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"Ask the Experts" Wellness Blog

Archive for January, 2010

Question of the Week

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

When is the best time to eat?

The best time to eat is when you are hungry, and remember to quit when you are satisfied.  We are designed to have a fast (8-12 hours usually when we are sleeping), be hungry within an hour of waking (break the fast) and hungry every 3-5 hours during the day if you’re eating about the right amount.  If you are going long periods (more than five hours) without feeling hungry, you may be missing your hunger signals or the previous meal was too large.  If you’re feeling hungry in less than three hours, your previous meal may not have been adequate or you could be eating for reasons other than hunger.  Next time you reach for food, ask yourself: Am I hungry?  If you are hungry, it is a good time to eat.

February is Heart Month

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

February is heart month.  Celebrate hour beating heart with a heart healthy snack or mini meal.  Keep in mind that snacking is for hunger, not for boredom or feeling tired or procrastination.  Ask yourself if you’re hungry and if you are, try:

½ ounce of dark chocolate and ½ banana

15 red or purple grapes

½ ounce of walnuts and apple slices

oatmeal with walnuts and raisins

1 cup cheerios with skim milk

fat free yogurt with a couple of tablespoons of ground flaxseed

1 ounce of dried fruit and ½ ounce of almonds

½ cup of berries with ½ cup of cottage cheese

6 whole wheat crackers and 2 tablespoons of hummus

carrots, broccoli, cauliflower dipped in hummus

Heart health is more than the food you eat.  Exercise, stress management, healthy sleep is also important.  Here’s to your heart health!

Sign Up for Shape Up the Nation!

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Join other participants as we challenge each other to strive for a healthy weight, walk more steps, and be more active daily. When you sign up, you’ll get a high quality pedometer, reminder wristband, competition logbook, access to an online tracking system, and weekly exercise and nutrition tips.

Wellness Ambassadors!!!

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

This is a perfect place to type out what is working or get advice in bringing wellness to your workplace.  There were several really fabulous ideas for bringing wellness into the University workplace environment. Here are some tried and true wellness endeavors that have worked in UNL departments.

1. Fruit of the month- this is a self-sustaining program. Order bulk fruit and make available at cost for employees (e.g. 100 apples for $25- sell for $.25/apple. Use the proceeds to make fruit available the next month.

2. Create a policy that at least 1 healthy food option is available during food days.

3. Create a walking group- that meets same time/same place daily.  Because of scheduling constraints, you may even want to make a couple of different times available. Group walks can be as short as 10 min. (Research shows even 10 min bouts of physical activity improve your cardiovascular fitness levels).  Want to do more? Keep your eye out for local charity walks and walk as a group.

4. Ask your group what they are interested in learning more about and e-mail wellness ( for suggestions on speakers.

5. Send or post  a weekly wellness tip listing any activities that are going on for wellness.

6. Start a book club/creativity club that you can share non-work-related time together.

Have other ideas? Post on this blog for all to view…

It’s that diet time of year

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

It’s that diet time of year.
It’s that time of year again for dieting: diet ads, diet fads, diet gimmicks, etc, etc. I Googled “fad diets” and there were 1,210,000 cites. Then I Googled “Fad diets that work” and narrowed the field to 1,060,000 cites. If you’re wanting “fad diets that work fast, you narrow the search to 423,000 cites and if you want a “fad diet that works really fast” there are 131,000 options. Two that I have heard of recently are the “Alternate Day Diet” and the “Tapeworm Diet.” If you choose the “Alternate Day Diet” you eat 500 calories one day and “normally” the next. If you choose the “Tapeworm Diet” (you guessed it), you find tapeworm larva to swallow and a tapeworm forms in your intestine. This just illustrates that people will go to extreme and sometimes harmful measures to lose weight.
If are wondering if the new diet plan you are starting is healthful and something to stick with for the long haul, ask yourself these questions:
• Does the diet encourage eliminating entire food groups? Red flags should wave if you see a diet that suggests there is one food group that is unhealthy and you need to eliminate it to lose weight. Generally speaking, entire food groups would only be eliminated from your diet if you are allergic, have an intolerance or the foods make you sick. If you are eliminating entire food groups from your diet, you might consider having your diet assessed by a Registered Dietitian.
• Does the diet encourage elimination or excess of anything? Is this an all or nothing diet? Health and weight management is not about extremes. Weight management is about variety, balance and moderation.
• Does the diet suggest that you do not need to exercise? Exercise as part of a weight management program is necessary to maintain success, to preserve muscle mass and to maintain health. Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle regardless of your weight goals.
• Does the diet plan suggest that weight loss is quick and effortless? As with any change in behavior or learning a new behavior, there is a learning curve. Initially change takes more time and mental energy.
• Is the diet sensible? Sometimes we make nutrition, weight management and exercise too difficult. Ask yourself “is this a sensible diet?” Ask yourself “is this sensible FOR ME?” If it doesn’t make sense for your life or lifestyle, it will be difficult to maintain.
• Can you eat and exercise the way the diet prescribes for the rest of your life? Nutrition, exercise, weight management are behaviors for a life time.
• Does the diet sound too good to be true? If a diet sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Question of the week:
What foods do I have to eliminate to lose weight?
The short answer is you don’t have to eliminate any foods to lose weight, you just have to eliminate eating too much of anything. Weight loss happens when the calories you consume are less than the calories you burn. When it comes to weight loss, your body doesn’t care where the calories come from; just that you are eating less then you burn. However, it is easier to over eat calories from certain foods because they are more calorie dense and less satisfying. For instance a 1 ounce candy bar and a slice of whole wheat bread with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter have about the same amount of calories. The bread and peanut butter will be more satisfying because it has protein, fat, carbohydrate and fiber.

