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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   11,133 views
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Study: The Hungrier You Are, the More Certain Foods Appeal to You


One thing I don’t have patience for is being hungry.   I’ve never been one of those people who can go all day without remembering to eat.  My body is like an alarm clock, and when the buzzer goes off that it’s time to eat, it just keeps getting louder until I do something about it.  When I get really hungry, the first thing I grab for is usually a granola bar or something else that’s high in carbohydrates.  I always figured that’s because it’s quick and easy, but new research shows that my growling stomach could be causing me to gravitate toward these types of foods.
Posted 7/17/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 34 comments   12,214 views
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Does 'Disney-Approved' Mean It's a Healthy Food?


Disney began focusing on providing healthier kids' meals at their Parks and Resorts beginning back in 2006. Now kids' meals routinely include low-fat milk and carrots unless parents opt out. Disney internal statistics reveal that parents will stick with these healthier side options six out of ten times instead of requesting substitutions. With more than 12 million kids' meals served annually in Disney Parks and Resorts in the U.S. alone, the changes are making a difference in how children are eating. In September of 2010, The Walt Disney Company launched Disney Magic of Healthy Living, a national multimedia initiative to help families raise healthy, happy kids.
 
Last month the Walt Disney Company took another step forward in their brand commitment to healthy eating by introducing new food advertising standards. Under Disney's new standards, after 2015 all food and beverage products seeking advertisement, sponsorship, or promotion on any Disney-owned television channels (including Saturday morning programming on Disney owned ABC), radio stations, or Web sites will need to comply with the company's new nutrition criteria for programming targeting children under the age of 12.

 
By the end of 2012, consumers will also begin seeing the new Mickey Check symbol on Disney-licensed food products. Disney anticipates this tool will help consumers easily identify nutritious choices in stores, online and while visiting Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Disney also updated their nutrition guidelines to reflect current federal standards and recommendations. The new criteria include not only specifics related to calories but also to reducing saturated fat, sodium, and sugar.

Let's take a closer look at the details of the Disney Nutrition Guideline Criteria to see how they stack up nutritionally.
Posted 7/16/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 17 comments   7,883 views
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SparkPeople's Mix and Match Meal Planner: Meal Planning Made Easy!


Are there times that you feel like you're stuck in a rut with your current meal plan or that you just don't know what to make for certain meals? If so, then the Mix and Match Meal Planner may be just what you are looking for!

The Mix and Match Meal Planner is a tool that is very easy to use and can help you plan out healthy meals that meet your nutrition goals. Planning out your meals ahead of time can help you stay on track a lot easier than if you wait last minute to decide what you might eat. If you are anything like me and you don't like to cook and/or would like to find some quick and simple meals, then the Mix and Match Meal Planner may be just the thing to help you get on track (and stay on track) with eating healthier meals overall. This interactive feature allows you to choose the food items that you like, but it will also make sure you pick the right items to make it a complete meal that is healthy and tasty.

With all the different options available in the Mix and Match Meal Planner, there are numerous meals that you can create to give your meals quite the variety. You can not only save time with your meal planning, but you can also say goodbye to boring meals!

Posted 5/24/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Denise Tausig : 18 comments   10,059 views
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Food Showdown: Cinco de Mayo Madness


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?
Posted 5/5/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 24 comments   21,988 views
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Does Red Meat Really Cause Cancer?


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.
Posted 4/26/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Becky Hand : 34 comments   13,286 views
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Fast, Fit and Fabulous Breakfast Ideas


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!
Posted 4/16/2012  2:00:00 PM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 13 comments   97,866 views
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A Healthy Family Field Trip


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.
Posted 4/9/2012  10:00:00 PM By: Jerome Merlau : 21 comments   5,599 views
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Does Healthy Cooking have to be Complicated?


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.
Posted 3/16/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 21 comments   7,121 views
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The Food Police Rules and Regulations


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!''
Posted 3/15/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Michelene Cleary : 62 comments   14,141 views
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The Rules for Eating Junk Food


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.





 

  1. 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.
     
  2. 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.
Get the rest of these junk food navigation tips from FitStudio.

What are your rules for eating junk food?
Posted 3/13/2012  6:00:00 PM By:   : 22 comments   15,287 views
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Would You Try Meat Grown in a Lab?



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.

Posted 3/5/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 51 comments   6,576 views
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Keeping Sodium Levels Low Isnít So Easy


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.
Posted 3/2/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Jen Mueller : 56 comments   11,713 views
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How the (Girl Scout) Cookies Crumble


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.
Posted 3/1/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 78 comments   14,035 views
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Quality Food For Weight Loss



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. 
Posted 2/24/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Beth Donovan : 45 comments   26,541 views
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