Drinking Soda…So You Want to Stop?

The reasons to stop drinking soda are abundant. Whether you want to cut down on empty calories and added sugars, consume less artificial sweeteners, wean off of caffeine, or even save money, ditching soda is a great place to start.
I actually used to be a big soda drinker–the diet type in particular. Something about it being calorie-free gave me permission to drink it with reckless abandon–so I did. At one point, I consumed more soda than water throughout the course of the day.
Back in 2014 I decided I wanted to rid myself of a dependence on artificial sweeteners, so naturally I started with soda. Over the course of about a year I went from drinking 2-3 sodas per day to 2 to 3 per month. I still very much enjoy a cola with my cheeseburger and french fries, but now that I drink it so much less frequently, I have no problem treating myself to the real deal.
As a former soda-drinker myself, I thought I’d share some tips and tricks I found helpful along the way for those of you who also want to get off the sweet stuff:
1. Be okay with scaling back slowly. If you drink 3+ sodas a day, switching to tap water cold turkey will most likely make every sip feel like a punishment… not to mention induce some serious caffeine withdrawal headaches. I bet you can rather painlessly replace 3 sodas per week with tap or sparkling water, though. Heck, maybe even 1 per day! Whatever the number, make it reasonable. Soda has not, and will not kill you over the next few weeks or months while you gradually get off of it. Over time, you’ll miss those first few sodas less and less and eventually you’ll be ready to cut out one or two more.
2. Get on a soda schedule. Keeping #1 in mind, jot down a schedule for weaning your soda consumption. By writing a plan, you’re thinking through and committing to a reasonable approach to drinking less. For example, if you normally drink 3 sodas per day, cut down to 2 per day for an entire month, and then 1 per day the month after. From there, you can gradually cut down even further. Allow yourself 5 per week for the 3rd month, 4 per week for the 4th month, and so on.
3. Explore tasty alternatives. Once you start cutting out soda, you’re going to want to replace it with other fluids so you don’t get dehydrated. When I first started cutting down on soda, I really missed the carbonation + flavor combo. Bored with tap water, I began exploring the wonders of sparkling water. Most of the time the carbonation alone did the trick–but when I craved a sweeter beverage, I found just a splash of juice worked wonders. 1-2 ounces of cranberry, orange or any other 100% fruit juice blend can make all the difference. Another favorite soda alternative is flavored water. Adding some cucumber slices, berries, citrus fruit or fresh mint to a pitcher of water gives it a refreshing essence of flavor.
4. Have alternatives handy. Once you find a few suitable soda alternatives, make sure they’re within reach when you get thirsty. If you just love the tingle of carbonation on your tongue,  keep your cabinets stocked with club soda, or invest in a Soda Stream or one of these more classic soda carbonators and make it yourself at home. If you like flavored water, slice up a bunch of oranges, cucumbers or rinse off some berries at the beginning of the week and make a fresh pitcher every morning. Fill up a water bottle before heading out to run those afternoon errands. If you’re prepared, when thirst strikes you’ll have one less excuse to grab for a soda. Oh, and if you’re prone to caffeine headaches, have an an anti-inflammatory on hand, or a bag of green or black tea to help ease those withdrawal pains.
5. Adopt a no soda policy. When I first decided I wanted to stop drinking soda, the first thing I did to start scaling back was adopt a “No Soda at Home” policy. It was highly effective. Seriously, if it’s not in your house you can’t drink it! This one change helped kickstart my journey to cut back. Here are some other “No Soda” policy ideas:
No Soda…
  • At work
  • On campus
  • On road trips
  • Before 5pm
  • At restaurants
  • At the movies
  • As mixers in alcoholic drinks
Try choosing one to start, and then adopt more as you feel ready.
6. Break the routine…by substituting a new one. For me, soda drinking, much like my morning cup of coffee, was a ritual. I found my daily walk to the soda machine was just as much an excuse to escape the office and chat with a co-worker as it was about getting a cold drink. Luckily I was able to convince my colleague to trade the soda for a few flights of stairs and a pit stop at the water fountain after. Think about when you habitually grab a soda and then figure out how you can change the scenario and make a healthier beverage choice. After just a few weeks your old, bad habit will likely be replaced with your healthier routine.
7. Make yourself accountable. If you’re the type of person who is motivated by accountability, telling your family, co-workers and friends that you’re giving up soda really works. When I decided to cut out soda, I told all of my girlfriends. It kept me honest when we were together, but I also found their support made a big difference. They still check up on me to this day to make sure I haven’t fallen back into my old soda habit! When you start cutting out soda, keep yourself accountable by telling people around you, and reap the benefits of having their support along the way.
8. Redefine the word “stop”. After reading the 2nd paragraph you might look at the title and think, “She still drinks soda though…” Why yes, on occasion I do! But I no longer consider myself a “soda drinker.” There’s a big difference! Just because you want to “stop drinking soda” doesn’t mean you can never enjoy one again. Maybe for you “stop” means getting down to 1 per week, say when you’re out to a nice dinner or as a lunchtime treat on Fridays. The best way to approach a long-lasting behavior change is by making it sustainable and avoiding those feelings of deprivation. If allowing yourself a soda on occasion makes you happy, by all means! In the end, it’s about making healthy habits the default and enjoying treats along the way.

