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April 16, 2008

Meditation for Healthy Living & Healthy Eating

I recently began meditating as a way to help myself move forward in life, to find what I want to do with the rest of my life and get out of the rut that I felt myself in. So on the vacation that I just returned from, it was good that my two girlfriends were as interested in meditation as I was. We took time each morning we were in Sicily to spend time focused inward. I do believe it made our time there more fun, as I certainly felt calmer and more able to deal with the anxiety of navigating a country in which I do not speak the language -- and not many of the folks there speak English that well.

We've talked about the value of meditation before on this blog and covered it in length in an article on mindfulness in meditation Here's how we describe the value of meditation:

The practice of meditation is about relaxing in order to focus: a daily session in which we intentionally focus our minds on something, such as our breath or a word. When the mind inevitably strays to a thought or emotion, we bring our attention back to the chosen focus. By letting thoughts and feelings pass without judging them, most regular meditators describe feeling more relaxed, less anxious and therefore less disturbed by negative thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.

Meditation can also help us with eating struggles, such as binge eating, eating to manage type 2 diabetes, or just plain eating well. To wit:

Meditation can be very useful for people who struggle with eating. The relaxed, upright posture produces a calmer, more balanced emotional state. Watching the mind, being aware of thoughts, feelings and sensations, and bringing the mind back to a focus gradually trains us to be a “witness” rather than “victim” of our own states. Every time we bring the mind back to the focus, it is like exercising a muscle in the gym—the ability to let go of disturbances and focus the mind grows stronger. Gradually, we recognize that thoughts and feelings are temporary experiences, arising and falling away like waves in the ocean.

I try to spend about 20 minutes a day meditating, but shorter or longer periods are useful, too. That's just the amount of time that seems to work for me. And now -- excuse me -- I need to go meditate. I've got a lot of catching up to do after being gone for two weeks, and meditation will help me approach what seems like an overwhelming amount to do in a more relaxed fashion.

Ciao for now!

Posted by Marsha on April 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 15, 2008

Healthy Living: Celebrate National Women's Health

493921_exercise_in_the_1950sOne of the more common negative effects that being over fat face women is self consciousness, lack of self esteem and a negative body image. Shame about their bodies often keep them out of the doctor’s office.

News from womenshealth.gov and OWH National Women's Health Week and Check Up Day. You can now join the many organizations participating in the 2008 National Women's Health Week Celebration. Anyone can participate - from individuals, corporations, fitness centers, cities, and even entire states!

*National Women's Health Week empowers women across the country to get healthy by taking action. The nationwide initiative, coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health (OWH), encourages women to make their health a top priority and take simple steps for a longer, healthier and happier life.

Community health centers, hospitals, and other health care providers across America will participate in this event by offering preventive health screenings to women. You can register your event online and find other events taking place in your area.

*Visit WomensHealth.org to register today!

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Posted by Cindy on April 15, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 14, 2008

Diabetes: Big Apple's Big Problem - Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes on the Rise

NYC's Department nad Health and Hygiene reports that type 2 diabetes and obesity increased by 17 percent between 2002 and 2004.  Nationwide, obesity has gone up by 6 percent and the diabetes rate has remained static at 7 percent.

The study, which is published in April's issue of Preventing Chronic Disease, involved a telephone survey of around 10,000 Big Apple adults.  Responses to the Community Health Survey was compared to a similar national survy called the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

In 2002, 19.5 percent of the city's adults were obese; in 2004, 22.8 percent were, the study said. Diagnosed type 2 diabetes cases rose from 8.1 percent of New Yorkers to 9.5 percent, the study said.

Pending Fast Food Legislation

Thomas Frieden, NYC Health Commissioner, has spearheaded a new city ordinance that requires fast-food chains to post calorie counts and he says that this study underscore the pressing need for such legislation.

On the grounds that the new law violates free speech, a restaurant trade group's law suit has delayed the legislation from taking effect at the end of March. A court ruling is expected by mid-April.

(Read full article on Yahoo News)

type 2 diabetes program , type 2 diabetes prevention ,healthy weight loss program

Posted by Laura on April 14, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 11, 2008

Diabetes: Tart Cherries May Reduce Inflammation, Lower Risk For Type 2 Diabetes & Heart Disease

A new study shows tart cherries, one of today's hottest "Super Fruits," may help reduce inflammation, potentially lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in animals. The study was presented by University of Michigan researchers today at the Experimental Biology annual meeting. As science continues to reveal inflammation may be a marker for many chronic diseases, the researchers say emerging studies like this are important in examining the role diet may play in disease management and prevention.

