Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mood Swings Got You Down?

Disclaimer- this is an article I wrote for one of the Health & Fitness websites I do content writing for- but they rejected it because they wanted less "natural" ways to prevent more mood swings and more supplements- so their loss = your gain :) Enjoy! 

A common problem for dieters is dealing with mood swings. A change in diet affects more than just your weight, it impacts your entire body including your mental health. Whether you've started a new diet, or simply feel like your emotional ups and downs have become a challenge for you to manage, natural supplements can be a great fix. Below are 5 natural supplements that can help prevent mood swings to keep you happy and healthy.
Before considering supplements, take an evaluation of your current lifestyle.  Are you getting enough sleep? No supplement in the world can fix a mood swing problem if it’s caused by a deficiency of your bodies physical needs.  Sleep is one of them. The average adult needs between 7-9 hours per night.  Mood Swing Fix: Pay attention to how many hours of sleep you are getting and make sleep a priority on your to-do list.
Exercise is a great natural mood booster!  The happy floating feeling of accomplishment you have after a tough workout, you’re not imagining it.  Exercise boosts the body’s natural endorphins which elevate the mood and leave you with a positive feeling that can last for hours. Mood Swing Fix: When you feel a bad mood coming on, lace up your running shoes and hit the gym.  Changes are you’ll feel better and at least more accomplished when you return.
What are you eating? Often times mood swings are actually our brains reaction to a blood sugar crash caused by eating processed, high sugar foods. Whole grain natural foods are less likely to have this effect.  Another dietary suggestion is get your leafy greens! Veggies are good for your body, but your mental state as well due to their folate content which is essential in the production of serotonin, a “feel good” chemical in the brain. Mood Swing Fix: Try cutting sugars and processed foods out of your diet for a week and see if your mood stabilizes.
Ok- so you’re sleeping 8 hours, working out, have your diet in check and are still moody? The following two natural supplements have been shown to have an impact on mood stabilization. 
5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is an amino acid with the main purpose of increasing serotonin productivity in the brain. The recommended dosing is 50-300 milligrams per day with effectiveness seen after two to three weeks.  A second herbal alternative is St. Johns Wart, a mood supporting supplement that has been around for decades and has shown great effectiveness in improving general mood and relieving the symptoms of depression.  Both 5-HTP and St Johns Wart are prescribed as prescription drugs in Europe, unlike the US where they are sold as herbal remedies commonly found at a health food store and are not subject to FDA regulation. Be cautious and make sure you are purchasing a high quality product and that if you plan to take either with existing prescription drugs; you run it by your doctor first. Mood Swing Fix: Talk to your doc if you are considering either of these and be sure to give them a few weeks to take full effect.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Don't Go it Alone... Host a Healthy Cooking Party!

Having a support system for weight loss is key.  What better way to motivate the people around you and share great diet "best practices" than by hosting a health focused cooking party and recipe exchange? Check out my article on how to plan one of these fun events here:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Heart Kind Bars (and snacking!)

Kind Bars are one of my all time favorite healthy snacks.  So- when I saw that the geniuses behind them had created "mini" versions, I had to share! At only 110 calories, these are perfect, all natural quick snacks to keep in your purse or car for blood sugar crashes/starvation emergencies! They are made with 100% fruit and nuts, no additives. Best of all they're on sale on Amazon! I just bought a 20 pack of minis for $16- at 82 cents a bar- that's a steal.Yay for healthy snacking options!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Seafood Frenzy

Sorry for the blogging break I was on a work trip to Maui! (I know- tough job right??) Although I did end up working most of the time- I was able to catch up on some much needed sleep, relaxation and healthy eating. I only WISH I would have brought my camera as I sampled some of the freshest fish that Maui had to offer at Mama's Fish House. Delish!
This week Chris and I had dinner at The Fish Market, and again the delights of the sea amazed me!  This time it was fresh oysters with shredded fresh horseradish and a heavenly mussel bucket with a creamy dipping sauce.
My recent seafood adventures have inspired me to try my hand tonight at a "Seafood Stew".  The recipe includes making your own fish stock which should be interesting- first I have to find a place to sell me fish bones. (not a joke). It has mussels, fish, clams, and more, all en-captured in a delicious white wine garlic broth that should be delicious to dip crusty bread in to.  Heaven.  I'll post the recipe if it's a success! Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Craving Pasta but on a Diet?

 Check out these three healthy alternatives! Hint- I've tested them all and they are delish and surprisingly easy to make (Zucchini is a personal favorite).  The key is finding or making a great sauce to go on top. I like to use a little ground turkey or sausage and some red pepper to turn up the heat!

Monday, September 6, 2010

2 Simple Snack Ideas

This snack has LITERALLY zero calories.  Ok, 5 tops.  But it's delicious and satisfies a crunchy, spicy craving!
Celery & salsa.  Yep that's it.  Slice up some celery and start dipping!
I bet it would be delish to put one of the Laughing Cow Light cheese wedges (bleu cheese is my personal favorite) in the bottom. Even then it'd be less than 50 calories.
Simple idea  #2. Apple slices with lemon juice and cinnamon  Sounds a little bizarre, but it's tasty and good. Slice up an apple and squeeze a little fresh lemon juice on them and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Low calorie but great for variety when a simple apple sounds boring.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Back To Basics

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I've been doing some "content writing" for health and fitness websites.  Well today my editor sent an article I had written back to me saying that I cannot write in the first person.  Oops! But I LIKE talking about myself and my point of view :). I realized I must be pretty overdue for a blog, where I am free to say "I think" as many times as I want.
Healthy? Not necessarily.
So what have I been thinking? I think I need to focus.  Lately I have been all over the place with my eating without a real plan.  Some days I do great all day, then come home and snack till dinner. Other days, I eat poorly at lunch and then the rest of the day seems like a free for all. Other days, I eat great and wake up feeling good the next morning, but one day of healthy eating does not a flat stomach make!
I knew I was in trouble the other night when I had dinner out with friends and although a french dip sandwich was calling my name, I decided to be "smart" and order the soup and salad.  But then I ordered a tomato bisque and Cesar salad.  I forgot to request the dressing on the side, and when the salad arrived, it was coated in dressing, topped with cheese, and covered in croutons.  The bisque was so rich it was almost oily.  I probably would have been better off with my original sandwich craving! It felt like amateur hour and I realized how out of practice I was at being a conscious eater. A few months ago I would have reacted differently in the same situation and done one or all of the following:
-Ask if the restaurant had nutritional facts for their food (it was a chain, they should)
-Ask for the dressing on the side. (or don't get a Cesar in the first place)
-Hold the cheese/croutons
-Ask if the soup is cream or broth based.
Don't worry I promise to eat more than this!
Maybe the extra questions would have made me annoying to the waiter or even possibly my dining companions.  But it would have been worth  it to not have to feel guilty after eating soup and salad for dinner!
Anyway- my goal for September is to get back to basics.  Conscious eating and portion control.  Know what's in my food and if it's worth eating. For portion control, it's making sure I'm eating a reasonable portion if it's healthy food, and a small portion if it's an indulgence. 
What are your keys to healthy eating? Is focusing on a few things a good idea?