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The Healing Power of Turmeric

Medical researchers are swiftly moving toward a consensus that inflammation underpins most of the chronic diseases that plague us, everything from IBD and rheumatoid arthritis, to cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric may help prevent all of them. New studies even point to the effectiveness of turmeric in keeping type 2 diabetes at bay. Since turmeric is also inexpensive, has no toxicity, and makes food taste amazing, why shouldn’t we all be using it and reaping the benefits?

What makes Tumeric so healthy?

Most of the health benefits of turmeric derive from curcumin, the compound that also gives turmeric its bright orange color. Curcumin only constitutes a few percent of the weight of turmeric, but it is a nutritional powerhouse. Curcumin is a superb antioxidant and also possesses extraordinary anti-inflammatory powers. Because so many diseases are caused, or worsened, by inflammation, curcumin’s effect on restoring health and function can be profound.

What are some of the primary medicinal uses for Tumeric and Curcumin?

Curcumin has been studied for its effectiveness in:

  • Improving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • Preventing colon, pancreatic, and lung cancers
  • Lowering cholesterol and homocysteine levels
  • Protecting against Alzheimer’s disease (AD)
  • Blocking type 2 diabetes

Turmeric’s anticancerous properties

In some individuals with an inherited form of the disease, colon cancer begins with the proliferation of colorectal adenomas — polyps — that eventually become cancerous. When a moderate dose of curcumin is given to these individuals, the number of polyps is decreased, and disease progression slowed. The benefits are even greater when curcumin is combined with quercetin, a flavonoid found in onions.
Curcumin also has proven effective against prostate cancer. Epidemiological studies of prostate cancer worldwide reveal that it is rare in populations using more turmeric. In India, for example, prostate cancer is a very rare diagnosis. However, traditional Indian cooking not only uses curry, which has lots of turmeric, but also brassica (cruciferous) vegetables. The combination of the brassicas’ isothiocyanates and turmeric’s curcumin is lethal to prostate cancer cells and blocks the spread of established tumors.

Turmeric could help prevent heart disease

Curcumin blocks the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, an important step in atherosclerosis. Also, turmeric has significant vitamin B6, so it also helps reduce homocysteine while increasing HDL cholesterol. When you add it all up, that’s a lot of vital protection for your arteries.

Turmeric’s benefits for diabetes patients

Curcumin powerfully reduces blood glucose and helps cure insulin resistance, which in turn improves liver and pancreas health. Consequently, overall health, especially immune health, is also improved.

Turmeric as an herbal remedy for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)

Once again, epidemiological evidence suggests that in populations using the most turmeric, AD is rare. Apparently, curcumin works in several ways to combat AD:
  • Inhibiting formation of amyloid plaque.
  • Blocking proteins that degrade the myelin sheath of nerve cells
  • Turning on genes that protect the brain from oxidative damage.
With so many good reasons to add turmeric to your recipes — not to mention that it’s delicious. Why wait? Vibrant health awaits you.

