Archive for the tag - healthy eating

Having These 5 Things On Your Counter Makes You Fat (or Skinny).

Tomek-Batko-FastFood-Adam-Cekiera-Dailymalemodels-03As it turns out, our environment plays an important role in supporting (or not supporting) our health and fitness goals.

Keeping an exercise ball by the television, for example, can be a great reminder to exercise during commercial breaks. And having the exercise ball nearby makes things easier; you don’t have to get up, dig around the closet and find it.

Food can work in a similar way, according to a book by Brian Wansink, the director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University. In particular, Wansink focuses on food left out on the counter for storage. Even though it’s easy to resist foods once or twice, we eventually cave to the constant reminders and easy access.

Here are five examples:

  1. Cookies. When individuals leave cookies out on the counter, they tend to weigh 10 pounds more than their cookie-less counterparts.
  2. Chips. Much like cookies, leaving chips on the counter is associated with an extra 10 pounds of weight.
  3. Cereal. While many people perceive cereal to be a healthy choice, most of us buy cereals that are packed with added sugar. As such, keeping cereal on the counter is associated with an additional 20 pounds of weight.
  4. Fruit. Good news here. Keeping fruit on the counter can be a reminder to snack healthy. If you have a fruit bowl on your counter, you likely weigh 8 pounds less.
  5. Candy. Surprisingly, candy is only associated with a 3 pound increase in weight versus people who don’t store candy on their counter.

Of course, it’s hard to prove causation. Does having a fruit bowl cause you to eat healthier and weigh less, or are healthy eaters more likely to have a fruit bowl. It’s probably a little of both. But in either case, hiding unhealthy foods away (or, better yet, not buying them in the first place) and stocking your kitchen with readily available healthy options is a smart decision.

P.S. If you’d like to transform your body and health through an improved nutritional plan, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter.

17 Tips For A Healthy Thanksgiving!

431A few years back, I shared 11 tips for a healthy Thanksgiving. Just to recap, here they are:

  1. Just take a small scoop of cranberry sauce. It’s loaded with sugar and can have 300 calories per half cup.
  2. Remove the skin. While the skin adds great flavor and is a nice treat for special occasions, it does contain extra calories and fat – and is usually coated in butter.
  3. Go light on the gravy. Gravy, depending on how it is prepared, can be loaded in fat, calories and tons of sodium. Just use a touch of it.
  4. Eat before dinner. Have a healthy lunch before going to Thanksgiving dinner so that you’re not hungry. This will help prevent overeating.
  5. Opt for healthy sides. Instead of going for buttery, cheesy or creamy sides, opt for steamed vegetables and smarter choices.
  6. Save your calories for the dinner. Appetizers, munchies and finger foods are notoriously high in calories and unhealthy fat. Moreover, they’re not filling. Save your calories for the main course.
  7. Drink lots of water. Water boosts your metabolism and helps you feel full. And it’s definitely a much wiser choice than eggnog.
  8. Use a small plate. Studies show that if we use a small plate, we eat less. Moreover, wait 15 minutes before going back for seconds. It takes time to feel full.
  9. Talk! Instead of chowing down, take time to talk with your friends and family. By eating slower, you give your body time to digest and feel full – thereby lessening the likelihood of overeating.
  10. Have a few bites of dessert. If you have room, just take a few bites of the dessert options. It will satisfy your sweet tooth without overindulging. And if you’re full, take your dessert to go rather than cramming it down.
  11. Don’t feel guilty. Thanksgiving only comes once a year, and if you eat a lot – so be it. All of us occasionally indulge and it’s part of creating balance in your diet. Don’t feel guilty about it – because guilt often manifests itself as additional overeating.

Today, I’d like to share 6 more strategies that you can use.

  1. Smarten up your recipes. If you have any influence over the foods being prepared, it’s easy to make your dishes healthier but cutting the recommended quantities of ingredients like sugar or butter. You can also replace ingredients like butter with healthier substitutions – including avocados!
  2. Skip seconds. While you may feel inclined to load up a second plate of food, resist the urge. Instead, give yourself a good fifteen minutes to digest your first plate. You’ll probably discover that you’re already a lot fuller than you think.
  3. Load up on protein and fiber – before the meal. When eating breakfast or lunch before Thanksgiving dinner, opt for foods that are high in protein and fiber. Because fiber and protein digest slowly, it will take the edge off of your appetite.
  4. Minimize alcohol. Though consuming alcohol may help make family conversations more bearable, it’ll also load your meal up with empty calories. That is, most alcoholic beverages are high in calories but low in nutrients.
  5. Play football instead of watching it. While it’s tempting to sit on the couch and watch a football game (though, honestly, that doesn’t tempt me at all), it’ll be far healthier to engage in a family game of football in the backyard or a nearby park. It’ll burn off some of that pumpkin pie. If football isn’t your thing, try another activity – or just go on a walk.
  6. Focus on your family. Sometimes, a shift in perspective can make a big difference. Instead of thinking about Thanksgiving in terms of the food, shift the focus to friends and family. The main event isn’t the buffet; it’s spending time with the important people in your life.

