Tips and Tricks to Eating Smarter

Written by Elaine Zuo

Looking to improve your diet and eat healthier? Try these simple changes for a better you:

Woman gazing at fruit

Opting for fruit and vegetables can lead to a healthier you

  • Buy smaller dishes and taller glasses. Optical illusions abound even in what we use to serve our food: People tend to overestimate vertical lengths and underestimate horizontal lengths. When asked to pour equal amounts of liquid into a short, wide glass, people poured more than when they did the same for a long, tall glass. Regarding a similar principle, the same amount of food in a large dish compared to that in a smaller dish was regarded as less food than the amount in the smaller dish.
  • Chew slower. Many of us have busy lives to run and do not have time to eat leisurely, but don’t let scarfing down your lunch on a short work break completely impact your eating habits. Try to take any opportunity to savor the meal and let your digestive system do its job. You’ll be more likely to stop eating while letting your stomach achieve the same amount of satisfaction.
  • Sneak fruits and veggies into your daily diet. Although it would be best to consume fruit and vegetables on their own, you can easily add these excellent sources of vitamins, fiber and antioxidants to your usual meals as tasty, healthy accents. Top cereal or yogurt off with fruit slices, or choose a vegetable drink to accompany your lunch. Carrots and broccoli can accentuate the taste of a meatloaf, soup or even pasta sauces.
  • Keep food in the kitchen and healthy foods at eye level. Don’t bring your food into the living room or your work space. You will eat less if snacks are not placed all over the house and within easy reach. Healthy foods, on the other hand, will seem more appealing if easily accessible.
  • Drink water. Substitute sugary sodas with a tall glass of H2O. Not only do you miss out on unwanted calories, but you will be fuller before the meal and thus prevent overeating. It’s also important for digestion and gives you a boost of energy along with combating dehydration.
  • Choose fish and beans. These two underrated food items help keep your health and weight in check. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can lower your bad (LDL) cholesterol and reduce risks of cancer, so be sure to indulge in a fillet. Beans are not only fibrous, but contain iron,  folic acid and protein as well. Mix the two for a delicious fish and beans taco, and your body will have a ready arsenal of health-promoting nutrients.

Although these tips will certainly better your diet and lifestyle, the most important thing to have backing them up is a healthy mindset. Keep your goals in mind and you will kick any bad dietary habits that may arise.

Fad Diets: Harmful and Unsuccessful?

Fad Diets

Fad diets usually demand that you get rid of certain essential nutrients which can be harmful to your health.

Written by Erin Marty

If you’re attempting to lose weight, you’re not the only one; according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, more than 30 billion dollars is spent annually on weight loss solutions, and much of this is spent on fad diets. Unfortunately, fad diets are usually unsuccessful and can be harmful to your general health.

Do not get “going on a diet” confused with “sticking to a balanced diet.” These are two totally different strategies. Though it does not apply to everyone, diets – particularly fad diets – do not typically work long-term and are generally not as healthy as they lead people to believe.

The general idea of a fad diet is that if you are loyal to your diet, then like magic the fat is supposed to melt off, easy and fast. Unfortunately, regimes like these are typically unhealthy in that they call for the exclusion of whole food groups that you should otherwise consume daily as part of a balanced diet. For example, the Atkins diet demands that you let go of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates, unfortunately, are needed not only for successful weight loss, but are significant in general, as they are necessary for your overall health and survival. Other fad diets exclude different foods such as “good” fats, proteins, or other important nutrients. Saying goodbye to any group of essential food that your body calls for can yield negative results on your health.

Another reason why fad diets fail in the world of successful weight loss, is that it is nearly impossible to keep your weight off for too long. Though you can lose weight fast with a fad diet, you are more likely to gain back the weight that you had originally lost – and then some! And despite false claims that certain foods will magically melt away fat, this is untrue; food does not actually burn fat. If anything, you are likely to lose weight fast on a fad diet due to decreasing your water weight or even muscle mass. But with water, eventually your body will rehydrate itself again thus the weight comes back; as for the muscles, this is an unfortunate loss as you need strong muscles to get into shape and stay fit and healthy for years to come.

Participating in a fad diet means you’re likely to suffer through what some people refer to as “yo-yo dieting” or “yo-yo weight loss.” Imagine your weight fluctuating up and down constantly – that is “yo-yo dieting.” This does not only negatively impact your mind and confidence when trying to whip yourself into shape, but it can lead to health issues as well. The Weight-Control Information Network explains that your risk for high cholesterol and high blood pressure are both increased if you are frequently losing and gaining weight.

There are numerous ways to try and burn that stubborn fat from your body. Which option you choose depends on your personal needs and where you are at on a physical level. But probably the most successful way to lose weight for the majority of people, is to stick to a healthy eating plan and to exercise daily. Fad diets, not only unsuccessful, but harmful to your health, should be avoided.

Tea: A Possible Weight Loss Aid

Black tea

Tea may be the possible weight loss aid you're looking for.

Written by Erin Marty

Tea, a popular drink around the globe, offers many health benefits, including that it could be a possible weight loss aid. Yes, it may lend a helping hand when it comes to losing stubborn, unwanted fat.

In 2005, the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University reported an experiment involving 35 overweight men and women. The patients ended up with reduced BMIs – body weight indexes – and decreased body weight when they consumed 690 mg catechins of oolong tea combined with green tea extract every day for 12 weeks straight.
Needles to say, those are very promising results for people looking to melt that unwanted fat away.

So is tea really a possible weight loss aid? If so, how? Also, which teas will offer this helping hand?

