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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

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January Recipes - Click Here

A new year has arrived, and many of us brought it in with a bang!!! So, since most of us will be sleeping in on New Year's Day, we have put together a great brunch menu that can be made at lunch time but will give you lots of energy to wake up and face the day for breakfast too!! Don't forget to make your New Year's resolutions this year, and give your best effort to keeping them. I forget what mine was for last year - oh, yeah, it was to not be so forgetful. (!!!!!!) Well, this year I'll try something easier. Happy New Year to all!!!

We'd love to feature one of your favorite recipes in any one of our monthly issues, just send them on to us at Hope to hear from all of you in the following months!

New Feature! Each month we will feature a simple exercise you can do at home and without buying fancy expensive equipment. Click here to view this month's exercise.

Foods That Boost Mood and Fight Holiday Weight Gain

The best way to cope with holiday stress and obligations is to keep your mood and energy stable. You'll not only feel better, but will be much less likely to overeat. "Choosing foods that your body absorbs slowly keeps blood sugar steady, maintaining your feelings on an even keel," says Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of Food & Mood.

Slow-digesting foods include whole-grain cereal with milk, brown rice with salmon or chicken breast, a peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread, or a spinach salad and half a turkey sandwich with milk. You want to eat either quality carbohydrates or carbohydrates mixed with protein, she says. Foods that absorb quickly, such as sugar, white bread, or anything refined, spike blood sugar high; then cause it to suddenly crash. After a crash, you'll feel crabby and hungry, and end up grabbing chocolate bars or candy -- setting yourself up for yet another blood sugar dive, Somer says.

Boost Your Mood With Feel-Good Serotonin

High-protein diets may help you drop pounds, but they won’t do much to raise your spirits. That's because your body craves serotonin, the feel-good chemical found in foods that boost your mood. "Carbohydrates are essential for moving tryptophan (the amino acid that makes up serotonin) across the brain," says Susan M. Kleiner, PhD, RD, co-author of The Good Mood Diet. When your blood sugar drops, less carbohydrate is available in the bloodstream; less tryptophan moves across into the brain and your mood can plummet.

In fact, researchers at Arizona State University found that after just two weeks, a very low-carb diet increased fatigue and reduced the desire of overweight adults to exercise. Serotonin fights holiday weight gain, too. "It tells you when you've had enough by causing satiety (a feeling of fullness) and reducing your appetite," says Judith J. Wurtman, PhD, co-author of The Serotonin Power Diet.

Nix Stress-Induced Mood Swings

Although experts generally advise avoiding simple carbs, afternoon mood swings beg for fast fixes. "If you feel grumpy in the afternoon, eat only carbohydrates," Somer says. Eating protein with carbs blocks serotonin production, while high-fat foods keep digestion slow. Wurtman agrees. "When you're stressed, reach for carbs -- simple sugars that digest quickly," she says. "Bingeing on simple carbohydrates is your body's natural way of dealing with stress -- but you can’t include protein or fat.

Abort an afternoon stress binge with a power gel called Gu," Wurtman says. "It's made of pure sugar (glucose), contains 100 calories and zero fat, and is digested quickly; allowing serotonin to make you feel better fast." Research conducted in Wurtman's weight loss center showed that women who consumed a pack of Gu found it so sweet and filling that they had no desire for more. Keep in mind that Gu takes time to work, she tells WebMD. Glucose may be a quick fix, but it isn't instant. Tell yourself, "I know this is going to work," Just eat your snack; then distract yourself with something you enjoy. In 20 minutes, the food you've consumed will abort bingeing on high-sugar, high-fat foods like weight loss sabotaging holiday treats. If Gu is not for you, Wurtman recommends trying low-fat foods with carbs such as a baked potato, graham crackers, popcorn, pretzels, or low-fat cereal, which is also loaded with healthy fiber.

Food and Diet Tips to Keep Your Mood Stable

Besides carbohydrates, studies indicate that many other foods -- along with healthful eating habits -- may help our moods and somewhat ease depression.

Omega-3 fatty acids: Population studies show that people who infrequently eat fish, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, are more likely to suffer depression. So add foods rich in omega-3s to your diet. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. Other good food sources include flaxseed, nuts, and dark, green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin B-12: Studies also indicate that people who eat diets low in vitamin B-12 may be at higher risk of depression. Good food sources of vitamin B-12 include lean and low-fat animal products, such as fish and low-fat dairy foods.

Selenium: Preliminary small studies indicate that selenium may help improve mild depression. Although more research is needed, many foods rich in selenium are healthy regardless of your mood. It can’t hurt to add these to your diet: seafood, nuts, lean meat, whole grains, beans, and low-fat dairy.

Frequent small meals: Eating frequent, small meals of healthy foods helps keep your blood sugar levels even, avoiding diet-related mood swings. Eat a small meal or snack every three to four hours to give you sustained energy and keep your blood sugar stable.

Fight Holiday Weight Gain

It's easy to feel overwhelmed during the holiday season -- what with shopping, parties, decorating, baking, and the inevitable stress of unwanted obligations. But a healthy diet not only helps boost your mood, it also helps you fight holiday weight gain. Try these tips to get through the holiday season in a good mood without gaining weight:

Eat breakfast! If you skip it, what you eat for the rest of the day won't matter, Somer says. Breakfast-eaters report maintaining a better mood and more energy throughout the day, studies show.

