How Do I Control Food Cravings?

Food cravings are a common condition in the community and can often be seen several times a week in individuals. Cravings can be an excessive desire to resist a certain food, or more than one food.  In particular, during weight loss, limiting energy intake can cause food cravings. There is a possibility that some mineral deficiencies may cause excessive desire for some foods. Also, this situation can caused by psychological and environmental factors.

Food cravings are usually targeted toward excessively fatty, sugary, or high calorie foods, such as fast food. The desire for specific food types can be seen because of limited consumption, or specific taste preferences and perceptions.  For example, if you are feeding your body restricted fat and carbohydrates, maybe you start craving French fries. Also, cravings may be signals of biological needs. For example, if you are craving chocolate, this may be a precursor to magnesium deficiency, or craving dairy products may be signals of calcium deficiency. Besides, salty foods and milk products are usually desired when you’re hungry.

Food Choices According to Mood

People show different kinds of nutritional behaviors depending on their mood and stress level. Food intake increased in people who feel unhappy and tired.  The body may need to some foods to compensate for the decrease in some mood-related hormones. For instance, high fat and sugar content foods trigger the release of insulin and endorphins. Endorphin secretion makes a person feels better. For this reason, people in negative moods are more prone to consume carbohydrates and high calorie snacks to feel satisfied. This may be why some people eat more chocolate when they are unhappy or feel depressed. On the other hand, some individuals tend to have a larger appetite when they are in a positive mood, rewarding themselves with food. They tend to consume indulgent foods, such as chocolate and salty popcorn.

Association between gender and cravings

Gender makes a difference in food cravings. Many women desire more sweet treats, like chocolate, while men generally desire salty or savory foods. Additionally, research has shown that cravings are more frequent in women and resisting cravings is harder for a woman than it is for a man. This difference was thought to be related to the different functioning of hormone mechanisms. Especially during the menstrual cycle, cravings are the strongest before menses, and continues during menstruation.

What should we do to avoid craving?

Choose the Healthy One

Replacing cravings with more nutritious and  healthy foods can be a better option.

When you feel you need to eat chocolate, you should consider other magnesium sources. You can exchange chocolate with ½ cup of pumpkin seeds, 12 almonds, or 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.  Similarly, other carbohydrate sources can be preferred. Rather than reaching for cakes and bakery products, reach for fruits and whole grain products. Dry fruits can be a good choice to satisfy your sweet tooth.

In calcium deficiency, the demand for milk products increases.  Dairy product intake can decrease the desire to eat milk-based desserts and increase calcium levels.  You may prefer 1 cup of yogurt instead of ice cream. Consuming fiber rich products daily supports your feeling of satiety for a long time and helps with adequate nutrient intake.  Making a good breakfast, like leaving 1/3 cup of oatmeal in 1 cup of milk overnight, is a good choice for breakfast and includes both calcium and fiber. Fresh fruits and vegetables with the skin on should also be preferred as rich fiber sources.

Relationship Between Craving and Nutrition

In the studies conducted, it was observed that craving increased if one diet type was used for a longer term. If you’ve been eating the same kind of food for a long time, that may be the reason why you desire other foods. Small changes may help to prevent you from making unhealthy food choices. Furthermore, check whether you get enough energy or not. Many people who are dieting may experience eating attacks due to energy restrictions. Try not to be hungry for a long time, as that will push you to high caloric foods. Increasing frequency of meals can help you control your food desires. You feel more satisfied when you eat more frequently and do regular meal plans.

When you eat less from specific food groups (such as low-fat, low-carbohydrate, low-protein) your desire to eat fast food and snacks will increase.  A balanced diet plan increases your satiety and helps you to control your eating behaviors. Eating protein-rich food, such as meats, poultry and seafood, keep you satiated for longer. Egg contains various nutrients and is a protein rich food, preferred as a protein source. Furthermore, seafood, like one salmon steak or one can of tuna, reduces sodium deficiency, and can help decrease your desire for salty foods and snacks.

Liquid Consumption

Drinking inadequate water causes you to feel hungry. If you are desiring to drink sugar sweetened beverages, or have a tendency to consume juices, the reason for this craving may be that you consume less water than your body needs.  Drinking water at frequent intervals can help you resist your cravings for sugary drinks. You can also choose mineral water instead of acidic beverages.

 

How Can I Be Resistant to Colds?

With the change of weather, especially in the beginning of the winter, our body resistance can be lower  than normal, and we may become more vulnerable to  illness. In these times when the body is exposed to external dangers, illnesses such as upper respiratory tract infections, colds, and flu can be widely seen. Illnesses, like the common cold, shows some symptoms like fatigue, headache, sore throat, sneezing, coughing, runny nose, fever so that they affect daily life negatively. Supporting your immune defense system can help in preventing illnesses or reducing their symptoms. In a survey of people with the common cold in the USA, even though antibiotics is not an effective treatment (due to the fact that colds are caused by viruses), survey results exhibit that nearly half of affected people used antibiotics. For this reason, strengthening the body with zinc and vitamin C supplements that support immunity and taking care of your diet may be better alternatives.

Specifically in children and in the elderly, zinc is beneficial for decreased risk of common colds and upper respiratory tract infections. Furthermore, vitamin C has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of the common cold by improving antimicrobial and natural killer cell activities. So, how can we support our body in terms of vitamin C and zinc? Some zinc-rich food groups include whole-grains, meat and meat products, milk and dairy products, and fish. For vitamin C, it is important to consume fresh vegetables and fruits on a daily basis because vitamin C is not stored in body.

Apart from these, some plants may support our immunity, when we look at food based help. For instance, adding garlic to your meals during these seasons may be a good option. Some substances in the garlic support immunity, as it has antiviral and antibacterial effects. Since they regulate the activities of enzymes, it may be useful to include some plants in the diet as a way to prevent disease. For example blueberries, red onions, kale, cranberries, broccoli, and green tea includes a substances named quercetin, which protects the body from bacteria. Moreover, green tea contains vitamin C, and green tea extract inhibits viral proliferation.

As a result, it is important to support the immune system to increase body resistance in seasonal changes. In these periods, paying attention to diet by choosing foods with a varied and rich nutrient content may be good ways to support the body’s defense mechanisms. You can make small changes by editing meal contents. For example, you can add fish in your menu for couple of days in the week, eat meat on other days, and consume products everyday for consumption of adequate zinc. Also, whole grain bread can be a good alternative to zinc intake. Remember to consume fresh vegetables and fruits on a daily basis, especially citrus fruits that contain vitamin C. Due to their antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiviral effects, some plants are very useful for immunity. Daily consumption of green tea (vitamin C) with its antioxidant and antiviral effect will reduce the symptoms and the risk of illness.

 

10 Family Christmas Gifts Under $30

Christmas is the time for going home, no matter how far it is. Do you find yourself searching for perfect gifts for all ages? Going back home with thoughtful gifts for all family is on everyone’s mind. Here is 10 ideas for every budget.

Syma Helicopter ($19.99)

Nothing is cuter than a kid’s excitement while opening gifts on Christmas Day. After they open this gift, they can’t wait even a minute to fly the Syma helicopter. Also, dads that are kids at heart will be happy to try it with kids.

https://www.amazon.com/Syma-S107G-Channel-Helicopter-Gyro/dp/B00F4WMAI4

Homesick Candles ($29.95)

These candles smell like pleasant scents from different states. Homesick candles will make your family remember all of the memories of your home state.

California SoCal Candle

 

Vivoo ($19.90)

Do you care about your loved one’s wellness all the time? Here is a special gift for them. Vivoo is a personalized wellness application that gives you nutrition and lifestyle advice based on your urine. Sounds crazy, right? Here is the link for more.

https://vivoo.io/shop/ 

 

ThinkGeek Executive Knight Pen Holder ($30)

There must be someone who loves writing in your family. Support their hobby and sharpen up their writing with a devoted knight! This pen holder is the perfect choice as a gift for the family member who uses a pen frequently.

https://www.amazon.com/ThinkGeek-Executive-Knight-Pen-Holder/dp/B00QX6SEJO 

Cards Against Humanity ($25)

Cards Against Humanity is a party game. The game is simple. Each round, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their funniest white card. Christmas is a time to have fun with family. Make it funnier with a game!

https://www.amazon.com/Cards-Against-Humanity-LLC-CAHUS/dp/B004S8F7QM

 

 

Personalized Wood Bottle Opener ($10)

Do you have a family member who enjoys drinking adult beverages? This personalized bottle opener is a handy and thoughtful gift.

https://www.amazon.com/Personalized-Engraved-Wood-Bottle-Opener/dp/B0784ZK7T9

 

Off the Beaten Path Travel Guide ($17.15)

It’s the perfect time to give this book as a gift when the whole family together! Explore new destinations all around the US on Christmas!

https://www.amazon.com/Off-Beaten-Path-Interesting-Uncrowded/dp/0762107944

 

Bonsai Trio Kit ($13.99)

New year, new hobbies! Gardening helps with relaxation and is also a perfect choice as a new hobby.  Give your family some good times with this gift.

https://www.amazon.com/Plant-Theatre-Bonsai-Distinctive-Trees/dp/B00YSNT66Y

 

Gummy Bear Light ($29.99)

Children and adults both love these pretty sleeping lights. These lovely lights will help children to overcome their fear of darkness.

https://www.amazon.com/Gummygoods-Huggable-Gummy-Bear-Nightlight/dp/B00C1OER5W

California Delicious Starbucks Daybreak Gourmet Coffee Gift Basket

The best smelling coffees make everyone’s morning better. This basket includes a variety of coffee with different aromas. A coffee gift basket always works for coffee lovers!

https://www.amazon.com/California-Delicious-Starbucks-Daybreak-Gourmet/dp/B00D614YRU

Is It Better to Fuel Yourself Up Before Morning Run?

