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Posts Tagged ‘Eating’

WebMD – Raising Healthy Kids – Ways to Keep Kids at a Healthy Weight

Posted by 4love2love on July 18, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed By David Ludwig, MD, PhD

If your child is at a healthy weight now, you may wonder what you can do to help him maintain it.

If your child is currently overweight, you may wonder how you can help her stick to a serious diet and exercise plan.

Well, according to experts, rigorous diets and exercise plans are not the healthy habits to be striving for. Singling out an overweight kid will just make him feel persecuted and unhappy. It also won’t work.

Instead, you can help your overweight kid move toward a healthy weight in much the same way you can help a healthy weight kid maintain that healthy weight. How? By making it easy for everyone in your family to make healthy choices and encouraging them to make those choices so consistently that they become your family’s healthy habits.

Making healthy choices can help an overweight kid who is still growing hold his weight steady so he can grow into his weight as he gets taller. Small healthy choices also give healthy weight kids the habits and foundation to maintain their weight.

Healthy Habit 1: Choose to eat dinner as a family.

You can encourage family health by having the whole family sit down to dinner together as often as possible.

It might seem like an indirect way to help with your child’s weight, but experts say it can help. Studies have found that family meals are associated with a healthier diet and lower rates of obesity.

Why? Experts say that social eating is good for us. Family dinners are a healthy habit that help us stay emotionally connected.

Plus, when kids eat on their own — especially plopped down in front of the TV — they might not pay attention to their hunger and absentmindedly overeat.

Finally, when you cook at home, you control the menu, so it’s easier for everyone to eat healthy.

Healthy Habit 2: Don’t let your child set the menu.

It’s potentially a disservice to your family’s health to let a child’s limited tastes dictate the family’s diet. If you do, you might wind up eating hot dogs and mac and cheese every night.

When you’re cooking healthy meals — filled with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, and dairy — your child might not like the vegetables that show up on her plate. But keep offering them anyway. Studies show that the more kids are exposed to a food, the more likely they are to try it.

When you’re making a healthy entrée that your child might not like, experts recommend that you include a healthy food that she does like — fruit, for instance — as a side dish. That way, there’s something familiar for her.

If she protests, experts suggest that you be firm: Make it clear that her choices are limited to what you’ve served. Resist the temptation to cave in and make her a separate meal. In time, she’ll come to accept the limits that you’re setting — and will start trying some healthier foods.

Healthy Habit 3: Choose to reduce TV time.

Because many studies have found a clear association between television-watching and obesity, experts say that reducing your kids’ TV time makes sense. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours of TV watching a day for kids aged 2 and older. It’s best if children younger than 2 not watch TV at all.

Of course, the most effective way to curb your child’s TV watching is for you to also limit your time in front of it. The easiest way to successfully have a healthy family is for you to lead by example.

Afraid such healthy goals will challenge your poise and patience? If you’re swooping in every 15 minutes, scowling, and clicking off the TV, you might face a revolt — or your kids will just scurry off to a different screen — a computer, video game, or TV in another room.

To keep your cool and remember your goal to have a healthy family, don’t focus on what your kids can’t do, but what they can do. For instance, don’t even mention after-school TV. Instead, create a list of activities — rain or shine — that can be done after school instead of TV watching, like dancing to favorite songs or biking in the neighborhood. Then, help your child pick 1 to try.

Healthy Habit 4: Buy a pedometer for everyone in the family.

It’s not enough for you to demand that your child exercise. Instead, inspire your whole family to move more.

Outfitting each family member with a pedometer encourages healthy habits. Once a kid starts to track how many steps he’s taking, it’s pretty natural to want to take more. At the end of the day, everyone can compare the number of steps they took and chart their progress. It can become a fun competition that leads to better family health. Studies have found that pedometers can be effective in kids as young as 6.

How many steps should your child be taking? While many adults aim for 10,000 steps per day, researchers say that a child’s target should actually be higher. One study found that for kids aged 6 to 12, a healthy goal for girls was 12,000 steps a day and 15,000 steps a day for boys.

That might seem like a lot, but kids are naturally more active than adults. Of course, a child’s stride is much shorter, so they won’t walk as far as you will.

Start slowly. Begin by aiming for an additional 2,000 steps to what each person takes on an average day now. Even that modest increase will help with family health.

Healthy Habit 5: Choose not to micromanage your child’s eating.