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Avoid on a Diet These 13 Foods

There are many different ways to diet – some diets limit fat while others limit carbohydrates or proteins. However, no matter which diet you are on, there is one tried and true method that will always pack on the weight: Eat a lot of carbohydrates.
The reason why this happens is because the carbohydrates stimulate the excessive production of insulin in the body. This in turn then causes the body to store food eaten as fat no matter what types of food are eaten. The key to weight loss is to learn how to get the body’s biochemistry back to burning fat instead of storing fat.

Stay away from high carb foods

Most dieters continue to eat too much of the foods that are naturally high in carbohydrates. The very worst carbs you can eat are boxed and packaged foods.
Stay away from high glycemic index foods
Dieters must also always avoid high glycemic index foods. The glycemic index is a scale from 0 to 100 that rates carbohydrate foods according to how much hey raise the blood sugar levels.
If a food has a rating of 100, then the food is going to raise blood sugar levels drastically, and you’ll have to somehow bring them down quickly. If you don’t bring the blood sugar levels down again, weight gain will occur.
Why you gain weight when you’re sticking to a diet
Have you ever noticed sometimes that you eat healthy foods all day long and yet when you look down at the scale, your weight increased? This can happen for a few different reasons:
You eat one food in the last 18 hours that caused a spike in insulin. All that’s needed for a quick gain of weight is one bad spike in blood sugar; the effects don’t wear off until 18 hours, and if that one cheating episode became two or three, you’ll have to add more hours to the time.
The overall amount of carbohydrates in the meal is too high, past 35 grams.
The meal has no fat in it.
The meal has no protein or very little protein.
Here’s your list of absolute no-nos for your diet:
Flavored Yogurt  
Milkshakes and ice cream floats 
Alcoholic drinks 

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Eating Too Much Sugar? 5 Signs…

Your dentist has warned you about it. Your mother probably locked it away in a treat drawer. And you already know it’s terrible for you. Sugar. It’s everywhere. And it might even seem easy to avoid, especially if you think sweets are the primary source of sugar in your diet. But sugar lurks in unexpected places. White flour and fruit snacks, for instance, are a prime source, and even salty foods are often loaded with sugar. Sweetened drinks, too, can contain enough sugar to send you into a sugar rush that quickly causes you to crash.
All this sugar can do some pretty unpleasant things to your health. So if you’re concerned that your diet could be a culprit in an underlying health problem, check out these five common symptoms of excess sugar consumption.

1. You have mood swings

Sugar temporarily gives you a feeling of energy, but that quickly ends with a sugar crash that can feel a lot like a hangover. Over time, the highs and lows inherent to life on sugar may become less apparent to you, but they’re still there. If you struggle with mood swings, this could indicate you’re cycling in and out of a sugar rush. Facing depression or anxiety? Some evidence suggest sugar can lead to mental health problems.

2. You’re exhausted

Sugar depletes your body’s resources, leaving you feeling exhausted even when you’ve gotten plenty of sleep. If you spend half of the day waking up and feel fatigued no matter how much sleep you get, it’s time to turn a critical eye toward your diet.

3. You’re always hungry

Leptin is the chemical your body uses to help you feel full, signaling that it’s time to stop eating. Too much sugar consumption, though, can destroy leptin, interfering with your ability to feel full. If you truly feel always hungry—rather than just eating out of boredom or to cope with stress—sugar could have caused leptin to stop properly functioning, leading to chronic hunger pangs.

4. You’re gaining weight

One of the most obvious telltale signs that you’re eating too much sugar is weight gain. Even if you keep your daily caloric intake low, the body tends to pack on the pounds when there’s too much sugar circulating in your blood. Moreover, most high-sugar foods are also high in calories, so that so-called health food that’s high in sugar could be a culprit in your expanding waistline.

5. You have gastrointestinal problems

Fruit can cause diarrhea, but this isn’t because of anything unique to fruit. Fructose, the sugar most prevalent in fruit, is correlated with a host of gastrointestinal problems, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and loose stools. If you’re having some trouble in the bathroom, consider whether the fuel you feed your body might also be feeding your gastrointestinal distress. 

