Monday, January 31, 2011

Eat More Carbs To Lose Your Muffin-Top Belly.

The dreaded term  "muffin top". Why is such a endearing name given to an unappealing look? I had the ghastly muffin top, being 40 lbs overweight. I was under stress, a single Mom, running a household, raising 2 boys and working full-time. I had my awakening 3 years ago, when I was placed on blood pressure medicine. I wanted to lower my blood pressure and wanted my awesome athletic body back. I started eating healthy and excercising again, and I became more toned and lost my muffin top in about 5 months.  Is my belly flat as it was when I was 20 y.o? No, but it looks pretty good for my age.

Change The Carbs That You Eat 

First, you have to change the type of carbohydrates ("carbs") that you eat. You don't have to give up all your carbs if you want to lose weight - you just need to know which carbs to eat - the good ones. There are 2 types of carbs, "simple" and "complex". You want to stick with the complex carbs, which have a low glycemic index (GI). GI is a a measure of how quickly foods break down and increase blood sugar. The slower the rise in blood sugar, the better. "Bad" simplex carbohydrates high-GI carbs create blood-sugar spikes that are quickly followed by sharp plunges, which make you hungry again. Over time, the blood-sugar roller coaster effect increases your risk of belly fat (muffin top), diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health problems.

So How Do I Get Rid of This Muffin Top Belly? 

Good carbs include three huge groups: 1) most fruits and veggies; 2) 100% whole-grain anything - cereals, breads, crackers; whole-wheat pasta and couscous; brown and wild rice; and 3) beans, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans and other legumes.
Eat whole grains and beans to melt off belly fat. Eat whole grains instead of refined and replace two daily grain servings with a couple of servings of beans - like lentils, chickpeas, or kidney beans. These changes will create a low-glycemic-index diet that will be satisfying, blood-sugar-balancing, and belly-fat blasting.

If you follow these steps,  along with aerobic exercise (at least 30 minutes daily, 4 or more days a week), your muffin top will be an image of the past!

One of my favorite healthy snacks are roasted chickpeas. Chickpeas have a low glycemic index (GI). It's quick and easy to make. I also fills your belly, so you won't have any food cravings afterwards.

Roasted Chickpeas Recipe
Yield: 4 servings

1 (12 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained

2 tablespoons olive oil

kosher salt (optional)

garlic salt (optional)

cayenne pepper (optional)


1.Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).

2.Blot chickpeas with a paper towel to dry them. In a bowl, toss chickpeas with olive oil, and season to taste with salt, garlic salt, and cayenne pepper, if using. Spread on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until browned and crunchy. Watch carefully the last few minutes to avoid burning.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving Calories: 161
Total Fat: 7.7g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 434mg
Total Carbs: 19.3g
Dietary Fiber: 3.8g
Protein: 4.2g

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

10 Best Tips To Curb Your Food Cravings

 Getty Images (c)
 10 Best Tips To Curb Your Food Cravings

1. Drink Lemon Water. Start your day off with a cup of warm or room temperature glass of water with a twist of fresh lemon. Although lemon juice is acidic, after we digest it it becomes alkaline. This cleanses, purifies and has an alkalinizing effect on your body. Our bodies function the best when it is in an alkaline state.
2. Eat Breakfast. Having a healthy breakfast will set you up for a better day, less cravings and more fuller and healthy body. Some of my favorite breakfasts are: Oatmeal with raisins, Greek yogurt Quinoa with honey, fruit and almonds, and banana with almond butter.
3. Eat Fruit. 15 minutes before every meal. Studies have shown that you will eat about 190 calories less in each meal. Indulge in the fruits, knowing that they’re giving you natural sugars, vitamins and fiber.
4. Eat small, frequent meals. When you eat small, 4-6 nutritious meals every 3 - 4 hours, you will have peak energy levels. This means eating one serving of food (the size of the average female's palm) that include 50% carbohydrates, about 30% from fats, and approximately 20% from protein sources.

Nutrient-rich foods provide energy for women’s busy lives and help to prevent disease. A healthy daily diet includes:
•At least three 1-ounce servings of whole grains such as whole-grain bread, cereal, pasta, brown rice or oats.
•3 servings of low-fat or fat-free dairy products such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt or cheese.

•5 to 6 ounces of protein such as lean meat, chicken, turkey, fish, beans, beans, lentils or peas.

•2 cups of fruit such as apples, blueberries, melon, oranges, bananas and pears.

•2 ½ cups of vegetables such as leafy greens, pumpkin, bell peppers, onions, broccoli, mushrooms and carrots. (Source: American Dietetic Association ). **Although this post is geared for women, check out this site for nutrition requirements for men as well.
5. Get Enough Sleep. Try to get at least 8 hours sleep. Studies have shown that people who didn't
get enough sleep, had a tendency to gain weight.

6. Exercise. When you feel a craving crop up, do some type of exercise. Get your blood flowing and increase the "feel-good "endorphins that cut down on cravings.

7. Drink Herbal Tea. Green tea can help reduce your food cravings. It also provides significant health benefits because it contains polyphenols, a powerful class of antioxidants. Roobios tea has also been shown to curb your appetite.

8. Plan Ahead. Have plenty of nutritious food available, so when you feel a craving, you can reach
for the healthy snacks: apples, bananas with almond butter, almonds, pre-chopped carrots, etc.

