Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for September, 2018

As a society, we’ve finally started to embrace not going out on Saturday nights and forgoing dinner dates for Netflix and chill. Instead of feeling compelled to agree to every social gathering offered to us, people are feeling more empowered than ever to set their boundaries, stay in, and focus on themselves and what their minds, bodies, and souls really need. Saying no can be hard—but we know it’s an absolutely vital part of self-care. These boundaries allow us to keep our sense of self while navigating our relationships with our loved ones, making sure that we’re still taking care of ourselves and establishing our own identities.

Yes, it’s difficult saying no to the people we love. Naturally, we want to make them happy—but at the same time, we also need to honor ourselves. There will be days that we can say yes, when it’ll be heartfelt and lead to a beautiful time with friends and family. However, when we force our “yes,” it can actually be even more damaging to the relationships than just being honest from the get-go and opting out.

Importantly, that doesn’t mean we need to sacrifice all our friendships in the process of learning to take care of ourselves. There are many ways to say no while still showing love to others and keeping those relationships strong. Let’s get into a few of the ways to navigate this tricky territory with love, communication, and empathy.

1. Communicate your boundaries.

Setting boundaries is easiest right in the beginning of a relationship because it sets up foundational expectations for how you like to socialize with others. So for example, let’s say your new friends ask if you’d be interested in going out for 10 p.m. drinks on Tuesday night. If your idea of the best Tuesday night is soaking in a bubble bath and reading a self-help book, then you can say no while also communicating your self-care needs and lifestyle preferences at the same time. You can let your new friends know that you strongly prefer drinks on a Friday or Saturday night because you value having those after-work evenings to yourself to recharge.

Making those boundaries known right at the beginning will ensure that your friends know what to expect from you moving forward, and it also signals to them that you passing on their invitations (both now and in the future) isn’t reflective of them or your feelings about them whatsoever.

Communication is one of the most fundamental and crucial parts of any relationship because it allows for honesty and trust to be built. In turn, we get much richer and stronger bonds. Communicating boundaries, in particular, allows us to make sure we’re bringing our most authentic selves and building a relationship that can grow within those boundaries.

2. Don’t compromise.

There’s strength in realizing when it’s a no to begin with. For example, when your friend offers to go out on a Sunday, and you know that day is usually your self-care day, it’s time for you to be realistic. Is this something that you can even say yes to in the first place?

If it’s an immediate no, we owe it to ourselves and our relationships to make it clear that it is a no before making any commitment. It is more damaging to commit and then to cancel later (or show up in a bad mood) than it is to just immediately say no. When we make it clear from the beginning that the suggested plan isn’t realistic, it’ll be far healthier for our relationships in the long run.

3. Don’t say, “Sorry.” Try “thank you” instead.

Apologizing or making an excuse when saying no shines a negative light on both people. When we say we’re sorry, we are taking on guilt. Apologies are given when we have hurt or failed someone and make us seem like the bad guy. But saying no has nothing to do with the recipient and shouldn’t be interpreted as an offense or failing. Meanwhile, when we add an excuse, we’re making our time and attention into some kind of contest that the person who invited you just lost. Citing other plans as part of our “no” can make them feel as if they’re not as important as whatever else we have going on in our lives.

There’s a better alternative: saying “thank you.”

Expressing gratitude for your friend’s regard for your needs feels better for both parties. It allows your friend to feel like they’ve done you a kindness and helps them understand your needs better, such that they don’t feel slighted or rejected. Gratitude transforms a possible moment of tension or neglect into a moment of tenderness and connection. This way, you both feel way better about the no.

4. Offer another alternative that meets both parties’ needs.

Saying no doesn’t have to be the end of it. Offering a “next time” is also an awesome option because it expresses interest in meeting with the friend in the future. When it comes to my self-care days, my go-to line is simply saying, “I cannot commit to that day, but perhaps we can make another day work.”

You can make an offer to meet at another mutually convenient date, which puts it back into the hands of the person who invited you and makes a more comfortable situation moving forward. It allows them to feel recognized and wanted.

Lastly, just remember: Our self-care is also reliant on our ability to sometimes say yes.

In our stronger dedication to self-care, our relationships still play a huge role. The people we love uplift us, encourage us to move forward, and make us feel loved in our darkest times. Having these supportive relationships is absolutely necessary for maintaining our long-term happiness, meaning saying yes when we can is also a vital part of our self-care. Our wonderful relationships contribute as much to our lives as we ourselves do, and they’re worth celebrating and honoring with our time and energy.

With that in mind, it’s important for us to reframe the way we view time spent with others such that we don’t see it as an obstacle to accomplishing our own personal needs. When you’re with a friend or considering whether to agree to a suggested plan, think about how that relationship has played a role in your life and reflect on how that person has been instrumental in your growth. That gratitude is a guaranteed way to gear our mindset toward knowing that our loved one is worth each and every moment of our time. Being grateful for our relationships makes it that much easier to give a heartfelt yes to the plans that nurture both our bonds and ourselves.

Healthy relationships can be born out of our boundaries, but we still have to contribute to them as well.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-say-no-and-still-maintain-your-relationships

Read Full Post »

If there is one thing everyone can agree on to maintain a healthy weight, it’s cutting down significantly on their intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates.

