Simmering Hope

Hope is the expectation that something outside of ourselves, something or someone external, is going to come to our rescue and we will live happily ever after. – Dr. Robert Anthony

Archive for the ‘Diet and Nutrition’ Category

Dec 29, 2008

How to get a flat tummy in four days

By now I guess most of us have heard about the new super diet that will get you the figure you have dreamt about and lost hope to get after you pigged out during Christmas.
The book describing it it’s ‘The Flat Belly Diet’ by Liz Vaccariello. It’s a scientifically-proven programme that promises to help you lose up to 7lb and more than five inches in just four days.

What you have to do first of all is to drink your water. But not any kind of water, the author recommends the Sassy Water.

The recipes for the Sassy Water is:
2 litres water
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 medium cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium lemon, thinly sliced
12 mint leaves
Combine all ingredients in a large jug, chill in the refrigerator and let the flavours blend overnight.

The rest of the recommendations are pretty much a matter of common sense.
Avoid the following:
– salty foods
– fried foods
– bulk raw foods – that came as a surprise to me; the reason is that apparently raw food expand your gastro intestinal tract
– sugars, coffee, tea – another surprise; the reason is that tea irritates the gastro intestinal tract
– alcohol, chocolate, acidic fruit juices- because they irritate the GI tract causing swelling, hence you won’t have the flat tummy
– gassy foods: beans, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, peppers and citrus fruits.
– spicy foods
– decrease your intake of high-carbohydrate foods such as pasta, bananas and bread

What is allowed:
– four meals a day, small portions, total calories intake being 1200
– carrots, mushrooms, green beans, potatoes- boiled
– cucumbers, lemons, fruits: blueberries, strawberries, peaches, pears, dried prunes
– spices: ginger root and fresh mint
– balsamic vinegar
– dried unsalted herbs
– boneless, skinless chicken breast, turkey breast
– tuna in water, cod
– smoothies made with skim milk and any of the above mentioned fruits, plus flex seed oil or pumpkin seeds- are to be drank as a snack in mid afternoon


Jul 16, 2008

The truth about apple cider vinegar

You know all that emails you get that such and such things are really good/bad for you, right? One of the emails I got in the past was about the multiple health benefits of apple cider vinegar. Among them: treating migraines and weight loss, to mention only two that were really interesting from my point of view.
So, here I am, rushing to the store to buy the organic variety, the one with the ‘mother’ in it. Then diligently, for over a month, I drank in the morning a full glass of water with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of honey.
No result. No weigh loss and the migraines were still hitting me as often and as furious as before. And don’t give me the lecture that honey was the one not helping with the weight loss because it was supposed to be in the mix.
Oh, well… I have tried it. Now I am giving you the claim and the real story of the apple cider vinegar.
Yeah, I know, some people swear by it, some would give example their grandfather who used to drink half a litter a day (I am kidding!!) and lived until he was so old he had to be shoot to die (I am kidding again!!). The truth is that vinegar probably is harmless when consumed in small quantities and that the long list of benefits should be considerably shortened.

The Claim

Apple cider vinegar is an old folk remedy that allegedly could cure arthritis, guard against osteoporosis, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, prevent cancer, destroy infection, assist in digestion and weight control, maintain memory, and protect the mind from aging.

Here is the school of thoughts regarding the miraculous properties of apple cider vinegar:
– Abundance of nutrients
– Presence of trace minerals, bacteria and enzymes
– Presence of pectin, beta-carotene, potassium, amino acids
– Complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber

The Truth

There is no scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar has any medicinal properties.
A nutritional analysis of one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar reveals that the liquid contains less than a gram of carbohydrate, minuscule amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium. copper, manganese, and phosphorus; and a mere 15 mg of potassium. The fiber, vitamin, and amino acid content is zero.
As for the presence of any beneficial enzymes in apple cider vinegar, food scientists doubt that any could thrive in the acid environment of the vinegar and more probable they would be destroyed in the acid of the stomach when consumed and be of no use to the body.

May 23, 2008

My South Beach Diet Journey

This is my third day of the journey.
It started with the clear determination of losing weight. Being over 40 and a chocolate/sweets lover, would not make it easy to shed any extra pounds, but definitely qualifies me to gaining some. Actually this is exactly what happened. Slowly, slowly, the dreadful extra pounds were piling up. To the point of running out of cloths. Change the wardrobe, or lose weight? It’s a no brainer, right?