The reality is, Thanksgiving is one of more than a thousand meals that you’ll consume this year. It’s not going to make or break any diet. But having said that, you can use the above tips not just on Thanksgiving – but each and every day to improve the way you look and feel.

P.S. If you want to upgrade your diet (and, in turn, your life), I recommend downloading Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter. Especially with the holidays coming, it’s a wise investment in the quality of your life.

Is A Raw Diet Healthier?

rawdietI get a lot of questions about raw diets – and if they’re a health alternative or simply over-hyped.

As with most things in the health and fitness world, the answer isn’t cut and dry or black and white. If you’re looking for a simple yes or no, you won’t find it.

It’s accurate to say that there are aspects of a raw diet that are very healthy. Most raw diets are heavily plant-based – and most of us aren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables. Diets that include plenty of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables are associated with a number of health benefits.

Raw diets also eliminate most processed foods. As such, raw diets tend to have lower amounts of sugar, sodium and trans fats.

It’s also true that some foods are healthier when eaten raw. Heat can destroy some nutrients and reduce the benefits of certain foods. For example, the benefits of extra virgin olive oil are greatly reduced once it’s heated beyond 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, by eating raw foods, you never have to worry about charring meats – and the carcinogens created by that process.

However, not all foods are healthier when consumed raw.

David Katz, M.D., who is director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, notes:

Raw food advocacy ignores the fact that some foods are more nutritious when cooked. The nutrient lycopene makes tomatoes red. It is a potent carotenoid antioxidant, long thought to reduce prostate cancer risk, although that effect per se is in doubt. Lycopene is fat-soluble, and much more “bioavailable” – that is to say, available for absorption and making contributions to our health – when tomatoes are heated in combination with an oil. Tomato sauces with olive oil are ideal, and raise blood lycopene levels far more effectively than eating raw tomatoes.

There’s another reason we cook food. To kill harmful bacteria and thus prevent us from getting sick. Uncooked and unpasteurized foods are more prone to illness; as such, raw diets aren’t recommended for young children, pregnant individuals or the elderly. If you have a weak immune system or chronic illness, then a raw diet probably isn’t a good fit.

Nutritional deficiencies can also become problematic. Protein and calcium, for example, are commonly deficient in raw diets. While it’s possible to get a balanced diet while eating raw, the reality is most people are ill-equipped or lacking the time and effort to formulate a proper nutrition plan.

For most of us, it makes more sense to incorporate those aspects of raw dieting that are healthy and sustainable rather than following the diet fully and completely.

But what do you think? Have you ever tried a raw diet?

Yonanas Product Review.

Yonanas: Worth the hype?

Last week, I made my first infomercial purchase and ordered the dessert-making sensation known as Yonanas.

Basically, it’s supposed to work like this: Put frozen bananas (along with other fruit) in the top of the Yonanas machine, and a soft-serve, ice cream-like substance comes out the bottom. You don’t add any milk, sugar, etc. – it’s an entirely banana-based dessert. And as such, it’s obviously much healthier than the ice cream or frozen yogurt alternatives.

Yesterday, my Yonanas machine arrived and I put it to the test.

While it does look and feel pretty cheap (it is only $50 plus shipping – what do you expect?), it does work. I was a bit surprised to see that an ice cream-like substance was, in fact, produced; I didn’t have high hopes.

I did discover that it takes A LOT of bananas to fill a heaping bowl as shown in the infomercials. It took 2.5 bananas to produce the amount of dessert in the photo attached to this post.

Turns out, unlike ice cream, the banana-based substance produced is very thick and dense. It’s heavy – and a half bowl is more than enough. In fact, I’m feeling something of a banana hangover today.

As far as taste goes, it’s pretty good. It does taste quite a bit like a very thick serving of frozen yogurt. And since you can add other fruits, chocolates, peanut butters, etc., into the mix – the flavor combinations are pretty much endless.

Cleanup wasn’t as simple as they’d like you to believe, but it wasn’t awful either. It took a few minutes to get everything disassembled and cleaned. It’s also dishwasher safe.

