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Diet, Health, Fitness, Lifestyle & Wellness


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10 Canned Goods You Should Stop Buying—and Healthier Alternatives

Yes, they’re made of metal. But canned goods are commonly lined with Bisphenol a, better known as BPA, which has potential health complications ranging from weight gain to cancer. And, guess what? In the U.S., the primary source of BPA are canned foods. Here’s how you can find better-for-you options.

Canned tomatoes and sauces

Acidic foods leach out the BPA more than other foods, which means canned tomatoes and tomato sauces tend to test higher in BPA content according to Consumer Reports. Alternate packaging, such as tomato sauces in glass jars or chopped tomatoes in boxed containers lessen the amount of BPA content. For example, the brands Pomi and Cirio package their chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce in boxes. Many marinara varieties are available in glass jars. Tomato paste, although not shown to be high in BPA, can be purchased in tubes rather than cans—look for the brands San Marzano, Mutti, Amore, and Cento.

Tuna

Health Canada, the government health department, reported that canned tuna contained the highest amount of BPA among a wide variety of canned foods. Fortunately for tuna lovers, shelf-stable pouches provide an alternative to the canned version. Popular brands Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee, and Starkist sell tuna pouches.

Veggies

Canned green beans and corn tested higher in BPA than other vegetables. Better choices for your family include fresh or frozen green beans and corn, and as a bonus—fresh and frozen contain more fiber than the canned variety. Here are 30 more ways to sneak fiber in your diet.

Infant formula

A study reported in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found BPA in all liquid baby formulas tested, even after diluted with water. To avoid this, purchase the powdered formulas in plastic containers, or the liquid formula in boxed packages.

Soda

Multiple research studies show canned soft drinks contain BPA, and that goes for diet varieties, too, reports Health Canada. Highest BPA levels were found in Diet 7-up and Mountain Dew. Glass bottles are a safer bet—or better yet, trade your soda for one of these flavored waters.

Beans

To avoid BPA in your chili and burritos, choose dried beans over canned. While they take a bit longer to prepare, your pinto and black beans will be healthier. Try using a pressure cooker to reduce cooking time of dried beans. Or, cook dried beans in bulk and freeze in one to two cup portions for later use. Dried beans boast high nutrition content in an economical choice.

Soups and stews

Due to the variety of ingredients and recipes for canned soups, stews and entrees, the BPA content varies widely. Health Canada reported the highest BPA levels in Campbell’s brand of canned soups. Consumer Reports found that packaging soups in juice-box-type or plastic containers with peel-off metal lids decreases, but does not eliminate BPA from the food. Tomato-based pasta soups, such as Chef Boyardee’s Beef Ravioli in Tomato Meat Sauce and Spaghetti and Meatballs, contain BPA despite the type of packaging. In fact, the plastic container of the beef ravioli had more BPA than the canned variety. Steer clear of these processed soups and choose homemade healthier soups and stews.

Salsa

The Environmental Working Group’s comprehensive database includes organic and non-organic canned or bottled salsa on their list of foods that may contain BPA. With the acidic contents of salsa (think tomatoes, onions, and peppers), even the metal jar top appears to contribute to the BPA present in the popular condiment. Homemade salsa from fresh ingredients is your best bet.

Beer

Although fancy artsy canned beer is making a resurgence in popularity among craft breweries, the BPA may not be worth it. Reports in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture and the Journal of Food Protection demonstrated BPA in beer from cans. Opt for glass bottled beer or draught. Did you know you can do more with beer than drink it? Check out these unexpected uses for beer.

Aerosol cans

Those super fun aerosol spray cans of whipped cream contain BPA, per the Environmental Working Group. Other foods in aerosol cans, such as squirty processed cheese and cooking oil sprays, may contain BPA. Select fresh cheese for your snacks, liquid oils to grease your pans, and make your own fresh whipped cream. Find out what your favorite cheese says about your personality.

BY JENNIFER BOWERS, PHD, RD
source: www.rd.com


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Fun Fact Friday

  • People who enjoy helping others and or spending money on others tend to be less stressed, happier and live longer.
  • Extroverted people are likely to overlook typos and grammatical errors that would cause introverted people to negatively judge the writer. 
  • Studies show those who don’t eat breakfast, or eat it only sometimes, are twice as likely to be overweight as those who eat two breakfasts.

 

  • Women cry on average between 30 and 64 times a year, while men cry between 6 and 17 times.
  • Left-handed people tend to have more emotional and behavioral problems than right-handed people.
  • Listening to music at high volumes can make a person calmer, happier and more relaxed.
  • The more stressed you are, the slower your wounds and illnesses heal.
  • A recent study shows that exercise alone doesn’t help with weight loss. It’s your diet that should be the main focus.
Happy Friday  🙂
 
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


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Is Stress Making You Fat? Science Finds a New Link

Feeling frazzled all the time may raise your risk for obesity, researchers say.

