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Carbs, Schmarbs, What’s a Person to DO??

Understanding carbohydrates and glycemic index can seem like a boring journey in to science and nutrition that few of us have time to take. However, a basic understanding of how our bodies process and metabolize these macronutrients can make a huge difference in our understanding and motivation of nutritional choices.

It is not enough to just “Avoid Carbs”. What are the different types of carbs and how do they affect the body?

Photo from here, labeled for reuse.

Photo from here, labeled for reuse.

Simple Carbohydrates are classified as simple sugars whose chemical structure has only one or two sugars. Examples of these are processed table sugar, products with white flour, honey, milk, yogurt, candy, chocolate, fruit, fruit juice, cake, jam, biscuits, molasses, soda and packaged cereals. Some of these foods such as fruit may still be good for you for the fiber and other nutrients they contain.

Complex Carbohydrates are those with a chemical structure made up of three or more sugars. These types of sugars are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. They take longer to digest and don’t elevate blood sugar levels as quickly as simple carbs do; thereby leaving you satisfied longer and less likely to overeat.

Photo from here, labeled for reuse.

Photo from here, labeled for reuse.

Diets with complex carbs over simple carbs are less likely to experience blood sugar surge and crashes which contribute to cell damage. This article is filled with nutritional-speak, but I urge you to read through it and glean what you can about the subject.

Typically, complex carbs are found in whole grain breads & cereals, vegetables, and many legumes.  Nutritional values in complex carbs tend to be much higher than those in simple carbs.

What is Glycemic Index and how does it affect your health as you make certain food and nutritional choices in your lifestyle of good fitness? This article on the American Diabetes Association site does a good job of explaining the Glycemic Index and provides short lists of examples of foods that have high, medium and low GI ratings (under 55).

Source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In a nutshell the GI ranks carbohydrates in relationship to the immediate effect they have on blood sugar levels. Don’t assume this information is only important to those with diabetes. When carbs have a high GI (over 70 on the GI scale) and convert to sugar in your blood stream quickly, they are metabolized fast and leave you hungrier more quickly than low glycemic foods. Even for people with no issues with diabetes, this cycle plays a significant role in healthy eating and weight management.

Simply counting carbs without an understanding of “good” versus “bad” carbs can leave holes in your nutritional plan. Learn to choose low GI foods for more success in your fit lifestyle.

Eating Healthy: It isn’t as time consuming & costly as you think!

Did you know that February is American Heart Month? As a member of the over-fifty crowd (and yes, now the over-seventy crowd), keeping my heart healthy is extremely important. Towards this, I like to stay pretty physically active…my back swing can always use some extra work. What I haven’t written a lot on, however, is the eating component in this “trying-to-be-healthy” equation.

In the discussions I have had with all kinds of people in many different phases of life, some of the biggest reasons (or, “excuses” as I like to call them) for not focusing on a body-friendly diet are that it takes too much time (“I’m too busy!”) and it’s more expensive than unhealthy alternatives.

Photo from here, labeled for commercial reuse.

Photo from here, labeled for commercial reuse.

I’d like to start by addressing these two points a bit directly:

1. If you’re really too busy to keep your body (the only one you have) healthy, you need to reevaluate what’s taking up your time.

2. If you think healthy food is too expensive, consider the cost of the healthcare that not taking care of your body NOW can precipitate.

The truth of the matter, however, is that both of these complaints are untrue. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be time consuming, nor does it have to be more expensive.

Think about it: You can throw something frozen in the freezer for five minutes—or you can take that same five minutes and make a decent salad. OR—you can cook in advance & freeze healthier options to have a hot & healthy dinner when you’re crunched for time. There are countless ways, many even quicker than junk consumed daily, to fill your diet with nutrients—and honestly, with fruits, veggies & clean proteins, you can usually eat MORE while keeping your caloric, trans fats, and sodium intake MUCH lower than the instant-gratification quick-hunger-fixes.

As for cost—I’d like to challenge you: Take your grocery/food budget for two weeks and only buy good-for-you options. Focus on fresh, natural & richly colored foods, as they tend to pack the most nutritional power. When you go out for dinner, rather than ordering an oversized burger—opt for a healthy serving of veggies with some clean fat and protein like avocado and chicken. If you really stick to the challenge (and eat what you buy), you’ll find that your budget spreads a bit further, you feel better—and if you keep it up, you’ll also break those addictions to foods that are causing health problems.

Who’s up for the two week challenge? Who wants to join me in eating for a healthy heart? Share a photo of your healthy grocery cart or basket on our Facebook page! I’m excited to see what healthy goods you’re eating!

12 Top Foods for your Daily Diet

Swapping out processed foods for healthy, nutritious food can be a challenge. Making the change takes dedication, motivation & time. Don’t give up, though! You can RETRAIN yourself to crave foods that nourish your body and give you real energy—often you can even eat larger portions because they’re lower in calories. (Check this out to SEE what 200 calories looks like.)

And remember, the food pyramid isn’t necessarily the best thing to follow for a healthy diet (Click here for our explanation). Here are 12 top foods to add to your daily diet for better health:

Screen Shot 2014-01-17 at 4.47.18 PMALMONDS are full of monounsaturated fatty acids & plant fibers that help control & lower cholesterol levels & maintain blood vessel help. They’re also good for brain development, bones, the immune system and an anti-inflammatory for your skin.

APPLES are high in fiber, good for respiratory issues, and are also an anti-inflammatory. They’re a great source of pectin, which lowers cholesterol. (And they keep the doctor away.)

BLACK BEANS are another high-fiber choice. They help regulate the digestive tract, which in turn helps regulate blood sugar. They’re great for your heart, are full of flavanoids & antioxidants, which help fight cancer, and have vitamin B6 & folate which helps the nervous system!

BLUEBERRIES are chalked-full of antioxidants, which help your body get rid of free radicals. They can help prevent cancer, heart diseases & help bolster your immune system!

BROCCOLI is loaded with vitamin C and beta-carotene. It is low in calories, and high in nutrients, so you can eat large portions of broccoli to feel fuller while not over-indulging! It’s also full of vitamin K, which helps blood clot properly.  Read more