Healthy Eating

Healthy eating is difficult to achieve because we have so many health factors to consider and food choices to make. We know antioxidants are good for us so we want to eat lots of colorful fruits and vegetables because they contain phytochemicals like carotenoids and flavonoids which neutralize the free radicals that cause the age-related degenerative diseases. We know that we may not get all the antioxidants that we need in our food so we take supplements to ensure an adequate supply of antioxidants. But what about the actual food we eat. One of the major problems with our modern diet is that the food we eat is a tasty combination of saturated fats and highly processed and quickly digested carbohydrates. However in the last several years, people have become so concerned about fats in their diet that they have substituted carbohydrates and avoided even the good unsaturated fats in lean meat, olive oil and other plant oils. Now everybody seems to be eating a medium- to high-carbohydrate diet without giving proper attention to the type of carbs that they eat.

Not all carbohydrates behave the same in our bodies. We have been told for years to avoid simple carbs like honey and white bread and eat complex carbohydrates that our body doesn’t digest and turn to glucose as quickly. However determining whether a food containing carbohydrates is absorbed and raises our blood sugar quickly or slowly is not at all intuitive. Scientists have done a lot of rigorous testing over the past several years and have found that white bread and baked potatoes raise our blood sugar level much faster than honey, jams and chocolate bars. These scientists developed a numerical index called the Glycemic Index or GI to compare the ability of different carbohydrate containing foods to raise the body’s blood sugar levels – or in other words the speed of conversion to glucose. GI values are determined by feeding human subjects who have fasted overnight a fixed amount of the food and then measuring their blood glucose levels at fixed intervals of time. Pure glucose is set at 100 and then other foods are compared to this profile. Testing is time consuming and the tests have to be averaged for a number of individuals. However these studies have yielded some surprising results such as the fact that the starches in rice, bread, potatoes and many types of cereals were absorbed and raised blood sugars very quickly but the sugars in fruit, candy, chocolate and ice cream did not result in prolonged rises in blood sugars. In other words many of the starchy foods had a much higher Glycemic Index than many of the sugary foods. Needless to say these results seem counter intuitive and have caused a lot of controversy in the food industry. The rate of absorption is very dependant on how the carbs are bound up with the food fiber and the particle size. For example less gelatinized products like al dente spaghetti and oatmeal have lower GI values and stone ground flours have lower GI values than finely ground flours. The fibrous coat surrounding beans and seeds stop enzymes from getting at the starchy carbs inside and will slow the digestion of grainy breads, legumes and barley. The acidity of foods also slows down digestion and vinegar, lemon juice, pickles and sourdough bread will result in lower GI meal values.

The Glycemic Index is important not only to diabetics but also to non-diabetics because we need to know what foods will keep our blood sugars on an even keel and not raise them too high and then have them plummet down again causing hunger. The slow digestion of low GI foods and the gradual rise and fall in blood-glucose response helps people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels and increase their sensitivity to insulin. Low GI foods will help healthy people delay hunger pangs and promote weight loss in overweight individuals. In addition low GI carbohydrates can reduce blood cholesterol levels and also reduce our risk of heart disease. High blood glucose spikes can result in oxidative stress leading to the formation of plaque that can cause atherosclerosis and even blood clots. So keeping our blood sugar levels fairly level and low seems like what we should be trying to achieve through healthy eating. How do we go about achieving this?

The first step is to look at what carbohydrates we are consuming and the GI levels of the meals that we are eating. Then we should try and ensure we have at least one low GI food in each meal to keep the overall meal GI close to 50. Most fats and proteins have no effect on the GI level of our meal because they don’t contain carbs. However watch out for saturated fats and too many calories. Let’s look at some meals and see what substitutions we could make. The GI values are shown in brackets.

Breakfast

Cut back on Corn Flakes (92), Rice Krispies (82) and substitute All-Bran (32) or switch to a cereal based on oats, barley or bran. Stop eating white bagels (72), white bread (70) or whole-wheat bread (77) and switch to pumpernickel (50) or sourdough (55). Fruits are mostly low GI foods and surprisingly orange juice (46) is very good.

Lunch and Dinner

Eat your colored vegetables and make your salad dressings with olive oil and vinegar. Avoid parsnips (97) and substitute pastas like al dente white spaghetti (38), linguini (46) or macaroni (47) for Instant white rice (87) and potatoes – baked (85), red-skin peeled and boiled (88). Except for parsnips and potatoes most vegetables have a low GI value.

Additional information on GI values can be found at the University of Sydney website http://www.glycemicindex.com/ or in the “The New Glucose Revolution: Shopper’s Guide to GI Values 2006.