I say “refined carbs” because unrefined carbs like beans, fruits, and whole grains are carbs, per se, but unlike bread that is bleached and heavily processed into flour, natural carbohydrates are metabolized slowly and won’t send your blood sugar on a high-speed train ride up. Spikes in blood sugar are a ticket to cravings, hunger, and lethargy.

That being said, cutting out carbs and sugar is way easier said than done. The blood sugar roller coaster is no joke, and the changes in our gut bacteria that come with perpetual sugar and carb consumption make us crave those very foods like nobody’s business. Luckily, you can use these 10 great tips to help get yourself off the carb-sugar train:

1. Drink more water (or low-calorie drinks!).

Probably more times than you realize, you are confusing hunger with thirst. So sipping on water, sparkling water, low-sugar kombucha, or iced herbal tea throughout the day is a great way to make sure you’re not dehydrated. It’s also a great way to keep yourself busy, so you don’t turn to mindless snacking.

2. Let vegetables multitask for you.

Eating veggies—especially those high in cellulose like dark leafy greens (especially the stems) and cruciferous vegetables—results in increased intestinal bulk. Their high water content also increases satiety. They also promote hormonal balance, help repopulate the gut, and give you phytonutrients not available elsewhere. On top of all that, they are also the most nutrient-dense foods out there. Need I say more?

3. Fill up on high-fiber foods.

Photo: Gillian Vann

High soluble-fiber foods—like properly soaked beans, legumes, vegetables, and fruit—will stretch your stomach and empty it slowly, which means you’ll feel fuller and more satisfied for longer. Fiber also slows the release of sugar into the blood, stabilizing blood sugar, curbing hunger, and cutting down on cravings. Lastly, fiber is the mainstay for gut and hormone health. Good gut bacteria need prebiotic fiber to function well. Consuming more fiber can transform your health, especially your cravings for sugar and carbs.

4. Sit down and eat without distraction.

I know it is tempting to eat in front of a screen or newspaper, but taking time to eat sitting down, relaxed, and focused on each bite aids digestion. Not only will you chew more, but when your brain can register each bite, you feel fuller faster. We also know that harried emotions (anxiety and depression) can bring on disordered eating. All in all, it’s best to eat when you are away from stress.

5. Chew your calories (slowly), and don’t drink them.

A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2014 concluded that those who chewed the most ate the least. That’s because, like sitting down without distraction, chewing alerts the hunger hormone, ghrelin, that food is coming in. If you eat too fast or down a smoothie in 90 seconds, it doesn’t register as completely and your brain will prompt hunger. Rushing also creates an insulin spike, which will cause you to become hungry again as soon as it goes away.

6. Prioritize eight to nine hours of sleep.

Sleep is a big factor in how much ghrelin you produce, and to put it simply: The less sleep you get, the more ghrelin is produced and the hungrier you are.

Not to mention, sleep aids stress relief, and stress is a fast train to emotional eating. Getting eight to nine hours of dark, uninterrupted sleep is one of the best things you can do for your waistline and overall health. If you need a little help winding down or suffer from insomnia, try using 1 milligram of melatonin every evening.

7. Use your caffeine wisely.

Photo: Nataša Mandić

Caffeine can be an appetite suppressant, but it also dehydrates you and can lead to a crash. So drink your coffee in the a.m. and then don’t overdo it in the afternoon. Some slow caffeine metabolizers (like me) need to limit their intake to one cup a day. For others, one cup of coffee and one to two cups of green tea works well.

8. Fully immerse yourself in your work and activities.

Boredom is one of the largest contributors to mindless snacking, and lack of purpose and isolation can lead to emotional eating. What’s the solution? Move! Do things you love with people you love, preferably outdoors. You’ll feel great, and when you feel great, you don’t crave comfort food.

9. Consider natural carb craving aids like L-glutamine, cinnamon, and chromium.

I don’t recommend these as everyday things (except cinnamon; I definitely have cinnamon every day!). But if and when those insatiable hunger and carb cravings strike, the amino acid L-glutamine and the mineral chromium can be terrific tools, decreasing carb cravings in as quickly as 20 minutes.

10. Make room for the occasional treat.

Feeling deprived is no good for long-term health. If you say, “I’ll never eat ice cream or crusty bread again!” you will likely obsess or eventually overindulge. Find healthful alternatives daily (like two squares dark chocolate), or have the real stuff on birthdays and special nights. If you’re straying from your healthy diet one meal a week, you’re doing just fine!

These 10 tips will help free you from carb cravings so that you can go back to your life and worry about more important things, like your work, your hobbies, cooking, and time spent with friends.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/how-to-stop-craving-carbs

Read Full Post »

The good news: many of them are under your control.

As the second leading cause of death in the United States, the threat of cancer can be scary. But the good news is that some of the most common cancer risk factors are within your control. By making a few lifestyle changes, you can reduce your odds of developing cancer, not to mention a host of other health conditions. Even for causes of cancer that are beyond your control—like inheriting genetic mutations—you can use that information to take the best steps to protect your health.

1. Smoking
Quit smoking

GETTY IMAGES

“The first five risk factors on this list should be: smoking, smoking, smoking, smoking, and smoking,” says David N. Oubre, MD, an oncologist and the founder of the Pontchartrain Cancer Center, which has two offices in Louisiana. That’s how dangerous your cigarette habit can be.

The more often you smoke and the longer you smoke, the riskier it becomes. Smoking increases your risk for not only lung cancer, but also cancer in areas around your mouth, like your throat and esophagus. Your body’s digestive organs, including the liver, bladder, pancreas, kidney, stomach, and colon, can also take a hit.

The National Cancer Institute reports that there are 250 harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke and at least 69 of themcan cause cancer. Think: arsenic and formaldehyde. And your cigarette habit doesn’t only affect you. Secondhand smoke can also cause lung cancer in nonsmokers.

So how can you quit this unhealthy habit for good? “It really starts with a decision that, not only am I going to quit, but I’m really going to quit—despite the cravings. Because they will get cravings,” says Dr. Oubre.

While there isn’t one method that works for everyone, there are many effective ways to quit smoking. You just have to find one that works best for you and your lifestyle. If nicotine gums and lozenges don’t work, consider Chantix, a nicotine-free pill that helps reduce cravings.

2. Drinking too much alcohol
weight-loss-tips

GETTY

It’s completely fine to enjoy a glass of wine or beer every now and then, but going overboard can increase your health risks.

“If you’re starting to drink wine, maybe you’re helping your heart, but once you go past two drinks a day for a man and one drink a day for a woman, mortality climbs,” Dr. Oubre explains.

However, it’s also worth noting that a 2018 study from Lancet shows that the safest level of drinking is none. That’s right—no alcoholic beverages at all. Why? Because drinking alcohol contributes to causes that can take a toll on your overall health.

Drinking too much alcohol (of any kind) raises your risk for cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and breast. In fact, drinking and smoking at the same time increases your risk even more, according to the American Cancer Society. Drinking alcohol can help tobacco chemicals get inside the cells of the mouth, throat, and esophagus. Alcohol also makes it harder for cells to repair damage from tobacco.

3. Eating an unhealthy diet
Close-Up Of Burger With French Fries On Table

GETTY IMAGESNATHAN MOTOYAMA / EYEEM

Research has found that eating red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and processed meat (sausage, hot dogs, and cold cuts) increases the risk for colorectal cancer. While that doesn’t mean that you should completely eliminate hamburger, hot dogs, and pulled pork sandwiches from your diet, you should definitely limit your intake of these types of dishes.

Studies have also found that high-glycemic foods and beverages, such as juice, pizza, and soda, have been associated with a higher risk for prostate cancer. But eating nutritious foods like legumes (beans, peas, lentils) has been linked with a lower risk for prostate and colorectal cancer.

4. Sitting too much
Top view of man and woman using laptops and taking notes

GETTY IMAGESWESTEND61

Being sedentary is one of the worst things you can do for your health. One study found that people who sat for the longest periods each day were at an increased risk for colon, endometrial, and lung cancer, compared with those who sat for the least amount of time per day.

To help you stay more mobile, consider replacing your desk with a standing one. At the very least, be sure to walk around and stretch as frequently as you can throughout the day. And don’t forget to exercise regularly, ideally for at least 30 minutes per day. High levels of physical activity have been associated with a decreased risk for colon, breast, and endometrial cancer. Exercise can also help reduce inflammation, boost your immune system, and help improve digestion.

“Exercise releases some molecules that could have a anti-cancer and anti-inflammation effect,” says Ali Mahdavi, MD, a gynecologic oncologist and the Medical Director, Specialty Care Ascension Medical Group, OB/GYN Clinic at Ascension Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

5. Being Overweight
overweight

SHELLY STRAZIS/GETTY IMAGES

Packing on too many pounds increases your risk for several cancers, including breast, ovarian, colon, thyroid, gallbladder, and pancreatic. Abdominal fat, aka belly fat, is the riskiest kind of excess weight to carry. By sticking to a healthy diet and regular exercise routine, you can better manage your weight and keep it at a healthy range

6. Getting HPV
HPV is a contagious virus that can increase your risk for certain cancers.

KWANGSHIN KIM/GETTY IMAGES

The human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause many types of cancer, such as cervical, anal, oropharyngeal (the middle part of the throat), vaginal, vulvar, and penile cancer. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that’s spread through skin-to-skin contact. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to get vaccinated, which is recommended at age 11 or 12 (or women up to 26 years old and men up to 21 years old who were not adequately vaccinated previously).

Using a condom and limiting your number of sexual partners can also help lower your risk of HPV. Visit your gynecologist routinely and follow their recommendations for getting a regular Pap and/or HPV testing so you can catch any precancerous cervical changes early.

7. Aging
Older Hispanic woman lifting weights in living room

GETTY IMAGESJOSE LUIS PELAEZ INC

So you can’t turn back the clock, but the older you get, the more important it is to see your primary care doctor for worrisome symptoms and regular physicals. That’s because various cancers are more likely to strike when you’re older. Although cancer can occur at any age and some cancers are more common in young people (like bone cancer, leukemia, and neuroblastoma), the median age for a cancer diagnosisis 66.

“With advanced age, there is an increased risk of gene mutations because of environmental factors (like exposure to certain chemicals or sunlight),” says Dr. Mahdavi. “The DNA is capable of repairing some of these alterations. And even if there are a few alterations that can’t be repaired, it would not really make a significant difference in cell function,” Dr. Mahdavi adds. But as you age, Dr. Mahdavi says these alterations in the DNA accumulates and reach a critical point. “The cell can’t function in a normal fashion and cancer forms,” he explains.

8. Inheriting genetic mutations
DNA Molecule Structure

GETTY IMAGESKTSIMAGE

Unlike genetic mutations that you acquire as you age, inherited genetic mutations are ones that you’re born with and can’t change. While you have no control over the genetic mutations you inherit, it’s your job to understand and keep track of your family history of disease. If cancer is prevalent in your family (especially if it affects first-degree relatives—a parent, sibling, child—or relatives at young ages), talk to a genetic counselor or your doctor to see if genetic testing might be right for you.

Knowing your genetic makeup gives you options that your ancestors didn’t have and can help you make the most informed decisions about your health. For instance, someone with Lynch syndrome (who has a higher risk for colon and endometrial cancers, among others) may choose to start getting colonoscopy screenings at a younger age. Moreover, women with a BRCA1 or 2 genetic mutation may opt to have her breasts and/or ovaries removed, due to an increased risk of cancer in those areas of the body.

Source: https://www.prevention.com/health/health-conditions/g23453273/cancer-risk-factors/

Read Full Post »

At mindbodygreen, we’re always talking about inflammation. Whether it be reducing inflammation in the gut with supplements like L-glutamine or making a savory turmeric sauce to put on everything, the words “inflammation” “anti-inflammatory” and “inflammation-fighting” are everywhere.

And when you start learning about the causes and triggers of inflammation, it can begin to feel a little overwhelming. How do you know if you’re suffering from it? Do you absolutely need to get a bunch of fancy tests or pay out-of-pocket to see an integrative medicine doctor?

It’s always a good idea to work with a professional, especially if you have a chronic health concern. But if that’s not in the cards for you (or your bank account) at the moment, these three tests are a great start for determining whether or not you might need to incorporate a few extra anti-inflammatory foods and supplements into your daily routine.

Here’s how to know if chronic inflammation is a problem for you:

1. You have some of these common inflammation symptoms.

At the end of the day, most integrative and functional medicine doctors will agree that the best way to diagnose a state of chronic inflammation is by taking a close look at the symptoms each individual patient is dealing with. Do they suffer from frequent headaches? Have constipation or other gut issues? What about joint pain or chronic fatigue? These are all sign that your body is not quite equipped to handle all of the inflammatory triggers it’s being exposed to each day and that it’s in need of a little more TLC.

According to Marvin Singh, M.D., an integrative gastroenterologist, the common signs he looks for in his patients include “joint aches, rashes, fatigue, food sensitivities, bloating, fever, mouth sores, abdominal pain, bloating, allergies, brain fog, changes in bowel habits, muscular pains, obesity, hormone imbalance, among many other things.” It’s also not always obvious: “For example, you might think that carrying a little extra weight just means that you are overweight. And, yes, it does. However, it also means you have chronic inflammation because that extra weight is inflammatory. Meaning, the extra fat we carry, especially around our belly, is inflammatory, and higher levels of insulin are also inflammatory. These are all ingredients in the recipe for chronic disease.”

2. Your C-reactive protein levels are high.

If you do go see a functional or integrative medicine doctor with concerns about chronic inflammation, one test they’re bound to run is a C-reactive protein levels blood test. And thanks to technology, you don’t have to actually see a doctor to know your CRP levels. At-home tests—like this one from EverlyWell or this one from DestinyWell—can evaluate your CRP levels, and it’s all done from the comfort of your own home.

But should you really be doing these tests at home? According to Bindiya Gandhi, M.D., an integrative medicine doctor who treats patients suffering from chronic inflammation on a regular basis, these at-home tests might not be as comprehensive as you think. Because although she’s all for patients taking charge of their health, these tests can be difficult to interpret. And if the result is positive, it can be hard for the patient to know what to do next. “CRP tests are a nonspecific test for generalized inflammation, but when it’s positive, you have to do more investigation,” she explained. “An integrative and functional medicine doc will ask questions, know the patient’s history, and can attribute the inflammation to what’s going on with the patient specifically. Inflammation could come from allergies, infections, decreased immune system, autoimmunity, or more.”

In other words, testing your CRP levels on your own can give you an idea of your current state of inflammation, but there will likely be more questions to answer. If a patient has chronic inflammation, Dr. Gandhi will also run labs like ferritin (for generalized inflammation), homocysteine, and MPO (to assess cardiac inflammation), and CRP and ESR (for generalized inflammation, autoimmunity, and infections).

3. You have one of these illnesses.

Inflammation plays a big role in health and disease, so it’s not surprising to learn that certain illnesses are directly tied to an overactive inflammatory response. If you have one of these conditions, it’s a pretty glaring signal from the body that it’s inflamed. So what conditions are we talking about? For starters, autoimmune disease—which is a group of dysfunctions in which the body’s immune system starts attacking its own tissues, like in the case of ulcerative colitis, Hashimoto’s disease, and multiple sclerosis—but also other pretty well-known inflammatory diseases, like asthma and arthritis.

