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The supermarket aisles are flooded with health claims from "healthy, all-natural" frozen dinners to "cholesterol-lowering" granola bars. We're constantly getting conflicting messages on what to what to eat — from organic produce to free-range or grass-fed meat — and what to avoid — from trans fats to high fructose corn syrup. It's not surprising that most consumers are left wondering what to believe and what it all means.
When it comes to making your selection it can be simple. Leading nutritionist and author of What to Eat, Marion Nestle, Ph.D, MPH advises
"Never buy anything that has more than five ingredients, any ingredients you can't pronounce, anything artificial, with a health claim, or with a cartoon on the package."
The goal of this article is break down the information on the front of the packaging so you can make a more informed decision on the quality and content of the product you are purchasing. Words like organic and free-range may not be what you thought; can you trust these terms on labels or is it a marketing ploy? While certain labels are regulated, others are not. We have offered you a reliable list to follow when making your selections. The outcome: more conscious food choices that will benefit your body and the planet.
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Mexican dishes often combine both healthy and not-so-healthy ingredients. Although they include a lot of fresh produce (lettuce, tomatoes, and corn) and complex carbohydrates like beans and rice, the meals are also sometimes cooked in lard and topped with lots of melty cheese. Taco salads, for example, are usually chock-full of veggies, but they can also be piled high with cheese, meat, and deep-fried chips. And chicken fajitas are made up of mostly healthy lean protein and veggies, but are often stir-fried and wrapped in an empty calorie tortilla. For a healthier Cinco de Mayo feast, should you dig into a taco salad or a plate of chicken fajitas?
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A few old college friends and I were at a birthday party, sitting near the birthday cake and talking about our dieting struggles and how hard it is to lose weight. We spoke of how many failed attempts and programs we had under our belts. We decided it was terribly daunting and only a miracle could save us from our fate of being overweight the rest of our lives. We griped about how society, work, stress, so many things played into the weight loss equation. One of my friends' youngest children, who had been listening, came in and sat at the table, listening intently, and then said, ''Just don't eat the whole cake.'' So pure!
That is really the essence of it all. One slice has less calories than two. You can always track it in your plan. No more throwing out the ''day'' because of a treat. ''Just don't eat the whole ___.'' Split it with your friends, your husband, a take-home box. The truth is, our portions are just too big for most of our activities during the day. We don't burn off enough calories.
I'm not saying this lightly. Honestly, we can choose to be happy. If things get tough, we have to get tougher. At 460 pounds, I didn't have it in me to get tough, but I did have it in me to make baby steps. That was the toughness that I needed at that time. Through these very baby steps, I lost 200 pounds and gained the ability to walk again. Read More ›
For the record, let me just state that I am currently sitting in my kitchen, writing this blog, and watching the Simmental cows and calves graze on lush, green pasture land outside my deck window. Yes, many of those calves will end up as retail cuts of beef. Yes, I eat beef. Yes, I am a farm girl, and have been since my birth over 50 years ago. So I was somewhat concerned that red meat (beef, pork and lamb) has been recently cited as a major risk factor in increased death due to diseases such as heart disease and cancer. But before you throw up your hands in frustration and start shaking your finger at the food police, read on.
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Hello, dailySpark readers! This is Anne from the food and fitness blog, fANNEtastic food. I’m currently nearing the end of my graduate program (I’m getting a Masters of Public Health from UNC-Chapel Hill and will be a Registered Dietitian), and between that, blogging, and planning my wedding, I don’t have a whole lot of time left to cook. As a result, I’ve become an expert at quick, simple meals. In today’s post, I’ll share some of my favorite quick breakfasts, and I’ll be back for another guest post soon to share my favorite quick dinners!
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My family recently had a rare weekend free of commitments so we started looking for something in the Dallas area that would be fun for all of us. We came up with a solution that satisfied all four of us and I wanted to share this experience with you.
We agreed on a field trip of sorts to three different markets: the Dallas Farmers Market, Central Market and the Hong Kong Market.
The Dallas Farmers Market was for me, Central Market for my wife and Hong Kong Market for our daughters.
For some, a trip to the farmers market isn’t unusual, but for me, this was truly an adventure. I have always been a very picky eater and haven’t really eaten many fruits or veggies in my life. I am usually stopped by textures. I love most flavors, but I just can’t handle the textures of different foods. However, as I continue to free my mind and keep moving forward in my quest for a healthy life, I am working toward jumping this hurdle as well. I was very excited about this trip. Read More ›
Foods You Should Love
Portion control can be one of the most difficult aspects of maintaining a healthy diet. To help curb over-indulgence, here are 50 nutritious foods—and their correct portion size. From fruit to fish, these satisfying eats will help fill you up for just 100 calories or less.
