July29, 2011

You've gone vegetarian — now what? Follow our tips for eating healthy

By Robin Asbell, author of The New Whole Grains Cookbook (Chronicle Books, 2007). Sure, potato chips and candy are technically vegetarian, but that doesn't make them healthy. Losing meat and falling back on fatty, sugary snacks is a common newbie mistake. To stay healthy, you or other vegetarians in your family need a diet rich in veggies and fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. The simplest rule: fill your plate with a variety of whole foods, skipping those prepackaged or overly processed cheats. But as you chow down, there are a few essential nutrients you? You'll need to increase:

Protein; In the average diet, the primary source of protein is meat. The recommended daily allowance is .8 grams per kilo of body weight, or 48 grams for a 132-pound person. Athletes or other active people may need a little more. Make a point to include a protein food (tofu and tempeh, beans, eggs, cheese) at each meal, which also helps you feel fuller longer.

An example of your daily protein intake might be:

  • A bowl of multigrain cereal with soymilk — 14 grams
  • Two eggs —12 grams
  • 1/2 cup firm tofu — 11 grams
  • A whole wheat pita — 6.3 grams
  • 3/4 cup hummus — 14.5 grams
  • Two slices of whole wheat bread — 5.2 grams
  • Total: 48.6 grams

B-Vitamins; If you eat whole grains, all but one of the B-vitamins — good immunity and metabolism boosters — should be covered. The exception, B-12 only comes from animal-sourced foods, including milk and eggs. Depending how stringent a vegetarian you are (take note, vegans!), rely on fortified soy milks or B-12 supplements. Red Star Nutritional Yeast also contains high amounts of B-12.
Iron; Iron in vegetarian sources is harder to absorb, so all vegetarians, especially women, should load up on iron-rich foods. Go for green leafy vegetables, beans, tofu and blackstrap molasses, and eat them with foods rich in vitamin C, which increase iron absorption. Cooking with cast iron pans also adds iron, especially to acidic foods such as spaghetti sauce.

Omega 3 and Omega 6; Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are vital to healthy heart and brain development. Fish is the primary source for Omega 3, but algae-based supplements are available. Other good Omega 3 sources include flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, soybeans and sea vegetables, which are available in local natural food stores. Eggs from chickens that are fed flax are also high in Omega 3;  For Omega 6, eat whole grains, nuts and seeds, and their accompanying oils.

Calcium; They say milk does a body good — that's because of the calcium, an essential for bone strength and growth. Non-dairy calcium comes from leafy greens, fortified soy milks, beans and almonds, but a calcium supplement is good too, especially for teens and women.

Vitamin D; Another bone-booster, vitamin D comes from sunlight. There are supplements available, but catching some rays everyday should be enough.
Zinc; Soy foods, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains have zinc, a mineral that keeps skin healthy and your immunity in shape. Eat an unrefined, whole foods diet and you'll be covered.

Note: If you decide to become a vegetarian, you should make an appointment with a registered dietitian (RD), who can create a tailor-made eating plan to meet your important nutritional needs. You can locate an RD in your area by visiting the American Dietetic Association.

You’re cutting down on fat, controlling carbs and exercising religiously. So why aren’t you losing weight? Here are 10 things that will derail your quest for a slimmer body. Plus, how calorie-conscious are you? Rate yourself…

You’re no slacker when it comes to your health: You exercise, watch what you eat, use portion control, and can resist Ben & Jerry’s without a problem.

Yet the scale needle still won’t budge.

Why are so many dieters destined to regain lost weight or never lose anything at all? Here are 10 reasons your body isn’t behaving:

Physical Factors

1. You don’t have enough muscle.The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. Fat and muscle tissues consume calories all day long whether you’re running, reading or sleeping. No matter what you’re doing, muscle rips through more calories than fat.

That's why men burn calories a lot faster than women; they have more muscle.

What to do: Lift weights. You don’t have to get huge, but building and maintaining muscle week after week, year after year makes a difference in the long run.

Registered dietitian and certified personal trainer Marci Anderson has her clients alternate between strength exercises and heart rate-raising cardio in each session.

“That way, their strength training includes the calorie-burning effect of cardio.”

2. Genetics: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.If both parents are obese, you are much more likely to be obese, says Jill Comess, M.S., R.D., food science and nutrition program director at Norfolk State University in Virginia.

