Saturday, 20 January 2007

Foods from around the world (delicate stomachs beware!)

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America is a melting pot of cultures, and although we definitely have all kinds of ethnic food available there are some I'm glad haven't caught on and become mainstream. This interesting article goes on a virtual tour around the world, bringing some of the strangest and grossest "delicacies" out into the light. For example, in Iceland a food called Hakarl is popular. It's putrefied shark meat. Putrefied means rotten...

Personally, I'm starting to feel a little queasy, and am so glad I don't have to worry about how many calories are in fried earthworms, animal brains, and blood soup. If you're looking for that "they eat what in Africa?" shock factor you won't be disappointed, but I think I need to go back to reading about whether broccoli or cauliflower has more vitamin C and how to stay motivated in my workout!

A vitamin a day gives more than bargained for

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When you hit up your local nutrition center for some daily vitamins, most of us don't think twice about questioning the authenticity of their benefits. ConsumerLab.com tried testing 21 multivitamins between the States and Canada to find out that only ten met their label's claims or quality standards.

If that isn't bad enough, one particular vitamin set off alarms when The Vitamin Shoppe Multivitamins Especially for Women brand was found to have lead contamination. Half of the vitamins didn't have enough of the product their labels claimed, or they had too much of it. To add i nsult to injury, some of them didn't even dissolve in the right amount of time, meaning the body could not have absorbed what it needed.

Don't panic and throw away your multivitamin just yet. The good news is that some of the most popular brands passed the test. Centrum Silver, Member's Mark Complete Multi, One A Day Women's and Flintstones Complete were among the successful ones. Read on to find out more results and to see why taking a vitamin with too much punch in the pill could be dangerous.

Arthritis pain? Try a gin-soaked raisin

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raisinsSounds crazy, and I bet you can't find a study proving this one works. Nevertheless, this is one of many folk remedies people with arthritis pain are turning to for relief, according to ThirdAge.

Experts say that as long as a remedy has anti-inflammatory benefits, users will find some relief from their pain. Other trendy remedies include drinking apple cider vinegar, wearing a copper bracelet and eating fresh pineapple.

When you think about all of the people that suffer from arthritis (if it isn't you, I bet you know someone), it is no wonder that there are so many different natural ways to try to relieve the pain. And if you are like me and the side effects from common over-the-counter pain relievers freak you out, then why not try something as harmless as eating Jello?

I suppose eating nine gin-soaked raisins a day couldn't hurt either . . .

Portion Control: Know your limits

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My day-to-day diet is fairly healthy. I eat lots of fruit and veggies, choose whole grain over refined carbs, get calcium from low-fat dairy, avoid red meat, opting for fish and lean cuts of chicken instead and consume moderate amounts of mostly vegetable-based fats. I don't eat fast food, junk food or trans fats. I occasionally indulge with chocolate, fine cheese or wine, but I try to limit this to weekends. I'm pretty active and work out lots. Yet I have trouble losing pounds. Why? Because I suffer from portion distortion -- thinking that because I eat healthy, I can eat as much as I want.

Let's examine some of my typical meals:

Continue reading Portion Control: Know your limits

Trendy diet books for 2007

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foodIs your New Year's resolution to lose weight? Again? Do you f eel discouraged because you think you have tried all of the diets out there?

If Atkins has failed you and food combining was too high maintenance, this list of the hottest diet books for 2007 may help.

They seem to have included everything. Maybe a quick-start detox will help you motivate, or perhaps you just need better sleep to reset your metabolism. Do you want to diet with the stars, or try to make a new good eating habit everyday? Are you more concerned with your foods' glycemic index, or glycemic load? These seven books are very diverse, so there has got to be something for everyone.

Now I just need to decide if I want to eat like they do in Japan (yum . . . sushi anyone?) or lose inches, not pounds . . .

Healthcare costs might decrease with an HMO fitness program

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We all know the exercise is an essential aspect to a healthy lifestyle, and healthy living reduces our chances of illness and other health problems. Why, then, aren't there more government funded exercise programs? Surely getting people to be active would reduce healthcare costs in the long run, right?

According to this, that's exactly what exercise programs do. A study was conducted with senior citizens with diabetes, and it was found that healthcare costs were reduced when community-based exercise programs were implemented. It is believed that these findings will be reflected in individuals living with chronic conditions in other communities, too. What do you think? Are community-based activities prevalent in your area?

Plump pooch? Time for a doggy diet

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Recently I posted about a Finnish study that suggested that cat and dog owners are more likely to be obese than their petless counterparts. After nearly 100 comments in which I was politely, and, at times, very unpolitely chastised for reporting this "offensive" position, I've learned one thing: people really love their pets.

In keeping with the theme of love, and hopeful reconciliation between myself and dog owners everywhere, I'd like to respectfully bring your attention to the Big Dog/Big Loser contest. From January 18th to April 12th, Dr. Anne Chauvet from the Pet Rehab and Performance Center is hosting a competition between 10 obese dogs all trying to get rid of the puppy fat. By following the competition, pet owners of all sizes can get the info they need to whip Fido into shape.

Because remember, a healthy loved one is the gift that keeps on giving.

Popular diet and exercise myths debunked!

