Weight Loss

If you are wanting to transition to a more plant-based lifestyle – the one thing people struggle with most is finding good sources of protein – These are the best vegan and vegetarian protein options!

Whether you’re a strict vegan, a vegetarian, or you just want to avoid meat for a while the following information might help you navigate our 1234 Diet regardless of your reasons. You can eat the following as part of the protocol or simply as part of a diet of your own design. Please be aware that these options will provide slower weight loss on average and might stall weight loss as well. The items should be varied with each meal and each day. The below-serving sizes and calories are average amounts without listing specific brands for each item. Be sure to read all labels carefully and stay close to the serving size and calories listed.

Tofu:
Extra Firm 1 oz. 30 Cal.
Firm 1 oz. 28 Cal.
Regular (medium firm) 1 oz. 23 Cal.
Soft (silken) 1 oz. 20 Cal.
Meat substitutes 1 oz. 50 Cal. (Miso Soup w/Tofu & Spring Onions pre-pkgd.: 1 Cup = 95 Cal.)

Non-Dairy Milk: (select unsweetened varieties)
Almond Milk – plain/unsweetened 1 Cup 40 Cal. Vanilla 1 Cup 30 Cal.
Hemp Milk – plain/unsweetened 1 Cup 80 Cal. Vanilla 1 Cup 75 Cal.
Rice Milk – plain/unsweetened 1 Cup 120 Cal. Vanilla 1 Cup 130 Cal.
Coconut Milk – plain/unsweetened 1 Cup 45 Cal. Original 1 Cup 80 Cal. Vanilla 1 Cup 110 Cal.
Soy Milk – plain/unsweetened 1 Cup 90 Cal. Light original 1 Cup 70 Cal. Vanilla 1 Cup 100 Cal. Light vanilla 1 Cup 70 Cal.

Protein Powder: (select unsweetened varieties)
Flavored or Unflavored 20 – 30 grams 80 – 120 Cal. (grains, greens, hemp, rice, seeds, veggies, etc.) (AVOID: whey protein powder)

Tempeh: Plain (fermented soybeans) 1 oz. 60 Cal.

Seitan: Strips/Cubes – plain (wheat gluten) 3.5 oz. 130 Cal.
Ground/Crumbled – plain 3.5 oz. 117 Cal.

Peas:
Snow, Sugar Snap (in pods) – raw/whole 1 Cup 26 Cal.
Green Peas (out of pods) – raw 1 Cup 117 Cal.

Chickpeas:
Garbanzo Beans – canned ½ Cup 130 Cal.
Hummus 1 Tbl. 27 Cal.

Beans:
Green Beans (Snow, String) – raw (half-inch pieces) 1 Cup 40 Cal.
Edamame (in pods) – raw/steamed 10 pods 30 Cal. (out of the pods = too many calories/avoid)
Mung Bean Sprouts – raw 1 Cup 31 Cal.
Kidney Beans – raw/uncooked ¼ Cup 155 Cal.
Canned ½ Cup 108 Cal.
Black Beans – raw/uncooked ½ Cup 166 Cal.
Canned ½ Cup 110 Cal.
Pinto Beans – raw/uncooked ¼ Cup 168 Cal.
Canned ½ Cup 120 Cal.
Lentils – raw/uncooked ¼ Cup 170 Cal.

Seeds:
Sunflower Seed Kernels (with or without salt) 1 Tbl. 95 Cal.
Chia Seeds (raw) 1 Tbl. 70 Cal.
Flaxseeds (Linseeds) – raw 1 Tbl. 75 Cal.
Ground Meal 1 Tbl. 40 Cal.
Hemp Seeds – raw/shelled 1 Tbl. 55 Cal.
Sesame Seeds – whole/dried 1 Tbl. 30 Cal.
Sesame Butter (Tahini) 1 Tbl. 100 Cal.

Nuts: (high calories for minimal amount…use minimally and with caution for best results)
Almonds – raw (about 24 nuts) 1 oz. 164 Cal.
Walnuts – raw (about 14 halves) 1 oz. 195 Cal.
Cashews – raw (about 18 nuts) 1 oz. 165 Cal.
PistachioVegan & Vegetarian Protein Options

Whether you’re a strict vegan, a vegetarian, or you just want to avoid meat for a while the following information might help you navigate our 1234 Diet regardless of your reasons. You can eat the following as part of the protocol or simply as part of a diet of your own design. Please be aware that these options will provide slower weight loss on average and might stall weight loss as well. The items should be varied with each meal and each day. The below-serving sizes and calories are average amounts without listing specific brands for each item. Be sure to read all labels carefully and stay close to the serving size and calories listed.

