Most of us already know that too much salt isn’t a good thing. Yet what’s surprising is that despite decades of warnings to reduce sodium intake, Americans continue to over-consume the flavorful staple in most households. A new Harvard study shows that our salt intake really hasn’t changed over the past 50 years, and it seems like that intake is hardwired and not easy to change no matter how many PSAs or dietitian visits we have.
As more processed foods hit our shelves and as obesity rates continue to soar, it almost seems as though sodium levels would have continued to increase, not necessarily stay the same. Yet, after multiple studies were reviewed, all occuring between 1957 and 2003, it appears that 3700 milligrams of sodium was consistently consumed over the years. Of course, other measures of our sodium intake don’t necessarily reflect the same pattern. In fact, the NHANES, or National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, does indeed show an increase in salt consumption. The biggest difference between these survey results and that observed in the Harvard study is that the NHANES relies on food records where as the Harvard study took a look at urinary sodium output which is supposedly more accurate.
Current guidelines for sodium intake are 2300 milligrams a day for healthy adults and 1500 milligrams a day for those at risk of high blood pressure. That’s quite a difference. And although this message has been touted for over twenty years, it appears that few are following it or that these recommendations are too stringent for the majority of Americans.
Elevated sodium intake isn’t just occurring in American populations though. In fact, the average sodium intake appears to be similar on an international level. This means that there may be more to this whole sodium intake thing than we think. It also begs the question- are our recommendations wrong?
Most everyone can agree that they want to eat healthy. Of course, there are exceptions to this but, in general, it can be assumed that eating healthy and feeling great are goals most people have for themselves. Yet, purchasing healthy foods isn’t always the cheapest. In fact, if you aren’t careful, you can end up spending a lot of money on health foods that either go bad before you get a chance to eat them, or later find that you don’t enjoy them at all and end up being unable to finish them.
Luckily, there are many ways to save a buck in the grocery store. In fact, money saving has almost become its own sport in America with couponing becoming more popular year after year. In fact, US consumers have redeemed 3.5 billion in coupons and saved approximately 4.6 billion in 2011 alone. This is a 12% increase since 2010; however, are these savings helping people eat their best or just save money?
Although couponing and eating healthy may seem like two totally separate topics, they actually work very well together. Of course, you have to know how to best use your coupons and be able to identify what foods are worth the savings.
So you’ve lost the weight and you’ve achieved your goal – so now what? You’ve probably spent so much time thinking about your goal that you may not have thought too much about what to do after it was met. And although it’s easy to slip back into old eating habits, it’s also easy to gain back all that weight you worked so hard to lose in the first place. To keep that from happening, you need to have a plan – a maintenance plan. But how do you know what plan is right for you?
It’s Sustainable for the Long Haul.
Any maintenance plan you decide to follow should be something you can do today, tomorrow, and every day after that. If it’s overly restrictive, requires you to eat weird foods or incorporate foods you don’t love, you probably won’t stick with it for very long. To avoid going back to a less nutritious way of eating, keep your maintenance plan balanced and realistic.
It Doesn’t Eliminate Major Food Groups.
If you discover a maintenance plan that asks you to eliminate an entire food group from your eating plan, don’t walk, run away! Any type of diet or meal plan that restricts or eliminates whole food groups is often unbalanced and can result in nutritional deficiencies if you aren’t careful. Your body simply needs a wide variety of foods to function at its best. A decent maintenance plan should allow for all foods to be incorporated in some shape or form.
If you want to lose weight this year, you may want to consider consulting with a physician who’s BMI is within normal limits. According to a national cross-sectional survey of over 500 primary care physicians in the United States, those who struggle to maintain a healthy weight themselves are much less inclined to help others fight the battle of the bulge.
In most cases, it’s not that they don’t want to. Instead, it’s more likely that they either lack the confidence in themselves or feel that because of their own weight struggles, they assume that most patients won’t take them that seriously. Normal weight physicians feel similarly about their overweight colleagues and feel as though they themselves are better role models for patients. Whether this is truly the case or not, it really doesn’t matter. And although not all physicians are well-equipped to deal with weight management issues, it’s not fair or appropriate to assume that a doctor knows less because their weight isn’t ideal. It’s also not appropriate to assume that physicians who are at a healthy weight are better equipped to counsel their patients on nutrition and exercise-related matters.
Red is a fabulous color. It’s bright, bold, and down-right stunning. It’s also the official color of the Heart Truth campaign, by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and its partners to raise awareness about women’s risk for heart disease.
The Red Dress is the centerpiece of the campaign and was created as a national symbol in 2002. Its presence is meant to remind women that they need to protect their heart health and inspires them to take action. This Friday, February 3, everyone is encouraged to wear red to raise awareness for women’s heart disease.
The campaign is specifically targeted toward women ages 40 to 60; however, all women can benefit from the small changes encouraged as part of the campaign. Since heart disease develops gradually, it’s really never too early to start promoting healthy heart initiatives.
Some of the major risk factors for developing heart disease are obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, a family history of heart disease, diabetes, and being over the age of 55. Although genetics can definitely play a role in susceptibility to these risk factors, changing lifestyle behaviors can also greatly impact an individuals likelihood of developing the condition.
Although eating a well-balanced diet, staying physically active, and keeping weight in check all seem like simple notions that most people know, it’s often hard to put those general principles into practice. This is probably true because it’s difficult to envision these large scale ideas as small individual actions we make on a daily basis. These small behaviors eventually add up and result in preventative steps toward heart disease prevention.
Everybody wants to lose weight fast. Yet, all the diets that claim you can lose 10 pounds in 10 days or drop an entire dress size in hours rarely live up to their claims, and if they do, it’s probably not worth the risks.
Although fast weight loss is improbable, it’s still the goal of many. And thanks to shows like Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss edition, losing weight rapidly not only seems achievable but almost expected.
This excitement, however, comes at a price. With contestants now speaking up about some of the incentives and processes used to keep ratings and weight loss high, it only drives home the true realities of overly fast weight loss.
In a recent interview with James Garrison, the self-proclaimed whistle-blower and former contestant of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss edition, Garrison claims that what you see on air isn’t always the reality. From diet pills to forced dehydration, Garrison paints a unpretty picture of extreme weight loss that most Americans don’t see on screen. However, it happens, and while it attributes to huge amounts of weight loss each week, it may be doing more harm than good. (more…)
Weight loss is a touchy subject. It’s not exactly something you want to bring up in the company of, say, a friend who could stand to lose a little weight- especially if that conversation is directly geared at them. Although you may have good intentions, it’s not always easy to show concern for your friend’s weight without insulting them, but it is one worth having if you do so in a sensitive, non-judgmental way.
In fact, discussing the critical health risks that could be avoided by losing weight can be a very thoughtful thing to do, especially if you offer to change your way of eating, too. After all, there is always room for improvement in any meal plan you might follow.
Because of the difficulty of conversations like this, people may opt to avoid the topic all together. However, according to a recent UK poll, most individuals attempt the conversation anyway, the likelihood of which was related to the type of relationship. The UK poll results showed that men were more likely than women to talk about weight with their friends while women were more likely to talk about it with their spouses. People were also more likely to talk about the subject as their age increased.
Although it’s not the most pleasant conversation to have, it could possibly be the best gift you could give a friend. By encouraging small, achievable lifestyle changes and joining them in the process, you could find yourself at the beginnings of an even stronger and more meaningful friendship.
If your goal this new year is to give up soda or sugary drinks, you may be interested in switching to tea. From green tea to black, tea is a great beverage option to consider when plain old water just won’t cut it.
Tea has been around for thousands of years and has been associated with various health benefits for just as long. Depending on what tea you choose, some scientists believe that drinking this type of beverage can result in weight loss, stroke prevention, improved memory, reduction in cancer risk, improved cardiovascular health, better blood glucose control, osteoporosis prevention, less tooth decay, improved immune function, and decreased risk of certain neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Not all teas are created equally though and it’s important to know which teas are the most beneficial. Additionally, some of the health claims associated with tea still remain to be proven. As continued research develops, hopefully the exact benefits of all tea can be clearly identified. In the meantime, lets go with what we’ve got. Even if some of the health claims fall short as research progresses, most teas are low in calories, are hydrating, and are rich in antioxidants. This makes them a wonderful replacement for higher calorie beverages consumed throughout the day.
The beginning of January is often considered the season of weight loss due to the many individuals who choose to embark on this type of mission as soon as the new year begins. In fact, fighting the battle of the bulge is one of the most common new year’s resolutions set year after year. And although it sounds like a good idea at the time, very few people actually follow through with this sort of resolution. In fact, a third of individuals will give up on their lofty weight loss dreams by the end of the first month.
This year, instead of focusing on becoming thin, why not focus on improving your health and shrinking your waist instead. Although it may seem weird to focus on the size of your waist this year, it’s often considered a better indicator of health and it’s quite common for individuals to achieve an appropriate waist size before they notice numbers changing on the scale.
The fat that collects around your middle can often lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes if too much is present. Although you can’t specifically target this area of your body and only lose weight here, individuals often see their abdominal fat stores shrink by 10-30% when they lose as little as 5-10% of their overall body weight. This means that your waist measurements may fall into a healthy range even before you hit your desired weight. (more…)
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could ditch the food rules, eat what you want, and still achieve a healthy weight? Well, it may be possible. That is, if you follow the 80/20 principle.
The 80/20 principle is a guideline that encourages individuals to eat healthy 80% of the time while leaving 20% leeway for those less healthy choices. This allows you to incorporate all the foods you love into an eating plan, even the worst of them, (Twinkies, anyone?) without feeling guilty. Although this sounds too good to be true, many nutrition experts have found that this concept has helped many individuals fight the battle of the bulge over time, yet knowing a little nutrition know-how and keeping yourself accountable is pretty much essential if you want this concept to guide you towards better health.
First, you have to realize that this principle is a general guideline and not a precise equation that should be used at every meal. Instead, it suggests that if an individual gives their best and eats as nutritionally as they can, successfully sticking to this plan 80% or more of the time will result in success. Or in other words, you don’t have to be a perfect eater to successfully reach your healthy living goals.
And that’s a good thing according to nutrition expert and author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips, Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN. Zied who says that “by giving people permission to indulge in small amounts of nutrient-poor but delicious foods like candy or cookies, they may feel less deprived and perhaps it will motivate them to try to include more healthful foods in their diet.”