10 Tips for a Healthy Thanksgiving

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Ah, Thanksgiving — a time for family, friends, tradition, and most importantly, deliciously indulgent comfort food. From dinner rolls to stuffing to mashed potatoes and gravy, Americans look forward to this holiday as the quintessential day to feast with no remorse and certainly no counting calories!

But did you know that the average Thanksgiving meal will set you back anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 calories and about 250 grams of fat? Considering the daily recommended total intake is 2,000 calories and 65 grams of fat, this one meal can considerably hurt your chances of looking great at the holiday party.

“A 160 lb. person would have to run at a moderate pace for four hours, swim for five hours or walk 30 miles to burn off a 3,000-calorie Thanksgiving Day meal,” said Dr. Cedric Bryant, the American Council on Exercise’s chief exercise physiologist. “Many people start by snacking throughout the day and that combined with the meal can lead to a total caloric intake of 4,500.”

Instead of committing yourself to an impossible post-Thanksgiving workout, follow our expert tips to make your holiday dinner enjoyable, delicious, and healthy. Your waistline will be happy you did it!

Portion Sizes

We’ve all been guilty of our eyes being bigger than our stomachs, so stay cognizant of your portion sizes this Thanksgiving. For any side dish, the general rule of thumb is to have your serving size not exceed the size of your fist (equivalent to ½ cup). For turkey, it’s recommended that you have no more than 3 oz. as a serving, or approximately the size of a deck of cards.

The majority of people will have more than one serving of Thanksgiving items at the table, but always keep a mental tab that a fistful is equivalent to one serving. This mindful eating will save you a lot of “I can’t fit into my jeans” heartache later.

Eat your meal slowly, and really take the time to savor each bite, rather than inhaling everything on your plate. Remember that it takes 15-20 minutes for your brain to process you are full, so take your time! Portion control is also much easier if you use a smaller plate.

Dinner Rolls

Try making whole wheat dinner rolls instead of using a white bread recipe, and by all means, stay away from that butter! There are tons of other healthier butter substitutes that taste exactly the same, like I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter or just plain old margarine.

Appetizers

Skip the fatty chips and cheesy dips. Instead, opt for fresh fruits and vegetables. You can pair the vegetables with reduced-fat or fat-free vegetable dips, and fruits don’t need any accompaniment at all!

Cranberry Sauce

Canned ingredients contain tons of sodium and high-fructose corn syrup, so opt for fresh ingredients when it comes to the cranberry sauce. You can make an easy and delicious cranberry sauce by pureeing frozen, dried, or fresh cranberries in orange juice and water.

Potatoes

Mashed and baked potatoes can be laden with butter, gravy, sour cream and cheese. Try making scalloped potatoes with a bit of olive oil and nonfat milk for a healthier alternative. Sprinkle a little low-fat cheese on top if you’re feeling adventurous!

Vegetable Casserole

Vegetable casseroles are always a main staple of Thanksgiving dinner, but they don’t have to be topped with bacon or smothered in full-fat butter and cheese. Instead, use low-fat ingredients like 2% milk cheese and nonfat milk.

For a healthier option, skip the casserole part and just prepare the vegetables in a tasty and healthier sauce, like pesto. You can also roast your vegetables in a little bit of parmesan cheese for a delicious, low-cal treat.

Stuffing

Stuffing is usually jam-packed with carbs, fat, and calories, but it doesn’t have to be. Try using whole grain wheat bread instead of white bread, and substitute fruit, nuts, vegetables, and a leaner meat for red meat.

Turkey

You can have a juicy turkey without all the oil and gravy by reducing the cooking time. You can do this by butterflying the turkey, or removing the backbone and flattening the bird before cooking.

To avoid exorbitant calories and fat grams, opt for the lighter meat and avoid the fat-laden skin.

Desserts

If you must have a taste of all those wonderful autumnal pies, think slivers rather than slices. And those pies should be made with nonfat milk, egg substitutes and sugar substitutes, like Splenda or Equal.

Because sugar substitutes are chemically structured differently than sugar, your dessert might come out different than anticipated (depending on what you’re making). To avoid this, you can use ¾ real sugar and a ¼ sugar substitute, or just use less sugar, and further sweeten your desserts with cinnamon and vanilla instead.

General Advice

Nonfat and reduced fat ingredients generally taste very similar to the original ingredients, so try to buying the healthier version when choosing cheese, milk, sour cream, and cream.

Egg substitute also works very well for any recipes that require eggs, and the oil can oftentimes be replaced with yogurt, apple sauce, or low-fat sour cream. For sweeteners, try vanilla, cinnamon, or sugar substitutes, like Splenda or Equal.

Written by Nina Kim

Originally published on MonsterCollege.com

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Busy Gal’s Guide to Skin Care

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Have zero time? Use these fast skin care tips and tricks — because your skin notices when it’s being neglected.

BlogStory4Ok, first it needs to be stated that we do not endorse, support, or approve of purposeful skin care neglect. We do however understand, sympathize for, and commiserate with the woman who has too much on her metaphorical plate. Squeezing in facials and obsessing over a strict anti-aging routine takes serious amounts of “me”-time. Who’s got that? Truth is, many of us don’t.