9. Food Affects Your Mood. When you don't eat or when you don't eat healthy - your mood changes and we become irritable. This can bring on the urge to crave "comfort" food - so keep healthy snacks with you all the time. My favorites are almonds, apples and bananas (Plus they fit in my purse!).  

10. Junk Food, Begone! Get rid of all the junk food in your house. Out of sight, out of mind. When
unhealthy foods aren't in the house, you aren't tempted to eat it.

Next Post: The importance of maintaining an alkaline balance in your body.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Fat Free or Low Fat foods? I'd Rather Eat Nails For Breakfast.

I'll never forget the conversation I had with an Oncologist 20 years ago, about eating habits.  As we chatted over a coffee, we glanced at the available snacks in the hospital cafeteria, pondering which food would give us the most energy to get through the next long shift. One of my co-workers passed by, seeing us eyeing the food , and said, " Everything is fat free, so indulge!" This was in the early '90's, when fat-free and low-fat food were "all the rage".
Glancing at each other, we shrugged.  The Oncologist shook his head. "It's a shame. Fat free and low fat foods are filled with chemicals, and people choose to"feel full" and  ignore the consequences of the chemical laden food they eat. It's healthier to eat smaller portions of fats than to fill your body with these chemicals. Where do you think so many illnesses come from? Well, I guess it keeps the hospitals in  business." He pursed his lips, tilted his head and walked away.

His opinion about the effects of no-fat/low fat foods stayed in my mind for years.  From that moment on, I started to question my eating habits.   

Hysteria Against Fat:

The hysteria against fat has gone out of control. Although it's true that excess fat can stress the liver and contribute to health problems, what is overlooked are two points:
  • Fat is one of the three essential macro nutrients
  • Some fats are health-promoting, others are unhealthful.
You Need Certain Fats!
Fat is an important source of calories, along with carbohydrates and proteins.  We need essential fatty acids, linoleic and linolenic acid, or Omega 6 and Omega 3 for many important functions, namely:

  • To keep us warm, especially in the winter, as the breakdown of fats creates heat. .
  • For proper hormone function, especially for women.
  • To keep our cell walls strong.
  • To absorb and store the fat soluble vitamins, especially Vitamin D, needed to help absorb calcium from the intestines. Women who don’t get enough good quality fatty acids may end up with low Vitamin D stores and therefore bone thinning.
We Need Good Quality Saturated Fats because....
  • Good quality saturated fats enhance the immune system.
  • Protect the liver from alcohol ingestion.
  • They have antimicrobial properties, and play a major role in bone modeling by protecting the calcium depositing mechanism in bones from free radical disruption.
  •  Fats also affect the nerves, as a low fat diet may contribute to depression; there is a high-fat medical   diet (the 80% fat "ketogenic diet") used to control seizures, which works better than drugs.
Fat Free Eating Doesn't Equal Weight Loss.

Fat in foods delivers a feeling of satiety, the sense that we’ve had enough to eat. If there is no fat in the meal, we can keep on eating and eating until we’re  stuffed, ending up with many more calories than necessary.  My co-workers who raved about their fat free chips and said they can easily eat a whole bag of them. I believe that isn't because the chips are so good, but because they never feel that they’ve had enough. In other words, they’re still hungry.  They'll continue eating their high-carbohydrate chips (all the fat calories have been replaced with carbohydrates) and end up with many more calories than they intended. Therefore, no difference in weight!

The idea of fat free food does not make dietary sense to me. (Although the marketing divisions of these "food" companies would highly disagree)  Reading food labels are important.  Replacements of fats are usually gums, sugars and starches. You’re better off with a half teaspoon of "the real thing" than two tablespoons of "the fake". The same goes for "fat free mayonnaise"  and similar "foods."

Just as an excess of fats causes problems, so will a deficiency. It is  possible to become fat deficient.

Lack of Fatty Acids = Health Problems:
  •  Dry skin, eczema, low energy
  •  Impairment of kidney function, slow wound or infection healing, vision and learning problems
  •  Depression, ( A low fat diet has been shown to be associated with a higher suicide rate).

The Bad Fats:

Heated, bleached and deodorized oils, and hydrogenated fats such as margarine and shortening. These contain trans fatty acids, which can double the rate of heart attack and raise the LDL, or bad cholesterol.
  • Pregnant women who consume margarine and other hydrogenated fats may be at risk for having low birth weight babies. Heated hydrogenated fats, such as used in deep fried foods like fried chicken, fish, and chips, are associated with cancer and heart disease.

Good Quality Fats:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO), unrefined sesame and sunflower oil, unrefined flax seed oil, walnut oil, organic butter and clarified butter or ghee.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids are in fresh dark cold water fish like salmon and mackerel, as well as in flax seed oil.
  • Omega 6's are in the sesame and sunflower oil.
  •  Fresh organic butter from healthy cows fed green grass can be a great source of natural Vitamin A.
On the average, when cooking from scratch, about 2 or 3 tablespoons of healthy fats per day will give us all the essential fatty acids we need. At the same time, it’s important to avoid deep fried foods, hydrogenated fats, and fats from unhealthy, commercially raised animals. Fat-free processed foods and snacks will always make you eat too much, encourage sugar cravings, and keep you unsatisfied. Good quality fats are good for your skin, hair, nails, immune system, heart, liver, nerves, and your satisfaction with food.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Announcing the Winner of The Most Inspirational Book Contest......

Scott C., who will receive a $20 Gift Certificate!   Congratulations and a Happy, Healthy, Inspirational 2011!  

                                       The Judge who selected the winner of  MeditateThis' 1st Contest.