The question was: what diet should I try?
In the past I have tried the low calorie diets and it did not work well. Low-calorie diets intend to be short term because you have to restrict your total calories to as little as 500 per day (to a maximum of 1000).
Do you remember the horrible ‘cabbage soup diet’? Brrr.. Even pronouncing its name make my skin crawl and I dry heave. I tried the ‘juice fasts’: drink only fruit and vegetable juices for a few days.
Same bad result. After just one day I got dizzy, cranky, on the verge of blacking out most of the time.

My friends tried different diets and I have gained some perspective via their experience.
Two of them were on Atkins and lost lots of weight. But as soon as they resumed normal eating, and got out of Atkins diet, they gained everything back, plus extra pounds.
Although in the beginning I was tempted by Atkins after some reading I considered it too dangerous for my health- all those ketones building up into my system did not sound right.

Some people say that ketones build-up it’s just a myth launched by Atkins detractors but I don’t agree.
Why?
Because of the following facts:
– In order to provide the necessary energy for our body to function well, we have to use three main sources: glucose- coming mostly from carbs but it may come from proteins as well, fat – both from diet and from the body fat and ketones- which are derived from the metabolism of fats.
– Atkins allows eating fatty meats; so ketones derived from the metabolism of body fat, adds to the ketones derived from the metabolism of fatty food, resulting in the possibility of unhealthy ketones build-up. Our body can eliminate (via urine) only that much ketones and as smart as it seems to be regulating the level of ketones, sometimes it may be too much.

Another friend of mine started the Nutrisystem diet. Well, I guess it works for somebody who likes to eat prepackaged food, which is not my case. I try to avoid as much as possible processed food and rely on fresh one, something I can cook at home and have control over it. Plus, I like to cook something I enjoy eating, something that suits my own palate not be forced to eat whatever the company is eager to provide.
Let alone the monetary issue. I still find it hard to believe that it’s cheaper to buy prepackaged food vs. buying fresh from the store. As it stands right now, monthly cost can range from $250-$300 for food, not including additional groceries- you have to supplement the program with fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

After doing some research I decided to give it a try to the South Beach diet.
The first two weeks seem to be the most difficult ones, because I can’t have any fruits. Normally I don’t eat much fruits, and very often I have to force myself to do it. But now, I crave fruits because I know I can’t have them.
Except that, I feel great.

My first observations:
Pros
– After 3 days I lost more than a pound without feeling dizzy or cranky
– I don’t have to cook especially for me, which makes it so much easier
– I started eating much healthier because I have to balance my meals to get the nutrients without the addition of extra calories
– I found lots of interesting healthy recipes that I am going to try in the near future

Cons
– It takes time and discipline to prepare the food for the next day to take to work
– I have to cook more often than I used to do, as in ‘everyday’

All together so far so good. Seeing the scale going down it’s a big incentive. Feeling the cloths getting looser it’s even better.


Apr 1, 2008

Practical approach to losing weight

Over the past five years, but who’s counting?, I have tried a few diets, some of them more successful than others.
What seemed to work for a while was avoiding the wrong combination of foods. But it was a short term success.
To lose weight and keep it like that, you have to entirely change your life. Unfortunately, growing old it’s adding new elements into equation: metabolism slow down along with hormonal changes.
What was reasonably easy to do when you were young, it’s ten times more difficult to do it when you are 40-ish.

I realized that I have to take a logical and practical approach to develop a weight loss program that will work for me.

Step nr. 1: Calculate the calories intake based on your age, gender, frame
First of all, I wanted to find out how many calories I should eat every day, based on my physical frame and age.
I went to: http://mayoclinic.com/health/calorie-calculator/NU00598 and entered my data.
The result: I was supposed to eat 1200 per day.
I am pretty sure that I eat much more than that, so it’s no wander I keep piling up kilograms.
Let’s say that I do eat 1200 calories. That will help me shed some pounds, but after that I will reach the dreadful plateau.
What to do next?
Well, the next logical step is to change the energy balance.