And we get it, you’re a mom, hard at work, traveling, or maybe even just lazy (no worries, we won’t judge) and skin care just doesn’t make its way on your “to-do” list. That’s fine. Now that we have established a reasonable clause for any possible skin neglect, we can tell you that with minimal effort and time, even busy women like you can have healthy skin. It’s just all about paying attention to what’s important.

Let’s perform a little experiment. Just for a moment, imagine a world where caring for your skin isn’t so complicated and product-laden. One where a skin care routine isn’t permanently put on the back burner because it’s simple, efficient and doesn’t suck more than a couple of quick minutes out of your day? Then you wouldn’t feel overwhelmed by it, right?

Well, this glorious world we speak of might just be possible. To question the potential existence of this magical place where skin care doesn’t feel demanding and tedious, we went to the experts: medical aesthetician Susan Perry and Beverly Hills board certified dermatologist Doctor Harold A. Lancer. Here they share easy, practical skin care tips for the busy woman that prove healthy skin is possible, even for women who don’t have the luxury of time.

Tip 1: Clean out your skin care closet
When you’re busy, it feels like you’re constantly juggling priorities. With too many balls in the air, you are destined to drop one — and as soon as one hits the ground, the rest will likely come tumbling down. The same applies for your skin care routine. When you have a ton of different skin care products staring at you from your medicine cabinet, it can all start to feel too overwhelming.

Instead of feeling bogged down or suffocated by so many options, pare down your routine. Because despite what QVC or commercials might be telling you, you only need a few key items to keep your skin healthy. You don’t need any sort of twelve-step program. So grab your trash bin and get to work. First, throw out any expired products. Then, toss any eye cream or moisturizer where the water has separated from the product and is resting on top — this is a sign of a spoiled product. Lastly, trash product you don’t use on a daily basis or haven’t touched in over a month. Then, if it’s still crowded in there, read on to determine the exact products to keep and then the rest can go.

Tip 2: Know your skin type
Before you know which products should be your go-tos, Perry says it’s important to know your skin type — since most products will cater to those specific needs. Many local drugstores now have beauty technicians in the aisles that can help you determine if your skin is dry, oily, combination/normal, or sensitive — if you’re unsure about your type. If not, head to the department store or make an appointment with your dermatologist to help diagnose your skin.

Tip 3: Have a simple A.M skin care routine you stick to
Here’s the simple, anti-aging skin care regimen Lancer and Perry recommend. It requires four products and takes about three minutes:

A.M. routine:
1) Cleanse with a non-soap cleanser (try Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser, $8.95)
2) Gently exfoliate (try Lancer Dermatology Polish, $50)
3) Prevent/correct with vitamin C and antioxidants (try SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, $142)
4) UVA/UVB protection (try Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 70, $10.99)

Tip 4: Have a basic P.M. skin care routine you follow nightly
Your nighttime routine can be extremely simple, says Perry, and should include the following:

P.M. routine:
1) Cleanse
2) Correct/Repair with a retinoid (try Retin A from your dermatologist or RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream, $19.99)

Tip 5: Use multi-tasking skin care products
Sometimes it’s easier to have one product for each skin care need, like the five separates mentioned in the previous a.m. routine slide, to keep things simple, yet comprehensive. Other times we multi-taskers of the world want skin care products that kill two birds with one stone. If that sounds like you, try these great multi-taskers:

  • For a cleanser and exfoliant in one, try Kiss My Face Start Up Exfoliating Face Wash, $13.99.
  • For anti-aging prevention (with vitamin c and antioxidants) and sunscreen try Lancer Dermatology Vitamin C Antioxidant Sunscreen, $34.
  • To get a tinted moisturizer, sunscreen and anti-aging cream in one bottle try Estee Lauder DayWear Plus Multi Protection Tinted Moisturizer SPF 15, $35.

Tip 6: Get healthy skin without products
If you want to spend less time fussing over your skin, your goal should be to have the healthiest skin possible. The easiest way to keep your skin healthy if you’re on-the-go is to eat right and stay hydrated. That means drinking at least eight ounces of water a day and “eating foods that are anti-inflammatory and contain lots of anti-oxidants. [And] low glycemic index foods such as salads, bright red and green vegetables, omega 3 rich wild salmon, avocados, olive oil and blueberries” says Perry. Your skin is a projection of what is going on internally, so obviously if you aren’t eating healthfully, your skin will be the first to tattle on you.

Tip 7: Monitor your sodium and protein intake
“I always tell my clients to watch what they eat when they are traveling or working a lot,” says Lancer, as “salt reduction is critically important for healthy skin.” Why? Salt decreases the water intake of your internal organs and when your organs are dehydrated, they suck the water out of your skin and leave you with sallow, dry, cracked skin, he says. So, if you’re grabbing quick food while on the run, pay extra attention to nutritional labels.

Protein intake is also essential for healthy, youthful skin says Lancer. He recommends protein be 40 percent of your dietary intake. Why? If your protein intake isn’t high enough, the “amino acids in the blood stream are insufficient to stimulate collagen and elastin production,” he advises.