 

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Summer is a great time to get outside and be active – how many calories do you burn doing the things you love to do?! Get out there and get active!

When the weather is nice and you get the urge to go out and enjoy it you aren’t necessarily thinking about how many calories you’re burning while having fun.  However, if you do happen to be paying attention to it then here are some activities and the calories they burn (on average) to help you keep track:

(These numbers are the average calories burned and are based on a 150-pound individual doing 1 hour of activity)

  • Outdoor Yoga: 175
  • Mowing the Lawn: 350
  • Surfing: 175
  • Swimming: 350
  • Frisbee: 200
  • Hiking: 375
  • Gardening: 250
  • Rollerblading: 400
  • Canoeing/Kayaking: 250
  • Paddle Boarding: 400
  • Golf (no cart): 250
  • Tennis: 500
  • Biking: 300
  • Soccer: 500
  • Beach Volleyball: 300
  • Rock Climbing: 550

 

These figures are meant to give you an idea of what the caloric burn can be…actual calories burned are based on several factors including weight and how long the activity is done.  

Here is a good calculator to look up different activities and the calories they can burn:  

https://www.myfitnesspal.com/exercise/lookup

Also, there are many great websites to look up the calories for certain types of foods (and their portions) so you can also calculate what you’re eating.  When used correctly these tools can not only let you see what calories you’re consuming but also know how much and what movement you need to incorporate to burn those calories (and then some) to see weight loss.

Here are just a few calorie calculators that might help:

 

  1. https://www.myfitnesspal.com/
  2. https://caloriecontrol.org/healthy-weight-tool-kit/food-calorie-calculator/
  3. https://www.choosemyplate.gov/MyPlatePlan

 

As always, please review everything with your health care provider to make sure you’re able to safely do any outdoor activity and take precautions to not overheat.  Have fun and enjoy the great outdoors!

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Coconut Oil seems to be amongst the coolest of the superfoods, after reviewing the many health benefits it is no surprise as to why!

Coconut oil seems to be on the lips of just about everyone you meet these days.  It’s being touted as useful for everything from a healthier cooking oil option and a super healthy fat, to a great make-up remover, hair and face moisturizer…not to mention the multiple health elements and weight loss benefits.  Coconut oil is everywhere, but is it really all that it’s hyped up to be? Actually…yes it is!

The healthy aspect of the coconut oil lies in the medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s).  These are healthy saturated fats that aren’t stored in significant amounts in the body…but instead go straight to the liver where they’re used as a quick source of energy or turned into ketones.  Ketones are an energy source that provides improved hormone balance, lowered inflammation, brain benefits, and weight loss. These MCT’s are the key to what makes coconut oil such a miraculous superfood.

The main thing about coconut oil (whether in the jar or in a capsule) is to be sure to pay attention to HOW it’s made and that the product only contains coconut.  There are keywords/phrases to look for when buying coconut oil…here they are and what they mean:

  • Cold Pressed:  the oils are “pressed” out of the coconut flesh (or meat) and no heat is used…this preserves the healthy MCT’s in the coconut oil.
  • Unrefined:  no chemical processing has been done to the “meat” of the coconut so the nutrients are preserved; also known as “virgin” or “pure” coconut oil.
  • Virgin:  used along with “unrefined” and meaning the same thing…that it has no chemical processing so nutrients are preserved; “virgin” & “extra virgin” mean the same thing when it comes to coconut oil.
  • Non-GMO/GMO-Free:  a “Genetically Modified Organism” refers to plants, animals, or other organisms whose genetic material has been changed in ways that do not occur naturally; GMO-free means the ingredients have not been created in a lab…they are natural.

