Friday, June 20, 2008

Walk Your Stress Away

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Do you binge eat, stress eat and, in general, pig out when you have a bad day? I have a tendency to do just that. And when you pig out, it’s not on vegetables, fruit and the good stuff. You go for the sweets, salty stuff and other culinary items not on the recommended list, right?

Those are the days and times that really test your willpower. I get the urge to eat a double-stacked hamburger with triple layers of cheese accompanied by enough fries to clog your arteries for some time. Those are the times when I just have to have a conversation with myself. You really don’t want to do this, I tell myself. Eating all stuff will not make the stress disappear and actually will only create more stress once you realize just how many calories you consumed. There is no such thing as comfort food.

One little trick that helps me come to my senses is taking Whissie for a walk. He likes me even if I feel everything else in going haywire. You may laugh, but it works. I hook up his collar and hit the street. While he stops to smell everything along the way, my minds clears, and it is easier to put things in perspective. And, I get a little exercise to boot. Not much exercise, though. Whissie isn’t built for power walking. By the time we get back, the urge to pig out has eased. And the conversation with myself has averted a culinary disaster. Of course, when we do get back, the Whissmaster is ready to pig out.

I urge you to find another outlet for your stress/emotional eating. Taking a walk might help. Using food to ease pain is a waste of food – and unless the stuff I read is wrong – really doesn’t do anything to solve the problem anyway.

Get out and exercise, and have a great weekend!

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Stress is widely thought to lead to overeating. We all have occasional stress because of our jobs or family situation. Some people who are good at limiting their intake under normal circumstances lose control under stressful conditions. People react differently to stress. Some have stronger reactions than others.

When we are under stress, we have high cortisol levels, and cortisol may affect hunger. Those who have a strong reaction to stress have higher cortisol levels and consume more calories on the stress day compared to those who are low reactors. In terms of taste preferences, high reactors eat significantly more sweet foods. Increases in negative mood in response to the stressful situation can also lead to greater food consumption.

Overweight and obesity are related to how we react to stress. The body mass index tends to be highest among stress-driven eaters and drinkers, especially among women. Stress-driven eaters tend to eat fatty foods such as hamburgers, pizza and chocolate more frequently than other people. Stress-driven eaters also tend to consume more alcohol than other people.

Here are some simple things you can do to reduce the effects of stress and cortisol on eating:

Take breaks at work and at home. At times we are under pressure all the time. That is when we need to take a step back and spend some time relaxing: take a short walk, listen to a piece of favorite music or read a good book. You don’t need to take a long break – but long enough to bring your heart rate and breathing down. A 15-minute break can help you relax and unwind.

Share your work with others. Don’t feel like you have to do it all alone. Your work load may be more than one person can deal with. Many times people offer help but we turn them down because we think we can do it faster and better ourselves. At times, it is a good idea to let others help.

Get enough rest. Make sure you sleep through the night so that you can re-energize your body. This way you are ready to deal with the day’s challenges. You’ll be able to do more in less time.

Exercise. Any type of aerobic exercise can help bring your cortisol level down and help keep it down for hours after the workout. Exercise releases stress-fighting endorphins and can lower cortisol levels and helps burn off excess calories.

Heli Roy


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Children and Fruit Juice

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Do you like fruit juice? I do, especially if it is cold. One of our LSU AgCenter scientists, Carol O’Neil, reports that there is no link between fruit juice and obesity in children. But there is a catch – a small one – it must be real fruit juice. Even though there is a lot of conflicting evidence out there, our people conclude that none of the studies could link 100 percent fruit juice to obesity in otherwise healthy children. But Dr. O’Neil, author of the study, warns that children’s recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables should not wholly be replaced by 100 percent fruit juice. No more than a third of a child’s daily fruit intake should come from juice.

Do you notice the common thread in many of the blogs? Real and natural stuff tends to be good for you. Fresh fruit! Fresh vegetables! When we humans start processing the real and fresh stuff, that’s when we start messing up. Another common thread is that even those things deemed good, like 100 percent fruit juice, should be consumed in moderation.

With food costs rising, we are all going to be a little more discriminating in our shopping habits. Let me get back to another theme that we have mentioned several times. Farmer’s markets. This time of the year, there are great bargains for fresh, home-grown vegetables, fruits and other products at your local farmer’s market. The tomatoes that I purchase are excellent, and I look for the vine-ripened ones.

Drink your juice in moderation. Eat your vegetables, and exercise. Isn’t life simple?

Bill Richardson


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Win the Battle Within

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There was an insightful article published in the local paper written by Shari Roan of the Los Angeles Times. The gist of the article is that people can lose weight but struggle to keep it off. Why? Because the body wants to return to its fatter size. The body is needing fewer calories, but we are craving more food. There appears to be this internal battle going on inside your body. Your willpower is battling against the brain, hormones, metabolism and fat storage. No wonder our willpower fails us so often. This is an excellent article.

The article stresses long-term solutions. Sound familiar? Yes, a diet will help you lose weight, but most do not help you make long-term lifestyle changes. The article also points out that you have exercise in your corner in the battle. Diet willpower alone is challenged and often defeated. But a good exercise program helps you win the long-term battle. Sound familiar?

In my case I find these points in the article very familiar. My willpower alone is helping win the battle. I find that I make more smart choices than before, and I have some resilience to get back on the program when I have one of those “bad” days with the fork. I have won the exercise battle and now firmly believe that it is a permanent part of my daily and weekly routine.

Yep, the body wants to slip back to the fat self, but I’m determined to win this battle. The progress made over the past nine months has been wonderful, and while l am not finished yet, I feel that many permanent lifestyle changes have been made.

I strongly recommend this article to you as it answers a lot of questions many of us have about weight loss from within the body.

Bill Richardson


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fight Boredom Blues

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It is easy to get bored – especially if you are in a rut. I find that when I approach my nutrition and exercise program as something special, it is easy to get bored. Every now and then, I do have that urge to consume something not on the plan. Actually, such an experience is okay if I keep it in perspective. For example, French fries. Occasionally, I get the urge for fried potatoes with ketchup and salt. Rather than locking myself in nutrition prison, I enjoy the French fries. But, I do try to keep the portion size small and the frequency in the not-very-often mode. I remind myself that I am not on a diet, but a nutritional lifestyle change that lasts longer than those diet plans. Fighting boredom is a major factor, in my opinion, that keeps people from being successful on a diet.

I view exercise the same way. I am exploring different places to walk. While I want to keep faithful to the 4-4-4 plan, I am really enjoying being outdoors now and looking for safe, shaded, naturally beautiful places to walk. The treadmill is great. But fresh air, sunshine and natural settings really make the miles go faster. If I find myself going back to the same old place, at the same time and walking at the same pace, I will get bored.

Experiment a little and stay committed to the nutrition place, but incorporate different food items into your plan. Vary your exercise plan, and you too might find ways to fight off the boredom blues.

Bill Richardson


Monday, June 16, 2008

Turn to Fresh Vegetables

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Were you able to get out and exercise over the weekend? I got outdoors for two exceptional walks. I was able to walk both Saturday and Sunday mornings one hour each. Even though the temperature was a little warm, a brisk one-hour walk was very do-able and exhilarating. Last week I was able to get in at least four walks. Two weeks left in June, and I want to get in at least eight more exercise sessions.

Fresh vegetables are becoming prevalent now. I fixed some great vegetable dishes over the weekend. Because the specialists keep recommending more vegetables, I am trying to take advantage of the fresh stuff available. Those vine-ripened tomatoes are just becoming available. Real vine-ripened tomatoes. Where the roots of the plant actually grow in dirt. I like those the best. If food prices keep going up, we all might be finding a spot in the yard for a vegetable garden. Since the price of gas is high, you can’t drive anyway so you might as well stay home and tend to the garden. I wonder how many calories that you burn hoeing the weeds in the garden? We might want to address that in a future blog.

I took the dog for walks on both weekend days. He’s getting in better shape and now makes the full walk without being carried.

Bill Richardson

Nutritionist's Response

Now is a great time to enjoy fresh Louisiana tomatoes. Tomatoes are delicious and nutritious. One small tomato has only16 calories. Tomatoes contain no saturated fat or cholesterol and are practically sodium-free. Tomatoes are rich sources of vitamins A, C and K, potassium, fiber and lycopene, which is an antioxidant that may help prevent heart disease and certain types of cancer.

When preparing fresh tomatoes and other fresh fruits and vegetables, follow these food safety recommendations:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly before handling food and wash cutting boards, counters and utensils.
  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry and seafood to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Always wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water to remove dirt and other contaminants both before and after trimming and cutting out bruised spots. Failure to wash fruits and vegetables before and after trimming and cutting out bruised spots may result in the contamination of the product’s interior.
  • Wash produce with your hands or if there is a firm surface, such as on apples, potatoes, or cantaloupe, you can scrub with a brush.
  • Pay particular attention to leafy items such as lettuce and spinach, because dirt and microorganisms can be trapped in the inner leaf folds during growth and handling.
  • Always remove the outer leaves of lettuce and spinach by pulling leaf folds completely from the center body core, and rinse the leaves and body core thoroughly.
  • Don't forget to wash thoroughly melon rinds to prevent contamination of the melon.
  • After cutting or slicing vegetables and fruit, refrigerate until serving or eating.
  • Don't use soap or detergent to wash produce since these are not approved or labeled by the FDA for use on foods.

Beth Reames

2/10/2009 1:16:35 AM
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