Getting Away From Fast Food

There’s a common misconception that fast food costs less than food prepared at home. That’s partly because of massive corporate marketing budgets and campaigns from food companies that influence our thinking. Actually, cooking food at home costs less per person than the typical $5.00–$7.00 fast-food “value” meal.

So Why Aren’t People Cooking More?
If healthy home-cooked food costs less than fast food, why isn’t everyone cooking at home? Here are some reasons:

We’re out of practice. One of the big reasons people think fast food is cheaper than slow food is that we’re not cooking as often.The path toward fresh, healthy food being affordable and easy for everyone is cooking. It’s getting in the kitchen if you’re able to.”

We fear it. Cooking is easier than most people think—especially inexperienced cooks. However, in our sedentary culture, we watch so many cooking shows that cooking may seem like something only expert chefs can handle. But cooking is something that’s really simple that people have been doing since the beginning of time and building into their lives. Part of it is just getting over that fear.

We overcommit and under plan. We’re all working more hours, and it’s tough to find the time to cook, it doesn’t take long. Fifteen minutes a day can get you healthy, affordable food. But it takes a little bit of planning—and that’s key. You have to think in terms of ‘Let me see if I can prepare a big pot of something on Sunday that I can eat throughout the week. What are the things I can freeze?’ All of that really helps.”

Educating Yourself
So, if you’d like to cook more frequently, try these ideas:

Get in the kitchen. You have to practice cooking to become proficient. If someone you know is a good home cook and understands how to create a healthy, simple meal, make a cooking date. Select the recipes, shop together, make the food together, then sit down together and eat what you’ve made.

Hire talent to help you. Hire a personal chef or a local culinary school to lead a cooking class for you and some friends. Make it a social event where you not only get to participate in the food preparation (for practice), but also eat the results. Ask the chef to keep things basic, healthy and inexpensive.

Learn to prep and plan meals for the week. Try cooking in bulk at home once per week (Sunday is usually a good choice) and freeze or refrigerate the food for quick reheating during the week. For example, roast a chicken and a large pan of root veggies, bake a handful of sweet potatoes, and make a large pot of chili or soup. Wash, chop and dry all of your produce for the week. With these tasks done, you can have dinner on the table in 15 minutes or less.

Learn basic knife skills and invest in at least one good knife. Nothing makes cooking more pleasurable (or miserable) than a good (or bad) knife. If you’ve never used a professional-grade knife, take a basic knife skills class or search YouTube for videos on the topic.

Every success story was accomplished by executing a thought out plan. Failing to prepare is preparing to Fail.

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Don’t forget to lift heavy things!

We all know the poor measure a scale is for tracking our fitness. We know a scale measures everything: bones, fat, muscle, skin, organs, etc… We know muscle is much more dense than fat and we know quick weight loss is mostly lost muscle and water, leaving more fat on the body.

We also know that our metabolism is guided by the amount of lean muscle tissue on our body. What we NEED to know is lean muscle can be lost in a variety of ways, but can only be added by resistance exercise. If we aren’t exercising, we aren’t adding any lean muscle tissue, meaning we’re getting fatter…even when we’re losing weight!

The general assumption for people who don’t exercise is that they are 50% fatter than the scale implies. So, if you were 160 pounds in college and you’re now 180 pounds, you’re not just 20 pounds overweight. The truth is you’re fatter than that. You’re not weighing more muscle, but more fat.

This is also why dieting, alone, doesn’t work. Losing weight without resistance exercise always results in losing muscle, muscle that will no longer be present to burn fat. Ever notice how people who lose a lot of weight at once through strict diets don’t really look fitter, but look “small fat”?

If you’ve taken this route, you’re not alone. Gimmicks have us believing we can take a pill or eliminate a food group and achieve perfect health. Don’t continue to fall for the easy way out. It will not bring you the results you want.

Instead, begin eating moderately. Apply the essential components to fitness: good nutritional habits, hydration, vitamins and minerals, cardiovascular training, and lift heavy things! in other words resistence training.

Synergistically apply these components to build lean muscle tissue and let it help you burn fat like crazy!

As always, don’t use the scale…to make you feel better!

Friends’ Impact On Weight Loss

Friends may have our backs, but their health and fitness habits can literally shape our backsides. How do friends help—or hurt—your healthy habits? Learn more from Martina M. Cartwright, PhD, RD, adjunct faculty member at the University of Arizona, independent biomedical consultant, author and nutrition counselor in Scottsdale, Arizona.

When Dietary Awareness Is Out to Lunch

The desire to copy people close to us is thought to enhance bonding and act as a social superglue (Lakin 2003). When we mimic each other’s eating behaviors, we form positive, subconscious bonds with our dining companions. What people do, rather than what they think, may be why obesity flourishes among friends.

The average person makes over 200 food decisions every day (Wansink 2006). Deciding what and where to eat are just two pieces of the dining puzzle—the other is with whom. Commiserating with pals or engaging in animated conversation over a tasty meal is often good therapy, but it can lead to distracted dining. Focusing on the conversation rather than the food often results in overeating (Hetherington 2006; Wansink 2006). Also, those who eat together subconsciously model each other’s eating styles. Normally light eaters consume more when munching with a group, while heavier eaters eat less when dining with companions (Bell & Pliner 2003). If you want to lose weight, you may find it easier if you hang out with friends who eat healthfully and exercise.

Hitting the Gym With a Friend

Motivating yourself to exercise can be challenging. Did you know that nonexercisers are more likely to get moving and stick with activity programs if supportive friends are involved? As a whole, social influence is positively associated with exercise behaviors, intentions and attitudes. Gabriele et al. (2005) explored social encouragement, which focused on positive reinforcement and statements such as “people important to me encourage me to exercise.” Positive social encouragement like this improved exercise motivation, but social constraint or negative reinforcement reflected in statements like “people will be disappointed in me if I quit exercising” were not helpful. Surrounding yourself with positive pals may keep you moving in the right direction.

SIDEBAR: Workplace Weight Gain

The workplace can be a minefield for people trying to shed pounds. Desktop candy jars and office celebrations provide a steady stream of sugary indulgence that can sabotage the most strident dieter’s efforts.

While coffee breaks and corporate parties can foster camaraderie, they entice mindless eating. Here are a few tips for taming workplace temptation:

Put a lid on goodies. Covering them with foil or a lid will curb mindless munching (Wansink 2006).

View the veggies: Leave these uncovered to promote healthier grazing.

When dining with a co-worker, split large portions.

Socialize and celebrate without food.

Limit happy-hour drinks/alcohol.

Avoid desktop dining.

Limit the “office feeder” influence.

Set an example: Bring in healthier snacks like fresh fruit, and replace the candy with dried fruit or nuts.

Support co-workers who are trying to lose weight.

References
Bell, R., & Pliner, P.L. 2003. Time to eat: The relationship between the number of people eating and meal duration in three lunch settings. Appetite, 41 (2), 215–18.

Gabriele, J.M., et al. 2005. Differentiated roles of social encouragement and social constraint on physical activity behavior. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 29 (3), 210–15.

Hetherington, M.M., et al. 2006. Situational effects on meal intake: A comparison of eating alone and eating with others. Physiology & Behavior, 88 (4-5), 498–505.

Lakin, J.L., et al. 2003. The chameleon effect as social glue: Evidence for the evolutionary significance of nonconscious mimicry. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 27 (3), 145–62.

Wansink, B. 2006. Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think. New York: Bantam.

Probiotics

What to look for or most common beneficial strains

Lactobacillus acidophilus. This probiotic strain is important for maintaining the integrity of your intestinal walls so you can enjoy maximum absorption of nutrients, and it supports a healthy immune system.

Lactobacillus fermentum. These beneficial bacteria help neutralize some of the toxic products made during digestion and promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Known as the premier “travel probiotic,” this strain of beneficial bacteria has been found to be extremely effective in reducing occurrences of traveler’s diarrhea.

Bifidobacteria bifidum. Both your small and large intestine need this probiotic strain for smooth, healthy digestion. It’s especially helpful for proper digestion of dairy products.

Bifidobacteria longum. This beneficial bacteria strain helps to crowd out bad bacteria that cause discomfort and helps to neutralize everyday toxins in the gut. It also helps efficiently break down carbohydrates without producing excess gas.

Great Gluten-Free Grains by Sarah Kruse

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Food for Thought:

If you must avoid gluten because of Celiac disease or if you’re interested in adding different whole grains to your diet, experiment with these gluten-free options. In their nutritional profiles, these ancient grains surpass the staples of wheat, corn, oats and rice in the American diet.

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Amaranth comes from Central and South America and while technically a seed is used like a grain. Light tan in color, this tiny seed has a nutty flavor and unique texture. High in protein, with 25% more fiber than whole wheat, amaranth contains high amounts of iron, magnesium, zinc and folate.

Cooked amaranth can be used as a hot cereal or added to pilafs and soups. The flour can also be added to baked goods for a nutrition boost. The seeds can be popped like popcorn in a dry skillet and coated with honey for a sweet treat.

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Buckwheat is a relative of rhubarb and not related to wheat at all. Actually a fruit seed, buckwheat is a good source of protein, containing all eight essential amino acids, as well as magnesium, fiber, calcium and iron. Buckwheat also contains the entire range of B-complex vitamins. When toasted, this triangular-shaped grain is called kasha.

The cooked grains (often called groats) make a hearty breakfast cereal. In Slavic countries, buckwheat is used in soups and savory dishes. The flour can be used to make buckwheat pancakes or crepes. Look for Japanese soba noodles, which are made from 100% buckwheat flour.

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Millet contains more protein than wheat, corn and rice. Yellow in color, the small grains are also a good source of fiber, iron and B vitamins. Widely used in Africa, China and India, millet is a versatile grain with a mild flavor.

When cooked, the grain can be used as a pilaf or rice substitute. Increasing the water and cooking the grain longer create a creamy breakfast porridge. Millet flour lends a light flavor to baked goods.

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Quinoa, like amaranth, is native to South America and technically a seed; it is related to the beet, chard and spinach plants. Considered a “super grain,” quinoa contains all eight essential amino acids and has a protein profile similar to milk. Quinoa also has more calcium, iron and magnesium than whole wheat. The small round grain is available in white, red and black varieties.

Quinoa cooks faster and has a lighter texture than most grains. Use in pilafs, soups or warm or cold salads, or as a gluten-free substitute for bulgur wheat and couscous. Quinoa pasta, often mixed with corn or rice flour, is also readily available.

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Teff is the world’s smallest grain and is native to Africa. Ethiopians use teff to make injera, a flat spongy bread. Key nutrients include protein, fiber, calcium, iron and vitamin B1, zinc and copper.

Because of its size, teff works well as a breakfast cereal or mixed with other grains for side dishes. The mild nutty and slightly sweet flavor makes it a good choice for a variety of baked goods.

Lose 10 Pounds In 10 Minutes!

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If that sounds too good to be true, how about: Lose 18 Pounds in Four Days! Is this still too hard to believe? Then, you might want to Lose Five Full Inches of Ugly Belly Fat in Just 30 Days! Better yet, simply swallow a Weight Loss Pill Clinically Proven to Melt Belly Fat!

These and many other claims scream at you from all corners. Magazine covers, infomercials, Google searches, and billboards all pitch quick and easy results if you take this pill or follow that diet or buy this new book. The ads are always filled with fit-looking models chosen to sell a product they have, almost certainly, never used or a diet book they have never read. In fact, can you keep a dirty, little secret? They have all added time in the gym and watched their diet extra closely in the weeks prior to the commercial shoot.

That’s their secret.

The secret to permanent weight loss isn’t a secret if you consistently exercise and follow a diet loaded with fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains and nuts and seeds. So why do you have less than a 50/50 shot, according to studies, of maintaining your exercise program beyond six months? Frustration over a perceived lack of results is the number one reason. The hard truth is many of the benefits of exercise are not as easy to spot as Buns of Steel.

Increased energy: The right combination of exercise and nutrition creates a hormonal environment conducive to fat loss, increased muscle strength and increased energy. When your body is working at peak efficiency, your energy levels soar. As a result, everyday things become easier to do.

Increased Self-Esteem: Choosing to begin and continue a fitness program – even when you don’t feel like it – is an amazing way to increase self-esteem. You look better and are more confident, which empowers you in everything you do. You’ll find the self-discipline required and learned through regular exercise spills over into other areas of your life.

Increased Mental Focus: Did you know that the latest research shows that exercise helps keep the brain sharp well into old age? Anything which involves mental acuity (focus and concentration) is improved. You also stand a much better chance of avoiding such diseases as Alzheimer’s and senility.

Decreased Risk of a Heart Attack: By exercising regularly and making positive changes in your diet, you lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and greatly diminish the chances of having a heart attack. One reason is because the action of your muscles pumping blood back to your heart actually stretches the heart, thereby increasing its efficiency even when you are not working out.

Decreased Risk of Osteoporosis: Regular exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise, reduces the risk of osteoporosis, and can even reverse it by building bone tissue. In short, the stress lifting weights puts on your bones causes them to adapt and get stronger, just like your muscles.

Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer: Estradiol and progesterone, two ovarian hormones linked to breast cancer tumor production, are lowered in the body by exercise. A woman’s body is most susceptible to these hormones during the time between ovulation and menstruation. Habitual exercise can actually delay ovulation until later in the menstrual cycle. This reduces the time she must fight these hormones. Fat has long been known to be a catalyst in the production of estrogen (estradiol). Regular exercise burns body fat and decreases the rate of estrogen production.

Increased Strength and Stamina: Your body interprets exercise as stress and adapts to handle that stress with less effort. These adaptations benefit your heart, lungs and central nervous system, while also affecting your muscles. The degree to which adaptations occur is dependent on the type of exercise and the intensity of your workout.

Reduced Depression: The production of Endorphins (feel good hormones) is increased through exercise. Nothing improves mood and suppresses depression better than those endorphins.Decreased Stress Levels: The worries and stresses of everyday living (commuting, work demands, the candy bowl on your secretary’s desk) can stick with you long after the work day is done. Exercise is the perfect natural therapy that can change your mood. You’ll sleep better too.

These are the obvious results we must praise, and find strength in. If we compel ourselves to defeat our demons, change our bad habits, live that lifestyle that we only dream of, and laugh at the face of failure, maybe just maybe, we might get lucky and make a dream come true.