Friday, August 17, 2012

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Save Money Without Sacrificing Quality

When you’re on a tight budget, the thought of preparing tasty, healthy meals on a regular basis can seem daunting. It's easy to get sucked in by grocery merchandising tricks, and also normal for most of us to fall into a mealtime rut, eating the same foods over and over. But you’re in control of your kitchen—and if you cook smart, you can enjoy the first-class meals that best serve your body and taste delicious. 

You can save money and still have quality. If you’ve been using cost as an excuse to eat junk, kiss that excuse goodbye! With a little organization and creativity, you can have the proverbial champagne when cooking on a beer budget. To start, here’s a quick review of basic tips of healthy eating:
  • Limit your intake of all processed and junky food (and alcohol)
  • Drink lots of water (at least 8 cups a day)
  • Avoid salty and sugary foods
  • Avoid eating foods that are high in saturated fats - eat healthy fats!
  • Make “variety” the watchword of your eating
The KEY is to actually set aside time for planning meals: making your grocery list, and shopping—tasks that are most often shortchanged in food prep. Include healthy snack ideas, as well as main menu items. Think about the time of day, day of week, and even week in the month that you shop. Generally, the grocery is the least busy early in the morning, in the middle of the week, and on any day but the first day or two of the month (when many people receive pension or paychecks).
Don’t be afraid to surf the internet for recipes that use specific ingredients (plug the ingredient in as a keyword of your search), since you can often get good buys on breads, meats, and other items marked for quick sale before they go bad.

Stock your fridge and cupboards with items that are quick and easy to cook (yet kind to your wallet):
  • Beans and lentils, whether canned or dried, make nutritious, hearty soups, and can be a main course with the addition of fresh vegetables or rice.
  • Brown Rice is a great addition to leftover meat and veggies. Although brown rice is slightly more expensive than white, the nutritional payoff is well worth it. Another inexpensive, easy-to-fix grain, millet, is best when bought fresh. Simply rinse and toast before using it in recipes.
  • Pasta, likewise, is quick and easy to prepare, and can be paired with veggies, meat, or a fresh salad. Have fun adding your own embellishments (mushrooms, spices, and herbs.) Choose rice (gluten-free) pasta whenever available.
  • Soups can’t be beat for nutrition and convenience, starting with a clean, low-sodium broth and then adding your own veggies and leftover meat. Again, experiment, adding herbs and spices.
  • Fresh vegetables and fruit should be bought at least twice or three times each week, preferably in season, to ensure optimal taste and nutrition. Veggies make great stir-fries and vegetable patties, while fruit is good for a quick nutritious snack (add nut butters for protein!).
  • Meat and fish can be kept on hand also for last-minute meals— try the newer tuna and salmon pouches, and shop for meat that works well in stews and casseroles. Remember portion size:  keep your meats the size of your palm - you'll be surprised at how filling it is!
  • Condiments add flavor and interest to your dishes. Keep a selection of dried herbs, spices, curry powder, marinades, vinegars, tomato and tamari (gluten-free soy) sauces, along with low-sodium and MSG-free stocks, in your cupboard. Experiment with the new, such as Japanese miso, an aged salty condiment made from non-GMO soybeans and various other ingredients (found in the natural foods section, usually refrigerated).
Finally, a few more hints that can help you save a little green:
  • When cooking a big meal, make extra to freeze, or use later in the week for lunches or quick suppers. Double recipes, then freeze half.
  • Save your vegetable trimmings to make your own vegetable stock. Not only do you save money, but vegetable stock also makes a nutritious base for casseroles, soups, and Crockpot cooking.
  • Buying in bulk is almost always cheaper; you can freeze perishable items in smaller portions to use as needed. It’s always a good idea to buy non-perishable items in bulk (dried beans and grains, etc.).
  • Use less expensive cuts of meat for casseroles that you slow cook; add extra vegetables and beans to make the meal go further.
  • Capitalize on one-pot dishes, which generally save prep time, money, and dishwashing, and often make great leftovers.
  • Look high and low (literally) to find the less expensive or store brands on grocery shelves, often very similar to higher-priced brand names though packaged under different labels. Stores deliberately place the highest-priced brand-name items at eye level, but if you compare the cost per unit, you’ll be able to figure out the most cost-effective purchase. You can even try your own taste tests to see where you can save money without sacrificing flavor.
  • Take advantage of specials on staples—broth, soups, pasta, rice, even bread and meat. Many of these items have a long shelf life or can be frozen for short periods of time.
  • Limit your dining out, especially when it comes to fast food, since you’ll find yourself spending unnecessarily on items that are high in fat, salt, and calories, which short-change you in the nutrition department.
Like anything else worthwhile in life, cooking takes a little planning and creativity. But if you think of the rewards—better health and more money—you’ll find it’s worth the effort. No doubt you’ll still have days when you fall back on that quick-fix packaged food or the local burger. But if you look at cooking as an adventure, you’ll also have days when you find yourself pleased at what you’ve accomplished—as you serve dinner to rave reviews from family and friends!

