FLC Healthy Habit 8

Avoid Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Fats

This is a big one. Check the labels and avoid foods that list hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils/fat (also know as Trans fats) in the ingredients. These are the bad fats. Unlike other dietary fats, trans fat — also called trans-fatty acids — both raises your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lowers your HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

Researchers from Wake Forest University discovered eating trans fats increased the amount of fat around the belly. “Diets rich in trans fat cause a redistribution of fat tissue into the abdomen and lead to a higher body weight even when the total dietary calories are controlled.” Trans fats create inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. They contribute to insulin resistance, which increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Here is an important statistic, even small amounts of trans fats can harm health: for every 2% of calories from trans fat consumed daily, the risk of heart disease rises by 23%.

Granted, trans fats are found in small amounts in meat or dairy but they are primarily formed through an industrial heating process that adds hydrogen to vegetable oil, which causes the oil to become solid at room temperature. As a result foods made with it are less likely to spoil and have a longer shelf life. Good for shelf life, not good for you.

I’m not bashing fat. We need some fat in our diet. It’s a major source of energy and helps you absorb some vitamins and minerals. Fat is needed to build cell membranes, muscle movement and more. But some fats are good and some fats are bad in the long run. Good fats include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Bad ones include industrial-made trans fats (hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fat). Saturated fats fall somewhere in the middle.

Make it your goal to avoid hydrogenated fats entirely but if you insist on eating hydrogenated fat containing foods, the suggested safe limit is 2 grams per day. If you see the words hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated or interesterified fat (a new and unhealthy type of fat that food chemists have learned that if you put fully hydrogenated fats through a few more processes, they become less solid and product friendly — often found in wraps and burrito shells), pick something else.

How to do it?

  • Pick farm to table. Choose foods in their original purest form. Fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy, cheese, fish, organic meats, and whole grain foods do not contain hydrogenated fats.
  • Avoid deep-fried foods.
  • Avoid “breaded” foods.
  • Avoid margarine and tub spreads.
  • Read the labels of all the food items you buy and avoid buying anything with the words “hydrogentated”, “trans-fatty acids”, “partially hydrogenated fats”, and “shortening” (yes crisco) listed in the ingredient category.
  • Prepare your own food from original ingredient
  • Limit convenient foods
  • Limit eating out. Most store and restaurant breads contain hydrogenated fats. Most eating establishments use bread products containing hydrogenated fats and cook with shortening or margarine. Good to know what your favorite eateries use to cook with and avoid fast food.

Go natural. I like to eat food in its simple, natural, organic form. If I buy prepared or packaged food I want to be able to recognize and understand what each ingredients is versus a chemistry assignment.

FLC Healthy Habit 6

Eat At Least Six Fruit and Vegetable Servings per day, Excluding Juice

This is my favorite healthy habit. I do love fruits and veggies and I typically eat three to four servings a day, so adding a few more servings really helps me attend my satiety scale and stave off after dinner snacking.

The reasons are plenty for why this healthy habit helps with managing your diet. Fruit and vegetables, even the starchy ones, are low in calories. Since fruits and vegetables are high in water content, high in fiber they help you fill up faster and leave less room for higher-calorie foods. I also recommend you start with your salad or fruit before digging into the entree.

How to do it?

  • Plan ahead and map out your daily menu so you include a minimum of two servings of fruit or vegetables.
  • Grocery shop frequently and make sure your kitchen is stocked with yummy fruit and vegetables that are easy to access.
  • Prep and cut your fruits and vegetables so they are convenient to grab and go.
  • Squeeze a lemon on fruit to keep it fresh longer
  • Blend up fruit and vegetables that are ripe and about to expire.
  • Keep frozen fruits and vegetables on hand so you don’t have to worry about running out.
  • Drink a large glass of water. It is incredible how effective this is.
  • Go to sleep earlier. You can’t eat when sleeping plus getting adequate sleep enables you to make better food choices and improves your metabolism.

So orange you glad you can eat loads of fruits and vegetables! Get creative, try new produce. Make it fun for you and your family!

FLC Healthy Habit 7

Do Not Eat Any Sweets or Drink Alcoholic Beverages

This is hard for some and easy for others. This is hard for me. I have a sweet tooth and I enjoy my wine. It is also a game changer for me and the extra few pounds I want to take off and keep off.

Bottom line, many sweets and alcoholic beverages can significantly add to your total daily caloric intake. Reducing the intake of these foods can dramatically contribute to a caloric deficit.

Diet drinks, diet desserts, soda, fruit drinks, frozen yogurt, frappacinos, cookies, cakes, ice cream, candy, you know the drill- anything sugary, high in calories, and without any natural nutrition counts as a sweet. Diet desserts are also included due to the fake sweeteners, preservatives, hydrogenated fats and unrecognizable chemical ingredients they are made with that we’ll talk about more in the upcoming HH8.

Alcohol should be limited because it’s as full of calories as fat, is dehydrating, slows down your metabolism, increases the chance that you may overeat and may make you tired the next day.

This may be where your work starts. I recommend being realistic and with your health goals in mind, may gradual adjustments to your sugar and alcohol. If you tend to have dessert every night, pick three night a week to start and over the next few weeks move to two and one. Same with that glass of wine, beer, or booze. You will feel better and the pounds will follow.

Give it your best. Don’t give up when you have a set-back. Start each day with a focus on what you “get” to have with good health. My hope and goal for you is improved health, strength, endurance, energy and alertness, more patience, lighter attitude and enjoyment of endless fruits, vegetables and delicious healthy food.

FLC Healthy Habit 5

No Snacking After Dinner

Hungry or Habit? I usually crave a little something sweet after dinner and eventually I hunt through my pantry, scanning all the shelves for a coveted chocolate, cookie, or candy. If no luck there, the freezer is next! I have a sweet tooth – or that’s my story.

After-dinner and before-bedtime snacking when not hungry can result in consuming pesky unneeded calories. Often this may be due to boredom, habit, stress or tiredness. Try these tips to banish evening cravings and curb after-dinner snacking; and, if you must snack, go for nutritious options.

How to do it?

  • Clean out the pantry and get rid of the tempting items. If they aren’t there, the temptation is removed.
  • Brush and floss your teeth after dinner. This will make you think twice before eating again.
  • Start a project or find an activity to immerse yourself. Get out of the house and take a walk. Take up a craft, read, knit, write, start a puzzle, get off your computer. Time to rewire and rewrite your sweet tooth story!
  • Drink a large glass of water. It is incredible how effective this is.
  • Go to sleep earlier. You can’t eat when sleeping plus getting adequate sleep enables you to make better food choices and improves your metabolism.

So get out of the frig or pantry and get outside!

FLC Healthy Habit 4

photo credit Hanna Harrington

  Eat A Healthy Breakfast

Why? Skipping it can cause your basal metabolic rate to drop significantly and eating within an hour of waking sparks the metabolic process called thermogenesis that turns the food you eat into energy.

How to do it?

  • Try eating dinner earlier and not snacking after dinner so you are actually hungry when you wake up
  • Wake up early enough so you have time to eat.
  • Eat more than one food item for breakfast – especially if you consider coffee a food item!
  • Include a protein and healthy fat so you feel more satisfied. Some favorites include avocado toast, all eggs from boiled to omelettes and frittatas, yogurt, granola with nuts, fruit, or a bowl of high fiber, whole grain cereal with fruit and nuts.
  • Throw in both fruit and vegetables to pack in the nutrients and fiber.

So don’t skip breakfast! It’s important to fuel up at the start of your day.