Load up on the nonperishable pantry items like beans and brown rice, and restock them as needed. Meats can be bought fresh weekly, or you can buy in bulk and store them in the freeezer. Only fresh fruits and veggies call for a weekly trek to the store based on which recipes you decide to make. Meet your new 10 best friends:
STOCK UP ON THESE OTHER STAPLES......
On your Shelves
Focusing on whole foods that are high in fiber, lean protein, healthy fats like omega 3-s, and lots of anti-aging antioxidants is an effortless way to stay slender. Individuals who used to struggle with dieting and weight loss are able to transform their bodies by simply basing their meals on clean, simple foods. A few staples are:
Almonds - serving 1 oz.
Great for salads, yogurt, oatmeal and on-the-go snacking.
Key attributes - fiber, healthy fats, lean protein
Avocado - serving 1/2 avocado
Great for smoothies, salads, and guacamole; a healthy alternative to mayo
Key attributes - healthy fats, lean protein, antioxidants
Black beans - serving 1/2 cup
Great for soups, salads, and fajitas
Key attributes - fiber, lean protein
Broccoli - serving 1/2 cup
Great for soups, salads, and side dishes
Key attributes - fiber, antioxidants
Dark Chocolate - serving 1 oz.
Great for a healthy sweet-tooth fix
Key attributes - antioxidants
Kale - 1 cup
Great for soups, salads and side dishes
Key attributes: fiber and antioxidants
Olive Oil - serving 1 tbsp
Great for salad dressings and marinades
Key attributes - healthy fats
Salmon - serving 3 1/2 oz.
Great for breakfast (smoked), lunch, or dinner (baked, grilled or steamed).
Key attributes - healthy fats and lean protein
Spinach - serving 1 cup
Great for soups, salads and side dishes
Key attributes - fiber and antioxidants
Walnuts - serving 1 oz.
Great for salads, yogurt, oatmeal and on-the-go snacking
Key attributes - fiber, healthy fats, antioxidants
Okay, so fat does not necessarily make a beeline for your thighs. Here is a very simplified explanation of what happens when you eat it (courtesy of Eric Decker, PhD, professor of food science at UMass Amherst).
Maybe you are broccoli'd out or you're a vegetarian or you ran out of a recipe ingredient. Below are ways to make trades for your favorites with virtually equal calories and nutrients, so you can always keep your taste buds happy, meet your dietary needs and stay on track with your weight management goals.
3 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast
= 3/4 cup egg whites
= 3/4 cup cooked or canned beans
= 1 whole egg plus 3 egg whites
= 1 large turkey or chicken sausage
= 3 oz. canned crab, salmon or tuna; fresh fish; ground beef; pork; steak; tofu
1-slice whole-grain bread
= 1/4 cup non-creamy (without tahini) hummus
= 1/2 cup whole-grain cereal
= 1/2 cup cooked beans, corn or peas
= 3/4 cup cooked whole grains such as barley, brown rice, bulgur, oatmeal or quinoa
= 1/2 large potato or 1/2 cup diced potatoes
= 1 whole-grain pita (4 inches)
= 1 whole-grain tortilla (8 inches)
= 1 whole-grain flatbread or waffle
1 tsp. olive oil
= 2 tsp trans-fat-free buttery spread; vegetable oil
1 tbsp seeds such as pumpkin or sunflower
1 tbsp chopped nuts such as almonds, peanuts or pecans
= 1 tbsp creamy (with tahini) hummus
= 1 1/2 tbsp flaxseed
= 2 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
= 10 olives
Nut butter Swaps
1 tsp peanut butter
= 1 tsp almond butter; soy nut butter; sunflower butter
= 1 tsp tahini
1 medium orange
= 2 tbsp dried fruit
= 1/2 grapefruit
= 3/4 cup mango pieces
= 1 small banana
= 1 medium apple; pear
= 1 cup berries; cherries
= 1 cup melon pieces
= 2 apricots; kiwifruit
= 3 plums
= 24 grapes
1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked spinach
= 1/4 cup stewed tomatoes or tomato soup; 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
= 1/2 cup chopped nonstarchy vegetables such as bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, mushrooms, tomato or zucchini
= 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw leafy greens such as arugula, bok choy, cabbage, collard greens, kale, lettuce or Swiss chard
1 cup skim milk
= 1 oz reduced-fat cheese or 80 calories of any full-fat cheese
= 3/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
= 1 cup calcium-fortified almond, soy or rice milk
= 1 part-skim string cheese
Stress depletes our B vitamin stores and snacking on nuts helps replenish them. B vitamins keep our neurotransmitters in their happy place and help us handle the fight-or-flight stress response. The potassium in nuts is also key: Penn State researchers found that a couple servings of potassium-packed pistachios a day can lower blood pressure and reduce the strain stress puts on our heart.