It might even surprise you, however, to learn that inflammation is even closely tied to heart disease. According to Amy Shah, M.D., an integrative medicine doctor and mbg Collective member, “In the case of heart disease, it’s thought that having inflammation actually triggers the immune system to deposit more inflammation-related cells, cholesterol, and debris into arteries.”

So what can you do if you have chronic inflammation, confirmed by one of these tests or by an integrative medicine doctor? Some great places to start are to sleep more, avoid inflammatory foods—like processed carbs, added sugars, and alcohol—and invest time in daily mindfulness-based stress reduction like yoga, breathwork, body scans, or even journaling. That said, if you’re having any serious symptoms that interfere with your life, it’s time to consult a professional.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/do-i-have-inflammation-tests

Read Full Post »

These foods spell disaster for your blood sugar.

For those who don’t have diabetes, nibbling a cookie here or some French fries there isn’t a big deal. Those unhealthy treats may run counter to your diet or weight loss goals, but eating them isn’t the end of the world. For people with diabetes, on the other hand, one too many slip-ups could carry potentially life-threatening consequences.

“It’s hard to say exactly what’s okay and what’s not because every patient with diabetes is a little different, and every patient’s tolerance for carbohydrates is different,” says Matthew Freeby, MD, director of the Gonda Diabetes Center at UCLA Health. “But if a patient eats enough carbohydrates that the pancreas is unable to produce insulin to drive blood sugar down, that’s what we worry about.”

Carbohydrates—a macronutrient group that includes sugar—pose the greatest threat to people with diabetes. Foods heavy in protein and fat, on the other hand, “tend to be the ones we have patients gravitate toward,” he explains.

Too-high or too-low blood sugar levels—known as hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, respectively—can lead to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, a rapid heartbeat, dizziness, or confusion. Experiencing any of these symptoms when you have diabetes should send you to the doc ASAP. In extreme cases, high or low blood sugar could lead to unconsciousness and death.

“No food needs to be completed banned from your diet,” explains Vandana Sheth, RD, certified diabetes educator and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “However, some foods make it easier to manage your diabetes compared to others. A registered dietitian nutritionist specializing in diabetes can help you enjoy your favorite foods while also maintaining good blood sugar control.”

So which foods are most likely to get people with diabetes into trouble? Keep reading.


Soda

soda diabetes
GETTY IMAGESCHOTIKA SANTADKARN / EYEEM

While there’s a small mountain of evidence linking diet soda to larger waistlines and other health concerns, regular soda is a much greater threat to those with diabetes. “When patients ask about what they should avoid, one of the top things I recommend are sugar-sweetened beverages,” says Angela Ginn-Meadow, a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator with the University of Maryland’s Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology.

A single 12-ounce can of Coca Cola contains 39 grams of sugar. To put that in perspective, the American Heart Association recommends that adult women should cap their total daily sugar intake at 25 grams, while men should go no higher than 36 grams.

Also, because a liquid can be consumed much more quickly than most foods, pounding a large glass of soda is one of the easiest ways to overload your system and send your blood sugar levels soaring. Sports drinks and bottled teas are also major sources of sugar.


Fruit juice

fruit juice diabetes
GETTY IMAGESGREGOR SCHUSTER

“As much as we think of fruit juice as healthy, they are primarily sugar,” Ginn-Meadow says. And for diabetics—and the rest of us, actually—there doesn’t seem to be a big difference between consuming sugar in the form of soda or in the form of fruit juice. Both are unhealthy, research shows.

If that surprises you, consider that 12 ounces of two popular store-bought orange juices—Tropicana and Florida’s Natural—contain 33 grams of sugar. Fresh squeezed, unpasteurized OJ isn’t any less sugar-rich, according to USDA nutrient estimates.


Donuts and bagels

Bagels and Donuts diabetes
GETTY IMAGESMACARIMEDIA

 

“Many of my patients with diabetes think about sugar as being the worst thing that’s impacting their blood sugar, but it’s really about carbohydrates,” Dr. Freeby says. “I tell them to look at nutrition labels for the total carbohydrate content, not just the sugar content.” Donuts and bagels made with refined and processed grains are major sources of blood-sugar-spiking carbs, he says.

For example: One plain “old fashioned” donut from Dunkin Donuts contains 28g of carbohydrates—the same amount found in 8.5 ounces of Coca Cola. One Dunkin Donut maple vanilla crème donut? You don’t want to know. (Except you do, right? It packs 43g of carbs.) Maybe most surprising, one plain Einstein Bros. bagel contains 56g carbs.


French fries

Dr. Freeby says that “starchy” vegetables like potatoes and corn are major sources of carbohydrates, and so need to be eaten sparingly or avoided.

Turn potatoes into French fries, and the health risks are often compounded. Medium-sized fries from McDonald’s contain 44g carbs. A medium fry at Wendy’s? You’re dropping 56g of carbs into your system.

“If you want to incorporate potatoes, you are better off enjoying a small-medium baked potato with the skin on,” says Sheth. “You could also swap out and enjoy oven roasted veggies such as cauliflower, broccoli, peppers instead to increase your veggie intake and minimize a spike in your blood sugar.”