Sure, your life is bananas. And maybe you feel like you can manage it all just fine. But here is a powerful reason to pencil in some me time: Feeling stressed for months at a time can up your risk for obesity, according to scientists from University College London.

Their new study used hair clippings to measure levels of the stress hormone cortisol in people’s bodies. Hair samples provide more accurate hormonal data than other types of samples, the authors say, making their findings some of the strongest yet to suggest that stress and weight are closely linked.

For the study, published today in Obesity, the researchers collected locks from more than 2,500 men and women over a four-year period, and analyzed them for accumulated levels of cortisol. (The samples were cut as close as possible to the scalp, and represented hair growth over about two months.)

The researchers also recorded participants’ weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference over time. And they noticed a clear connection: People who had higher levels of cortisol in their hair tended to rank higher on all three physical measures, as well.

In fact, people classified as obese based on their BMI (30 or greater) or waist circumference (greater than 102 centimeters in men or 88 centimeters in women) had particularly high levels of cortisol in their hair.

These findings support previous research that suggest that high stress levels can trigger unhealthy habits—like losing sleep and eating “comfort food” high in sugar and fat. Other studies have shown that cortisol levels can affect metabolism and fat storage in the body, implying that weight gain could potentially occur even if a person’s behaviors don’t change.

But most studies have relied on measurements of cortisol in blood, saliva, or urine—which can vary depending on situational factors and time of day. The relatively new technology of measuring hair cortisol provides more accuracy for long-term cortisol measures, say the authors, and strengthens the existing research.

stress-eat

The association between cortisol levels and waist circumference is particularly important, says lead author Sarah Jackson, PhD, a research psychologist in the department of Behavioral Science and Health, since carrying fat around the midsection is a known risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and early death.

The authors noted that their study participants were all 54 and older and mostly white, and pointed out that the study’s findings may not apply to a younger or more diverse group of people. They also can’t say which came first: obesity or elevated cortisol levels.

Susan K. Fried, PhD, professor of medicine, endocrinology, diabetes, and bone disease at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said in an email that it’s possible that obesity could trigger higher stress levels. The study’s cortisol measurements reflect exposure over a couple of months, “but the obesity in the people studied likely developed many years earlier,” says Fried, who reviewed the research but was not involved herself.

“Thus, these high hair cortisol values may simply reflect social or biological stress associated with being obese,” she says. For example, stigma and medical conditions associated with being overweight (such as high blood pressure and arthritis) could both cause stress over time.
Jackson agrees that this is a possibility, but says it can’t hurt to be aware of how stress might influence weight gain: “I think the take-home message from our study is really to try and maintain awareness of healthy lifestyle habits during times of stress.”

“When we’re stressed out we may find it more difficult to find the motivation to go for a run or resist unhealthy foods, and that’s when it is easier for weight to creep on,” she says. It could also be helpful to identify ways to reduce exposure to stressful situations, she adds, or to find ways of coping with stress that don’t involve food.

If further research is able to identify a cause-and-effect relationship—that is, show that stress and cortisol levels are directly responsible for fueling weight gain—it could lead to new ways of using stress reduction to prevent and treat obesity, says Jackson.

 By Amanda MacMillan      February 23, 2017
 


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Outsmart The Food Companies To Become A Healthier, Savvier Eater

Like many people, I crave something sweet after every meal, no matter how full I am, to the point where it feels like an addiction. A colleague told me it wasn’t an addiction, but a habit.

Still, the thought lingered: Do we experience true food cravings, perhaps as a result of an “addiction,” or is it simply out of habit? And who’s driving that habit — me or the food companies?

It’s actually both: It’s human nature for consumers to develop habits and seek out foods that satisfy our intense cravings. And so companies create products that meet people’s sensory needs.

“Food companies are interested in selling products that people want,” said Gail Civille, founder and president of Sensory Spectrum, a consulting firm that helps companies learn how sensory cues drive consumer perceptions of products.

“They run tests with consumers and ask them, ‘How much do you like this one? Or that one?’ The companies are trying to figure out what consumers want, and then they do testing to make sure the product has those elements in it – and people like salt, fat and sugar.”
It’s no surprise that food companies would aim to give consumers what they want in an effort to optimize sales. But the process behind product development is quite sophisticated. For companies, the key is finding a food’s “bliss point.”

Discovering the ‘bliss point’

The key for companies is finding the “bliss point” of a food, or the product formulation you like most, according to Howard Moskowitz, an experimental psychologist who did pioneering work on bliss points and their role in product development when he was optimizing menus for soldiers in 1971. He’s since helped major food and beverage companies such as Dr Pepper and Prego find bliss points for their products.

Starbucks’ menu, as selected by a nutritionist

He offered this example: “Let’s just look at coffee with milk. Make some coffee, and pour it into seven cups. Start with no milk, and add a certain amount,” such as you’d find in the tiny plastic containers at a diner.
“Do this so you have zero, one, two, three, four, five and six added containers. The one at the left has no milk; the ones to the right have six different but increasing levels of milk. One of these is the ‘tastiest’ for you.” This is your bliss point.