"We're learning how important reducing inflammation is for our overall health and lowering the risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes - two of the most critical health epidemics we have in this country today," said study co-author Dr. Steven F. Bolling, a cardiac surgeon at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center who also heads the U-M Cardioprotection Research Laboratory, where the study was performed. "This study offers further promise that foods rich in antioxidants, such as cherries, could potentially reduce inflammation and lower disease risk."

Tart cherries, frequently sold as dried, frozen or juice, contain powerful antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which provide the bright, rich red color. Studies suggest these colorful plant compounds may be responsible for cherries' anti-inflammatory properties and other health benefits.

This new study is the latest linking this red hot "Super Fruit" to protection against heart disease and inflammation. In fact, research suggests the red compounds in cherries that deliver the anti-inflammatory benefits may also help ease the pain of arthritis and gout. There have been more than 65 published studies on the potential health benefits which can be found in the Cherry Nutrition Report posted on http://www.choosecherries.com.

(Read full article in Medical News Today)

Posted by Laura on April 11, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 10, 2008

Healthy Recipe: Bananas Foster Topping

A 'lite' version of the favorite New Orleans dessert, this healthy recipe is quick, easy, and delicious. Use this bananas foster topping with frozen yogurt, a phyllo cup, or crepes. Bananas are one of our best sources of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Healthy eating never tasted so decadent!

Makes about 4 servings

1/4 cup maple syrup
2 bananas, sliced
1 tsp banana extract
1 tsp rum extract (note: you cannot flambe with extract)
Ground cinnamon to taste (a pinch to 1tsp)
Vanilla frozen yogurt

In a sauce pan, add maple syrup and extract.  Turn heat on medium low. Before adding bananas, fill 4 dessert dishes with frozen yogurt and put in freezer.  Add bananas and gently stir until mixture is warm and bananas are only very slightly soft. (Watch the sauce pan carefully, as bananas can quickly turn mushy if cooked too long or at a high temperature.) Top yogurt with mixture and serve.

Posted by Laura on April 10, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 09, 2008

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Marsha is on vacation this week, so we’re featuring an old post of hers that’s particularly timely given that next month is May, and that means Mother’s Day.

The title of this post is also the title of a book that was somewhat popular a few ears ago.  Like Mother, Like Daughter explored the impact of mothers' obsessions with weight and eating on their daughters' attitudes about those subjects.  It also somewhat obviously delved into the inevitable struggle with self and size acceptance that arises when daughters are 'nurtured' by moms who continue to buy into negative attitudes and beliefs about the same.

So while this isn't a new topic, it's certainly one that's pertinent as "health officials warn parents about the dangers of junk food and lack of exercise.”  This quote is from an old Associated Press article that’s no longer on their website, but it’ still worth exploring what the experts (one of whom is the impressive eating disorders therapist Carolyn Costin) quoted in the article have to say about this issue.  And what they have to say is simple: While we want to help our children grow into healthy adults, fostering an obsession with diet and body image isn't the way to go.  That's just what happens when mothers make disparaging comments about their own bodies, or "squeal with delight over a few lost pounds" or "meticulously count every calorie that crosses their lips."  Besides fostering a lack of self-esteem, such behaviors create a diet mentality that just about guarantees future struggles.

If any of this rings true for you, whether as the mother or the daughter, consider attending Green Mountain at Fox Run during May, which is our Mother-Daughter-Sister Month where we present workshops focused on the special relationship between mothers, daughters and sisters, and the outlook and experiences we share regarding food, weight and body image.

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Posted by Cindy on April 9, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 08, 2008

Healthy Living: It's Cherry Blossom Time!

510540_cherry_blossoms__jefferson_2Two of the most beautiful things in the world involve cherries. One is baked cherry pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and the other is the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.

From March 29th through April 13th you can explore and enjoy one of our nation’s most gorgeous sights. Japanese cherry trees in bloom exploding with clouds of delicate pink and white blossoms. These famous trees were originally a gift from Japan in 1912. For many, they signal the coming of Spring and can be seen in abundance surrounding the Jefferson Memorial on the Tidal Basin. 514076_cherry_tree_path_2

Turns out there may be three things that make cherries particularly special - especially those of the tart variety. Some of you may have read about a recent study that came out today suggesting tart cherries might help prevent belly fat.

