Snack Your Way To A Healthy Weight And Lifestyle


Snack your way to a healthy weight

Your body needs food to function properly.  If it doesn’t get enough calories, your metabolism can actually slow down.  Most people get hungry between regular meals and need extra food throughout the day.  Including snacks in your daily diet helps to keep your metabolism working properly, avoid binging, and keep your mind alert.  It also gives you the energy you need for lifestyle activities and exercise.

Snacking Wisely

Studies continue to show us that counting calories is not very effective when it comes to weight loss and or weight management.  Not only does counting calories mess with you psychologically, constantly stressing about calories can cause you to focus more on numbers than what your body wants and needs.  Instead of counting calories, I recommend focusing on eating foods that will satisfy you.  Pairing a carbohydrate and a protein at snack time will give your body the short and long term fuel it needs to sustain you until your next meal.  For an extra bonus, I recommend including some fresh veggies at snack time as well.

Ten healthy snacks to help you Feel full

1)  Fruit.  Fruit can be a healthy and long lasting snack when paired with foods like cheese, nuts,  or peanut butter.  It’s always good by itself, however you will stay full longer if the fruit is paired with a protein source.

2)  Tortilla Chips and Salsa. Chips and salsa is one of my most favorite snacks.  For protein, add some yoghurt to your salsa.  Add some avocado for an extra twist.  🙂

3)  Cheese and crackers.  Sounds indulgent?  Not really.  Your body needs fat.  Pre-sliced cheese is a great snack for on the go..  Break it into pieces and eat it with whole grain crackers.  Add some of your favorite cold cuts for a little variety.  Uncured salami is a big hit at our house.  🙂

4)  Yogurt.  Yoghurt with fruit or a small amount of honey makes a great snack that tastes great.

5)  Whole grain toast and peanut butter or a piece of cheese.

6)  Leftovers.  A 1/2 serving of leftovers will tie you over until your next meal.

7)  Frozen Yoghurt.  Add some fruit and you are good to go.

8)  Shakes.  I don’t recommend a diet that includes meal replacement shakes because it  can be less satisfying than solid food and backfire like most diets do.  However, for people on the go, shakes and smoothies can be a great way to drink a well balanced snack.  I recommend testing out different recipes and stick to the ones that keep you feeling energized and full.

9)  Hummus.  Whole grain pita chips and hummus is another one of my go to snacks.  Hummus is great for satisfying hunger, and a good whole grain pita chip will give you the complex carbs you need for energy.  Try adding some slices of cucumber for more variety.

10)  Cottage Cheese.  Pair  1/2 cup cottage cheese with fruit or crackers.

Your body likes to be nourished.  When it’s fed properly, your metabolism can operate at a better pace and settle at it’s natural weight.

Here’s to a happy and healthy week!

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Six Simple Ways To Sit Less And Move More

Sit Less

Many people have been taught or led to believe that the only way to get exercise is through scheduled exercise sessions. This can be a little discouraging for people that struggle with finding enough time to dedicate to an exercise routine.  Fortunately, exercise doesn’t need to be formal for it to benefit you.

It’s no secret that formal exercise is a great way to get your body moving.  However, there are many ways to move more and sit less throughout your day without having to go to the gym. One of the best ways to keep your body moving throughout the day is to incorporate movement into your daily life and responsibilities. The technical term for this type of movement is non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or N.E.A.T.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis includes the physical activity you perform outside of exercise, eating and sleeping. There are many N.E.A.T. activities that we already do that can count as exercise.  Simple tasks such as raking leaves, physical labor, climbing stairs, and even fidgeting help us use our muscles and burn calories. These types of activity can help contribute to your overall health long term.

Research suggests that people who move throughout the day are more likely to reach and/or maintain their fitness goals versus those who sit throughout the day and then hit the gym for one exercise session.  This doesn’t mean that you should give up on your exercise sessions.  What it tells us is that the more we move throughout the day the better it is for us.

Most people spend the majority of their day at work. One way to move more and sit less is to incorporate non-exercise movement into your workday. Farming, construction and housekeeping trades are good examples of high N.E.A.T. jobs because they require quite a bit of movement. On the other hand, desk jobs usually require quite a bit of sitting.  So how can you increase your N.E.A.T. during the workday? Here are some simple ways to incorporate more movement into your day:

Consider using your car less. If it’s possible, walk or bike to work instead of driving.  The extra activity can boost your mood while allowing you to breathe the fresh air.

Schedule walking meetings. Take your business outdoors and boost your team’s creativity with a walking meeting. Walking is an effective way to expend energy, stimulate the brain, and connect with the rest of your team.

Stand up and take breaks. Give your eyes and body a break from the computer screen by doing things like filling up your water bottle, taking out your own trash and/or recycling, or checking in with your coworkers. This gives you a reason to get up and get some movement.

Take the stairs. This is an oldie but a goodie. Skip the elevator and take the stairs to keep your body moving throughout your day.

