Tag Archives: healthy living

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), more than 30.3 million people in the US have diabetes (that is 9.4% of the US population). And 7.2 million people may be undiagnosed. The count is rising every year.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes  is a chronic disease that affects how your body turns food into energy. The insulin hormone, which is made by the pancreas, helps the body turn blood sugar into energy. Blood sugar levels are a measure of how well a person’s body uses glucose. A diabetic person has high blood sugar (glucose) when his/her body does not produce enough insulin or because his/her body cells do not respond adequately to insulin, or both.

How are diabetics classified?

Type 1 – The body does not make insulin. It can appear at any age but is usually  diagnosed in children and young adults. Their bodies do not make insulin,  and they must take it to stay alive.

Type 2 –  The body does not make enough insulin or use it well. One can develop type 2 diabetes at any age, but it most often occurs in middle-aged to older people. This is the most common type of diabetes.

Gestational Diabetes – This diabetes type develops in some pregnant women but usually  goes away when the baby is born.  About 50% of women with gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes later in life.

Risks for developing diabetes

A person’s risk for developing diabetes depends upon a number of factors, some of which can be controlled and some (age, family history, ethnicity) which cannot.

Some of the risk factors that can be controlled are these:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having high blood pressure
  • Having a low level of  HDL (good) cholesterol, or a high level of triglycerides
  • Being physically inactive
  • Having a history of heart disease or stroke
  • Having a history of gestational diabetes

Getting an A1C test (sometimes called the hemoglobin A1C) at your next physical will indicate whether you have diabetes or are at risk for developing it. The higher your A1C levels, the greater your risk of diabetes complications. With an A1C level over 6.5 percent, type 2 diabetes is indicated.

Tips to Avoid Gaining Weight After You Stop Smoking

Do you plan to participate in the Great American Smokeout this month (Nov. 15) and kick the nasty habit once and for all?

You can do it!

We all know that smoking is an addiction which produces withdrawal symptoms when stopped. But did you know that the  physical withdrawal symptoms last only a few days to about a week. After that, it is the psychological symptoms (cravings) that are the most difficult to overcome. But cravings will lessen the longer you resist the urge to smoke until finally, you find that you really have quit smoking.

Some people say they smoke because it helps to keep them from gaining weight, and experts have said that it is common for people to gain some weight when they give up the habit permanently. Since smoking increases metabolism, quitting causes your metabolism to slow slightly; however, most smokers gain less than 10 pounds.

For those who gain more weight, it is likely that they use food (especially sweets and high-caloric foods) to help curb nicotine cravings.

Here are four tips to help keep you from gaining weight after stopping smoking:

1. Plan for healthy eating before you quit smoking.

Stock your kitchen with healthy food choices so when the urge to snack hits, you will have them within easy reach. You may start to crave sweets after you quit (your sense of taste and smell improve)—and satisfying these cravings can prevent you from reaching for a cigarette. Just make sure the sweets you eat are not calorie-laden, sugary treats. (Fruits like grapes, strawberries, sugar-free candy and gum are acceptable substitutes).

2. Substitute the cigarette in your hand with something else.

Your body and brain are accustomed to the pattern of constantly putting your hand to your mouth when smoking, so replace the smoking pattern with an alternative. According to the AHA (American Heart Association), eating a food like air-popped popcorn will take time to eat, keep your hands busy, reduce the urge to smoke, and help you to feel full. (Five cups of air-popped popcorn has only 150 calories.)

3. Drink lots of water. It not only keeps your body hydrated, but also fills you up and lessens the desire to snack.

4. Amp up the exercise! If you are sedentary, adding exercise or increasing the exercise you already do will increase your metabolism. Walking and extra 30-45 minutes a day can make up for the metabolism slow-down from quitting smoking and keep your weight stable.

Smoking releases thousands of toxic chemicals into your body, which damage your heart, lungs, and other organs. But quitting, even after years of smoking, can reverse these effects and add years to your life.

 

 

 

 

 

Staying Motivated to Exercise During Cold Weather

The weather is starting to get colder and the days shorter, which can make exercising the last thing you want to do. When it’s dark outside, it’s easy to stay snuggled in your warm bed and skip your morning workout, but with all of those holiday treats right around the corner, this is no time to slack off. How can you stay motivated to exercise in the colder months?