The study, conducted at the University of Michigan Cardio Protection Research Laboratory, discovered that rats which were given whole tart cherry powder mixed into a high-fat diet were less likely to build up fat in their bellies. Another nifty finding is that these same rats gained weight less quickly and their blood had lower levels of inflammation factors which are typically linked to heart disease and diabetes.

Of course, the tart cherry theory hasn't been tested on human beans just yet. However, the results were promising, in that belly fat and favorable effects on blood levels were visible even when diets were comprised of high fat. Who knows, maybe cherries will turn out to be a real fat buster. I was encouraged to learn that the recommended dose wasn't the typical inedible 50 bushels or 500 pounds. In this case, scientists suggested just a cup and ½ of tart cherries a day.

                                                                                                   Someone pass the pie…844550_cherries

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Posted by Cindy on April 8, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 07, 2008

Weight Loss: Are the Touted Benefits of Water Actually Myths?

Results from a study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology indicate that water does NOT improve skin tone, suppress appetite for faster weight loss, ameliorate headaches.  Moreover, too much water can actually make it harder for your kidneys to rid the body of toxins.

"Good practices [like healthy eating], avoiding certain foods, not smoking, getting your exercise, those are the things that benefit your health, and water drinking really doesn't," explains Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a nephrologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

The Myth of Eight Glasses a Day

Roughly 60 percent of our body's is water weight, and staying hydrated is important, especially in hot weather. However, reserchers believe that replacing the quart or quart and a half of water the body loses each day is sufficient.

"If you're thirsty drink, if you're not thirsty, you needn't drink," advises Goldfarb.

If you've ever tried to guzzle down 8 glasses of water a day, this news comes as a big relief!

Posted by Laura on April 7, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 04, 2008

Diabetes: Tai Chi May Improve Type 2 Diabetes

Researchers in Taiwan assert that moderate exercise like Tai Chi can help people with type 2 diabetes to control or improve their condition. According to their recent study, which will soon be published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, strenuous physical activity depresses the immune system response whereas moderate exercise seems to boost it.

"This interesting new research further confirms that moderate exercise is vital in effectively managing Type 2 diabetes," said Cathy Moulton, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK. "Good diabetes control reduces people's risk of developing serious complications such as heart disease, stroke and blindness. "

Examples of Moderate Exercise

"Any activity that leaves you feeling warm and slightly breathless but still able to hold a conversation counts as moderate exercise," says Moulton, "including vigorously cleaning the house, briskly walking the dog and, of course, Tai Chi."

Tai Chi, a form of martial arts, involves breathing deep from the diaphragm combined with gentle movement and relaxation.

"In addition to the importance of moderate physical activity, the relaxation element of Tai Chi may help to reduce stress levels, preventing the release of adrenalin which can lead to insulin resistance and high blood glucose levels."

Diabetes UK recommends that people with type 2 diabetes do a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on at least five days of the week. 

Posted by Laura on April 4, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 03, 2008

Healthy Recipe: Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry

As versatile as is delicious, chicken is one of our favorite foods. It's easy to make this healthy recipe if you follow three simple stir fry rules. First, if you're planning to serve your entree with rice, start cooking that first.  Second, prepare all ingredients before you start. Third, make sure your pan is hot, hot, hot! All set? Then you're ready to -(ahem) - wok and roll!

Makes 4 servings

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, flattened
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
Cooking oil for deep-fat frying
1 tablespoon cooking oil
3 cups broccoli flowerets
Optional: sliced carrots, water chestnuts, and red, yellow, green bell peppers

In a medium mixing bowl stir together flour, baking powder, 3/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and flattened garlic; let stand for 15 minutes. Remove and discard garlic. Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl combine honey, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, vinegar, molasses, 2 tablespoons water, dry sherry, minced garlic, and cornstarch; set aside. Rinse chicken; pat dry. Cut chicken into 1 1/2x1/2-inch strips. Add to flour batter. In a wok or 2-quart saucepan heat 2 inches of oil to 365 degrees. Remove chicken from flour batter, allowing excess to drain off. Fry chicken strips, a few pieces at a time, in hot oil for 30-60 seconds, or till golden. Drain on paper towels. Pour 1 tablespoon cooking oil into a large skillet. (Add more oil as necessary during cooking.) Preheat over medium-high heat. Add the broccoli and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes, or till crisp-tender. Arrange broccoli around the edge of a serving platter; keep warm. Stir honey-soy mixture; add to the skillet. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Return cooked chicken to skillet; heat through. Pour chicken and sauce into center of broccoli-lined serving platter.

Posted by Laura on April 3, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack