10 Ways to Stay on Track Over the Holidays

10 Ways to Stay on Track Over the Holidays

The Season of Food is upon us. It starts Thanksgiving Day and carries us into the New Year. But it doesn’t need to be a lost cause free-for-all in terms of food, physical activity and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you take a realistic approach to this time of year, you should be able to keep your good habits in practice. Here are some tips to help keep you going along.

  1. Exercise. Particularly if you already have an established routine, this is not the time to stray from it. As much as possible, keep that part of your schedule consistent. We know that time is scarce this time of year and Live Clean has a great HIIT workout that you can complete in 25 minutes. Regular exercise has also been linked to stronger immunity and reduced stress levels – both especially beneficial for this time of year.
  2. Add variety. There are plenty of fun ways to get some extra exercise. Try a new winter sport or fitness class, go dancing, do some yoga or take a family walk after a heavy meal.
  3. Plan. For wiser grocery shopping, take half an hour to plan what you will have for meals for the week ahead; include lunches in your plan too. If you can, try to do some prepping or cooking ahead of time. This will help you avoid last minute eating out because you’re tired and unprepared to make dinner.
  4. Prioritize. It’s going to happen. You’ll be at a holiday gathering with an enormous buffet featuring everyone’s favorite “must-have holiday guilty pleasure” dish. You do not need to have it all. Take inventory of the offerings, choose 2-4 dishes you really want to taste and add just that to your plate – a taste. Then fill the rest of your plate with vegetables, fruit, and other healthy offerings, which leads us to our next tip…
  5. Pack your own! When you’re asked to bring a dish to a gathering, prepare something healthy that will offset some of the rich foods you are bound to see. Heading to a party straight from work? Pack some lean protein and fiber rich vegetables to eat on the way, so you don’t arrive completely famished and dive nose first into that cheese ball. Stash healthy snacks you truly enjoy in your desk drawer, so if someone shows up with homemade kringle, you can politely decline without feeling deprived.
  6. Take your vitamins. This time of year, it’s very easy to get off balance in terms of eating well. Supplements can help make up for nutrients you may be missing. Whenever possible, aim for clean supplements that are free of toxic ingredients.
  7. Try some tea. Tea has many benefits, and herbal tea is a great way to stay warm and hydrated in the cold weather. Try a variety containing some of the flavors of the season to feel festive without getting weighed down.
  8. Give a gift! Do you love to bake during the holidays, but feel like it’s off-limits for a healthy lifestyle? Nonsense! Bake, bake, bake, and give it away as gifts! People love to receive something you’ve taken the time to make for them.
  9. Get your greens. Add as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible to your diet. Packed with vitamins and nutrients, high-quality juices and smoothies made from organic ingredients are a delicious way to accomplish this.
  10. Remember every day is brand new. Every day, in fact every moment, is a chance to start all over again. If you stray from your healthy eating or exercise regime, don’t throw your hands up until January 1. Point yourself back to where you want to be, and keep moving forward.

Do you have any tips for staying on track with healthy habits this time of year? Speak up in the comments!

Healthy Halloween Tips

Healthy Halloween Tips

Halloween is right around the corner but fear not! This fun-filled night does not have to be a junk food free-for-all. We have some tips and ideas for how to have a happy and healthy Halloween!

Eat well before

Kids (and adults!) should eat a nutritious dinner before hitting the trick-or-treat trail. Include protein to help tummies stay full longer, and fresh vegetables to help offset all those Halloween treats.

Eat well after

All that walking is bound to make trick-or-treaters hungry when they get home, but filling up on candy is hard on their bodies and teeth – especially before bedtime. Of course kids will want to sample some of their haul, and that’s okay, but have a healthy snack at the ready, too. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Pumpkin pie yogurt: Mix plain or vanilla yogurt with a spoonful or two of canned pumpkin. Top with cinnamon and a drizzle of honey, if desired. Yum! (The probiotics in the yogurt can aid with digesting those Halloween goodies, too.)
  • Veggies and hummus: Crunchy and satisfying, and the fiber can help slow down sugar absorption.
  • Air-popped popcorn: Filling but not heavy, popcorn can be a great choice for an evening snack.

Make a deal!

Give your kids the option to trade in all but a few of their favorite candies in exchange for a toy, book or other small gift, then donate the leftovers. There are many programs that send candy and treats to deployed U.S. military, or you could drop them at a local homeless shelter. Plus a little sweet treat could help brighten someone else’s day.

Offer Healthier Handouts

Who says you have to give candy? There are plenty of non-candy choices you can hand out that are still fun (unlike pennies and raisins, which are no fun at all.) Most Halloween candy is loaded with ingredients you don’t want, and non-edible items are a great way to include kids with food allergies. Here are some of our favorite choices:

  • Stickers or temporary tattoos
  • Fun pencils or pencil-toppers
  • Mini containers of modeling material or putty
  • Crayons
  • Bouncy balls
  • Glow sticks
  • Bubbles

You can find great deals on these items at dollar and discount stores. Decide ahead of time what you can spend and then stick to it. On Halloween night, once you’ve handed out your last treat, close up shop and turn out the light. There is no rule that says you have to stay “open for business” the whole time.

Do you have other ideas for how to have a healthier Halloween? Any fun non-candy items you didn’t see on our list? We love hearing from you, so share your thoughts in the comments!

Happy Halloween!

top-5-ingredients-to-strike-from-your-diet

Top 5 Ingredients to Strike from Your Diet

Forbes Magazine recently reported that 60% of the calories in the typical American diet come from ultra-processed foods. These ultra-processed foods contain ingredients not used in natural food preparation (i.e.: your kitchen!) These unnatural ingredients also:

  • Act as preservatives (That packaged muffin won’t get moldy for months!)
  • Add “desirable” colors or flavor elements (Blue cereal, anyone?)
  • Provide texture intended to mimic freshly prepared food (Think “soft-baked” cookies.)

Today, we’ll focus on five ingredients commonly found in ultra-processed foods and discuss why you should avoid them.

Partially hydrogenated oils: 

Also known as shortening or palm oil, these trans fats are artery cloggers! They raise your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower your “good” cholesterol (HDL.) The FDA no longer recognizes them as safe for consumption, and has given food manufacturers 3 years to remove them from their products. Trans fats are still found in many packaged baked goods, margarine, and refrigerated dough, and should be avoided. If a product states “trans-fat-free,” check the ingredient list for partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which indicates trace amounts of trans fats. (Products with less than 0.5 grams per serving are allowed to be labeled trans-fat-free.)

Artificial food dyes: 

We know that food coloring has been linked to increased hyperactivity in some children, but recent consumer advocate and scientific research has also linked them to cancer in animals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed food coloring safe, but how and in which products it’s used is strictly regulated and reviewed on an ongoing basis. Many products are replacing artificial dyes with natural colors derived from vegetables (such as beets) and spices (such as turmeric.) We think this is a great change!

MSG: 

This stuff in in everything. (Slight exaggeration, but in addition to fast food and take-out Chinese, MSG can be found in many potato chips, cold cuts, salty snacks, even chicken and beef broth.) People with sensitivity to MSG may experience headaches, upset stomach, a rapid heartbeat, or in some cases, numbing or tingling in the face, neck, or extremities. Scary stuff. MSG may be hiding in ingredients lists as hydrolyzed protein, autolyzed yeast, glutamic acid and yeast extract, so read carefully!

High fructose corn syrup: 

This sweetener is cheaper than table sugar and absorbed more quickly by the body. Studies have shown it can increase triglycerides (fat found in the blood) and is more difficult for the body to process. High consumption of high fructose corn syrup has been linked to obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. If you see it on the label, you may want to make another choice.

Artificial sweeteners:

 Aspartame, sucralose, saccharin and sugar alcohols are all types of artificial sweeteners. Like food coloring, artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols are still considered safe by the FDA, however many people have reported side effects like headaches and nausea after consumption. These sweeteners are not completely absorbed by the body, and can also have a laxative effect when eaten in certain quantities (sometimes as low as 10 grams.) Stick with natural sweeteners like honey, molasses, fruit nectars and maple syrup. (But even natural sweeteners should be limited.)

How can you avoid these ingredients?

  • Read labels: Don’t rely on claims like “trans-fat-free” on the front of the box. Understand which ingredients can be harmful and look for them in the ingredients list.
  • Retrain your taste buds: Craving something sweet? Try a piece of fruit, or a small (1-inch) square of dark chocolate. Many people find when they really curb their sugar intake that the need to “satisfy the sweet tooth” fades away.
  • Eat as close to nature as possible. Skip the pre-packaged protein bar and grab a handful of all-natural, unsalted almonds, an all-natural smoothie, or hard-boiled egg for an easy, filling on-the-go snack.

Do you have any other tips for avoiding processed foods? What are some of your favorite healthy, all-natural snacks? Speak up in the comments!