Top 10 Ways to Be Happier

Everyone wants to be happy, but few people realize that happiness is something that we can cultivate, not something that we just stumble upon!  It’s an action to participate in daily, not a gift that we should expect at our door at any minute.  Still, it can be tricky to navigate the musts of life– the kids, the rent, the work schedule, and beyond– while remembering to mindfully cultivate happiness, so check out my top 10 ways to be happier in the list below!

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Stop comparing.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” wrote Theodore Roosevelt, and he was right on the money.  One of two things inevitably happens when you compare yourself to someone else.  You either judge them negatively to soothe your own opinions or perceptions about yourself, or you judge yourself negatively because your perception or opinion of that other person is higher than the one you have of yourself.  Both of these are toxic, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to stop.

Try to mentally correct yourself every time you go in for a comparison.  Another woman having a happy family doesn’t mean that your family is less happy.  Another co-worker getting a raise doesn’t mean that you aren’t appreciated.  Your neighbor being gorgeous doesn’t make you less beautiful.  When you stop the constant comparison, you offer grace to other people and to yourself to just be human.  We all have good and bad days, and we all have good and bad traits.  Not everything is visible on the surface, so stopping this unhealthy behavior is one of the biggest steps towards being able to celebrate with others the joys in their life while still caring for your own!

 

Connect with others.

It sounds so simple, but it’s true– humans are social animals, and we need some socializing besides just our family or co-workers to really live a full life.  Whether it’s a running group, a book club, a volunteer organization, or a choir, get out there and find something that interests you, and then find where you can meet others interested in the same thing.  Chances are you’ll make lifelong friends, and even if you don’t, you’ll get the double benefits of regularly pursuing an activity that serves no other purpose than making you happy, and you’ll get to do it with people that you have something in common with!

 

Eat clean.

Clean eating can have a dramatic effect on our moods (not to mention our bodies and health stats!), so consider dropping processed foods.  You don’t have to dive in head first, either– it’s a big change!  Try adding more organic fruits and veggies to your diet and slowly cutting out foods that come in boxes or bags.  You’re bound to start feeling better, you’ll probably lose a bit of weight, and you’ll definitely find a new recipe (or four) that you love!  Taking care of our bodies and minds means literally caring about what we put into our bodies, so consider this an important first step on your journey to cultivate happiness.

 

Keep learning.

Sounds philosophical, but it’s true that we should never stop learning.  You might be done with formal education (or maybe you’re ready to chase that degree), but there are so many other things out there to learn.  You could learn how to embroider, how to speak Spanish, how to bake vegan cakes, or how to blog!  There is a wealth of information available to us for (mostly) free on the internet, and there are plenty of ways to turn your learning adventure into a new hobby or excuse for social meetups!  Keeping your brain active will help you to feel happy, and the good feeling that comes with mastering new skills is addictive!

 

Set goals.

Just because you’re making it alright in life doesn’t mean there isn’t more you could achieve.  Setting goals helps give us something to measure progress with, and it also helps us break big things we want into smaller and more manageable steps.  Whether your goal is to save up enough money for a trip to Greece or learn a new language or lose 20 pounds or change careers, there are so many mental health benefits to setting out a blueprint to achieving something you want, and then using it to move through the necessary steps toward success.  Whether it’s grafting plants into a beautiful technicolor garden, mastering the culinary art of sushi, or going back to school, there’s always something great out there to be achieved, and you deserve to be chasing it!

 

Use your body.

Exercise has great benefits for both your physical and your mental health!  If you hate the gym, though, don’t write off exercise altogether.  Keep trying until you find a physical activity you really enjoy.  It could be swimming, hiking, weightlifting, kickboxing, yoga, ballroom dancing, fencing– the list is infinite, really.  The point is that you should be using your body to move through the world in a purposeful way that makes you happy and keeps you healthy.  Punishing yourself with workouts is a no-go.  Find an exercise that you truly enjoy, and then reap the benefits of working out without it feeling like a chore!  You’ll sleep better, your body will be healthier, and your mind will regulate your endorphin production– all a winning combination to cultivate happiness!

 

Help other people.

No matter who you are, you’ve got something to contribute to this world.  Start small, in your community– even if you don’t have money to donate to organizations, you probably have a skill that could do some good for someone.  You could teach English to recent immigrants, run donation drives for food or clothes, or help high schoolers with their university applications or resumés.  There are so many ways to help others– when you really start looking, you’ll see opportunities everywhere!  The mental benefit of doing something for others is huge– research has proven over and over again that we enjoy a mood boost when we do something kind for someone else.  Go out there and get that mood boost, and make your community a kinder place in the process!