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7 Small Tweaks to Cut Calories All Year Long

“Cutting calories” is one of the more nefarious-sounding phrases in the English language, one that might conjure images of boring salads and induce hunger pangs. But the truth is, there are plenty of easy ways to reduce your calories without making grueling sacrifices — and the efforts can really add up.


In general, 3,500 calories equals about one pound of fat, so if you reduce your calorie intake, you can drop some weight — to the tune of 10 pounds per year, if you cut just 100 calories per day.
Of course, everyone’s calorie needs are different, and vary by weight, age and activity level. So keep that in mind before diving in head-first. Below, I will show you how seven little tweaks can have a significant impact over the course of a year.
The average soda contains about 140 empty calories — and a scary amount of sugar. So 140 calories, 365 days a year adds up to 51,100 calories or almost 15 pounds.
Exchange your daily afternoon soda for some refreshing sparkling water, and you’ll be doing yourself a serious favor.
The average American eats three hamburgers per week, which is a lot of burgers. And, more often than not, they’re of the fast-food rather than home-cooked variety. The one positive takeaway: There’s plenty of room to improve. Going bun-less once per week saves about 150 calories, which adds up to 7,800 calories a year — just over 2 pounds.
Drinking water can help curb your appetite and prevent overeating. In fact,  drinking two cups of water (16 ounces) before a meal resulted in a 13% reduction in calorie intake. If you typically eat a 600-calorie dinner, drinking water beforehand could save you 78 calories per day — or 28,470 calories per year.
No, cauliflower rice isn’t a direct substitute for the real thing. But when prepared properly, it’s pretty darn good. And considering it’s a non-starchy vegetable, cauliflower rice is a low-carb, low-calorie way to supplement that weekly stir-fry. You’ll save about 160 calories every time you make the swap or 8,320 annually.


That dash of sugar in your morning coffee might taste good, but every teaspoon adds about 16 calories. You can try using a no-calorie sweetener like Stevia or just opt for a good, rich coffee, and skip the sweetener entirely. Here we’ll assume one teaspoon of sugar, and two cups per day, which is the national average. When you do the math, that’s about 11,680 calories a year!
Condiments are a delicious way to spruce up just about anything. But not all condiments are created equal, so check that nutrition label before you start slathering. There are 90 calories in one tablespoon of mayonnaise, which makes zero-calorie mustard the clear champion for sandwiches, burgers and other condiment-friendly foods. Make that swap two times per week, which adds up to 9,360 calories per year and watch those calories drop.
When you’re hungry, it’s tempting to shovel food into your face. But chewing more slowly — and generally being mindful of your eating — allows the body to better realize when it’s full. This can translate to less overeating, and fewer calories consumed at each meal. Normal-weight individuals reduced their calorie intake by an average of 88 calories when eating slower, as compared to the fast-eating group. Multiply that by three meals per day, 365 days a year and … that’s a ton of calories (96,360 calories to be exact).


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Should You Weigh Yourself? 3 Signs to Step Off the Scale

