Food for thought about how to live healthy!

Archive for the ‘Diet’ Category

Tips for helping your New Year’s hangover

About two years ago, I did a post about why hangovers happen and what can be done to “cure” them. Basic idea from that post: there is no real cure for a hangover.

Hangovers are the result of a night of heavy drinking. The medical term for a hangover is acute ethanol withdrawal. When you wake up in the morning, all the alcohol has already been flushed out of your system by now, assuming the last time you had a drink was over 4 hours ago. People say that binge eating cheeseburgers and fries or taking a hot shower are all cures for a hangover. While there is no one-step solution to getting rid of a hangover, there are lots of methods to help you feel better.

Drink lots of water. Lots and lots: Most of the symptoms from hangovers can be attributed to one problem: dehydration. The alcohol not only zaps all the water from your system but prevents your brain from releasing chemicals reminding you that you’re thirsty for water! The headache you get from a hangover is caused by your brain literally shrinking because it is dehydrated. It would be wise to drink as much water as you can. Try to aim for 32 oz an hour for 4 hours, then if you’re starting to feel better you can bump it down to 16 oz an hour.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol:  Caffeine makes you dehydrated, which you already are beyond your belief. And if you do drink coffee with a hangover, the caffeine will rush to your head and make your headache feel worse because now all your neurons are firing off and are more sensitive. And although a beer might make you feel better for maybe an hour, your headache will come back with a vengeance and you’ll be curled up on your bed swearing you’ll never drink again.

Eat asparagus and bananas, but don’t binge eat: The amino acids in asparagus help protect the liver from the toxicity of ethanol. Asparagus also makes you pee more which will help rid your body of toxins more quickly. Bananas are also good for replacing the salt and potassium that you’ve lost. Crackers, toast, really any bread product can help bring your blood sugar up and give you some carbs.

Do yoga and drink Gatorade: It’s true that working your body will help eliminate the toxins faster, but doing a full on workout will dehydrate your body, which you know by now is the last thing you want. Yoga is a great way to stimulate the body and get yourself moving without having to lose more water. Drinking Gatorade or any other sports drink will also help since the fructose in the drinks metabolize the alcohol more quickly.

Take a Advil, then nap: Chances are you didn’t get your 8 hours sleep last night, with all that tossing and turning and waking up to either pee or wolf down water. Take one Advil, not two or three, ONE Advil and then try to sleep. The combination of painkiller + sleep will help calm your brain and could help relieve that headache. The reason I say to take one Advil is because your liver is already exhausted after converting all that alcohol. Excess acetaminophen is actually dangerous, and could lead to some unpleasant stomach pains.

There are also other things you can do while you’re out drinking to minimize the effects of your hangover the next day. Alternate drinks with one glass of water. Don’t smoke cigarettes, they’ll just send more chemicals into your body that your organs will have to process and they’ll hate you for it. Mix drinks will a little more soda than rum. Shaving off ounces of liquor from your drinks can spare you some pain. And although this is weird, if you’re really concerned about a hangover only drink clear or light-colored liquor. Darker liquors are more potent and thus can pack more a punch when it comes to hangovers.


Red Meat: America’s Worst Enemy

It’s unfortunate the foundation of a classic American diet is based on red meat. Hamburgers, hot dogs, beef, steak: all of these are difficult to pass up when living in America. But now it’s no wonder the U.S. has the highest rate of obesity and heart disease in the world. With a diet revolving around red meat, it’s inevitable.

A new study released earlier last week shows all red meat is bad for you. That’s right, ALL red meat. Although red meat has some good qualities, it is not the sort of food to put at the center of your diet.

Red meat is very high in two types of chemicals called myoglobin and haemoglobin. These two chemicals can be difficult to convert and digest which can damages your intestinal tract and lead to cancer. Red meat intake has been correlated with several forms of cancers included intestinal, colorectal, esophageal, lung, bladder, and pancreatic cancer. But that’s not the main reason red meat is bad for you.