A Practical Approach To Healthy Eating

I have been doing push-ups five days a week for over 25 years. My arms are pretty strong but it did not happen overnight. I did not do push-ups for a couple weeks or months and then stopped. I had to make push-ups a habit if I wanted to continuously get the results I have.

Exactly the same holds true with healthy eating. You will never be healthy, eating healthy foods occasionally. You have to make healthy eating a habit if you want to obtain nutritional health. People jump on the “band wagon” of healthy eating when they read books or view websites that talk about nutrition. While many of these books and websites tell you what you should eat in-order to be healthy, they fail to teach you how to make healthy eating a habit. Thus in a short period of time when temptations come, people fall right back into their old unhealthy eating habits.

What is a Habit? According to Webster’s dictionary a habit is “a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance.”

Can you see that if we simply apply this principle to healthy eating we will be on our way to vibrant health?

Bad Eating Habits:

Bad eating habits do not develop overnight. For most people these habits began forming when they were kids. Thus one reason why many adults have a hard time breaking their bad eating habits is because these habits have been a part of their lifestyle for many years.

Why Do We Eat Food?

There are two main reasons why we eat food. One is to supply fuel for our body. The other reason is for pleasure. Unfortunately some of the foods that gives us pleasure are unhealthy.

Most people make their food selections based on what they see, smell or taste. Look at these three sentences: That pie sure looks good! That pie sure smells good! That pie sure taste good!

Notice that all three statements involve food and pleasure. However the food that is producing the pleasure (in this situation the pie) may or may not be good for you from a nutritional standpoint. That is why we need to be wise in our food selections and not simply leave it up to our sense of sight, taste or smell.

Eating Healthy Can Be Enjoyable:

Some people think of eating healthy as being boring and tasteless. I think that one reason they feel this way is because most of the commercial ads we see promote foods high in calories, fat, or sugar and only a small percentage of food advertising is done for fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. Thus if there was more nutritional education, more and more people would find eating healthy to be pleasurable and tasty.

How Healthy Eating Habits Changed My Life:

In 1998 my wife finally talked me into going to the doctor to get a check-up. I was not feeling sick but she clearly said that it was a good idea to get a yearly physical examination. Thank God I listened to her.

I have been athletic all my life. I run 18 miles a week. So when I went to the doctor I was not expecting to hear the bad news he gave me. He told me I had borderline diabetes.

Diabetes can be very dangerous if not treated. It is one of the leading cause of death in the United States. It is a disease of the pancreas that causes the body to stop producing the insulin it needs to regulate blood sugar.

My doctor told me that I did not need to be put on medication, however he suggested I start reading some books on healthy eating. That was the beginning of my path to healthy eating habits that turned my health situation around. Today I can honestly say that I am in excellent health. I feel great, I sleep great, people tell me that I do not look my age, I maintain a healthy weight, I do not take any type of medication, my blood pressure is normal, my blood sugar is normal, my cholesterol is normal, my immune system is strong, and the list goes on.

It is great to be in good health and I thank God for it. However I do not believe that I am healthy because of chance. I strongly believe that one main reason that I am healthy is because I take personal responsibility for my health. Making healthy eating a habit is a great part of this responsibility. Our physical bodies have laws that are governed by proper nutrition. If we violate these laws by consistently eating unhealthy foods, we are going to get sick.

Healthy Eating For Life

We have all heard and read probably a thousand times about the importance of healthy eating. We have been encouraged time and time again to trade fast food meals for meals full of fruits and vegetables. For most of us, healthy eating is a matter of changing the habits we have carried for years. How amazing would it be if we did our children a favor and helped them to establish healthy eating patterns from the time of their birth?

I’m confident that the generation behind us would grow up much healthier and in much less need of major diet or fitness alterations in their adult years. The more we teach our children about the importance of healthy eating and the more we provide healthy options for them to eat, the better off they will be.

One of the biggest reasons that parents do not take the time to provide healthy meals for their children is lack of time. I mean really, who has the time to prepare a home cooked meal filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains every night? My suggestion to all busy parents is to realize how important the health of your children is. Only as you begin to make their health a priority will you fight for ways to provide healthy eating for them.

Establishing healthy eating patterns for children can be as simple as making some easy substitutions in your grocery shopping and menu planning. Trade whole milk for lowfat or skim milk and only get reduced fat yogurts or ice creams. Go for whole grain crackers and breads rather than filling your cart or their lunch boxes with potato chips or unhealthy snack crackers. Start their day off with healthy eating by only purchasing cereals and oatmeals that are low in sugar and high in essential vitamins and minerals.

Healthy eating is a matter of making better food choices. The next time your children beg you to get them fast food, do so only under the condition that they must choose from the healthier chicken or salad items on the menu. Look for ways to compromise as you bring healthy eating principles into your family. As the parent it is your responsibility to make sure that your children are developing healthy eating habits. There is no better time to do this than now. Your kids will thank you one day when they are still eating healthy as adults.

Healthy Food Choices When Eating At A Restaurant

With our increasingly busy lifestyle many families are choosing to eat out more often. While it may be rather expensive, for some it is the only logical choice. However, if you’re trying to watch your weight, it can be difficult making the right food selections while eating out at restaurants!

This is a simple guide to some kinds of popular foods that people often choose when they eat out.

Chinese (and Asian food generally) offers a wide variety of broth-based soups, stir-fried treats, steamed fish and vegetable dishes, rice, chow mien, and other menu items that delicious low-calorie and low fat choices.

There are of course many foods that you should avoid as well. Fried egg rolls, fried wontons, dishes made with duck, egg foo yung, and fried chicken should not be ordered if you’re trying to eat healthy. It isn’t that they are bad dishes; they simply tend to have more fat and salt in them than the others. Fried rice should be replaced by steamed rice. The all-you-can-eat buffet should be avoided at all costs (regardless of what type of food).

If you are lucky enough to have a good quality restaurant with Indian Cuisine, you have a number of delicious healthy, low-fat options to choose from. Chicken, fish, veggies, steamed rice; legumes are included in healthy dishes throughout the menu. Bean soups are delicious and healthy. You can opt for Chapati, Chicken or Shrimp Vindaloo, or Lamb kabobs. The main dishes to exclude when dining out in the Indian Restaurants are the fried breads, dishes served with large amounts of nuts and dishes made with coconut milk. Overall, Indian cuisine is a wonderful dining option when you are watching what you eat.

Some of the most fattening dishes you could possibly dream of are found in Italian Restaurants. Fried Mozzarella sticks, Lasagna, thick creamy Alfredo pasta dishes and many others cloud your judgment when skimming over the menu. However, you will also find many healthy dishes to make your mouth water as well. Thin crust pizza with vegetable toppings, pasta with tomato-based sauces, chicken cacciatore, chicken Marsala, and biscotti are a few items that will keep you at the Italian table without having to give up your commitment to cut calories and watch fat intake. Salads and soup choices are also something to consider. Avoid most deserts in the Italian Restaurants, most are just like the cheese dishes you find here, very rich.

You may have many opportunities to eat out with your wife and friends. It’s important to remember that while you are watching you’re weight, you don’t have to exclude yourself from all of the great food available in quality restaurants. You simply need to pay attention to what you are eating and remember that moderation goes along way.

Foods And Exercises For A Healthy Heart

A healthy heart is necessary for a healthy life. If you get any heart disease then you will lose a lot in your life even though you have a lot of money. Eating healthy to maintain a healthy heart is an essential thing in life. You have to be careful in choosing your food so that you can avoid any heart disease. Your food should contain less of fat, sodium, calories and have more fiber content.

Meat, butter, cheese, and milk contain more fat and hence they should be taken in fewer quantities. If you take less sodium your blood pressure is reduced to some extent and this helps in avoiding the risks of a heart disease. Problems of the heart come to the persons who are obese. It is essential to reduce the weight to avoid a heart disease. To reduce weight you have to take fewer calories. Foods that contain more fiber content can be taken. Fruits, vegetables, and grains contain more fiber content.

One of the other factors that lead to a heart disease is a sedentary life style. People who have this style of life should do some exercise that aims at strengthening your heart. With the advent of technology based jobs more and more people are working in computers. These people who work in the computer often sit before the computer without doing any physical activity. The only thing that is active is their brain and their fingers! Such people should take frequent breaks to have a little walk which can refresh them to a greater extent. Some people try to relax by sitting before the television. Either you sit before your computer or in front of the TV. This is also a bad habit. If you want to relax try to take a walk outside. Walking is a good exercise for your heart. A brisk walk for about 40 minutes daily will change your life beyond your expectations. Try it.

Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise can also be done to strengthen your heart. Some of the aerobic exercises are bicycling, jogging, jumping rope and skating. These exercises can be done for at least 20 to 30 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week. It is better to have an exercise schedule every alternate day. This habit makes you do your exercises regularly and without getting tired. If you are overweight then it is time to a look at your work schedule and allot some time for exercises. This will help you in the long way to have a healthy heart.