About a 6 years ago, I quit smoking a pack a day and eating a pint of ice cream every day instead. After six months of being fueled by cookie-dough varieties and whimsical Ben & Jerry’s choices, I ditched the frozen treats as well.
Although I was proud of finally giving up both cigarettes and mega calories, I had a new problem: the nearly 85 pounds I’d put on over six months since quitting the smokes. I set a goal, changed my eating habits to healthier options and head to the gym and started weighing myself every few days to make sure I was staying on track.
Then it was every morning, followed soon by weighing myself multiple times a day, always with a sense of dread about being “off” from where I wanted to be. If I was down even by a few ounces, I was overjoyed. But if I was up, I felt crushed.
Daily weigh-ins can be a valuable tool in understanding where you are in terms of a goal. But for me, and for many others, it can also become a source of anxiety and frustration.
Here are three signs you might want to put the scale away for at least a little while:
In other words: You felt good before you stepped on the scale and terrible after. Let’s say you committed to running five days this week and avoiding sugar. You accomplished both goals and you’re feeling bulletproof because you have more energy, you’re sleeping better and your sugar cravings are subsiding. But then you step on the scale and nothing has changed — or worse, you gained a little.
“Suddenly, all your efforts have been erased in your mind and you think, why am I even trying so hard if it’s not making a difference?” ” Even though you were feeling great results from meeting your goals, the scale seems to have diminished their impact.
“When the scale has the power to change your good emotions, that’s a sign you should ditch it”. When your outlook shifts from positive to negative, it can lead you to abandon healthy behaviors. If you’re feeling crusty after every scale session, I suggests focusing instead on different measures of progress — and setting goals that don’t have to do with your weight.
“The scale has no measure for your happiness, the gratitude you have in your life or how hard you might be working”. “If the scale starts working against you, get rid of it.”
Tweaking calorie intake based on weight-goal progress is a standard part of many weight-loss programs, especially when you take activity levels into account. You won’t eat the same amount on a day you run 10 miles as you would on a day you sit at a conference for hours.
But making dramatic changes based on what the scale reads in the morning isn’t an ideal strategy.
“Seeing an increase in weight could trigger someone to avoid eating for the day,” “Alternatively, seeing a decrease could be a trigger to overeat that day, almost as if the number is giving them permission.”
That’s one of the reasons weekly weigh-ins have been the gold standard for many weight-loss programs. They are less reflective of the kind of factors that can influence daily weigh-ins, such as sodium intake, stress and hormonal changes.
How often you weigh yourself is a matter of personal choice, usually based on what works best for you. For example, if you feel weighing yourself daily is a nice check-in that keeps you feeling accountable, great. But if you prefer to weigh yourself weekly because it’s a better indication of progress, that might be your strategy.
What doesn’t work? Multiple daily weigh-ins. Your weight can fluctuate quite a bit within the space of a day, sometimes between 5–7 pounds. That can be a recipe for a major freakout.
That’s why it’s important to maintain consistency if you’re doing the once-daily or one-weekly check. I advise using the same scale, at the same time of day, in the same location, wearing the same clothing. That way, you can assess weight changes with more accuracy.
After I stepped away from the scale for a while, I ended up going back with a better strategy and attitude. I chose to weigh myself weekly instead of daily, and to use that number as a guide that could help me tweak my caloric intake and activity levels — not as a set on an emotional roller coaster.
By using the scale as a tool instead of a weapon against myself, I’ve been able to include it as part of a larger range of measures that help me track my health, not just my weight. I wouldn’t say the scale is my friend. But at least it’s no longer my enemy.

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What These 6 Common Food Cravings Are Trying to Tell You

From chocolate cupcakes to a big ol’ steak, not all cravings are created equal. While some are purely about pleasure (like your favorite comfort foods), others can point to a lack of nutrients or a hormonal imbalance. If you’ve ruled out stress or other emotional reasons you’re craving unhealthy foods, there might be a physiological reason your body is trying to get you to eat potato chips or pasta carbonara.
And while we’re all for giving in to temptation every once in a while, if you’re looking to maintain a balanced and healthy diet, there might be some swaps you can make. Read on to find out what your cravings mean and how you can honor them in a way that’s good for your body.

1 Craving Chocolate? You May Need Magnesium

While it’s true that sometimes our bodies use food cravings to tell us we’re lacking something, when you crave chocolate, chocolate usually isn’t what your body needs. Rather, when a chocolate craving strikes, it’s more likely you’re deficient in magnesium, chromium and vitamin B.

Give your body these micronutrients in supplement form, or eat 70 percent (or higher) dark chocolate if you really can’t resist as it’s a natural source of magnesium. “A handful of raw almonds can also help relieve this craving, since these are high in magnesium.”

2 Craving Sugary Foods? You May Need Water A craving for sugary foods like soda or cake can be indicative of either low blood sugar or dehydration. However, reaching for another scoop of ice cream is bound to set you up for a sugar crash, which can wreak havoc on your hormones and metabolism.

Before reaching for the sweets, drink a glass of water and give your system a moment to reboot, I suggests. If the craving persists, eat an apple, some berries or an orange. However, craving sugar could also indicate depression. If you’re feeling down, find healthy ways to boost your serotonin through exercise or talking to a therapist.

