Weight Loss and the Mediterranean Diet

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Can You Lose Weight on the Mediterranean Diet?

So can you actually expect to lose weight on the Mediterranean diet? We know that the diet is touted as a really good way to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, and may also extend your lifespan, but when it comes to taking off the pounds, is it an effective weight-loss plan? Because, that’s really why most of us start a diet…to lose weight. That may actually be a stronger motivator than getting healthy, not always, but sometimes!

Is the Mediterranean Diet just about nutrients and fats? Can you actually expect to cut some calories and see your weight go down also?

The Good and the Bad

Some people don’t think that the Mediterranean Diet is an effective for weight-loss program because you’re not counting calories, and you’re not cutting carbs.

You’re still eating everything that you would normally eat, there’s no limits on the amounts that you can eat, plus the Mediterranean Diet is very focused on the fats that you eat instead of cutting out the fat, there’s a lot of Olive Oil added to the dishes. Fat contains 9 calories per gram, as opposed to 4 calories per gram for other foods, this could be a huge concern! How can you possibly lose weight?

There is quite a bit of good news, too, though. For starters, you’ll feel fuller much longer on the Mediterranean Diet. That’s because it contains all that fat and it contains a lot of nutrients.

This is you giving your body real food, the kind of real food that it actually needs. So for that reason, you don’t find yourself craving food all the time and you actually feel satisfied. If you’re not hungry, you’re not snacking. Unless you’re a comfort eater and that’s a subject for another day.

You’ll also be getting a lot of nutrients that aid in weight loss. Things like CoQ10 and B complex vitamins from the meats and fish, and the addition of fresh garlic will all help to improve your metabolism, which will also raise your energy levels.

So, can you lose weight on the Mediterranean Diet? The answer is yes, definitely! This is a diet that helps you eat healthier, and when you do that, you naturally begin to lose weight.

That being said, you can’t just rely on a diet to shed the pounds. You need to exercise as well. Go out and take a brisk walk, go for a swim or join a gym.

The thing is, the food on the Mediterranean Diet is so delicious and the lifestyle so practical, that you won’t feel restricted or deprived, so this may just be diet that you willingly want to stick with. And that is the key to any diet. If it feels like a diet…you won’t want to be on it for very long!

A Look at the Mediterranean Diet

09Each day this week, I am going to take a different aspect of the Mediterranean Diet and give it a closer look.  I’m going to talk about things like what it is, is it possible to lose weight on a Mediterranean diet, the fat issue, and the history and science behind it.

The Mediterranean Diet is of course a diet that involves emulating the way that people eat in the Mediterranean. The diet became popular when it was found that people who ate a Mediterranean Diet actually lived longer and experienced a lower incidence of heart disease and other issues.

At first this surprised researchers – after all, the Mediterranean Diet mainly consists of eating fats (olive oil and cheese) and wine! These are things that were traditionally thought to be bad for us.

Upon further research, it happens that in moderation – and when combined with a nutrient rich diet – they can actually be beneficial.

So what exactly is this nutrient rich diet? How do you eat like a Mediterranean? What foods are on the menu? Let’s take a look…

Salads

One of the mainstays of a Mediterranean Diet is salad. Salad is highly nutritious and provides the body with lots of iron, calcium and other minerals. At the same time, it also adds fiber to a meal without adding many calories, making you feel fuller faster.

One of the very best salads out there for the Mediterranean Diet is Greek salad. This meal consists purely of chopped tomato, cucumber, pepper and feta cheese with a little olive oil drizzled on top!

Fish

Being near the warm Mediterranean means being near tons of fish. Fish is actually incredibly healthy, especially salmon.

The biggest benefit of eating a lot of fish is that it will provide plenty of essential fatty acids and amino acids without adding too many calories. Fish is lean, it’s great for the brain, it keeps you full and is an all-around excellent option.

Seeds and Nuts

On the Mediterranean Diet, a lot of dishes include seeds and nuts for flavoring (alongside lots of herbs). This is a great addition to any diet. Not only do they provide fiber, and protein, they also are packed with vitamins and minerals like zinc, potassium, and magnesium, just to name a few. And because of their fiber content, seeds and nuts keep you feeling fuller longer as well. They make a great snack option that won’t pack on calories, and they add delicious flavor to any salad.

