7 Secrets to Healthy Summer Picnics

If you are like most baby boomers, you love a good picnic. Who doesn’t, right? They are a great way to get out in nature, relax and spend some summer days. But they can also wreak havoc on your health if you opt for the wrong foods on these picnics. In order to have a picnic that doesn’t leave you feeling guilty, or packing on the pounds, you have to keep some strategies in mind.

Healthy picnics start with the planning, so you can make sure that you have nutritious foods there in the first place. But you may also find that you attend a picnic where you have very little to do with the food involved. Whether you plan it or someone else does, here are seven secrets to healthy summer picnics:

Drinks. Being outdoors you will want to stay hydrated at the picnic. Some drinks are better than others. Some of the best picnic drink picks would be water (you can even add in slices of cucumber, lemon, lime or frozen fruit), unsweet iced tea, light lemonade, and cranberry juice cocktail.

Protein. Sure, burgers and hotdogs may try to steal the show. But your waist line would be better served by opting for things like a veggie burger, baked beans, bean salad, hummus, and lean meats (e.g., turkey, chicken).

Carbs. Just like the other areas, you have to watch your picnic carbs in order to get a healthy option. Good things to look for include cold pasta salad (made with whole wheat pasta and veggies), raw vegetables with low fat dips, nuts, and salads with low fat dressing. Also, grilled veggies such as zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and peppers are a good source of complex carbohydrates.

Drinks to avoid. There is no doubt that you will have a bevy of options in the drink category. But there are some that should be avoided at all costs. These include soda, shakes, sweet iced tea, and alcohol drinks that are loaded with calories. For example, a pina colada has around 375 calories.

Mindset. It is important to keep a positive attitude when you attend the picnic. Focus on making it a healthy time and enjoying being outdoors and with good company, rather than focusing on the food.

Spoilage. There are some foods that are known to have a high risk of spoiling at picnics because they can’t be left out in the heat for very long. These include anything with mayo (macaroni salad, coleslaw, etc.), and meat and egg products. They should not be sitting out a long time getting warm. When in doubt, skip eating these products.

Company. Try to bring along healthy-minded friends to the picnic. When there are more people who are concerned about being healthy, you have a better chance that there will be healthy options available.

Healthy picnics are within reach and within your weight loss goals. It’s just a matter of going into it with a strategy that sets you up for success. Plan ahead, keep these tips in mind, and have a great summer picnic!

A Healthy You Starts With Food

As I was walking in the park today I happened to notice an overweight man puffing through the park, obviously in a hurry. He was sweating and red in the face and he was shoving what looked like the remains of a street vendor hotdog down his throat.
I stopped to sit on a bench for a bit and started paying attention to the other pedestrians enjoying the sunny fall day. As I watched I saw another man, older then the first one, walking his terrier and eating a pretzel. You know what I’m talking about? Those huge ones that you dip in cheese sauce? As I watched him I noticed two things. One he was overweight. Two, so was his dog. I guess walking and eating junk doesn’t work. For man or beast!

I scanned the park looking for one person who was eating something healthy, and there she was. The woman every man dreams about. She was dressed as a business woman, but that didn’t hide the fact that she had a greatly toned and fit body. I tried to see what she was eating, but her bench was a ways down from mine. As nonchalantly as I could, I walked to her way. I just knew she was going to be eating something healthy and sure enough, there she was with a bag of carrots, almonds and celery. I tried not to stare, but I had to. She was eating those vegetables as if they were pieces of chocolate! She was enjoying them!

Before she could yell stalker, I continued my walk through the park, but my mind wasn’t interested in the surroundings anymore. I was thinking about what people eat and how it shapes who they are.
It seemed that anybody I saw who looked to be in good shape was eating or drinking something healthy. Those who were overweight or just had a flabby and unhealthy look to them, were eating some type of junk food.

A walk for exercise is a great thing; any type of exercise is a great thing. But if you’re not eating healthy then none of that matters.
A good balance of grains, wheat, vegetables, fruit, dairy and meats is the healthiest way to eat. Need to eat on the run? Keep granola, yogurt and fresh cut veggies handy. You don’t need to go hungry to be healthy — in fact, that is very unhealthy! You just need to find the right balance.

A perfect plated meal should look like this:
Half of your plate should be full of fruit, vegetables or a salad
A quarter of your plate should be a lean protein, such as fish or chicken
The remaining quarter should contain a healthy carb, such as whole wheat rice
Top your meal off with fat free milk and your full AND healthy!

Recharge Tip #1: Sleep

For the next three articles I’m going to concentrate on three really great tips to help you to recharge. Now as you know, your body needs time to rest, rejuvenate and recharge. It’s absolutely essential – even when you are eating a healthy balanced diet and getting a good dose of physical exercise.

That’s because when you rest and recharge, your body gets to work to keep healthy. Cells are replaced, viruses and infections are flushed out and your body almost becomes new again.

The first important recharge tip that I will discuss here in this article is sleep.

