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A Healthy Guide to Good Nutrition

Whether you are at your ideal weight or striving to reach your weight goal is it simply a matter of burning more calories than you take in? The answer, I suggest, is no! Overall body health improvement as well as weight gain or loss must be factored into the equation or you could be heading for problems. Correct nutrition can help to reduce the risk of a myriad of health-related problems, the most frightening of which are surely heart disease and cancer. Proper nutrition, however, entails eating many different foods, monitoring your consumption of some food and beverage items, and counting calories. Good diets offer balanced nutrition that reduces cholesterol, blood pressure, and helps with weight control.

To function properly, your body must have the correct combination of nutrients:

Carbohydrates. They are the primary source of ammunition in your diet. The body uses carbohydrates to build glucose which can be used immediately or stored in your body for later. Too much glucose, however, is stored as fat. There are two types of carbohydrates - simple and complex. Sugars are simple carbohydrates. Starches and fibers are complex carbohydrates.

Proteins. Proteins help your body build and maintain muscles and other tissues. They also function in the creation of hormones. Like carbohydrates, excess protein is stored as fat.

Animal and vegetable are the two major types of proteins. Too much animal protein can cause high cholesterol, as it is high in saturated fat.

Fat. Strange as it may seem; fat is another nutrient your body requires. It comes in both saturated and unsaturated forms. Saturated fat puts you at risk of health problems. Unsaturated fat is healthy, but if it goes through any type of refinement process, it can become saturated fat.

Vitamins. These are also required nutrients. Different vitamins perform different tasks within the body. They can work with the metabolism to help with energy levels for any task you can think of that you need your body to perform. It has also been noted that certain vitamins can prevent disease.

For example, vitamins A, C, and E, also called antioxidants, can assist with the prevention of coronary artery disease by keeping build up from occurring on artery walls. Vitamin B-1 is needed for digestion and proper nervous system function. Vitamin B-2 is needed for normal cell growth. Vitamin B-3 helps to detoxify your body. Folic acid assists with production of red blood cells. Vitamin D assists with the absorption of calcium. Vitamin K helps your blood clot.

Minerals and trace elements. These are another nutrient your body requires. Both are used in many different body processes. Minerals like chlorine help make your digestive juices. Phosphorus helps build strong bones. Both can be found in the foods we consume, but with a trace element, your body just needs a tiny amount. Salt is one final nutrient your body requires. You should not consume more than 2400 milligrams per day, though, as it might raise your blood pressure.

You should follow several guidelines to create a well balanced, nutritional diet. First, try to consume two and one half cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit each day. When making your selections for each day, be sure to choose a good variety. A good rough guide is to eat as many different colors as possible, this will help you to select from all five vegetable subgroups at least four times per week.

You should eat at least three ounces of whole grain products each day. At least half of your grain intake should be whole grain based. Milk should also be part of a healthy diet. Consume at least forty-eight ounces of low fat milk or milk products on a daily basis. Your total fat intake should only be between ten and thirty percent of your calories. Most of the fats you consume should be in the form of unsaturated fats, as saturated fats can do much to damage your health. Meat, poultry, dry beans, and milk or milk products should all be lean, low-fat, or fat-free. Less than ten percent of your calories should come from saturated fats, and you should always try to avoid trans-fatty acid.

Fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and whole grains should be a regular part of your diet as should potassium rich foods. Alcoholic beverages should only be consumed in moderation.

Excellent nutrition is the basis of a healthy diet.

Watermelon: A Juicy, Fun Way To Take Your Vitamins

While kids want great taste, you want to give them the vitamins, minerals and fibre their growing bodies need. Serve watermelon and you can both be happy.

Watermelon is a fun, nutritious way to make sure active kids don't get dehydrated; it's 92 percent water.

A two-cup serving of watermelon is an excellent source of vitamins A, B6 and C, and it provides 7 percent of the recommended daily value of potassium, with only 80 calories.

Watermelon is fat-free and also contains fiber. Its beautiful red color comes from all-natural lycopene, an antioxidant that can help keep kids' bodies healthy.