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As anyone who's tried to start a new diet or fitness routine knows, there's plenty of information out there on how to get started. While some of it's helpful, a lot of simply isn't true. The website Medical News Today sat down with two experts -- Julie Bender, a dietitian with Baylor University Medical Center, and Phil Tyne, director of Baylor's Health and Wellness Center -- to set the record straight on some popular misconceptions.

Among the false assumptions many people have are "crunches will get rid of your belly fat." According to Tyne, "you can't pick and chose areas where you'd like to burn fat." Instead, you should be creating a workout that decreases your overall body fat content -- combining both cardiovascular and strength training elements. You also may have heard that "stretching before exercise is crucial." As a matter of fact, some studies have suggested that stretching actually increases your muscles' susceptibility to injury.

In general, don't start any new routine based on assumptions. Gather information from multiple sources, talk to people who are experts in the field, and create your diet and exercise schedule based on facts -- not myths.

Dieting: You can do it yourself

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When it comes to weight loss, most people recommend starting a program with a trained weight loss professional. You need the guidance of someone who knows what they're doing, they say. But it's not impossible to do it yourself, because let's face it, we don't all ave access to the chefs, personal trainers and weight loss consultants that celebrities seem to have.

There are some things you need to keep in mind to keep you on the diet wagon. First, you need to do your research, and figure out what different dieting concepts are out there and which one will work for you. Secondly, you need to keep track of your progress. Thirdly, you need make a plan that you can skip to. You may a lso want to find some sort of support system, like finding a workout buddy or joining an online support group.

For more details, check this out.

Breaking up with dieting: patching up your relationship with food

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A friend and I had a conversation a year or so ago, shortly after Tyra donned her fat suit. "If I put on a white coat," she asked, "would I know how it felt to be a doctor?" She had a good point. When Tyra felt the hurt and shame that those who struggle with obesity sometimes bear, she felt it for an afternoon. And at the end of that afternoon, she knew she could unzip her extra pounds and leave them behind.

When a person who has actually struggled with food or weight issues talks, I'm riveted. That's why this post struck a chord with me. Laurie, the author, writes some heart wrenching words about why she started overeating and what being overweight did for her. Packing on pounds made her bigger, she says, but more invisible, when being invisible was what she needed.

Luckily, Laurie's the kind of girl who knows how to sort out her feelings. As she dug through the reasons behind her overeating, she discovered that those bad habits weren't working for her anymore. But Laurie was battle worn -- a dieting veteran. She refused to go back to counting calories or carbs or anything else that crossed her plate. In fact, she came up with what I think is probably the best eating advice of all time (and I'm quoting her):

"...eating natural, nutritious foods with the sole aim of being healthy."

Continue r eading Breaking up with dieting: patching up your relationship with food

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Lose weight but fatten your wallet with the Supermarket Diet

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Have you heard of the Supermarket Diet? Me neither, but it's out there and apparently it works. The Supermarket Diet is based on the premise that if you learn how to shop healthfully at the supermarket and prepare your own food, you should be able to drop pounds -- and save money.

Developed by Good Housekeeping Magazine, the plan is not a quick-fix, as it doesn't promise rapid weight-loss in the first week. Rather, it's a plan designed to create healthy habits in people, which is something I like about the plan, although I haven't tried it. The plan has three phases: Boot camp, Keep on losin', and maintenance. People on the plan are offered tips for shopping and a plethora of eas y, quick recipes that allow dieters to create homemade healthy meals with ease. It works by restricting calorie consumption and controlling ratios of fats, carbs and proteins. Like with every other healthy plan, activity is also an important component. See this for more information.

Have you tried it? What did you think?

The best ways to deal when bad things happen

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When life throws you a curve ball and something terrible happens, you have two choices: wallow in self-pity or do your best to pick up and move on in the best way you can, learning from the experience. It's only natural to feel angry, depressed, or stressed out and anxious. The important thing is that you bounce back, and good news: resilience can be learned.

So don't worry if you haven't always been strong in the past,

Beautician jailed for killing her client with Corn Oil

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Here's a story for the archives of bizarre and somewhat disturbing news: A beautician has been jailed for killing a client of hers by injecting her with cooking oil -- in her buttocks. Apparently the beautician has been using the corn oil as an anti-aging treatment, and has given it to several of her clients over the years.

46-year-old Maria Olivia Castillo died of multiple organ failure caused by fat blockages throughout her body as a result of the treatments. Martha Mata Vasquez pleaded guilty to ma nslaughter and has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

This isn't the first time the quest for beauty has had fatal consequences, and I'm sure it won't be the last. Please, if you feel the need to take measures to turn back the clock, do it with a medical professional or at least a trained beauty expert who uses legitimate anti-aging treatments.

How do you control hunger?

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Sometimes it will strike me without warning: incredible hunger that makes it impossible to concentrate until I get something, anything, in my stomach. This is usually when I fall off my healthy wagon and raid the nearest convenience store of it's potatoe chip supply. I figure that if I can control these sudden bouts of hunger, I can ward off unhealthy eating all together, so now I carry around a piece of fruit with me everywhere. People laugh when an apple rolls out of my handbag as I'm looking for my wallet, but I'm the one laughing when the munchies attack them -- or offering them a piece of fruit.
What are your tips for controlling hunger? In addition to carrying fruit around with me, I try to have a healthy snack every few hours or so, and I try to get fiber a protein throughout the day to ward off hunger. AOL also has these great tips for controlling hunger -- you should check them out!