Tip 8: Baby you skin while traveling
If you travel extensively, you likely suffer from dehydration, and your skin probably shows it. To help your skin deal with the added stress of traveling “don’t wear makeup on the plane,” says Perry. Also “take some cleansing wipes to refresh and a small tube of moisturizer, toss in some eye drops and [bring] a lip balm,” and of course “keep hydrated with water,” advises Perry.

Got puffy eyes? They can be caused by fluid imbalance and fatigue, says Dr. Lancer. Try one of these top rated eye creams to combat the effects.

Tip 9: When all else fails
If you really can’t bother, are too busy to do the minimal routine, or are just too exhausted to drag yourself to the sink (it happens to the best of us), at the very least, keep cleansing wipes by your bed to remove makeup, excess dirt and oil. There should be no excuse for going to bed without cleansing, especially when multi-tasking wipes like Boots No7 Quick Thinking 4-in-1 Wipes, $6.99 (which cleanse, tone and moisturize your skin) make it so easy. And going to bed with makeup on can clog pores, and make your skin age faster — it’s true.

Written by Anna Jiminez
Originally published at Totalbeauty.com

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8 Do-It-Yourself Home Facials

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Discover simple beauty recipes that’ll help you put your best face forward.

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Facials are a great way to keep your skin glowing, but they can be pricey. We asked Louisa Macan-Graves, author of Hollywood Beauty Secrets: Remedies to the Rescue, and Elda Argenti, owner of the Plantogen skincare line, for their favorite make-at-home face masks crafted from common household ingredients.

 For all skin types

Brighten: Cut a slice of ripe papaya and remove the seeds and pulp (save the pulp for aBlogStory3.1 snack later—it’s great for digestion). Rub the inside of the papaya peel on your cleansed face, focusing on lines around the mouth and eyes, crow’s feet, thinning temples, neck and hands. Let it dry for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse with tepid water. This mask can be done twice a week. “The enzymes in papaya exfoliate, repair sun damage, diminish age spots and smooth skin. Your skin will look brighter, with a more polished finish,” says Macan-Graves.

Exfoliate: Combine 1 tsp honey and 1 tsp olive oil. Separately, prepare aBlogStory3.2 packet of plain oatmeal, using less water than called for so it forms a thick paste. Next, add the honey and olive oil mixture to the cooked oatmeal. Apply as a scrub, gently rubbing it in small circles over your skin, avoiding the eye area. Rinse off with warm water and pat dry. This mask can be done twice weekly. “The oatmeal in this scrub exfoliates, while the honey and olive oil moisturize,” says Argenti.

Cleanse: “Believe it or not, I love to cleanse with oil,” says Argenti. For thisBlogStory3.3 facial, she combines 1 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt with 2 tsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp lemon oil (not to be confused with lemon juice; lemon oil is an essential oil that can be found at health food stores). The mixture should be a little bit runny but not easily poured out. Massage it over skin, then immediately wipe it off with a washcloth soaked in tepid water. This can be done daily. “You want to use good-quality oil and you’ll be surprised at how clean your skin will feel,” says Argenti. “You don’t need a harsher product, even for skin with acne. Just be careful around the eye area…[the mixture] tends to be very sticky.”

for oil- and blemish-prone skin

Lift & Tighten: Combine 2 Tbsp plain yogurt with 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juiceBlogStory3.4 (the juice of one lemon) and apply to your cleansed face and neck. Let it dry for 20 to 30 minutes. You’ll feel the mask tighten on your face and neck, which creates a lifting and firming effect. Leave it on longer (up to one hour) for even more face-lifting effects. Once done, rinse with tepid water followed by a cool rinse. This mask can be done two to three times a week or whenever you need a face lift. “This instant face-lifting mask helps fade age-spots, acne scars and even helps keep blemishes and acne in check. It also gets rid of uneven-looking skin tone,” says Macan-Graves.

Tone: This toning eye treatment helps to “de-puff, relax, refresh andBlogStory3.5 energize your skin,” says Argenti. “It’s much more cooling than the traditional cucumber slices.” After cleansing your skin, brew a cup of chamomile or green tea and allow it to cool. Then soak two clean, round makeup sponges in the tea and squeeze out any excess liquid. Place one on each of your eyes for 15 minutes. Do this daily. “You need to use an alcohol-free toner on your skin to cleanse and tighten pores. Alcohol is very detrimental, and tea works just as well,” adds Argenti.

for dry skin

Soothe: Combine 2 Tbsp honey with 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar or lemonBlogStory3.6 juice. Apply to your clean face and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse with tepid water followed by a cool rinse. This can be done three times a week. “This mask heals, moisturizes and balances the pH of the skin,” says Macan-Graves. “Honey is a humectant and natural antibiotic that heals and moisturizes. Apple cider vinegar helps balance the pH of skin and soothes damaged skin.”


