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8 Fatigue-Fighting Foods

22 Jan

Eat to wake up and slim down
Originally published on Momtourage/iVillage

Excuse us, we couldn’t help but notice the drool on your chest, and our guess is, it’s not your infant’s. Perhaps it’s time for a wake-up call that doesn’t involve espresso shots. What you need, in addition to sleep, are a few lessons in eating for energy. Lack of sleep amps up your appetite and makes you crave all the wrong things – causing a vicious cycle of sugar highs and lows, and ungainly weight gain. Here, eight fatigue-fighting foods that will wake you up and slim you down.

Lean, Mean Fighting Cuisine
Everything we eat turns into glucose – the gasoline that keeps our bodies running – but each food’s conversion rate is different. Think of carbs as the hare that runs out of steam before the finish line, while protein and fiber deliver a slow and steady stream. Beans and lentils, with equal amounts of both, will give you the endurance of a marathoner, even if you can’t huff your way around the block. Perk up with a serving of rice and beans, low-fat chili, edamame or hummus with pita.

Go Nuts Over Nuts
Just a handful of these fiber and protein powerhouses can keep your engine humming all afternoon. Almonds are rich in magnesium, which help turn sugar into energy. Studies show eating an ounce of nuts daily as part of a weight loss diet helped satisfy appetites without packing on pounds, so don’t worry about the calories – just keep your serving size to about a handful. Get an extra wallop of energy by adding raisins to the mix.

Embrace Your Cheesiness
Behold the power of cheese: low-fat dairy revs the metabolism and helps build muscle. Your healthiest bets: yogurt and cottage cheese. Their carbohydrates deliver fast-acting fuel to the system while protein prolongs your energy. Dairy products are also a good source of calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that help the muscles store energy.

Become Whole Again
It’s no wonder we crave carbs when wiped out: simple carbohydrates like sugar hit the bloodstream in a lightning-fast 15 minutes. But without fiber to slow it down, we crash and burn soon after. A better choice: complex carbs like oatmeal, or whole-grain bread, crackers and cereal. Look for 3 grams of fiber per serving. Make your energy last even longer by adding peanut butter to your toast and crackers, or milk to your oatmeal and cereal.

Brew the Right Thing
Dehydration is one of the most common fatigue-causing culprits, because most of us don’t realize when we need to replenish our fluids. If you wait until thirsty, you’re already partially parched. Supplement your water habit with green tea. A cup’s worth of caffeine will give you a gentler lift than coffee. Plus, exciting new studies show the miracle brew can boost your metabolism, while its catechins may even help burn fat. Sweeten with honey for a faster fix.

Go Deep C Diving
There’s nothing like the smell of a freshly peeled orange to wake you up. Citrus and other vitamin-C packed produce, like pineapple, boost production of norepinephrine, a stimulating chemical in the brain. Its sugar content makes fruit a natural energy source. Maintain your stamina by adding a bit of protein, like cheese or yogurt.

Fishing for Energy
There’s nothing fishy about eating salmon to combat exhaustion. Almost all of the vitamins and minerals you need to promote mental alertness and a sense of well-being are inside this super food. As a bonus, omega-3 fats stimulate the release of leptin, a hormone that regulates your metabolism and controls your appetite – making you much less likely to snack after a sleepless night.

Have a Cow
Turkey, chicken and lean cuts of meat are loaded with tyrosine, an amino acid that can help you feel more alert and focused. If you’re not getting enough meat, and you feel yourself dragging through the day, you might be low in iron. Pump up your levels with chicken legs or lean beef. For an energy-boosting lunch, try a spinach salad with walnuts, turkey, blue cheese and dried cranberries, or a turkey and swiss sandwich on whole-wheat bread.


6 Ways to Avoid Holiday Party Diet Disasters

22 Jan

Originally published on

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, we spend more time consuming cocktails than Chris Parnell does macking on Magnolia.

While we can think of diet-friendlier ways to celebrate the holidays, the season would be a lot less merry (think ho-ho-hum) if it weren’t for the mulled wine, eggnog and grog that accompany end-of-year celebrations.

According to Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, author of 10 Habits that Mess Up a Woman’s Diet, alcohol comes in just behind fat in caloric density, weighing in at 7 calories per gram. Even denser is the amount of festivities squeezed into the month-long holiday season. Trying to navigate the party circuit with any amount of zest, says Somer, is likely to leave you with a 10-pound weight gain, a serious hangover, or both.

So what’s a party girl like you to do? Sip selectively.