Set goals and make a plan.

Don’t wait for New Year’s resolutions; set goals for yourself now and make a plan to meet them. Whether your goals are to get fit, lose weight, or de-stress, or all of the above, schedule your workouts on your calendar just as you would a work meeting or doctor’s appointment. Treat these appointments just as you would any other important appointment, and then get the satisfaction of marking it off your “to do” list.

Move indoors.

If it’s too cold to do your regular run, walk, or bike ride outdoors, move your workout inside. You don’t need to belong to a gym to work out indoors. There are plenty of things you can do at home to stay fit: use workout DVDs or get free workouts on YouTube. If you have the space and it’s in your budget, invest in a treadmill or stationary bike to use at home. You can also try out fitness classes at places other than a standard gym—yoga studios, dance studios, and recreation centers. They offer all types of classes that often don’t involve a monthly contract.

Enlist a partner.

It’s always harder to skip a workout if someone else is depending on you. Partner with a friend to work out together this fall and winter. Bundle up and head out for a walk or run together, or find something else active you can do together such as playing indoor tennis, swimming indoors at a local YMCA, or trying out a new fitness class.

Ward off winter blues.

Remind yourself why working out, even when you don’t want to, always makes you feel better. Exercising on dark, cold days can help you keep away the winter blues by boosting your body’s endorphins. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is real and affects 10 to 20 percent of people, and exercise is one way to prevent or lessen its symptoms.

Reward yourself.

Staying motivated to exercise throughout the colder months is challenging. Reward yourself for staying active by treating yourself to a soak in a hot bath or a relaxing massage for sore muscles. Also, make sure you are getting enough sleep.

Finding Time to Exercise for Busy Parents

Now that kids are back in school, and you’re back in your daily routine, finding the time to exercise can be a challenge for busy parents. Whether you’re working full-time or part-time along with taking care of a newborn, chasing after a toddler, or chauffeuring older kids to and from school and activities, it’s easy to go for days without fitting in a workout. Add in a hefty dose of guilt for not spending your free time with your kids, and it’s a recipe for abandoning regular exercise altogether.

With such busy lives, we have to schedule in time to exercise every week, or it may never happen. Think of it as another way to stay healthy for your family. Even if you get in 10-minute increments throughout the day, just moving more will make a huge difference in your overall health, outlook, and well-being, which in turn, will only make you a better parent.

Make exercise a priority by using these tips for finding ways to sneak it into a busy lifestyle:

Strollercize!

Got a baby or toddler? Take advantage of nap time by loading your little one(s) into a jogging stroller and take a walk, or run for 30 minutes.

Find a buddy

Enlist a friend to share workouts. You’re less likely to skip a workout if you’ve promised to meet a friend at the gym or at the park for a walk. Or you can also trade babysitting duties while the other works out.

Play with your kids

Spend time with your kids and exercise at the same time. Kick around a soccer ball with your kids in the yard; go on a bike ride together; walk the dog, or take them to the playground, and join in a game of chase or tag.

Download it

There are endless workout videos available for download as well as on DVD. Especially when it’s raining or the weather turns cold, working out at home to a video is an easy way to fit in exercise. You can even have your kids join you to make it a fun, family affair.

Hit the gym

Join a gym that offers childcare or offers a children’s program your kids can participate in while you and your spouse or partner work out.

Lunch break

If your office allows, eat lunch at your desk, and use your lunch break to go to the gym, or walk or run outdoors a few days a week.

Rise and shine

Get up early before the rest of your house, and get your workout out in before your family’s hectic morning routine starts. You’ll start the day energized and won’t have any excuses later in the day when things like a sick child or schedule changes could derail your workout plans.

Recognizing the Signs of Heat Exhaustion

Summer may be winding down, but the weather outside is still hot. With fall just around the corner, you may be dreaming of pumpkin spice lattes and cozy sweaters, but in many parts of the country, September is still one of the hottest months of the year, so exercising outdoors should still be done with caution to prevent heat exhaustion.

