Tag Archives: healthy weight

10 holiday diet mistakes to avoid

Eat healthy balanced diet during holidaysI am feeling pretty guilty after attending many scrumptious feasts over the Thanksgiving holiday. I ate a little bit of everything and then had some more.

Like many Americans, I am now in panic mode as Christmas and New Year’s approach. These holidays bring more opportunities to overeat and make poor food choices. Not to mention, I will meet up with friends and relatives I don’t see very often, and I want to look my best.

At times like this, many of us turn to diets and less than healthy eating habits in hopes of looking and feeling better by the next round of holiday gatherings.

Here are 10 diet habits you should avoid and tips on what you should do instead:

Skipping breakfast
While skipping breakfast seems like a good way to cut calories, it can sabotage the rest of your day. Eating a healthy, filling breakfast that is high in fiber and protein can help you feel more full throughout the day. Studies show that breakfast can jump-start your metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Ignoring food groups
Different diet plans call for avoiding different types of foods. The latest fad may mean leaving out gluten, carbs, meat, dairy, sugar or fats. Yet, we need all of these nutrients for a balanced diet and for our bodies to work properly. Even dairy may help our bodies burn more fat by supplying calcium.

Forgetting about snacks
We often consider snacking a bad habit, but eating healthy, nutritious snacks actually helps  control hunger and aids in weight loss. Snacking on a handful of nuts, a cup of yogurt or some veggies can keep you on track and make those bad choices less appealing.

On the other hand, too much nibbling can be detrimental to your good eating habits. You grab a pastry and iced coffee at the morning meeting. You snack on pretzels at your desk. You finish your child’s chocolate shake. All of these extra calories can add up throughout the day.

Drinking diet sodas
It can be tempting to fill up on diet sodas. The fizzy drinks make you feel full and can taste good, too. Diet sodas may actually be sabotaging your weight loss. It has been found that artificial sweeteners may be linked to weight gain.

The answer: drink more water. Water is essential for burning calories. If you become dehydrated, your metabolism slows down. When you drink eight or more glasses of water a day, you burn more calories.

Starving yourself
When people want to lose weight fast, they tend to think that eating less will get the best results. By drastically reducing your calorie intake, you actually send your body into starvation mode, and it starts storing fat to get you through the lean times. A better approach is to make a modest cut to calorie intake and then maintain that level for a long period of time.

Cutting out the fat
It isn’t so much the fat we eat that causes weight gain as much as it’s the total amount of calories and bad fats that lead to health problems. We need to cut down on the trans and saturated fats found in meat and processed foods. We still need to include good fats in our diets, such as those found in olive oil and fatty foods.

Thinking good calories don’t count
We think because some foods are good for us, we can eat as much as we want. However, you still need to keep your total calorie intake in mind. Just because whole grains, beans, chicken and cheese are good for you, doesn’t mean you should eat 10 tacos in one meal. Even fruits and veggies eaten in excess can be converted to fat.

Leaving out exercise
When we get busy with preparing for the holidays, it may be easier to drop your exercise routine so that you can fit more into your busy days. Yet, if you keep up your exercise routine, you can eat more of the things you enjoy and still lose weight. Exercise can also help you relieve the stress brought on by the hectic holiday season.

Setting unrealistic goals
Deciding you want to lose 30 pounds between now and Christmas is probably unrealistic. You need to set a more realistic goal, such as planning to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. You should also set other goals, such as running a mile without stopping or swimming a certain amount of laps in the pool. You will feel pride and accomplishment without relying solely on weight loss.

Using a diet at all
For the most part, I feel like “diet” is a bit of a four-letter word. Any time you are being deprived of food, you are more likely to fail in your eating habits. It’s more important to change your lifestyle and create a balance among all of the aspects of living a healthy life. You need to make healthy eating, exercising, getting enough sleep and relieving stress into habits that you can live with every day.

Are you at risk for high blood pressure?

high blood pressure heart family geneticsBoth of my parents take medication to lower their blood pressure. My brother also takes blood pressure medicine. At 43 years old, my numbers are currently normal, but I do worry about hypertension.

How much does my genetic make-up have to do with it? Or, does my lifestyle have the biggest impact on my blood pressure? Before we get into the risk factors, I think we need to answer a few other important questions.

What is high blood pressure?
Your blood pressure is high if you have readings that are consistently above 140 over 90 for several weeks. You can also have high blood pressure if just one of those numbers is high over a period of time.

What does it matter if you have high blood pressure?
Higher blood pressure puts a strain on your heart and blood vessels. This additional strain can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure can also cause kidney disease, and is linked to some forms of dementia.

What are the signs of high blood pressure?
There typically aren’t any signs or symptoms of high blood pressure. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your readings taken. One high reading does not necessarily mean your blood pressure is high. Many things can affect your pressures throughout the day. You may also get stressed about going to the doctor, which may increase your reading. You need to have your blood pressure checked over time and see if it remains high.

What causes high blood pressure?
For most people, there isn’t a single cause for their high blood pressure. It’s not certain what causes high blood pressure, but it seems to be most often brought on by a combination of your lifestyle as well as other factors that you can’t control.

Here are some of the key risk factors for high blood pressure:

Aging
The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age. Men 45 years of age and older have an increased risk of hypertension. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure at about 55 years old, or after menopause.

Family history
Genetics is a strong risk factor for high blood pressure. Hypertension tends to run in families. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as good eating habits and keep off extra weight, can help prolong the time you spend without the disease.

Ethnicity
People from African-Caribbean and South Asian decent tend to be at a greater risk for high blood pressure. African Americans also have increased rates of hypertension, can develop the condition earlier in life, and often have more serious complications than Caucasians.

Being overweight
Being overweight or obese creates an extra strain on your heart. Your blood pressure can rise with the more extra pounds you put on. More blood is circulated through your body and adds more pressure to your artery walls. Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent high blood pressure.

Physically inactive
Without regular exercise to keep your heart strong, it has to pump harder to circulate your blood and puts extra stress on your arteries. Lack of physical activity also goes hand in hand with becoming overweight.

Unhealthy diet
Having too much fat and sugar in your diet can contribute to weight gain and increase your chances of high blood pressure. Eating a healthy diet with protein, fiber and plenty of fruits and vegetables can even help lower blood pressure.

Too much salt
A high sodium diet can raise your blood pressure. When you eat too much salt, your body retains fluid which can increase blood pressure. Keep your salt intake to a minimum.

Using tobacco
Smoking or chewing tobacco raises your blood pressure temporarily. However, the chemicals in tobacco can also damage the lining in your artery walls. Your arteries can narrow and raise your blood pressure.

Overindulging in alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can also increase your risk of hypertension. Over time, it damages your heart. Limiting yourself to one glass of alcohol a day if you’re a woman and two glasses a day if you’re a man can help you avoid high blood pressure.

So, while my age and my family genetics may be going against me, it seems that I can help lower my chances of developing high blood pressure by living a more balanced lifestyle. By exercising, eating right and maintaining a healthy weight, I may be able to keep high blood pressure at bay. That’s all the more reason to live a balanced life!