How does bliss point play out behind the scenes, when it comes to product design and development? For new products, like pickles or pasta sauce, the company may systematically vary the ingredients and test these variations. It’s not just one ingredient alone, but a set of them. Some ingredients appear at different levels. Others appear in different types (such as flavoring A or flavoring B).

“The careful product developer makes the combinations, tests them and builds a mathematical model showing how the ingredients interact to drive liking,” Moskowitz said. “The bliss point — that’s at the top. Sometimes, there are different bliss points, or ‘optima,’ say for people who like strong ‘dark roast (coffee) brews’ and those who like the regular or weaker ‘lighter brews.’ “

Bliss points have been discovered for many foods – even hummus and orange juice – in order to appeal to consumers’ sensory preferences. And this can help explain why, over time, foods evolve to have more sweetness.

The mindful way to distract you from your cravings

“Each generation of food marketers wants to increase acceptance, and the easiest way to do this for many foods is to add sugar,” Moskowitz said. But it’s a slippery slope.
“You add just a little bit each time, so over the course of a decade, there’s a bigger change.” Thus, foods like condiments, tomato sauce and bread – foods that we might not necessarily think of as sweet – often contain added sugars.

Tomato sauce can have 12 grams, about 3 teaspoons, of sugar per half-cup. That’s more than you would find in a chocolate mini doughnut. Barbecue sauce can have 16 grams of sugar – or 4 teaspoons in a 2-tablespoon serving – more sugar than the amount in four chocolate chip cookies or eight sugar wafers. It’s no wonder our palates have evolved to the point where we don’t necessarily know what natural sweetness is anymore: Our taste buds have been, to some degree, externally manipulated over the years.

Heading off food burnout

Although bliss point may be used to find how much pulp an orange juice should contain or the optimal amount of fat for the tastiest ice cream, it has other applications, too. Bliss point has also been used to figure out at which point during a consumption period a person is most sated. But the two applications don’t necessarily work together, because the same sensory characteristics that make your taste buds most excited can run the risk of burnout with each additional bite.

The concept, known as sensory specific satiety, refers to a temporary decline in pleasure derived from consuming a certain food. The result, according to a study in the journal Appetite, is a decrease in a person’s liking and desire for a specific food after eating it.

“The more powerful your experience with the first couple of bites, the less satisfying each additional bite is,” said Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab and author of “Slim by Design.” The result: You get bored of eating relatively quickly. “When you eat salted caramel ice cream, the first two bites are incredible. But then there’s a big jump by the time you get to bites six and seven. … By then, you may be saying, ‘Eh, this wasn’t as good as it was initially.’ ”
Interestingly, sensory specific satiety can be thought of as a human protection element – and a way the body adapts in order to avoid sensory overload, according to Civille, of Sensory Spectrum. Imagine stepping slowly and carefully into a very hot bathtub. “At first, you feel HOT, HOT, HOT! But then your body adapts to the hot temperature in order to protect itself from having too much stimulation, as the brain cannot process all of the messages at once,” Civille said. “In the case of food, adaptation results in fullness.”

Despite this scientific reality, the notion of sensory specific satiety doesn’t stop companies from prioritizing taste experience, with the hope that you won’t be able to stop after just one bite.

“Companies are developing products for that initial ‘Oh, my goodness!’ with the first couple of bites,” Wansink said. And even if the level of sensory satisfaction drops, if you start high enough, it won’t necessarily matter.
“The seventh and eighth bite of the salted caramel ice cream will still be pretty good,” he said. “You’re still far ahead of the grapefruit.”

 

coke-obesity

How the sugar industry sweetened research in its favor

In order to extend the amount of time it will take before you get bored of eating a food, its maker may include ingredient variety – for example, making a raisin bran with yogurt puffs or oatmeal clusters. Wansink explains how: “If you mix popcorn with M&Ms, you can eat a lot more than you would if you ate either food alone, because the M&Ms counter the salty flavor of the popcorn, and the buttery popcorn counters the sweetness of the M&Ms.”

Civille agrees. “Without texture and flavor variety, you become full or burnt out. Any new input is not interesting.” This phenomenon helps explain why kids – and adults – can say “I’m so full” after a meal but still have room for dessert. “Dessert is sweet and interesting.”

No wonder I need my sugar fix, even when I’m stuffed from a larger-than-usual meal. Perhaps I’m not truly addicted to sugar, but rather, my body has succumbed to the science of sensory specific satiety.

Becoming an empowered eater

The psychology that goes into finding a “bliss point” and coping with sensory specific satiety is significantly helpful for companies’ bottom lines, but the practical takeaway can have implications for consumers’ health, particularly when foods and beverages are consumed in excess.