 

Heat exhaustion happens when your body overheats. This condition is caused by exposure to high temperatures, especially when there is a combination of high humidity and strenuous activity. It is usually accompanied by dehydration. If not treated quickly and properly, heat exhaustion can progress to a more serious, life-threatening condition known as heatstroke. That’s why knowing the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and how to treat it is so important.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion

  • Excessive sweating
  • Feeling faint or weak
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Rapid pulse
  • Muscle cramps

Anyone can experience heat exhaustion, but infants, children, and the elderly are especially at risk during hot weather. Don’t forget that dogs and other pets can also get heat exhaustion and heat stroke, so never leave your furry friends outdoors for extended periods during hot weather, and never leave a pet, child, or infant in a hot car.

Treatment for heat exhaustion

If you experience any of the symptoms of heat exhaustion when exercising or spending a lot of time outdoors in the heat, the first thing to do is stop the activity and move indoors to a cooler place. Rehydrate your body with water or a sports drink to replace important electrolytes that are lost when your body overheats. Applying ice packs or cold, wet towels to your forehead, back of neck, and wrists can also help. With prompt treatment, your symptoms should resolve in a couple of hours, but if they do not or you feel worse, seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

If you do not get out of the heat and properly treat heat exhaustion, symptoms can quickly progress to heatstroke, which is a life-threatening emergency. Signs of heatstroke include confusion,  odd behavior, agitation, high fever, and seizure. If you or anyone you are with are displaying signs of heatstroke, always call 911 immediately.

You can prevent heat exhaustion by being aware of symptoms anytime you are outdoors in hot weather and staying hydrated by drinking fluids before, during, and after any activity.

 

 

 

 

 

Decoding Different Types of Sunscreen

Daily sunscreen use is the best way to protect your skin from both the short-term and long-term effects of the sun. Yet choosing the right sunscreen can be confusing with all of the different products on the market.

Which sunscreens are best for your skin? Understanding the differences among sunscreen products can help you make the best choice for you.

Chemical vs. physical

To put it simply, there are two types of sunscreens: chemical blockers and physical blockers.  Chemical sunscreens absorb the sun’s rays while physical sunscreens sit on top of the skin and reflect harmful UV rays.

Chemical sunscreens are the big-brand products that you can easily find on most drugstore shelves. They usually contain ingredients such as octylcrylen, avobenzone, and octinoxate. While they may be widely available, they can also be more irritating to your skin, especially for those with sensitive skin, skin conditions, or acne-prone skin.

Physical sunscreens use natural ingredients like zinc and titanium oxide to block the sun’s rays. They have become more popular recently with consumers’ increasing concerns about chemical safety, but still aren’t as easy to find as chemical sunscreens, though they do have a longer shelf life. Physical sunscreens are more gentle on the skin and are recommended by dermatologists and pediatricians for those with sensitive skin or skin conditions, as well as for children and babies.

UVA vs. UVB rays

Both UVA and UVB rays can be harmful to your skin, but not all sunscreens block both types of rays. UVA rays are the ones that cause sun damage such as premature wrinkling and age spots. UVB rays are the ones that cause those red, painful sunburns. Too much long-term exposure to either UVA or UVB sunscreens can cause skin cancer. For the best protection, chose a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, which will be labeled “broad spectrum.”

SPFs

A sunscreen with SPF30 protects against 97 percent of the sun’s UV rays while an SPF50 blocks 98 percent : beyond that, the amount of extra protection is negligible. Higher SPF sunscreen products only add more chemicals that can irritate your skin and are usually more expensive. There are no products that offer 100 percent protection. That’s why all sunscreen labels remind you to reapply every two hours, especially after swimming or sweating.

The bottom line

So which sunscreen is the best? Dermatologists recommend one that is broad-spectrum, contains SPF30, and is water-resistant. The brand or whether you choose a lotion or spray are personal preferences—what is most important is that you choose one that you will use on a regular basis.

 

Healthy Grilling Recipes for Summer

If you’ve only been grilling burgers and hot dogs this summer, it’s time to take your grilling to the next level. Shake things up with these grilling recipes that are not only healthy but also easy to make. Fire up that grill and surprise your family with new tastes and flavors for the rest of the summer!