Make friends before drinks
First and foremost: Understand that being the life of the party does not mean being the hostess with the mostest liquor in her bloodstream. “Know your limit in drinking, and don’t go over it,” says Leil Lowndes, author of How to Be a People Magnet and How to Talk to Anyone about Anything. “It may make you feel good at the moment, but you will suffer later.” Instead, she suggests having a pre-fete game plan to keep you occupied. “Set specific party goals like meeting three new people. Then, find a sociable friend to introduce you,” says Lowndes. By making the rounds before grabbing a round, you can easily pass an hour swept up in conversation. The longer you can delay the first trip to the bar, the better your chances for keeping a steady pace throughout the evening.

Mix it up
Avoid a calorie binge by mixing up your beverage lineup. “Balance every alcoholic drink with a glass of water,” say Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD, LDN, author of The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Superfoods. If flitting about the floor with a goblet of water in hand isn’t your idea of merriment-making, McIndoo suggests alternating your cocktail of choice with calorie-free drinks, spritzers or coolers. Make your own by mixing wine with tonic water. “You’re cutting calories but still have a drink,” she says.

Shake the snack attack
“Alcohol is a triple whammy,” says McIndoo. “Not only are there the calories from the alcohol, there are the calories from the mixer — be it juice, soda or even cream. Plus, alcohol often makes us hungrier, so we end up eating more when we drink, meaning even more calories!”

Don’t show up to the party ready to shovel every hors d’oeuvre within arm’s length into your mouth. “The combination of an empty belly and a buffet makes moderation virtually impossible,” says McIndoo. Instead, put something healthy in your stomach before going out. “Have half a sandwich, a small salad or even a handful of nuts before you go. That way, instead of gorging the minute you arrive, you’ll be able to pick and choose what really looks good to you and be better able to eat small amounts.”

Stage a hunger strike
Alcohol has this tricky way of making us think we’re hungry all of the time. When we drink, it increases our body’s production of saliva and gastric acids. This signals to our stomach that food is on the way. The walls of our stomach constrict in an effort to mix and digest the food, but when no food is actually en route, the contractions create a rumble that makes us think we’re hungry — even when we’re not. The result: calorie overload. “We eat as much as 200 extra calories during a meal when accompanied by one alcoholic drink,” says Somer. By already having something in your stomach when you arrive, you’ll be less prone to mistake the false alarm for true hunger.

Don’t chew the fat
If you are going to nibble, do not consume fatty foods, warns Somer. While this is always sage advice, it is especially pertinent when you’re sipping a cocktail or two. Alcohol is, according to Somer, the least filling of all calorie-containing substances. It is also one of the quickest to vacate the premises. While that may sound like a good thing, think of it this way: Your alcohol-packed beverage is cutting to the front of the metabolism line, leaving other, fattier foods stuck at the back, where they are less likely to be burned off and more likely to be stored as body fat. Steer clear of fat calories so you won’t have to say so long to your hard-earned smooth, supple thighs.

How to Start a Fitness Routine

27 Oct

by Jill Provost

Published on, 3/2/10:

Maybe it’s because your stationary bike has morphed into a clothesline or because the only time you break a sweat is while eating jalapeno poppers, but you’ve decided it’s time to get off your butt — pronto. “Getting yourself in motion is the hardest part,” says Jessica Smith, certified wellness coach, personal trainer and creator of, a Web site about nutrition and fitness. But don’t let that deter you. Once you get moving, you‘ll experience just how good it feels to exercise, and the momentum will keep you going. Here’s how to ease into an exercise program that you can stick to—and enjoy—for life.

Step One: Pencil It In

Showing up is the most important part of starting a new routine. You’ll always have an excuse to skip a workout. Make it non-negotiable by putting it in your calendar, like you would an important meeting, says Clavel Lazarre, certified personal trainer and owner of the Cobble Hill Fitness Collective in New York City.

Even if you’re really dreading it, go anyway. Tell yourself that you only have to exercise for 15 minutes, says Smith. “Once I get going, I usually don’t even notice the clock. But some days, 15 minutes is just enough, and that’s okay, too.”

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Cell Phones and Cancer: It’s Worse Than We Thought

27 Oct

Jill Provost

Published on, 10/27/10:

If you’re like us, you wake up to your digital alarm clock, listen to the radio or TV while getting ready for work, spend several hours a day in front of a computer at the office and always have your cell phone strapped to your side. And even if you’re not a slave to technology, it’s hard to escape it, with cell phone towers at every turn and Wi-Fi in every bookstore and café.

According to the new book Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution, being so connected comes with a price. Author Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D, who also wrote the New York Times bestseller The Fat Flush Plan, says exposure to all this technology could spell trouble for your health– including a higher risk of brain cancer.

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