Is Your Commute Making You Fat?
A new study of British commuters conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health has found that those with long, “non-active” work commutes — passive rides in trains, buses or cars – may suffer consequences including heightened stress, blood pressure and BMI and decreased time for healthy activities, such as cooking nutritious meals, exercising and getting adequate sleep. Almost 38 percent of those polled said their long commute meant they had less time to make healthy meals at home, and 29 percent said their commute compelled them to eat more fast food. Noting that the survey found, too, that workers were consuming an extra 767 calories per week due to their long commutes, Health.com suggests eating a healthy breakfast (prepared ahead of time, if necessary) before leaving the house. Read more
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Granola: Snack at Your Own Risk
Americans think of granola as healthy, but the granola we buy in stores or, often, make at home is usually so loaded with sugar we may as well be eating a piece of cake, a handful of cookies or a doughnut. In some cases, that cup of granola we eat for breakfast may actually contain more sugar than some of those dessert items, The New York Times notes, which explains why the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines categorize granola as a “grain-based dessert.” Some nutritionists say you can manage a healthier workaround by buying unsweetened granola and preparing it without adding sugar, but others just advise avoiding it altogether. Read more
Healthy Eating: The Teen Scene
If you want to instill healthy-eating habits in your children, obsessing about your own weight around them is not a great idea; it may increase the risk that they will develop eating disorders or obesity during their adolescent years and beyond. That’s according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has released new guidelines on preventing obesity and eating disorders in adolescents. The AAP recommends that parents discourage their children from dieting, severely restricting their calorie intake or skipping meals. Parents should encourage healthy eating and physical activity; make family meals, where adults model healthy eating, a priority; refrain from “weight talk,” either about their own or their children’s weight, and instead focus on “healthful-eating behaviors”; steer clear of “weight teasing” and try to encourage a healthy body image overall; and be aware of bullying or extreme weight-loss efforts in overweight or obese teens. Overall, UPI notes, a focus on a healthy lifestyle, rather than a weight, is the way to go. Read more
Department of Advance Planning
Spontaneity has its charms, but if you want to make better food choices, you may want to plan ahead. When people experienced a delay between the time they ordered their food and the time they intended to eat it, they consistently made healthier, lower-calorie choices. And they generally weren’t even aware they were doing so, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have found. Eric M. VanEpps, who led the research, said it’s not just that people are less hungry when they order in advance and therefore order less; it’s also due to their “bias toward the present,” he said. “If a decision is going to be implemented immediately, we just care about the immediate consequences, and we discount the long-term costs and benefits,” he told The New York Times. “In the case of food, we care about what’s happening right now — like how tasty it is — but discount the long-term costs of an unhealthy meal.” However, when you order a meal ahead of time, he said, “you’re more evenly weighing the short-term and the long-term costs and benefits. You still care about the taste, but you’re more able to exert self control.”
Where our diets go wrong
When it comes to the healthfulness of Americans’ diets, something’s not adding up. Even though more than 80 percent of us don’t eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables, many of us overdo it with refined grains and sugar, and 36 percent of us are obese, 75 percent of us claim our diets are healthy, NPR reports, citing a recent national poll it co-conducted. What gives? Experts tell NPR it could be a matter of portion size — that we’re overeating foods that are healthy when consumed in moderation. Another factor in the discrepancy might be that we’re eating foods — like sugar-loaded granola bars — that we think are healthy, perhaps because they are marketed to us that way, but that really are not so good for us. Read more
New nondairy beverages beyond soy and almond are popping up on market shelves left and right. Here are some of the lesser-known varieties you’ll want to add to your repertoire.
One cup of original macadamia milk contains 70 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 1 grams of protein and 6 grams of sugar. The calories and nutrients vary between brands, so be sure to check the nutrition facts panel. Many brands fortify their macadamia milk in order to up the nutrition. Look for macadamia milk with added vitamins A, B-12 and D.
Made with oats, oat bran and salt, oat milk has a creamy texture and helps you get the daily recommended amount of whole grains (though without all the fiber). As with many other milk-alternative beverages, oat milk beverage isn’t a suitable substitute for the recommended daily servings of dairy. It does naturally contain calcium and iron, but do look for fortified versions that also contain other nutrients, like vitamin D, riboflavin and vitamin A.
Can’t eat just one …
We eat in hopes of satisfying our hunger, but some foods actually do the opposite, activating areas in our brain and gut that stir our desire for more. “The sight, smell, or taste of some food will trigger the cephalic food response,” Dr. Belinda Lennerz, an endocrinologist affiliated with Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, told Time. The news magazine’s website fingers nine foods that create, rather than curb, cravings. They are … processed carbs like 1) potato chips, 2) crackers and 3) bread; sugary foods like 4) cookies, 5) cake and 6) sweets; easy-to-swallow foods like 7) low-fat, single-serve yogurt; and 8) diet drinks and 9) artificially sweetened snack foods. Read more
Is the American government underwriting your weakness for junk food? A new study appears to confirm what health advocates have been saying for a while: that federally subsidized crops — corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, sorghum, milk and meat — are key ingredients in the foods that account for the most calories in the American diet, fueling the U.S. obesity crisis. At the very top of that list, The New York Times reports, are “grain-based desserts like cookies, doughnuts and granola bars.” Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that people who consumed the most federally subsidized foods were 37 percent more likely to be obese, the Times notes, and were “significantly more likely to have belly fat, abnormal cholesterol, and high levels of blood sugar and CRP, a marker of inflammation.” The study’s authors say they hope their findings help policy makers re-examine how they allocate subsidies. Read more
You already know they’re good for you in all kinds of ways, but the latest research on fruits and vegetables has revealed some very surprising results. Apparently, eating more produce can actually increase your level of happiness over time. The newly released study, conducted at the University of Warwick, followed 12,000 people who kept food diaries and had their psychological well-being measured. What it found is that people got incrementally happier with every daily serving of fruit and vegetables they ate (up to eight portions a day). Why the connection between increased produce consumption and increased happiness? Researchers don’t know for sure, but one possible theory is that the abundance of antioxidants the fruits and vegetables provides leads to higher levels of carotenoids in the blood — and having higher levels of carotenoids has been linked to optimism. Read more
Can water help you lose weight?
One way to lower your BMI may be to drink more water. A new study, published in the Annals of Family Medicine, has found a link between hydration and weight. Examining data from approximately 9,500 U.S. adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers at the University of Michigan found that 33 percent of participants were not properly hydrated, and that those who were not tended to have a higher body mass index than those who were. Time notes that the best way to tell if you are adequately hydrated is to gauge the color of your urine: If it’s dark, you need to drink more water or eat more hydrating foods — like fresh fruits and vegetables. If it’s light, you should be A-OK. More research is needed to understand the link between hydration and weight. “But,” study author Dr. Tammy Chang told Time, “staying hydrated is good for you no matter what.” Read more