Why is sleep so important?
Sleep is of critical importance to our physical health and wellbeing and it’s for the following reasons:

When we sleep, our brain recharges: During this time neurons are repaired.
Parts of the brain reset: A fine tuning of synaptic connections happens and the brain will sort information and discard information not needed. It stops us from overloading ourselves.
Our heart and lungs relax: There is a reduction in blood pressure and our heart rate drops.
It gives the body a chance to repair: The body will replace chemicals and repair other parts of the body that need it – muscles, tissues, aging or dead cells.
It can strengthen the immune system
Growth hormone is released during sleep: For children and young adults still growing, the growth hormone is released during sleep.

On the whole, a good quality sleep for the right amount of time refreshes us. We wake up energetic in the morning and ready for action. We also function on all cylinders after a good night sleep.

If we don’t get enough sleep:

We can experience memory loss, slower reaction time, greater stress and irritability.
By losing only one hour of sleep, our chances of having a car accident increase 7-8%.
If we lose 15 minutes of quality sleep, we can lose 15% of efficiency.
Our wellbeing plummets because of greater stress and depression associated with that.

At least 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, with around 60 per cent of adults in America having sleep problems several nights each week.

That’s compared to 69 per cent of children suffering from sleep problems several nights each week.

How to sleep well
Because sleep is so important to our health and wellbeing, I recommend:

Getting into a sleep routine: Do this every day. The same bed time and get up time every day. Even on weekends.
Have a dark room: Light can interrupt your sleep.
Don’t go to bed too hungry or too full: This will stop you from getting the sleep you need. Wait at least three hours after dinner, before sleep.
Make sure you’re comfortable: Make sure your neck and back are comfortable for sleep.
Make sure you maintain your mattress: Turn it over every few months and aim to replace after 5-7 years of using it regularly. Make sure your mattress is comfortable – no sore necks or backs or it might be time to replace it.
Exercise: If you are too sedentary and don’t exercise enough, chances are it’s interfering with your sleep. Regular exercise – at least 3 days per week – will help you have a better quality sleep. Don’t exercise just before bed though!

So there you have it! Tips to help you sleep better and feel much better for it!

In my next article I’ll share my second recharge tip for you.

Why Fiber is so Important in Our Diet?

All this talk about aging and aging well wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t look at the influence of diet in the aging process as well. As you know, having an active lifestyle helps us to age well, and so too does having a healthy, balanced diet.

Part of a balanced diet requires fiber. But why is fiber so important to us?

In this article, I’m going to talk about fiber and why it’s so important to include in our diet because of its many health benefits.

What exactly is fiber?
Fiber is pretty interesting. It is a carbohydrate but it has special properties that allow it to pass through the human digestive system without being broken down through the digestive process.

There are two types of fiber: insoluble fiber which is made of plant cell walls and cannot be dissolved in water and soluble fiber, made up of polysaccharides which can dissolve in water.

Fiber plays a really important role in the digestive process. It:

Makes us chew our food well: And by taking the time to chew, we don’t wolf down food quickly and feel fuller quicker. So it’s a great weapon in the fight against obesity.
It gives us the experience of food being more satisfying: It sits in our tummy for longer and makes us feel full.
It helps our blood sugar levels: That’s because it slows down the digestive process and slows down the absorption rate of glucose or sugar, into our system.
It helps our colon: It is in our colon where fiber is broken down through a bacterial process called fermentation. In this process, organic acids are produced which help in the nourishment of the colon lining.
It helps fuel our body: The acids produced through the fermentation process help to fuel our body.

Fiber plays an important role in our metabolism as well, making it a pretty important part of our diet!

The many health benefits of fiber
If that wasn’t enough, fiber provides us with the following health benefits. It helps to reduce the risk of:

Certain cancers: Colon cancer is one of the cancers a high-fiber diet can help to reduce. Research has suggested it may play a role in helping to reduce breast cancer as well, but this has not yet been confirmed.
Digestive disorders: Insoluble fiber adds to the bulk of stools, so it speeds the process of fecal material passing through the gut. In other words, it helps us to avoid uncomfortable constipation and can reduce the risk of diverticulosis which is caused by straining during bowel movements. For those who already suffer diverticulosis, the symptoms which include constipation and/or diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal pain and blood or mucus in the stool can be alleviated through fiber consumption
Diabetes: This is because soluble fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream.
Heart disease: A healthy diet with soluble fiber can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, due to the fact that is lowers cholesterol. Studies have also shown that soluble fiber can slow the rate of cholesterol manufacture by the liver.
Heart attack: Several studies in men have found that consuming fiber can reduce the risk of heart attack significantly.
Obesity: Due to the fact that insoluble fiber cannot be digested it will pass through our system without being broken down. Therefore it provides us with few calories. Because it makes us feel full, we don’t tend to overeat when we consume fiber. All of this helps us avoid obesity.

What to eat to get fiber benefits
Make sure you include the following types of food to really reap the benefits of fiber:

Wholegrain breads
Natural cereals

Start including fiber in your diet today and you will feel so much better for it. Oh, and don’t forget to mix it with a healthy dose of physical activity. Your body will thank you for it in years to come!