Here are some of the multiple health benefits of using coconut oil…whether having a tablespoon or two of the “meat” or oil each day, cooking with it or in supplement form:

  1. Healing:  helps repair damaged tissues, assists with healthy liver function, and helps repair kidney issues
  2. Immune System:  enhances the immune system and supports a healthy body; antibacterial and anti-fungal
  3. Digestion:  promotes nutrient absorption, enhances metabolism, improves beneficial gut bacteria levels, and helps burn fat which aids in weight loss
  4. Diabetes:  helps control blood sugar levels and boosts insulin secretion
  5. Heart:  promotes a healthy heart and healthy blood pressure levels
  6. Head:  aids in reducing mental fatigue and boosting brain function
  7. Skin:  helps reduce wrinkles, sagging and dry, flaking skin; can be used as a make-up remover and moisturizer
  8. Hair:  helps reduce protein loss from hair while promoting healthy hair and scalp
  9. Bones & Teeth:  boosts bone strength and dental health

There are still calories in coconut oil and although the fats are beneficial they are still fats…so please check with your doctor to see if it’s okay for you to use.  Have fun with the many uses of this superfood…Enjoy!

If you, like many people, struggle with finding ways to consume coconut oil – try our coconut oil supplements!! They come in an easy to swallow gel cap that makes it easier than ever to get your coconut oil in!

 

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Apple Cider Vinegar has become all the rage, but why?? Is it worthy of all the buzz – here are 8 surprising benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar that you might not be aware of!

There has been a lot of mention lately about the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar and what all it can do for you…but why exactly is it so popular?  Just some of the many benefits include weight loss, possibly lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, stabilizing blood sugar, enhancing skin health, and relieving acid reflux symptoms.  But what exactly is apple cider vinegar and why is it so good for you?

Apple cider vinegar is a vinegar made from apples, sugar, and yeast.  ACV, as some call it, is the most popular type of vinegar in the natural health community and specifically when it contains “The Mother”…the sediment left in the vinegar when it’s unrefined, unpasteurized, and unfiltered.  This “mother” is a cloudy colony of beneficial bacteria that helps create vinegar through a secondary fermentation process. This makes a vinegar that is high in acetic acid, antioxidants, and probiotics and a better all-around choice for health than the traditional “clear” ACV.

There are many benefits of consuming apple cider vinegar due to its high potassium and enzyme levels.  Here are just a few of the ways to use ACV:

  1. Helps Stomach Troubles:  mix 1-2 Tbl. into water or juice and drink when needed.
  2. Soothes a Sore Throat:  mix equal parts ACV with warm water and gargle every hour.
  3. Prevents Indigestion:  mix 1 tsp. honey and 1 tsp. ACV into a glass of warm water and drink it 30 minutes before eating.
  4. Clears a Stuffy Nose:  mix 1 tsp. ACV into a glass of warm water and drink to help sinus drainage.
  5. Aids in Weight Loss:  the acetic acid suppresses appetite, increases metabolism, and reduces water retention so try taking about 2 oz. straight before meals.
  6. Reduces Nighttime Leg Cramps:  mix 2 Tbl. ACV and 1 tsp. honey into warm water and drink before going to bed.
  7. Helps Control Blood Sugar:  have 2 Tbl. of ACV before bed or mix equal parts ACV and water then drink before eating a high carbohydrate meal.
  8. Boosts Energy:  mix 1-2 Tbl. of ACV into a glass of chilled vegetable juice or water when you’re feeling tired.

There are also topical ways to use Apple Cider Vinegar that include getting rid of dandruff, clearing acne, fading bruises, whitening teeth, and banishing bad breath.  However, you choose to use Apple Cider Vinegar just know it’s more than something to use for dressings or to cook with. Apple Cider Vinegar is a multi-purpose player in your health regimen that has been used for centuries both internally and externally for health, wellness, beauty, and flavor!

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When it comes to eating fats these days the mantra has changed a bit from years past.  It used to be that “fat free” was the standard to follow if you wanted to lose weight…but not so much anymore.  Now we realize that “healthy fats” are an important part of losing weight…in moderation, of course. So what are the fats that we should be eating while trying to lose weight and exactly how much is okay?

There is a lot of misconception out there in regards to what healthy fats are, how much we actually need, and what is good for us (especially when trying to shed a few pounds).  First, let’s address what a “healthy fat” is and how much the average person needs. Healthy fats are found in many natural foods like fatty fish, avocados, nuts, seeds, beans, olive oil, eggs, etc. and the average person should have about 50 grams of “healthy fat” daily.  Now this varies depending on your size, dietary requirements and restrictions, and whether or not you’re trying to lose weight. It’s also expressed in a percentage in relationship to calories but 50 grams is on the lower end and a good average number.