While oranges get all of the vitamin C hype, red pepper have about twice as much (95 vs. 50 mg per 1/2 cup serving). In a study in Psychopharmacology, people who took high doses of C before engaging in stress-inducing activities (oral presentation followed by solving math problems aloud) had lower blood pressure and recovered faster from the cortisol surge than those who got a placebo. It seems diets loaded with vitamin-C rich foods lower cortisol and help people cope.
To keep your wits about you when life gets hairy, you need omega-3's, especially DHA. In a study in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, people who took a daily omega-3 supplement (containing DHA and EPA) for 12 weeks reduced their anxiety by 20% compared to the placebo group. You won't get the same mood boost from the omega-3's (ALA) in flax, walnuts and soy, though, so shoot for about 2 servings a week of wild salmon or other oily fish and/or talk to your doctor about DHA supplements.
This leafy, green veggie is rich in stress-busting magnesium. People with low magnesium levels (most of us, actually) are more likely to have elevated C-reactive protein levels - and research shows people with high CRP levels are more stressed and at a greater risk for depression. Magnesium has been shown to help regulate cortisol and blood pressure too. And since magnesium gets flushed out of the body when you're stressed, it's crucial to get enough. Other solid magnesium sources include beans and brown rice.
This warm and comforting food also help your brain generate the de-stressing neurotransmitter serotonin. Research in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows carb-eaters felt calmer than those who shunned carbs. The carb-avoiders reported feeling more stressed. Any carb won't do, however. Refined carbs (white bread and pasta) digest faster and spike blood sugar, messing with moods and stress. Complex carbs like oatmeal are digested more slowly and don't spike blood sugar.
If you crave chocolate when you're on edge, have some. Research in the Journal of Proteome Research showed people who ate the equivalent of an average-size candy bar (about 1.4 ounces) daily for two weeks had lower cortisol and fight-or-flight hormone levels. To reap the feel-better rewards, choose chocolate that's at least 70 percent cocoa. And remember: dark chocolate is a high-calorie food, so mind your portions.
A study from University College London discovered that tea drinkers de-stressed faster and had lower cortisol levels than those who drank a placebo. Although (caffeinated) black tea was used in the study, caffeine revs the stress response in many people, so stick to decaf and herbal teas. Drinking herbal teals like chamomile, peppermint or ginger can be wonderfully soothing to the digestive tract which can help with stress by calming the nervous system in your gut.
Studies have found that these options can help contribute to a healthy mental state, bugger against the harmful physical effects of stress and dial up your serenity level. Eat your way to Zen.
It's true that the side effects may include off-color or odd-smelling urine, but it's a small price to pay for all the folate they deliver. The B vitamin is essential in helping you keep your cool when stress rears its ugly head. Steam some spears and add to salads or stir-fries; they're also tasty broiled and seasoned.
Besides being an excellent source of healthy fat, these creamy green fruits (yes, fruits), can stress-proof your body. They're rich in glutathione, a substance that blocks intestinal absorption of certain fats that cause oxidative damage (the process that creates free radicals, the harmful compounds responsible for aging). Avocados also contain more folate than any other fruit. Try to stick to a single serving (about one-quarter of an avocado). Thinly sliced, it can go a long way on salads or replace mayo on sandwiches or burgers.
All berries, including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to be helpful in combating stress. German researchers tested this by asking 120 people to give a speech and then do hard math problems. Those who had been given vitamin C had lower blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol after the stressfest. Add a handful of berries to salad, yogurt, or oatmeal, or try nibbling on them frozen.
Another vitamin C powerhouse, oranges have an added benefit: that tough skin keeps them protected while they're bouncing around in your purse or backpack, so you can tote them anywhere. Try some other varieties, like clementines, tangelos, or mineolas.
You probably heard about them being a "sexy" food but they have earned they place as a mother lode of zinc. Six oysters, what you would typically be served in a restaurant as an appetizer, have more than half the recommended daily allowance for this important calming mineral. They're an acquired taste, for sure, but fans love them with cocktail sauce, horseradish, or mignonette. Purists favor a simple squeeze of lemon.
Research has proven that these shelled marvels provide more than one kind of cognitive edge. They contain alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid, and other polyphenols that have been shown to help prevent memory loss. And studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts keep the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in check. To bring out their flavor, toast them for 10 minutes, then chop and add to salads
Exercise makes you pay attention to its sensations, such as breathing faster, and the things around you. It also helps you disengage from worry. In one study, by Jasper A.J. Smits, PhD, professor of psychology at UT; he found that exercise slashed anxiety in half! Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate. When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. Or, if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers — and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects
Yoga sessions three times a week improved people's mood and anxiety levels after 12 weeks in one study conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine. The level of GABA, an amino acid in the brain, is lower in people who report anxiety. Among study participants who took a yoga class, GABA levels increased and reports of anxiety decreased after the session. Yoga's deep breathing "stimulated the parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with the ability to relax, says Chris C. Streeter, MD.
