Tag Archives: Living

Why Are You Eating That? Hunger Evaluations

Why do we choose the foods we eat? Is it just willpower? Is it programmed in our DNA? Can we really control our cravings?

I think we have all eaten a less-than-healthy food choice and had moments of regret. But why?

Hunger is how your body communicates a need for fuel to keep its systems running efficiently. But what kinds of food delivers and what kinds pad the organs they are supposed to protect?  

Processed carbohydrates do the least amount of good and move through your body quickly without delivering the goods.  EatingWell.com suggests that a plain bagel with low fat cream cheese gets digested quickly, causing blood glucose levels to rise.  It leaves you feeling full, but because both the bagel and low fat cream cheese are low in protein and fat, your body starts producing insulin which communicates that your cells need to soak up calories and glucose to control that sugar increase.  And so begins the spiral of hunger and low energy.  What’s the better way?

First, evaluate why you feel hunger. Is it physical or emotional?  Habit, mood and stress also impact your choices.  If you feel hungry, controlling what food choices you make can be a challenge.     

Some tips that help you manage your hunger:

  1. Don’t skip meals.  Many nutritionists recommend eating smaller regular meals in combination with sensible snacks and plenty of water (not soda).  Make sure you’re eating enough protein.  Eating about 25 grams of protein at a meal helps balance any carbs.
  2. People often confuse hunger with dehydration.  Drink a glass of water before meals.  Add citrus or fresh herbs to increase your enjoyment.  Water keeps you hydrated and flushes out toxins.  Alcohol can also mask your true hunger motivations, so be moderate about alcohol intake.
  3. Don’t be sedentary.   Exercise will not make you hungrier.  If anything, it works the opposite for me.  
  4. Monitor your sugar intake. Sugar drives that insulin crash, leaving you feeling low and hungry again. 
  5. Get enough rest.  Running on empty encourages your body to produce cortisol, the fight-or-flight hormone.  When excessive amounts exist in the body, it can suppress immunity, and cause fat deposits on face, neck and belly.*
  6. If you feel that after trying these, but you’re getting nowhere, keep a food and fitness diary for two weeks. There are apps or create one on paper.  Be honest and use the diary as a tool to pinpoint ‘hot-spot’ times when your willpower is low.
  7. Don’t give up on yourself. Things aren’t black-and-white. Some days you make food choices you wish you hadn’t. Tomorrow or right NOW, is a good time to bolster your confidence to make better choices, for your health!

Recognize that managing your hunger helps you manage your weight, but it also helps you promote better long-term health!

*LifeExtension.com

Print this post

Effective Brain Health Strategies

We’ve all experienced losing something, looking everywhere, only to find it in a completely unrelated place.  Forgetfulness or something more serious?  I know I’ve experienced this concern.  If you look online, there are plenty of nutritional supplements that claim to strengthen brain health, but are they legitimate?

Many trusted organizations have practical recommendations to try first.  Consumer Reports On Health suggests ruling out physical factors with your doctor. Depression, medications including sleeping pills, vitamin deficiencies, alcohol consumption, hearing loss, thyroid, kidney or liver-related illnesses can effect memory. * Candid conversations and testing with your physician can help rule out these causes.

In addition you can support brain health with other actions:

  1. Exercise regularly. Sedentary lifestyles can increase your risk for cognitive issues as you age. Regular exercise increases the number of tiny blood vessels that bring oxygen-rich blood to the region of the brain that is responsible for thought. ** Exercise also improves blood pressure, mood, cholesterol levels, heart-health and weight which all impact brain health.  According to all.org (Alzheimer’s Association), engaging in physical activities that promote balance and strength as you age can help prevent falls which can often contribute to head and therefore, brain injuries.
  2. Improved nutrition and food choices can help.  Reducing processed foods which can improve salt, sugar and saturated fat consumption helps your body work more efficiently.  According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a Mediterranean diet may help reduce risks of cognitive decline with its healthy fats, increased vegetables and balanced proteins and whole grains.
  3. Avoid smoking and drink in moderation.  According to ScienceDaily.com, new research suggests a link between cigarette smoking and brain damage. A compound in tobacco provokes white blood cells in the central nervous system to attack healthy cells, leading to severe neurological damage.  Excessive drinking is a major risk factors for dementia.
  4. Get adequate amounts of sleep.  Create an environment that promotes restful sleep without sleeping pills by keeping electronics such as phones, email and devices out of your bedroom.
  5. Remain social as you age. Having face-to-face contact with others and staying interactive in social settings is positive emotionally and physically for your body.
  6. Use mental stimulation to ‘exercise’ your brain muscle.  Reading, taking courses, crosswords, Sudoku, card games, tutoring younger kids, painting, and other creative hobbies all keep your  brain engaged and reduce cell loss.

It’s helpful to know that there are relatively easy opportunities you have to support your brain health and longevity.  

*Consumer Reports On Health- March 2017

**Health.Harvard.edu/mind-and-mood

Print this post

Chocolate Chia Pudding

I love chia seeds! They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help to raise HDL cholesterol. HDL is the “good” cholesterol that protects against heart attack and stroke. Chia seeds are also rich in antioxidants, and they provide fiber, iron, and calcium.  I add them to pancakes and baked goods, I sprinkle over cottage cheese or Greek yogurt.  Sprinkle over salads for a slight crunch and make pudding!

The chia seed is nutrient dense and packs a punch of energy boosting power!  The reason Chia seeds are so beneficial is due to them being rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins and minerals such as:

  • Dietary fiber (11g – 42% recommended daily value)
  • Protein (4.4g – 9% RDV)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (4915 mg)
  • Omega-6 fatty acids (1620 mg)
  • Calcium (77 mg – 18% RDV)
  • Copper (0.1 mg – 3% RDV)
  • Phosphorus (265 mg – 27% RDV)
  • Potassium (44.8 mg – 1% RDV)
  • Zinc (1.0 mg – 7% RDV)

Chocolate Chia Pudding Recipe:

This recipe is sugar free, but if you prefer you can sub real maple syrup or honey for Walden Farm Maple Syrup.

  • 2 cups of Organic lite coconut milk or almond milk
  • 1/2 cup organic chia seeds
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • Fresh chunks of pineapple
  • pinch of cinnamon powder
  • fresh berries

* add stevia to taste, if not sweet enough.

How to Make:

  1. Blend milk base with cinnamon in a blender.
  2. Stir in chia seeds with milk mixture and allow to soak for at least 2 hours.  For best plumpness, soak overnight.  I enjoy the flavor more when it’s cool.
  3. Fold in fresh pineapple chunks and top with desired amount of berries.  Add a sprig of mint if desired.

Print this post

A Cup Of Tea Warms Your Heart And More!

I get up early to workout most mornings, before my kids get up.  Then my day often feels like its pace is a dead-run.  Around 4:00 PM, my energy begins to wane.  Coincidently, that’s usually the time my children complete their homework.  What I enjoy at that time, is a cup of hot tea, and to just ‘be’ for a few moments.  Decompress.  Hear about the stories of the day, and recharge my batteries.  

An added bonus is the health benefits tea provides:

  • Tea contains antioxidants. Oolong and Green tea provide this.
  • Tea may reduce risk of heart attack and stroke. A study found a nearly 20% reduction in a risk of heart attack and a 35% reduced risk of stroke around people who drank1-3 cups of green tea per day. *
  • A Japanese study found that tea can decrease tooth loss due to a positive balance of pH in your mouth
  • Herbal teas are known to assist in better digestive functions. I use Dandelion tea for this purpose.
  • Iced brewed tea if enjoyed without adding sugars or sweeteners is calorie free!  I brew, then chill blends of green and Oolong tea every day instead of soda.

Sample Teas

I recently tried several varieties from Adagio.com through their sampling offerings. The Peach Oolong and fragrant and satisfying.  I love that they provide info on the levels of caffeine and the temperature and steep times for optimal enjoyment for each kind.

Tea is Good for the Heart & Reduces Cancer

American Dietetic Association Spokeswoman, Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, LD boldly says, “There doesn’t seem to be a downside to tea. It has less caffeine than coffee, and the compounds in tea-their flavonoids- are good for the heart and reduce cancer.”  For me though, it’s not just about the tea, but the life-experience of enjoying a quiet moment with my family.

*www.today.com/series/one-small-things/top-10-health-benefits-drinking-tea

Print this post

Could Biodynamic Farming Be Better For You & Your Community?!

Just when you thought you were well versed in healthy eating terms, they throw another food label into the mix to keep things interesting!  

Biodynamic describes a sustainable farming method that looks at the farm itself as a ‘living organism’.  This means that the growing site is self-sustaining, self-contained and follows the cycles of nature, explains Elizabeth Candelario, managing director of Demeter, the global certification program for biodynamic farms and products.  She explains that biodynamics builds on the organic protocols, but then takes the measuring bar a bit further.  It guides how the farms are managed, based on the natural rhythms of each plot of land.