And of course, when you're in a cooking rut, consider The Green Gourmet Chicago ( where healthy, delicious meals will be brought to your doorstep fresh each morning.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

When Iron’s Out of Balance

Iron, an essential nutrient, has long been the nation’s most common nutritional deficiency. In decades past, many parents worried that children who were picky eaters would develop iron-deficiency anemia. My mother boiled meat I refused to eat and fed me the concentrated broth in hopes I’d get some of its iron.
Now baby foods, infant formula and many other child-friendly foods, like breakfast cereals, breads, rice and pasta, are fortified with iron. Today iron deficiency is more likely in infants who are exclusively breast-fed, young children who consume too much milk, menstruating and pregnant women, vegans and strict vegetarians, and people who take medications that cause internal bleeding or interfere with iron absorption.Iron, an essential nutrient, has long been the nation’s most common nutritional deficiency. In decades past, many parents worried that children who were picky eaters would develop iron-deficiency anemia. My mother boiled meat I refused to eat and fed me the concentrated broth in hopes I’d get some of its iron.
These days, more attention is being paid to the opposite problem: iron overload, which studies indicate can damage internal organs and may increase the risk of diabetesheart attack andcancer, particularly in older people.
In examining more than 1,000 white Americans ages 67 to 96 participating in the Framingham Heart Study, researchers found that only about 3 percent had deficient levels of iron in their blood or stored in their bodies, but 13 percent had levels considered too high.
The authors concluded that “the likely liability in iron nutriture in free-living, elderly white Americans eating a Western diet is high iron stores, not iron deficiency.”
Iron is an essential part of the proteins that transport oxygen in the body. Hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells, accounts for about two-thirds of the body’s iron supply. Smaller amounts are found in myoglobin, the protein that supplies oxygen to muscles, and in enzymes needed for various biochemical reactions.
In addition, a varying amount of iron is stored in proteins that release it to the blood when needed. The more iron that is absorbed from the diet, the higher the level of stored iron. About one person in 250 inherits a genetic disorder called hemochromatosis that increases iron absorption and results in a gradual, organ-damaging buildup of stored iron, although symptoms of the problem usually don’t become apparent until midlife or later.
An Array of Symptoms From Iron Deficiency
Iron deficiency can result in a confusing array of symptoms, including fatigue and weakness, poor work performance, increased risk of infections, difficulty keeping warm, lightheadedness, rapid heartbeat, and shortness of breath with exercise. Population studies have suggested that people who engage regularly in strenuous exercise, especially adolescents and vegetarians, are at increased risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia.
Iron deficiency is rare in men and postmenopausal women, and most should avoid supplements containing iron to reduce the risk of organ damage from too much iron. Also, if a routine blood test (advisable at least every two years) indicates low iron, experts warn against simply taking an iron supplement. Rather, a doctor should first check for hidden blood loss or impediments to iron absorption resulting from diet habits, medications or chronic health conditions, like colitis or the aftermath of weight-loss surgery.
There are two kinds of dietary iron, heme and nonheme. Heme iron, found only in meat, fish and poultry, is much better absorbed that the nonheme iron found in vegetables, fortified foods, supplements and acidic foods cooked in cast-iron pots. Whereas 15 to 30 percent of heme iron consumed is absorbed, only 5 percent of nonheme iron gets into the blood. To assure adequate iron absorption, some vegans and vegetarians may need to take a supplement.
Various factors can impair or enhance iron absorption. Some vegetables, like spinach (Popeye notwithstanding), contain oxalic acid, which interferes with iron absorption. High-fiber foods like whole grains that contain phytates and foods high in calcium (hence the problem with too much milk) also diminish the amount of iron that enters blood. But the vitamin C and other acids naturally present in fruits, fruit juices and some vegetables increase iron absorption.
In a subsequent study by the Framingham researchers, men and women ages 68 to 93 had the highest levels of stored iron if they consumed red meat four or more times a week, took more than 30 milligrams of an iron supplement daily, or ate more than 21 servings of fruit each week. However, levels were much lower among those who consumed more than seven servings of whole grains each week.
Hazards of Iron Overload
Earlier this year, Nutrition Action Healthletter, published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, summarized the latest evidence for the effects of excess iron stores.
The problem with too much stored iron is that, short of bleeding, the body can’t easily get rid of it. Menstruating women are unlikely to have a problem, but for others with high stores the recommended treatments include phlebotomy and frequent blood donation. Without these measures, excess iron gets deposited in the liver, heart and pancreas, where it can cause cirrhosis,liver cancer, cardiac arrhythmias and diabetes.
These health consequences can develop even in people without hemochromatosis, the genetic disorder, who accumulate very high levels of stored iron. For example, among 32,000 women followed for 10 years in the Nurses’ Health Study, those with the highest levels of stored iron were nearly three times as likely to have diabetes as those with the lowest levels. Likewise, among 38,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, those who consumed the most heme iron had a 63 percent greater risk of developing diabetes.
Other studies have shown that when people with high levels of stored iron donate blood regularly, their insulin sensitivity and risk of diabetes diminishes.
While the risk of cancer from too much iron is uncertain except in people with hemochromatosis, the known links between high levels of red meat consumption and cancers of the colon and prostate are highly suggestive of an increased risk associated with excessive consumption of heme iron.
As for heart disease, the link found in some studies to high levels of heme iron consumption may reflect the effect of saturated fats from red meat, the richest source of heme iron, more than that of iron itself.
High levels of iron have been found in the brains of people with neurodegenerative diseases likeAlzheimer’sParkinson’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). But sick brain cells accumulate abnormal levels of minerals like aluminum, so iron in these cases may be an effect of brain disease rather than its cause.
Nonetheless, there are ample health and environmental reasons to limit consumption of red meat to no more than two or three times a week and to focus more on poultry, seafood and plant sources of protein (dried beans and peas, nuts and foods made from them).