3 Craving Salty Foods? You May Need B Vitamins

A salt craving can be caused by several things, such as excessive sugar in the diet, a deficiency in sodium or too much potassium. I recommend cutting down on sugar and avoiding table salt. “Opt for Himalayan or celery juice to remineralize the body.”
If your craving for salt is coming during a stressful period, it might also indicate a need for B vitamins. Taking a good vitamin B complex will quell the craving. “However, if the salt craving is following a sweaty workout or an illness or upset stomach,”.  “Pedialyte or a similar electrolyte water is better than plain water to replace the missing minerals.” Best to choose these rather than sports drinks, which often contain too much sugar.

4 Craving Fried Foods? You May Need Essential Fatty Acids

When it comes to craving greasy or fried food, a deficiency in EFAs (essential fatty acids) is usually the culprit. The burger or bacon-and-eggs breakfast, however, contain too many trans fats — fats that are processed to lengthen shelf life and make a cheaper product.
Instead of the greasy pizza or fried chicken, have an avocado, a spoonful of coconut or flaxseed oil, a salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar or dip bread into olive oil. Nuts and seeds contain healthy oils and are excellent choices as well. Alternatively, regularly include oily fish like salmon or herring in your diet or take a fish-oil supplement. “Remember, your brain is 60 percent fat, and your body needs oils — and the right kind — to stay healthy.

5 Craving Bread or Pasta? You May Need Nitrogen

Bread and pasta are “comfort foods that seem to be like ‘crack’ is to the brain of addicts.” When you’re eating that croissant, the neurotransmitter dopamine (also known as the “pleasure chemical”) is released, explaining why you may have a hard time quitting carbs.
Carbohydrate cravings could mean that your body wants more nitrogen (meat, chicken and fish contain this). “Or it could need a food ‘hug’ and instant gratification.” Snack on a handful of nuts or a helping of hummus. If this fails to extinguish your hankering, then it’s likely a gratification craving. An emotional commitment (journaling, chatting with a friend, etc.) and positive self-talk about what is really needed may be the answer here.

6 Craving Red Meat? You May Need Iron

A craving for red meat often points to a deficiency in protein (which is quite rare in the United States) as well as iron, amino acids or phosphorus. I agree that an iron deficiency is usually responsible for the red-meat craving, but cautions against eating too much meat to make up for this.
“People really do not need as much protein as the popular press seems to try to convince us. There are cheap, nonmeat solutions that are friendlier to the planet and keep the body healthy, happy and well-fed, without cravings and deficiencies.” I suggests you eat dried fruits, beets, beans and prunes if you’re iron-deficient. These are all packed with adequate iron and are also easier on the kidneys and your digestion.

What Do YOU Think?

What is your most common unhealthy food craving? Do you usually give in, or do you try to find an alternative? Did you know about these common hidden messages in your cravings? Which were the most surprising? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below!

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Cacao: The New Superfood on the Block

