine as you would a workout. When you give your body a full night sleep on a consistent basis, you are supporting the release of important hormones. Melatonin is one of these hormones that help control your daily metabolic rate.
Your energy levels, ability to work out, and weight gain or loss all depend on your body’s metabolic processes. If you implement these four simple strategies, your body will operate more efficiently. You’ll maintain weight loss, which makes for a happier new year.
It’s OK to eat chocolate, but do so BEFORE you get uptight. Also, check the label to make sure it’s not loaded with milk and sugar.
Research has shown that obese women have higher levels of cortisol than those who maintain a healthy weight. Cortisol triggers the accumulation of fat, especially around organs and the abdomen, which can contribute to depression, heart disease and stroke. Yet a 2009 study found that people who ate 40 grams (1 ounce) of dark chocolate every day for two weeks saw a decrease in their cortisol levels. Another study in 2010 found that people who ate chocolate over the course of 30 days lowered their levels of anxiety.
But, timing is everything. Be sure to eat the right kind of chocolate before — not after — the onset of anxiety or stress. Those who ate chocolate in response to stress generally felt just as depressed after their chocolate fix as they did before. Their depressed feelings lasted approximately three minutes, which was long enough for them to reach for more chocolate.
Eating chocolate regularly in small amounts at the right time allows your body to slowly build up levels of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that regulate stress hormones. So, remember to slow down when consuming chocolate, and savor it is small doses for the best results.
Also remember to choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate because milk blocks your body’s ability to absorb the antidepressant antioxidants (polyphenols). So to make chocolate healthy food, you should eat it with at least 70% cocoa. The higher the percentage, the better it is for you. If the percentage it not clearly labeled on the wrapper, you should probably stay away from it.
It’s best to limit yourself to 40 grams of “good” chocolate a day. Divide the bars into servings about the size of the end joint of your thumb for best results. Eating more than 40 grams has no added benefit.
Eat the right kind of chocolate (70 percent and up) “mindfully,” as I like to say. Don’t’ chew or suck on it. Let it sit on your tongue and melt slowly. This causes the flavor to linger and tricks your brain into thinking you are eating the entire time. Mindful eaters are far less likely to overindulge.
If you don’t like the taste of low-sugar, dark chocolate, try adding cocoa powder (not Dutch chocolate, which has been heavily processed) to your foods. Add a few tablespoons to your morning oatmeal or other low-sugar cereals. Hot chocolate is good too, but make sure you use almond milk or soymilk, thus avoiding dairy fat. But limit yourself to eight tablespoons of cocoa powder a day.
Now that we are in the holiday season, many of us resign ourselves to the weight gain that typically follows. Indeed, it is very hard to pass up holiday sweets that seem to be everywhere as well as extra servings of a traditional family dish. That’s why so many weight loss books are published at this time promising a “New Year, New You.”
So it’s no surprise that the No. 1 New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. But this year consider a broader approach to resolving the problem for more lasting success. Here are 10 points that my health-coaching clients have incorporated into their weight-management programs that you may want to consider:
Finally the cooler weather is upon us, which for me, is “tea time.” But, like most everything I consume, I play a game of sorts with myself to determine what’s healthiest for my body. However, tea is a bit different.
All varieties of tea — whether it is black tea, green, oolong (between green and black) or white —are good for me, and probably you too. The health benefits include keeping your mind sharp and reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Yes, tea is the number two beverage, behind water, as the most sipped beverage worldwide is loaded with disease fighting plant compounds and antioxidants.
True teas are made from the leaves of Camellia sinensis plant. Differences in flavor and color depend on the how the leaves are rolled, crushed and exposed to air before drying. Herbal teas are infused with herbs and spices.
So like anything good for you, how much should you consume? Some experts recommend having 2-3 cups per day. Since tea, like coffee, has caffeine, balance your intake with de-caffeinated varieties or take fewer sips. Black tea has the most caffeine, with 72 mgs in 12 ounces, about half of what a cup of coffee would have in the same size serving. And if your preference is decaf tea, double up on the teas bags to get the same beneficial plant compounds because the de-caf process dilutes some of the healthy compounds.
A few words of warning, though: Don’t load up your tea with sugar and cream. This can add a huge whopping of calories and sugar to your healthy routine. Also if you do not peculiarly like tea, a supplement with the green tea extract powders is not OK. The benefits you might get are overshadowed by the risks of dizziness, ringing in the ears, elevated blood pressure and heart rate, liver damage and possible death. Need I say more!
One of the things I look forward to each morning is a cup of fresh-brewed coffee. In fact, I enjoy it so much I often list it as one of the three things I am grateful for each week. My morning Joe helps me to ease into my routine; it is my time to be quiet and savor the beginning of a new day.
What I have learned is that I am not alone, 54 percent of all adults in the United States drink coffee daily. If you fall into that category, you may be happy to learn that coffee drinking is a healthy habit. Coffee is full of disease-fighting antioxidants, as are many other plants. Yes, we often forget that coffee is actually a plant. The coffee bean contains more than 1,000 naturally occurring substances called “phytochemicals.” They are antioxidants that protect cells from damage by free radicals in your body.
Drinking coffee has also been shown to reduce tooth cavities, boost athletic performance, improve mood, and stop headaches. It also can reduce your chance of getting Type 2 diabetes, lower cancer risk, prevent strokes, and fight off Parkinson disease. Coffee also improves cognitive function as we age.
So how much coffee do we need to drink each day to reap these wonderful benefits?
Researchers have found that for those who drink four to six cups per day, versus only two or fewer, their risk for Type 2 diabetes decreased by almost 30 percent. The number decreases by 35 percent for people who drink more than six cups per day. Of course, my first thought when I read this was four to six cups a day is too much. I’d be bouncing off the walls. The good news is the benefits are the same if you drink decaffeinated coffee.
Regular black coffee only has two calories so it’s a great alternative beverage to soft drinks or energy drinks. The federal dietary guidelines state that up to five cups of coffee a day are in line with a healthy diet. But make sure you go easy on the cream, sugar and other additives… We don’t want to turn a healthy habit into something that negates the good!