I am pleased to welcome you to my personal blog, which I started in March 2009. I first became interested in blogging about five years ago, using old "blogger.com", which was cumbersome to use and I never mastered. About a year ago I discovered that Google had bought "blogger.com" and had revised it considerably, making it fun to use, so much so that I have devised at least 15 blogs on various subjects and frequently add posts and Gadgets to them.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

101 Nutrition Tips for a Longer, Better Life

101 Nutrition Tips for a Longer, Better Life
Nov 2nd, 2009
Scientific and technological advances have made it so that people are living longer than ever. Unfortunately, advancements have also made it much easier to eat unhealthy foods that can have a pretty negative impact on your overall health and well being. Here are some tips to help you embrace good nutrition and eating habits so you can live longer and look good well into old age.

Check out these basic tips to get started on improving your diet and your overall well-being:

  • Use common sense. You know what’s good to eat and what’s not, so use your common sense when it comes to nutrition. You might enjoy eating fast food every day, but you know when enough is enough.
  •  Listen to your body. If you’re feeling run down and less than healthy, take a look at what you’re eating. It may be that you’re not getting the foods you need to feel your best.
  •  Get enough water. Getting enough water can help ensure you stay hydrated and healthy as well as helping you feel fuller faster.
  • Eat fresh. While you don’t need to avoid all processed foods (we all have our lazy days) you’ll get a lot more out of fresh, unprocessed foods.
  • Think before you eat. Don’t just eat blindly. Take time to consider whether or not you’re really hungry or are just eating because you’re bored.
  • Fix meal times. One way to help yourself eat healthier is to have set meal times and stick to them so your body will have a schedule and you’ll know when you’ll be getting hungry.
  • Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals can cause your blood sugar to drop and cause you to get extremely hungry and willing to eat anything, however unhealthy, in sight.
  • Learn the food pyramid. If you want a guide for your food choices, check out the guidelines set out by the government.
  • Eat for your needs. Not everyone has the same nutritional needs. Those who are more active need more calories, those less active need fewer. Find out where you fall.
  • Work together. Eating well shouldn’t be an individual effort. Involve your whole household in your healthy food choices. It’ll be beneficial and help you all stay on track

Avoiding the Bad Stuff  
Those empty calories may taste good but they could be clogging your arteries and setting you up for health problems down the road. Try out these tips to keep the indulgences to a minimum:

  • Eat fruit rather than fruit drinks. While you might think you’re being healthy by consuming fruit drinks, these concoctions usually have more sugar and less nutrients than the real deal.
  • Don’t avoid things you crave. If you totally banish those sweet and fatty foods from your life you may be doing more harm than good and end up binging on them in the end. Having a little bit won’t kill you.
  • Try dark chocolate. Those who have a serious chocolate addiction can have a sweet treat and still be (semi) healthy by having dark chocolate full of antioxidants.
  • Don’t buy it. One way to keep those pesky unhealthy foods out of mind is to keep them out of sight. Don’t buy them when you’re at the store. If it’s a pain to get them, you’re much less likely to eat them.
  • Keep treats a luxury, not a routine. Having a piece of cake or some french fries now and again won’t doom you to an unhealthy life. Just make sure these treats are occasional instead of regular.
  • Eat good fats. Not all fats are bad fats, so choose yours carefully. Avocados are chock full of fats–the unsaturated variety–giving you the fats you need to be healthy without the unhealthy side effects.
  • Turn off the TV. Ads are designed to get you to buy products, which very often are unhealthy fast foods, sweets and processed, salty, pre-packaged concoctions. Turn off the TV and cut out the chance to get those foods in your mind.
  • Fill up on good food first. If you’re craving unhealthy foods, try eating something healthy like veggies or fruit first. If you’re still hungry after the healthy snack then consider those other foods.
  • Be honest. Many times we crave bad foods not because we need them but because we had a bad day, are lonely, bored or some other emotional issue. Learn to recognize when you’re using food to fill a void rather than satisfy a nutritional need.
  • Find healthy alternatives. Just because you’re eating healthier doesn’t mean you have to give up desserts. Fruit with yogurt can be a satisfying alternative to more calorie-laden and unhealthy options.