More Americans Are Going for a Walk

The proportion of adults who said they went on a 10-minute walk at least once a week increased to 62 percent in 2010, from 56 percent in 2005, theCenters for Disease Control and Prevention has reported.
Federal guidelines recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (like brisk walking) or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (like running) each week. The proportion of people who met federal guidelines for aerobic exercise also grew, to 48 percent in 2010 from 42 percent in 2005, the agency said.
“We know that walking is one of the most popular physical activities that people do,” said Dianna Carroll, a C.D.C. epidemiologist who contributed to the study.
Walking increased across all races, ages and regions. The South showed the biggest increase in people who said they walked during the study period, to 57 percent from 49 percent in 2005. The Northeast showed the smallest increase, to 66 percent from 64 percent.
In the C.D.C.’s National Health Interview Survey, more than 20,000 people were asked to recall how much they had walked in the previous seven days. The study excluded people who said they could not walk.
Dr. Carroll said that Americans could still improve. “We have this increase in walking, but less than half of adults are getting enough activity to show substantial health benefits,” she said.

Friday, August 10, 2012

10 healthy uses for apple cider vinegar

health uses for apple cider vinegar
The apple cider vinegar stocked in your cupboard may star in your salad dressing, but it’s also the basis of many health remedies. The organic, unfiltered kind, that is.
Apple cider vinegar’s strong suit is balancing pH levels, and creating a healthy, alkalized state when you eat or drink it—or use it a skin-care product. You want to be more alkaline than acidic for a trillion health reasons.
It’s also pretty renowned in natural-health circles for curbing digestive issues, spiking weight loss, promoting great skin, and banishing a handful of other pesky afflictions.
And in the medical community, small research studies point to its promise for lessening symptoms of diabetes and obesity.
Wonder how it can help you? Here are ten reasons to add apple cider vinegar to more than just your salad:
1. Digestion and food poisoning. Vinegar contains malic acid, which can help common digestive issues like constipation or acid-reflux. And because it’s a trifecta of antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties, a tablespoon or two in a 8 oz. glass of water may even help with a case of food poisoning.
2. Sleep issues. Many people swear by a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of hot water with honey before bed, citing its sleep-inducing powers and that it promotes a more restful night’s sleep.
lemon and apple cider vinegar
For a balancing elixir, dilute a couple teaspoons of organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar in tepid or warm water with lemon in the morning.
3. Diabetes. A 2007 study published inDiabetes Care, showed potential for apple cider vinegar as a tool to lower glucose levels. (Note: it can interfere with diabetes medication. )
4. High cholesterol. Its high levels of pectin can help regulate blood pressure and lower cholesterol.
5. Bones and teeth. Apple cider vinegar has the capacity to extract calcium from fruits, vegetables, and meat in your diet, thereby helping strengthen your bones and teeth.
6. Joint pain. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may help provide pain-relief to neck, back, and shoulder joint pain - including arthritis.
7. Detox. High levels of potassium in the vinegar work like a clarifying tonic on the body, helping clear up sinus infections, candida, sore throats, and allergies. Some cleanse with it (and clean food) instead of juice.
8. Weight loss. It won’t replace eating well and exercise, but apple cider vinegar may help you feel full longer, and some natural-health experts say its enzymes and soluble fiber can aid in fat metabolism. A study done on mice showed that acetic acid (main component of the vinegar) slowed fat accumulation.
9. Summertime bug bites. It’s an antiseptic that can soothe bug bites and skin allergies almost instantly.
10. Beauty blemishes, burns, and bad hair days. When used as a toner, it helps curbs acne and blemishes with its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Add it to a bath for sunburn relief (about a cup) and rinse your hair with it for instant shine (a few tablespoons). 
Now grab it and place it front & center on the counter, to use every day!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Curing Adult Acne: Paleo Diet