Red meat also has a high percent of saturated fat and trans fat. The saturated fat and trans fat clings to our bodies because of its chemical form. A study done between vegetarians and non-vegetarians showed that vegetarians had 30% lower BMIs. Obesity then leads to other problems such as diabetes, acute coronary syndrome (stroke), and heart disease.

Why is red meat so high in fat? Well what is meat exactly? Meat is the flesh taken from animals that is then eaten by us. Usually, meat is the skeletal muscle taken off the legs and abdomen. Take a look at your own legs and abdomen. Sure, you have muscles there. But what surrounds your muscles? Fat. Animals are exactly the same way. And with the high-paced way red meat is processed and packaged these days, I don’t think ranchers are too concerned about the content of fat in their meat.

The key to red meat, like any other type of food that’s bad for you, is moderation. The FDA recommends  eating no more than 300 grams (11 oz) of lean red meat every week. Lean red meat has less fat and cooked more healthy than other meats.

Another way to make red meat healthier is to try cooking it in different ways. By slow cooking red meat, you can allow the proteins in meat to convert more easier and that way the meat doesn’t lose all its nutrients and doesn’t gain a ton of fat.

Of course, it would be wise to quit red meat entirely. White meat has the same kind of nutrients without all the fat, so it’s a good substitute. Certain nuts and fish are also high in iron and protein and can replace those nutrients lost by cutting red meat out of a diet. There are iron supplements you can take as well, but those aren’t as healthy, wholesome, and natural as getting your nutrients from food itself.

And honestly, who knows what chemicals are used to process red meats these days anyways?

What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Coke

I found this post when I was browsing Tumblr this afternoon. Amazing how much one can of soda pop can impact the human body. And some people drink 3-4 cans of soda a DAY. And if this is only what a soda does, imagine what kind of effects alcohol and energy drinks have on the body.



  • In The First 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor allowing you to keep it down.
  • 20 minutes: Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. (There’s plenty of that at this particular moment)
  • 40 minutes: Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, as a response your livers dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked preventing drowsiness.
  • 45 minutes: Your body ups your dopamine production stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.
  • >60 minutes: The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners also increasing the urinary excretion of calcium.
  • >60 Minutes: The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play. (It makes you have to pee.) It is now assured that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolyte and water.
  • >60 minutes: As the rave inside of you dies down you’ll start to have a sugar crash. You may become irritable and/or sluggish. You’ve also now, literally, pissed away all the water that was in the Coke. But not before infusing it with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like even having the ability to hydrate your system or build strong bones and teeth.

The Side Effects of the Holiday Season

It is November 1st. While many men may partake in the American tradition of “No Shave November,” several people are unaware of what they won’t be shaving come Thanksgiving: weight.

Thanksgiving marks the unofficial start of the holiday season, which seems fitting. People eat a giant meal to prepare themselves for the hordes of cookies, turkey, potatoes, and other fattening delights they’ll be eating for the next 6 weeks.

Various studies report that the average person gains 1.1 lbs over the holiday season. About 80% of people fail to drop that pound. Meaning all those Christmas pounds will continue to add up over the years into adulthood. So a 35-year-old will weight about 20 pounds more as a 55-year-old due to Christmas alone.

One of the main reasons people gain weight is because there is so much food available. Christmas is the second most important reason people share food in the workplace (birthdays are first). Sharing food, however, can lead to its own problems. If people fail to follow food safety procedures (which happens more frequently than not), that food can become breeding grounds for bacteria and other nasty germs. The American Dietetic Association recommends that perishable food such as pizza, dips, salads, and pastries not sit out for more than 2 hours.

Weight and food are not the only perpetrators of bad health during the holiday season. A survey done in 2005 showed that Christmas shopping led to a 25% increase in headaches in adults. Christmas season also led to an 11% increase in insomnia.

One of the most dangerous effects the holidays can have on well-being is the lack of healthcare provided during this season. Holiday seasons create delays among healthcare because offices are closed or had shorter hours. This is particularly dangerous for people who suffer from cardiac incidents, such as an embolism or a heart attack, because it is more difficult to find treatment since there are limited facilities for high numbers of people.