Watermelon can be eaten at any meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner, and it's a wonderful snack for the whole family. Delicious on its own, watermelon is a fantastic ingredient in recipes, too. Previously just a summertime treat, tasty watermelon is now available year-round.

A watermelon carving makes a great addition to a kids' party buffet, and the birthday boy or girl can help make it. The salad inside can be as simple as a mixture of blueberries, seedless green grapes and balls of watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melon. It's colorful and kids love it.

Carving Instructions for Watermelon Fish

Slice 1/4 inch off the bottom lengthwise to provide a stable base.

With a melon baller, cut half circles over half the top of the watermelon in a rectangular shape, remove and set aside. This piece will be used for the top fin and tail.

Scoop out the flesh.

Cut out the tail shape and the melon balled fin-piece from the rectangular piece set aside earlier. Attach the fin and tail with sturdy, round toothpicks.

Cut out eyes using a melon baller. Trim around the outside of the eye socket, then place it back in, rind side out.

For the mouth, point a paring knife at a downward angle above the stem and slice through 3 inches on either side of the stem, cutting through the rind. Push out the mouth from the inside. For the side fin, cut 3 cuts into the side using the melon baller to make the curves on the back of the fin. Then slice straight cuts to form the top and bottom of the fin.

About Omega 3 Fish oils

Question: What’s all the fuss about Omega 3 fish oils? What do they do for my body?

Answer: Omega 3 fish oils are a substance that can be found in the bodies of fish. However, eating fresh fish is no longer recommended. The mercury levels that are prevalent in almost all fresh fish these days can be very detrimental to your health. However, companies have manufactured fish oil that is mercury free by processing the oils that naturally occur in the fish. Omega 3 is a type of fat that is essential for human health. Omega 3 contains two fatty acids that benefit the human body greatly, which are known as DHA and EPA.

These fatty acids have been linked to helping prevent heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. DHA is also required by the human brain. Low levels of DHA in the brain have been linked to depression, schizophrenia, memory loss, and an increased chance of being stricken with Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, the regular and repeated consumption of Omega 3 fish oils can greatly help affect the quality of your life for the better.

The American Heart Association recommends the use of fish oils to help your hearts performance as long as you keep your dosage under 3 grams per day, suggesting an amount roughly between 0.5 to 1.8 grams per day. Clinical trials conducted have shown that Omega 3 fish oils can reduce cardiovascular events including heart attacks, strokes, and even death.

Also, research has shown that fish oils can help decrease the risk of arrhythmias, decrease triglyceride levels, decrease the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque, and even slightly lower blood pressure! With all these facts, there is no doubt that the regular and responsible use of Omega 3 fish oils from supplements can be of great benefit to your health.

7 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Coconut Oil

It is a common misconception that coconut oil is bad for you. People all over the world are experiencing the healthy benefits of using coconut oil. It is actually one of the healthiest oils you can consume. Here are the top seven reasons why you should use coconut oil as an alternative to other common cooking oils.

1. Coconut oil doesn't turn to fat in your body.

Unlike many other common oils, like soy (vegetable) and corn, coconut oil won't make you fat. Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are an easy fuel for the body to burn, without turning to fat. Most other cooking oils and fats contain long-chain triglycerides (LCT). LCT's are usually stored as fat. Since coconut oil is a MCT, it is more easily absorbed and converted to energy quicker.

People in the tropics have relied on coconuts as a traditional staple in their diet for centuries. They consume large amounts of coconut oil every day. Instead of getting fatter, it helps them stay healthy, lean and trim. When they switch from coconut oil to our modern oils, they develop obesity and the health problems that our modern society faces.

Some other people who have known this truth for a long time are people who are in the animal feed business. When livestock are fed vegetable oils, they put on weight and produce more fatty meat. When they are fed coconut oil, they become very lean.

2. Coconut oil increases your metabolism.

Not only does coconut oil convert to energy quicker in your body, it increases your metabolism, which promotes weight loss. Because it boosts your metabolism, it helps your body burn fat more effectively.

