12 Simple Ways to Eat Less and Feel Better

usda my plate-984891711_v2.grid-4x2Do you eat when you’re bored? Stressed? Or wait until you feel starved and then overeat? Is it hard to judge portions, or do you end up with super-sized meals at restaurants?

Many factors can contribute to how much you eat. The good news is that you can control most of these factors and eventually turn them into healthy eating habits.

Here are 12 simple ways you can eat less on a daily basis and feel better about what you eat:

Serve yourself healthy foods first.
Load your plate up with the healthiest food choices first. Whether you’re eating at home, a restaurant or a buffet line, dish up the veggies, whole grains, and fruits before the fattier meats or side dishes. Then, you can go back and sample a few less healthy options or have a small dessert.

Use smaller plates and bowls.
The size of your dishes gives your brain cues on how much you’re “supposed” to eat. The bigger the dish means that you can have more food. In a study, people at a Chinese buffet who got a large plate served themselves 52% more food, and ate 45% more of it, than those who had smaller plates.

Use taller glasses.
Just like less food looks like more food on a smaller plate, height makes things look larger than width, even if the volume of both glasses is the same. You can cut down on liquid calories by choosing taller glasses rather than shorter, fatter ones.

Eat protein for breakfast.
Most studies recommend eating breakfast every day to help kick start your metabolism. But, you only get the true benefits of breakfast if it’s high in protein. More protein can suppress your appetite and reduce subsequent eating throughout the day. Skip the pancakes and waffles, and grab an omelet instead.

Eat three meals a day.
While we’ve all heard that we should eat more, smaller meals throughout the day, research is showing that three bigger meals a day may still be the best way to control your appetite. However, skipping meals will make controlling your appetite more difficult. If you eat healthy at regular meals, you shouldn’t need any additional food.

Hide unhealthy snacks.
Studies have shown that people eat a lot more food when the food is visible, rather than putting it away where it can’t be seen. The harder food is to get to may also deter some of your snacking habits. Even better yet, keep tempting junk foods out of the house. And, on the flip side, keep healthy foods prominently displayed and easy to reach.

Order the “small” choice.
A larger container or plate can tempt you to eat more food. You may be full or even think it doesn’t taste that good, and still feel obligated to eat it. When it comes to movie popcorn, french fries, or fountain drinks, choose the smallest size option and you’ll eat less.

Take a doggy bag.
Restaurant portions are most likely going to set you up to overeat. You want a good deal for your money, but those large portions can contain more than 1,200 calories without including dessert. One trick is to divide the food on your plate in half before you start eating. Then stop eating when you’ve finished half and ask for a to-go container. You’ll have a healthier meal and leftovers for tomorrow.

Pack your lunch for work.
Even better than eating out for lunch during the week, pack your own lunch. You will be able to control the portions and select a balance of healthy foods. It’s also more cost effective and can help ensure that you eat those leftovers.

Know your weaknesses.
We all have food weaknesses. The food you can’t resist. The food you can’t stop eating. Or the food you eat even if you’re not hungry. Think about your food weaknesses. Once you recognize what they are, you can learn to avoid eating them. Don’t buy them at the grocery store. Bypass the co-worker who always brings yummy homemade desserts. You can avoid the food until you gain the strength to give up the craving.

Don’t eat from a package.
When you can’t see how much you’re eating, you’re more likely eat double or triple the proper portion. Who can eat just one potato chip out of the bag? Use a plate, bowl or even a napkin so that you can see how much you’re going to eat. And put the package away so you won’t be tempted to dump out more.

Eat slowly and savor your food.
Eating should be enjoyable. There is a benefit to slowing down and appreciating your food. Take your time between bites and chew thoroughly. When you eat more slowly, you can recognize when you’re beginning to feel full. You can stop eating before you clean your plate and feel too full. Drink water while you’re eating. These simple steps can help you cut back on unnecessary calories.