Eating out  
It’s easy to know what goes into your food at home but it becomes much more complicated when you go out. Here are some tips to help you eat healthy no matter where you’re at:

  • Choose healthy establishments. Usually you know going into a restaurant what kind of foods they offer. If you don’t want to eat fried chicken, don’t head into a place where you know that’s the main offering. Instead, choose a location you know has healthy options.
  • Eat half. Restaurant portions are notorious for being too large for one person to consume. Solve this problem by halving your food and only eating that one part and having the rest boxed up to take home.
  • Research ahead of time. The vast majority of restaurants have online menus and nutrition facts available, and if not, you can usually get a close approximation. Use this information to educate yourself on the healthiest choices at each establishment before you go. It can also help you choose a restaurant that will offer you the most choices for your healthy eating.
  • Share. If you don’t want to bring restaurant food home with you, you can always share with a friend, and that way you can eat what you’d like without having to worry about overdoing it.
  • Look at the nutrition facts. It’s not hard to find out the nutritional information for most restaurant offerings these days, letting you know if your choices are truly healthy or if they just appear to be that way.
  • Get sauces and dressings on the side. Many times it can be better to control just how much of those calorie- and fat-laden dressings and sauces you get on your dish. Simply ask if you can get yours on the side instead.
  • Ask for healthier sides. While french fries might come with your meal, many places are more than happy to accommodate a request for a side salad or grilled veggies instead. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  • Limit fried foods and sweets. It might seem obvious, but it’s much easier to fall into the trap of eating unhealthy foods when they are readily available in a restaurant. Avoid them or share them if you must indulge.
  • Ask about healthy options. Not everything a restaurant offers is always on the menu. You may be able to have your food prepared in a healthier manner or get it with different ingredients. It never hurts to ask.
  • Investigate the menu. Many menus offer a wealth of health advice if you’re willing to look for it. Most chain restaurants label what dishes are on the lighter side helping you narrow down your choices.

Losing Weight  
While having a little extra weight might not kill you, having a lot greatly increases your chances of developing chronic and potentially fatal diseases. These tips are designed to help you shed those pounds and live healthier:

  • Drink water before you eat. Having a full glass of water before you eat can help you feel more full when you sit down to eat your meal.
  • Consider smaller, more frequent meals. Because your body doesn’t have a chance to get super hungry, eating smaller meals may help you eat less over the course of a day.
  • Don’t eat out of boredom. At work or at home, eating because you don’t have anything else to do isn’t uncommon. Remind yourself that eating isn’t a pastime.
  • Limit snacks. While having snacks in between meals can be good, try to limit it to one or two a day or eating super healthy snacks so you’re not sneaking in loads of extra calories between meals.
  • Take a hard look at your beverages. Many beverages are packed with calories, sugar and other substances that can contribute to weight gain. Try to stick with water or, if you must, diet or low-cal options.
  • Keep track of what you’re eating. It can be a big help in weight loss to know just how much you’re taking in on a daily basis. Use an online tracker to monitor your daily intake and track it over time.
  • Avoid crash diets. There are few things less helpful to long term weight loss than crash diets. Make a real change in your lifestyle if you want to see sustainable change.
  • Enjoy your meals. When you sit down to eat, it shouldn’t be a race to see how fast you can polish off your food. Give yourself time to slow down and really enjoy what you’re eating. You’ll eat less and have more fun while doing it.
  • Eat appropriate portions. Many people eat far more than they really should when it comes to portion size. Check with nutritional guidelines to see how much you should be eating of each part of your meal.
  • Plan your meals. One thing that can be a big help in keeping you on track is planning out your meals for the week. It will help you balance your nutrition and ensure you have a set plan for eating right.
  • Bring healthy food with you. If you have to run errands or are just stuck at your desk all day, make sure you have at least one healthy snack with you so you won’t be tempted to consume the less healthy options from a vending machine.