“Researchers estimate that your genes account for at least 50% - and as much as 90% - of your stored body fat,” she says.
What to do: You’re not doomed. Your weight-loss challenge is just 10%-50% greater.

“Losing even just a few pounds makes you healthier and less likely to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer,” Comess says. “So you don’t have to be super-slim to improve your health.”

If an overweight woman loses even 5%-10% of her total body weight, she has a greater chance of reducing or getting off her high blood pressure or other meds, she adds.

3. You’re getting older.A sluggish metabolism is a common aging problem. And we encourage it by sitting in traffic, long hours at the office and in front of computers.

All this inactivity means we gradually lose muscle and increase body fat, resulting in a metabolic slump. But it’s not unbeatable.

What to do: First, lift weights. But don’t underestimate the power of just moving. You faithfully walk the treadmill for an hour each day or go to yoga class, but what are you doing the other 23 hours?

It’s a no-brainer: Folding laundry, walking to a co-worker’s desk and cooking dinner burn more calories than just watching TV, emailing your co-worker or driving to the pizza joint.

Thin people fidget and move (called non-exercise activity) more than obese people, research shows. In fact, such antsy behavior might burn as much as 350 more calories per day – the equivalent of two doughnuts.

4. Your body can’t keep up.To survive in the days before supermarkets, your body evolved some complex starvation-coping strategies.

Now that food isn’t scarce, these processes can work against us, explains Jim Anderson, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Medicine and Clinical Nutrition at the University of Kentucky.

“The intestines make about two dozen hormones – some that stimulate eating and others that decrease the need to eat,” he says. The sophisticated hormonal response can’t cope with our sedentary lifestyle and all those tempting Twinkies, potato chips and frozen dinners we gobble, he says. So it’s harder to maintain ideal body weight.

What to do: You can’t fight evolution, so you have to focus extra-hard on those things you can. Be active every day and fill up on low-calorie foods, such as broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, green beans and other non-starchy vegetables.

5. Your medicine cabinet is to blame.A host of drugs that treat diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, inflammatory disease and more affect weight regulation. Some will make you hungrier and others stimulate your body to store fat. And if a drug affects the brain, there’s a good chance it affects weight, Anderson says.

What to do: Ask your health care provider if an alternate drug or a lower dose could work, but don’t change your medications without discussing it first.

Self-SabotageAre you your own worst diet enemy? It’s easy to let everyday life get in the way of making smart food choices. The drive-thru instead of a home-cooked meal is an obvious mistake. But you could be sabotaging yourself in some not-so-apparent ways too.

6. You underestimate portions and calories.Even dietitians underestimate calories – and by huge amounts! One study found that women and overweight people miscalculate more than others.

Other studies suggest that the greatest underestimating occurs when the meals are the largest, and that it doesn’t have anything to do with how fat someone is.

What to do: Follow the portion guidelines at mypyramid.gov for several days. Use measuring spoons, measuring cups and a food scale to guide you. Then plug in your food choices on that site or another reputable one to calculate your calorie intake. And read every food label for serving size and calories.
Need more help? Visit eatright.org to find a registered dietitian in your area.

7. You eat mindlessly or when distracted.Do you eat dinner in front of the TV? Do you stop eating when you’re full or when the show is over? All too often, such distraction leads to more and more mouthfuls of pasta or potatoes.

If you’re munching from a bag of chips or a box of crackers, you can’t keep track of how much you’ve eaten.

And plenty of dieters report they didn’t even realize they had snacked from the candy bowl or nibbled from a child’s plate until it was too late.

What to do: Make it a house rule to eat from a dish. Always. No bags, cartons or fistfuls. Put it in a dish, sit down and savor the taste as you eat – without distraction. That means that if you’re going to grab the crust of your daughter’s grilled cheese sandwich, you have to put it on a plate first.

8. You deprive yourself.Your list of can’t-have foods is so long, it rivals the nation’s tally of foreclosed homes. In fact, you’ve been so strict with yourself, you can’t remember the last time you ate a doughnut, candy bar or slice of pizza.

Then - like so many times before - you give in, scarf down something taboo, and now you’re mad at yourself.