Changing kids’ palates – which already prefer sweet tastes – toward sweetness can lead to weight gain, obesity and other health problems. In a world of such abundance, how can consumers become more educated and make the right choices? Here are some tips and tricks to help become savvier,

1. Find a food mantra. “What if we could find the messages to repeat to ourselves, almost like self-advertising, to get us to eat healthily?” asked Moskowitz. In fact, that’s what the bliss point pioneer is working on now: messages that work for consumers. “The science is of words, but it’s still looking for the bliss point. But now the bliss point is the combination of messages that a person will find compelling.” You might ask yourself, “Am I really hungry? Do I really want this food? Or am I bored or stressed?” External motivation works too, he says. “Many people will remind themselves of goals, like, ‘I want to look good in a dress for my daughter’s wedding.’ ”

2. Have a decent breakfast. It will help you avoid cravings, especially sugar cravings. “If your blood sugar is low (from skipping breakfast), you’re going to start eating anything and everything,” Civille said. But a bagel with nothing on it? You’ll be hungry again by 10:30. “The key is to manipulate your own body’s cravings by giving it the right kinds of foods to start with,” she said. And different foods may work better for different people. “If I eat a bowl of oatmeal at 6:30, I’m not hungry until lunch.”

3. Wean your palate. You can change your palate to crave less sweet, salty, fatty foods. “Once people learn to like skim milk, whole milk is too much for them,” Wansink said. One of the ways you can make it happen, he says, is to make sure you pair the product that contains less sugar, salt, fat, whatever – with something that you do like.

“Let’s say you drink way too much Coke. You tell yourself you’re going to drink Diet Coke instead, but you hate the taste of diet soda. So you pair it with something you do enjoy, like taking a walk.” By doing this, he says, you don’t experience the switch to diet soda as such a sacrifice, and eventually you will like it more. Or try making the switch from a sugary cereal to a more protein-rich breakfast. Something as simple as pairing cheese or ketchup with eggs can make a protein-rich breakfast more appealing, and eventually, you won’t even crave the sugar.

4. Add fat. “You should have some fat in your diet, because fat is interesting and satiating. It holds flavor and releases the flavor in a different way than a water-based system,” Civille said. Consider the difference between a teaspoon of vanilla extract in heavy cream (that’s so good!) versus skim milk (awful). The satiety and satisfaction that the fat offers will ultimately allow you to eat less. Spread peanut butter on apple slices or top a mixed green salad with a vinaigrette dressing.

5. Choose portion-controlled snacks. Here’s a case where package design (think 100-calorie packs) may be more costly, but they help you eat less, because they slow the pace of eating. “Having to open up three 100-calorie packs to get 300 calories of chocolate takes a longer time to eat and makes you less sated than if all 300 chocolate calories were in front of you,” Wansink said. The result: People usually give up — and consume fewer calories overall. To save money, buy snacks in bulk and make your own portion-controlled snacks at home using small plastic bags.

6. Drink a glass of water. “Having a glass of water with you all the time is one way of dealing with sensory specific satiety,” Civille said. “The sense of fullness reduces hunger and keeps us hydrated. Often, we eat when we, in fact, are thirsty or dehydrated.”

7. Choose cheese over chips at a party. “People immediately go to the bowl of chips, but you should be looking for the more protein-rich appetizer, which will give you more satiety,” Civille said. A cube of cheese, shrimp or even a slider is a good choice.

8. Don’t go food shopping on an empty stomach. “When you go to the supermarket hungry, you buy things that you crave … and those are typically not good choices, like ice cream, doughnuts and cookies, as opposed to buying more vegetables,” Civille said. Wasnick agrees. “You buy more of the ready-to-eat convenience food, the stuff you can eat in the parking lot,” he said.

Here’s food for thought: Simply eating a piece of fruit 30 minutes before going into a grocery store can significantly change your purchasing habits for the better. “Even just a piece of an apple before you leave – or even a sample of one – dramatically increases how much fruit you buy and decreases the amount of junk food,” Wansink said.

9. Divide your cart in half. “An easy thing that we’ve discovered is the half-cart rule,” Wansink said. “Divide your cart in half with a coat, purse or briefcase. The front half of the cart is reserved for fruits and vegetables. The back half of the cart is for whatever else I want. Simply doing this increases the amount of fruit and vegetables people buy by 25%-30%.”

10. Distract yourself. “There’s a really neat study we did: We had people only eat a quarter as much of a snack as they usually eat in the afternoon,” Wansink said. “So let’s say you usually eat eight Hershey’s Kisses, and we gave you two. We found that 15 minutes later, people rated themselves as equally full, satisfied and happy – and less guilty!” But here’s the important part: “After they had their first two bites, they had to put the food away – they couldn’t stare at it – and they had to do something (active) for those 15 minutes to distract themselves, like cleaning the office or returning phone calls. They could not sit at the computer.”