Coconut oil may triple your calorie burn. Since coconut oil is a MCT, it is converted to energy so quickly that it creates a lot of heat. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, MCT's burn three times more calories for six hours after a meal than LCT's.

The February 15, 2005 issue of Woman's World magazine stated that coconut oil is the "underground high-metabolism secret."

This is great news for people who have thyroid problems, since coconut oil improves sluggish thyroids by stimulating the production of extra thyroid hormones. Most other common oils, like vegetable (soy) and corn have been shown to inhibit thyroid function.

3. Coconut oil has omega 3 fatty acids.

Most cooking oils contain omega 6 fatty acids, something we get way too much of in the United States. Our omega 6 to omega 3 ratio should be 1:1 but it is more like 50:1. We need to drastically cut back our omega 6 oils and consume much more omega 3 oils to be healthy. And coconut oil is filled with these healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

4. Coconut oil gives you energy.

Because of the healthy omega 3 fatty acids and the fact that it increases the metabolism, most people that switch to coconut oil feel a burst of added energy in their daily life.

This is because coconut oil is nature’s richest source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT's), which increase metabolic rates and lead to weight loss. MCT's promote thermogenesis, which increases the body's metabolism, producing energy.

This is because coconut oil is nature’s richest source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT's), which increase metabolic rates and lead to weight loss. MCT's promote thermogenesis, which increases the body's metabolism, producing energy. Many people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia have found that adding coconut and coconut oil to their diet was helpful to them.

5. One of the best things you can use on your skin and hair is coconut oil.

Coconut oil is one of the best things you can apply directly on your skin and hair. It gives temporary relief to skin problems like rashes. It aids in healing and restoring skin to a younger appearance. It has also been known to help with people who suffer from yeast infections in the skin, as well as many other skin problems.

Not only does it soften and smooth your skin, coconut oil has antioxidant properties that protect the skin from free radical damage. Coconut oil makes excellent massage oil too.

6. Coconut oil has healthy benefits that most other oils do not.

Evidence is mounting that coconut oil has anti-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral effects when both consumed and used topically on the skin.

Most oils oxidize and turn rancid very quickly causing free radical damage in our bodies. Coconut oil is not easily oxidized and does not cause harmful free radical damage like polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Free radical damage is thought to be responsible for many ailments in our body from arthritis to increased susceptibility to cancers.

Coconut oil also helps our bodies absorb other nutrients more effectively, such as Vitamin E.

7. Coconut oil is one of the best oils you can use for cooking.

It has a higher smoke point than olive oil, which means it can take higher temperatures better. There are several healthy omega 3 oils we can choose to consume, such as flax and olive oil, but they don't do well under the high heat we use for cooking. Coconut oil can be used in higher cooking temperatures.

It is harder for coconut oil to go rancid, unlike other cooking oils, which are usually rancid long before you even bring them home. Rancid oils cause free radical damage in the body, which is a leading cause of cancer. Coconut oil is stable for over a year at room temperature.

 Because of the misinformation we have been given for years, we have lost out on the healthy benefits that coconut oil has given the people of the tropics for centuries. But now it has been rediscovered! Coconut oil is so effective, it won't be long before we see coconut oil supplements promoted, but you can get the jump on the popular crowd and start consuming and cooking with coconut oil today!

7 Reasons to Grow Your own organic vegetable garden

If you have space for a few pots or even a small piece of land, it is a great decision to grow your own vegetables. It not only provides you with a source of organic health veggies, but ti's great exercise tending to it.

1. You will have no additives in your vegetables. Research by organic food associations has shown that additives in our food can cause heart diseases, osteoporosis, migraines and hyperactivity.

2. There will be no pesticides or synthetic fertilisers used. These chemical products are applied to obtain crops all the time regardless of plagues or weather conditions, and affect the quality of the vegetables. Besides, pesticides are usually poisonous to humans.

3. Your vegetables will not be genetically modified (GM). Antibiotics, drugs and hormones are used on vegetables to grow more and larger ones. One of the consequences of this practice are vegetables which look all the same and are usually tasteless. Besides, we end up consuming the hormones that have been used on the vegetables, with the potential risks for our health.

4. Eating your own organic vegetables will be much more healthy for you. They will not contain any of the products or chemicals named above, and they will be much more natural than any ones you would find at the supermarket. Your health will not be at risk because you will then know that nothing has been added to your vegetables.

5. Your own organic vegetables will be much tastier. The use of pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, hormones and antibiotics make vegetables grow unnaturally and take the taste away from them. With organic vegetables, your cooking will be enhanced as their flavour will show fully.

6. Organic farming is friendly to the environment. Because you won't use pesticides or other equally harming products on your vegetables, you will not damage the soil or the air with the chemical components.

 7. When you grow your own organic vegetables you are contributing to your own self-sustainability and the sustainability of the planet. Small communities have been founded

10 Small Steps To Improve Your Health

Small steps are easier to achieve and more sustainable than huge overhauls to your lifestyle. 

1. Keep an eye on your weight and work on making sure you are not gaining extra lbs. Even if you gain just a pound or two every year, the extra weight adds up quickly.

2. Take more small steps. Use a pedometer to count your daily steps; then add 2,000, the equivalent of one extra mile. Keep adding steps, 1,000 to 2,000 each month or so, until you take 10,000 steps on most days.

3. Eat breakfast. Breakfast eaters tend to weigh less and have better diets overall. For a filling and nutrition-packed breakfast, top whole grains with fresh fruit slices and low-fat or fat-free milk.

4. Switch three grain servings each day to whole grain. If you're like the average American, you eat less than one whole grain serving a day.

5. Have at least one green salad every day. Eating a salad (with low-fat or fat-free dressing) is filling and may help you eat less during the meal. It also counts toward your five daily cups of vegetables and fruits.

6. Trim the fat. Fat has a lot of calories, and calories count. Purchase lean meats, eat poultry without the skin, switch to lower-fat cheeses, use a nonstick pan with only a dab of oil or butter.

7. Consider calcium. Try including two or three daily servings of low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt. Dairy calcium is good for bones and may also help you lose weight.

8. Downsize. The smaller the bag, bottle or bowl, the less you will eat.

9. Lose just 5 to 10 percent of your current weight. The health benefits are huge-lower blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides.

10. Keep track of your eating. Write down what you eat over the next couple of days and look for problem spots. Often, just writing things down can help you eat less.

10 Ways To Get More Antioxidants Into Your Diet

It’s no secret that antioxidants are incredibly beneficial to good health. It’s believed the antioxidants in food can help prevent cancer, reverse or slow aging, enhance your immune system, increase your energy and improve heart and other organ health.

Given all we know about antioxidants and their beneficial properties, it’s amazing more people don’t get enough fruits and vegetables, the primary sources of antioxidants. Experts recommend a minimum of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, but say getting 7-10 servings is best.

There are 10 steps to getting more antioxidants into your diet.

1. Breakfast

Breakfast doesn’t have to be a hurried toaster tart on the way out the door. Throw some strawberries, 100% juice and yogurt into a blender; pour your delicious mixture into a cup and head out the door. You’ve just added one to three servings of fruits to your daily intake. Or throw some berries onto your cold or hot cereal.

Say you truly have no time in the morning and usually grab something on the run. Even the Golden Arches can be of some help here. Order a fruit and yogurt parfait and some apple slices. For about $2, you have a breakfast providing one to two servings of fruit.

2. Snacks

Here’s an easy way to get more antioxidants in your diet. How about a handful of raisins for a snack, or some fresh red grapes? Dip some strawberries in yogurt. You’ll feel decadent, but the berries provide the color you’re looking for. Need crunch? How about some baby carrots dipped in hummus? Consider a handful of pecans for crunch and a nice antioxidant boost.

