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13 Smart Snacks to Keep at Your Desk


Hunger doesn't always stick to a schedule, especially during the workday. Your lunch break might be scheduled for noon, but your appetite doesn't always get that memo! Hunger can interfere with your ability to focus on important tasks, and it can make you cranky (or worse, hangry!), which can certainly affect your relationships with your co-workers. That means you gotta get that hunger in check even when you can't leave your desk. So keep healthy snacks on hand to stay on track with your diet and on task at the office!  

Here are 13 nutritious and filling (yet low-calorie) foods that travel well. Some can be stored in your desk, while others need to be stored in the fridge or an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack until you're ready to eat.
Posted 4/10/2014  6:00:00 AM By:   : 6 comments   10,199 views
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Satisfy Any Craving for Less than 100 Calories


When you're trying to manage your weight or eat better, cravings can be your Achilles' heel. They come at the most inopportune times and cripple your will power; you gotta have [insert your biggest temptation] right now, no matter what. It's all you can think about!

Most of us don't crave healthy or low-calorie foods, unfortunately. It's always ice cream, chips, or chocolate--never cucumbers, rice cakes or broccoli. To make matters worse, those cravings usually hit late at night when we don't have many (or any) calories left in our budget for the day.

The good news is that whether you have a sweet or savory, creamy or crunchy craving, you can satisfy it for 100 calories or less without feeling deprived. Here's how:

First, think long and hard about what you're craving. If it's chocolate, chances are a piece of fruit isn't going to satisfy you. You need to eat what you actually crave to feel satisfied.
Posted 3/14/2014  6:00:00 AM By:   : 31,611 views
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Why Fruits & Vegetables Are So Good for You


The 2010 U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that all Americans eat more fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. Government guidelines aside, you surely grew up with your mom telling you to eat your vegetables. Or maybe you even hear it now from your doctor.  
 
When you're new to adopting a healthy diet, you may wonder: What's so good about fruits and vegetables anyway? What kind of benefits will I see if I eat more?  Here are four good reasons to be like Bugs Bunny and chomp away on more fresh produce.
Posted 3/9/2014  12:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 2 comments   4,714 views
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11 Ways to Crush Nighttime Cravings


It's 8 p.m. You should be getting ready for bed or at least winding down your day, but all you can think about is how much you want to sink your teeth into that chocolate-covered peanut-nougat candy bar in the kitchen drawer. Or how good a bag of crunchy potato chips would be right now. Or how it would feel to swirl your spoon through a big bowl of butter pecan ice cream and lick up every last drop.

You know you shouldn't…and yet, the craving is all-consuming! Your mind engages in a tug of war so strong you feel like your will power might just be yanked out from under you.
Posted 2/6/2014  6:00:00 AM By:   : 14,470 views
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8 Ingredients for the Perfect Super Bowl Party


Hosting the Super Bowl bash this year? Beyond wings, beer, and plenty of chips and dip, there are a few more things you'll need to ensure your game-day festivities don’t commit any party fouls. Keep reading for eight ingredients for the perfect Super Bowl party!
Posted 1/20/2014  12:00:00 AM By: Stepfanie Romine : 4 comments   9,119 views
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15 Surprisingly Healthy Restaurant Dishes


Just because you're trying to eat healthier this year, doesn't mean you can never go out to eat with your friends or family. Instead of getting frustrated and throwing caution to the wind, just do a little research ahead of time to identify menu options that fit in with your nutrition goals.
 
We've scoured popular restaurant menus to give you a head start with 15 healthy dishes that will fit into most eating plans. And don't worry, even if you do make a less-than-ideal choice at one meal, that doesn't mean you have to give up on healthy eating. Just go right back to your plan at the very next meal and don't waste time feeling guilty!
Posted 1/1/2014  6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 7 comments   9,386 views
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The 15 Worst Foods of the Year


Each year many people make food-related New Year's resolutions or goals. Figuring out how to make dining out fit in with those goals can be a big challenge. Over the years, we've highlighted many of the healthier options in our Diet Friendly Dining series. Last year we were encouraged by the increased number of nutrition conscious restaurant options that were available.

This year, we've seen all sorts of new foods hit the market. Some, like the recently invented Cronut, throw nutrition caution to the wind. Others, like Satisfries, are an attempt to create tasty lower-calorie favorites. We scoured restaurant menus to find the biggest nutrition disasters so you'll know what to avoid when eating out in the new year.  
Posted 12/27/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 31 comments   70,048 views
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Gear Up for the Perfect Tailgate


Once you've planned the perfect tailgate party, you'll want to stock up on gear to help you celebrate your favorite team and serve up delicious snacks in style.

