HEALTH / FITNESS
Information about fitness, health, nutrition and weight loss
Do you know of a new diet or fitness routine that you'd like us to review? Or perhaps you want to write a review yourself and see it in print! Got a great recipe you want to share? Let us know at email@example.com.
In this Section....
- April Recipes
- Daily Diet Tip
- How Can I Tell if a Recipe is Healthy?
- Empower Yourself by Self-Analysis
April Recipes - Click Here
Easter is here and that means that spring is on the way - along with Peter Cottontail! This month we put together a traditional Easter dinner with just a few tweaks to make it interesting. Let's hope the weather gets nice and warm soon so we'll have a good day for egg hunting!! Happy Easter everybody!!
We'd love to feature one of your favorite recipes in any one of our monthly issues, just send them on to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to hear from all of you in the following months!
Question: How Can I Tell if a Recipe is Healthy?
Shereen Jegtvig, from About.com, has the answers.
Answer: When I am researching recipes, there are three main characteristics I look for:
- The inclusion of healthy ingredients
- The exclusion of unhealthy ingredients
- The cooking method
Here is what you should look for when evaluating a recipe.
The healthiest ingredients are whole fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, healthy oils like olive oil, walnut oil, grape seed oil, and rice bran oil. Nuts, legumes and soy are healthy ingredients, and so are whole grain breads, and pastas. Meats and poultry should be lean whenever possible, and low fat dairy products are good too. I really like recipes that include several healthy ingredients, rather than just one or two. For example, Wild Rice with Cranberries and Apples is a great healthy dish with a great balance of whole grains, nuts, and fruit. Serve this with a lean chicken breast for an incredibly tasty and healthy meal. Pork with Cabbage and Apples is another example of a great recipe with several healthy ingredients.
Leave Out Unhealthy Ingredients
Unhealthy ingredients include sugar, processed foods, saturated and trans fat, white refined flour, and products made with refined white flour. Evaluating a recipe can be easy. For example, a recipe that calls for processed foods like luncheon meats, processed cheese-products or high fat products like mayonnaise should not become a recipe you use very often. Sometimes evaluating a recipe is more difficult. Spaghetti and meatballs seems like a healthy meal, but a large portion of the meal is pasta made from refined white flour and the meatballs may have a lot of saturated fat in them. On the flip side, the spaghetti sauce itself is very healthy with lots of tomatoes that give us vitamins and lycopene. Garlic, peppers, herbs seasonings and mushrooms are healthy ingredients you might find in a spaghetti recipe. When you find a recipe that confuses you, just alter the recipe a bit. Make your meatballs from ground turkey meat and use a whole grain pasta, or decrease the serving size and add a big salad on the side.
The cooking method used in a recipe is very important. Deep-frying is probably the least healthy of the cooking methods, especially if the oil is used more than once. Pan frying might be a little better, but still not so good if you use a lot of oil and batters on your foods that absorb a lot of oil. Sauteing in a bit of olive oil or canola oil is better, and roasting in an oven is better yet. Boiling vegetables will not add any extra calories, but you will loose some of the valuable nutrients when you drain off the cooking water. Microwaving is a great way to cook vegetables because it is quick so not many nutrients are lost.
Here are a couple examples of recipes prepared with different methods. Potatoes are a nice source of vitamin C and fiber if you leave on the skins. A medium sized baked potato only has about 100 calories and is a healthy food when cooked in this manner. A french-fried potato is not so healthy. The fat used to deep-fry the potato is not healthy, and the potato absorbs a lot of oil, so the same size potato that is french fried has many more calories and fat. If you like french fries, try slicing the potato into strips and lightly coat the strips with olive oil. Bake them on a baking sheet until they are tender. Another example of good verses bad cooking methods would be this example with a chicken breast. Baking a chicken breast in the oven with some salsa or chicken broth is a healthy way to prepare the chicken. If you take that same chicken breast, coat it with a batter and deep fry it, that piece of chicken becomes an unhealthy, fattening food.
Always look for healthy ingredients. Avoid unhealthy ingredients or find healthier substitutes. Choose recipes that let you bake, roast, microwave or saute your foods.
Submitted by: Maria Albus
Empower Yourself by Self-Analysis
One of my patients today has turned around a longstanding plateau. She had lost a great deal of weight with us (about 70 lbs), then began to regain 20 and stayed there for quite some time. I hadn’t seen her for a couple of months due to the bus strike, but was impressed with her positive attitude. She was no longer concerned about “being perfect” on a diet. She had come to accept the fact that she would have good days and bad days, but more importantly she had been spending a lot of time reading books, trying to understand why she would self-sabotage her weight-loss success. (In fact, this was a learned behaviour she developed from adolescence where she didn’t feel deserving of any success). By accepting the fact that she had to learn to eat better while not putting pressure on herself to lose weight every week, she indeed had lost weight and wasn’t even aware of it.
The point I’m trying to make is that learning to eat better, losing weight and staying healthy by doing regular exercise is a process of understanding ourselves better. Why do we overeat at times? Is it fatigue, sadness or anxiety? Is it due to a poor interpersonal relationship with our spouse, friend or a member of our family? Is it related to feelings of low self-esteem?
If you work at trying to understand those feelings or situations that precipitate inappropriate choices of food, the better you will be able to lose weight and keep it off long term.
We must learn from our mistakes and failures. We cannot just look at ourselves and say: “I failed, therefore I’m a failure.” This is inappropriate thinking. A person who is willing to struggle and learn from mistakes is a person headed for success. We must slow down and analyze our actions. A lot of times we are rushing around so much, we don’t take time to understand our feelings. Instead, we eat into those feelings, and feel frustrated with ourselves later on. Yet we didn’t take time to understand where and how those negative feelings came from.
So, slow down (mentally slow down) and really analyze your feelings and reasons for overeating. If this is difficult, go to Chapters and get a book to work through. A good one is “Mind over Mood.” There are many others on panic, anxiety and depression. Even if they don’t exactly fit you personally, they will help you gain insight into yourself and your behaviours. This will empower you and you will be less likely to reach for food when your internal dialogue is negative.
I tell a lot of people to ‘talk to food.’ I really mean it. Question yourself at all times: “Am I really hungry? Is this bag of potato chips really going to make me feel more relaxed or less depressed? Maybe an apple with peanut butter instead of ice cream will be enough to satisfy this craving.”
Pause long enough to try to get a feel of why you are reaching for certain snacks. Are you really hungry? There is usually an emotion in the background, and you may be able to talk yourself out of the snack. If you do, I know you will feel great about yourself the next day. You will feel empowered. Put together many small successes like this and you will be well on your way to weight loss success.
You can do it; don’t ever give up!
Submitted by: Dr. Doug