To start off, teas from the Camellia sinensis plant (black, white, oolong and green teas) naturally contain caffeine. This is significant when it comes to weight loss; as it sates on the United States Department of Agriculture website: “it is universally accepted that caffeinated tea raises metabolic rate because caffeine is a stimulant.” Also in 2005, a study was published by the “Alternative Medicine Review”, explaining that the caffeine in black tea extract helped curb appetite, it offered a burst of energy – this is wonderful for working out – and it increased metabolism in patients during the experiment.

Beyond caffeine, Dr. Eric Braverman explained in 2009 on The Huffington Post, that green tea works to restrict insulin levels. To put this in plain English, this means that when you drink green tea, fat is forced to migrate to your muscles and immediately be burned off instead of being stored in your cells. Braverman stated, “Green tea may reduce the absorption of dietary fats by approximately 40%.”

If you’re still not convinced that tea can help you lose weight, at least consider that thanks to its high amount of potent polyphenols, tea can improve your general health, which is a plus for those working out and trying to stay healthy in their attempt to lose weight. This is because polyphenols are loaded with strong antioxidant properties.

One last attribute not to overlook is the fact that most teas are essentially, healthy. When you’re drinking tea, it’s not like you’re sucking down all that sugar that other drinks are loaded with like sodas and juices. In fact, as long as you don’t add milk, sugar or other flavors, black, white, green or oolong teas contain zero calories! Yup, tea is certainly, a wonderful drink, and a possible weight loss aid.

Organic? Low-Fat? Nutritious? LA Students Say: No, Thanks

meals from the new LAUSD lunch program

Pre-packaged foods of the revolution

Written by: Holly Troupe

In the spring of 2011, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and his team marched into the LAUSD with the purpose of remodeling the school lunch program only to have his cameras publicly rebuffed. The district was revamping the menu on its own, representatives said, with the goal of exceeding the health standards set forth by the U.S.D.A. Eight months later, students unanimously reject the healthy alternatives, and huge quantities of the foods are being thrown out untouched.

Officials are startled by the reaction. Taste tests of the new menu items yielded mainly positive, even enthusiastic results. But according to Seth Nickinson, a member of the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation who attended the tasting, there were issues from the start. “One of my biggest frustrations was the packaging,” he wrote on the blog. “Everything from LAUSD comes pre-packaged with cellophane tops. Not only is it a constant reminder that LAUSD meals, produced in such high volume, aren’t ‘fresh,’ but it can be hard to see through the package.”

The un-fresh, pre-packaged nature of the meals was one of the students’ biggest complaints. Salads dated Oct. 7 were distributed Oct. 17, according to Van Nuys Highschool Principal Judith Vanderbok. In a letter-writing campaign to First Lady Michelle Obama, Van Nuys students spoke of undercooked meat, hard rice and finding mold on the food.

The unified disapproval of the lunches has also spurred a disheartening consequence: a junk-food black market. Teachers and other school officers have been selling candy, instant noodles and chips to hungry students. Van Nuys student Iraides Renteria subsists solely on Cheetos and sodas during the school day. “This is our daily lunch,” she said. “We’re eating more junk food now than last year.” “It’s like prohibition,” said Vanderbok.

The menu also may have proved to be too exotic for the tastes of the school children. Where lunches previously consisted of pizza, burgers and tater tots, the new fare is more worldly items like quinoa salad, black bean burgers, pad Thai and beef jambalaya. “It’s not going over well; I have a lot of waste,” Principal Scott Schmerelson of Johhny L. Cochran Jr. Middle School said. “They don’t want the weird things. They want down-home comfort food.”

The district announced this month that the school menu would be revised. Some of the items will remain—the salads and vegetable tamales—while others will be re-worked or eliminated. Foods more familiar to students would be brought back, like burgers and pizza, but with low-fat and whole grain ingredients. According to food services deputy director David Binkle, “We’re trying to put healthier foods in place and make food kids like, and that’s a challenge, but we want to be responsive and listen and learn.”

Organic Food Choices You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

Organic foods are still the best choice for your health

With all of the news about organic food not being healthier for you consumers have been receiving mixed signals lately.  But the truth is there are still harmful chemicals that are being used on non-organic foods that we should stay away from in order to be healthy and fight disease.

Smart food choices can help improve your diet and your health.  For example, it has been reported by nutritionists that the average American consumes only two to ten percent of their required daily fiber each day.  The recommended amount is thirty four percent.  Fiber helps cleanse the body of toxins, reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease, and lowers cholesterol.

There are three organic foods that should be at the top of your shopping list for healthier eating.  The first being of course beans for the fact that these carry the most fiber content your body needs.  Any bean will do.  And if gas is a problem, products like Beano will help alleviate that.  Also rinse any canned beans thoroughly before cooking them.  Dried beans should be soaked in water overnight and also rinsed.  This removes the sugars that come out of the beans, which cause gas.

The second great organic food choice would be tomatoes.  Tomatoes contain lycopene, another cancer fighting agent, and can be used in a variety of dishes.  You can purchase these fresh or canned, but be sure the canned variety is low sodium or none.

The third great organic food choice would be natural sweeteners like Agave, Maple Syrup, and Stevia.  Although raw cane sugar is better than refined white sugar, it still turns into fat in the body.  Try these alternatives for a lower calorie dessert or beverage.

Making the switch to organic eating can be simple and affordable with proper planning, coupons, sales and cutting down on snack foods.  There are many recipes available online at natural food stores that can also get your diet on the right track and reduce the amount of chemicals found in regular foods.