3. Lunch and dinner

It might sound trite, but adding a salad to each of your main daily meals can add loads to your overall health and well-being. They don’t have to be boring, and they don’t have to be just salad greens. If you’re going classic, add some red pepper slices to your green salad, some tomatoes to the Greek salad, or tart cranberries to your field greens. Whip up a broccoli salad for lunch, or be adventurous and mix up a rice salad with a mélange of fresh vegetables like string beans, tomatoes, peppers and red onions.

4. Dessert

Berries, with or without whipped cream or chocolate are a wonderful way to end your day of healthy, antioxidant-rich eating.

5. Beverages

Replace your soda with tea or coffee, both of which boast antioxidant compounds. Have a glass of wine with dinner, or for a real change of pace, pour a glass of chai tea.

6. Think outside the box

We know we can get our antioxidant fix from berries, salads and the like, but researchers say powerful antioxidants can also be found in a variety of unexpected foods, like russet potatoes, artichokes, and small red beans. The beans, in fact, may have more antioxidant power than blueberries, experts say. So to your rice salad full of vegetables, add some beans for even more antioxidants.

7. Cook lightly

You think you’re being good, preparing vegetables each night for your family’s dinner. But if you’re overcooking the vegetables, you’re cooking out a lot of the beneficial properties of the antioxidants. Steam (don’t boil) vegetables, and stop cooking them when they will have all of their bright color and most of their bite.

8. Plant a garden

Experts believe that people who plant and harvest vegetables from their own yards are far more likely to eat more vegetables and fruits than people who buy their produce from the store. So plant a garden, watch it grow and eat the fruits (literally) of your labor.

9. Take your healthy diet on vacation

Too many of us consider going on vacation an opportunity to take a vacation from everything, including healthy eating. Think of vacation as a way to be introduced to new foods. Order an interesting vegetable dish in a restaurant and then pay attention to how the chef prepared the dish.

10. Learn to cook

If you’re cooking, you’re not opening bags and boxes. Cooking involves scrubbing and peeling vegetables, preparing whole foods and paying attention to how things are cooked. If you’re ordering out every night, you’re far less likely to be eating the whole foods and natural fruits and vegetables that provide the base for our antioxidant intake.

Eat Your Stress Goodbye – Stress Reducing Diet

When you’re stressed out, the foods that you’re turning to are most likely going to be traditional ‘comfort’ foods – think big meals, take-out, fatty foods, sweet foods, and alcohol. Let’s face it – we’ve all found some comfort in a tasty meal and a bottle of beer or glass of wine when we’ve been stressed out or upset about something. However, this isn’t a good permanent solution.

When you’re turning to unhealthy foods you can feel better temporarily, but in the long run, you will feel worse. When your body isn’t getting the right nutrition, you can begin to feel less energetic, more lethargic, and in some cases less able to concentrate and focus. All of this can lead to even more stress.

Foods that Fight Stress

If you’ve been feeling more stressed out than usual lately, it’s important to know which foods are best to choose and which to avoid when it comes to combating stress and helping you to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety. The best way to fight stress is to have a healthy, balanced diet which includes a moderate amount of each of the different food groups.

Filling up on foods such as whole grains, leafy vegetables, and lean proteins as the basic staples of the diet is the best way to ensure that your body gets the optimum amounts of nutrients to fight both physical and mental health problems. When it comes to choosing the foods to eat, some have a range of great properties which help the body to combat stress. Choosing these stress-busting foods will help to heal and calm your mind permanently, rather than providing a temporary fix.