That’s your alarm ringing. Time to leave your warm bed. You have limited time for a morning run and shower before work. Is it really necessary to eat breakfast before you hit the trail? And what about eating post-run?

What is today’s workout?

The type of workout is the main factor in deciding if you need something to eat before you start. When you wake up in the morning, your blood sugar is at its lowest due to overnight fasting. You may not have enough glycogen stored away to keep you fueled for the run. Therefore the size of your breakfast must vary depending on the length and intensity of the run.

Ideally, you should fuel your body about 1 to 3 hours pre-workout, depending on how your body tolerates food. However, runners know that eating anything too close to a run may impair performance and lead to GI discomfort. Besides, getting up an hour before a 6:45 a.m. run to give your body enough time to digest breakfast properly is not exactly practical!

If you are looking to burn fat or just going for an early morning shakeout or recovery run of 30-60 minutes, you may not require any pre-workout fuel. Research suggests that, for the average person, a relaxed-pace morning run without carbohydrates in the stomach will not limit performance. Additionally, eating carbohydrates will not enhance performance in this scenario. So, just enjoy your pre-workout coffee/caffeine!

For a run longer than an hour but at a relaxed pace, a small breakfast bar, a couple slices of toast, or a large banana may be enough to fuel you up. It’s best to get something small down as soon as you wake up, even before getting your workout clothes on, to give yourself maximum digestion time. However, if you’re planning a speed workout or a long run, wake up an hour early and have a small meal.

Try these options before a long run:

  • Porridge topped with walnuts and blueberries
  • Energy bar made with medjouls and nuts
  • Banana and peanut butter
  • Smoothie (fat-free Greek yogurt, fresh berries, almonds)

Post-Run Meal Tips

Your body uses stored glycogen in your muscles to power through your workout, but after that workout you need to replenish the nutrients lost. What to do? No matter the intensity or duration, your body will be screaming for replenishment post-run. As soon as possible post-workout, eat some carbs and protein for a better recovery.

Post-workout meal options include:

  • Recovery smoothie (low-fat yogurt, watermelon/mango, ice)
  • Low-fat chocolate milk
  • Turkey with veggies in a whole-grain wrap
  • Yogurt with berries

The above options offer mainly carbs with some protein and are convenient with the first two liquid options also helping to rehydrate the body.

Now put on your favorite playlist and enjoy your morning cardio!

5 Healthy Reasons to Eat Pumpkin at Halloween

Oh, Halloween! Watching horror films, holding costume parties, children dressing up in costumes, going trick-or-treating, Halloween sweets, snacks, carving lanterns with scary faces out of pumpkins to decorate homes and gardens, creating ghoulish scenes in the yard, and so much more that I forgot to add, are all of the fun Halloween things that make the holiday look both horrible and magical. Magical and scary symbols of Halloween -ghosts, skeletons, witches, wizards, blood, bats, black cats, spiders- invite us into a spiritual world. The spooks, ghosts and walking skeletons symbolize the spirituality between the living and the dead. We turn into magical figures with costumes to have the power to contact the spirit world, like witches and wizards do. Lanterns with scary faces carved out of pumpkins become a part of this spiritual world by symbolizing light and darkness. Maybe that’s why one of the most popular symbols of Halloween is the Jack-o’-lantern. And maybe that’s why most cafés and restaurants come out with pumpkin specialties on the menu. Everyone loves eating pumpkin recipes at Halloween, don’t they? Here are 5 healthy reasons to choose pumpkin recipes in this season.

1. Vitamins

Fall is the season of the cold, flu and allergies. Food that is high in vitamins, such as pumpkin, can help you to not “fall” ill in the fall. In this season, we can boost our immunity to defeat infections through pumpkin’s highly dense nutritional content. A cup of pumpkin provides 245% of vitamin A,  19% of vitamin C, 10% of vitamin E, and 2% of vitamin K according to FDA recommended daily values (RDV). These vitamins protect us against infections and help to treat the cold and flu. That’s why fall is the season of pumpkin, too.

2. Minerals

Minerals are responsible for maintaining fluid balance in the body. Adequate mineral intake balances the amount of water in your body and reduces water retention. Also, the pH balance of body is related to minerals. Mineral balance helps your nerves, muscles, heart, and brain to work the way they should. You can protect yourself against high blood pressure, stroke, water retention, osteoporosis, bone fractures, and muscle injuries by keeping up on your mineral balance. When it comes to RDV, a cup of pumpkin provides 16% of potassium, 11% of manganese, 11% of copper, 8% of iron, 7% of phosphorus, 6% of magnesium, 4% calcium and 4% of zinc.

3. Antioxidants 

The color of pumpkin comes from beta carotene, a kind of carotenoids. Besides giving its vibrant color, carotenoids are antioxidants and a precursor of vitamin A. Imbalances between free radicals and antioxidants causes oxidative stress, which is a trigger for different types of diseases. The antioxidant effects of pumpkin inhibit damage caused by free radicals in the body, protects against inflammatory conditions and diseases -such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, and cancer-, and has lots of benefits for overall health.

4. Fibers

A cup of pumpkin (245 g) includes 2.7 g of dietary fiber and it meets 11% of your daily fiber needs. Foods that are high in fiber help to regulate the digestive system. There is increased curiosity (and research) into the theory that all diseases are connected to the digestive system. Scientists are even researching connections between the digestive system and psychology. According to studies, fiber intake provides protection against inflammation, cardiovascular risks, allergies, diabetic complications, metabolic syndrome, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and kidney health. Pay attention to protecting your digestive system, and support it by eating foods high in fiber, such as pumpkin.

5. Low Calorie

Pumpkin is classified as a low-calorie food because it is 90% water. A cup of mashed pumpkin has 50 calories (44 cal comes from carbohydrates, 1.5 cal from fat and 4.5 from proteins). It may also be helpful in weight control. High volumes of pumpkin makes you feel full easily.

Let’s enjoy more healthy pumpkin recipes for the benefits that come from the nutritional value. Pumpkin kisses and harvest wishes. Happy Halloween! 🙂

 

 

5 Healthy Snacks to Beat Afternoon Cravings at Work

In recent years, everyone has become aware of the benefits of snack meals. They are not only necessary for losing weight, but also essential for feeling good and dealing with long work hours. Most of us feel our energy waning around 3 p.m. or 4 p.m on workdays. But it can be hard to come up with healthy and creative options for snack meals to replenish energy. So if you’re tired of constantly eating walnuts and hazelnuts, check out these 5 healthy snack alternatives which are easy to find and prepare.

1. I don’t have time to prepare anything.

Convenient, pre-packaged foods can be your savior for snack meals, but you should read the labels very carefully because today’s supermarkets are full of unhealthy industrial foods. You should choose snacks without sugar or food preservatives and with at least 3 grams of protein. An energy bar with about 100-400 kcalories (you can choose your snacks’ calory count based on your current weight and your target weight) is generally the best choice. When you are bored at the office during the afternoon, stay away from the nearest chocolate wafers. Instead give the coffee and energy bar duo a try. You will observe your work performance getting better.

2. It’s really hot out there! Give me some refreshing desserts!

If you have never tried making ice cream at home you may think that it is tasteless and hard to prepare. Give it a chance; you will see how delicious it is even without sugar! Slice 1 medium sized banana, put it in a plastic bag, and let it rest in the freezer for a couple of hours. Once the banana slices are frozen, toss them in the blender and add 1 teaspoon of peanut butter, 1 teaspoon of cocoa, and a few hazelnuts.

3. I’ve been feeling very hungry lately, and the usual snacks just don’t fill me up.

When the usual snacks just don’t cut it, it’s time to seek out an option with more protein, such as a sandwich with spreadable curd cheese and smoked turkey slices on rye or whole grain bread. You can add some avocado too if you are very hungry. This sandwich contains about 8-10 grams of protein and is a great snack to carry to work in your bag. Have a sparkling mineral soda with it for a refreshing twist; you will not feel hungry until dinner time!

4. Yogurt + Granola Mix

Here is another easy option that you can prepare at home or at the office. Mix together a small portion of yogurt (you can have probiotics if you choose) and sugar-free granola. If you prefer, instead of granola you can prepare yourself a portion of muesli mix: 2 tablespoons of oatmeal, 1 tablespoon of raisins, 5-6 raw almonds, and half a teaspoon of cinnamon.

5. Fave Couple: Milk Coffee and Dark Chocolate

Sometimes you may not feel very hungry during snack time and think that just drinking some coffee is enough. But it’s easy to be tempted by the little treats that we often eat alongside coffee, such as donuts, pastries, or chocolates. Every now and then we all make excuses such as, “It’s just a small piece, so it’s okay.”Here’s a healthy suggestion: You can have 1-2 small pieces of dark chocolate alongside a cup of coffee with plain, soy, or almond milk. This combination will trigger the happiness hormone (serotonin) thanks to the magnesium in the dark chocolate, but you won’t be consuming the extra fat of other kinds of chocolates or sweets.