Martha Rotter, a software engineer, grew up near St. Louis. She did not have skin problems in high school or college. After college, she spent six years in Seattle. Her skin got a little worse. In 2007, she moved to Dublin to work for an Irish branch of Microsoft. Six months after the move, she noticed her skin was worse than it had been in Seattle. In Seattle she would get a little acne or blemishes for a week or so and then they would go away. In Dublin, they weren't going away.
Her skin got worse. A year after moving to Dublin, it was always bad. The spots and sores were always uncomfortable -- "a headache on my face," she says. They were painful to touch. At one point Martha got a massage. Forgetting her warning, the masseuse rubbed oil on Martha's face. She screamed. "One of the most painful things ever," she says.
Is my job making my skin bad? she wondered. She was working a lot, taking clients out, losing sleep. She started to go out less so that she could get more sleep. She stopped working on weekends. This didn't help.
She tried many skin creams and face washes. "Neutrogena and Clearasil make a lot of products," she says. "On a bad day I could easily drop $50 on two or three things." For several months, she spent $100/month on creams, astringents, and soaps trying to find something that worked. Nothing did.
She tried fitness. She went to the gym four or five times per week. She took yoga. Maybe this would help her relax and improve her mood, she thought. Her skin stayed bad.
In the summer of 2008, she read The Acne Prescription (2003) by Nicholas Perricone. The book says that certain foods, such as salmon, blueberries, and spinach, will make your skin better. It had many before and after pictures. "Now people would be more cynical because of his skin care line and vitamins," she says. "Back then they weren't around or I didn't know about them." Perricone's advice didn’t help.
In December 2008, she went home for Christmas. She hadn't seen her family for nine months. "They were surprised by my face," she says. They asked about it. "When a family member mentions something, that makes you realize it's obvious to everyone." She had been pretending to herself that other people didn't notice. After her family's comments, she didn't want to leave the house or have any pictures taken.
Her mom suggested they see a dermatologist. Martha hadn't done this. In Ireland, she had medical insurance but the strangeness of the system was daunting. Another problem was that she didn't know anybody who saw a dermatologist and she didn't want to pick one at random. In the United States, she didn't have insurance but maybe it would be worth it. She went with her mom to a dermatologist who had helped her sister with eczema. A 5-minute visit cost $150. The doctor was reassuring. "This happens sometimes," he said, giving her hope it might be temporary. "It's not your fault." He meant there's nothing she could have done to keep it from happening.
"Do you think it's something I'm eating?" said Martha. He dismissed the idea. We all know what you eat doesn't affect your skin, he said. Don't worry about that. We'll take of this. (The American Academy of Dermatology Guidelines of Care for acne, published in 2007, says "dietary restriction (either specific foods or food classes) has not been demonstrated to be of benefit in the treatment of acne.") Martha left with a year's worth of three prescriptions: 1. An antibiotic (minocycline, a pill). 2. An astringent (a cream). 3. A Retin-A-like drug (a cream). At a pharmacy, Martha learned that the prescribed medicines would cost about $300/month. She didn't want to spend that much. She just got 1-2 months worth of the antibiotic.
She didn’t want to take antibiotics, but she was desperate. "In a week I could tell they were working," she says. Her acne went from 100% to 10-15%. There was still some redness, but no more painful blemishes. The biggest problems were gone. But it wasn't a long-term solution. She didn't want to take antibiotics for a year, much less forever. She knew that women who take antibiotics for a long time often have trouble with yeast infections. (She was told to eat yogurt to prevent yeast infections.) If she stopped the antibiotics, presumably the acne would return. When she finished the jar of pills, she didn't refill it. As she feared, the acne came back. A month after stopping the antibiotics, her skin was just as bad as it had been before she started them.
Am I allergic to something? she wondered. At Thanksgiving, she had met her brother's wife's nieces, who had discovered they were allergic to gluten. What a difference it had made to give up gluten, they said. They had more energy, no longer felt bloated. The Dublin health food store she patronized had an in-house food allergist. In 2009, she had a test ($60) in the back of the store. The allergist had 20 little tins in front of him. He did a test (called a vega test) that measures the electrical resistance of your skin. "He would touch your skin with a little metal thing. It would light up if you were allergic," she says. It took an hour. The results implied she had strong allergies to soy and chicken and a few other things and slight allergies to dairy and caffeine. (This study of the test found it worthless for detecting mite and cat dander allergies.) The allergist recommended she start taking primrose oil, a probiotic, and wheat grass shots, drink a caffeine-free coffee replacement rather than coffee or tea, and stop eating chicken and soy. The recommended products cost about $40/month.