Drink water. "The first symptom of dehydration is fatigue," says Somer. If you're dragging your feet, don't dig in the holiday treats you've been baking. Instead, down a glass or two of water; then see if you're still hungry. Not drinking enough water is the first thing that will impact your mood, Kleiner tells WebMD. "Without it, you won't be able to exercise at peak levels, and you won't burn fat as readily.”

Drink nonfat milk. "It has the tryptophan you need for your brain, plus the natural carbohydrate that assists its transport," Kleiner says. "It's also a fabulous energy drink, and an excellent way to rehydrate both before and after exercise."

Hit your usual holiday parties, but avoid alcohol. You may feel relaxed in the short term, but drinking interrupts sleep and increases depression and anxiety -- not the best way to boost your mood.

Lose the bowls of high-fat foods like chocolate, and replace them with small low-fat crackers, popcorn, pretzels, and hard candy. Fall and winter tend to increase carbohydrate cravings. “Instead of trying to ignore them or reaching for chocolate, cookies or ice cream, plan portion-controlled carb snacks at least once or twice a day, such as 3/4 cup of crunchy cereal,” Wurtman says. They'll help keep your mood even and your waistline small.

Reap the Rewards

"Alter your eating habits, and you'll notice a change within just two weeks," Somer says. "Your body will reward you with more energy, and your mind with a calmer, positive, more stable mood." During the stress-filled holiday season, who could ask for more?


Submitted by: Maria Albus

2010 - A Healthy Start

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” ~ La Rochefoucauld

It’s that time of year again: the time we get back to our regular routines and want a fresh start to the New Year! Whatever your resolution may be, many of us decide that we want to become healthier by improving our eating habits, physical activity, stress, etc. For this reason, many of us embark on a new diet or exercise plan. According to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, irregular meal patterns could decrease insulin sensitivity, thereby promoting weight gain, not loss. This happens because erratic eating signals the body to conserve fat and slow down metabolism. So, focusing on a balanced approach to weight loss will make us more successful in maintaining healthy weights for the long-run.

10 steps to naturally boost metabolism:

1) Perform a kitchen audit. Think about: “out with the bad, in with the good.” Remove any ‘trigger’ or ‘cheat’ foods from your cupboards or fridge; i.e. candy, ice cream, sugary cereal, cookies, etc.

2) Cut your sugar cravings. Suffering from sugar cravings doesn’t mean you’re ‘weak’ – it likely means your blood sugar is out of whack. Many of us grab salty or sweet starchy carbs to satisfy ‘hunger’, which perpetuates the vicious cycle of cravings and weight gain. Following the next 8 steps will decrease sugar cravings within a week. Also, try keeping things such as berry herbal tea, cut up veggies, or sugarless gum on hand to chew on when cravings arise.

3) Do NOT skip breakfast! Think of your metabolic rate shaped like an ice cream cone: starting at the top, your metabolism is its highest in the morning and starts to decline gradually as the day progresses. Try starting your day with a substantial breakfast that includes protein.

4) Opt for foods that decrease hunger and keep you satisfied longer. Proteins like chicken, fish, turkey, egg whites, cottage cheese, yogurt, soy and lean beef are perfect foods to keep you satiated and they also trigger the secretion of a hormone called glucagon, which breaks down fat.

5) Eat low glycemic carbohydrates including vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. Limit high sugar foods like raisins, dates, lychee nuts, corn, white potatoes and all refined flours & sugars.

6) Include healthy fats in your diet such as monounsaturated fats (avocados, olive oil and canola oil) and omega 3 fats (walnuts, almonds, fish and fish oils). Consuming these fats is proven to benefit weight loss: one study showed that monounsaturated fats actually have a burning effect on the fat in our bodies.

7) Give your body a daily ‘mini fast’ from 7pm to 7am to optimize digestion and lose weight. If you must munch late at night, stick to raw veggies or herbal tea. With this step alone, you’re guaranteed to drop a few pounds in under a week.

8) Eat throughout the day. Eat 3 main meals and 2-3 snacks daily to keep your energy high & your metabolism in full gear; this also stabilizes your blood sugar which in turn also helps boost your metabolism.

9) Plan to lose. We often grab the wrong foods due to time restraints and poor planning. Instead of grabbing a carb fix, prepare quick & easy options at home to save on cost and calories. For example: low-fat yogurt with berries, broth-based soups, vegetables with hummus, etc.

10) Maintain your goal weight with focus. A key indicator of success is keeping the weight off for longer than a 6-12 month period. If you feel yourself ‘slipping’ and weight is creeping back on, food journaling is a great way to get back on track; studies prove it! Food journaling keeps you accountable, helps you focus on portion size and ensures you won’t skip meals.

“If you don’t do what’s best for your body, you’re the one who comes up on the short end.” ~ Julius Erving

When first learning about nutrition and weight loss, it’s best to get the proper information before moving forward. Think of it as “quality of life by choice, not chance” – once you know better, you do better!

With a brand new year upon us, it’s important that we focus on what lies ahead. Never lose sight of what you ultimately want to achieve! Break down your goals into steps and move forward one step at a time. You can do it! Never give up on yourself.

Submitted by: Dr. Doug

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