Norwegian researchers discovered that sleep-deprived people are more likely to be anxious. Here's why: "Sleep loss activates areas of the brain that are also activated during anxiety," says Jack B. Nitschke, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine in Madison. To ward off the willies, aim to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. It is also suggested to refrain/step away from electronic devices 30 minutes before bedtime and jotting your worries down on paper.
In anxious people, researchers have seen a deactivation in areas of the brain that govern thought, enabling worries to spiral out of control. Mindfulness meditation helps stop the cycle of worry. Studies have shown that anxiety levels of meditators eased up to to 39%
This heavenly therapy slows the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, which are linked to anxiety. Research by the University of Miami School of Medicine found that a month of weekly 20-minute massages lowers cortisol levels by 31%. Massage also causes a relaxation response, which eases anxiety.
Taking Kava for 6 weeks eased anxiety for 26% of people with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) in a 2013 study. Research shows that it's effective for up to 6 months. Kava is available in capsules and liquid tinctures; follow label directions
Boost your immune system's fighting power- feed it! Immune boosters work in many ways. They increase the number of white cells in the immune system army, train them to fight better, and help them form an overall better battle plan. Boosters also help get rid of the substances that drag the body down.
8 Nutrients that Boost Immunity:
Hot foods such as chili peppers, hot mustard, radishes, pepper, onions, and garlic contain substances called "mucolytics" (similar to over-the-counter expectorant cough syrups) that liquefy thick mucus that accumulates in the sinuses and breathing passages.
Alcohol has an impact on your weight as do other foods. However, alcohol provides many calories in a small volume and can end up being a source of unwanted extra calories and weight gain. It can wreak havoc on a system that is in place for your health and well-being. One study has shown a 20% increase in calories consumed at a meal when alcohol was consumed before the meal. There was a total caloric increase of 33% when the calories from the alcohol were added. It goes without saying, but I’ll state it anyway, alcohol is not considered a necessary component in a healthy diet.
Alcoholic choices are sometimes made based on the perceived health benefits of the individual beverages. The debate over which beverage is more beneficial continues. Some claim that there are more vitamins in beer, while wine drinkers point to the “French Paradox” for the health benefits of consuming wine. Some studies suggest and have shown that wine drinkers, compared with beer and distilled spirit drinkers have lower risks of cancer, stroke and total mortality. Some have shown that the frequency of wine drinking was independently related to a lower incidence of deaths due to coronary heart disease and respiratory diseases. These results are still controversial and may be confounded by personal characteristics and other lifestyle factors such as diet. Beer contains more B vitamins than wine and comparable levels of different antioxidants. The antioxidants in beer come from the barley and hops used to make the beer, while the antioxidants in wine come from the grapes. Regardless of the kind of alcohol consumed, moderation remains the key. Excessive intake of wine, beer, or distilled spirits will detrimentally affect your health.
Alcohol can also affect your blood sugar. It is considered a poison by your body and all efforts are made to excrete it, including the cessation of maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. Studies have shown that alcohol interferes with sources of glucose and the hormones needed to maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Alcohol can negatively impact blood sugar levels each time that it is consumed, regardless of the frequency of consumption. Research has shown that acute consumption increases insulin secretion, causing low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and can also impair the hormonal response that would normally rectify the low blood sugar levels. Drinking as little as 2 ounces of alcohol on an empty stomach can lead to very low blood sugar levels. This makes alcohol an even bigger problem for anyone with diabetes.
When alcohol replaces food, there can be numerous deficiencies caused by the lack of an adequate intake of nutrients. The damage to your liver and other organs brought on by chronic, excessive alcohol consumption will cause severe problems that can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Numerous other deficiencies will occur when alcohol replaces nutrients in a balanced diet. The long-term consequences of these deficiencies far outweigh the amount of health benefits that have been found with alcohol consumption. Also, there is an increased risk of problems when combining alcohol and exercise. It is not uncommon for people to go out for a drink after playing team sports or to consume some alcoholic beverages while playing. Your blood sugars naturally drop during exercise and your body is working on replacing your glycogen stores once you are finished. Consuming alcohol during this time will halt this process and can cause blood sugar levels to stay at an unhealthy level. Please note that excessively low or high blood sugar levels have long-term consequences. If you choose to consume alcohol, here are some tips:
You should limit your calories in your drink by choosing those with less alcohol and a limited amount of sweetened beverages. By using flavored seltzers or water, you will save calories. Some diet-friendly alcoholic beverage choices include:
Wines: If you are going to drink, red and white wines (Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot) are the most calorie-friendly selection with a typical 20 calories per ounce with no cholesterol, sodium or fat. A typical 5-oz serving will contain about 100 calories and 2 to 4 grams of carbohydrates.