We've rounded up 10 of our favorite products to make your party even more fun.

(We're showcasing Bengals gear here, since SparkPeople's hometown is Cincinnati, but all the team products listed are available for your favorite NFL teams.)
Posted 11/15/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Megan Patrick : 7 comments   3,940 views
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Festive Football Food Accessories


Whether you're having a get together to watch the big game, a Super Bowl bash or a party for your kid's football team, there are tons of great themed accessories available to help bring your appetizers to life.
Posted 11/13/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Megan Patrick : 6 comments   5,806 views
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16 Seasonal Supermarket Treats Worth Trying


Which flavors come to mind when you think about fall? Apple, caramel, cinnamon, ginger? Probably no flavor is more popular or ubiquitous right now than pumpkin. While Starbucks is celebrating 10 years since they first offered their famous Pumpkin Spice Latte, it seems like every food company and restaurant under the sun is offers limited edition pumpkin delights these days—everything from yogurt to granola bars to tea.

But just like the aforementioned sugary latte, many pumpkin-flavored treats are high in calories, fat and sugar (or all three). (Check out our list of fall's most fattening foods here.) In many cases, you'd be better off having a slice of pumpkin pie, than that "innocent" impulse item tempting you from the checkout line!

So which pumpkin treats are worth trying this fall? We scoured supermarket shelves to discover seasonal offerings that will let you indulge—without breaking the calorie bank.
Posted 11/1/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Megan Patrick : 25 comments   21,846 views
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What Did the Founding Fathers Eat?


The Fourth of July is a time for flags, fireworks, food and fun!  It’s also a time to remember that safe and convenient food has not always been readily available in our country.  Today, the average person spends about 50 minutes in the kitchen each day preparing meals—about five minutes for breakfast, 15 minutes for lunch and up to 30 minutes for dinner. In colonial America, cooks would slave away over the stove for hours.  Talk about your American Revolution!
 
However, some of our modern dining habits actually do bear similarities to those of our colonial ancestors.  Beef, chicken, pork, fish, fruits, vegetables and baked products would have been familiar foods in colonial times. Colonial cooks used some of the same cooking methods we still use today, like frying, baking, broiling and boiling.  And while the colonists enjoyed their coffee, tea, and hot chocolate like we do, they didn’t have a Starbucks in every neighborhood!
 
Not much else was the same.  While we may not know exactly what George Washington ate for dinner on July Fourth, we do know several things about the preparation of foods in 1776.  Here are a few highlights:
Posted 7/4/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Becky Hand : 49 comments   24,126 views
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How to Conquer Your Snack Attack


I’ll admit it up front: I am a snacker. In fact, I have a snack twice a day. My body screams for food around three p.m. every day, even though I make a point to eat breakfast and lunch. If I ignore the hunger, I end up grabbing and devouring handfuls of chips or cookies as soon as I get home around five p.m.  Therefore, I plan ahead and have a non-perishable snack stashed in my desk drawer at all times, usually homemade trail mix.
 
My second snack attack hits in the evening, and is not related to true belly hunger at all.  In the evening, I want to eat food for comfort.  You know what I’m talking about. At the end of a long day, all I seem to want is chocolate ice cream along with my favorite TV show, book or magazine. 
 
There is nothing inherently wrong with snacking. In fact, snacking can help with weight loss by warding off afternoon and evening binge eating.  However, the snack should be factored into your total calorie intake for the day, and should contain about 150 calories. A balanced snack should have about 15-30 grams of carbohydrates and three to five grams of protein.

Unfortunately, this type of healthy snacking is NOT happening in America, for children or adults.  While I know you are probably not really surprised by this statement, you may be surprised at the numbers. 
Posted 6/6/2013  12:00:00 PM By: Becky Hand : 141 comments   100,027 views
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10 Tips for Preventing Colorectal Cancer


Research has shown that at least 50% of all cases of colorectal cancer could be prevented by lifestyle, and one recent Harvard study found that risk could be reduced by as much as 70% to 75%! Here are 10 things you can do to minimize your risk for colon cancer: 
  1. Maintain a healthy body weight. Watch portion sizes and balance your food intake with activity to reach or maintain a healthy weight.
     
