More and more studies have been supporting the concept of mindful eating when it comes to weight loss, weight control, and overall health. Here’s the 101 on this popular method that can help you develop healthier eating habits.
What’s Mindful Eating?
Eating mindfully involves an awareness of the foods you choose to eat, the environment you eat in and your hunger cues. Many folks don’t pay attention to their daily habits which may be leading to unhealthy eating (such as mindlessly munching in front of the TV). It’s common practice to take a bag of chips and relax in front of the TV for the evening. By the time the commercials hit, you’re wondering where all your chips went.
You really want to use all your senses when eating mindfully. Taste the food by savoring every bite, eat in a quiet environment or with pleasant conversation, smell the delicious flavors, and look at variety of colors (from fruits and veggies) that are on your plate.
Some mindful eating programs also incorporate meditation and gentle stretching. These techniques help decrease overall stress, which can help lower calorie intake if you like to eat when you’re stressed.
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There’s tons of nutrition information swirling around and oftentimes you’re left wondering what or who you should believe. Here are 7 signs that you’re receiving bad (and sometimes even dangerous) nutrition advice.
#1: Lack of Significant Research
Nutrition advice should be based on significant scientific research that was conducted in peer-reviewed journals over months or even better, years. The majority of the research will back up a specific theory with a few straggler studies that may point at the other side. If you’re being quoted a study, be sure what you are being told reflects all the research in that area. In addition, ask who sponsored the research as sponsored studies may be one sided. Oftentimes, this will raise a big red flag if someone hasn’t done their homework.
#2: Lots of Persuasive Anecdotes
You may find a diet or a diet expert with tons of followers who all swear that the diet plan or advice is THE BEST they ever followed. These folks will tell you how they lost hundreds of pounds—and that you will too.
Although it may sound like you MUST try it, it’s important to remember that every person is different and has individualized needs. Some diets or advice may be not be safe for folks on certain medications or with certain diseases (like Parkinson’s or diabetes), so you need to check with your doctor before trying anything new. It’s also important to make sure the science is also there to back the advice up — just relying on anecdotes just isn’t enough.
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You’ve been trying so hard to shed pounds, but notice the scale tipping the other way. Before you toss your arms up in defeat, perhaps there are reasons why you’re gaining weight that you never thought of. My clients often tell me they’re sure they should be losing weight, but sometimes I point out the little things that really make a difference.
#1: Oil Overkill
Olive oil is a healthy fat—and so are some hyped-up expensive oils like grape seed and macadamia nut oil. Regardless of which type of oil you use, they all contain 120 calories per tablespoon. You need to be VERY careful about how much oil you’re cooking with or using in dressings and marinades.
Solve it: Aim for 1 to 2 teaspoons per person in one sitting to get your oil fix without going overboard.
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Your weight loss journey began with the pounds melting away. Then one day BOOM, you’ve entered a weight loss plateau and can’t lose another pound. The worst thing to do is give up. Instead follow our tips to help you start losing again.
What’s a Weight Loss Plateau?
During the first week or so of a new weight loss plan, you’ll often find that you’re losing weight at a quick rate. This happens due to a combo of cutting calories, increasing exercise and water weight loss. Once your body becomes accustomed to the changes and settles into a new equilibrium, it needs fewer calories to accomplish the same activities. In order to get your body to continue to lose weight, you don’t want to slash calories to the max. Instead, you need to examine the nitty gritty details of your daily life and activities to see where small changes can be made. Here are 7 places to start.
#1: Measure and Weigh
I often see food records that are inaccurate. You think you ate one serving or four ounces of meat when in reality it’s much more. Studies also reveal that most folks underestimate how much they really eat. Use a simple food scale and keep your measuring spoons and cups handy.
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This popular diet has a die-hard following. We’ll tell you if coconut oil is the ultimate superfood that’ll help you shed pounds or just another fad diet making waves.
The theory behind this diet is that when coconut oil is combined with a low-carb diet, it’ll help melt the pounds away. This is due to the fact that coconut oil is made from medium-chained triglycerides which are more easily absorbed by the body (as opposed to long chained triglycerides found in most other oils).