The Anti-Aging Benefits of Yoga

Our body is like a machine that requires maintenance, care and attention to remain at its working best. Sure, we do age in life, but what determines how well we age is that maintenance, care and attention.

In recent years, the baby boomer generation has climbed onboard the Yoga bandwagon…with remarkable results. More and more people are taking up the activity well beyond the age of 50 and many of these people claim to feel better beyond the age of 50, than when they did in their twenties!

So why is Yoga creating such amazing results for people? Why are seniors taking it up in increasing numbers, with remarkable results?

To find out, we need to take a careful look at what Yoga is all about.

Yoga 101…in 60 seconds
We could go on and on about what Yoga is, but for the purpose of this article I’ll keep it should and practical. Yoga means “union” in the Sanskrit language of ancient India, but Yoga as we know it today refers to the Sanskrit word “asana” – the practice of physical poses or postures.

Yoga focuses on creating body balance through the development of strength and flexibility. And you know from my prior articles just how important strength and flexibility are for our overall health and wellbeing as we age.

The great thing about Yoga is that it improves our mind, spirit and body and can be started by people of all ages. You just need to have the desire to do it and the willingness to learn.

The benefits of Yoga
So, what is it about Yoga that makes it so great for older people? How does it make older people feel so much better than they felt when they were younger?

To shed some light on this, the easiest way to do it is list for you the known benefits of Yoga:

It helps the body to attain greater flexibility
It helps the body to return to good health
It has proven to be a great exercise to prevent Osteoporosis
It helps seniors to feel more energetic, resulting in an increase in their wellbeing
It relieves joint pain

There are more and more Yoga classes cropping up everywhere for people over the age of 50, and Yoga instructors insist that even seniors who have the most sedentary lifestyle can enjoy the benefits.

There have been many cases where older people with limited flexibility and strength have discovered renewed strength and flexibility through Yoga. Don’t be scared off by the television shows and videos of Yoga masters striking some unbelievable poses! Anybody can start and benefit from Yoga – there are so many positions you can practice and benefit from.

Renewed energy, flexibility, vibrancy, health and wellbeing can become a reality for any senior who wants it.

So find out how your life can change for the better today and get in touch with a local Yoga group. There is so much to gain by trying it, so take action today!

Food Labels ARE Tricking Us!

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Okay, how many of you guys admit to being convinced by low calorie advertising, enough to actually buy the low fat, low calorie stuff?  All of us do, and sure, it’s great that we’re calorie counting and doing our utmost to ensure we’re not overstuffing ourselves with calories.

But guess what?

When it comes to food labels, there’s good news and there’s bad news.

First the bad news:  the food labels – and the food companies behind them – are conning us blind!

Sure the grams of sugar, salt, etc – all that information – are all pretty indicative and safe enough for us to go by.  The problem lies with what the labels call a serving.

“So what?” you might be asking.  The thing is the servings they actually mention on the food labels are a lot LESS than what we actually end up eating.

And that’s where the problem lies.

All the warm and fuzzy feel good feelings that come when we discover that one serve of Tostitos Touch of Lime is only 150 calories turn to shock horror…when we discover that that 150 calories only allows for a 1 ounce serving!  That’s just six chips!

We think we’re eating less calories…when in fact we’re gorging ourselves!

In my opinion, the companies that produce the packaged foods we eat are conning us blind when it comes to calories per serve.  It’s all because the serve they spruik on about is actually tiny compared to what we REALLY end up eating!

I mean, who eats just half a cup of Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream?  That’s what the actually serving size on their label ends up being!  Sure, 270 calories doesn’t sound too bad…but really!  Do you stop at just half a cup when it comes to your ice cream?

Of course not!

So now that I’ve hit you with the bad news, time for the good news in light of this food label debacle.  The FDA looks as though they are actually going to do something about it. 

Firstly, they are considering putting the calorie information on the front of a product.  Sounds like a good idea on face value, right?  Maybe, but if the calorie information is based upon serving sizes (and remember, already they are grossly underestimated), it could lead to people mistakenly thinking they are safe to eat up!


On the serving front though, the FDA admit that there really is a problem when it comes to the serving size definition.  They understand that it needs to be more indicative of what the typical consumer really eats.

But there are critics saying that this could be interpreted as permission from the food companies to eat larger servings – making the obesity problem even worse!

So eventually, the food label confusion will be sorted.  But what do we do right now, if we are really serious about controlling the amount of calories we consume?

Well, that’s where I think the really good news is.

My advice is to take control!  Stick to raw foods and prepare your food from scratch.  At least that way, you know exactly what you’re eating and how many calories!  Invest in a good calorie counter book (calorie king), BodyBugg, or online tracking system and stick to your healthy meal plan.  I also recommend a good kitchen food scale, measuring cup and measuring spoons so you can correctly measure everything you eat.  Do all of this with the knowledge of what your daily caloric intake should be and avoid packaged foods wherever possible.  Do this and you’ll have this food label problem licked!

 Let us know the biggest food label tricks that you have found to help out other members from being tricked.