Moisturize:
Macan-Graves recommends oatmeal and fennel to help moisturize dry skin. Grind 1 Tbsp oatmeal in a blender and set aside. Add 1BlogStory3.7 Tbsp fennel seeds to 1/2 cup boiling water to make a tea. Allow the seeds to steep for 10 minutes; strain the seeds and discard. Let it cool down to room temperature and then combine 1 Tbsp of the fennel tea with 1 Tbsp ground oatmeal and 1 Tbsp honey. Apply the mixture to your clean face and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse with tepid water followed by a cool rinse. This mask can be done twice weekly.

Brighten: Combine 2 Tbsp sour cream with 2 Tbsp honey and 1 TbspBlogStory3.8 apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Apply to your cleansed face and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse with tepid water followed by a cool (not cold) rinse. This mask can be done twice a week. “This mask heals, exfoliates, brightens and moisturizes skin. It refines pores, fades acne marks and prevents blemishes from coming up,” says Macan-Graves.

Written by Annemarie Conte
Orginally published on Womansday.com

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Eating Right to Look and Feel Your Best

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A healthy diet gives you energy, supports your mood, maintains your weight, and keeps you looking your best. It can also be a huge support through the different stages in life. Healthy food can help reduce PMS, boost fertility, combat stress, make pregnancy and nursing easier, and ease symptoms of menopause. Whatever your age, committing to a healthy diet will help you look and feel your best so that you stay on top of your commitments and enjoy life.

Good Nutrition for Women of All Ages 

Good nutrition starts with the basics: a well-rounded diet consisting of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean sources of protein. These kinds of foods provide women with plenty of energy, the means for lifelong weight control, and the key ingredients for looking and feeling great at any age.

Top diet and nutrition tips for women

  • Focus on whole, plant-based foods. Fill most of your plate with fruits and leafy green vegetables. Also include a variety of whole grains, beans, and legumes to give you filling fiber and keep you going throughout the day. Try to find minimally processed or locally grown foods whenever possible and make these foods the mainstay of your diet.
  • Bone up on calcium. Women are at a greater risk than men of developing osteoporosis, so it’s important to get plenty of calcium to support your bone health. While dairy products are high in calcium, their animal fat and protein can accelerate bone loss. So also consider plant-based sources of calcium like beans, broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens.
  • Don’t eat too much protein. Protein is an essential part of any healthy diet, but eating too much animal-based protein—such as the levels recommended in many low-carb, high-protein diets—is particularly dangerous for women. Eating lots of protein causes calcium loss. Over time, this could lead to a decrease in bone density and osteoporosis.
  • Make sure you get enough iron. Many women don’t get enough iron in their diet. On top of that, women lose a lot of this important mineral during menstruation. Boost your intake by eating iron-rich foods such as lean red meat, dark poultry, lentils, spinach, almonds, and iron-fortified cereals.
  • Cut back on alcohol and caffeine. Women who have more than two alcoholic drinks a day are at higher risk of osteoporosis. Caffeine consumption interferes with hormone levels and also increases the loss of calcium. Try to limit alcohol consumption to one glass a day and caffeine to one cup a day.

eat to control cravings and boost energy

Your diet has a major effect on your food cravings, your stress levels, and your energy throughout the day. By making smart food choices and developing healthy eating habits, you’ll find it much easier to stay slim, control cravings, and feel energetic all day long.

  • Eat breakfast. Get your metabolism going in the morning by eating a healthy breakfast. Studies show that people who eat breakfast tend to weigh less than those who skip it. A solid breakfast provides energy for the day.
  • Eat regularly. Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours. Support your body’s natural cycle of energy by eating a substantial breakfast, a nutritious lunch, a snack around 2 pm (to compensate for the body’s natural low point that occurs around 3 each afternoon), and a light early dinner.
  • Cut the junk. The ups and downs that come with eating sugary snacks and simple carbohydrates cause extreme swings in energy level and mood. Cutting out these foods can be tough, but if you can resist for several days, your cravings will subside.
  • Focus on complex carbohydrates. Foods such as baked potatoes, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, whole grain breads, and bananas boost your “feel-good” serotonin levels without a crash. They also provide plenty of fiber, so you feel full much longer.

get plenty of good carbs

You may think that they key to losing weight or avoiding weight gain is cutting out carbohydrates. But carbs, like fats, are a vital part of a healthy diet. They give you the fuel you need to get through your day, fight fatigue, and stay feeling full. The key is to choose the right kinds of carbohydrates.

Complex vs. simple carbohydrates – Complex carbohydrates—the “good carbs”—have not been stripped of their fiber and nutrients. Because they’re rich in fiber, they keep you full longer and help with weight control. Good sources of complex carbs include whole grains such as whole grain brown rice, stone ground whole wheat, millet, or quinoa, as well as beans, other legumes, fruit, and vegetables.

Simple carbohydrates—the “bad carbs”—have been stripped of their fiber and many of their nutrients. Simple carbs lead to a dramatic spike in your blood sugar, followed by a rapid crash. These carbs are much less efficient at filling you up and keeping you energized. Simple carbs include white flour, white rice, and sugary foods.

