Thursday, November 29, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Navigating Around A Low Carb Diet To Fit Your Needs

I find that the hardest thing to do when starting a diet is trying to decide what foods to target. You want to make sure that you get enough of the good carbs, but which ones and how much? I know you have to eat the right types of carbohydrates, but is it just a guessing game? And what about special health concerns or needs?

Some people mistakenly believe it is best to avoid all carbs and only eat from the other food groups for the entirety of their dieting life. This method is really only suggested as a means to kick-start a diet, such as the popular South Beach Diet. In this diet, avoiding all carbs is a technique to stop the sugar/carb cravings. You really shouldn’t do this longer than two weeks because your body does need carbohydrates to operate and be healthy. In most cases, eating 'good carbs' during your low carb diet is the healthiest choice.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rules and you should follow your doctor's advice first over the advice of any diet book, or me for that matter! Let's take a look at some of the issues that affect your decision to eat low carb, and what is involved in designing your personal program.

* Celiac disease requires the elimination of wheat or wheat gluten. The 'good carbs' that are reintroduced as a part of a low carb diet would need to come from 'gluten-free' sources, such as brown rice, corn, or potatoes, to name a few. The list of 'good carbs' in a low carb diet book may include whole grain bread and pasta, but for someone with this condition, it doesn't fit. This is a whole separate topic, but I wanted to cover it briefly just as a heads up to discuss this diet with your doctor before laying out any kind of low carb diet. Low carb diets and gluten-free diets can look similar, but there are definite differences.

* Diabetes is another condition that requires special attention to the amount and types of carbs eaten. A food that is high in carbs but not high in fiber will cause a spike in blood sugar levels. This spike causes the pancreas to release insulin. The insulin helps to control the sugar levels in the bloodstream. When blood sugar levels continually spike up and down, it causes damage to the body - heart and arteries included. Another reason to consult your health care professional before proceeding with any diet.

* Physically active people need carbs. Many people who start low carb diets also start a rigorous exercise program, since they most likely chose to diet to lose weight. Muscles are fueled by the carbs you eat. Your muscles will use these carbs for energy. Avoiding 'bad carbs' (simple carbohydrates), and eating 'good carbs' (complex carbohydrates), along with regular exercise, will give your muscles what they need to perform without adding to fat stores. People who are very physically active, whether on the job or at play, need more carbohydrates to maintain the health of their muscles, but they still need to eat the right kind of carbs to stay healthy. Even very active people will gain weight if they eat too many simple carbs and not enough complex carbs. For a person who needs their muscles to function well (and who doesn't!) eating only 'good carbs' is the right thing to do.

So, what are 'bad carbs' and 'good carbs?' To break it down simply, 'bad carbs' are found in refined flour and sugar products; think white bread, pastas, and sugary desserts. Those are the easiest to understand 'bad carbs.' Complex carbohydrates or the 'good carbs' may include whole grain and multi grain breads and pastas, along with long grain and brown rice, wild rice, vegetables and greens that are high in fiber, along with some fruits and berries.

However, some low carb dieters also start out by avoiding what might be considered healthier choices; foods like bananas, corn, carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, and rice, for instance. These 'good carbs' are higher in sugar content. See why it's so confusing? And that's why you need to get all the information you can, consult your health care professional, and listen to your own body when starting a low carb diet.

Put simply, just about everyone can fit a low carb diet into a healthier eating plan, once you know what to eat, what to avoid, and what carbohydrates are right for your particular case. With special health concerns or physical needs, this requires an understanding of how your body works, as well as a doctor-approved approach. Then, after all that research, there's one thing you must never forget – MOVE!

All the healthy food in the world won't help you if you don't get your heart pumping and blood circulating. Start today by selecting an easy to follow diet and exercise program and your body will thank you!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Healthy Eating: Not Just a Way to Lose Weight

Weight loss isn’t the only reason to lead a healthier lifestyle. By building healthy eating habits, you’ll be lowering your risk of heart disease and diabetes while making your body feel stronger and more alert. Many people have a naturally high metabolism and don’t need to watch their weight, but this doesn’t mean they should live off chips, cookies, and chocolate milk every day.

Heart Health

Thin people can be at risk for heart disease as well. Just because you don’t have a spare tire around your midsection doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about health issues such as diabetes and high cholesterol. Especially if you don’t get any exercise, healthy eating is something that should be kept in mind for people of all shapes, weights, and sizes.

Brain Food

Healthy eating habits aren’t just good for your body, they’re good for your brain as well. Eating properly will help you to be more alert while giving you increased mental and physical energy. Not only will you have a clearer mind, getting the proper nutrition will help your mood as well. Healthy eating can fight depression and will prevent you from suffering from insomnia and irregular sleep patterns.

Skin, Hair, and Nails

Being properly hydrated and getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs will help to give your skin a healthy glow and will strengthen your hair and nails. Even if eating healthy is something you do for aesthetic purposes only, your weight still isn’t the only appearance orientated factor it can affect.

Digestive System

By eating healthy and getting the proper grains and fiber, you’re ensuring your digestive system stays in proper working order. A clean digestive system will allow you to absorb nutrients properly and will lower your risks of diseases such as colon cancer.

Healthy eating affects every aspect of your body, not just your waistline. If you’re one of the naturally thinner people out there, keep in mind that fuelling your body with trans fats and refined sugars will catch up with you down the road. You may not always see the effects junk food can have on your body, but once you start practicing healthy eating habits, you’ll notice the difference and your organs will thank you later.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Little Changes Can Make a Big Difference for Healthy Eating

If you want to start leading a healthier lifestyle, you don’t need to do an overhaul on your whole life to see results. Even if you do plan on making drastic changes, these changes should be done slowly to give yourself time to adjust and improve your chances at long-term success. A little exercise along with some healthy eating habits can help you feel slimmer and more fit in no time.

Choose the Healthier Alternative

In the grocery store, go for the plain popcorn instead of the super drenched movie theatre butter flavor. At a restaurant, substitute your fries for a salad or change your carb loaded potatoes to a lighter vegetable. For breads and pastas, give the whole wheat types a try. Even when you just have to have your chocolate fix, try one of the darker types of chocolate that contain less sugar. Whatever you’re choosing to eat, take a moment to consider what a healthier option would be.

Portion Control

Limiting how much you eat is one of the most important tips for healthy eating. Some people can’t bear to give up their favorite foods, but cutting your portions in half still allows you to enjoy what you love with half the guilt. Getting the “100 calorie” packages of the chips and chocolates you can’t live with out will remind you how much you’re consuming so you know to stop when the package is empty.

Alcohol and Those Extra Calories

When you’re going to a social event and you want to have a few drinks with your friends, you don’t need to throw your healthy eating plan out the window. Switching to a lighter beer or drinking spirits with a low calorie mixer can reduce the amount of calories you’ll be consuming. To cut that number in half again, alternate your alcoholic beverages with a glass of water or another non-alcoholic, low calorie beverage.

Break Your Bad Habits

Pay attention to your eating habits over the course of a few days and pinpoint the times you snack the most. If you tend to blow through a bag of chips while sitting in front of the TV, stop snacking in your living room or switch your snacks to veggies and fat free dip. If you tend to binge eat after a stressful day at work, reflect on the things that have upset you and find other ways to deal with your stress.

Healthy eating habits can be learned little by little until they’ve become second nature to you. The more you learn, the less you’ll need to struggle with your eating habits. As it becomes easier you’ll be able to make more and more changes to reach your healthy eating goals.