By following these simple tips, you can learn to eat less, still feel full and feel better about your eating habits.

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16 Habits of Extremely Healthy People

healthy-life-sign-250x165As we head into cold and flu season, I wonder how some people always seem to stay so healthy. I blame my kids for spreading germs, but I’d like to think there are things we can do to stay healthier during the fall and winter months.

Real health is about more than just the physical aspects of wellness. It encompasses much more. You need to include your mental, emotional and spiritual health in your plans for a healthy lifestyle.

While there’s no magic plan or potion that will guarantee your health, you can take steps to increase your overall health. In the process, you may also boost your immune system to ward off those pesky cold and flu germs.

Here are 16 habits that healthy people incorporate into their daily lives:

Look on the bright side
Healthy people are optimistic. They don’t waste time and energy complaining. If they need to make a change in there lives, they do it. A positive mental attitude goes along way to promoting and supporting other healthy behaviors.

Commit to a healthy life
Healthy people aren’t born that way. They have made a choice to live a healthy lifestyle. They take it one day at a time just like the rest of us. Do healthy people slip up and revert to bad habits occasionally? Absolutely. However, they know not to let one setback hold them back and continue to actively work toward living a healthy life.

Eat for nourishment
Eating right isn’t just about what you eat. It’s also about how much you eat. Your body will let you know when you’ve had enough. Healthy people pay attention to their bodies and listen when it tells them they are full. You can stop eating when your hunger is satisfied, and before that bloated, full feeling sets in.

Believe in moderation
Healthy people don’t deprive themselves of the foods they love. They eat healthy the majority of the time, but enjoy their favorite unhealthy foods once in a while without feeling guilty. Eat a couple pieces of pizza or have a cookie. Just remember to stay on your healthy course the rest of the time!

Enjoy exercise
I am not here yet. Healthy people actually enjoy exercising. How do they do it? They spend time doing exercises they actually like doing and avoid those they hate. If you hate to run, don’t run. If you don’t like going to a gym, don’t go. Find things you like to do: taking walks outdoors, swimming laps, riding your bike or doing yoga.

Balance work and play
With technology taking over our lives, many people never really clock out from their jobs. You may check emails from your phone or send work texts at dinner. Healthy people know that work is important, but they also know that our health suffers when we don’t take time for us. Make sure you maintain a good balance between work and play.

Drink water
Everyone knows they should drink more water, but healthy people actually do it. Drinking at least six, eight-ounce glasses of water a day can help you in so many ways. You can control your appetite, avoid dehydration and be more mentally attuned. Keep a refillable water bottle with you everywhere you go.

Eat healthy snacks
Snacking can make or break your health goals. Healthy people choose snacks like vegetables, fruits, almonds and other nuts. Replace processed snack foods with raw types of snacks, and you’ll develop an important healthy habit.

Reduce stress
Some stress is a good thing. It keeps us on task and prepares us to handle important challenges. But, chronic stress can be bad for your overall health. It can even weaken your immune system. Take time to relax and do things you enjoy. Say no to stress!

Get enough sleep
Without enough sleep, your immune system doesn’t have the resources it needs to fight off illness. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Keep a regular sleep schedule, avoid caffeine at bedtime, relax and make your bedroom an oasis.

Just say no
Healthy people are attuned to their own needs. You can say no to friends and loved ones. It means that you are respecting yourself. When you’ve reached your limit, listen to your mind and body, and say no. Your friends and family will understand.

Kick bad habits
If you smoke or drink alcohol, it can weaken your immune system. Smoking is also likely to give you additional health problems. While a glass of wine or a couple of beers is okay, overdoing it can cause you to get sick more often.

Get a pet
Dogs and other pets aren’t just good to have as companions. They can help you get exercise and improve your health. Pets have been found to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, contributing to a healthier heart. Dogs can also be good for your immune system and help you relieve stress.

Have a laugh
Laughing can be good for you. Research as shown that laughter may help boost your immune system. Laughing and smiling also help relieve stress and put you in a good mood.

Live in the moment
Take time to enjoy life’s little pleasures. Be thankful for everything that is good in your life. The ability to appreciate the things you have, regardless of what else might be going on, helps you maintain a peaceful mindset rather than focus on what you don’t have.

Be kind
Healthy people treat others how they want to be treated. Creating a habit of kindness and respect will make you feel good about yourself and build strong relationships with your friends and family. Small acts of goodness can change your life – and can impact someone else’s life, too. Be compassionate, and you’ll give off a healthy glow!

7 Common Organizing Mistakes to Avoid

closet-organizedToday, I decided to tackle organizing my closets and dresser drawers. With fall upon us, it’s time to switch out the summer clothes for the warmer winter styles.

I try to keep my closets, and the rest of my house organized. No matter how hard I try, it seems like I can’t get it right.

The trick to becoming organized is identifying the habits you need to change, as well as the habits that are worth keeping. It can be your kitchen counter that gets piled with clutter, a home office area, or a dresser drawer that will no longer close.

Here are 7 organizing mistakes you may be making and how you can correct them:

Finding the perfect place to start
Not knowing where to begin is often the result of being overwhelmed by clutter. It can be a vicious cycle. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s hard to get started and think clearly about your goals. Start with something simple. Grab a trash bag, pick a room and get started. Fill your bag with either trash or things you want to donate to charity. Once you take this simple step, you’ll feel more motivated to tackle more areas.

Overusing reminders
I am the queen of lists and sticky notes. However, this practice can contribute to feeling overwhelmed by clutter. If you’re constantly searching for notes, creating more Post-its and updating your dry erase board, you’re not getting anything done. Keep a central calendar that everyone can view and make a new list of your important to-do items each day. Focus on what’s most important and let the rest go.

Relying on technology
As technology takes over our lives, we are using our computers, smartphones or tablets to try and organize every minute of our day. While it’s good to archive important information or set appointment reminders on your phone, try not to let technology control you. If you’re constantly checking your phone, you may end up on social media sites, online shopping or sending unnecessary texts or messages. Stay focused on what you need to accomplish instead.

Stashing things
Who hasn’t thrown items in a drawer, closet or room when you know company is coming to your house? We also stash clutter rather than truly put it in it’s rightful place. That place could be a shelf in the basement, another room or even the trash. Hiding things creates the illusion of cleanliness and organization, but will catch up with you when you can’t find what you need or the junk drawer will no longer shut.

Buying too many containers
Containers can play a valuable role in putting together an organized space, but it can be a mistake to make a trip to the container store before you even start organizing. First, bringing containers into a cluttered space can just make it look more messy. Second, you may uncover or reuse containers as you are decluttering. And, it’s much harder to know what types of containers you need before you even start organizing. The solution: shop for any storage solutions after you’ve gotten started on the organizing process.

Getting emotionally attached
I have a sweatshirt in my closet that I wore in high school. I don’t wear it anymore. I keep it because it holds memories for me. It’s easy to getting emotionally attached to our possessions. Yet, you need to try and approach decluttering rationally and logically. Do I need six black sweaters? While I could try to justify that they are various styles, I probably do not need that many black sweaters. While it may be painful to cut down on your belongings, you will be happy you did when you’re space feels organized.

Unrealistic expectations
The key to organizing is taking it slowly. Once you get started tackling your clutter, you’re going to want to organize everything RIGHT NOW. It’s better to pace yourself – both in a single organizing session or as part of your overall organizing plans. You’ll keep from burning yourself out and be able to maintain your focus as you organize your home.

Being more organized will benefit you in the long run. In order to achieve lasting change, you must find the system that works best for you. Then, you can clean up your space, find what you need quickly and reclaim your life!

22 Best And Worst Foods For Fall

Pumpkin-Pie-ImageI love the holidays. Fall and winter bring many festivities – from Halloween and Thanksgiving to Christmas and New Years. I enjoy spending time with family and friends and making new memories. And then, of course, there’s the food.

I love to eat, especially when someone else cooks it and puts it on the table in front of me to enjoy. Unfortunately, I enjoy all of the tasty fall and winter treats that are bad for me. I have been known to raid my kids’ Halloween candy after they go to bed. I live for all the fattening Thanksgiving foods like stuffing and pumpkin pie.

So, I have made a resolution to TRY to eat healthier this holiday season. I did some research on the worst and best foods to eat during the fall and winter months.

First, here’s a list of the 7 most fattening foods for fall and winter:

Heart-warming drinks
Fall drinks, such as hot chocolate, eggnog, apple cider, flavored lattes, and hot toddies, are loaded with extra calories. While they are absolutely delicious, they contain anywhere from 200 to almost 400 empty calories. I have found green teas that offer great cold-weather flavors and provide antioxidants without the added calories.

Yummy pies
I am a big fan of pie. In fact, there are very few types of pie that I won’t eat. While pie often starts out with a healthy fruit, nut or vegetable filling, it may then become loaded down with heavy pie crusts, sweeteners and ice cream toppings. Try to skip the crust, cut a small piece, and opt for a light whipped topping.

Creamy, delicious soups
There’s nothing like a bowl of hot soup to ward off the chill of long winter months. Yet, soups or stews that are loaded with cream, cheese or meat may also have too many calories. Add in a bread bowl, rice or noodles and you’ve loaded on even more calories. Broth and vegetable-based soups can fill you up with fewer calories.

Delectable stuffing
Stuffing can be filled with high-fat additions such as sausage and butter. Plus, stuffing is even better with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy. You can make a low-fat stuffing with fruits, vegetables and stock – and go easy on the gravy.

Comforting mac and cheese
Macaroni and cheese is a staple for most kids and a blast from the past for adults. One cup of mac and cheese can contain 300 to 400 calories. To lower the calories, use low-fat cheese and low-fat milk.

Dreamy mashed potatoes
Mashed potatoes are another yummy, comfort food. Many recipes rely on butter, heavy cream and whole milk to bump up the flavor. Substitute low-fat options for healthier mashed potatoes.

Scrumptious pumpkin desserts
Pumpkin on its own is good for you. Make it into a pie, cake or other rich dessert and you negate the health benefits. Pumpkin muffins or custard can be a low-fat alternative.

Now, it’s time to put these wonderful, tasty and fattening foods out of your mind and focus on healthy, nutritious alternatives. With a little Internet research, you can find easy recipes to create good-for-you holiday dishes that everyone can enjoy.

Here are 12 healthy fall foods that are sure to be a hit with friends and family:

Turkey
Turkey is a good winter food. It’s lean and packed with protein. It’s also low in calories. In addition to being a traditional entree for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, you can also enjoy turkey in soups or as a hearty sandwich on whole-grain bread with veggies for toppings.

Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes offer much more nutritional content than white potatoes. They are filled with fiber and protein and provide vitamins A, C and B6, as well as minerals such as potassium and manganese. Sweet potatoes also work in a variety of dishes from sides to desserts.

Squash
Winter squash has a fine texture and sweeter flavor. Squash is loaded with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids. To maintain the nutritional value, it’s best to bake, grill or fry squash without adding butter or syrup. Try low-fat margarine, brown sugar, applesauce, or cinnamon and ginger as seasonings.

Pumpkin
As we mentioned under the fattening foods, pumpkin is good for you. This vegetable is a good source of fiber and is full of vitamins and nutrients, including iron, magnesium, potassium, niacin, and vitamins A and C. Pumpkin does contain natural sugar so keep recipes simple by not adding extra sugar.

Beets
Beets are high in fiber, potassium, iron and vitamin C. Beets are sweet and can be roasted as a side dish or added to salads for a splash of color.

Carrots
Carrots are rich in vitamin A, C and B6, and contain potassium, thiamin and fiber. Grated, sliced or diced carrots add a great garnish to dishes and provide many health benefits.

Broccoli
While broccoli gets a bad rap, it is a power vegetable containing vitamins A, C and B6 as well as being high in potassium, manganese and fiber.

Cabbage
Cabbage, a cruciferous vegetable known for their health benefits, is loaded with nutrition. It’s full of vitamins, nutrients and has anti-inflammatory properties. Cabbage can be added to a variety of dishes to give them a healthy boost.

Cauliflower
Cauliflower makes a great side dish or addition to other vegetable dishes. It can be steamed, grilled, roasted or mashed like potatoes. Cauliflower is a great source for vitamin C and may help prevent cancer and lower cholesterol.

Citrus fruits
Many varieties of citrus fruits are available during the winter months, including mandarin oranges, tangerines, blood oranges and clementines. Citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C and high in fiber.

Apples and pears
Apples and pears are high in fiber and a good source of vitamin C. They are good for you when eaten raw or baked into side dishes.

Cranberries
Fresh cranberries are available during the fall and winter months. Cranberries are low in calories and contain fiber and vitamin C. Add them to salads, muffins or as toppings for side dishes.

Figs and dates
Figs are high in sugar, but they contain fiber and add a great flavor to fall dishes. Dates are also sweet, provide fiber and potassium, and can be added to salads, fruit dishes and desserts.

It’s easy to make traditional holiday dishes and comfort foods during the cold fall and winter months. However, you can break from tradition and switch out those fattening foods with healthier alternatives. Hop on the Internet and search for recipes you can make with the nutritious fruits and vegetables listed above.

Do you have healthy dishes you enjoy fixing during the holidays? Please feel free to pass on your favorite recipes.

6 Health Benefits of a Mediterranean Diet

mediterranean_diet2-300x236If you’re looking for a healthy eating plan, the Mediterranean diet may be a good option for you. While this type of approach has many benefits, there are also several misconceptions about this healthy lifestyle.

First, let’s debunk the myths about the Mediterranean diet:

Myth 1: This diet is expensive.
The fact is the Mediterranean diet is less expensive than eating dishes of meat, cheese and processed foods. You’ll be creating meals of beans or lentils, as a source of protein, and eating more plants and whole grains.

Myth 2: Wine is always healthy.
Wine is good for your heart in moderation. For example, one glass a day for women and two for men. More than two glasses of wine can actually be bad for your heart.

Myth 3: You can eat all the pasta and bread you want.
Mediterraneans don’t eat heaping plates of pasta the way Americans do. Pasta is typically a side dish with only a 1/2 cup or 1 cup serving size. The rest of their plate contains salad, vegetables and a small portion of meat.

Myth 4: You’ll lose weight on this diet.
This diet alone may not lead to weight loss. The people of the Greek islands also include exercise in their daily lives, by walking up and down steep hills, tending gardens and living off what they can grow themselves.

Myth 5: The diet is only about food.
The Mediterranean diet has more to do with how the people live their lives. They sit down for meals, relax and eat leisurely while enjoying the meal with others. This approach to food may be as important to your health as what’s on your plate.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes:

  • Eating plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Replacing butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt for flavoring
  • Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
  • Eating fish and poultry twice a week or more
  • Drinking red wine in moderation

Here are 6 health benefits of eating in a Mediterranean style:

Prevent heart disease and stroke
One of the main reasons to follow a Mediterranean diet is to promote heart health. Refined breads, processed foods and red meat are discouraged. In addition, red wine is better for your heart than hard liquor.

Protect against type 2 diabetes
Rich in fiber, the Mediterranean diet slows down digestion and prevents huge swings in blood sugar. The diet also includes less sugar than the typical American diet.

Reduce risk of Alzheimer’s
Researchers believe the Mediterranean diet may improve cholesterol, blood sugar levels and overall blood vessel health. All of these factors may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Halve the risk of Parkinson’s disease
The risk of Parkinson’s disease can practically be cut in half. That’s because this diet contains high levels of antioxidants that prevent cells from undergoing a damaging process called oxidative stress.

Live longer
With a reduction in developing heart disease as well as cancer, there is a 20 percent reduction in the risk of death at any age.

Stay agile
The nutrients gained with a Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of developing muscle weakness and other signs of frailty as we age by 70 percent.

While the Mediterranean diet may seem like a daunting change, it can be easier to adopt than you think. It follows the common sense approach to incorporating balance into your diet, by including lots of vegetables and fruits, cutting down on meat and eating more fish, chicken and good fats. You should also include physical activity and enjoy your meals with family and friends.

A Day of Thanks and Recognition

labordayLabor Day has been celebrated for over 100 years. It’s a day to pay tribute to the hard work of the men and women who have built this country.

As we reflect on this weekend’s Labor Day celebrations, we encourage you to thank all of the laborers, leaders, and visionaries who make sacrifices and dedicate themselves to working hard all year long to shape our great nation!

Are Your Kids Stressed Out?

KidsHaveStressTooPicIf you’re like most parents, your list of errands and things to do never ends. You run from one activity or event to the next. You’re probably stressed out at times.

Guess what? Your kids may be stressed out, too. The start of school – after a summer of being on vacation – can be a particularly stressful time.

How do you know if your kids are stressed?
A recent survey by the American Psychological Association found that 20% of children have ongoing stress.

Here are 4 questions to ask yourself to determine if your child is stressed:

  1. Does your child have more meltdowns than usual?
  2. Do you notice more fatigue, irritability, headaches or stomachaches?
  3. Is your child sleeping poorly or having more nightmares?
  4. Does your child seem angry?

What can you do to help your child cope with stress? Here are 8 stress relievers you can teach your kids:

Think positive
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of negative thinking. You may also be teaching your kids to think in the negative instead of the positive. Rather than saying, “I hope I don’t fail the test,” put a positive spin on it and say, “I have studied, and I will pass the test.”

Show by example
Kids are perceptive. They watch you and pay attention to what you’re doing. If you show them that you can manage stress in productive way, they will learn that stress is something they can deal with. Make sure they see you finding effective methods of handling stress in your life.

De-stress early
Most people wait until they’re stressed out to use stress-busting techniques. You can teach your kids to know the signs early or take a preventative approach to dealing with stress. For instance, you can use healthy eating, exercising, meditating or other techniques to help  cope with stress.

Unplug
While we rely on technology in many aspects of our lives, it can also add to our stress levels. Try a self-imposed technology cut-off time. Limit screen time for kids, including TV, movies, mobile phones, tablets and social media. You and your kids may be surprised by the things you can find to do when you’re unplugged.

Eat together
At least once a day, make it a point to eat a meat together. It can be breakfast if everyone is up and about at the same time. Or plan on sitting down to eat dinner in the evening as a family. You can learn quite a bit about what’s going on in your kids’ lives if you sit down regularly for a meal and conversation.

Spend time with friends
As adults we spend time with our friends to unwind, complain about our boss or just goof off. Your kids should also build healthy friendships that allow them to be themselves and blow off steam. They can hang out at the park, have sleep overs or just play in the yard.

Take up a sport
Sports are a great way to relieve stress. Playing a team sport can also help your kids build relationships, exercise and have fun.

Enjoy creative activities
Art, music or other creative tasks can help alleviate stress. Even reading a book can be a stress buster.

Relationships can help kids build resilience. Spending time with parents or grandparents playing board games, cooking or tossing a frisbee can help kids handle stress. And it creates happy memories for everyone!