I’d made up my mind; I was going to lose weight, change my eating habits, and start an exercise program. Like my prior attempts, four days into my new lifestyle my enthusiasm began to wane. I reached for the cookie canister. Who would know? Or more important, who would care if I cheated, or just gave up? The phone rang; it was Susan, my friend, my weight-loss partner. She must have heard that weakness in my voice . . . for she knew.
“You’re going for the cookies, aren’t you?” she asked.
I leaned against the kitchen counter and sighed.
“Don’t do it,” she said. “Eat a piece of fruit. Remember how good you said those apples tasted yesterday? We agreed to weigh in in three days. How about if I meet you at the park in 30 minutes? We’ll walk. Remember what you told me yesterday when I wanted that chocolate bar? `Exercise curbs your appetite.’ Come on, don’t let me down; I need you. We can do this.”
I smiled, agreed to meet her, then taking her earlier advice, I hid the cookie canister in the pantry. Susan was right. I could do this. Or rather, we could do this. Together we found the strength and the willpower to change our eating habits and follow a regular exercising routine. The key to our success wasn’t a pill, or a diet shake; it was teamwork.
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Before you wrinkle up your nose and let loose a big “Ick!” consider this fact: Just because you don’t find such items on the menu of your favorite restaurant doesn’t mean they’re not in the food.
Down to the Sea
Take ice cream, pudding, cottage cheese, salad dressing, or chocolate milk. Check the label, and you’ll find the word “carrageen” nestled in with the other ingredients. Fine folk who live and work along the coasts of New England and Canada pull tons of the stuff out of the ocean each year. It’s red, leafy, and totally seaweed.
After being raked into boats, carrageen is taken to processing plants where it’s turned into a tasteless, off-white powder that quickly dissolves in water and becomes jellylike whenever it comes in contact with the proteins found in milk.
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Statistics tell us that the average American eats only one half of a serving of whole grains daily, although the current recommendation is to eat at least three servings per day. Some people consume predominant whole grains, so this means that many people are only rarely or not ever eating whole grains.
Unfortunately, when many people think of whole grains they think only of whole wheat. That one is great, but there are many more choices available. Several may even have more nutrients than whole wheat. Examples of other grains include oats, barley, millet, rye, brown rice, corn (maize), buckwheat, and amaranth.
So what exactly is a “whole” grain, anyway? Whole grains can be defined as having all three parts of the kernel included. Refined grains, such as white flour, are made up of the endosperm, which is mainly starch. The kernel also contains a germ and the bran. These two layers are loaded with nutrients, including vitamin E, several B vitamins, and some important minerals, including zinc, magnesium, manganese, chro-mium, selenium, and molybdenum. During the refining process these nutrient-rich layers are lost. Fiber is also lost.
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At the beginning of the twentieth century heart disease in the public was a small problem; by the end of the century it had become the most frequent cause of death. Studies have shown a strong association between dietary saturated fat intake and the occurrence of this disease. The American diet provides an overabundance of saturated fat and cholesterol found primarily in animal products.
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Alarming statistics show that childhood obesity contributes to diabetes, hyperglycemia, and high blood pressure. The popular notion that overweight children will “outgrow” their condition is not realistic. Childhood obesity is one of the most prevalent nutrition problems among children, exceeding iron deficiency anemia, the previous leader. Twenty-five percent of American children are now obese; this is not a game to play with a child’s health.
Poor food choices are often to blame for obesity. Flirting with excessive snacking, frequent romps to fast-food restaurants, and repetitive “just-this-once” high-fat food choices all contribute to childhood obesity. Quick-grab snacks among kids include chips, cookies, soda, candy, hot dogs, hamburgers, and French fries. A recent survey of grade-school children showed that only about 25 percent had eaten five servings of fruits and vegetables during any given day.
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As scientific investigators have traced the causes of heart disease, cancer, arthritis, migraines, and digestive problems, the least likely suspect had to be milk. We poured it on our cereal, pushed it on our children, and couldn’t imagine it to be anything but healthful. But more and more researchers now view milk with skepticism about its benefits and concern about its risks. They are linking the epidemics of prostrate cancer, digestive problems, and other ills to our habitual consumption of specific foods including-and especially-milk.
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Salads at home once meant iceberg lettuce topped with a few carrots and perhaps a tomato. A salad was just a bland diet food or a precursor to a meal. Not so today. With all the varieties of greens now available at the supermarket, it has never been easier to make a healthy and tasty salad.
To turn a plain-Jane salad into a spectacular dish, just pick a blend of greens and add your favorite ingredients. It’s that simple and the possibilities are infinite when it comes to the delicious and healthy salad creations you can make. So let these recipes inspire you to get creative in the kitchen and enjoy a great salad every day.
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Water provides true refreshment for the thirsty, but most people don’t know that it also plays a vital role in all bodily processes. Unfortunately, most people don’t drink enough water, perhaps because they don’t realize just how important it is. The fact is, not drinking enough water affects every aspect of your body, right out to your skin.
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The first written record of the soybean was found in Chinese books dating back to 2838 B.C. It has been the primary protein source for people in Asia for centuries. Americans have used it for little more than oil and livestock feed. But things have changed.
The humble soybean has captured the attention of health-conscious consumers everywhere–with good reason. Research has shown that incorporating soy protein into the diet provides numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease and reducing the levels of LDL, or “bad cholesterol,” in the bloodstream. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a recommendation for consumers to integrate 25 grams of soy protein per day into their diets.
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If you are a vegetarian, the thought of having a food-borne illness probably never crosses your mind. After all, everyone knows that E. coli makes its home in raw beef, and Salmonella breeds rapidly in undercooked chicken or pork.
Well, it’s time to rethink your past beliefs about food-borne illness, as fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, lentils, and dairy products can also play host to a variety of deleterious bacteria, including E. coli and Salmonella. In fact, some of the most common carriers of food-borne germs include basil, cantaloupe, lettuce, potatoes, raspberries, scallions, strawberries, and tomatoes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), food-borne diseases cause an estimated 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,200 deaths in the United States each year. Not only are the symptoms uncomfortable; food-borne illnesses can lead to secondary long-term illnesses. For example, there are some strains of E. coli that can cause kidney failure in young children, while Salmonella can lead to reactive arthritis and serious infections. For pregnant women, the Listeria bacteria (commonly found in soft cheeses such as brie and feta) can cause meningitis and stillbirths.
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