Some of the best stress-fighting foods include:

  • Avocado – Avocados are a creamy and versatile fruit which can be eaten in a range of different ways whether you enjoy it raw, made into sauces, dressings and dips, or in a smoothie. These nutrient-dense fruits have the properties to stress-proof your body, thanks to their high glutathione content which specifically blocks the intestinal absorption of certain fats which cause oxidative damage. Avocados also contain higher levels of vitamin E, folate, and beta-carotene than any other fruit, which boosts their stress-busting properties. However, be careful with portion control when eating avocado, as it is high in fat.
  • Blueberries – If you’re feeling stressed out and reaching for the snacks, swapping chocolate or chips for one of the best superfoods is a great way to help you deal with your stress levels and achieve a higher level of calm. Blueberries have some of the highest levels of antioxidants, especially antho-cyanin, which means that this berry has been linked to a wide range of health benefits including sharper cognition, better focus, and a clearer mind – all of which can help you to better deal with stress.
  • Chamomile Tea – Of course, it’s not all about what you’re eating when it comes to managing stress; what you’re drinking can also alleviate or worsen the stress you're feeling. Drinking liquids which are high in sugars and caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks or soda, can actually increase your stress levels if consumed regularly. Chamomile tea has long been used as a natural bedtime soother, and it has also been used in clinical trials, which determined that chamomile tea is effective in reducing the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Chocolate – Although it’s usually seen as an unhealthy treat, there is an undeniable link between chocolate and our mood. Studies have shown that eating chocolate can actually make you happier. However, that doesn’t mean that you can start munching on chocolate bars every time you're stressed out – chocolate works best as a de-stressor when eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Dark chocolate in particular is best for you, as it contains more flavonols and polyphenols, two hugely important antioxidants which can help combat stress, more than many fruit juices.
  • Beef – Grass-fed beef is not only kinder to the planet and to animals, it’s also good for people, too. Grass-fed beef has a huge range of antioxidants, including beta-carotene and Vit-amins C and E, which can help your body to fight stress and anxiety. If you’re looking for more reasons to spend a little more money on organic, grass-fed beef, it’s also lower in fat than grain-fed beef whilst being higher in omega-3.
  • Oatmeal – Oatmeal is great in that it can be a filling comfort food, but also has a large number of healthy properties to actually make you feel better from the inside out. A complex carbohydrate, eating oatmeal causes your brain to produce higher levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin, helping you to feel calmer and less stressed. Studies have shown that kids who choose oatmeal for breakfast tend to be much sharper throughout the morning in school compared to kids who had alternative morning meals.
  • Walnuts – If you’re looking for a healthy snacking option which will help you to stay better in control of your stress levels, walnuts are a great choice. There is no denying the sweet, pleasant flavor of walnuts and they can be a tasty snack for in-between meals or as part of a desert. A versatile nut, walnuts are great for salads, or add them to a sweet treat such as coffee and walnut cake.
  • Pistachios – another food which is great for snacking on and can also help to combat stress and anxiety in the long term is pistachios. Studies have found that simply eating two small, snack-size portions of pistachios per day can lower vascular constriction when you are stressed, putting less pressure on your heart by further dilating your arteries. Along with this, the rhythmic, repetitive act of shelling pistachios can actually be quite therapeutic!
  • Green Leafy Vegetables – leafy, green vegetables should be a pivotal part of anyone’s diet. Along with helping to combat stress, leafy greens are full of nutrients and antioxidants which help to fight off disease and leave your body feeling healthier and more energized. Dark leafy greens, for example spinach, are especially good for you since they are rich in folate, which helps your body to produce more mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which is a ‘feel-good’ chemical. Making leafy greens a part of your diet will help you to feel happier and less stressed out overall.
  • Fermented foods – last but not least, eating fermented foods such as yogurt can help to keep your gut healthy, which actually in turn will help to improve your mental health and reduce stress levels. The beneficial bacteria which are found in fermented foods such as yogurt actually have a direct effect on your brain chemistry and transmit positive mood and behavior regulating signals to your brain via the vagus nerve.

Putting Together Your Diet Plan

Planning your meals wisely is key to not only staying physically fit and healthy, but also to staying mentally strong and being able to best manage your levels of stress. Knowing which foods to avoid and which are the best to reach for to snack on when you’re feeling worried and anxious is important to helping you get control over your emotions and fears.