Fruits and Vegetables

Living in a sunny climate also facilitates lots of berries, grapes, tomatoes and root vegetables being ripe for the picking and for adding to the diet. This is a big cornerstone of a Mediterranean Diet and is one of the biggest ‘secrets’ when it comes to making sure that you enjoy a long, healthy lifespan without getting ill!

Fats

Finally, the Mediterranean Diet contains all of the healthy kinds of fats. That means saturated fats (not trans fats!) like those found in olives and olive oil. Healthy fats enhance nutrient absorption and improve cholesterol too.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about using the Mediterranean diet for possible weight loss.

5 Tips for Getting Your Kids to Eat Healthy Foods

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Do you ever feel like you are fighting a losing battle trying to get your kids to eat healthy foods? I was a very lucky mom. My kids loved vegetables. I started my children as babies eating a lot of different kinds of  vegetables. I even fed them beets cooked and mashed up before they had teeth. Most of my grandchildren love their vegetables also. But then with a grandmother that’s a health coach, they’ve gotten healthy food given to them since they were babies also.

Sometimes, however a mom tries, getting kids to eat healthy foods is like trying to herd cats. Kids can come up with so many different reasons why they shouldn’t eat said foods. They don’t want to, shouldn’t have to, it doesn’t taste good – even though they have never tried it –right down to the fact that they think they may be allergic to the food in question, and will very likely keel over dead if they have to  take a single bite of it. Kids are masters at dodging the proverbial ball of health food. There are, however, a few ways to get your kids to try new foods. After all, they have an arsenal of reasons why not to eat it, why not keep your own stockpile of weaponry to get them to eat the food they don’t want to.

  1. Start Early

If you have very young children, start offering them healthy alternatives. Make sure they try a food before they say they don’t like it. My husband and I loved Brussel’s Sprouts, our children on the other hand, not so much. So every time I made Brussel’s Sprouts for dinner, we made the kids eat one little “cabbage ball”.  Our daughter would sit and cry, but our son would put it in his mouth, chew it up and when no one was looking would spit it out into the paper napkin. I truly believe that while he was pretending to eat them, he was at least getting the flavor of them and this is why he has grown to like Brussel’s Sprouts and our daughter, to this day, can’t stand them. 🙂

     2. Be a Role Model

Children’s minds are like a piece of bread, soaking up all of the oil surrounding it. Being a role model and continually trying new foods in front of and with your child can help to shape their ideas about trying new things. It’s important to let your kids see that it’s ok, and even fun, to try new things from time to time. Demonstrating the adventure and intrigue of trying new foods will stick in your child’s memory for the rest of their life.

     3. Meal Plan and Implement Together

Kids are more apt to eat something if they made it, or at least planned to make. Letting your kids help plan, some or all of  the weekly meals, and even help cook the meals increases the chance they will try and like foods you are preparing.

Children are stimulated and become completely engrossed when they have the opportunity to get into a hands-on position. I think one of my grandchildren’s favorite things to do is help me cook or bake. Even the three year old loves to help, and by allowing them to help plan the meals and to prepare and cook the food, they are seeing exactly what goes in to the pot and there are fewer surprises for them to come up with the excuse that they don’t like what is in it.

     4. Make it fun

Let your kids play with their food. Get creative, remember ants on a log? Go on Pinterest to get ideas if you can’t come up with any on your own.

     5. Keep Healthy Options

There is nothing is worse than having your kid come in from playing, look for a snack, finding nothing healthy and heading right for the potato chip bag, or the pretzels or what have you. Children learn from, and rely heavily on the ability to make their own decisions, whether it is on what clothes they want to wear, or the types of foods they want to eat. It is important to offer a wide variety of choices to your kids.

My daughter works full time outside of the home. Although her kids love fresh broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peppers and celery, she just didn’t have time to go to the grocery store, buy all those vegetables, cut them up and have them ready for the kids to snack on when they got home. So she goes to Sam’s Club, buys one of their vegetable trays and sets it out on the table for the kids to snack on while she is preparing dinner. The kids are happy because they are eating snacks that they love, my daughter is happy because she is able to supply healthy vegetables to her kids. It’s a win/win situation. Just remember to respect your childrens likes and dislikes and change the different options up frequently so they don’t get bored.