She stopped eating chicken and soy. She didn't eat much soy to begin with. She had been eating a couple of chicken breasts per week and would roast a chicken once or twice a month. She replaced chicken with fish. She also followed the rest of the allergist's recommendations. She took the wheat grass, primrose oil, and probiotic. She drank the caffeine replacement. She waited two months. "Nothing really changed," she says.
Should she try Accutane? That was her dermatologist’s recommended next step. Try antibiotics again? Or something else? “Reading your blog made it easier for me to stop trusting experts,” she says. “To realize my doctor is not the be-all end-all. That it was okay to try other things.” At CureTogether and other forums, she found “lots of people trying lots of solutions to lots of problems.” They encouraged her to believe she could do something besides follow her dermatologist's recommendations. “Your blog made me aware that the answer might not be obvious,” she says. “There’s lots of experimenting we need to do.” She started cutting foods out of her diet one by one to test the allergy idea. She got ideas about what to test from forums. She also asked herself: What could I cut out that would make a pretty big difference in what I eat? She tried each change for a month. Here, in order, are the foods she cut out:
1. gluten
2. meat (including eggs but not fish)
3. carbs (rice, lentils, quinoa, barley, couscous, grains in general, wheat)
4. alcohol
5. caffeine (she drank a lot of tea)
6. sugar (including honey and artificial sweeteners such as saccharin and aspartame)
7. soy (more thoroughly than before, when she had only cut out obvious soy products such as soy sauce)
8. starches (potatoes, corn, bananas, beets, and squashes)
9. seafood and shellfish (there is a lot of farmed fish in Ireland -- was it that?)
10. nothing (on vacation)
11. salt
12. dairy
She decided to cut out dairy because the food allergist had mentioned that breakouts around the jaw and chin are often due to hormones. “You hear about hormones in American cows,” she says. She drank “a good amount” of milk. She also had lattes, added milk to coffee, cooked with milk (e.g., b├ęchamel sauce), and ate yogurt and cheese. She cut out all dairy at the end of November 2010. In two weeks, she could see her skin was getting better. It was entirely clear by the end of the year.
She waited a few months before testing the boundaries. She really missed cheese and lattes. She tried goat cheese. That was okay. Sheep cheese was okay. Goat milk was okay. “Every so often over the last year when I'm at a restaurant I'm tempted by a dessert with cheese. Sometimes I eat it just to try it. Or I have coffee with regular milk. A few hours later I can tell there is going to be a spot,” she says. She recognizes the feeling.
Martha had eaten lots of dairy in Seattle without much trouble. Since she figured out that cow dairy was the cause, she hasn’t tried American dairy so it's unclear if American and Irish dairy differ in an important way. Before she realized dairy was the cause, she went to Nepal for a month and had lots of milk tea. “My skin was horrible the entire trip,” she says, which implies it’s not just Irish dairy.
Here are several stories about the effect of cutting out dairy on acne. Sometimes it had a big effect, sometimes no effect. If there are large differences from one person to the next, self-experimentation is vital.
I have not encountered an expert who recommends self-experimentation for acne nor has Martha. The Acne Prescription, for example, says nothing about cutting out foods. In an interview about acne, Loren Cordain, author of The Dietary Cure For Acne (2006), says "What you don’t want to eat is processed foods, refined sugars, salts, cereal grains or dairy products.” Many paleo advocates say something similar. In Martha’s case, the list of forbidden foods is much too long. Almost all of them turned out be okay, including goat and sheep dairy. Cordain's forbidden foods would have been a good place to start -- a good source of ideas to test, one by one -- but not a good place to end. Among non-experts, cutting out foods one by one and waiting a few weeks is sometimes recommended. In this Paleohacks discussion about acne, someone says "I would try the supplements first for at least a week or 2 if you get no results then start eliminating foods." In this one, a woman says she learned a lot about what caused her acne from "a ton of n = 1 self experimentation stuff."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Do you have a dirty little dietary secret?