Step nr. 2: Changing the energy balance

Energy balance is the difference between calorie intake (from food & drinks) and calories out – through our metabolism & energy expended during daily activities. In order to lose fat weight, our body needs to be in a negative energy balance.
But to do that, we have to add exercise in our daily routine. Why? Because just reducing the calories intake we are not going to lose much before the body will get into ‘starvation mode’ and start preserving the fat already stored, at the expense of losing muscle (the body needs proteins to function normally and this is the first available source if we don’t provide it via food).
Some people say that eating negative calorie fruits and vegetables may help you lose weight, other dismiss the ‘negative calorie’ theory as rubbish.
But if you believe in the negative theory approach, than add the following vegetables in your diet: asparagus, fennel, eggplant, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, celery, cucumber, cauliflower, peppers, radish, spinach, tomato, and turnip. With a proper protein added to the above vegetables, you can actually have a nutritious diet.
Because it’s healthy to eat fruits, what about adding the negative calorie ones?
Here is the list: apricot, mandarin orange, blackberry, cantaloupe, peaches, plums, raspberry, grapefruit, rhubarb, guava, strawberry, tangerine, lemon, watermelon.
Combining negative calorie foods with good protein sources not only helps control appetite but will help maintain the metabolism because total calories are not cut too much, plus the amino acid pool is maintained which limits the loss of muscle.

3. Develop a realistic meal and exercise plan
This is the most important step.
In order to lose 1 pound of fat a week, you have to create a calorie deficit of 3500 per week. That means 500 calories per day.
How are you going to do that?
The balanced way is to cut 250 calories from your food intake and burn another 250 through exercise.
If you eat an already balanced meal of 1200 calories (or whatever the calculator will indicate for you taking into account age, gender, frame), then you have to exercise extra to burn 500 calories.
From my experience: walking on treadmill, for 25 minutes, at 3.5 miles/hour and 4.5 steep, I burn 200 calories. Meaning that I have to increase the walking time or the difficulty level, to burn 250 calories.
I can throw in working on my Bowflex and playing ping-pong with my husband. If I manage to alternate these activities, along with eating properly, I believe I would be on the right track.
And sauna!
Just keep in mind that a healthy weight loss goal is to lose .5 to 2 pounds per week.
My goal is to lose at least 15 pounds until summer. Being in April, that leaves me with about 3 months of work and about 5 pounds per month.

In order to find out how much I eat, I must keep a journal, at least in the beginning.
And I have to reevaluate the meal size, or how big a serving really is.

4. Understanding the serving size

Let’s start by saying that a healthy eating approach should include daily:

Fats, Oils and Sweets – use sparingly.
Milk, Yogurt, Cheese – 2 to 3 servings.
Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans, Nuts, Eggs – 2 to 3 servings.
Vegetables – 3 to 5 servings.
Fruits – 2 to 3 servings.
Grains, Bread, Cereal, Rice, Pasta – 6 to 11 servings

If you are a middle aged woman- like I am- then target the lower end of the serving suggestion.

How big a serving is?
dairy group – 1 cup 2%, 1 cup yogurt, 1 1/2 oz of cheese
protein group – 2-3 oz. of meat, 1/2 cup cooked dry beans
vegetable group – 1/2 cup of cooked or raw cut up, 1 cup raw leafy
fruit group – medium sized piece of fruit or 1/2 cup cut up, 3/4 cup of juice
grain group — a serving is 1/2 cup of cooked pasta or rice, 1 slice of bread, 1 oz. dry cereal

Knowing how big the serving is, you have to take into account the calories and create your own regime.


Jan 28, 2008

A lip-gloss that could help you lose weight

Recently I came across a piece of news: a California based make-up company dubbed Too Faced created a lip gloss that allegedly helps you shed the extra pounds.
The wonder product named FUZE Slenderize Guilt Free Gloss is infused with healthy and delicious fruit flavors and most important, with appetite suppressant ingredients.
It is sold under the slogan “Always on the lips. Never on the hips” and it comes in three flavors and colors: Blueberry Raspberry- sheer purple, Strawberry Melon- sheer pink, and Dragon Fruit Lime- sheer peach.

What are the active ingredients that could help you lose weigh?
According to the company’s information, here they are:
-Chromium: A mineral said to improve the amount of energy you get from food and to boost metabolism.
-L-Carnitine: An amino acid that boosts energy.
-Super Citrimax: It’s a plant extract said to help to maintain a normal appetite and increase energy in healthy individuals and to support a healthy metabolism.

The same ingredients are found in Fuze energy drinks, which energize and slenderize.
It is said that Katie Holmes is one celebrity using Fuze energy drinks.

A spokesman for Too Faced said: “Application of this long-lasting, high-shine formula will actually help suppress one’s appetite for food without sacrificing delicious glamour.
“With a single swipe of the tube, Fuze Slenderize provides a pretty, plump pout with an added bonus of healthy, energy-boosting, appetite curbing ingredients.

Diet experts caution that there is no quick-fix when it comes to losing weight and there is only one way to lose weight in the long-term and that is a combination of sensible eating including avoiding bad fat, sugar and salt, exercise and a good night sleep.

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