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As my kids get older, I find myself focusing even more on meal planning. I want my kids to try a wide variety of foods. I don’t expect them to like everything I cook, but I want home cooked, healthy meals to be second-nature to them. Growing up, my mom was (and still is) a great cook. She was always trying new recipes, and now I’ve become just like her. My husband commented the other day that “you never know what we’re going to be having for dinner” because I’m constantly mixing things up. Granted, I’m just like my mom in that I don’t deviate from recipes. Someday I’d love to learn to really cook, where I can throw together a bunch of random ingredients in my refrigerator to create a delicious meal. But I’m not at that point yet. Read More ›
Have you ever seen some of the old Seinfeld episodes with The Soup Nazi? He has a small soup kitchen/diner on the show, and very strict rules about how you get your food. You must enter in a certain line, refrain from speaking, ask no questions, order correctly, slide over and pay, pick up your soup, and leave. If you fail at any of the steps, he grabs your order and yells ''No Soup For You!'' and you have to leave, hoping that sooner rather than later, you’ll be back in his good graces and allowed to enter the diner to try one more time to get your soup.
The longer I am able to maintain my weight loss, the more successful I am with exorcising the food police mentality from my life. I’m not quite sure when any of us learned the thought process that if we eat something that we deem ''unhealthy'', we should just give up for the remainder of the day. I know my parents didn’t teach me that. Can you picture how it would be if our parents had treated us the way we treat ourselves as grownups? It would have gone something like this:
Mom to Jane: ''I saw how much chocolate cake you ate at that birthday party! You should be ashamed of yourself! Since you messed up like that, you cannot have any healthy food for dinner. Here’s a bag of Cheetos and a quart of ice cream. In the morning, I’m going to rehash this again and make you feel guilty about it, and then feed you nachos for breakfast. Heck, now that I think about it, I don’t know how long I’ll hold this over your head. You better go get the fat jeans out of your closet!'' Read More ›
This is not a campaign to encourage you to stop eating junk food. A little bad is good—the keyword being little.
Here are some other tips to help you indulge without doing in your diet.
- Choose Wisely. Chocolate, candy, and other sweets contain empty calories that can translate into high amounts of fat, sugar, salt and not many vitamins or minerals. Instead of splurging on everything, opt for one of your favorites. You don’t have to eat everything you love in one day.
- Reasonable Portions. Be mindful of the serving size of your treat. Many junk foods come in mini, prepackaged portions. Aim for no more than 200 calories.
What are your rules for eating junk food? Read More ›
Oh, no! You just had 830 calories, not to mention 46 grams of fat and 2,110 mg of sodium!
To burn it off, you’ll have to:
SHOP for 5 hours and 8 minutes
BIKE for 3 hours and 5 minutes
COOK for 4 hours and 38 minutes
WALK for 2 hours and 48 minutes
DO JUMPING JACKS for 1 hour and 31 minutes
Next time, make it heathier:
Pick just one meat.
The over-the-top combo of pepperoni, ground beef and ham is why this pizza packs so many calories in just 6 inches. If you absolutely want meat, ham is the way to go to cut back on calories and sodium. You'll save 225 calories, 21 grams of fat and 850 mg of sodium.
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Over thirty years ago, advances in technology created the first test tube baby. Twenty years later continued advancements introduced the world to Dolly the first cloned mammal. A decade later, the FDA declared that genetically engineered foods were "not inherently dangerous" and would not require special regulations.
As controversial as these technological advancements may have been, they may be nothing compared to what scientists in the Netherlands are working to create in a test tube now.
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I do a lot of cooking, and I try to pick recipes that are healthy and I think my family will enjoy. Any time I make something that’s lower in sodium, I can tell right away. My first instinct is to grab the salt shaker because I like salt. But I’ve been trying to make a conscious effort to limit the salt I add to my food for a few reasons: I want to set a good example for my kids, and I know that I already get too much salt in my diet without adding more. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control says the majority of Americans consume too much salt in their diet. Read More ›
In January, charming little girls came to your door to ask if you would support them and purchase some cookies. Their poise and confident sales approach won you over. Your idea was to give the cookies away or hide them in the freezer when they arrived. Now that the cookies have been delivered, it isn't as easy as you thought it would be. On top of that, the energetic girls are at tables all over the city offering additional opportunities to purchase cookies to show your support. (Check out our slide show of the best and worst Girl Scout Cookies.)
Annual cookie sales provide Girl Scouts with a wonderful opportunity to learn sales and marketing skills. The better the girl's skills, the more cookies we typically purchase which can really derail our weight loss goals. Since no foods are off limits in a healthy lifestyle, mastering Girl Scout cookie portion control will be your key to successfully staying on track during this time of year.
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I am not a big fan of starvation. Feeling hungry all the time makes me miserable and likely to binge eat. After reading a book called "You on a Diet" by Dr. Oz and Dr. Rozien, I discovered how to control my appetite, or at least how to keep it from getting worse. It isn't a typical diet book and neither is "The Spark" by Chris Downie. Along with SparkPeople, both of these books changed my life. These tools are the crux of what works for me, personally. No single program fits everyone and your journey is personal and profound. Take the things you find helpful along the way and leave the rest.
For me, I find that quality over quantity of food works well to keep me full. I was brought up in the days of the diet plate. There was one rule- as long as it had protein and lettuce, it didn’t matter what you put on the lettuce. Hey, it worked, for an hour. Those were the days of salads and Volumetrics, no fat, no bread, no nothing… what was a girl to do? Finally, after reading a bit, I decided to change what I ate. No, I don't mean switching from regular potato chips to light potato chips. I mean switching from potato chips to potatoes. Read More ›