When you’re feeling stressed, you may be tempted to reach for classic ‘comfort foods’ – usually foods which are laden with sugar, very starchy, or greasy. However, although these foods can make you feel momentarily better, they will actually make you feel worse in the long run.

Having stress-busting snacks such as fresh berries, dark chocolate, yogurt, walnuts or pistachios, or even a fruit smoothie with avocado and leafy greens in it can help you to feel better in both the short and long term when it comes to stress.When it comes to combating and dealing with stress in the long run, it’s important to make sure that for the most part, you are eating a diet which is healthy and balanced.

In order to stay on track, it’s a good idea to make a meal plan for your week and plan ahead to make sure that you have a good selection of these stress-busting foods in your kitchen to make meals and snacks from when you’re feeling like stress-eating. Making sure that the majority of your meals include foods such as lean proteins and leafy green vegetables will not only make you feel healthier overall, but can improve your mental health and stress levels, too.

A good example of a healthy, stress-busting menu would be:

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with berries or a fruit smoothie with avocado and berries
  • Mid-morning snack: Natural yogurt with fruit or a handful of pistachio nuts
  • Lunch: A whole-grain pasta salad filled with plenty of leafy greens
  • Afternoon snack: Dark chocolate
  • Dinner: Grass-fed beef with vegetables
  • Before bed: Chamomile tea

Of course, you don’t need to stick to this menu – but it gives you a good idea! Remember to exercise good portion control when eating foods such as nuts, chocolate, yogurt or avocado! As the saying goes, you are what you eat – so make sure that first and foremost, you’re filling yourself up with foods which are good for your mental health.

10 Ways To Sneak Some Extra Fruits And Vegetables In Your Family’s Diet

We all know by now that we should be eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. But knowing and doing are two different things, aren’t they? Sometimes it is just not easy to get them all in there. We are constantly tempted to fill up on convenience and junk food. If your family is anything like mine, they’d much rather fill up on a bag of chips or a bowl of rice or pasta instead of trying an apple or a plate of steamed broccoli. So we’ll have to get creative. Here are a few ideas to “sneak” some extra vegetables and fruits in your family’s diet.

1. Start the day with a breakfast smoothie. All you have to do is throw some fruits, low-fat yogurt and ice in a blender. You may also want to add a scoop of protein powder in there for good measure. Just blend for a few seconds and you have the perfect breakfast ready to go. I like to sip mine in a thermal cup on the way to work. To make it even more appealing for your kids, use some frozen yogurt or a scoop of ice cream in the smoothie. They won’t believe that you are letting them have ice cream for breakfast.

2. Dried fruit makes an excellent snack any time of the day. Add some small cartons of raisins to your child’s lunch box, pack some yogurt-covered raisins in your husband’s briefcase and keep some trail mix sitting around for snacking. You can also add dried fruit to oatmeal and cereal in the morning. My family loves banana chips in their breakfast cereal.

3. Add some fruits and vegetables to your family’s sandwiches. You can add some banana, sliced apples or strawberry slices to a peanut butter sandwich. Top a turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cucumber and anything else they will eat. You can even make a sub shop style vegetable sandwich by combining several different vegetables with some mayonnaise and cheese on bread.

4. Have a salad bar at dinner. Set out a variety of chopped vegetables, some cheese and croutons as well as several choices of salad dressing along with the lettuce and let everybody create their own perfect salad.

5. Let them drink their fruits and vegetables. Keep an assortment of fruit and vegetable juices in the fridge and encourage everyone to drink them as a snack. Get creative. You could start “family cocktail hour” by pouring everybody a glass of his or her favorite juice over ice. Add some straws, cocktail umbrellas and sit together to talk about how everybody’s day went.

6. Try this for dessert. Put a small scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt in a bowl and top it with lots of fresh or frozen fruit.

7. Offer fruits and vegetables as snacks. You can cut apples into slices and top them with peanut butter or cheese. Cube cheese and serve with grapes. Cut up some fresh veggies and serve them with ranch dip. And of course there’s ants on a log. Spread some cream cheese or peanut butter on the inside of a stick of celery and sprinkle raisins on it (wow, fruit and vegetable in one snack).

