Hey, I’ll Bet You Didn’t Know This!

Did You Know.By Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

Size matters.  Plate size, that is, especially if you are a “clean plate” eater.  We rely on visual clues to let us know how much to eat.  Smaller plates lead to smaller portions and you won’t feel deprived, even though you are eating less. 

Most Americans don’t know how many calories they consume in a day.  In fact, most consistently underestimate their calorie consumption, especially when it comes to fast food meals.  According to the USDA, the amount of calories Americans consume increased by 530 calories daily between the years 1970 and 2000, partly due to the fact that we dine out more often.  In general, the average adult male needs about 2,500 calories per day to maintain weight, while the average adult female requires approximately 2,000.

Bad habits are contagious, so choose your friends wisely.  If your close friends smoke, overeat, or drink too much alcohol, chances are greater you will also.  Of course, we all want to accept our friends as they are.  Just be aware that you may be subconsciously following their lead.  Perhaps they would be open to adopting healthier behaviors with you. 

Overdoing exercise.  While regular moderate intensity exercise is a good thing, you can get to a point of diminishing returns if you go to extremes.  Exercising at ultra high levels can actually be toxic and may cause damage to the heart muscle.  This can result in tearing, scarring and thickening and may lead to more serious heart problems.  Daily moderate exercise for 15 minutes to an hour appears to be just the right amount for heart and longevity benefits.

Chronic dieting doesn’t work.  You don’t even need to be perfect all the time.  Super strict eating plans are unrealistic and way too restrictive.  Figure out what kind of sensible plan works with your lifestyle and be prepared for slip-ups.  Balanced, portion controlled meals, regular exercise and flexibility make up a far better plan for weight loss and management. 

Patience actually is a virtue.  When it comes to exercise and dieting results, most of us give up too soon if we don’t see progress in a short amount of time.  Face it, your weight gain did not happen overnight and you won’t lose it overnight eitherIf you want a hot work out bod, you’ll need to stick with your sensible eating plan, and you’ll need to work out and sweat for it.  You will see progress, just not necessarily tomorrow if you began your quest yesterday or last week or even last month. 

Carbs are not the enemy.  We need to eat healthy carbs for energy.  What we don’t need is an excessive amount of easily digested, simple carbs.  Fill up on whole grains, veggies, whole fruits and beans. 

Some good foods have gotten a bad rap.   Eggs and potatoes are two examples.  The latest research shows that eating eggs does not raise cholesterols levels.   In fact, eggs contain protein, lots of vitamins and minerals and the yolks contain lutein, which actually protects against the progress of early heart disease.  Potatoes supply vitamin C, potassium, B6 and trace minerals.  At just 110 calories, including the skin, potatoes are complex carbs that supply energy and fiber, and satisfy hunger. 

Next up on the menu.  Be prepared to bite back.  According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organizations, there are more than 1,900 edible insects, hundreds of which are already part of the diet in many countries.  If you are looking for protein, fiber, good fats, and vital minerals, look no farther than mealworms and grasshoppers.  Another plus to eating insects is that it keeps their population down, making the world less reliable on insecticides.  Cricket tacos anyone? 

Your spice cabinet doubles as an alternative medicine cabinet.  It should come as no surprise that spices and herbs have been used for thousands of years to treat or fend off illnesses.  For example, garlic has anti-microbial properties and turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory.  Both can be added in small quantities to just about any dish. 

Not all honey is created equal.  All honey has antibacterial properties but Manuka honey’s anti-bacterial benefits may be superior.  The less processed the honey, the better the advantages.   Because of its high sugar and low moisture content, honey is one food that is considered immune from spoilage.  One caveat – honey should not be given to infants under one year old as their gastrointestinal tracts are not developed enough to deal with spores that may be present. 

Cut the bull.  Energy drinks deliver more than energy.  They boost your heart rate and your blood pressure, which can be detrimental if you are managing heart disease or hypertension.  Long term health consequences of energy drink consumption are still unknown.  If you can’t cut out these drinks completely, find one with less caffeine and limit your overall daily or weekly intake. 

If you want to reduce your risk of catching a cold, go for a daily walk year round.  Research shows that light to moderate exercise on a regular basis can reduce your risk of a cold by about 30%. 

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