And is it called Diet Coke?

Diet Coke not healthy
For lots of healthy types, the frequently stated fact that Diet Coke might be “empty calories” actually goes down just fine compared to office cupcakes, which they’re not regularly scarfing.
And reaching for a diet soda fits nicely into the “allowable-exceptions” category of a healthy New York lifestyle. You know, along with a glass of Sancerre, the occasional dinner at Eataly, and watching the Real Housewives.
But should you allow Diet Coke a free pass? 
stylish woman drinking Diet Coke
Studies abound that caution against drinking diet soda
While sipping diet soda seems harmless, especially in the context of a generally healthy life, a surprising number of substantial studies show the opposite, that drinking Diet Coke and Aspartame can greatly interfere with your health.
As Dr. Helen Hazuda, professor of medicine at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, found last year, “[Diet soda] may be free of calories, but not of consequences.” And she wasn’t talking about the caffeine.
Interpreting the data of two studies, Dr. Hazuda pointed out that it caused a blood sugar spike in mice, and suggested that diet sodas may inhibit the signal that tells you when you’re full. 
Here are 6 more reasons to give up diet soda:  
1. It messes with your skin. Diet Coke lowers your pH levels, which can cause acne, and zap you of radiance. We need a high level of alkalinity for our bodies to be healthy and expressed in our glowing complexion, explains Dr. Jeanette Graf, author of Stop Aging, Start Living: The Revolutionary 2-Week pH Diet. As Dr. Graf told us recently, “If there’s one thing you should never consume, it’s soda. Soda is an extreme acid-forming substance which will lower your pH level dramatically.”
2. It alters your mood. The mood-food connection is ever-rising, and Aspartame in Diet Coke can really do a doozey on those with anxietydepression, and bipolar disorder. Aspartame is also on an EPA list of potentially dangerous chemicals contributing to neurotoxicity, right under Arsenic. So that’s kind of saying it could alter your brain, too.
3. Weight gain and belly fat. Ironically, we actually gain weight from Diet Coke. In two studies conducted by the School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, those “who said they consumed two or more diet sodas a day, experienced waist circumference increases that were 500 percent greater than those of non-users.
4. It causes diabetes and heart disease. When waist circumference (belly fat) increases, this contributes to diabetes and heart disease, which a 2010 study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine confirmed.
5. It makes your kidneys sluggish. Diet soda may interfere with the kidneys, found theHarvard Nurse’s Study, which reported a 30% drop in kidney function with just two servings of diet soda each day.
6. Aspartame’s been linked to cancer. A lot. Aspartame is “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA while substantial data has shown its link to cancer. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) cautions against Aspartame because it’s poorly tested, and contains three well-recognized neurotoxins. Aspartame was found to increase cancer risk if exposure begins in the womb, reported a study at the Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center. And various studies have linked lymphoma and tumors in rats. And beware the BPA of cans and caramel coloring,reports Grist.
Kind of takes the fizz out of it, right?