  2. Be physically active. Walking just 4 hours a week significantly reduces your risk, and being active will also help you achieve tip #1.
     
  3. Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk of many cancers not just colon and rectal cancer.
     
  4. Practice moderation when drinking alcohol. For women this means consuming no more than one drink per day, for men no more than two. All of the following equal one drink:
    • 12 oz. can or bottle of beer or wine cooler
    • 5 oz. glass of wine
    • 1½ oz. shot of hard liquor
Since your colon is part of your gastrointestinal tract, it makes sense that your diet would have a powerful impact on colorectal cancer risk. Here are the most important things to consider when eating for cancer prevention:
  1. Eat a plant-based diet that’s high in fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain powerful antioxidants and are the best source of important phytochemicals. Green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower are especially helpful as they may slow down or block the expression of cancer genes.
     
  2. Increase your intake of fiber. Whole grains, beans and legumes contain important vitamins and minerals, and are excellent sources of fiber. They help to soften your stools, prevent constipation and keep things moving through your GI tract.
     
  3. Eat less red meat and avoid processed meats.
     
  4. Don’t overcook your meat. It’s important to cook meats enough to prevent food-borne illnesses, but overcooking can cause cancer-causing compounds to form.
     
  5. Replace animal fats with nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. Olive and canola oil are great choices. Fish oils containing omega 3 fatty acids offer additional health benefits for your heart, brain and immune system.
     
  6. Be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D. Studies have shown that low levels of vitamin D in the body are associated with an increased risk of colon cancer. For the best advice on whether you need extra calcium or Vitamin D, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian. 
And here’s the best news! The same lifestyle choices that reduce your risk for colon cancer also lower your risk for other forms of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. In addition, they enhance the quality of your life by improving your overall physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
 
Since its inception, the Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation (Susie’s Cause) has followed a specific road map for success and firmly established itself as the National Voice for the prevention, early detection, and treatment of Colon Cancer. (Susie’s Cause) will continue to strive to eliminate colon cancer as a life-threatening disease through the development and dissemination of grass roots educational programs and a robust online campaign to touch both medical professionals and the general public worldwide. Please support our efforts to save tens of thousands of lives each year.
Posted 4/26/2013  6:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 6 comments   8,180 views
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5 Foods I Never Feed My Children


One of my biggest priorities as a mom is providing my kids with a healthy diet.  Sometimes I'm met with success (they love vegetables), but other times it's a little more difficult ("Eww!  What is this?!?"). I try to expose them to a wide variety of healthy foods, so that eating this way becomes a normal part of the rest of their lives.  My kids are 6, 4 and 1, and even though I control most of what they eat at this age, I still shake my head at some of the food that's served when I'm not around.  My kindergartner can't go to a Girl Scout meeting, sporting event or even morning snack at school without adults serving her junk food.  So when I'm given the opportunity to bring something, I see it as a chance to show kids that healthy food can taste good.
 
Sometimes I get flak from other parents (including my own) because I don't let my kids order whatever they want at a restaurant or limit the foods I bring into our home.  I don't think I'm denying my children the joys of childhood by not serving them many common "kid foods."  If substituting vegetables for French fries or telling them they can't have the corndog on the menu is the worst thing I do as a mom, I think I'm on the right track.   
 
At the same time, I realize that putting some foods off-limits often makes them the "forbidden fruit," and they can become the food my kids want most.  Just like adults, completely denying yourself the foods you enjoy makes you more likely to binge on them later.  I don't want my child to go crazy at a friend's house because their mom serves chocolate milk and I only serve plain.  My kids get treats and snacks they like, but there are certain foods they will just never get from me.  Recently, I read an article about the top foods nutrition experts won't feed their kids, which inspired me to write this blog.  Wondering what foods are on the "off limits" list for this personal trainer's kids?
Posted 2/25/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 114 comments   38,020 views
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Stuff We Love: Coach Nicole's Fit Summer Picks


The heat is on! But as much as we can complain about it, I am loving every minute of this summer. How about you? I've been enjoying just the right amount of busy-ness and relaxation, and I'm not letting the high temperatures get in the way of my fun—or my fitness.
 
Here are some of the fitness products, apparel, foods and otherwise healthy pursuits that I can't get enough of this season. Hopefully some of them will help YOU stay on track, too!
Posted 8/1/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 19 comments   10,165 views
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