The results were encouraging. “All they could remember is that they still tasted that chocolate, apple pie or potato chips — and they realized they didn’t deny themselves anything.” But getting their minds off of the food was key. “They realized they can have what they enjoy — as long as they can distract themselves enough to not think about it.”

By Lisa Drayer, CNN           Mon November 21, 2016


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If you’re going to do one thing for a healthier 2017, choose one of these

Welcome to a new year filled with hopes for a healthy, happy 2017. The same resolutions are thrown around each year – lose weight, save money, and spend more time with family, for example.

Canadians from coast-to-coast may want to lead a healthier life, but don’t know where to get started. Global News asked leading health experts and organizations to pick the top priority they’d like Canadians to focus on for the year ahead.

Focus on your behaviours, not the numbers on the scale

Hide the scale. Losing weight and keeping it off is always a challenge. However, simply focusing on improving your diet, increasing your physical activity levels, getting enough sleep and feeling better about yourself can lead to important health improvements even with no – or very little – weight loss.

But remember, it is easier to achieve and sustain behavioural goals when they are specific, realistic, and measureable.

Also, it is better to focus on changing one behaviour at a time rather than trying to change everything at once.

– Arya Sharma, scientific director of the Canadian Obesity Network

Get a pulse on your mental health and well-being

Mental health is key to well-being. It affects every single aspect of your daily life. Maintaining your mental health is a lot like staying physically fit: it requires a little effort, but the rewards are worth it.

Get into the habit of learning to recognize and express your emotions – without awareness it’s difficult to pinpoint why you are so stressed or having problems coping.

– Patrick Smith, national CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association

Break a sweat

A healthy lifestyle helps prevent 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke – leading killers of Canadians. The easiest way to reduce your risk is to get moving. Walk, dance, play a sport, take the stairs – make it fun! Even if you don’t have extra time, short rounds of exercise add up: 10 minutes is enough to get real cardiovascular benefits. Over time, you’ll work up to 30 minutes of daily physical activity at a moderate intensity. Repeat five days a week.

– Diego Marchese, CEO of Heart & Stroke

Think of the mental health of your loved ones

Operate on the statistically safe assumption that someone you know – a family member, friend, neighbour, fellow student, or coworker – is currently struggling with some form of mental illness. Take a moment to think about who that person is and then reflect on how you have responded to their experience of illness. Ask yourself if your response was different than it would have been if he or she had a broken leg or a cancer diagnosis. And if there is indeed a difference, then consider how you might support them differently.

The reality is that mental illness can be an isolating, even humiliating experience, but it doesn’t have to be. Connecting makes a difference and enriches a relationship – it can relieve the sense of being alone and provide comfort, help and reassurance.

– David S. Goldbloom, senior medical advisor at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Add healthy cues to your environment

Look around your workplace, car or anywhere you might be eating. Are there cues like candy bowls and cookie jars? Redesign your environment to nudge yourself towards nourishing choices. For example, put a bowl or fruit or cut up vegetables on the counter and keep all other foods in the fridge or cupboards. Keep a reusable water bottle on your desk so it’s ready for sipping instead of sugary drinks.

– Andrea D’Ambrosio, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Dietitians of Canada

Plan your meals

Meal planning is a vital part of healthy eating and makes you happy as there will be less stress around weekday meals. It saves time by eliminating the deliberation when you’re trying to decide what’s for dinner. It will also save you money as you’ll only shop for ingredients you need on your plan. Finally, it saves calories.

When you arrive home from work, you’re less likely to mindlessly munch when you know what is planned for dinner. Keep menu planning simple – set aside 30 minutes before grocery shopping to survey the family. Bookmark favourite meals and reuse them weekly.

– Jaclyn Pritchard, registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic Canada in Toronto

Family meal

 

Schedule quality time with your family

Spending time with the family is essential to the health and well-being of both children and adults. Focus on your children by playing their favourite games with them, encouraging conversation by asking about their day at school, and showing interest in their ideas and activities. Share mealtime as an important way to connect and unwind at the end of a busy day.

Even when family members are off in different directions with school, work and activities, be sure to come together at the table at least once a week.

Decide on specific times when everyone’s electronic devices will be turned off. When you’re unplugged, get active – play games like tag, go for a walk, or sled in park.

– Staff at the Canadian Paediatric Society

Reduce your alcohol consumption

Lower your long-term health risks by staying within average levels of alcohol consumption. For women, the recommended daily serving is less than 10 ounces. With today’s wine glasses, your pour should be less than a third of the glass. For men, if you like to try the latest craft beers, keep it to two tall cans.

Always have some non-drinking days each week to minimize tolerance and habit formation.

– Dr. Granger Avery, president of the Canadian Medical Association

Quit smoking for one week

Quit smoking for a week, and then a month, and then a year and beyond. But start with that first week. Setting that small goal can help you with your longer-term goals, and everytime you quit – even if you don’t succeed – you learn more about how to quit successfully. Research shows that if you can quit for one week, you are nine times more likely to quit for the long haul. In some provinces, it could even win you $500 from the Smokers’ Helpline’s First Week Challenge Contest.

Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your health. Within 10 years of quitting, an ex-smoker’s overall risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.

– John Atkinson, director of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers’ Helpline

Don’t fall for gimmicks

Rather than fall prey to this year’s crop of fad diets, or worrying about a particular probiotic, nutrient or scary sounding chemical, focus instead on the bigger picture. Set a goal of cooking more from fresh whole ingredients and eating them around a table free from distraction. Reduce your restaurant usage. Aim for better nights’ sleeps. Cultivate healthy relationships with your friends and family. Don’t drink alcohol to excess and reduce your consumption of all sources of liquid calories. Do those things well and avoid news about the latest fad diet.

– Yoni Freedhoff, medical director of the Bariatric Medical Institute

Feed your brain

Do more physical activity, not for your waistline but for your brain. It gets blood pumping which helps your brain to function as well as possible. The increased blood flow nourishes your brain’s cells with nutrients and oxygen. It also encourages the development of new cells, all factors in reducing your risk of stroke.

Your brain is like your heart. They’re both muscles that need to be given a workout to stay healthy. Challenge your mind with exercise training, learning a new language or joining a book club, as examples.

– Larry Chambers, scientific advisor for the Alzheimer Society of Canada

Take a small step, master it, then take on another

Many of us are familiar with the best intentions of starting off the year with lofty goals when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle – followed by the enthusiasm of resolutions declining a few weeks after.

Take a step back and think of something you can realistically and comfortably accomplish when it comes to exercise, your diet, weight management or stress – and you will be more likely to stick to it.

Try incorporating 15 minutes of physical activity to your routine just a few days a week, and as you progress, move to 30 minutes. When you’ve made that into a habit, remove sugar-sweetened beverages from your diet, for example.

– Joanne Lewis, director of healthy eating and nutrition programming at the Canadian Diabetes Association

Ease your mind and treat yourself

Pace yourself at work. Try not to check your work emails after hours, truly disconnect.

Just like the 12 days of Christmas, practice 12 days of self-care in 2017.

Go for a walk, ski or snowshoe in the woods, treat yourself to a latte, book a massage, take a yoga class or volunteer. Don’t forget that doing something for others not only makes them feel good, but can lift your spirits.

– The Mental Health Commission of Canada

By Carmen Chai
National Online Journalist, Health Global News
carmen.chai@globalnews.ca
source: globalnews.ca


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20 Tips to Avoid Weight Gain During the Holidays

The holidays are an exciting time of year. But between the parties, stress and baked goods, it’s also a time when people tend to gain weight.

In fact, between mid-November and mid-January, adults gain an average of one pound, or half a kilogram.

This may not seem like a lot, but most people don’t lose the weight they gain over the holidays. For this reason, holiday weight gain is one of the biggest contributors to total yearly weight gain for many people.

The good news is that weight gain during the holidays is not inevitable.

Here are 20 tips to help you avoid weight gain during the holiday season.

1. Be Active With Family and Friends

Sedentary activities, such as sitting on the couch watching sports, are common holiday traditions for many families.

Inactivity may contribute to weight gain, especially when lounging around is accompanied by eating excessive amounts of food.

Doing some type of physical activity while on holiday with your family may prove to be beneficial for weight control.

An activity as simple as a family walk can provide benefits, as it will get your mind off food and allow you to bond with your loved ones.

You can also be active during the holidays by signing up for a workplace or community fitness competition or event. Running races are popular options.

2. Be Smart When Snacking

During the holiday season, unhealthy snacks like cookies and other goodies tend to be available for you to take as you please.

When treats are easy to access, unnecessary snacking or grazing is more likely to occur.

At home, this problem can be solved by keeping treats out of sight. However, that strategy is more difficult to avoid in situations that you cannot control, such as your workplace or a family dinner party.

You can overcome these situations by being mindful of your snacking habits. If you find yourself snacking just because there’s food available — and not because you’re hungry — then it’s best to avoid snacking altogether.

However, if you are hungry and need a snack, opt for real foods. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are filling snacks that don’t contain added sugars or unhealthy fats, both of which can lead to weight gain.

3. Watch Your Portion Sizes

When the holidays arrive, it can be easy to overdo it on your portion sizes.

Those who eat larger-than-recommended portions tend to gain weight more easily than those who don’t.

The best way to overcome this is to weigh and measure your food, or eat off of smaller plates, which is discussed more below.

To determine an appropriate portion size, read food labels and the recommended serving sizes listed on recipes.

If you’re in a situation that leaves you unable to measure portions, use your best judgment to fill your plate with a reasonable amount of food.

4. Practice Mindful Eating

People are often rushed and on the go throughout the holiday season, which frequently leads to multitasking during meals.

Studies show that those who eat while they are distracted are more likely to overeat. This is because they are unable to pay attention to their body’s fullness signals.