Stand instead of sit. Adjustable desks are becoming more popular in the workplace.  My husband uses his standing desk for most of his workday.  If these desks are not available to you, raise your work and/or devices to a podium or counter so you can stand periodically throughout your day.  Resting heart rate is higher while standing so a standing work station offers more physical activity.

If you’re finding it difficult to get up from your desk while you are working, there are plenty of other ways you can incorporate movement into your day.  Other examples of non exercise activity would be:

  • Playing with your kids
  • Doing yard work
  • Grocery shopping
  • Walking your dog
  • Cleaning the house
  • Running errands without your car

If you’d like to sit less and move more, think of one or two ideas that you can start with to weave movement into your day or week.

Accumulated physical activity throughout the week can add up and as a result contribute positively to your health and wellness.  Every little bit counts!

Make it a great and active week!

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A Simple Guide To A Balanced Diet

Be Good To Yourself This Holiday Season - Jennifer Ledford - Certified Personal Trainer and Healthy Lifestyle Coach - Balanced Diet

Eating a balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health and can help you feel and look your best.

While doing some research for this topic, I was able to read many “definitions” of what constitutes a balanced diet.  Of all the information I reviewed, the definition I believe describes a balanced diet the best is published by  Their definition of a balanced diet is “a diet that contains the proper proportions of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water necessary to maintain good health.”   It’s simple, scientific, and to the point.

It’s important to note that nowhere in the definition does it say the best diet to make you skinny. The focus is on health.

When it comes to connecting food and your health, diversity is important.  Each nutrient contributes to the overall function of your body and if one nutrient is missing, it doesn’t function  as well as it could.

It’s easy to get into a routine eating the same foods often.  Things like busy schedules and taste preferences can be a factor.  However, minimal food variation and/or elimination diets can cause you to miss out on some important nutrients that your body needs to help you age gracefully and combat disease.   

Thankfully, in the United States and many other countries around the world, we all have access to clean water so staying hydrated is one of the simplest parts of maintaining a balanced diet.

How do you know when you’re getting enough water?

The best way to tell if you are hydrated is the color of your urine. Clear to pale yellow is ideal. Yellow to dark yellow means you need water and if it looks like tea or beer ,you are dehydrated! Supplements can also cause urine to be dark yellow so keep that in consideration.

Avoid allowing yourself to get “thirsty.”  If you are getting a thirst signal, then the body is already too low on water!

Diet is very personal and we all have different energy requirements which is why it’s important to experiment and figure out what works best for you.  For example, some people need to consume more carbohydrates than others.  However, science proves that we need them to function at our best throughout the day.

At first, creating a balanced diet can seem a bit daunting if you are unsure which foods fall under the different categories.  Many foods supply multiple sources of nutrients so a diverse diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables is usually your best bet.  I’ve put together some samples of carbohydrate, protein, and fat sources below to help you get started.

Examples of carbohydrates: Fruit, root vegetables such as potatoes, beets, and carrots, whole-grain products such as brown rice, whole-grain pasta, beans, whole wheat bread, whole oats, buckwheat, millet, whole rye, whole-grain barley and whole-grain corn, and quinoa (it’s technically a seed) are all carbohydrates. These foods are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that are beneficial to your health.

Examples of protein sources:  Meat, poultry, fish and shellfish, dairy, nuts and seeds, beans and peas and other plants like quinoa, avocado, hemp, and soy are all protein sources.  I personally recommend avoiding soy; however, I’m listing it because it is considered a “complete” protein source.  If you like to eat it, I recommend sticking to the organic soy and limiting your consumption.  Bragg aminos are a great substitute for traditional soy sauce.

Examples of fat sources:  Oils like olive, walnut, avocado, grape seed, peanut, and coconut are all good sources of fat.   Avocados, nuts and seeds, meat, fatty fish, dairy, nut butters, olives, and dark chocolate are all considered fat sources as well.  Oils I personally avoid are any oil that is partially hydrogenated, canola, and palm oil.

Balanced Diet Research

Current research continues to prove that a whole food driven balanced diet (eating food in as close to its natural state as possible) is one of the best ways to fuel your body mentally and physically.  In fact, recent studies have shown that a whole food driven diet can actually boost your metabolism compared to a diet made up of processed foods which can cause your metabolism to slow down dramatically.

I personally believe it’s a good idea to eat as many whole foods as possible and to limit refined and heavily processed food in our diets.  Eating whole foods can help contribute to better energy.  With that being said, it’s also important to enjoy your food and not get too rigid about everything we eat.  Overly religious behavior around food can lead to dieting which can lead to stress and heartache which does not support mental health in a positive way.

Part of being healthy is to find balance in your life and allow yourself to enjoy the foods and drinks you like.  Life is too short to be on a diet!

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Disclaimer:  The information in the above article is based on general nutritional guidelines and is not intended nor should be considered a substitute for any advice provided by a medical professional.