As a parent, you don’t want to be watching every bite of food that goes into your kid’s mouth. You don’t want to be swatting her hand away from the cookie jar all the time. That sort of micromanaging will just make everyone miserable.

Instead, the easiest path to raising a healthy family is to remove the source of conflict. Replace the cookie jar with a fruit bowl. After all, kids do most of their eating at home — that’s true even for many teens. Because parents are the ones who shop, you have control over the food that’s in the house.

When you’re at the grocery store, swap the chips and cookies you normally put in your cart with healthier options. Don’t buy sugary drinks like soda and juice-like drinks, and limit the amount of 100% fruit juice you buy.

Buy only foods that you want your child to eat. It will boost your family’s health, and you won’t worry so much about which food she’s choosing for a snack.

Healthy Habit 6: Choose healthy ways to manage stress.

Some studies have shown that kids with stressed-out moms are more likely to be overweight. The cause of the stress can be anything from health problems in the family, money issues, or problems with their mate.

So, here’s another reason to enlist help to find solutions to your stressors — to help your kid’s weight stay in a healthy range. Try these healthy stress relievers:

  • Talk it out with a friend, counselor, or religious advisor.
  • Use exercise as a way to burn off stress.
  • Tell your kids about your stress, using words they can understand.
  • Look for support to help you with the things causing you distress from family, government programs, hospital classes, and so forth.

By handling stress in healthy ways you set a great example for your kids, too.

Healthy Habit 7: Choose to make sleep more important.

Studies have found that a lack of sleep is associated with weight gain. When kids are overtired, changes to hormones and metabolism seem to increase the risk of obesity.

To raise healthy kids, enforce a routine bedtime. You can make the transition easier by trying to make the time before bed relaxing. A helpful way to do this is to remove distractions from your child’s bedroom — including TVs, cell phones, and computers.

Sticking with the same routine even on the weekends can help eliminate fluctuations in mood from fatigue and avoid that Monday-morning angst from trying to get back on schedule.

Bedtime may get harder with teens. As kids hit adolescence, their body clocks reset, and they become biologically wired to stay up late. Because high school starts so early, many teens are chronically overtired and at higher risk of obesity as a result.

As a parent, the best you can do is to work with your teen to encourage healthy sleep habits before bed. Help them see just how much better they feel when they do get enough sleep and how much easier it is to concentrate in school.

A healthy amount of sleep helps reduce the risk of obesity in adults too. So prioritize sleep accordingly to set a healthy example for your family.

Healthy Habit 8: Choose to be consistent about family health.

Consult with an expert — like a dietitian or childhood weight loss expert — to adopt basic, sensible changes to your family’s diet and exercise routine and stick with them.

If after a few months you don’t think these healthy habits are helping — if, for instance, your child has been gaining weight — check in again with an expert and tweak your family’s plan.

The most important thing to help your family adopt healthy habits is to stick to your plan. Stay consistent: about the foods you have in the house, about family exercise routines, and about bedtime.

If you do, your kids are more likely to accept your rules in the long run. If they sense any hesitation on your part, they’re more likely to argue and push back. With persistence, you will be able to help your kids adopt healthy habits, and they will benefit for the rest of their lives.

 

© 2011 WebMD, LLC.

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The Dreaded Weight Plateau: Tips to Get Over It

Posted by 4love2love on June 29, 2011

June 20, 2011

Amy Campbell

Last week we examined the typical reasons for those dreaded but all too real weight-loss plateaus (when you stop losing weight despite eating right and exercising regularly). They’re frustrating and discouraging, but they’re common (so at least you’re not alone!).

Luckily, if you’re in the midst of a plateau or if you ever have been stuck in one, chin up. There ARE things you can do to break that barrier and reach your weight goal. However, a word of caution: There’s no magic bullet for busting those plateaus, just as there’s no magic bullet for losing weight. You may need to try different approaches until you find what works…for you!

Nine Tips for Taking on (and Tripping up) the Plateau

1. Blast up your BMR… with food. Remember that BMR (basal metabolic rate) that we discussed last week? This is the rate at which your body burns calories to perform basic functions like breathing. You need to do everything in your power to give it a boost because it’s very likely turned a little sluggish at this point. A slowdown in your BMR happens because you’ve lost weight, particularly muscle weight. Here’s one way to jump-start it: make sure you’re eating enough (yes, that’s right!). If you’ve whittled your calorie intake down too much (less than 1600 calories for men, less than 1200 calories for women), you’ve probably gone too far. Your body has entered starvation mode, which means that it’s slowed everything down in an effort to preserve and conserve. Break the cycle and rev up your engines to get back on the calorie-burning bandwagon by eating more. If you need help, meet with a dietitian.