8. Try some new fruits and vegetables. Pick something exotic to get your family’s curiosity. With a little luck their curiosity will outweigh their initial apprehension to trying something new. You could try artichokes, plantains, papaya, mango, star fruit, or anything else you can find in the produce department of your local store.

9. Make a pot of vegetable soup or a stew that’s heavy on veggies and easy on the meat. Both of these make some great comfort food when the weather gets cold.

10. Start “My Veggie Day”. Each family member gets to pick a vegetable one day of the week. They qualify to pick a vegetable as long as they tried each vegetable the week before, otherwise they lose a turn.

Incorporate a few of these ideas and you will have everyone in your family eating more fruits and vegetables in no time.

Here is another tip: Now that everyone in the family has gotten a taste for it, make sure you always have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies available and ready to snack on.

What Is The South Beach Diet?

The South Beach Diet was developed by cardiologist Arthur Agatston to help his patients lose weight and maintain a healthy diet for a lifetime. It is designed in phases, like the Atkins Diet, with different eating recommendations in each phase. All phases have the same underlying philosophy, though. Weight loss and maintenance depends on establishing a balanced diet that avoids 'bad' fats and carbohydrates.  

The proponents of the South Beach diet claim that you can lose weight and maintain the weight loss without counting calories, weighing portions or depriving yourself of good-tasting, satisfying foods. This is accomplished by cutting out empty, high-carbohydrate foods like sugars, potatoes, rice and white bread. Each phase is specially designed to accomplish a particular goal.

Phase I: Adjusting your Metabolism

In Phase I, you eat three meals and two snacks daily, eating until you are no longer hungry. The phase lasts two weeks, during which time your body will shed 8-13 pounds.  

These items are not allowed during Phase I: bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, baked goods, fruit, candy, cake, cookies, ice cream, sugar or alcohol  

Phase II: Weight Loss

The aim during Phase II is to lose weight, with loss averaging 1-2 pounds per week. During this phase, you will gradually add the restricted foods from Phase I back into your diet, but you will eat less of them. The daily diet on Phase II should consist of:  

  • All the protein you want
  • Minimum of 4 1/2 cups of vegetables
  • Up to 3 servings of fruit
  • Up to 3 portions of starch
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk/dairy (including yogurt)
  • 3 tbs. fat  
  • In real terms, a typical menu for a meal on the South Beach Diet might include something like this:  
  • ½ grapefruit
  • 2 scrambled eggs mixed with Monterey Jack cheese and salsa
  • 1 slice of whole grain toast
  • Decaffeinated coffee or tea, fat-free milk and sugar substitute if desired  

The eating plan recommended by the South Beach Diet emphasizes low carbohydrate foods, restriction of sweets, processed starches, white sugar and 'unhealthy fats', and all the protein you want. It specifies minimum amounts of low carb vegetables to be eaten daily that are remarkably close to the recommendations made by the USDA and the American Diabetes Association.  

A key concept in the South Beach diet is the Glycemic Index. Foods are ranked on a scale of 1-100 according to their Glycemic index - the amount by which they raise blood sugar levels after meals. The focus of your diet should be on foods low on the GI level, such as yogurt, cucumbers and broccoli and whole grain cereal, while avoiding those high on the GI scale such as white bread, potatoes and pretzels. 

In addition to the above, the South Beach Diet offers the following guidelines:

  • Drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water and other decaffeinated beverages per day (excluding fruit juices) 
  • Limit your intake of caffeine-containing beverages to 1 cup each day 
  • Take one multivitamin and mineral supplement daily 
  • Take between 500 and 1,000 mg of calcium daily  

Phase III: 

The lifetime maintenance plan is nearly identical to the weight loss phase, with more portions of foods allowed. 

Dr. Agatston cautions that patients being treated for diabetes, impaired kidney function, pregnancy or other chronic illness should consult their physician before embarking on any weight loss regimen.