Eat Well and Pleasant Dreams

Mar 26th, 2012No Comments

If you could pick the right foods to help you get the best sleep possible, wouldn’t you? And if you knew which foods would hinder your restful slumber, wouldn’t you avoid them? Now’s your chance to learn which foods to eat, and which to steer clear of for a good night’s sleep.

We’ve all heard of warm milk’s magical ability to send us off to dreamland. Do you know why it’s true? Dairy foods contain tryptophan, which is a sleep-promoting substance. Other foods that are high in tryptophan include nuts and seeds, bananas, honey, and eggs.

If you struggle with insomnia, a little food in your stomach may help you sleep. But don’t use this as an open invitation to pig out. Keep the snack small. A heavy meal will tax your digestive system, making you uncomfortable and unable to get soothing ZZZs.

Stay away from high-fat foods. Research shows that people who often eat high-fat foods not only gain weight, they also experience a disruption of their sleep cycles. A heavy meal activates digestion, which can lead to nighttime trips to the bathroom.

It’s no surprise that an evening cup of coffee might disrupt your sleep. Even moderate caffeine can cause sleep disturbances. But don’t forget about less obvious caffeine sources, like chocolate, cola, tea, and decaffeinated coffee. For better sleep, cut all caffeine from your diet four to six hours before bedtime.

Here’s the catch-22 with alcohol: It may help you fall asleep faster, but you may experience frequent awakenings, less restful sleep, headaches, night sweats and nightmares. If you’re consuming alcohol in the evening, balance each drink with a glass a water to dilute the alcohol’s effects. For a good night’s sleep, the better bet is to avoid alcohol four to six hours before bedtime.

Lying down with a full belly can make you uncomfortable, since the digestive system slows down when you sleep. It can also lead to heartburn, as can spicy cuisine. Make sure to finish a heavy meal at least four hours before bedtime.

Yes, staying hydrated throughout the day is great for your body, but stop your fluid intake before bed. You’re sure to have interrupted sleep if you’re constantly getting up to go to the bathroom.

Studies have proven that we lose weight while we are sleeping so we want to do whatever we can to get a good nights sleep.  Eat well and pleasant dreams!

Eat a Rainbow For St. Patty’s Day!

Mar 26th, 2012No Comments

Instead of green beer, green cookies, chocolate coins and other not so figure friendly foods, why not try to eat a rainbow for this fun holiday? A rainbow of fruits and vegetables, of course. I plan on doing this with my kids, and making it fun. For breakfast, try rainbow fruit kabobs. Get wooden skewers, and add red (a cut strawberry), orange (maybe a clementine), yellow (banana), green (kiwi), blue (a blueberry) and purple (a grape). Arrange the kabobs on a large serving platter in the shape of a rainbow, and serve with low fat yogurt for dipping.

At lunch time, try turning your regular salad into a rainbow as well. Start with the green leafys, add tomatoes, carrots, yellow bell peppers, eggplant and a few beans. Serve with the dressing of your choice. I’m thinking of adding in some reduced fat feta as “little clouds.” Sound cheesy? Wink, wink.

At dinner, serve chicken or fish topped with a colorful fruit or vegetable salsa and a salad.

All of these foods are naturally colorful, not laden with unwanted chemicals and green food coloring. Here’s to finding a healthy pot of gold! Erin go braugh!

How Realistic is “The Biggest Loser” Diet?

Mar 26th, 2012No Comments

These days, if someone calls you the biggest loser you should consider yourself the biggest winner. The Biggest Loser has been deemed the most popular weight loss TV program in existence. With so much drama between the contestants, and trainers Jillian Micheals and Bob Harper screaming in the contestant’s faces it’s no wonder as to why. However, what is behind the jaw dropping weight loss success of this reality soap opera? The answer is a low calorie diet with lots of exercise. I know this is a very generic answer, but please bear with me as we take a closer look at The Biggest Loser diet.

Nuts and Bolts
The Biggest Loser diet is based on what they call The Biggest Loser pyramid of 4-3-2-1 (4 servings of fruits and veggies, 3 servings of lean protein, 2 servings of whole grain, and 1extra per day). Diet participants eat several smaller meals per day to keep their metabolisms active and stave off hunger. The average daily caloric intake is between 1200 and 1800 calories. Another key focus of the diet is staying away from what The Biggest Loser calls appetite stimulating foods like white bread, pastas, and potatoes.

The Biggest Loser focuses a lot of attention on exercising. A newbie just starting out on The Biggest Loser diet can initially expect to exercise 30 min per session and then increase to 1hr as they become more physical fit. Intensity levels also increase as physical fitness improves. A combination of both strength training and cardio is used to rev up the dieter’s metabolism trying to turn it into a lean mean fat burning machine.

The Skinny
The Biggest Loser diet is fundamentally sound. A tried and true philosophy of using more calories than you take in, having a good balanced diet of healthy macro nutrients (carbs, protein, fats), and staying away from processed foods. In an ideal world this diet works very well. However, we live in a world far that is from ideal. This diet doesn’t account for stress from our jobs and families, and if you’re not able to exercise then one of the major components for success on The Biggest Loser Diet is removed.

Exercise is the major focal point of the Biggest Loser. The TV show focuses more on sprinting on a treadmill for an hour and then throwing up a few weights than it does on what the contestants are putting in their mouths. Of course drama laced competition brings in higher ratings than telling people what they should and shouldn’t eat. In essence what they are doing is trying to bail the water out of a sinking boat without first plugging the leak.

For success with any diet remember the 80/20 rule. What you eat accounts for 80% of dieting success and the remaining 20% is broken down into 15% for exercise and 5% for heredity and environmental factors. This isn’t to say exercising isn’t important. On the contrary exercise helps speed up the weight loss process, and helps put us in the frame of mind of watching what we eat. When was the last time you exercised really hard and then went right out to grab some McDonalds? Just make sure the focus is on what is going to give you the biggest bang for your buck, the diet.

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