The alleged secret ingredient to this weight loss plan is eating 2 to 3 tablespoons of coconut oil every day. The diet discourages high-carb foods like refined grains, potatoes, sugars, desserts and alcohol while encouraging antioxidant-rich veggies and lean protein. After following this plan, it promises that you’ll lose weight — a staggering 10 pounds or more in the first 3 weeks, which then slows to 1-2 pounds a week — and your food cravings.
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- Remember the grapefruit diet?
I’ve read over 200 diet books and some of the advice I’ve come across is just plain wacky or even worse, dangerous to your health. Here are some of the nuttiest plans out there and suggestions on how to choose the right diet plan for you.
Oldies but Goodies
Some of the most famous fad diets are those that promote eating one specific food. These include:
Many of these diets have come out with updated versions that incorporate several well-balanced meals into their plan. However, their premise is still the same. They believe that eating more of a certain food is healthier and can help you lose weight. Unfortunately, more of one food usually mean less of another—and we should be eating a wide variety to make sure we’re meeting our nutritional needs.
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Want to know how to lose weight and keep it off? Registered dietitian Joy Bauer has helped folks lose hundreds of pounds on her Today show series Joy Fit Club. I had the privilege to speak with Joy on how people can achieve long-term weight loss success.
Q: Congrats on your new book The Joy Fit Club: Cookbook, Diet Plan & Inspiration. What prompted you to write this book which showcases 30 the personal stories of folks who successfully lost weight?
Thanks! I started the Joy Fit Club series on the TODAY show about 4 years ago – we were looking for a powerful way to inspire viewers and show them that lasting weight loss is possible. Every other week, we induct a new member into the club — someone who has lost at least 100 pounds with diet and exercise alone (no pills, potions, fasting, or surgeries). The series was so popular and we got so many questions from viewers after the stories aired that we decided to put together a companion book, which would allow us to go into greater depth on the strategies our members used to achieve success.
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The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Diet has been traditionally recommended for those with high blood pressure. However, this diet was recently ranked as the Best Overall Diet for Healthy Eating by U.S. News.
The DASH Diet was created by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in order to help prevent and lower high blood pressure (AKA hypertension). The diet promotes nutrients like potassium, calcium, fiber and protein, which have been shown help reduce high blood pressure. The plan emphasizes that you take in these nutrients by eating a variety of foods especially fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. High calorie meats (like red meat), high fat and high sugar foods are all discouraged, and reducing salt intake is encouraged. Although this plan was created for those with high blood pressure, it is no more than a well-balanced diet where whole foods are encouraged while high calorie and processed foods are discouraged.
The plan also encourages regular exercise and an overall healthy lifestyle including not smoking.
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- Do you need help keeping your new year's resolution?
If your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, it’s time to prepare yourself. Once times get tough, the excuses start coming. We asked top nutrition experts from around the country some of the most popular or outlandish excuses they’ve heard over the years. Do any of them sound familiar?
Excuse #1: “I end up eating my kid’s sweet snacks.”
D. Milton Stokes, MPH RD CDN, a Connecticut-based dietitian in private practice says “This is truly outlandish because the child doesn’t have to have those snacks (not that the snacks are forbidden, but unhealthy snacks aren’t manditory), but the parent seems to be using the child as a vehicle for dietary sabotage.”
Solution: Be mindful of the snacks coming into your home. Choose sweet snacks sparingly or for special occasions.
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- Should you announce your diet plans, or keep them a secret?
One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. But once you begin your diet plan, should you announce it to everyone or keep your lips sealed?
Q: What’s the best way to ensure weight loss success, tell your friends and loved ones or keep it secret?
A: There’s no right or wrong way to do it. At the end of the day, to get rid of that gut, you’ve got to go with your gut!
Research supports that a lack of motivation and accountability are common barriers to dropping those pounds. That’s why weight loss programs like Weight Watchers consider meetings and weigh-ins keys to success. On the other hand, some experts argue that you’re better off keeping things quiet.
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