Another critical element to this healthy growing style is that 10% of the total acreage must be set aside for biodiversity including sustaining and improving pollination health. (Bees blog).  It considers protection of endangered species, wildlife and diverse life forms to be a priority (cleaneating.com– Jan/Feb 2017).  

The drive behind this style of farming is protection of the land, and growing more flavorful produce and fruits while protecting the environment. Caldelario explains that ” the healthier the soil, the healthier the food, the healthier the person, the healthier the planet.”

This is the seal that denotes farming this way, and you can find farmers who are certified at biodynamicfood.org.  Ask your grocer to carry their products for the better health of your family and your community.

Print this post

Sugar! Could You Do A Month Without Sugar?

Could You Do A Month Without Sugar?.pngI became more aware of the dangers of high sugar intake in American diets when I began blogging 6 years ago, and made diabetes a platform issue for my website, PaulasHealthyLiving.com. Our nation’s sugar habit is a driving force behind the diabetes and obesity epidemic in the US and it’s believed to be a contributing factor to cancer and Alzheimer’s according to The New York Times (January 1, 2017).

The questions is, if it takes three weeks to change a habit, could you go four weeks without added sweeteners?

I challenged myself with this concept after a doctor asked me to remove maladextrin, a sugar substitute, to help with stomach issues I was experiencing.  It’s a daunting task, but it could help you reset your sugar taste buds.

Sugar comes with many different names:

If you begin looking at ingredient lists, you may be shocked how frequently you will see these names within the first 3-4 names on ingredients lists. The higher they are on the lists, the more there is in the product.  See the level of sugar in commonly consumed drinks and products across the nation.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 24 grams of sugar per day for women, and 36 grams per day for men.

A single 16-ounce bottle of Coke has 52 grams.

Could You Do A Month Without Sugar?You may find yourself reevaluating a lot of the ‘healthy’ foods you regularly consumed previously like

  • granola or packaged cereals which predominantly contain added sugars
  • processed orange juice
  • flavored yogurt
  • pizza sauce
  • sugar free snacks

One effort to assist in this challenge would be cooking, and therefore, controlling your own food.  

If you buy it from outside aisles of the grocery, instead of the inside aisles, it more likely to help you in your quest.

What you will find at the end of the experiment is the pure taste in things such as

  • honey crisp apples
  • oranges
  • sweet red peppers and
  • many other foods

I’m not an advocate of all-or-nothing diet plans, and a bit of 80% cocoa dark chocolate makes my heart sing in the afternoon sometimes, but you will realize a renewed, sensitive set of taste buds that have been dulled by processed foods.

It’s an awakening to the beauty and amazing nature of natural food items and improved health is a bonus!

Paul Maier, Contributing Editor for Indian Hill Connection Magazine

Print this post

Are There Any Real Benefits In Buying Organic Produce?

The controversy continues over the nutritional and health supremacy of organic fruits and produce over conventionally grown.  

Every week a new ‘definition’ point of view is established.  

Paula Maier - OrganicThese are some facts to take into account.

It has been found that in about 60% of studies that organic food is higher in some nutrients than conventionally produced food.  

These statistics can be refuted by other studies, but you need to look if the studies that are being compared are done on the same physical area over-time.  Otherwise you are comparing apples to oranges because the soil being tested is not the same.

Polyphenols are antioxidants and may be one of the main reasons fruits and vegetables are healthy for us.  

One issue to consider is what the organic growing process filters versus conventional growing.  

Plants grown organically have to grow stronger from the start because they have to fend off a range of insects and growth disease on their own.  

This ‘defensive compound’ they create may help to keep us healthier according to Charles Benbrook, a researcher at Washington State University. He is with the National Academy of Sciences as chief science consultant for the Organic Center.  

He states. “If you keep putting on more and more nitrogen fertilizer the way conventional farms do, you drive yields up and produce bigger plants.  But, this dilutes the plants’ levels of vitamins, minerals and polyphenols.”

Shelf-life and sugar content

Apples, celery, pears, potatoes, strawberries, sweet bell peppers and sweet potatoes are higher in pesticides on the Dietary Risk Index (DRI), and lower on the Organic Risk Index (ORI).  This affects their shelf-life, and sugar content.  Also to be considered is if the plants are grown domestically (where they are subject to our mandates and regulations about growing procedures) or abroad.

Bottom Line?  Seek out the information in DRI from the EPA and other agencies, and imported vs. domestic statistics when you are making decisions about whether you want to buy organic or domestic fruits and vegetables.  

Make informed decisions with all of the facts.

Print this post