2. Dig out your pen and paper. Remember those days when your dietitian asked you to keep food records? If you’ve blocked that out of your memory, think about revisiting record keeping. Food record keeping can seem like a painful chore, but this process really does serve a purpose: By writing down everything that you eat and drink (and you need to be honest about it), you really can get a good picture of where things may have gone awry. Because let’s face it, sometimes weight loss slows down due to those sneaky little calories that seem to pile up when you’re not looking. Or, it may be that you let your emotions get the best of you and you deal with them by eating. You can uncover these things by keeping records, even for just a few days each week. (By the way, successful “losers” who are part of the National Weight Control Registry use record keeping as one of their tools for keeping the weight off.).

3. Figure out your food. By this, I mean, take a good hard look at what you’ve been eating. Food records will help you do this. Even if you refuse to keep records, it pays to focus on your food choices. Have you become too lenient with what you’re eating? In other words, are fatty or empty-calorie foods making their way back into your eating plan? They’re sneaky like that. What about your portions? When was the last time you actually weighed and measured your food? Are you SURE you’re only eating one cup of pasta? Dust off your meal plan or, if you don’t have one, get thyself to a dietitian, or consider joining a commercial weight-management program (such as Weight Watchers) or an online program to get back on the straight and narrow.

4. Ditch the dining out. You don’t have to forgo eating out altogether, but if you routinely eat lunch and dinner out, you’re pretty much guaranteed to consume far more calories than you realize…or need. Treat yourself to a meal out once a week and keep it at that.

5. Add resistance. In addition to scrutinizing your food intake, you have to take a hard look at your activity. Hitting the gym or walking is great, but your body needs to be pushed beyond its comfort zone. This doesn’t mean becoming a marathon runner, but if you’re doing the same old exercise routine day in and day out, you need to kick it up a notch. Particularly, you need to add strength training to your routine. This means using weights or resistance bands, or even using your own body weight as resistance. Remember that muscle burns calories, so you need to focus on building up your muscle mass.

6. Just do it…in intervals, that is. Interval training means changing up the intensity of your workout, not necessarily adding more time to your workout. To learn more about how to do this, speak with an exercise physiologist or a trainer at your local gym or Y. Read more about it here.

7. Drink water. There is some evidence that drinking water, especially cold water, can speed up your metabolism. And some people find that drinking water helps them curb their appetite.

8. De-stress. Some experts believe that constant stress affects metabolism by triggering the release of cortisol, a hormone that can lead to weight gain, among other things. Stress can also affect your food choices and interfere with being active. Deal with stress head-on by taking up yoga, practicing meditation or relaxation, or, if you need help, meeting with a mental health specialist.

9. Take a break. A prominent physician in the field of weight loss with whom I used to work always told his patients: “You first need to stop gaining weight before you can lose weight.” He also believed that it’s OK to maintain for a while. In other words, take a break, if you need it. Recharge and remotivate.

 

Re-posted from Amy Cambell’s blog

 

Copyright © 2011 R.A. Rapaport Publishing, Inc.

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Reuters – Heart risks lower in men who get enough vitamin D

Posted by 4love2love on June 24, 2011

Amy Norton Reuters3:22 p.m. EDT, June 24, 2011

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Men who consume the recommended amount of vitamin D are somewhat less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke than those who get little of the vitamin in their diets, a large U.S. study suggests.

Following nearly 119,000 adults for two decades, researchers found that men who got at least 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day — the current recommended amount — were 16 percent less likely to develop heart problems or a stroke, versus men who got less than 100 IU per day.

There was no such pattern among women, however, the researchers report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The authors say the findings do not prove that vitamin D, itself, deserves the credit for the lower risks seen in men. So they should not start downing supplements for the sake of their hearts.

“The evidence is not strong enough yet to make solid recommendations,” said lead researcher Dr. Qi Sun, a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health.

On the other hand, the apparent benefits were linked to vitamin D intakes near what’s already recommended: Last year, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a scientific advisory panel to the U.S. government, bumped up the recommended dose to 600 IU for most people. Adults older than 70 were told to get 800 IU.

So these latest findings may encourage more people to meet those guidelines, Sun said.

But as far as whether vitamin D cuts heart disease and stroke risk, the jury is still out.