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Salmon

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. hot sauce, such as Frank’s
  • 1 tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp. light mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. snipped chives
  • 8 stalks celery, very thinly sliced in half moons on an angle
  • 1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
  • Four 5-oz. center-cut skin-on salmon fillets, about 1” thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for oiling the grill

Directions

  1. Preheat an outdoor grill or grill pan on medium high.
  2. Mix together the hot sauce, brown sugar, paprika, and cayenne in a small bowl. Transfer 1 tbsp. of the mixture to a large bowl and whisk in the mayonnaise; set aside the rest of the sauce. Add the chives, celery, and onions to the bowl with the mayonnaise and toss well.
  3. Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper. Brush the grill grate lightly with oil. Lay the salmon on the grill, skin-side up, and cook until distinct grill marks appear and the salmon releases easily from the grate, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and brush the fish with some of the reserved sauce. Continue to cook the fish, brushing the pieces periodically with the sauce, until the salmon fillets are glazed and just cooked through, 13 to 15 minutes more.
  4. Transfer the fillets to individual plates and serve with the celery slaw, made with the same sauce, made creamy with light mayo, and brightened with onions and chives.

Find the original recipe here: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/sweet-and-spicy-grilled-salmon-recipe-2112185

Chile-Rubbed Chicken with Salsa

Ingredients

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 2 1/4 pounds)
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. chipotle chile powder
  • 4 tsp. fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 3 tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and diced
  • 1/4 c. finely diced red onion

Directions

  1. Butterfly the chicken: Slice each breast almost in half horizontally (do not cut all the way through); open like a book so the chicken lies flat.
  2. Combine the olive oil, garlic, ancho chile powder, cumin, coriander, paprika, chipotle chile powder, 1 tsp. lime juice and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  3. Preheat a grill to medium. Meanwhile, make the salsa: Toss the tomatoes, tomatillos, red onion and the remaining 3 teaspoons lime juice in a bowl; season with salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Brush the grill grates with olive oil. Grill the chicken, turning once, until marked and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Top with the salsa and serve with the lime wedges.

See the original recipe here: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/chile-rubbed-grilled-chicken-with-salsa-recipe-2042792

Mini Pineapple Pizzas

Ingredients

  • 1 medium pineapple, peeled and cored
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil, divided
  • 8 (1-oz.) slices Canadian bacon
  • 1/2 c. thinly sliced red onion
  • 2/3 c. part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 c. lower sodium pizza sauce
  • 2 tbsp. thinly sliced black olives
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler to HIGH with oven rack 6 inches from heat.
  2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high. Slice pineapple into 8 (1/2-inch) rounds. Using 1 ½ tbsp. of the oil, brush oil on both sides of pineapple rounds. Working in batches, place pineapple rounds on grill pan, and cook 3 minutes on each side, until char marks appear. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Place Canadian bacon slices on grill pan and cook 1 to 2 minutes on each side until heated through. Set aside.
  4. Heat remaining 1 ½ tsp. oil in a separate nonstick skillet over medium. Add onion and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often, until softened.
  5. Top each pineapple round with 1 tsp. cheese. Place 1 slice Canadian bacon on top of cheese. Top each with 1 tablespoon pizza sauce and 1 tablespoon cheese. Top evenly with onion and black olives. Broil on HIGH for 2 to 3 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and melted. Sprinkle basil and crushed red pepper flakes evenly over top.See original recipe here: https://www.cookinglight.com/recipes/mini-pineapple-pizzas.  

Incorporating Exercise During Your Vacation

It’s July and many people are heading out on that much-anticipated summer vacation: a time to relax and recharge, whether it’s at the beach, lake, mountains, or sightseeing in a new city.

While vacation is definitely a time to unwind and indulge, it’s also easy to indulge a little too much and get off-track with exercising regularly. Finding ways to stay active while on vacation is easy to do; it just takes a little forethought and planning.

One of the best tips is to remain consistent: If you regularly work out three times per week at home, plan to do the same while on vacation. That can be hard for some folks to even think about because most people perceive exercise while vacationing as taking away from the fun parts and also the desire to avoid anything that resembles everyday chores. The good news is that exercise can be a fun part of any vacation and can be easily incorporated without having structured exercise time.

Here are some tips to keep you on track with your fitness routine while on vacation:

– Set realistic expectations – If you don’t work out daily for an hour a day at home, don’t think you can do it while on vacation. Decide how much and what type of exercise you can incorporate into your trip; for example, taking a walk on the beach at sunset counts as exercise.

Pack your workout shoes and clothes. Don’t forget to pack your gear so you’ll be more likely to exercise while away.

Get outdoors. No matter where you’re headed on vacation, getting outside will get you moving.  Whether it’s a morning swim in the hotel pool, a walk on the beach, a hike in the mountains, or sightseeing in a new city—all of these activities are easily incorporated into your vacation.

Try new activities. Vacation is the perfect time to try new recreational activities, such as kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, hiking, surfing, and more. You can also join a walking tour to explore local sights and landmarks.

Enlist your travel partners. Vacation is about spending time with family and friends, so grab your travel buddy and go for a run on the beach or rent bikes and hit the trails.

 

 

Making Fitness a Regular Part of Your Day

You’ve heard the exercise recommendations before—at least 30 minutes of activity most days of the week. But with our increasingly busy lives, sometimes it’s hard to  find that small chunk of time to dedicate to working out every day. The most important thing is just to move more. This doesn’t necessarily have to mean 30 minutes of jogging or lifting weights in a gym or an aerobics class. Exercise can be any activity you enjoy that gets you moving, that gets your heart rate up, and makes you feel good.

Working fitness into your daily routine is easier than you think. Try not to think of exercise in the traditional sense. Things like working in the garden, walking your dog, hiking with your kids, or even just mowing the grass are activities that get you moving and count toward your daily activity. The key is to change your mindset about exercise: once you do, you’ll be surprised how you will begin to look for more opportunities to move.

Here are five simple ideas to incorporate exercise into your daily routine:

  1. Take your dog for a walk, or go to a dog park to play frisbee, or throw a ball.
  2. Play with your kids. Get outside and play tag, throw a ball, go on a nature walk, jump rope, run through the sprinkler, and just have fun.
  3. Work in the yard. Gardening, mowing the lawn, and raking leaves are hard work!
  4. Always take the stairs. And always park your car far away from your destination.
  5. Clean your home regularly. Vacuuming, mopping, sweeping, and other chores can be a great workout, especially if you have a larger home.

The most important point is to find something active that you enjoy doing—if you’re having fun, you’ll be more likely to stick with it.

 

Foods That Appear Good for You but Aren’t: Snack Food Edition

Most people truly want to eat more healthily. And most companies want to provide healthy foods to their customers. The problem, however, is that healthy foods tend to lack the salt, fat, sugar, and carbohydrates that people crave. So, even while people try to eat healthily, they soon tire of the high-fiber, low-fat foods that they should be eating, and reach for more appetizing alternatives. Hence the boom in snack food that makes at least some concessions to health. Supermarket shelves are filled with products that advertise that they contain healthy vegetables or high-protein grains. But how healthy are these foods, really? Here’s a breakdown of how some of the most popular “healthy” snacks stack up.

Veggie Chips/Straws

They’re veggies, right? That must mean they’re healthy! Well, that depends on the product. With just a few exceptions, many of the most common veggie snack products have similar nutrition profiles to potato chips, with primary ingredients of potato flour and potato starch. Many of these potato-heavy healthy snacks indeed have lower fat and calories than standard potato chips, but they don’t have any of the vitamins or nutrients that real vegetables provide. Veggie chips made from whole dehydrated vegetables are likely to have more of the good vitamins and nutrients, but they are also likely to have more fat and salt to make them more palatable. Bottom line? Read the label to find out what you’re really eating.

Quinoa Chips

Quinoa is a popular superfood because of its relatively high protein content, and people are drawn to quinoa chips for the same reason: they hope the protein will stave off hunger and help them eat less. Indeed, some quinoa chips have as much as nine grams of protein and as little as 12 grams of carbohydrates (compare to two grams of protein and 16 grams of carbohydrates in a serving of regular potato chips). Other quinoa chips, however, have as little as 1 gram of protein. If protein is your primary goal in a snack food, quinoa chips may be a good choice, but make sure to check the nutrition information before diving in.

Pita Chips

Pita chips have a good reputation; they’re often served with hummus (often a healthy snack choice), and they seem like they should be healthier than potato chips. However, most pita chips are made with processed white flour pita bread, which is high on empty carbohydrate calories and low on fiber, protein, and any healthy nutrients. Many pita chips are soaked in oil before baking, and then coated with salt—giving them a very unhealthy nutrition profile that’s high in carbs, sodium, and fat: a trifecta of bad nutrition. Not all pita chips fit this mold; look for whole grain chips with less than three grams of fat and more than two grams of protein.