To prevent this from happening, eat mindfully without distractions, including work and electronics.

Another way to eat mindfully is to eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly, which will allow you to better recognize your body’s signals of fullness and consume fewer calories.

It can also be helpful to take a few deep breaths before you start eating. This can induce relaxation and help you keep your full attention on your plate, rather than your to-do list.

Several studies show that those who engage in mindful eating practices are less likely to gain weight.

5. Get Plenty of Sleep

Sleep deprivation is quite common during the holidays, and it may cause weight gain.

This is because those who do not sleep enough tend to be hungrier, consume more calories and get less physical activity.

The reason behind this is that sleep restriction may increase your hunger hormone levels, ultimately leading to higher calorie intake.

Additionally, inadequate sleep has been linked to lower metabolism. This is believed to be due to alterations in your circadian rhythm, which is known as the biological clock that regulates many bodily functions.

6. Control Your Stress Levels

Keeping up with the demands of the holidays can be stressful.

Those who are stressed commonly have high levels of cortisol, a hormone that’s released in response to stress. Chronically high cortisol levels may cause weight gain, as they have been linked to greater food intake.

Additionally, a stressful lifestyle may cause more cravings for junk food.

For these reasons, it’s important to keep stress levels under control throughout the entire year, but especially during the holidays when you might be plagued with more tasks and surrounded by unhealthy foods.

There are plenty of things you can do during the holidays to reduce stress. Some options include exercise, meditation, yoga and deep breathing.

7. Keep Meals Balanced With Protein

Holiday meals are typically rich in carbs but lack protein.

However, it’s important to include some protein with every meal, as it promotes fullness and may be useful for weight maintenance.

In fact, eating protein with meals may automatically reduce calorie intake by reducing hunger and appetite.

Protein is also beneficial for weight control because it increases your metabolism and levels of appetite-reducing hormones.

For these weight-management benefits, you should include at least 25–30 grams of protein in each meal.

Good sources of protein include meat, poultry, fish and some plant foods like beans and quinoa. Ensure your holiday meals include a serving or two of these foods to reduce the likelihood of overindulgence.

8. Focus on Fiber

Fiber is another important nutrient that induces fullness.

Some studies show that increased dietary fiber can reduce total calorie intake, which may be a method to prevent weight gain over the holidays.

Unfortunately, many common holiday foods lack adequate amounts of fiber. Do your best to incorporate fiber-rich foods, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds, into your meals.

9. Cut Back on Taste Testing

Many people spend a lot of time cooking and baking during the holiday season.

Surprisingly, this can lead to weight gain. That’s because along with the cooking and baking comes taste testing, and even small bites of baked goods and holiday dishes can add up in calories.

Tasting your dishes can be important, especially if you are cooking for others, but a small bite of less than a teaspoon is probably more than enough.

You should also make sure that you aren’t hungry while cooking, as it’s much easier to go overboard on taste testing when your stomach is growling.

10. Bring a Healthy Dish to Share

Holiday parties can be a common setback in the battle against holiday weight gain. In these instances, you often have no control over the food that’s served.

The good news is that you can have control. Simply bring your own healthy dish for yourself and to share with others.

This way, you can be sure you’ll have something to eat that aligns with your weight goals.

11. Choose Desserts Wisely and Savor Them

Dessert is everywhere during the holiday season. This often leads to excessive sugar consumption, a common cause of weight gain.

Instead of eating every treat in sight, it can be helpful to focus on your favorites. Eat the ones you really want and ditch the rest.

Another trick is to savor the desserts you do indulge in, which may leave you feeling more satisfied and less likely to overdo dessert.

To savor desserts, eat them slowly and mindfully so you can really taste and enjoy them.

holiday-buffet

12. Limit Liquid Calories

The holidays are a time of year when alcohol, soda and other sweetened beverages seem to be unlimited.

These beverages can contribute a significant amount of sugar and empty calories to your diet, which can cause weight gain.

Additionally, alcohol consumption is often linked to increased appetite and is a risk factor for weight gain.

If you’re trying to control your weight, it is best to limit liquid calories during the holidays — and all year long, for that matter.

13. Use a Smaller Plate

Dinner parties and potlucks are common occasions during the holiday season.

While people often think of these as diet disasters, they don’t have to be if you eat from a smaller plate.

This is based on the fact that people tend to consume larger portions off of large plates, which may lead to overeating.

By using the simple trick of choosing a smaller plate, you can control portions and therefore reduce the likelihood of holiday weight gain.

14. Reduce Calories in Recipes

Excessive calorie intake is a primary cause of weight gain during the holidays.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of things you can do to lower the calorie contents of recipes. Here are some ideas on how to reduce calories in baking, cooking and beverages:

Baking

  • Replace butter with applesauce, mashed banana or pumpkin puree.
  • Instead of sugar, use a lower-calorie substitute such as stevia, erythritol or xylitol.
  • Add dried fruit instead of chocolate chips or candies.
  • Flavor recipes with extracts like vanilla, almond and peppermint instead of butter and sugar.