So what the heck, you think: You’ll just eat everything on your forbidden list to get it out of your system. You’ll start your diet over again tomorrow – or next week.

Problem is, you can’t get it out of your system. It just doesn’t work that way.

What to do: No more setting yourself up for feeling deprived. In fact, no more dieting.

Take the focus away from that list of bad foods and emphasize those that are good for you. If 90% of the time you eat a wholesome diet of ample fruits and vegetables, some whole grains, lean meats or other sources of protein, then the other 10% doesn’t really matter.
So enjoy that glazed doughnut – but just one. If you want another, it will still be there tomorrow. After all, doughnuts or candy bars or pizza or whatever won’t drop off the face of the earth.

9. You’re usually good, but…You always watch your portions. You start every morning with a healthful breakfast and eat only baked chicken, not fried.

Always that is, unless you’re on vacation or dining out. Or celebrating a birthday. Or sharing an anniversary. Or honoring your son’s first home run.

Consistency is key to dropping pounds. Researchers involved with the National Weight Control Registry found that those who eat similarly day after day are more likely to maintain weight loss than others.

One splurge meal in a restaurant can easily undo all the small calorie-saving tricks you employed the whole week before. Derail yourself every week and you’ll never get anywhere.

What to do: Again, stop dieting and start making small changes you can live with.

Find ways to celebrate that don’t involve high-calorie eating (like a manicure) or take half of that restaurant meal home to celebrate again tomorrow.

10. You overestimate your calorie burn.Gym machines are notorious for overestimating the calories burned by exercisers, and dieters can easily out-eat their workouts. Your 30-minute power walk might burn 200 calories, but that won’t make up for your after-exercise power smoothie.

What to do: Exercise is an important tool in controlling your weight and maintaining good health, but stop rewarding your good work with food.If you’re tempted to follow a sweat session with a smoothie or muffin.

Did you know that Cardio is a great Benefit for the Bedroom!? 

        What's involved: Running, biking, swimming, aerobic step class, power walking. The same old cardio routines can step up your sex life. These include any activity performed for 30-60 minutes a day, where your heart is working at 65%-75% of its capacity (and you can still talk to the person next to you).

Bedroom benefits: Regular cardio workouts build stamina by improving your oxygen consumption. They also boost your body's ability to bring oxygen into your muscles, which in turn burns calories and breaks down nutrients into energy.

And that helps you in the sack. "Not only will you be able to last in bed without getting tired, but you'll also recover faster and be able to go again," says trainer Jeanette Jenkins, creator of The Hollywood Trainer line of fitness DVDs.
Secret #1: Get to bed earlyThe number of zzz’s you catch can have a big effect on your waistline. Research shows that sleep deprivation can send your hunger and appetite hormones out of whack.

A four-year joint study by the University of Wisconsin and Stanford University found that adults who regularly slept for only five hours a night increased their levels of hunger-inducing ghrelin by 14.9% and lowered their levels of appetite-suppressing leptin by 15.5%.

This means double trouble for your fat cells: You end up eating more than you need, leaving you with extra pounds to show for it.

How much sleep do you need to avoid this? Some people swear by a few hours, but experts recommend 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.

Food/CaloriesActivity/Time to Burn Calories
Medium nonfat latte and blueberry muffin
(605 calories)
Walking 3.0 mph (20-minute mile), 2 hours, 14 minutes
Walking 4.0 mph (15-minute mile), 1 hour, 29 minutes
Large bagel with cream cheese
(430 calories)
Jogging 5.2 mph (11.5-minute mile), 35 minutes
Aerobic dancing, low impact, 63 minutes
22-ounce strawberry smoothie with artificial sweetener
(250 calories)
Weight training, light, 61 minutes
Circuit training (includes aerobic activity), 23 minutes
Fast food sausage and egg biscuit
(500 calories)
Gardening, 92 minutes
House cleaning, heavy, 2 hours, 2 minutes

CHICAGO (Reuters) - People with a family history of alcoholism may be turning to high-calorie treats instead of booze to satisfy their addiction, U.S. researchers say, a change that could be fueling the obesity epidemic.
Because alcohol and bingeing on junk foods stimulate the same parts of the brain, it may be that people with a predisposition to alcoholism are replacing alcohol with junk foods, says the team from Washington University in St. Louis.
This is especially true for women, they report.