Conclusion

Getting your children to eat healthy is as simple as letting them get involved. When they interact with all of their senses, suddenly, trying new foods becomes fun and intriguing. Allowing children to help out in preparing the meal builds a sense of pride and accomplishment. If all else fails, throw some new fruits and veggies in the blender with a little honey and they will never know the delicious smoothie they are drinking is actually good for them. Hiding the foods they don’t like, inside of foods they love, is a great fail-safe weapon to keep locked and loaded.

Let me know in the comments section if this has gotten you thinking, or you come up with any other ideas of your own to get your kiddos eating healthier foods without whining.


 

Did That Harvard Goals Study Really Happen?

stock-photos-v2-004-020“”So after I wrote the last blog post on the Harvard goals study I was doing some more research and came across a Yale study from 1959. As I started reading that study…it started to become more and more clear to me that these were very likely the exact same “studies”. One of the reasons I thought this is because the results were uncanny in their similarities. I suppose it’s possible that the results of two different studies done 20 years apart could be the same, but the probability of that is very unlikely.

The second thing that hit me as more than just a little bit odd or off, was when I checked out the copy write of the book What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School, it was copy written in 1986, three years before the follow-up study.

I’m not saying that my take on that book, or the things I learned about goal setting that I wrote about in that last blog post, I’m just saying that after further investigation, I’m questioning the fact that the study ever really happened.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below.

What do Written Goals Have to do With Success?

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Goals! Do you set them? Should you set them? If you do set goals, are they written down somewhere, or do you just have them in your head? Are they only for people who are in business?
I’ve never been the kind of person to set goals. Oh yeah, I always come out with “resolutions” when the New Year rolls around, but actual goals? I never really thought that they were important.
This year I started something new. Ever since January 1st, 2016, I have been writing down all of my goals, personal, business and financial goals, on a chart that I have up on the wall in my office

Continue reading →

Helpful Hints to Take the Stress Out of the Holidays

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Does the Holiday Season make you feel like you’re running on empty? Instead of looking forward to the holidays, do you find yourself with feelings of dread instead of joy?

Stress…we’ve all felt it at one time or another, but did you know that the Christmas holidays have also been called the season of stress? One of the major causes of Christmas stress is not planning the holiday in advance, so that when the day draws closer, you feel caught off guard.

We’ve all seen the Hallmark commercials, and the Christmas movies guaranteed to put a lump in your throat and bring tears to your eyes. We’ve been moved by the beauty in snow-covered Christmas scenes, marveled at Christmas displays, and we’ve felt that funny little catch in our hearts as we think about what our friends and family mean to us, in this, the season of giving.

As a result of all this glitz, sparkle, perfect Christmas scenes and shows, we develop an unrealistic picture of what the holidays should be and how they should be celebrated.

Year after year, we swear we’re going to get an earlier start, we’re going to plan ahead, and yet each year Christmas is the same frantic holiday, complete with a break-neck pace of buying, wrapping, (in my house this usually happens on Christas Eve), cooking, baking and parties, all guaranteed to over-extend our time and nerves.

If you’re dreading the overwhelming tasks ahead of you this holiday season, don’t despair. You can have the kind of Christmas you want without raising your blood pressure and without becoming so tired you feel like you just can’t function. You need a game plan to map out the holiday step-by-step, and I can help you with that game plan.

To help keep your holidays a little less stressful, try these helpful hints:

  • Narrow your focus. Spend time and energy on what matters most to you and your family.
  • Learn to delegate chores. You can’t clean the whole house, cook the food, and do all the baking.  Enlist family members to help you.
  • Get organized. Make a master checklist. You’ll save time if you don’t have to constantly search for what you need or keep running to the store for forgotten items.
  • Set a spending limit and stick to it! No one wants you to go into debt to buy them presents. Get creative with gifts. Homemade gifts or gift certificates for special things throughout the year. Like a free car wash for dad or making dinner for mom or sister.
  • Last but not least, don’t forget to take some time out for you! Draw yourself a nice bath, lock the door and just unwind for an hour. Taking a few minutes for yourself will do so much for your sanity and lessening your stress level.