…or any deep fried foods, for that matter

deep fried foods diabetes
GETTY IMAGESDEBBISMIRNOFF

Frying any type of food ultimately changes its composition, according to a studypublished in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. After having more than 70,000 women fill out a questionnaire about the foods they ate, researchers found that frequently indulging in fried foods was associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes and a moderately increased risk of coronary artery disease, especially if those foods were consumed at a restaurant.

This could come down to the amount and type of oil used, generous portion sizes, and the tendency to pair these foods with sugary beverages—all factors that lead to weight gain, the study authors write.

However, even after adjusting their data for the consumption of sugary drinks, the connection between fried food and type 2 diabetes was still apparent. It depends on the method, but frying food literally changes the quality of its nutrients and spikes its calories, all while making it taste irresistibly delicious.


Store-bought pies and cakes

pies cakes diabetes
GETTY IMAGESMARK LENHARDT / EYEEM

Pies. Cakes. Cookies. All of these popular dessert foods tend to be loaded with sugar and made with refined grains—making them big hunks of carbohydrate, Dr. Freeby says. Take Marie Callender’s Chocolate Satin Pie, for example. Just 1/6 of the pie—a typical slice—will run you 34g of sugar and 48g of carbs.


Fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt

yogurt diabetes
GETTY IMAGESAXEL BUECKERT / EYEEM

Before you freak out, know that yogurt can actually be a healthy and satisfying snack for people with diabetes. “However, many of the fruit-on-the-bottom versions have a lot of added sugars,” says Sheth. “Currently, there are some yogurts that may have as much as 40 to 47g sugar per cup.”

Instead, go for plain Greek or Icelandic-style yogurt, as they’re usually lower in carbs and higher in protein, says Sheth. If you need to punch up the sweetness, adding fruit offers more filling fiber and can minimize quick blood sugar spikes.


Breakfast cereals

sugary cereal diabetes
GETTY IMAGESJENNIVEVE84

“Breakfast cereals can be high in carbs, added sugars, and low in protein and fiber,” explains Sheth. “Carbs, especially from refined grains, will naturally cause a spike in blood sugar.” Case in point: Just ¾ cup of Lucky Charms, for example, contains 22g of carbs and 10g of sugar.

But not all cereals are created equal. If you really can’t resist a bowl every now and then, just be sure you’re choosing a healthier portion-controlled option made from whole grains. Consider pairing a high-fiber cereal with Greek or Icelandic yogurt for guaranteed fullness and fewer blood sugar spikes, says Sheth. Make sure your cereal has at least 3 to 5g of fiber per serving, with no more than 8g of sugar.


Specialty coffee drinks

While there’s not much wrong with a cup of joe, many of the sweetened drinks popular at nationwide coffee chains are absolutely loaded with sugar, Ginn-Meadow says.

That Starbucks “peppermint mocha” drink you love during the colder moths? It containsa whopping 63g carbs and 54g sugar. A skim milk “caramel swirl” latte at Dunkin Donuts contains 55g carbs, all of them from sugar.


Natural sweeteners

natural sweeteners diabetes
GETTY IMAGESWESTEND61

“Often when people are trying to avoid blood sugar spikes, they avoid or limit regular sugar but instead select honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup,” says Sheth. “However, it’s important to recognize that these also contain carbs, and sometimes even more than sugar.”

For example, 1 teaspoon of sugar contains about 4 grams of carbs. The same amount of agave nectar gets you roughly 5 grams, while honey packs nearly 6g, says Sheth.

“Even though natural sweeteners may not be as processed as white sugar, they may still have a similar effect on blood sugar. If you want add sweeteners to a meal, pay attention to the carbs and choose the right portion for your meal plan. Consider using a sugar-free alternative to minimize the impact on your blood sugar,” she says. Something like Stevia fits the bill.


Candy

Sure, this is an obvious one. But unless you’re sticking to sugar-free gum, almost all candy is chock full of the sweet stuff. “The more sugar you consume in a concentrated amount, the more your blood sugar is affected,” Ginn-Meadow says. And few things you could put in your mouth contain more concentrated doses of sugar than candy.


Bread

bread diabetes
GETTY IMAGESRAVSKY

Again, carbohydrates are a diabetics nemesis. And refined, heavily processed breads are a significant source of carbs. “If you’re going out to eat, the bread basket should go right back to the kitchen,” Ginn-Meadow says.

Dr. Freeby agrees. But he says whole-grain breads—because they take more time to digest—are safer options. Look for whole grain or “sprouted” breads. You’ll want to check the bread’s label to make sure a whole grain is the first thing named on the ingredients list.


White pasta and rice

white pasta
GETTY IMAGESMICHAEL MARQUAND

The same goes for pasta, rice, and other white refined grains, since they tend to be high in carbs, and low in fiber and protein, says Sheth. All of this will contribute to higher blood sugar, since fiber slows down the conversion of carbs into sugar and protein helps slow down the spike.

“Instead, try to enjoy a higher fiber option such as pasta made from beans or lentils, brown rice, and whole grain/high fiber bread,” she says. “If you really enjoy the taste and flavor of white pasta and rice, then be mindful of enjoying appropriate portions and balance it off with a high fiber veggie side dish, and a adequate lean protein to minimize the impact on your blood sugar.”