Eating Right  
These tips will help you learn the basic principles of maintaining a nutritious and healthy diet:

  • Stay away from sweetened drinks. Sodas, fruit drinks and even juices aren’t doing you any favors. Cut back on the sugar-laden beverages if you want to cut out a major calorie source.
  • Aim for a balance. Despite what some diets might say, eating all of one thing or another isn’t good for your overall nutrition. Try to maintain a balance of proteins and carbs and vitamins and minerals.
  • Eat less meat. While lean meats are a great addition to the diet, try to eat less meat and have at least one veggie meal a week to cut back on fat and cholesterol.
  • Go for whole grains. Eating whole grain breads and pastas can give your body the nutrition it needs and keep you fuller for longer.
  • Limit the salt you eat. There is no doubt that salt is tasty, but it can have some pretty negative effects on the body if not eaten in moderation.
  • Cook with care. Just because you’re not frying foods doesn’t mean you’re cooking them in a healthy way. Stick to steaming or sauteing in olive oil.
  • Carry water with you. Often people eat when they are thirsty, not hungry, so carry a bottle of water with you everywhere to stay hydrated and on track.
  • Try something new. You may have been a veggie hater your whole life, but the reality is that tastes change and evolve over time and some healthy foods you think you hate might taste different to you now. Try something new to expand your palate.
  • Make eating right fun. Eating right doesn’t have to be a chore. Make it fun and get your family and friends involved as well.
  • If you must, hide healthy foods. If you can’t bear to eat a piece of broccoli or a carrot, you can always chop it up super fine and hide it in a sauce so you’re getting your nutrition without the taste.
  • Eat the rainbow. When you want to eat healthy, it’s best to eat a wide variety of colors of foods, from leafy greens to bright red tomatoes.
  • Go lean. If you do want to indulge in some beef, choose the most lean and healthy cuts available.

Good nutrition starts when you choose what foods to buy. These tips will help you shop smarter:

  • Look at serving sizes. Sometimes labels will trick you with abnormally small serving sizes. Make sure to check these to see the real nutritional value of a food.
  • Check out the ingredients. You want to look for foods with healthy ingredients listed first and few preservatives and chemicals.
  • Watch out for tricky advertising. Some foods aren’t exactly truthful in their advertising and it’s up to you to find out what is truly healthy and what’s just hype.
  • Shop the perimeter. The perimeter of the store is usually home to fresh baked goods, meats, and produce–foods you should be concentrating on the most.
  • Avoid pre-packaged and prepared foods. While you can indulge in these now and again, you’ll be much better off eating more fresh food instead.
  • Have a list and stick to it. Going to the store without a list can result in you buying things you don’t need or shouldn’t be eating, so make a list ahead of time.
  • Look for fewer ingredients. The ideal foods will have few ingredients or just contain the basic components without much added.
  • Go to a local market. If you want to find fresh, local and seasonal food, go to a farmer’s market in your area.
  • Buy organics. While you don’t need to buy everything organic, many people believe avoiding foods sprayed with chemicals can be a great health boon.

Disease Prevention  
Learn how eating right can help reduce your risk of developing potentially deadly conditions in these tips.

  • Eat nuts. While some nuts are better than others, all contain substances that will help you improve your heart heath.
  • Cut back on the cholesterol. Eating lots of red meat, eggs, butter and other cholesterol rich foods isn’t good for your body, so limit your intake and monitor your levels carefully.
  • Get folate and B6. These two substances, found in supplements and foods like orange juice, leafy green veggies and broccoli, were found to significantly reduce heart disease risk.
  • Consume the suggested levels of fruits and veggies. Eating right doesn’t just help you lose weight–these healthy foods are full of nutrients that help your body stave off everything from the common cold to cancer.
  • Up your vitamin D intake. Many people aren’t getting the levels of vitamin D that they should be, increasing their risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin D can also protect against cancer, autoimmune diseases, arthritis and diabetes.
  • Watch your calories. Studies have shown that people who eat a low calorie diet actually live longer than those who consume more calories.
  • Consider a multi-vitamin. While you should be getting your vitamins from the foods you eat, if you’re worried you’re not getting enough, consider taking a supplement.
  • Eat complex foods. Preprocessed foods contain more vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants that can help you stay looking and feeling young.
  • Visit your doctor. Making regular visits to your doctor to check your levels and make sure you’re healthy can help you tailor your diet to your needs.
  • Try soy. Some doctors believe that getting more soy may help lower your cholesterol.

Superfoods to Try
There’s a lot of news out there about superfoods, named because they offer numerous health benefits. Here are a few you can add into your diet:

  • Plain yogurt. With potassium, protein and calcium this super food is great on its own or can be enriched with other healthy foods for a balanced snack.
  • Eggs. The protein in eggs has been shown to go a long way, and people who eat them at breakfast often eat less throughout the rest of the day.
  • Nuts. Nuts may contain a good amount of fat but they also contain protein, heart-healthy fats, high fiber, and antioxidants.
  • Kiwi. Get your daily requirement of vitamin C from this super food as well as potassium, fiber, vitamin A and vitamin E.
  • Quinoa. This whole grain may not be part of many diets but it should be with loads of protein, vitamins and minerals. If you don’t like this grain, try oats, wild rice or barley instead.
  • Beans. Beans come in numerous varieties to suit different taste buds but all offer fiber, protein, magnesium and potassium.
  • Salmon. Fish that are rich in Omega-3s like salmon offer many benefits from lowering the risk of heart disease to fighting depression.
  • Broccoli. Try steaming some broccoli with your dinner to get ample servings of vitamin A, vitamin C, and bone-building vitamin K.
  • Sweet Potatoes. These tasty foods are full of vitamin A and are a great source of other vitamins as well. If you don’t like these root veggies consider pumpkin or carrots instead.
  • Berries. Foods like blueberries are packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids as well as potassium and vitamin C, lowering your risk of heart disease and cancer and reducing inflammation.
  • Tea. Teas, both black and green, offer loads of antioxidants helping lower cancer risk and reducing cholesterol.

Looking and Feeling Good  
Make sure your added years are good ones with these tips to keep you looking good and feeling great.

  • Get enough antioxidants. Antioxidants help rid your body of damaging free radicals, so getting enough will not only help you feel better but look younger as well.
  • Keep skin and hair looking good with protein. Your body needs protein to keep your skin looking supple and your hair looking lustrous.
  • Have enough calcium. No one wants to be hunched over with osteoporosis in their old age. That’s why getting enough calcium is essential.
  • Find foods that are anti-inflammatory. Inflammation in the body, not the visible kind, is the cause of many illnesses and premature aging. Eating foods that reduce this inflammation can be a big help.
  • Cut back on sugars. Sugars may taste yummy but studies have shown that they also age your skin.
  • Switch to tea. While the caffeine in coffee may not hurt you, it also contains organic acids that cause cortisol, the natural stress hormone in your body, to skyrocket.
  • Make your carbs count. Good carbs will give your body enough of an insulin response to have an anabolic effect on the muscles without storing excess body fat.
  • Use healthy oils. Using olive oil, a monounsaturated fat, instead of vegetable oil, which is a polyunsaturated fat that can make your body more susceptible to free-radical damage.
  • Get your Omega 3’s. These much touted substances have been found to help keep skin looking young and help reduce inflammation in the body.

Striking a Balance  
It’s important to maintain a balance of foods in your diet, and these tips explain how to do it.

  • Veggies and legumes should take up most of your plate. Try planning the rest of your meal around these all important, nutrient rich foods.
  • Eat a small serving of lean proteins. You don’t need much meat to get the benefits, so choose small, lean servings at your meals.
  • Make sure to eat whole grains. Grains are an important part of a healthy diet, but you should make sure you’re choosing those that are whole and not heavily processed.
  • Mix it up. Perhaps one of the most important things to do, however, is to make sure to eat a wide range of foods.
  • Ensure you’re getting enough fiber. Keeping your digestion going smoothly and your body happy means getting fiber which can be found in veggie and fruit skins, beans, brans, and oats.
  • Look at food pyramids. The food pyramid was designed to help you balance what you’re eating and get the right amounts of each thing. Consult it if you don’t know how to construct balanced meals.
  • Look to cultures with long life spans. If you want to create a diet that lengthens your life, look at what cultures with especially long life spans eat and use it as a model.
  • Keep alcohol consumption to a minimum. The occasional glass of red wine won’t hurt you, but drinking a large amount of alcohol can pack in calories and hurt your body.
  • Have a plan. Don’t just go at nutrition willy-nilly. Come at what you eat with a plan of what you need, where you want to be, and a map of how to get there. If you need help, try consulting a nutritionist.

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