Hard Liquor: Hard liquor is higher in calories than wine per ounce and is often mixed with soda, which increases the calorie count. To save calories, mix with diet tonic, water or just have a shot. One shot glass or mixed drink will contain about 1.5 ounces of hard liquor. Caloric values per 1.5 ounces are:
Vodka: 1-4 calories, 0g carbs
Tequila: 104 calories, 8g carbs
White Rum: 104 calories, 0g carbs
Coconut Rum: 77 calories, 8g carbs
Scotch Whiskey: 104 calories, 0g carbs
Gin (various brands): 77-119 calories, 8g-0g carbs
Cognac: 104 calories, 3g carbs
Vermouth: 64 calories, 0.4g carbs
Beer: Choosing light beers will drop your caloric intake without sacrificing much flavor. It is worth noting that it can be hard to estimate your intake when pouring from a pitcher, or drinking from an oversized beer mug. Caloric values per 12-oz serving are:
Light Beer: 108 calories, 6g carbs
Draft Beer: 144 calories, 13.2 carbs
Lager: 168 calories, 13.2 carbs
Ale: 216 calories, 13.2 carbs
Liqueurs: They are tasty and should be enjoyed sparingly as they pack the most calories per ounce. Liqueurs can be served alone, over ice, with coffee, or mixed with cream or other mixers. Adding mixers will increase the calorie and fat content of drinks with liqueur. The words “cordial” and “liqueur” are used interchangeably since both drinks are flavored, very sweet and often served as (or paired with) dessert. Whether served in a cocktail or alone, one serving of (chocolate, mint, peppermint, strawberry) liqueur is about 1.5 ounces, contain 155 calories and 17 grams of carbohydrates.
Be careful to budget your alcohol servings carefully. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you but I’ll mention it anyway, drinking loosens your inhibitions and may make you eat, among other things, without thinking. Practice in moderation and consider the other potential health benefits of different types of alcohol. Most health experts recommend the following hierarchy for alcoholic beverages: choose red wine, white wine, lighter beers, hard liquor and lastly liqueur.
During the 1970's, researchers discovered a chemical process that converts cornstarch (corn) into HFCS. Sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets (both natural products).
A quick way to discern sugars on the label is to simply look for the word sugar in any form and for words ending in "-ose". Other alternative names for sugar are below:
Almond Flour/ Meal
Typically, almond flour is made from finely ground blanched almonds, while almond meal has a more coarse texture with the skins retained during grinding. Naturally gluten free and high in protein and monounsaturated fats, almond flour is the lowest carb option in this flour roundup.
Brown Rice Flour
Ground from rice with the germ and bran layers left intact, brown rice flour is a naturally gluten-free source of fiber, manganese, selenium and B vitamins.
First domesticated in Southeast Asia, buckwheat is most closely related to the rhubarb plant. With a high proportion of eight amino acids, buckwheat combined with other whole-grain flours, such as wheat or spelt, creates a complete protein. Buckwheat is a good source of fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and B vitamins.
An ancient relative of wheat, most similar to durum, Kamut is an organic product that orginated in Egypt. Kamut flour is a high-gluten option that is easy to digest, so some people with wheat intolerances may be able to eat it. It also has up to 30 percent more protein than other wheat varieties and is high in potassium, B vitamins, vitamin E, zinc, magnesium and iron.
Millet was first cultivated in China thousands of years ago. It is a seed, most commonly used as a cereal in Asia and Africa. Rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, manganese, zinc, B vitamins and fiber, millet has a protein content closest to that of wheat. Millet is easy to digest, naturally gluten-free and imparts a sweet taste. If it cannot be found, grind whole millet as needed using a high-speed blender or flour mill.
High in potassium, calcium, protein, and B vitamins, oats are easy to digest and exceeptionally versatile. Due to their impressive amount of soluble fiber, oats may help lower "bd" LDL cholesterol and provide long-lasting energy. If oat flour cannot be found, grind whole oats in a food processor (1 1/4 cups oats will yield one cup oat flour).
A seed originating in the Andes region of South America, quinoa is made into a flour that is rich in a multitude of minerals, B vitamins and vitamin E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Most importantly, quinoa contains a balanced set of amino acids, making it a complete protein source, with a protein content higher than that of any other flour. If quinoa flour cannot be found, grind whole quinoa as needed using a high-speed blender or flour mill.
An ancient grain dating back to medieval times in Europe, spelt has made a comeback as a healthy alternative to whole wheat. Although it is a species of wheat, it is easier for some with wheat intolerances to digest. A good source of protein, B vitamins and fiber, spelt also contains a type of carb that aids in blood clotting (mucopolysaccharides) and stimulate the immune system. The gluten in spelt flour is fragile, so take special care not to over-mix.
Andrea Stewart Roa, M.S.
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