 

Stop worrying.

Easier said than done, right?  Of course it is!  But it’s true that worrying about tomorrow robs us of our peace today.  Concern is warranted in some situations, but how much time do you spend each week worrying about things that might happen?  Things that, in the end, don’t happen, or were going to happen inevitably and were thoroughly unaffected by your worrying?  Imagine someone showing up at your door with a gift box filled with all of the time you’ve spend on pointless worrying!

It’s important to be proactive when you know a problem is on the horizon, but try to cut back your pointless worrying.  You might have to establish a mental mantra, such as “I will not worry about things I cannot change”.  You can also try “reverse worrying”– every time you catching yourself with silly or dramatic “what-if”s, give yourself a positive “what if” for each negative one you think.  Actively and mindfully balancing out the possibilities of the future can help you to have a more positive outlook.

Plan a trip.

Even if international travel isn’t in your budget, a trip can be more affordable than you think, and it can do you a world of good! Think of the type of travel you are interested in– are you dying to go to Europe, take a road trip, go camping?  If your budget is a limit, try looking for nearby “getaway” deals on groupon and airbnb.  Even if you just drive 3 hours out of your hometown, changing your scenery and routine will give you the chance to readjust your perspective on your life, enjoy some time away from the daily grind, and give you the opportunity to see new places, meet new people, and try new things.  Then you get to experience the joy of coming back home and sleeping in your own bed again!

 

Spend some time outside.

We used to live outside, don’t forget!  It’s important for us to spend time outside, and even moreso for those of us that live in big cities and concrete jungles!  Whether that means camping, going for a walk in a park, or having a tea and reading a book in a garden, make sure you spend a little time outside to reconnect to the world.  Extra points if you get your hands and feet in the dirt!  And while you’re at it, try greening up your office and your home with a few new house plants!

 

 

Which of these tips could you start enacting this week to cultivate your own happiness?

 

 

 

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Top 10 Foods That Put You In A Bad Mood

 

Many things can affect our moods in positive or negative ways, but few things are as powerful as the food we eat!  Just think how irritable you feel when you’re really hungry, or how happy you feel after you’ve eaten your favorite healthy lunch!  We know that some foods are mood-boosters, and you know what that means:  some foods can put you in a bad mood, too!  Keep reading the list below to find out which bad-mood foods you should be avoiding!

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Baked Goods

Packed full of sugar and saturated oils, these guys often leave us feeling lethargic, tired, or depressed (not to mention the guilt onset after throwing back multiple brownies or cookies!), so opt for healthier snack or dessert options instead of passing by the bakery!

 

French Fries

The perfect storm of high fat, sodium, and refined carb content, french fries are a common craving (and a common side dish, too!) that can put us in a funk.  The reason?  The cause our energy to peak (very fun), and then suddenly drop (not fun at all), which makes us feel sluggish and tired.  Opt for a baked potato or a side salad at lunch instead of french fries!

 

Alcohol

The fact that it’s labeled a “depressant” says it all– while consuming it can bring us a short period of happiness and giggles, it ends in a mood drop, and that’s not even mentioning the potential hangover and dehydration!  Make sure to drink at least one glass of water between each drink (more is ideal!) and drink on a full stomach and in moderation!

 

Soda

You alread know it’s basically poison!  But did you know that the intense sugar rush we feel from drinking a soda also ends in an abrupt crash just a few minutes after we finish drinking it?  Not to mention the cancer-causing ingredients they can contain and the bloat they often cause, this reason alone is enough to swear off sodas!  Try flavored waters, fresh juice, or a chocolate milk if you’re really craving something besides plain old H2O.

 

Lunch Meat

Processed meat for sandwiches or hotdogs is full of nitrates, food colorants, and lots of other nasty additives and preservatives, which can cause bloating, mood swings, water retention, and even headaches!  Steer clear of the deli at lunch time and keep your mind and body happy for the rest of the afternoon!

 

Margarine

The high amount of processed fats in margarine can cause a blood sugar imbalance, which can lead to mood swings and weight gain!  Don’t let this sneaky food onto your plate– if you think it’s butter but you’re not sure, ask!  And clear it out of your fridge and try an organic butter instead of margarine for cooking at home!

 

Canned Food

You might think these are healthy options for cooking at home since they’re usually legumes or vegetables, but you haev to watch the sodium content on the can’s label!  You also need to check and see if the can is labeled “BPA-Free”, as the chemical BPA has been linked to chronic mood disorders (among other nasty side effects)!

 

Potato Chips

So tempting, but so terrible!  These guys are usually fried in vegetable oil, meaning they’re packed with saturated fats.  These fats work against the good-guy Omega 3 fatty acids that we’re so intent on adding to our diets!  Don’t let your small potato chip snack undo all the good fats you got from that avocado and olive oil in your salad at lunch!  These guys can cause inflammation and even mood swings due to the damage they do to the balance of healthy fats in your diet!

Processed Foods

If it comes in an individual wrapper inside a box, you can pretty much bet it’s processed.  These foods are often high in refined sugar content, as well as saturated fats and all types of preservatives, additives, and colorants.  That means you’re in for a wild blood sugar ride as the sugar hypes you up and then crashed you back to the ground, which negatively affects your mood!  Opt for a piece of fruit, some crackers and cheese, or a few veggies with hummus if you’re feeling hungry for a snack during the day!

Packaged Seeds

If the seeds you’re buying have been processed in any way, there’s a good chance they’re coated in a preservative called potassium bromate.  This chemical can interfere with your thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine.  When your thyroid is out of whack, your mood might be, too.  One of the first thing doctors check in patients with depression is their thyroid levels!  Try purchasing organic seeds that haven’t been processed with any chemicals if you’re looking to enjoy the benefits that seeds and nuts bring to a healthy diet!

 

Are you surprised that these foods made the list?  Are there any of these foods that you need to clean out of your cabinet?  Let me know in the comments section!

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3 Fatigue-Causing Foods

Most of us have busy schedules and it’s easy to feel fatigued every now and then.  Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen as well as getting enough sleep are the best ways to combat fatigue, but did you know there are foods that may be causing it too?  Keep reading to learn about the 3 foods you should cut out of your diet in order to stop fatigue in it’s tired, tired tracks!

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Pasta

Who doesn’t love a good bowl of pasta every now and then?  The problem is that it can be a cause of fatigue!  Why?  Because it’s packed with simple carbohydrates, eating pasta causes an immediate blood sugar spike.  This spike in blood sugar causes our insulin levels to fall.  This sudden and extreme change in our bodies causes the onset of fatigue.  Try avoiding pasta, and if you really have to have it, try making zoodles (spiralized zucchini noodles) or at least opting for whole grain pastas.

 

Dairy Products

While these can have great healthy benefits, some people might find them hard to digest.  That difficulty in digestion usually happens in the lower intestine.  People with very mild allergies to dairy products may find that they cause inflammation, and when that happens in the lower GI tract, it can prevent our bodies from absorbing all the other good nutrients that we’ve eaten.  That lack of nutrients is a definite cause of fatigue, so if you’re feeling chronically fatigued, try going a week or two without dairy and see if that changes!

 

Gluten

Not everyone needs to be on a gluten-free diet, so let’s get that out of the way right now.  However, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with Celiac’s, you might have a gluten sensitivity.  That sensitivity to gluten could be causing inflammation and other uncomfortable symptoms in your system, which are definitely triggers for fatigue!  Try cutting back on gluten, or cutting it out of your diet entirely, for a few weeks if you suspect this may be the cause of your fatigue.

 

Do you suffer from chronic fatigue?  What diet changes have helped you?

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Top 10 Foods to Get You Bikini Ready!

So it’s almost swimsuit season and you’ve been hitting the gym and working your diet since January, right?  Great.  Now see what foods to add to your diet to make sure you’re ready to show off your new bikini this summer!  Keep reading to find out which foods are the best to help you get ready for swimsuit season!

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Beets

Find out which foods you should be including in your diet to improve brain function!

Did you know that beets work as a natural detoxifier?  Skip the juice cleanse and avoid going hungry while still filtering out all the nasty stuff that accumulates in our bodies over time.  Beets are relatively cheap, easy to repair, and great for tossing in salads or smoothies!

 

Eggs

With a complete amino acid profile, eggs make for the perfect lean protein dose at any time of day.  They’re great in the morning, post workout, at lunch, or as a snack!  On top of that, they’re one of the best sources of choline, which will help your body burn more fat!

 

Green Tea

It sounds like a lot, but it’s definitely do-able:  4-5 cups of green tea each day will give you the needed catechins (fat-blasting antioxidants) to clear the fat out of your fat cells– especially in the tummy region!  Try replacing your coffee habit with green tea.  Drink it hot or cold, just make sure you’re adding this to your bikini diet!