The best thing about Yonanas is saying the name. But the product does deliver, and I’m pretty content with my purchase. I won’t be eating Yonanas every night, but I think I’ll be getting some good use out of the machine.

Disclaimer: Davey Wavey was not compensated in any way, shape or form by Yonanas or their affiliates to write this product review.

5 Best Easy, Healthy & Delicious Snacks!

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I love a good snack. In fact, I’m what you might call a snack connoisseur.

Snacks have gotten a bad rap. And since most people snack on potato chips, cookies or bonbons, maybe that bad rap is partially deserved. But today, I’d like to welcome you to the land of easy, delicious and healthy snack alternatives. They’re not processed, loaded in unhealthy fats, sodium or any of the other crap you might find in many prepackaged snack options.

These are my actual top five favorite simple and healthy snack options:

  1. Almond butter dipped frozen banana. The name says it all. Peel a banana, wrap it in plastic wrap and stick it in the freezer. Once frozen solid, remove the banana and slice it into generous chunks. Using a fork, dip each chunk into almond butter and place in a small plate or bowl. Let stand for a minute, and the almond butter will form a frozen shell around the banana. Eat and enjoy!
  2. Carrot sticks and hummus. Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of the taste of veggies. But a carrot stick dipped in hummus is both healthy and delectable. Hummi (is that the plural of hummus?) are available in a variety of flavors – so it’s a snack that never grows old. My favorite flavors are spicy chipotle and garlic lovers.
  3. Frozen fruit. Produce can be pricey – especially when it comes to fresh fruits and berries. I’ve discovered a simple trick. Stock up on cut frozen fruits (many are just a few bucks per bag), and mix them together into a small bowl. Frozen fruits are usually flash frozen at their ideal ripeness – and so they’re absolutely delicious. I prefer to eat them frozen; it’s almost like eating candy – I love it. I usually stick to a combination of raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. If you’re feeling extra fancy, add a dollop of yogurt.
  4. Apples and fresh peanut butter. Nothing beats a sliced Fuji apple and a few tablespoons of peanut butter. And fear not, though nut butters (like the almond and peanut ones I recommend) contain a lot of fat, it’s not the same kind of fat you’d find in, say, a fried mozzarella stick. If it’s available to you, opt for fresh nut butters. Apples, being rich in fiber, are also very filling – and so this snack is both scrumptious and satisfying.
  5. Hard boiled eggs. Once a week, I boil a dozen eggs and store them in my fridge. When I’m craving a snack, they’re super easy and convenient. They’re also packed with high quality protein. And though eggs have a lot of cholesterol, the impact of dietary cholesterol on blood cholesterol levels is fairly small. Moreover, if you are concerned, the yolks can be easily removed to eliminate the cholesterol. Eggs become less healthy when we fry them in butter, top them with bacon and cheese and sandwich them between thick slices of white bread. Eating hard boiled eggs is a healthy and delicious alternative.

What’s your favorite healthy snack? Share it below – I’d love to try out some new options!

The Best-Kept Nutrition Secret Ever…

To say that frozzzen hot chocolate is delicious is to say that Zac Efron is cute.

Last month, I bought a container of Serendipity’s Frrrozen Hot Chocolate Mix. To say that it’s delicious is to say that Zac Efron is cute. Yummy doesn’t even begin to cut it.

Yesterday afternoon, when looking for a snack, I contemplated making some of the mix. I glanced at the nutrition information, only to discover that each serving contains 61 grams of sugar, 66 carbohydrates and nearly 400 empty calories. Yikes! Clearly, it’s a drink for very special occasions – and not something to be consumed every day.

For a few minutes, I was a bit crestfallen. But then I realized that there were plenty of delicious alternatives that I could eat – putting into practice one of the best-kept nutrition secrets: Don’t focus on what you can’t eat. Focus on what you can eat.

If you focus on the foods that you can’t eat, making healthy choices could be unnecessarily painful. You’ll feel deprived, and by thinking about unhealthy foods – you’ll develop cravings from them. If you think about cheesecake long enough, you’re probably going to get a hankering for some. Don’t mourn over what you can’t eat; rejoice in the foods that you can! Take a glass half-full approach.

Indeed, frrrozen hot chocolate might not make the cut – but many other refreshing options like smoothies or fruit salad are viable alternatives. And healthy foods can be delicious and satisfying, so put your energy and attention there.

And there you have it – the best-kept nutrition secret ever. EVER!

What do you think of it? Let me know in the comments below. Don’t be shy.

7 Tips to Eat Smart During the Holidays!

This sexy santa could jingle my bells...

The holidays are upon us, but they need not be upon your waistline too. Here are my top 7 tips for eating healthy and staying fit during the holidays!

  1. Wait 15 – 20 minutes before getting a second plate. It takes your body 15 – 20 minutes to feel full after eating – so if you go up for seconds immediately after finishing your first plate, your body may already be full. And guess where that extra food will end up? So hold off for a few minutes and then reassess your hunger.
  2. Know your gym’s holiday schedule and plan in advance. It’s very likely that your gym will have a modified schedule for the slew of upcoming holidays. Visit your gym’s website or give them a call. See how their reduced hours will impact your workout schedule, and plan accordingly. If your gym is closed for a holiday, try to get your workout in the day before – or plan some alternative exercise for that day like biking or jogging outside.
  3. Drink lots of water. Dehydration is often misunderstood by the body as hunger – keeping your body well-watered will help reduce your food intake. Water may not be as tasty as eggnog, but your body will certainly appreciate it more. Replacing alcoholic or sugary drinks with water will greatly decrease the number of calories you consume.
  4. Use an appetizer plate. If you munch directly from an appetizer platter or bowl, it’s easy to eat a lot more than you intended. To avoid this scenario, simply use an appetizer plate and select your munchies in advance. Eat what’s on your plate, and then know when to quit.
  5. Eat an apple before big meals! I used this tip yesterday at my grandmother’s 90th birthday party. If you know that there is going to be a lot of high-calorie and unhealthy food available to you, eat an apple before you leave the house. Apples are a good source of fiber – it will help you feel full and make you less likely to overeat the unhealthy stuff.
  6. Use a smaller plate. If you take a big plate, you’re probably going to put more food on it. Using a smaller plate will help you select more sensible portions.
  7. Be grateful and donate leftovers. Express gratitude that you are in the fortunate situation of having too much food to eat during the holidays. Remember that many people spend their holidays hungry. Instead of storing all the leftovers in your fridge, donate them to someone in need.

The holidays are fun, and the food is part of that! Don’t deny yourself the food you love – just be smarter about it. Happy holidays to you and yours.

Do you have any tips? Share ’em in the comments below!

How to Eat Healthy on a Road Trip: My Menu.

Yeah, I'd be staring too.

On Saturday, I made the 10-hour international drive from Rhode Island, USA to Toronto, Canada. It’s no secret: Road trips can be diet disasters, and I was determined not to let this drive detour me from healthy eating.

Breakfast options at 6AM are fairly limited. I was terrified to discover that McDonald’s was my only choice. I opted for a bottle of water and an Egg McMuffin without butter or cheese. It was decent, and reasonably healthy with some good protein.

For snack, I stopped at a gas station and picked up some unsalted trail mix and water. Unsalted nuts are a wise choice; though high in fat, it’s the good kind of fat. And they are packed with protein. The bag that I purchased contained five servings. After 30 minutes of mindless munching, I realized the bag was almost empty. Ops.

For lunch, I ordered a veggie delight sandwich on wheat bread from Subway. When browsing Subway’s nutrition information, I was shocked at the sodium, caloric and fat content for many of the sandwiches. A foot long chicken bacon ranch sandwich, for example, has more than 1300 calories and an entire day’s worth of fat. To get some protein, I also drank a smoothie rich with real fruit and protein from a nearby shop that I was fortunate to find.

It wasn’t perfect, but I did alright. Here’s what I learned:

  • Plan ahead. You wouldn’t take a trip without thinking ahead, planning for the weather and packing a bag. Add stocking up on healthy snacks to that list. Soy jerky, apples, portioned trail mix or unsalted nuts, and vegetable sticks make for good snacking options.
  • Dodge road trip hypnosis. It’s really easy to overeat when snacking on the road. You’re bored (no offense, upstate New York). Eating brings pleasure. If you pack a large bag of trail mix, it’s easy to eat the entire thing. Alternatively, pack smaller portions or individuals baggies with a proper portion.
  • Drink water instead of soda or juice. Staying hydrated is important! But don’t pack in extra and empty calories with soda or other sugar drinks. Go for water. Your body will thank you.
  • Avoid the fast food chains, if possible. Let’s face it: It’s nearly impossible to make healthy choices at fast food restaurants. Even subway can be shockingly unhealthy (though their marketing machine will try and tell you otherwise). Make yourself a sandwich and throw it in a cooler. Avoid the fast food chains whenever possible.

Follow these tips and you should steer clear of diet disaster while on the road.

What do you usually eat when on a road trip? Any great snack ideas or tips to share? Let us know in the comments below.