Complex carbohydrates: BlogStory7.3

  • Leave you full and satisfied
  • Are packed with nutrients
  • Provide long-lasting energy

Simple carbohydrates:

  • Leave you hungry for more
  • Are mostly empty calories
  • Provide only short-lived energy

don’t cut out the fat!

Many women have been led to believe that dietary fat is unhealthy and contributes to weight gain. But fats are a necessary part of a healthy diet. What really matters are the types of fat you eat.

Women need healthy fats in their diet to look and feel great –

  • Healthy fats boost your brainpower and mood. Fats are essential to healthy brain function. They put you in a good mood and keep you mentally sharp.
  • Healthy fats promote healthy pregnancies. When you’re pregnant, both you and your growing baby need healthy fat to feel your best. Fat is especially important to your baby’s developing brain and nervous system.
  • Healthy fats contribute to lifelong beauty. Fats are essential for vibrant, glowing skin, hair, and nails. A lack of healthy fats in your diet can lead to dull, flaky skin, brittle nails, and dry or easily damaged hair.
  • Healthy fats help control cravings. Because fat is so dense in calories, a little goes a long way in making you feel full. Small amounts of good fats like nuts or seeds make great satisfying snacks.
  • Fats lower the glycemic index of foods, easing the spike in blood sugar that results from eating carbohydrates.
  • You need fat in order to absorb certain vitamins. Many important vitamins—including vitamins A, D, E, and K—are fat-soluble, meaning you need fat in your system in order to absorb them.

Choosing healthy fats – Rather than cutting fat out of your diet, make smart choices about the types of fat you eat. Saturated fat and trans fat—the “bad fats”—increase your risk for certain diseases, including heart disease and stroke. But polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats—the “good fats”—actually contribute to your health and vitality, support your mood, and help you maintain a healthy weight.BlogStory7.2

Foods rich in healthy fats include:

  • olive and canola oil
  • olives
  • nuts
  • fish and seafood
  • peanut butter
  • avocados

focus on foods for strong bones

It’s important for women of all ages to eat foods that contribute to strong, healthy bones, as women have a higher risk of osteoporosis than men. Osteoporosis is largely preventable with good nutrition and exercise. After the age of 30, you stop building bone mass, but you can eat to maintain strong bones at any age. The key is to get enough of the nutrients that support bone health.

The role of calcium, magensium, and vitamin D in women’s bone health – Calcium and magnesium, in combination with vitamin D, are vital for women’s bone health. Calcium and magnesium needs are higher for people who eat the standard Western diet (high consumption of sugar, caffeine, meat, and alcohol and a relatively low consumption of leafy greens and whole grains).

  • Calcium: The recommended daily allowance varies from 400 to 1,200 mg/day. Good sources of calcium include dairy products, leafy green vegetables, oatmeal and other grains, tofu, cabbage, summer squash, green beans, garlic, and sea vegetables. Be smart about taking calcium supplements. Calcium is absorbed slowly and your body cannot take in more than 500 mg at any one time and there’s no benefit to exceeding the recommended daily allowance. In fact, doing so may even harm the heart.
  • Magnesium: The recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 500 to 800 mg/day. Calcium only works when taken in conjunction with magnesium. Good sources of magnesium include leafy green vegetables, summer squash, broccoli, halibut, cucumber, green beans, celery, and a variety of seeds, including pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, and flax seeds.
  • Vitamin D: Aim for between 400 and 1,000 IU (international units) daily. You can get Vitamin D from about half an hour of direct exposure to sunlight, and from foods and supplements. Salmon is an excellent source of vitamin D. Other good sources include shrimp, vitamin-D fortified milk, cod, and eggs.

tips to ease the symptoms of pms

Bloating, cramping, and fatigue experienced the week or so before your period are often due to fluctuating hormones. Diet can play an important role in alleviating these and other symptoms of PMS.

  • Avoid trans fats, refined sugar, and salt. Sugar worsens mood swings and salt worsens water retention and bloating.
  • Cut out caffeine and alcohol. Both are known to worsen PMS symptoms, so avoid them during this time in your cycle.
  • Limit red meat and egg yolks as they can cause inflammation. You may want to try sticking to vegetable proteins like soy and nuts, to see if it helps with your symptoms.
  • Try cutting out dairy. Many women find relief from symptoms when dairy foods are eliminated from their diet. For some, improvements occur when they switch to hormone-free, organic dairy products.
  • Add essential fatty acids to your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help with cramps. See if eating more fish or taking fish oil or flaxseed oil supplements eases your PMS symptoms.
  • Consider vitamin supplements. For some women, taking a daily multivitamin or supplementing with magnesium, vitamin B6, and vitamin E may help relieve cramps.

tips for pregnant or breastfeeding women

You only need about 300 extra calories per day to maintain a healthy pregnancy and provide sufficient nutrition for your growing baby. However, gaining some weight is natural during pregnancy, and nursing can help with weight loss after the baby is born.

Nutrition for a healthy pregnancy –

Fat and protein are very important to your baby’s developing brain and nervous system. Stick to lean sources of protein and healthy fats for weight control.

  • Abstain from alcohol. No amount is safe for the baby.
  • Cut down on caffeine, which has been linked to a higher risk of miscarriage and can interfere with iron absorption. Limit yourself to no more than one caffeinated drink per day.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals rather than a few large ones. This will help prevent and reduce morning sickness and heartburn.
  • Be cautious about foods that may be harmful to pregnant women. These include soft cheeses, sushi, deli meats, raw sprouts, and fish such as tuna that may contain high levels of mercury.

Nutrition for breastfeeding women –

  • Keep your caloric consumption a little higher to help your body maintain a steady milk supply.
  • Emphasize lean sources of protein and calcium, which are in higher demand during lactation.
  • Take prenatal vitamin supplements, which are still helpful during breastfeeding, unless your physician tells you otherwise.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. Just as with the pregnancy guidelines above, refrain from drinking and smoking, and reduce your caffeine intake.

If your baby develops an allergic reaction, you may need to adjust your diet. Common food allergens include cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, fish, and citrus. For a cow’s milk allergy, you can meet your calcium needs through other high calcium foods, such as kale, broccoli, or sardines.

Nutrition tips to boost fertility –

  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, as they are known to decrease fertility.
  • Eat organic foods, in order to limit pollutants and pesticides that may interfere with fertility.
  • Take a prenatal supplement. The most important supplements for fertility are folic acid, zinc, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and vitamin C.
  • Don’t overlook your partner’s diet. About 40 percent of fertility problems are on the male’s side, so encourage your partner to add supplements such as zinc, vitamin C, calcium, and vitamin D.

tips to ease menopause

For up to a decade prior to menopause, your reproductive system prepares to retire and your body shifts its production of hormones. By eating especially well as you enter your menopausal years, you can ease this transition.

  • Boost calcium intake. Calcium supports bone health and helps prevent osteoporosis. Also make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamin D and magnesium, both of which support calcium absorption.
  • Limit wine, sugar, white flour products, and coffee. Hot flashes improve in almost all cases when those foods are reduced or eliminated.
  • Eat more good fats. Omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids can help boost hormone production and give your skin a healthy glow. Evening primrose oil and black currant oil are good sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that can help balance your hormones and alleviate hot flashes.
  • Try flaxseed for hot flashes. Flaxseed is rich in lignans, which help stabilize hormone levels. Flaxseed can be particularly effective in managing hot flashes. Add one to two tablespoons of ground flaxseed to your daily diet. Try sprinkling it on soups, salads, or main dishes.
  • Consider eating more soy. Soy products are high in phytoestrogens, plant-based estrogens that are similar to estrogen produced by the body. Some studies suggest that soy may help manage menopausal symptoms. Try natural soy sources such as soy milk, tofu, tempeh, and soy nuts.

Written by Melinda Smith, M.A., Maya W. Paul, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.
Originally published at Helpguide.org

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Massage Benefits: 9 Healthy Reasons To Make An Appointment Today

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A new study has found that massage really does work to ease those sore muscles after a tough workout. Just 10 minutes can reduce inflammation, which can help your body recover.

However, the health benefits of touch extend beyond simply soothing aches and pains. Of course, the stressed-out have been proponents of the anxiety-busting procedure for decades. But a growing body of research suggests that a rubdown is even better for you than you think. Keep reading to learn more surprising health benefits of massage.

Manage Anxiety and Depression – For the same reasons that a massage is relaxing, it can also soothe anxiety and depression. Massage reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, resulting in lifted spirits and often lower blood pressure. It can also boost the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in depression.

Ease Pain – Eight out of 10 Americans will experience debilitating back pain, according to Time.com, but a massage can help. According to a 2011 study, massage helped people in pain feel and function better compared to people who didn’t receive any massage treatment.

“We found the benefits of massage are about as strong as those reported for other effective treatments: medications, acupuncture, exercise and yoga,” Dan Cherkin, Ph.D., lead author of the study, said in a press release.

Massage has also been linked to decreased stiffness and pain, as well as better range of motion in people with osteoarthritis.

Improve Sleep – If you’ve ever dozed off on a massage table, you don’t need to be convinced that a massage can promote healthy sleep. A number of studies have examined this link, and chalk it up to massage’s affect on delta waves, the kind of brain waves connected to deep sleep, according to Health magazine.

Boost Immunity – Multiple studies, although often small, have linked massage to better functioning of the immune system. In one 2010 study, researchers found massage increased a person’s disease-fighting white blood cells. The stress-reducing powers of massage can also help keep you healthy.

Beat PMS – At least one small study found that massage can kick pesky PMS symptoms, like bloating and mood swings, to the curb.

Raise Alertness – Want to boost your brainpower? Adults who were given a 15-minute chair massage in a small 1996 Touch Research Institute (TRI) study were more alert and completed a series of math questions faster and more accurately.

Curb Headaches – Just like muscle and back pain, headaches can also be alleviated thanks to massage. A regular rubdown can reduce a person’s number of migraines, according to WebMD, as well as limit how painful each migraine feels, according to the TRI.

A 2009 study found that a 30-minute massage decreased pain for people with tension headaches, and even curbed some of the stress and anger associated with that pounding head.

Save Face – A little prodding in the right places can even have beauty benefits. “Massage increases blood flow, which plumps up slack skin, encourages lymphatic drainage (the shuttling of toxins out and away from cells so that more nutrients can travel in) and adds vitality to a dull complexion and lackluster hair,” Kimara Ahnert, a New York City skin-care studio owner told Women’s Health. And you don’t even have to make an appointment — simply rubbing your face and scalp for a few minutes can make a big difference.

Ease Cancer Treatment – Because of many of the benefits listed above, massage is particularly helpful for people living with or undergoing treatment for serious illnesses, like cancer. Various studies have shown that massage can relieve fatigue, pain, anxiety, depression and nausea in cancer patients.

Written by Sarah Klein
Originally published on Huffingtonpost.com

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Super Berry Undercover: The Ultimate Fruit for Healthy Living

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You’ll be shocked to find this veggie isn’t a veggie at all. It’s a super-fruit, and no it’s not a tomato. Read on to find out more about its benefits and get some great recipes.
Chances are you’ve eaten this mysterious fruit before. You’ve probably thrown it in your salad, spread it on your toast or even rolled it into your burrito. Yep, you heard right – fruit in your burrito!

The super berry I’m speaking about is the avocado.

Avocados are a misunderstood fruit. For one thing, they are often mistaken as a vegetable, but what’s even more perplexing, is that many people believe they should be avoided due to their high fat content.

If you’re one of those people, then you’re missing out! Avocados pack a whole lot of nutrients and can even play a role in weight management and reducing your risk of several diseases. Who cares if they have a high fat content! Fat is good for you when it’s the type that an avocado contains.

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Fat is back!

According to Nutrition Data online, one avocado (approximately 201g) contains 322 calories and 29 grams of fat – that means about 81% of its calories are derived from fat. But we’re not talking about the saturated kind here; we are talking about the good kind – monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs).

MUFAs are known to lower cholesterol. But what’s even better is that while lowering the cholesterol you don’t want (Low-density lipoproteins – LDL), MUFAs simultaneously increase the cholesterol you do want (High-density lipoproteins – HDL).

An article on MayoClinic.com put it well, “Just lowering your LDL cholesterol might not be enough for people at high risk of heart disease.” (“Mayoclinic.com”). This is what makes the avocado so great! Its high levels of MUFAs raise and lower good and bad cholesterol respectively, making it an even more effective fruit to help reduce your risk of heart disease.

On top of that, the MUFAs in an avocado help to burn fat and maintain lean tissue. According to Laura Bramble of eHow.com, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2004 established that, “Not only do MUFAs burn fat, but they were shown to preserve lean body mass during weight loss…” (Bramble). She continues to write that based on the study conducted,” by preserving lean tissue, MUFAs decrease your body fat percentage and the health risks associated with a high percentage.” (Bramble).

A nine out of nine

So now that you see why this high fat berry isn’t anything to be scared of, you’re probably wondering what makes it “the ultimate fruit for healthy living”.

Aside from its heart healthy properties, did you know that an avocado is considered a complete protein source? That means that is contains all nine of the essential amino acids: Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Theronine, Trypotophan and Valine.

For us bodybuilders and fitness fans, that is an exciting quality in a fruit! This means that eating avocado’s will aid in ensuring that our bodies have what they need to recover and build new muscle. Granted, lots of fruits and veggies contain amino acids, but what makes the avocado unique is that it doesn’t leave any out. This is extremely important when repairing muscle tissue because, “If even one essential amino acid is missing, the body can not continue proper protein synthesis. This can lead to lack of vital proteins in the body, which can cause problems ranging from indigestion to depression to stunted growth.” (Bergh).

Let’s get moving

Nutrition Data online also states that one avocado contains 13g of Fiber – that’s more fiber than 1 ½ cups of oatmeal! But what’s really cool is that the avocado contains both soluble and insoluble fiber.

According to Medline Plus, “Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion. This slows digestion.” And, “Soluble fiber may help lower cholesterol, which can help prevent heart disease.” (“Medline Plus”) – Yet another component of an avocado that keeps your heart healthy!

Insoluble fiber on the other hand, “adds bulk to the stool and appears to help food pass more quickly through the stomach and intestines.” (“Medline Plus”).

So again, you’re getting the best of both worlds all in one little fruit! Improved heart health and better digestion – not to mention the fact that Fiber keeps you feeling fuller, longer! And when you’re dieting or watching your weight, that factor alone is worth its weight in gold!

Protect yourself

It’s hard to believe that there is even anything left to say positively about the avocado – it seems like we’ve covered everything already! But, there is one more thing.

The avocado has another unique property; it contains three powerful antioxidants that help protect our bodies against free radicals – vitamins C, E and beta-carotene (vitamin A precursor).

Accordingly to ScienceDaily.com, these antioxidants, “… play a role in helping to prevent diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and macular degeneration.” (“ScienceDaily”). And this doesn’t even consider the countless anti-aging benefits!

Get in my belly!

All in all, I think it’s pretty safe to say that the avocado truly is ‘super’ – but now let’s talk about how to incorporate it into your diet.

If you’ve never tried it before, the avocado has a fresh but subtle flavor, accompanied by a buttery like consistency – which makes it a perfect addition to a variety of dishes.

Try these quick and yummy recipes below, and don’t be afraid to experiment with the avocado yourself. It’s not just an awesome fruit, nutritionally speaking, but it’s a cooking lover’s dream ingredient since the Avocado can be added to sweet, salty, spicy or tangy dishes – it’s incredibly versatile!

Fresh and Fruity Salad

  • 1 pouch of tuna
  • ¼ of an avocado chopped into chunks
  • ½ of an apple chopped into chunks
  • 2 stalks of celery chopped into chunks
  • ½ tbsp light mayo
  • Splash of lime juice
Combine all the ingredients above in dish. Serves 1.

‘Not Your Average Berry’ Protein Shake

  • 35g banana
  • 18g avocado
  • 200g Egg Whites (pasteurized)
  • 5g of Natural Peanut Butter
  • 1 package of sweetener

Combine all the ingredients above in a blender – fits a magic bullet perfectly! Serves 1.

Sources:
1. Tsang , Gloria. “Good Fats and Bad Fats.” healthcastle.com (2004): 1-1. Web. 7 Feb 2011. <http://www.healthcastle.com/goodfats-badfats.shtml>.

2. Bramble, Laura. “Monounsaturated Fats & Weight Loss.” eHow n. pag. Web. 7 Feb 2011.  <http://www.ehow.com/about_5438439_monounsaturated-fats-weight-loss.html>.

3. Bergh, Bob. “The Avocado and Human Nutrition, Some Human Health Aspects of the Avocado .” Regenerative Nutrition n. pag. Web. 7 Feb 2011. <http://www.regenerativenutrition.com/content.asp?id=443>.

4. “Soluble vs. insoluble fiber.” Medline Plus n. pag. Web. 7 Feb 2011. <http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002136.htm>.

5. Farr, Gary. “Types of Amino Acids: Essential Amino Acids (EAAs); Semiessential Amino Acids.” becomehealthynow.com (2002): n. pag. Web. 7 Feb 2011. <http://www.becomehealthynow.com/article/proteins/335/>.

6. “Avocados and Antioxidants.” avocado.org.au (2009): n. pag. Web. 8 Feb 2011. <http://www.avocado.org.au/resources/articles/articles.aspx?articleID=13>.

7. “Antioxidants: Preventing Diseases, Naturally.” ScienceDaily (2007): n. pag. Web. 8 Feb 2011. <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070908001613.htm>.

8. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hdl-cholesterol/CL00030

Written by Kristen Adamson
Originally published on Muscleandstrength.com

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7 Common Exercise Myths – Revealed

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Myth #1: To have a good workout means you have to work up a sweat
Sweating cools the body and has very little to do with how many calories you are burning or how hard you are working. Many people work at a high intensity yet don’t do a lot of sweating.  Monitor your “perceived exertion” or monitor your heart rate during exercise to gauge your level of intensity.

Myth #2: No pain, no gain
Exercise doesn’t need to be painful in order for it to provide lots of health benefits. Studies have shown that those who do moderate intensity exercise have the same decrease in risk of dying as those who do high intensity exercise. Make sure you are consistent with your exercise and pick up the pace so that you are working in your target heart rate zone (70%-80% of your max heart rate) and/or walking at 3 to 4 miles per hour.

Myth #3: To get a flat stomach do lots of crunches
You can have strong abdominal muscles but if there is a layer of fat on top, you won’t be able to see a flat, toned stomach. Unfortunately we can’t target fat loss in specific areas of the body. To get a toned, flat ab area, reduce the number of calories you consume, do cardiovascular exercise to burn calories and fat and do a variety of core exercises.

Myth #4: Exercise will transform fat into muscle
Exercise can burn off fat, and it can help you build lean muscle, but there is no direct conversion. If you do an exercise program that includes cardiovascular exercise, strength training and eat 500 fewer calories than you require each day, you will burn the fat and build healthy muscle. 

Myth #5: If you can’t exercise regularly, why do it?
Every single bit of exercise is beneficial. Your health improves every time you exercise. To become physically fit can take up to twelve weeks but a single 30 minute walk will burn calories, reduce moderately elevated blood sugar, blood pressure or triglycerides. For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise. That’s only 22 minutes a day!

Myth #6: You should stretch before exercise to prevent injury
Some research suggests that stretching before exercise doesn’t prevent sports injuries and can actually increase the chance of injuries. Warming up before exercise is one of the best ways to prevent injury. Warm up with ten minutes of light cardio exercise and then continue with the rest of your exercise program. Stretch your muscles after you are done.

Myth #7: You have to join a gym to get in shape
There are lots of ways to get great results exercising at home. For very little money you can set up a simple home gym with your choice of dumbbells, exercise tubing, a TRX suspension trainer, a stability ball, exercise videos and walking.

Written by Maria Faires, RD
Originally published on Fitday.com

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