 

*This article is an excerpt from my holiday book An Old Fashioned Christmas.

 

DIY Lip Balm Recipe

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I have always been a huge user of Chapstick. I tried all kinds of other lip balms but never found any that I liked. I really hated when Chapstick changed their formula, but didn’t like any of the alternatives until….I decided to set out to make my own. I checked out different recipes that I found online, but hit upon my own concoction. So following is the recipe that I came up with, and I will never go back to Chapstick or any other store bought lip balm ever again!

All of my ingredients are organic, but yours doesn’t have to be.

Materials:

  • 1 tablespoon beeswax (1/2 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons shea butter (1 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (1 oz) I use the extra coconut oil for cooking. There are quite a few health benefits of coconut oil, but I’ll save that for another day. 😉
  • 20-25 drops of good essential oils ( I used Peppermint for Christmas gifts, but
  • Medicine syringe (If you don’t have one lying around the house, you can get one pretty cheap on Amazon here.
  • 10-15 empty chapstick containers (I paid a little more for the white ones, because I liked them better than the clear ones. But the clear would work just as well.)
  • Printable Address Labels, optional (I used Avery 5160 for my labels.)

Directions:

  1. Get all of your empty chapstick containers ready to fill.
  2. Melt the beeswax in a small saucepan, over low heat.
  3. Add the shea butter and coconut oil and stir until melted.
  4. When the beeswax, shea butter and coconut oil is completely melted, add the essential oil.
  5. With the pan still on the stove, use the medicine syringe to fill your chapstick containers with about one teaspoon of the melted liquid.  (You need to keep the pan on the stove because the beeswax, shea butter and coconut oil will cool and harden very quickly after being taken off of the heat.) I have also found that if you pour the liquid in a circular direction around the little spindle in the middle of the chapstick container, you get a much nicer stick of lip balm.
  6. Be sure to fill all the way to the top, you want your lip balm tops to look pretty and rounded.
  7. Let the lip balm cool completely before adding the caps.
  8. Label with the Avery address labels if desired.

This recipe will make between 10-15 homemade lip balms.

Delicious Homemade Fruit Sorbet

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You can make this sorbet with any of your favorite fruits. Sliced strawberries, peaches, kiwi, bananas and mangos work well, but, really you can use just about any fruit of your choice.

Ingredients:

4 cups fresh fruit
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 pinch  salt
sugar to taste

Instructions:

Spread sliced fruit in one layer on a baking sheet. Freeze, uncovered, until frozen solid. Once the fruit is frozen, let thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes. Place in a blender with the orange juice and process until smooth. Add a small pinch of salt and a little sugar to taste. Actually, if you fruit is very sweet, you can skip the sugar all together!

Recipe – Cucumber Cooler

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This is a very refreshing drink on a hot summer day! And it’s very good for you too!

Half of a cucumber, halved lengthways

3 carrots, peeled
3 celery stalks, tops trimmed off

Tip: Fruit juices are great for overall health. At first it takes a little time to get used to the taste, but eventually you’ll get there…. Just think of all those health benefits! Another tip is to mix your fruit juice with a little natural apple juice (juice apples along with the veggies) to give it a sweeter taste.

Juice according to juice instructions and enjoy!

Fruit & Veggie Facts:

Cucumbers are a strong diuretic and may help lower blood pressure. Perfect for when you’re retaining water.
Celery contains compounds called pthalides which helps regular blood pressure. Also a good diuretic.
Carrots are great for the skin and eyes.

Recipe – Easy Lunch-Time Chicken Stix

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This recipe is great for school lunches, just remember to use a cold pack so that they don’t spoil.

3 to 4 lbs. chicken tenders (If you don’t have chicken tenders, boneless skinless chicken breasts will work also, just cut into strips)
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
dash salt and pepper
1 Tbsp cooking oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
If the chicken tenders are too wide, cut in half, so you have strips about 1 inch wide.
Note: you can also use regular boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into strips.
In a large bowl, whisk together the seasonings and oil.
Add the chicken strips to the spice mixture and toss until chicken is well coated.
Remove the chicken and arrange in single layer on large baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink. The time will depend on how thinly you sliced the chicken strips.
Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
These may be chilled, then packaged up for a picnic, or may be served warm or at room temperature.