Proper Portion Sizes

You can measure them with your hand!
Apple-baseball in hand

Here is your quick guide to measuring food portions with your hand!
  • Protein and alternates: the size of your palm
  • Carbohydrates (starch, fruit): your closed first
  • Vegetables: your two hands, cupped side by side
  • Fat: the top of your thumb, from joint to tip
Many guides will tell you about cups, tablespoons and ounces. It can be a lot to remember, but if you want to know...

1. A fist or cupped hand = 1 cup (fruits and vegetables) 
2. Palm of your hand = 3 oz. (meat)
3. Thumb tip = 1 teaspoon (high fat foods like mayonnaise     or butter)  3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
4. A thumb = 1 oz.  (peanut butter or hard cheese) 
5. Handful = 1-2 oz. (snack foods like nuts)
6. 1 tennis ball = 1/2 cup (rice or pasta) 

A quick visual of your plate: 
  • 1/2 plate filled with vegetables (50%) 
  • 3 oz. meat per serving (30%)
  • Starch like potatoes, rice, or pasta (20%) 

50 Easy Ways to Burn 100 Calories

Torch Your Way to the Top with These Activities

Everything you do burns calories—breathing, sleeping, standing, and all of the active pursuits you enjoy. But what does it take to burn just 100 calories? You may be surprised by how little—or how much—activity you have to do to achieve that goal! To put it all in perspective for you, we’ve gathered 50 different ways to burn 100 calories. From standard exercises you do at the gym, to everyday chores around the house, you can burn 100 calories in just a few short minutes of your day.

Keep in mind that not all movement is created equal. In order to classify an activity as a cardio ''exercise,'' you must be working at 60-80% of your maximum heart rate. (You can calculate your target heart rate here.) However, even though periods of less intense activity may not count as part of your workout, they still provide health benefits and burn extra calories. After all, the less sitting you do, the better!

50 Ways to Burn 100 Calories (Values are approximate and are based on a 150-pound person)
  1. Biking: 23 minutes of casual cycling
  2. Cardio dance class: 15 minutes
  3. Elliptical: 8 minutes
  4. Jumping rope: 9 minutes at a moderate intensity
  5. Lifting weights, vigorously: 15 minutes
  6. Pilates: 24 minutes
  7. Rowing machine: 13 minutes
  8. Running stairs: 6 minutes
  9. Running: 9 minutes of running at a 6 mph pace
  10. Swimming: 15 minutes moderate intensity
  11. Walking stairs: 11 minutes
  12. Walking: 20 minutes of walking at a 3 mph pace
  13. Water aerobics: 23 minutes
  14. Yoga: 20 minutes
  15. Zumba: 11 minutes
Sports and Leisure Activities:
  1. Basketball, shooting hoops: 20 minutes
  2. Bowling: 30 minutes
  3. Dancing around living room: 20 minutes
  4. Darts: 35 minutes
  5. Golfing, carrying clubs: 15 minutes
  6. Ice skating, moderate: 18 minutes
  7. Kickball: 13 minutes
  8. Mini golf or driving range: 30 minutes
  9. Playing catch with a football: 35 minutes
  10. Playing Frisbee: 30 minutes
  11. Playing soccer, casual: 13 minutes
  12. Skiing,downhill: 10 minutes
  13. Softball or baseball: 18 minutes
  14. Tennis (doubles): 21 minutes
  15. Tennis (singles): 15 minutes
  16. Treading water, moderate effort: 23 minutes
  17. Volleyball, recreational: 26 minutes
  18. Water skiing: 15 minutes
Yard Work:
  1. Mowing the lawn: 20 minutes
  2. Painting house: 18 minutes
  3. Raking leaves: 23 minutes
  4. Shoveling snow: 15 minutes
  5. Washing the car: 20 minutes
  6. Weeding the garden: 18 minutes
Everyday Activities:
  1. Carrying an infant: 24 minutes
  2. Cleaning, moderate effort: 26 minutes
  3. Cooking: 34 minutes
  4. Doing dishes: 40 minutes
  5. Mopping the floor: 20 minutes
  6. Playing with children: 23 minutes
  7. Pushing a stroller: 35 minutes
  8. Rearranging furniture: 14 minutes
  9. Shopping: 38 minutes
  10. Sweeping: 23 minutes
  11. Walking the dog, 26 minutes
Consider which of these activities can you incorporate into your life to burn an extra 100 calories per day - pick one that fits into your schedule and go for it!

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