Mindful Eating for 2010

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

You could make 2010 the year you try a new concept with eating . . . Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a concept that I am hearing about more frequently in the news. There are books and written about mindful eating, like “I Can Make You Thin” by Paul McKenna and “Mindless Eating” by Brian Wansink. But do you consider mindfulness when it comes to eating?

Many thoughts could come to mind when you think of being mindful: the bitter cold, the extreme heat, a fresh layer of icy snow on the streets, the first thunderstorm of spring. But do you consider mindfulness when it comes to food and eating? According to TCME (The Center for Mindful Eating), mindful eating is:
• learning to make choices in beginning or ending a meal based on awareness of hunger and satiety cues;
• learning to identify personal triggers for mindless eating, such as emotions, social pressures, or certain foods;
• valuing quality over quantity of what you’re eating;
• appreciating the sensual, as well as the nourishing, capacity of food;
• feeling deep gratitude that may come from appreciating and experiencing food

Mindfulness helps you focus on the present moment, what you are doing right now. Mindful eating allows you to focus on the food. . .the taste, the smell, the texture and the experience of eating. If you are eating mindfully, you are deciding when to eat, what to eat and how much to eat based on the present moment and your own hunger and satiety (not based on the latest fad diet, or the latest weight loss method). You are connected to what your body needs and wants, AND you are only eating. Eating mindfully means that you are not watching TV and eating; you are not working and eating; you are not playing on the computer and eating; you are not doing anything but focusing on the food and eating.

Below is a mindful eating practice that you can use to experiment with mindful eating. Throughout the experience you may have a variety of different thoughts, feelings and experiences. Notice the thoughts and let them go without judging them.

To practice mindful eating:
• Choose a small amount of your favorite food.
• Before you start, get comfortable. Be sure you have enough time to quietly and calmly go through the activity.
• Start by taking a deep breath.
• Begin by thinking about the food that you are going to eat. What comes to mind when you think about the name of the food that you are going to eat. Think about the smell, the texture, what it will taste like, why you like it so much.
• Observe the shape and color of the food.
• What is the texture of the food?
• Smell the food, what is that like for you?
• Take a small bite the food. What is that experience like for you?
• Push the food around in your mouth without chewing or swallowing? What do you taste? What are you feeling?
• Be aware of thoughts and feelings you are having about the process, the texture, the taste. If you are having negative thoughts, notice them and let them go.
• Begin chewing; pay attention as you are chewing the food. What does it feel like to swallow it? Imagine the food as it goes down your esophagus picture it going into your stomach.
• Be aware of the process from the time you make your food choice to the time that it goes into your stomach.
• Go through the process with a second bite of your food.

This is mindful eating. You can practice the experience with small amounts of food and then transfer the practice to meals. There is evidence that people who eat mindfully are better able to maintain and/or achieve a healthy weight. Being mindful with eating is a skill and a way of life. It is possible to learn and could change your life. Good luck and have fun.

For more information about mindful eating check out “The Center for Mindful Eating” at

Next time: “Fad Diets, the Antithesis of Mindful Eating.”