There are so many different variations on the role of healthy fats In weight loss, it can be confusing and misleading in a lot of ways!

 

Now on to what you should be eating if you wish to shed a few pounds.  Many people think they have to completely cut out all fats in order to lose weight…not true.  What usually causes weight issues is actually too much sugar and starch (carbs) and not so many fats…unless you’re eating a lot of saturated (unhealthy) fats that is.  Healthy fats are essential for energy, for proper nerve and brain function, to support cell growth, and to help protect your organs. Fats also help the body absorb some nutrients and produce certain important hormones.  The key is to eat healthy fat options and NOT indulge in unhealthy ones.

So, what are some things to remember when trying to lose weight AND still eat healthy fats?  Here are a few tips and tricks for eating healthy fats while trying to lose weight:

  1. Not all oils are created equal:  Try using these oils for cooking and dressings…coconut, peanut, avocado, macadamia nut, walnut, olive, canola, and flaxseed.
  2. Natural fatty foods:   Use in moderation…avocados, whole eggs, fatty fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna, etc.), nuts & nut butters (almond, cashew, walnut, peanut, etc.), seeds (flax, chia, pumpkin, etc.), beans & legumes (lentils, peas, etc.), coconut, full fat dairy (Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, cream cheese, feta, mozzarella, Swiss, etc.), beef, chicken, and dark chocolate.
  3. Moderation is the key:  As with most things health-related…moderation, moderation, moderation!  Don’t have too many “natural” fats as this can put on weight and might cause cholesterol issues.  Still select lean cuts of meat and poultry and balance fat intake with proper nutrition in other categories (vegetables, fruits, healthy grains, etc.).  And always incorporate exercise daily into your routine as a sedentary lifestyle not only puts on weight and keeps it there but the negative health effects are numerous.

Eating healthy fats isn’t a license to overindulge and certainly not meant to give the green light to too many burgers, fries, and pizza nights.  There are still calories in healthy fatty foods, so counting those calories is still a part of balancing what you eat with what you do to burn it off.  Hopefully, this information provides you with a head start on understanding ways to incorporate healthy fats into your diet and maybe lose some weight in the process.

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With Pre-Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes becoming such an epidemic is taking control now and following a Diabetic Diet right for you?

An estimated 23.1 million people in the United States have currently been diagnosed with diabetes and the Center for Disease Control estimates that another 7.2 million have undiagnosed diabetes, while another 84.1 million adults have pre-diabetes.  Sound like an epidemic? Well, many healthcare professionals believe it is and if not controlled much better the statistics are only going to get worse. So, what do you do to avoid becoming one of these statistics? Try eating like you have diabetes and enjoy the benefits of what this healthy association with food brings you.

I have had diabetes for a couple of decades and my doctors believe that I actually was suffering from it long before being diagnosed.  I found out when pregnant with my first child I’m now insulin dependent as things have progressively become worse with my pancreas not producing hardly any insulin.  So…this means that I MUST eat a diabetic diet in order to stay healthy…but when you examine what a diabetic diet is you can see how it’s beneficial for everyone…diabetic or not.

 

In a nutshell, eating like a diabetic means that you’re having low-carb selections, plenty of protein, minimal healthy fats, and of course…avoiding sugar!  Well, believe it or not, this is easier said than done since nature provides plenty of “sweet” options that are healthy yet high in sugar. Many people think “avoid sugar” means to not put “the white stuff” in food and drinks, avoid regular soda, etc…but it also means avoid “natural sugar” as well.  Items like mangos, bananas, pineapple, cherries, grapes, and especially ANY dried fruits (drying concentrates the natural sugars in the fruit) are all naturally high in sugar and should be eaten VERY sparingly or not at all. Items that are high carbs and starches (wheat, rice, winter squashes, parsnips, potatoes, corn, etc.) also need to be greatly minimized in the diet or omitted altogether.  

It’s not always easy to know what to eat and what not to eat and there are literally thousands of diabetic diets, food lists, etc. out there that sometimes only add to the confusion.  The best way to look at “eating like a diabetic” is to help your body stay healthy and NOT cause yourself issues by incorporating some of the basic principles of a diabetic diet that are the easiest to follow:

  1. Avoid “the white stuff”…this means white flour, white rice, white root vegetables, and of course…sugar!
  2. Cut out sugary drinks…juices, sodas, energy drinks, coffee concoctions, and even those smoothies that do contain some healthy ingredients but usually a whole lot of sugar.
  3. Avoid artificial sweeteners…these are actually many times sweeter than real sugar and make your brain and body crave more sweetness…making cutting back exceptionally difficult.
  4. Eat items as they appear in nature…avoid packaged foods as much as possible as well as eating out too much.  Many times sugar and/or fats are used for better flavor (not to mention too much salt) and can cause multiple problems with keeping to a proper diet.
  5. Still, watch your calories…even if you’re eating healthy and like a diabetic you still need to watch how many calories you’re consuming as being overweight contributes to increased risk for diabetes.

Here are some specific food items in a “lowest to highest” layout that might help you better understand what I mean and give you a good head start to making changes:

Low Carb Vegetables

This list is roughly arranged from lowest to highest carbohydrate counts, but all are non-starchy and generally low in carbohydrates:

  •  Sprouts (bean, alfalfa, etc.)
  •  Greens – lettuces, spinach, chard, etc.
  •  Hearty Greens – collards, mustard greens, kale, etc.
  •  Radicchio and endive count as greens
  •  Herbs – parsley, cilantro, basil, rosemary, thyme, etc.
  •  Bok Choy
  •  Bamboo Shoots
  •  Celery
  •  Radishes
  •  Sea Vegetables (Nori, etc)
  •  Mushrooms
  •  Cabbage (or sauerkraut)
  •  Jicama
  •  Avocado
  •  Asparagus
  •  Okra
  •  Cucumber (or pickles without added sugars)
  •  Green Beans and Wax Beans
  •  Fennel
  • Cauliflower
  •  Broccoli
  •  Peppers (all kinds)
  • Summer Squash (including zucchini)
  •  Brussels Sprouts
  •  Scallions or green onions
  •  Snow Peas/Snap Peas/Pea Pods
  •  Tomatoes
  •  Eggplant
  •  Tomatillos
  •  Artichokes
  •  Turnips
  •  Pumpkin
  •  Rutabagas
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Celery Root (Celeriac)
  • Carrots (use with caution)
  •  Onions
  •  Leeks
  • Water Chestnuts

 

  • Starchy (High Carb) Vegetables,  The main veggies to be avoided when reducing carbohydrates are the starchier vegetables:
  •  Beets
  •  Peas
  •  Winter Squashes (particularly acorn and butternut)
  •  Parsnips
  •  Potatoes (all forms)
  •  Corn
  • Plantains

Choose Low Sugar Fruit
Fruit is an area where some of the low carbs diet part company.  These are sort of arranged by sugar content, taking volume and weight into account. This is not an exhaustive list.  Good news: the fruits lowest in sugar are some of the highest in nutritional value, including antioxidants and other phytonutrients.

Fruits lowest in sugar

  •  Lemon & Lime
  • Rhubarb
  • Raspberries
  • BlackberrieS
  • Cranberries
  • Strawberries
  • Casaba Melon
  • Papaya
  • Watermelon
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Blueberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Apples
  • Guava
  • Apricots
  • Grapefruit

Fruits fairly high in sugar

  • Plums
  • Oranges
  • Kiwi
  • Pears
  • Pineapple

Fruits very high in sugar

  • Tangerines
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Pomegranates
  • Mangos
  • Figs
  • Banana
  • Dried Fruit (dates, raisins, prunes, etc.)

It’s definitely NOT easy to always be so mindful of what you’re eating, how you’re eating, and when you’re eating…but it’s a whole lot easier to do it out of a desire to be more mindful and healthy than it is out of necessity due to a disease.  Even little changes can make a difference and the more you do it the easier it becomes…really!

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Your Metabolism:  What Helps & What Hurts

 

Metabolism…What is it?  What does it do? Well, basically, it’s the sum of everybody function…everything your body does.  Each time you eat your body breaks down the food into energy that keeps your body running. Everything from keeping your heart beating and your legs moving to your mind thinking and regulating everything happening in your body.  People with a fast metabolism burn calories at a greater rate and therefore require more calories…those with a slower metabolism don’t burn as many calories and need to watch how many they consume or the excess will be stored as fat.

There are several things that negatively affect metabolism, some can be avoided but some can’t.  Here are some things that negatively affect (or slow down) your metabolism:

Age:  The older you get the slower your metabolism naturally becomes

Gender:  Women have, on average, slower metabolisms than men

Body Size & Composition:  More muscle mass burns more calories, contributing to a higher metabolic rate

Hormonal Imbalance:  Estrogen in women and Testosterone in men decline as we age and slow metabolism

Poor Nutrition:  People who eat food high in refined sugars and/or saturated fat, and food with poor nutritional value tend to have a slower metabolism

Stress:  This causes cortisol levels to rise which can cause overeating and weight gain

Insomnia:  Sleep deprivation can cause a dysregulation of cortisol, insulin, and leptin…all negatively affecting metabolism

Chronic Diseases (Diabetes, Hypothyroidism, Cushing ’s syndrome, etc.):  These particular diseases slow metabolism as part of their attack on the body

Obesity:  This slows metabolism because obese individuals have a higher fat mass and a lower muscle mass and therefore a slower metabolism

Medications:  Several medications for chronic conditions can slow metabolism (antidepressants, insulin, steroids, hormone therapies, etc.)

Physical Inactivity:  Lack of exercise can cause fat gain and slow metabolism due to a sedentary lifestyle

 

On the flip side, here are things you can do to increase your metabolism and start burning more fat:

 

Eat Regularly:  Eating several small meals during the day is a good way to keep your metabolism running at top speed

Eat Plenty of Protein:  Have protein with every meal to feel full faster and stay full longer to prevent over eating

Drink More Cold Water:  It fills you up, helps you at less, and cold water makes your metabolism speed up as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature

High-Intensity Workout:  These force the metabolism to run at a high rate and stay running high even after the workout is over

Build Muscle:  Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so building muscle can increase your metabolism in general, even when resting

Stand More…Sit Less:  Standing burns more calories and is better for posture than sitting

Green or Oolong Tea:  Both of these help increase metabolism and burn fat

Eat Spicy Foods:  Peppers contain capsaicin, a substance that can boost metabolism

Get Plenty of Rest:  A good night’s sleep keeps the body healthy and the metabolism running at its optimal level

Drink Coffee:  The caffeine in coffee can boost metabolism and promote fat burning (this does not include other caffeinated beverages)

Use Coconut Oil:  Replace other cooking oils/fats with coconut oil…the medium-chain fats in coconut oil can increase metabolism

Even if you are dealing with some of the things that typically slow metabolism, you can still do some of the beneficial recommendations to increase fat burning despite your personal health situation.  It’s never a bad thing to eat better, exercise a bit more, get better rest, and so on, which not only increases metabolism but contributes to a healthier body overall…and that’s the key to feeling better.  So happy fat burning!

 

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The Mediterranean Diet is an eating plan inspired by the diets of the people living in the Mediterranean region.  It’s been touted for years as having many health benefits…lowering the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, fighting certain cancers and chronic diseases, helping you avoid diabetes, and aiding in achieving weight management goals.  Plus, it’s easy, affordable, and delicious!

Is the Mediterranian Diet Right For You_

Many people are confused about what types of foods are allowed on the Mediterranean diet, so here is a brief overview of things you are able to eat on this plan:

 

  • Eat Freely: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil.

 

  • Eat in Moderation: Poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt.

 

  • Avoid: Sugar, sugar-sweetened beverages, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils, and other highly processed foods.

 

Here is an illustration of the items on the Mediterranean Diet and how to eat them:

This eating plan stresses healthy fish (salmon, etc.), healthy oils (olive oil, etc.), whole grains (Quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, etc.), legumes (peas, beans, etc.), nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, etc.), and fresh fruit (berries, apricots, etc.).  While all of these are very healthy options they do still have fats and calories to consider…so be sure to properly portion out items and accurately account for the fat and calories in them.

As with any diet or eating plan, please consider your personal health situation and any medications and/or supplements you take…and please speak with your doctor to make sure the Mediterranean Diet is a healthy and beneficial option for you.  Enjoy all that this plan has to offer for the benefit of your health and possibly in helping you drop a few pounds in the process. Happy Eating!

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Balanced Meal- Balanced Plate… What do these terms really mean?  Are they the same or do they represent different things?  Hopefully, We can clear up some misconceptions about these terms and aid you in eating better with the explanations.

First…Balanced Meals.  This term is thrown around all the time to explain how to eat healthy, whether, on a weight loss plan or a dietary requirement, balanced meals are important.  A balanced meal is one that includes one food from each food group…dairy, vegetables, fruits, grains, and proteins. Dairy is probably the category most often omitted mid-day and evening while vegetables don’t always make it into the morning meal.  In fact, vegetables are probably left out of many people’s diet simply because they don’t like them. The reason a balanced meal is so important is that each food group contains essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to keep your body properly nourished, healthy, and functioning properly.

Here’s an example of a day of balanced meals…utilizing the five food groups:

The one thing that’s a variable is fat…butter, oil, etc…it can be used in moderation but be careful to keep close track of it for a better health choice.

The Balanced Plate or “Plate Method” of healthy eating is similar to having a balanced meal except it’s more of a visual that you can use to properly portion out your meal.  This method says to fill ½ of the plate with 2 servings of non-starchy vegetables, ¼ of the plate with lean protein (about 3 ounces cooked) or another high-protein food, fill ¼ of the plate with a starchy vegetable or whole grain serving.  Dairy and fruits are in minimal amounts. This method allows for more of a specific breakdown of portions yet still allows you to choose what fills those portions. Here’s a typical “Plate Method” for reference:

Regardless of which plan speaks to you, the main focus is being aware of the foods you’re eating and the portion sizes.  It’s easy to eat too much and not properly arrange meals to incorporate all of the food groups, but hopefully, this makes it a bit easier to treat your body to a healthy meal.

 

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How to Read Nutrition Labels

by Michelle on April 10, 2018

Making healthier choices about the foods you eat requires more than discipline.  Fresh foods are of course the main part of a healthy diet, but when you do use packaged items it’s important to know how to read the nutrition labels on those items to ensure you’re making healthy choices.  Hopefully, the information below can make understanding things a bit easier.

 

 

  • Serving Size:  This shows the size of the serving the nutrition fact pertains to as well as how many of those serving are in the item.  Both the Standard unit of measure (United States) and the Metric unit of measure (international) are usually listed.

 

 

 

  • Calories:  These are the total calories per serving size.  This number isn’t the total calories in the item itself but the calories in each serving…so be careful to know how many servings there are in the item and multiply this number by the number of servings to get the total calories in the package.  The calories from Fat are often listed here as well; be sure to avoid Trans Fat.

 

 

 

  • Nutrients to Limit:  This is where things like Total Fat (separated into types of fat), Cholesterol, Sodium (salt), And Total Carbohydrates (separated into Dietary Fiber-see note below-and Sugars).  These items are things that many people need to pay close attention to and limit in their diets and the further separation in the Fat and Carbohydrate categories is valuable information to properly account for these items.  In particular, Diabetics need to not only look at the Total Carbohydrates but also what part of those carbs are Dietary Fiber and Sugar.

 

 

NOTE:  Dietary Fiber is a healthy and important part of daily nutrition and it needs to be in higher amounts than most people end up getting.  It’s listed in this section only because it plays a role in the Total Carbohydrate count.

 

 

  • Beneficial Nutrients:  Make sure to get enough of these items…Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron.  These important vitamins and minerals are crucial to health and we need them each and every day.  Many packaged items aren’t healthy but these days there is more of a focus on packaged “healthy” items for an ever-growing educated and health-conscious public.

 

 

 

  • % Daily Value:  The % Daily Value (DV) tells you the percentage of each nutrient in a single serving, in terms of the daily recommended amount. As a guide, if you want to consume less of a nutrient (such as saturated fat or sodium), choose foods with a lower % DV (5% or less). If you want to consume more of a nutrient (such as fiber), seek foods with a higher % DV (20% or more).

 

 

Remember that the information shown in these panels is based on 2,000 calories a day. You may need to consume less or more than 2,000 calories depending on your personal situation so adjust accordingly.  Also, when the label says “0g trans fat” but the list of ingredients includes “partially hydrogenated oil” it means the food DOES contain trans fat…but it’s less than 0.5 grams per serving. So, if you eat more than one serving size you ARE getting trans fat…proportionate to the Nutrition Information listed.  Use the Nutrition Facts label as the valuable tool it is to keep track of what packaged foods you’re eating so as to not derail your efforts. Remember…fresh is always best, but if a “healthy” packaged food is on your radar review the label and ingredients to make an educated choice.

 

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