Sun said that more answers should come from an ongoing clinical trial that is looking at whether a high dose of vitamin D (2,000 IU per day) can cut the risk of heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases.

Clinical trials, wherein people are randomly assigned to a treatment or a placebo, are considered the “gold standard” of medical evidence.

So far, there have been few such randomized clinical trials testing vitamin D’s health effects.

A flurry of studies in recent years has linked higher vitamin D intake to lower risks of everything from diabetes, to severe asthma, heart disease, certain cancers and depression.

The problem with those studies is that were “observational” — researchers looked at people’s vitamin D intake, or their blood levels of the vitamin, and whether they developed a given health condition. Those kinds of studies cannot prove cause-and-effect.

The current study was also observational, based on data from two long-term projects that have followed two large groups of U.S. health professionals since the 1980s.

Out of 45,000 men, there were about 5,000 new cases of cardiovascular disease over the study period. These were defined by an incident of heart attack, stroke, or death attributed to cardiovascular disease.

After accounting for a range of factors — like age, weight, exercise levels and other diet habits, such as fat intake – Sun’s team found that men who got at least 600 IU of vitamin D from food and supplements had a 16 percent lower risk of heart attack and stroke compared to men who got less than 100 IU of vitamin D per day.

For women, though, there was no correlation between vitamin D intake and cardiovascular health.

It’s not clear why that is, Sun said. One possibility is that women may have less active vitamin D circulating in the blood; vitamin D is stored in fat, and women typically have a higher percentage of body fat than men do.

But more research is needed, Sun said, to know whether real biological differences underlie the current findings.

In theory, vitamin D could help ward off heart disease and stroke; lab research suggests that it may help maintain healthy blood vessel function and blood pressure levels, reduce inflammation in the blood vessels, and aid blood sugar control.

But until clinical trials help show whether vitamin D works, Sun advised people to stick with the tried-and-true ways of protecting their hearts: maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, eating a well-balanced diet and not smoking.

“There are many established ways to lower your cardiovascular disease risk,” Sun said. “People can focus on those measures.”

As for vitamin D, the sun is the major natural source, since sunlight triggers vitamin D synthesis in the body. Food sources are relatively few and include fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, and fortified dairy products and cereals.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/irO9Xe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online June 8, 2011.

Copyright © 2011, Reuters

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Web MD – The Best Life Diet

Posted by 4love2love on June 16, 2011

To read more articles provided by WebMD, please visit their site.

What Is The Best Life Diet?

 

Exercise physiologist Bob Greene’s The Best Life Diet is an easy-to-follow, no-gimmicks approach to a healthy diet and lifestyle. It’s a dietician’s dream diet — and one that apparently changed talk show host Oprah Winfrey’s life. Winfrey describes in the foreword how, after years of struggling with diets, she found success with The Best Life Diet.

There is nothing groundbreaking about The Best Life Diet. Greene’s “diet” is synonymous with the phrase “lifestyle change.” There’s no going on and off this diet, because it’s not a “diet.” It’s a lifestyle of healthy eating, with an emphasis on regular physical activity.

The Best Life Diet is a safe, effective way to lose weight and improve fitness. But it is not quick or temporary. You’re encouraged to make gradual changes, one step at a time. The aim is to transform your old eating and exercise habits into healthier new ones that will last a lifetime.

 

Depending on your gender and activity level, The Best Life Diet guidelines suggests calorie levels ranging from 1,500-2,500 and a recommended number of servings from the various food groups. The basic premise is that the more active you are, the more calories you can eat.

Greene’s fitness insights and easygoing style makes weight loss easy to understand. Lots of great tipsrecipes, menus, and useful tools are included to help dieters get and stay motivated. The Best Life Diet is easily tailored to a wide array of personal lifestyles, activity levels, and food preferences. The program can be followed online for a fee, or by the book.

What You Can Eat on The Best Life Diet

 

There is no calorie-counting on the Best Life Diet, only a mindful approach to making wise food choices and monitoring portion sizes. Splurges are worked into the program during the third phase with an allotment of “anything goes” calories.

It appears very simple. You can enjoy a wide variety of healthy foods while slowly ridding your diet of unhealthier choices such as fried foods, foods containing trans fats, white bread, sugary soft drinks, regular pasta, and high-fat dairy. These foods are phased out and replaced with healthier foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and more. Weekly eating plans provide suggested meals.

Greene has placed his Best Life Diet seal of approval logo on a variety of food products he recommends as healthy. Dieters are asked to make their healthier choices from a recommended list of foods from companies involved in corporate sponsorship.

How The Best Life Diet Works

 

Greene’s Best Life premise is to promote a non-dieting mind-set so you can focus on improving your life and gaining control over your struggles with eating and weight. While strict diet plans usually set you up for disappointment and ultimate failure, Greene sets dieters up for success, one small step at a time.

Some programs start with a very strict first phase with a long list of prohibited foods. Greene takes a different approach by starting with a more liberal first phase:

    • Phase One, a maximum of four weeks, focuses on slowly increasing activity levels and changing old eating habits. Recommendations include no eating two hours before bed, eating three meals and one snack daily, eliminating alcohol (temporarily), staying hydrated, and taking a daily multivitamin/mineral, omega-3 fatty acid, and calcium (if needed). The meal and snack suggestions make healthy eating sound delicious.
    • Phase Two, a minimum of four weeks, promotes a more aggressive approach to losing weight through healthier eating and increased physical activity. This phase builds upon the changes made in Phase One, with an emphasis on controlling physical and emotional hunger, removing six problem foods from your diet, weekly weigh-ins, and portion control.
  • Phase Three is maintenance, or the phase for the rest of your life. It focuses on eliminating more unhealthy foods and adding more wholesome foods, and introduces “anything goes” calories. Greene’s “anything goes” calories are similar to the “discretionary calories” found in the U.S. government’s 2005 Dietary Guidelines, which allow you to enjoy your favorite treats in small portions. Greene gives the green light for more “anything goes” calories when you are most active.

Greene also tackles issues that lead to overeating, such as hunger and emotional eating. Using his hunger tool helps dieters stop overeating by learning how to gauge real hunger. He tackles emotional eating head-on by asking dieters to answer some tough questions before beginning the program:

    • Why are you overweight?
    • Why do you want to lose weight?
  • Why have you been unable to lose weight in the past?

Answering these questions honestly can help dieters identify the things that need to be changed so they can start to address problem issues.

What the Experts Say About The Best Life Diet

 

The Best Life Diet is based on science — it supports the U.S. government’s 2005 U.S. Dietary Guidelines with very doable and easy suggestions. And most registered dietitians and fitness trainers agree that true weight loss success comes from making lifestyle changes.

Greene’s flexible approach helps dieters stick with the plan. But obesity expert Cathy Nonas, RD, wonders if his realistic, gradual approach will appeal to overweight people who want the quick fix.

“Once a person decides to lose weight, they want it gone immediately,” says Nonas, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “And unfortunately, they choose fad diets [and] lose weight quickly only to regain it back instead of choosing a program like Best Life Diet that tackles changing eating behaviors.”

Nonas says she likes the slow and gradual first phase followed by the more intense second and third phases.

“Anyone who gets through the first phase, regardless [of] if they lose weight, will improve their dietary picture,” says Nonas. If you’re not successful at losing weight during the first or second phase, “stick with the phase longer before moving onto maintenance,” suggests Nonas.

Counting calories is too difficult and inaccurate. But if you cut out the sodas, fried foods, and giant white bagels, the calorie savings will add up.

“For people like me who already avoid the six perilous foods, it won’t make much of a difference,” says Nonas. “But for anyone who eats or drinks the high-calorie foods, it should help them lose weight.”

Nonas also points out that some “forbidden” foods can be enjoyed in moderate portions.

“There is nothing wrong with high-fat dairy if you make modifications elsewhere in your diet, and likewise if you enjoy white pasta or white bread as long as you get enough fiber in your diet,” she says

The bottom line, Nonas says, is that Greene’s recommendations are sound for the most part. She suggests that dieters buy the book but ignore the branded merchandising.

“What is really important is not the brand of yogurt, but reading labels to choose a low-fat yogurt,” she says.

The Best Life Diet: Food for Thought

 

If you’re tired of gimmicks and strict food lists and are looking for a program that can help you change your life once and for all, this book is for you.

The plan’s goals are attainable, and, more important, sustainable. Tools, tips, recipes and a wealth of helpful resources, including the online Best Life Diet message board, provide great support.

WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

Greene, B. The Best Life Diet, Simon & Schuster, Dec. 26, 2006.

Cathy Nonas, RD, spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association.

Reviewed by Jonathan L Gelfand, MD, on February 6, 2009

© 2009 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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