Cacao.  Yes – the word looks strange, but honestly – it’s not misspelled!  This article is about cacao, although we will touch upon how it’s related to cocoa.  Although many people say that cacao and cocoa have the same meaning, the words actually have different implications when used.
What is it?
Cacao (a before the o) is usually used to describe the raw, unprocessed bean picked from the cocoa tree.  Cocoa (o before the a) is usually used to describe the cocoa bean that has been heated and processed.  Cocoa beans are seeds of the Theobroma cacao plant, which is found in Mexico, South America and some parts of Central America.  Once picked, the cocoa bean is usually roasted, ground and processed.  The normal process involves adding cream and sugar to become the chocolate bar we love so much.
In ancient South American cultures, the cacao was so valuable that it was often used as currency, food and medicine. It is extremely nutrient dense and should be used in small amounts.
What are the benefits?
There have been plenty of studies that tell us how dark chocolate is good for us.  In reality, it’s the cacao that provides the benefits in the chocolate.  And when eaten raw and unprocessed, we actually get more benefit from the seed, as processing reduces some of the benefits. These include:
  • Essential vitamins such as C, A and E
  • Other nutrients including magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, and calcium.
  • A higher level of antioxidants, called flavonoids, than acai, blueberry, red wine or green tea
  • Stimulates the brain to release feel-good hormones
  • Anandamide – a compound that is often called the “bliss molecule”, which also makes us feel good.
  • Helps to lower LDL (the bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (the good cholesterol)
  • Helps to lower blood pressure
  • Has been shown to have antibacterial properties against helicobacter pylori bacteria
  • Also shown to help the body fight allergic reactions
  • Preliminary studies show that cacao may have some anti-cancer benefits
  • Can help clear the airways and reduce congestion
  • Does contain caffeine, so it keeps you more alert
How to add cacao to your diet?
Raw cacao usually comes in two forms:  powder or nibs, which are small crushed pieces of the bean.  Eating a raw bean is often compared to chewing on a coffee bean – bitter and strong.  However, there are people that love to snack on the cacao nib by itself.  They state that although it may be an acquired taste, it’s a food they come to crave.
Most people do like to mix cacao powder with something else in order to reduce some of the bitterness.  A spoonful of powder can be added to smoothies, be used in chocolate chia pudding, sprinkled on fruit, mixed into granola or even mixed into coffee with a little honey and cream.
Cacao nibs can be mixed into trail mix, sprinkled on bananas, cereal or salads, baked into muffins, added as a topping for ice cream or yogurt, mixed into cookies, or simply nibbled raw.

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How to Choose Carbs Wisely

You know that a key to managing diabetes, both in the short and long term, is to understand carbohydrates. If you’ve already learned to manage your diabetes, you will be familiar with much of what we’ll share. If you are beginning your diabetic journey, this may save you several unnecessary steps.

What makes a carbohydrate “good”?

There are several things to be considered when choosing carbohydrate sources:
  • Carbs are more than sugar sources; they are also complex phytochemical sources, potentially (if you choose wisely) supplying you with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and resistant starch, among others.
  • Carbohydrate-rich foods will be your source of naturally occurring fiber, and you still need 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume.
  • Some carbs are much more nutrient-dense than others and should be foregrounded in your diet.
  • When choosing starchy carbs, consistently choose low to moderate glycemic index (GI) ones and eat them in moderation. When choosing fruit, choosing low-GI varieties like plums aids in blood glucose regulation.
  • Avoid sources of hidden sugar — they are everywhere! —  by reading labels.
  • Eat less processed food and enjoy small amounts of desserts only rarely.

The amount of carbohydrate matters too. How do I get this important factor right?

It will be beneficial to use “carb counting” to normalize blood glucose. This is not a simple matter, but it lies at the heart of diabetes management; you will want to consult with your managing physician. Response to carbohydrates is highly individual, so arriving at an upper limit for carb consumption at each meal will require some supervised experimentation. If you start at 45-60 grams of carbohydrate per meal you will probably be near the proper level.
It is helpful to think in terms of portion sizes containing 15 carbohydrate grams. Half a cup of oatmeal, black beans, and baked potato each contain about 15 carb grams. Four ounces of fresh fruit contains the same amount, but fruit is often higher in glycemic index so it may cause blood glucose to rise more rapidly and in the long run make it harder to regulate. Many people find it’s easier to limit fruit and substitute vegetables.

But I really like carbs. Can’t anything be done?

The rate at which carbs are broken down and absorbed is also very important. That rate depends on glycemic index, amount and type of fiber (soluble fiber is known to lower effective glycemic index), presence of fats and protein in the meal, and several other factors, including cooking time and acidity. It is possible to shift some of these factors in your favor by balancing macros appropriately, including fiber rich foods with each meal, and minding the glycemic load of meals.
Glycemic load takes into account not only the rate at which a food causes blood glucose to rise, but also the dependence of that rise on the amount of carbs consumed. Current recommendations suggest that one of your best options may be to eat a low-glycemic load Mediterranean diet rich in veggies and healthy fats.[2.3] Adding about two tablespoons of raw apple cider vinegar to meals has also been shown to reduce blood glucose elevation after meals.
Diabetic meal planning requires attention to detail. When learning about your own unique response to dietary carbohydrate, begin with these recommendations and observe carefully your response; then adjust accordingly. With diligence, you will confidently balance blood glucose.

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