Alcohol

alcohol diabetes
GETTY IMAGESMUHAMMETCAN ARPAAY / EYEEM

Drinking booze can actually cause your blood sugar to drop too low (also known as hypoglycemia) because alcohol interferes with your liver’s ability to produce glucose, according to the American Diabetes Association. What’s more, alcohol doesn’t mix well with certain diabetes medications, says Sheth.

“It is important that you know what your blood sugar is before you drink, and avoid drinking on an empty stomach (when your blood sugar is already low),” she says, since your risk of severely low blood sugar only increases the more you drink.

People with diabetes should follow the same moderation rules set for everyone else—no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, says Sheth. Everyone is different, though, so it’s important to talk to your doc about your personal limits.


Dried fruit

dried fruit diabetes
GETTY IMAGESSOFIA BAGDASARIAN / EYEEM

As much as he feels that whole fruit is a healthy and important addition to a person’s diet, Dr. Freeby says diabetics need to be careful. “Fruit has a lot of great vitamins and nutrients, but they also contain a lot of carbohydrates that make blood sugar rise,” he explains. If you’re going to pick one type to eat, he says berries tend to raise blood sugar less than fruits like grapes or melon.

Dried fruit, on the other hand, is really risky, Ginn-Meadow says. “Dried fruit contains very concentrated amounts of carbs and sugar, so you really have to watch out for your portion sizes,” she says. A small handful of raisins can contain as much sugar and carbs as a whole bowl of grapes.

Source: https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/a20511532/foods-to-avoid-with-diabetes/

Read Full Post »

Most people can attest to how hard it is to give up junk food. Sugary, processed foods aren’t just delicious (and all-too convenient); they’ve been shown to be as addictive as cocaine. And now, new research suggests that foregoing junk food can even bring on withdrawal symptoms similar to what happens when you quit addictive substances like tobacco, drugs, or alcohol.

For the study, conducted by the University of Michigan, researchers asked 231 people to report how they felt after reducing their intake of highly processed foods, like pastries, pizza, and french fries. Just like with drug addiction, participants reported feeling sad, irritable, and tired in the days after they’d given up junk food, in addition to feeling intense cravings for it. Those symptoms generally lasted two to five days and then tapered off—similar to the timeline of drug withdrawal.

The results aren’t surprising, considering how much research has been done on the addictive nature of sugar. But it’s a good reminder that sugary, processed foods can be shockingly hard to give up.

“Bingeing on sugar and other addictive foods is culturally condoned, food company-induced drug addiction,” holistic psychiatrist Ellen Vora, M.D., told mbg. “At the neurobiological level, the neural substrates of sugar and sweet reward appear to be more robust than those of cocaine.”

And it’s not just about having a so-called “sweet tooth.” Our addiction to such foods is deeply ingrained, and it has less to do with willpower and more to do with the fact that these foods trigger the brain’s dopamine-fueled reward center (the nucleus accumbens, a.k.a. the “good feels” portion of our brain) and tell us we want more.

Based on the study’s findings, the authors believe many people who experience such withdrawal symptoms will end up resorting back to their unhealthy eating habits. But don’t lose hope just yet: This particular study didn’t look at the specific strategies people used to quit junk food, and experts like Dr. Vora believe there are a few effective ways to quit junk food that won’t leave you hangry or giving into cravings two hours later.

The most important key to success is having a plan. Acknowledge the fact that you very well may be irritable or experience flu-like symptoms for a few days, Dr. Vora says, and don’t try to go cold turkey on everything all at once. Start by eliminating one item from your diet per week, noting changes as you go. That way, it’ll feel less overwhelming and more manageable. When the cravings do hit, integrative medicine doctor Amy Shah, M.D., recommends finding ways to distract yourself—even a short 15-minute walk can go a long way. And definitely be prepared with pre-made mealssugar-free snacks, and ample hydration.

It may not go perfectly (does anything?), but cutting down on junk food and making space in your diet for healthier foods is very possible with the right game plan and expectations.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/why-quitting-junk-food-can-feel-similar-to-quitting-drugs

Read Full Post »

All of us have experienced fear at some point in our lives. From an evolutionary standpoint, fear is a built-in mechanism, a highly effective warning system that helps to keep us out of danger and from physical harm. Put simply, the original purpose of fear was to help keep us alive.

Since most of us are no longer living in the middle of a vast wilderness, the fear responses that may have helped keep us safe from bears and lions don’t do us much good in modern life. We no longer experience the same mortal threat that our long-lost ancestors did. Our physical lives are rarely in danger, so the fears we grapple with today are largely conditioned.

While healthy fear is still effectively alerting us to danger, there are two other types of fear that have evolved over time: real fear and illogical fear. All three types of fear can help us grow if we become aware of them, but more often than not, they rob us of the joy we could be experiencing day-to-day.

Let’s take a look at these three types of fear, how each one affects your life, and how to work with them.

Healthy fear

Healthy fear helps us discern safe situations from dangerous ones. It is a gift given to each and every one of us and typically manifests as a physical, instinctual response. This is the type of fear we need for our survival and protection, and it is characterized by a physical response: a rush of adrenaline, an elevated heart rate, a burst of energy. It is the fear that kicks in when you are standing too close to the edge of a cliff or placing your hand near an open flame.