 

Mustard

If you are going to have a sandwich or a burger, leave off the other condiments (mayonnaise and ketchup can be packed with fat or sugar) and opt for mustard.  Why? The capsacin contained in mustard can boost your body’s fat-burning function for hours after you consume it!

Dark Chocolate

You may have given up high calorie desserts in your quest for a bikini body, but you don’t have to give up chocolate!  Dark chocolate (think 70% cacao or greater) is important for a healthy gut, and it’s great at reducing inflammation!  Keep some in your fridge and make sure you eat a few small squares each day- use it as dessert or a treat after having gone to the gym!

 

Cilantro

Get ready to hear something wild:  the unique blend of oils found in cilantro can help push heavy metals from our bodies that often get stored in our fat cells.  That’s not so wild, right?  WRONG!  Having these heavy metals stored in our fat cells often contributes to our muscles and other tissues not healing or maintaining themselves correctly, and this aggravates the appearance of cellulite. So adding cilantro to your dishes can help you to purge those heavy metals out of your cells, which will help your tissues to repair themselves properly and thus lessen the appearance of cellulite!

 

Lentils

These little guys are a cheap and versatile way to get tons of protein in while keeping fat calories to a bare minimum!  A cup of lentils has three times the protein of a single egg, and only one gram of fat!  Try a lentil soup, lentil burgers, or lentils as a side dish.  Toss them on salads or in chili, too!

 

Raspberries

Besides being delicious, these little guys are great at reducing inflammation and increasing blood flow to your muscles, which helps them in the repair process after an intense workout!  Toss them in smoothies or in yogurt or just eat them plain!

Freshly Ground Pepper

It sounds too simple to be true, but it is!  Freshly ground pepper (not that powdery stuff– get a grinder!) contains piperine, which is a compound that helps stop the formation of new fat cells.  Sprinkle this stuff on everything!

 

Bananas

This fruit is packed with Potassium, which helps the body flush out excess water and sodium- two common culprits of a bloated appearance.  Keep your potassium levels high to keep your tummy looking flat!

 

What are your go-to foods when you’re trying to get bikini-ready?

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10 Best Protein Food Sources

We all know that protein is a key part of our diets, but do you know the best places to find protein?  Meat comes to mind of course, and it definitely makes this top 10 list, but there are many other great protein sources that might surprise you!  See what other protein sources make this list and try working them into your diet!

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Eggs

These babies have 6 grams of protein each, and they come with a healthy dose of choline and the most perfect amino acid profile we could ever ask for!  Not to mention that on the protein scale, they’re fairly cheap (and very versatile)– Eggs should definitely be on your list of protein sources for a healthy diet!

 

Spinach

Popeye wasn’t lying, guys.  Spinach is a great source of protein– A cup of spinach has half the calories of a boiled egg and almost the same amount of protein!  Whether you like it cooked or fresh, spinach can definitely find a place on your plate, as it’s versatile, easy to pair with other meals, and not nearly as expensive or difficult to find as some other trendy greens.

Peas

Wanna get even more protein in a cup of greens? Go with green peas!  One cup of these has almost 9 times more protein than the amount of protein in a cup of spinach!  Can you believe it?  Great as a side dish or tossed into a salad, these guys need to make an appearance every now and then in your protein-packed diet.

 

Beans

Let’s take a moment and be thankful that there’s such a variety of beans out there, because it’s a food we should be trying to eat every day!  A great source of fiber and protein, beans help us to feel fuller for longer, so eat them as a main dish or toss them into beans, soups, rice, or wraps and salads whenever you can!

 

Lentils

Get ready for this:  One cup of lentils has more protein than 3 eggs, and only 1 gram of fat.  Whaaat?  Lentils are great additions to soups and chilis, and stand alone as a great stew or side dish, too.  Not only that, they can also be used to make veggie meatballs or burgers.  Cheap? Yes. Versatile? Very.  Put these on your grocery list!

 

Halibut

A super lean fish that cooks up firm, this whitefish has all the benefits that come with eating fish (healthy fats, choline, etc.) and includes a hefty dose of protein.  Give yourself a break from salmon and tuna and try some halibut filets!

 

Pork

Did you know that pork and beef are head-to-head for the amount of protein they contain?  It’s easy to believe the false information that red meat has the most protein per serving, but it’s simply not true!  Not only that, but pork has some great benefits as well– pig farms are less damaging to the environment, and white meat poses a lower risk of breast cancer for women.  Try a tenderloin cut if you like your pork to have the texture of beef steaks!

Turkey Breast

Lean and packed with protein, turkey breast is a versatile ingredient to toss into salads or wraps, use in sandwiches, or eat all by itself!  Turkey actually packs more protein than chicken, so consider that when grocery shopping prior to your weekly meal prepping session!

 

Greek Yogurt

Specifically the 2% variety– 7 ounces contains 20 grams of protein!  Isn’t that wild?  It’s great for a snack, post-workout fuel or for getting your day started at breakfast time!

 

Low Fat Cottage Cheese

A diet food of the past, cottage cheese deserves a comeback.  At 15 grams for a half-cup, this is a great source of protein.  Eat it at breakfast with fruit or at lunch on top of a salad to get a great dose of protein!

 

What are your go-to foods for protein?

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Top 7 Foods that Age You

Aging is a process most of us are trying to put off for as long as possible.  Staying out the sun and not smoking can help tons, but the most important factor will always be what you eat!  You know all about superfoods to include in your diet, but do you know the worst foods that cause aging? Keep reading below to find out!

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Bakery Items

Don’t go in there!  Muffins, donuts, and other pastries are packed with sugar and fat, leading to weight gain!  That weight adds up quite a bit over time, too.  Take your breakfast or snacking opportunities to the healthy side by eating more fruit, yogurt, or chocolate when you’re feeling tempted!

 

Processed Meat

Ham, bacon, sausage, pepperoni, and other processed meats go through quite a process indeed before they reach your plate.  The preservatives they contain produce free radicals, which at worst can lead to cancer.  Best case scenario, they’re damaging your skin!

 

Sugar

We know it’s bad and all that, but did you know specifically that sugar can damage collagen and elastin?  Too much sugar will definitely age your skin faster than you’d probably like, so try to cut your sugar intake to a bare minimum!

Trans Fats

These things are everywhere– microwave popcorn, fried food, donuts, and margarine, just to name a few common traitors.  What’s so bad about them?  Besides being terrible for your heart, they’re also inflammatory and can make us more vulnerable to UV damage (i.e. skin damage!) so make sure you’re limiting your intake of this unhealthy fat as much as possible!

 

Alcohol

While moderate consumption won’t do you much damage (and can even come with some health benefits if you’re consuming craft beer or red wine), too much consumption, or consumption of cocktails with lots of sugar, will produce free radicals that damage your collagen, and they’ll dehydrate you!  Most people are already chronically dehyrdrated, so imagine what 5-10 cocktails per week could be doing to them!  Drink in moderation, with water between servings, and cut your consumption in general if you’re consuming more than one serving each day of alcohol!

High Fructose Corn Syrup

The bad news?  This stuff is in almost everything that’s processed. The good news?  You can cut it out of your diet with clean eating!  Why do you want to do that? It’s believed to be the worst type of sweetener for your skin, as it damages collagen and elastin.

 

TV Dinners

These frozen meals can be tempting as a convenient fix to healthy eating, but beware– many of them are sodium bombs!  You generally want to avoid lots of salt because it’s inflammatory and will cause you to look puffy.  Not only that but excessive sodium intake can damage your heart and make you dehydrated.

 

What other foods do you cut out of your diet to slow the aging process?

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10 Healthiest Foods on the Planet

There’s healthy food, and there’s SUPER healthy food.  We know that it’s important to cut out unhealthy foods from our diets, but recent research shows that it’s even MORE important to incorporate healthy foods into our diets.  Check out this Top 10 Healthiest Foods list before you make your next grocery list!

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Spinach

This super food contains antioxidants, proteins, and vitamins A and C.  Throw it into a salad, pasta, or anywhere where you might normally use lettuce (think sandwiches and wraps, tacos, and more).  It IS a member of the dirty dozen, though, so make sure you’re buying organic spinach!

 

Broccoli

Proven to prevent breast, lung, and prostate cancer, this cruciferous veggie also packs in Vitamin C and fights the storage of new fat.  Add it to salads, cook it in soup, or roast it with other veggies as a side dish!

 

Berries

Packed with polyphenols, most berries have the power to fight fat and they all come with a huge dose of antioxidants!  Easy to add to breakfast dishes, smoothies, and snacks, berries are a great way to boost your diet’s nutrient profile!

 

Wild Salmon

Make sure your salmon is wild (Atlantic salmon is NOT wild) because farmed salmon is actually terrible for you!  Wild salmon, though, has a great dose of healthy fats that will help your body burn fat more efficiently!

 

Eggs

They’re fairly cheap and have the perfect amino acid profile, so eggs should definitely be in your diet.  They’re a great source of protein and choline!  Add them to salads or sandwiches, make omelettes, and hard boil them for a quick snack!

 

Lentils

Guess what?  One cup of lentils gets you the protein equivalent of 3 whole eggs, but with only a single gram of fat!  They’re also high in fiber, meaning you’ll stay fuller for longer after eating them!

 

Olive Oil

Loaded with antioxidants that can help fight off osteoporosis, cancer, and brain deterioration, Extra Virgin Olive Oil can also boost serotonin levels in the blood, which can help you feel fuller after eating!

 

Tumeric

This humble spice has been shown to help combat brain disease and fight inflammation.  Whether you try it in golden milk, a curry, or a stirfry, make sure you’re including this super food in your diet!

 

Onions

Working on a heart-healthy diet?  You need to eat onions!  They help to regulate glucose levels and burn fat, and they’re easy to throw into just about everything!

 

English Peas

With almost 8 times the amount of protein of spinach, and with an entire day’s worth of Vitamin C, a cup of English peas is a simple superfood to incorporate into your salads or eat as a side dish!

 

What other super foods do you like to incorporate into your diet?

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10 ”Health” Foods to Stop Eating

It’s easy to be tempted into buying health food, especially when it looks like a more wholesome version of foods we love but have to avoid for dietary reasons.  But many of the foods that come with some type of healthy classification AREN’T really healthy!  Find out which 10 ”Health” Foods to mark off your shopping list below!

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Granola

“Noooo, not granola!” you say, but it’s true– granola looks like a fancy health food and it’s not!  One cup of granola can have around 500 calories in it!  Not to mention it’s usually packed with sugar and fat.  Opt for oatmeal instead and save yourself some calories!

100-Calorie Snack Packs

These are tricky little guys because 100 calories sounds like a great tradeoff for a few moments of sweet bliss, chocolate chips, and the convenience of having it already packaged for you.  But the truth?  It’s all processed food that contains sugars, fats, and sodium that you don’t need.  Make your own pack-ahead snacks to save yourself the money, the frustration, and the yucky ingredients.

 

Gluten-Free Products

While some people legitimately cannot eat gluten, most of us can.  But somewhere over the last few years, gluten became a huge villain, and otherwise healthy people started kicking it out of their diets left and right!  That’s how the gluten-free industry which was born, and for Celiac’s sufferers, it’s been great.  But it’s important to know that just because something is labeled gluten-free doesn’t automatically make it healthy, organic, or low in fats.  Read up on how to understand food labels to help make better decisions when cruising the supermarket!

 

“Healthy” Frozen Dinners

The frozen dinner aisle runs the gamut from healthy to disastrous in terms of marketing, but all of it is unhealthy.  Even if it’s low-fat, it’s probably packed with sodium and sugar to improve the taste.  Your best bet is to meal prep each week to always have something convenient to eat at home.  Even if you’re not into meal prepping, just making double the batch of foods that you do like will give you some healthy leftovers to save for the week or freeze for later.

 

Fruit Cocktail Preserves

 

Whether in a can or a box, fruit cocktail should really just be called “fruit in high fructose corn syrup” because that’s what it really is.  Gross.  Opt for frozen or fresh fruits and make a fruit salad in your own kitchen!

 

Rice Cakes (and other rice-based snacks)

These were all the rage for dieters 20 years ago, but times have changed, friends.  Rice cakes rank pretty high in the glycemic index, meaning that while they’re low in calories and perfect for adding toppings to, they don’t have any lasting power in your body (you’ll be hungry soon after eating them), and on top of that, they spike your blood pressure!  Not ideal at all.

Salads from Fast Food Joints

While not technically on the health food aisle, they are marketed as a health food.  The thing is that in some cases, you’re better off getting the burger than the salad in terms of calorie counts and protein content.  If you really need a burger, go for it (sans combo, of course) and get back to healthy eating at the next meal.  Don’t get a daily salad at a fast food joint and fall for the idea that you’re doing yourself a favor, though!

Canned Soup

Not all soup is bad, but canned soups (which are often sold as healthy diet options) are sodium bombs!  Not only that but many of them are highly processed with lots of preservatives.  Make big batches of your favorite soups and freeze servings for later instead of relying on these canned soups– they’re often packed with salt and sugar to make  up for the taste.

Baked Vegetable Chips

The truth is that even though they sound pretty healthy, they’re usually still high in fats, oil, and salt.  Opt for chopped veggies instead– dip them in hummus or guacamole for more flavor if you miss the flavors from chips.

Most ”Light” and ”Low-Fat” Options

It feels good to know you’re buying a product with fewer calories or fat grams, but the truth is that you’re often paying it back in sodium or sugars to make up for the taste.  Don’t fall for the trap that you can eat more mayonnaise or salad dressing or coffee creamer or what have you simply because it says ”low-fat”.  It might indeed be low fat but it’s probably high in sugar or salt, and that doesn’t do you any good, either.

 

Did any of the foods on this list surprise you?  The marketing tactics to get them to sell aim them specifically at those of us trying to be healthy, which is especially dirty!  Make sure you’re prepared to read labels next time you go shopping!

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The Top 10 Most Unhealthy Foods

There are plenty of unhealthy foods filling the aisles of our supermarkets, but some of them are worse than others. Find out which foods make my Top 10 Most Unhealthy Foods list!

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#1- Microwave Popcorn

Microwave popcorn is packed with transfats, which are bad for your heart!  On top of that, when they come with butter flavor, that flavoring usually includes Diacetyl, a chemical that can break down the layer of cells that protects out brains!

The good news is that you don’t have to give up popcorn completely.  Make it at home on the stove top with olive oil, or popped in an air popper– you can add your own toppings for flavor while knowing exactly what ingredients are going into your body!

 

#2- Chicken Nuggets

Even those made with organic or hormone-free chicken aren’t free from dangerous ingredients.  Diglycerides, Carrageenan, and the colorant red #40 are all common ingredients in chicken nuggets, even those that you buy from the deli counter at your supermarket!  They help to preserve the nuggets and to give them the right color.  Not good.

Instead, try making your own chicken nuggets at home!  Use organic chicken breast dipped in egg and flour with seasonings.  Bake them in the oven and you’re done! It’s an easy meal to make in batches (you can freeze them!) so consider prepping several servings ahead of time to make it easier to eat this healthy version!

 

#3- Cereal

Specifically we’re talking about the sugar-packed cereals that so many of us adored as kids.   Besides just the refined carbs and huge amounts of unhealthy sugar present in these cereals, many of the biggest and most popular brands contain even more dangerout ingredients:  BHT and BHA, which are illegal in New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and most of Europe.

Make sure you’re checking the labels of any cereal you buy carefully, or alternatively, give up cereal altogether for more healthy options like oatmeal!

 

#4- Processed Meats

Ham, lunch meat, processed bacon, hotdogs– These are common food items in most families, but they probably shouldn’t be.  Many processed meats contain nitrates, which block the body’s ability to process sugar properly (which is a risk factor for diabetes).  Most processed meats are also extremely high in sodium, which is an area that most of us already need to make some cuts.

When shopping for meat items, especially lunch meats, look for items that are nitrate-free or low sodium.  Additionally, try buying larger cuts of meat that can be prepped in a slow cooker for use in the place of sandwich or breakfast meats.

 

#5- Energy Drinks

These guys pack huge doses of caffeine, and are also notorious for containing large amounts of sucrose and glucose.  These drinks have been proven to be 11% more corrosive to your teeth than a regular soda!  Some energy drinks are even packaged to be healthy, but it’s important to note that they’re often even worse in sugar and chemical content than most sodas.

Opt for an organic juice, tea, or coffee if you’ve got a craving for a perky drink!

 

#6- Farmed Salmon

You know that salmon is a superfood that brings tons of health benefits to the table, but it’s a very specific kind of salmon that you want to eat– farmed salmon is NOT the one you’re looking for.  Farmed salmon comes from the Atlantic (there are no wild salmon in the atlantic so don’t let labels fool you!) and is packed full of Omega 6s, which cause inflammation.  Farmed salmon are usually dyed pink and can also contain large amounts of cancer-causing PCBs, and they’re low in vitamin D, compared to their wild-caught cousins.

 

#7- Canned Soup

While soup can seem innocent enough, and appeal to anyone on a budget, canned soups often contain Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), which increases your appetite while you eat and also can cause migraines!  On top of that, most canned soups are actually sodium bombs, which is something we all need to avoid.

Try making a big batch of soup and freezing it into small portions.  Do this with a few types of soup that you like and soon enough you’ll be able to go to the freezer for a single serving of whatever soup you like without all of the prep work!

#8- Macaroni and Cheese

In theory, eating pasta with cheese is fine, but you need to make it yourself.  The color of the cheese mix in the boxed mac and cheese from the supermarket aren’t naturally ocurring colors– they’re from yellow 5 and 6 dyes!  These dyes are suspected of causing attention deficit issues in children (the biggest fans ever of mac and cheese, right?), and they’ve been found to cause cancer in animals.  Many of those dyes are used for heavy industrial purposes too, such as coating floors or in lice-killing shampoo.  Not something we want to consume, right?

Instead, buy an organic brand that doesn’t includ any colorants, or make it yourself from your own pasta and cheese at home!

 

#9- Soy Veggie Burgers

You might think you’re being healthy by skipping the meat and eating a soy product, but NOPE.  Most soy burgers are made of genetically modified soy produced in China, and they’re treated with an explosive chemical called hexane.  No thanks.

Instead, try making your own burgers out of quinoa, black beans, or other grains or veggies.  There are tons of options out there to suit whatever ingredient calls your name.

 

#10- Cheetos

While plenty of chips qualify for this list, cheetos are a special type of villain in the chip world.  Besides containt artificial coloring and MSG, they are literally engineered to make you overeat!  The satisfying crunch they produce while being eaten has been proven to have a psychological effect on our brains that causes us to find them more delicious than they actually are.  The texture they have that tends to melt in your mouth also plays a trick on our brains– it makes us think we haven’t eaten as much as we really have.  Cheetos are a recipe for diet disaster and should be avoided.

Instead, have some cheese with crackers– you’ll get the cheese flavor AND a satisfying crunch, if those are the things you’re craving!

 

Are any of these unhealthy foods on your shopping list?

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Top Ways to Wake Up your Weight Loss Hormones

So you’re looking to lose weight, burn some fat, build some muscle– all basic fitness goals that many of us have.  You go to the gym, you change your diet habits, you try to get more sleep– all great things to do.  But are you waking up your weight loss hormones?  Have you ever even HEARD of weight loss hormones?  Keep reading below to learn what they are and how to use them to your advantage!

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Leptin:

Leptin is responsible for helping us to feel full and avoid overeating or mindless snacking.  So how can you wake this hormone up and put it to work fighting your hunger hormones?  Get enough sleep! It sounds so simple and we hear it all the time, but getting 6.5-8.5 hours of quality sleep each night will help your body to produce and regulate enough leptin to give you the weight loss boost you’re looking for. A key step to keeping your leptin levels regulated is making sure you go to bed and wake up around the same times each day and night.

 

Testosterone:

Ladies probably think of testosterone as the ”manly” hormone.  It’s true that men have much higher levels of testosterone than we do, but it’s a hormone that we need too!  What benefit does it have when it comes to weight loss?  It’s one of the human body’s primary muscle-building hormones.  And we all know that if we want to lose weight, adding some mucles onto our frames is a great way to do that, since our bodies will burn more calories each day maintaining muscle tissue!  So how can you wake this hormone up in your body?  Lifting weights!  Our bodies respond to weight-lifting by producing testosterone, helping our muscles to take full advantage of this opportunity to grow!  Make sure you’re hitting the weight section of the gym a few times each week in order to keep your testosterone production high enough to help you pack on a bit of muscle!

 

CCK, GLP-1, and PYY:

These 3 hormones work together in the intestines to slow the movement of food through the GI tract.  Why is that important?  That slow-moving food means you will quite literally stay fuller for longer after eating.  So how can you get these hormones to work for you?  Make sure each meal you eat contains proteins, fats, and complex carbs.  That’s not permission to crazy– a piece of whole wheat toast with avocado smashed on top with an omelette on the side is enough for you to get this trio of hormones operating in your favor!

 

Thyroid hormones:

The hormones produced in our thyroid gland help determine how many calories out bodies burn when at rest (while driving, sitting on the couch, sleeping, etc.), so it’s important to give these guys a boost!  Eat foods high in iodine!  That means lots of seafood, including seaweed if you’re a vegetarian!  Iodine deficiency is a common cause for thyroid hormones to get out of whack, so make sure you’re getting a sufficient amount of iodine in your daily diet!  It fits in healthily with the FDA suggestion to eat fish three times per week, so hit up the seafood section of your local supermarket and get stocked up!

 

Which of these hormone wake-up calls will be the easiest to make for you?

 

 

 

 

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