So what can you do to avoid being hit by all the negative health effects of Christmas? It’s actually quite simple:

  1. The hardest part of not trying to gain weight is resisting the temptation to eat fattening foods. So try eliminating the temptation. Bake a dozen cookies every other week instead of every other week, or substitute Christmas cake for strawberry gelatin.
  2. Don’t bring food into the workplace, and encourage other people to do the same. It’s nice to celebrate Christmas with coworkers, but do you each all really need to bring in a platter of goods to serve 20 people? Organize a group lunch at a restaurant instead.
  3. Organize your shopping. People get frustrated while shopping because they don’t know what they’re looking for or where they could possibly find it. Make a list of everything you want to buy and where to buy it before you hit the mall. If you prioritize your shopping expenses, you can save yourself time, energy, and Advil.
  4. Get all your busy work done early in the day so it’s easier to wind down at night. People suffer from insomnia because the stretch out their day buying stuff, making food, wrapping presents, ect. then they have too much on their mind when they go to bed. Take time at the end of the day to relax and unwind so you’ll be more tired when you go to bed.
  5. Have a plan in case you or a family member has a medical emergency. Know what hospital you’re going to and what you need to do in case anything happens.
  6. Smile and stay positive! Christmas a festive season and a time to look back on all the blessings you have. Unless you’re homeless, naked, and starving, there is something to be thankful for.

If you’re worried about gaining weight this season, the best thing you can do is try to lose weight before Thanksgiving as I am doing. I’m trying to limit myself to 1500 calories a day until Thanksgiving. I have basically gained all the weight I lost over the summer and I’m not happy about it. But when it comes to losing weight and eating right, it’s all about dedication!

Saturday Seedling: Candy Health on Halloween

Thinking about stealing some of your kids’ candy this Halloween? Calories from that candy can add up fast.

Halloween is typically the starting point of the typical Holiday Season Weight Gain. You can help moderate yours or your kids' weight by cutting down on the number of houses visited or donating half of your Halloween candy to underprivileged kids.

Here’s a list of portions per piece of candy that fall around 100 calories:

  • 4.5 Hershey’s Kisses
  • 4 Tootsie Rolls
  • 29 M&Ms
  • 23 Skittles
  • 9 Whoppers
  • 8 Dots
  • 15 Candy Corns
  • 5 Starbursts

Seems like the only healthy thing about Halloween is the amount of walking kids and their parents do while Trick-or-Treating. The average child ages 8-12 walks about 2 miles on Halloween, which can be great exercise for parents too. However, Halloween can be a very dangerous day when it comes to hit-and-runs and other pedestrian accidents. Children under 14 are twice as likely to be hit by cars on Halloween than any under night.

If your child is 12 or under, walk around with them to keep them safe. Remind them to check for cars before crossing the street and sort through your child’s candy for any food that might have been tampered with in some way. Look for broken and resealed wrappers, or be cautious of unknown or unfamiliar candy.

If you’re looking for healthy candy to give to kids, I have a couple personal recommendations. 3 Musketeers are good because they contain 30% less fat than original milk chocolate. Dark chocolate Hershey Kisses or Bars are also a healthy alternative for regular milk chocolate candy. Stay away from gummies, sour candies, or any other treat that contains artificial coloring and sugars.

And remember, it’s trick-OR-treat. So if you really want to make your night fun, playing a couple fun pranks on unsuspecting teens is a welcomed part of Halloween too.

*Note: Saturday Seedlings are a new segment I’m starting. They’re shorter than average posts but still contain helpful information on health and wellness.

Beating Your Afternoon Snack Cravings

It’s 2 p.m. The day is dragging on and you need something to help you pull through. Do you walk to the nearest vending machine or into the closest gas station? All those $1 sugary snacks can be fought off with a couple helpful tips and a little determination.

The average adult human uses 2000 calories day. We eat these calories during our three main meals of the day. People begin to gain weight when they convince themselves they need a small snack or an extra meal to carry them through the day. Those bags of chips and packs of Ding Dongs are partly responsible for the obesity epidemic that continues to plague the U.S.

If you’re looking to curb your vending machine addiction or are looking to shed a couple pounds in general, there are lots of great tips available:

  • If you eat a healthy breakfast, there is more motivation to eat healthy for the rest of day. If you’re craving a cheeseburger for lunch or a Snickers from the break room, tell yourself, “I had a healthy breakfast today. I can’t spoil it.”
  • Drink 12-18 ounces of water 20 minutes before your next meal, or when you start to feel hungry. The water will fill your stomach and will take the edge off hunger for at least the next half hour. You can keep drinking little sips to help.
  • Leave the loose change and one dollar bills in a savings jar at home. Living healthy can also save money. If you buy a $1 snack every day and you work 5 days a week, cutting back on snacks for a month will let you spend $20 on something much more rewarding than a candy bar.
  • Dieting is almost all psychological. If you tell yourself you can do it, then you can. Remind yourself how much more you’ll enjoy dinner if you don’t eat an afternoon snack.

There are also printable motivational sheets you can take with you and give to your friends. When dieting, there’s strength in numbers! Here’s a fun tip sheet on what you can do to avoid vending machines:

picture via

Fat Burning 201: Basics of Dieting

Nobody is good at losing weight. Some people gain weight easier than others, but when it comes to shedding pounds everyone struggles. And when it comes to putting on fat, some of us are born luckier than others. Literally.

Everyone’s body is genetically predestined to produce a certain number of fat cells by adulthood, regardless of diet and exercise. What fluctuates is the size of our fat cells. By the time adulthood is reached, you’ve pretty much made all the fat cells you’re ever going to have.

When energy intake is greater than energy output, that extra energy is stored in your existing fat cells making them bigger. Fat cells only increase in number during adulthood at two times: pregnancy, or time of extreme weight gain. When people begin to become obese, that’s the only time new fat cells are made.

That is to say obesity is NOT genetic. A human adult is typically genetically coded to make 75 billion fat cells, the only exception being those born with physical handicaps such as dwarfism. The number of fat cells you possess influences how easy it is to gain weight. There are some certain genetic factors that can influence obesity, but no one is predestined to be obese.

The key to burning fat is balance in both diet and exercise. Here are some helpful tips:

1) Eat at least 1 low-calorie meal out of your other regular meals. If you fall short 250 calories of your basic 2000 calorie diet every day for one week, that alone is enough to help shed half a pound. Replace a morning  omelet with fresh yogurt or try whole wheat pasta instead of white. Cut back 250 calories a day, then after a couple weeks try cutting back to 500 calories until you reach a healthy weight.

2) Stay away from foods with saturated fat. These are fats that are usually included in animal products, particularly dairy (milk, butter, ice cream, ect). However, don’t completely cut fat out of your diet. Your body needs unsaturated fat to process essential vitamins such as Vitamins D, E, and K. Try to stay within 20-30% of calories from fat.

3) Count your calories and keep track of your weight loss. The average adult human burns 2000 calories a day, so afford yourself roughly 600 calories for every meal. You can give or take a little depending on what meals you eat during the day, but it’s important to stay within 1400-1800 calories when you first start dieting. Never fall below 800 calories a day. Weight yourself about every week, too.

4) Don’t join a quick fix diet program. 95% of people who use weight loss diet programs end up regaining the weight they lost and potentially more. The best way to diet is to build a habit out of eating. If you eat a healthy breakfast every day, eventually it becomes habit. When you join a weight loss dieting program, you eat healthy dishes for about 8 weeks, but after that it’s back to your old foods and old habits of eating.

5) Eat 5 or 6 small meals rather than 3 big ones. The act of eating helps speed up your body’s metabolism. Eat little meals to stay satisfied but don’t eat too much or you’ll just gain more calories than your body can burn. Make sure your little meals are also healthy.

Exercise, even light exercise, is a beneficial part of any diet. 15 minute routines three times a day is all it takes. For more information about exercising, check out Fat Burning 101.

And remember, only diet if you really think you need to or if your doctor suggests you do.

During the summer, I lost 15 pounds over three months. Yet within the first six weeks of coming back to college, I’ve gained 5 pounds. Even I’m not immune to the temptations of soft serve ice cream, Starbucks, and buttermilk pancakes.