Cooking

  • Flavor dishes with herbs and spices instead of butter.
  • Use cooking methods such as baking, steaming or grilling instead of frying.
  • Substitute low-fat or skim milk for heavy cream.
  • Replace cream cheese, sour cream and mayo with Greek yogurt.

Beverages

Use club soda or sparkling water in place of sweetened beverages.

  • Flavor drinks with freshly squeezed lemon or lime rather than sugar. Cinnamon can also add flavor to holiday-themed beverages.
  • In dairy-based drinks, use low-fat or skim milk in place of heavy cream.

15. Weigh Yourself Regularly

Stepping on the scale regularly during the holidays may help prevent weight gain.

In some studies, individuals who weigh themselves regularly are able to maintain or lose weight better than those who do not weigh themselves.

Do what works best for you when it comes to weighing yourself. Some find it beneficial to check their weight daily, while others are successful weighing themselves once or twice a week.

16. Use the Buddy System

Many people report success with their weight goals when they have a partner to pursue them with.

Finding a health buddy who has similar weight goals may be useful over the holidays, as this person can keep you motivated and accountable.

Reach out to friends, family and co-workers to find someone willing to partner with you in your effort to prevent weight gain.

17. Avoid Processed Foods

The hectic holiday season has led to the increased availability of processed holiday convenience foods, such as boxed mashed potatoes and stuffing.

While these may be quick and easy, they often contain excess sugar and unhealthy fats that are not good for weight control.

To prevent weight gain, opt for whole foods this holiday season. Focus on making meals and baked goods from scratch instead of a box.

That way, you can control what goes in your food and stay on top of your weight.

18. Plan Ahead

All of the suggestions in this article come down to planning ahead if you are watching your weight over the holidays.

If you have events that involve food on the calendar, take matters into your own hands. Find out what types of foods will be served and if you need to, bring your own dish. Decide what and how much you will eat ahead of time.

It can also be helpful to gather a list of healthy holiday recipes, so you always have a go-to when you need to bring something to a party.

19. Skip Seconds

Often times, holiday meals are served in a buffet style, with several options to choose from in unlimited amounts.

This leads people to serve themselves seconds — and maybe even thirds.

The calories from double helpings can add up and contribute to weight gain.

To overcome this, assess your hunger when you finish your first plate. If you’re still hungry, have a little more food. If you’re not, then you’ve probably had enough and can move on to enjoy other aspects of the gathering.

20. Draw the Line

During the holiday season, many people have an “I’ll start tomorrow” mentality, which can end up being a vicious cycle of unhealthy habits.

If you are serious about controlling your weight over the holidays, it may be helpful to draw the line, set limits for yourself and stick to your goals regarding food intake.

Decide which foods are worth it to you and which ones are not. Know that it’s okay to say no to certain foods and habits that don’t align with your goals.

It’s also important to be aware that you might have a slip-up or two.

Often times, people abandon their goals after this happens. However, there is no need for this. Simply move on and make a healthier choice the next time you eat.

By Brianna Elliott, RD

 


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Excess Weight Tied to 8 New Cancer Types: Review

A review of more than 1,000 studies has found a link between excess weight and eight new types of cancer.

Scientists have eight more reasons for you to watch what you eat.

A review of more than 1,000 studies has found a link between excess weight and eight new types of cancer.

They include cancers of the stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, ovary, thyroid, meningioma brain tumors and multiple myeloma.

The studies were analyzed by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer and the group’s findings will be published in the New England Journal of Medicine Thursday.

“The burden of cancer due to being overweight or obese is more extensive than what has been assumed,” said Graham Colditz, a cancer prevention expert and the chair of the IARC research group.

He added, “many of the newly identified cancers linked to excess weight haven’t been on people’s radar screens as having a weight component.”

For most of the cancers on the new list, researchers found a correlation between body-mass index and the disease. The higher the BMI, the greater the likelihood a person had of developing cancer.

The group says the reason for the link is because excess fat can lead to more estrogen, testosterone, insulin and inflammation. These things can all promote cancer growth.

obese

Researchers also found the risk of developing cancer was similar for men and women and consistent around the world where data was available.

That’s why the group says it’s important people maintain a healthy diet and exercise to reduce their cancer risk.

“Public health efforts to combat cancer should focus on these things that people have some control over,” said Colditz.

Still Colditz acknowledged losing weight can be difficult for some, so he suggested people instead focus on being healthy.

“Rather than getting discouraged and giving up, those struggling to take off weight could instead focus on avoiding more weight gain,” he said.

In the past, IARC researchers have also linked excess weight to other cancers, including those of the colon, esophagus, kidney, breast and uterus.

In Canada, there are approximately 14 million obese or overweight adults and nearly 500,000 youth, according to self-reported data.

CTVNews.ca Staff     Published Wednesday, August 24, 2016