Healthy fear keeps us safe, and we should respect that instinct—but we don’t always listen to it. A team of social psychologists conducted an experiment wherein they asked participants to sit in a room and fill out a questionnaire. A few minutes into this experiment, the team would begin to leak smoke into the room through a vent. They found that, if alone, the participant would get up and alert someone to the smoke. But when participants were in a room together? The time it took for them to say something was exponentially longer. Their fear of embarrassing themselves by overreacting was stronger than their gut instinct—even when the room filled with so much smoke that they could barely see.

How to handle healthy fear.

Listen to your intuition. In the face of your intuition telling you something is off, don’t try to reason with yourself. Just listen to what your instincts are trying to tell you and take steps to ensure your safety. If you feel you should avoid a certain road, or if the person standing in the elevator you are about to enter makes you feel uncomfortable, honor your intuition.

Real fear

While real fear is very much based in reality, it is not the same as healthy fear in the sense that it’s not based on physical danger. Some examples would be the fear of losing the people we love most, never achieving our dreams and aspirations, and even the fear of our own death. This fear exists in the truth that life is a terminal condition, and it’s based on something that is irrefutably real: Everything we do and everything we are has an expiration date. These manifestations of real fear may be existential, but they are just as valid because they are associated with real events like death, change, and pain.

This type of fear may be a fact of life, but it can also consume us to the point that we stop fully living our lives.

How to handle real fear.

Real fears can be empowering. For instance, if you fear losing people you love, put your energy toward being completely engaged when spending time with them and fully appreciate that they are here now. If you fear the process of aging, perhaps this energy could be spent exercising and making dietary changes to ensure that the golden years are more healthful. Real fear can be used as a powerful motivation for using our thoughts and spending our time wisely.

Illogical fear

This is the big one. Illogical fear resides on the opposite end of the spectrum from healthy fear. It feels the same, but it is typically triggered as a result of something hypothetical or altogether nonexistent.

Whether big or small, this fear manifests for all of us in different ways. Spiders. Heights. Cockroaches. Flying. Is there a fear in your life that falls into this category? Perhaps it’s driving on freeways? Claustrophobia? Public speaking? Imagine, for a moment, what your life would be like if this fear was eliminated. The feeling is almost always one of liberation and peace.

For me, illogical fear manifested as a fear of elevators. This fear had been with me since I was 3 or 4. I would panic any time I was in an elevator. Prior to a move from Los Angeles to New York, my illogical fear began to set in again in a very real way. As you can imagine, it is almost impossible to navigate Manhattan without getting into an elevator fairly regularly. I love to exercise, but I don’t love traversing 20 flights of stairs on a daily basis, which I have admittedly done on more than one occasion because my illogical fear had such a hold on me. However, my desire to move to New York was so great that I decided this fear just couldn’t tag along.

How to handle illogical fear.

Using my illogical fear experience, I’ll take you through the steps of eradicating this type of fear from your daily life:

1. Plan for the morning.

It has been scientifically proven that our willpower is strongest in the earlier part of the day. We experience optimum levels of endurance and stamina then, so practically speaking, do the thing that scares you first thing in the morning.

2. Challenge your fear-based thoughts.

Fear-based thoughts fall into one of three categories:

  • Prophesying: “I’m going to get on this elevator and have a full-blown panic attack.”
  • Catastrophizing: “The elevator cables are going to break, and I’m going to crash to my death!”
  • Overgeneralizing: “I heard about an elevator getting stuck one time, so I’m never riding them ever again.”

Any time one of these thoughts crops up, we can recognize it’s our illogical fear at work, and we can challenge these thoughts with the following questions:

  • What around me contradicts this thought? (e.g., “The elevator seems new and is running smoothly.”)
  • What action could I take if this were to occur? (e.g., “I could always call for assistance using the elevator’s own alarm, and there is no indication that my cellphone won’t work.”)
  • Is this thought fear-based? (e.g., “Yes, I can clearly see that I am catastrophizing. There is no evidence that what I fear will come true and all evidence is to the contrary.”)

Ask these questions the next time you find yourself at the behest of fearful thoughts.

3. Exposure.

Using the above steps, make a plan to face your fear. Tackle a manageable amount each day and build on it. Using the elevator fear, you could plan to ride up a single floor in newer buildings every day until that becomes simple, then progress to two or three floors at a time. Before you know it, you’ll be riding elevators with ease. No matter what your illogical fear is, it is entirely possible to eradicate it with patience and commitment.

Take a moment to reflect on how fear has shown up in your life.

Really pay attention to your emotions, as this is key to developing that self-awareness that will allow you to understand what’s at the root of your fear. Are your fears mostly healthy, real, or illogical? Do you know when your fear started? A deep understanding of your fears, with the tools and consciousness, will help you eliminate them. You may also need the assistance of a mental health professional, and that’s totally OK, too. Reach out for help if you need it.

Remember: Fear doesn’t serve you, it doesn’t help most situations, and it robs you of opportunities. Many people are living in a self-made prison of their own fears. If you want to be free from this prison, if you want you to be free from fear, know that you can be.

Source: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/the-3-kinds-of-fear-and-how-to-handle-them

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »