Curbing Your Food Cravings

Curbing Your Food Cravings

Most everyone experiences unhealthy food cravings from time to time. Seeing a donut in the shop window or smelling pizza cooking in the oven can trigger a strong momentary response in almost anyone, no matter how healthy his or her diet. There are several reasons for this, but it is important to remember that beating cravings is possible.

A craving is a complex psychological reaction, sometimes in response to a physical impetus. Cravings can mean that you are missing a certain key element from your diet; for example, people who crave salt often find that they are missing certain electrolytes or are dehydrated. Cravings for sweets and junk food, however, are nearly always psychological in nature and can be turned off with the right techniques.

Here are five ways to curb food cravings and stay on a healthy eating plan.

1) Carry healthy snacks with you. Often, having something else to eat can head off a craving for an unhealthy snack. Carrying small amounts of nuts, cheese or whole-grain crackers with peanut butter, all of which offer satisfying protein, can curb most momentary food cravings.

2) Stay focused. People tend to snack more when they are distracted. For example, a person who is checking email or talking on the phone may eat much more than a person who portions out a snack and sits down to eat it at the table.

3) Do something else. Sometimes an intense craving vanishes as quickly as it came. Going for a walk or taking care of a few chores before indulging may cause the craving to disappear.

4) Eat an alternative. Cravings for ice cream can sometimes be pushed aside with a frozen fruit bar. Instead of eating fried foods, try “oven frying” with a healthy fat and Parmesan cheese as a “breading.” Eating alternatives that are similar to the foods being craved, but healthier, can keep a diet on track.

5) Give in occasionally. People are much less likely to gorge on unhealthy foods when they have an occasional, allowable “cheat.” Choose one meal per week at which to eat dessert or onion rings, and you will be much less likely to gorge on those foods at an inappropriate time.

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Reference

Staff; How the Pros Curb Food Cravings; Health; accessed August 4, 2015.

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Filed under Fitness, Nutrition and Weight Loss, General Health

Ants in the Kitchen? How to Get Them to Move Out

Ants in the Kitchen? How to Them to Move Out

An ant infestation in the house is something nobody wants to come home to. Unfortunately, when the weather starts to get warm, it can seem nearly impossible to keep those ants outside where they belong. While prevention is the best method for keeping ants at bay, there are some things you can do to get rid of them without resorting to bug sprays and harsh commercial products that might put your health and the health of your family or pets at risk.

Cayenne Pepper

Often used by gardeners, cayenne pepper can temporarily deter ants from coming near any area, inside your home or even in outdoor gardens. To use cayenne pepper, dissolve a few tablespoons in hot water and then spray the entire area where the ants have been. If you can find the spot where they are getting inside, apply extra solution there. Ants tend to follow a trail, so if you can create a barrier there, it will help greatly.

Vinegar

Ants aren’t fans of pickled foods, though you probably already knew that since they tend to be attracted by sweet, sticky messes, not tart or bitter items. To get rid of a small infestation, particularly one that is localized, you can use vinegar in a spray bottle. The ants in the area won’t like it one bit, and the vinegar odor will keep new ants from coming anywhere near. You can also use vinegar in a spray bottle outside around cracks where ants may be entering.

Adhesive Tape

It might not make your kitchen look pretty, but creating an area with double-sided adhesive tape can keep an infestation at bay before it gets too bad. This works best if your ants are headed toward the fridge or the sink, not scattered all over the place. Make sure you replace the tape daily until the ants have given up.

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References

Reader’s Digest Staff; 13 Common Items for Getting Rid of Ants; Reader’s Digest; accessed August 15, 2015

Jabs, Betsy; How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally; DIY Natural; accessed August 15, 2015

Pest Kill Staff; How to Get Rid of Ants in the House; Pest Kill; accessed August 15, 2015

Caines, Kimberly; Cayenne Pepper & Ant Hills; SF Gate; accessed August 15, 2015

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Why Am I Sore After Working Out?

Why Am I Sore After Working Out?

Beginning a workout program presents several challenges. One of these challenges is muscle soreness. When someone begins to exercise and experiences muscle soreness, he or she may be concerned that the routine is too strenuous.

While no one should be in agony after exercising, some general soreness is to be expected due to the process of breaking down and building up connective tissue.

In order to understand muscle soreness, it is important to understand what happens during exercise. As muscles are stretched into new shapes due to physical activity, it is common for there to be microscopic tears in the muscle and connective tissue. As these tiny tears inflame, the body interprets the process as injury and gives off pain signals.

Far from being dangerous, however, this type of mild pain is a sign that exercise is working. Mild muscle soreness should appear within 48 hours of exercising and disappear in about the same amount of time. If it does so, it is rarely dangerous.

When Is Muscle Soreness Dangerous?

Muscle soreness after exercise should never be sharp or debilitating. If a sharp, stabbing pain occurs while exercising, it is probably a cramp and is a sign that exercise should cease for the moment. However, a milder dull, achy feeling is very normal and is a sign that the muscles and connective tissues are healing themselves.

However, pain that lasts more than a few days or does not improve should be considered a sign of a problem. A doctor should be consulted for any muscle pain that is greater than a mild ache or persists over time, as it could be a more serious issue.

How Can Muscle Soreness Be Stopped?

The price of exercising is occasional muscle soreness, but there are natural remedies to alleviate the pain. RICE is an acronym for “rest, ice, compression and elevation” and lists the steps that may help relieve muscle pain. In addition, stretching and easing into a workout routine can help avoid muscle soreness to a large degree. This includes both a warm up and a cool down after the exercise is completed.

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Reference

Staff; Sore muscles? Don’t stop exercising; WebMD; accessed August 4, 2015.

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Does Your Perfume Contain Dangerous Chemicals?

Does Your Perfume Contain Dangerous ChemicalsA light, elegant scent has been the calling card for the upscale woman for many centuries. Scented papers with notes, air freshener and candle scents in homes, and signature perfumes like Chanel No. 5 have a long, storied history in creating an evocative atmosphere.

But what is the cost here? As our industrialized nations face higher and higher cancer rates, and fragrance sensitivities become a big enough deal to have warning signs in some buildings, the toxicity of the chemicals all around us are coming into question. Perfumes, not regulated in the same way as a controlled drug or edible product, often have a high number of toxic chemicals and endocrine disruptors, as part of their formulas.

The Cost of Chemicals

What do these chemicals do? How do they affect the body? How do we know which perfumes are safe? Unfortunately, this is a problem that is difficult to solve. Because of US labeling and formula secrecy laws, it is hard to say what any given perfume may contain.

The chemicals in any set of fragrances may cause allergies, disrupt endocrine functions, or be a carcinogen. The EU has been moving forward with more testing, so there is a little more safety involved in choosing a European-made fragrance that comes with higher levels of chemical quality control. Be certain that the European formulas are the genuine thing, and not knock-offs, which will certainly be more likely to have a chemical makeup. Take a look at all of the chemicals in the formula, not just the fragrances. Most of the time, it is the scent boosters and preservatives that can cause the most problems.

Finding Safe Alternatives

If a product offers their formula openly, there is more likelihood that this will be a safer perfume. Essential oils, flower essences, natural spices and other fresh ingredients are one great way to go. It’s important to realize that there are natural, organic foods and spices that can also be endocrine disruptors or allergens for certain people. Lavender and tea tree are two of the examples of this. However, the natural versions will be much safer, generally, than the synthetic versions of the same scents. If you’re not sure, look for watchdog sites that list chemically safe fragrances.

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References

Cunningham, Vanessa; Ten Toxic Beauty Ingredients to Avoid; Huffington Post; Accessed August 17, 2015.

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics; Not So Sexy; Safe Cosmetics.org; Accessed August 17, 2015.

Beres, Ron and Lisa; Seven Nontoxic Perfume and Fragrance Alternatives; Accessed August 17, 2015.

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The Paleo Diet: What’s for Dinner?

The Paleo Diet: What’s for Dinner?

The Paleo lifestyle is fashioned from foods thought to be eaten by early humans. This diet consists of meat, fish, vegetables and fruit. Dairy, grain and processed foods are excluded.

To get the optimum benefit from Paleo eating, your chicken must be from free-range chickens and your beef must be from grass-fed cows. If you have ever eaten a steak from grass-fed cows, you will immediately notice a difference. Although grass-fed meat costs more, it is healthier and tastes significantly better. Fish should be wild-caught. Paleo practicioners are encouraged to buy vegetables and fruit that are organically grown as well as chemical and pesticide-free. Please see below for recipes suitable for the Paleo Diet.

Almond-Matcha Superfood Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk1 cup baby kale
  • 3/4 cup frozen pineapple
  • 1/2 cup frozen mango pieces
  • 1 medium frozen banana
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted natural almond butter, unsweetened
  • 1 Tbs. matcha green tea power
  • 2 tsp. chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Combine ingredients in blender on high until smooth and serve immediately

Grilled Flank Steak with Cilantro-Balsamic Marinade

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup good quality balsamic vinegar with no added sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil or melted ghee
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 shallot, peeled and halved
  • 2 Tbs. coconut aminos
  • 1 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cracked pepper
  • 3 lbs. flank steak

Instructions

  1. Combine first 9 ingredients in blender and puree smooth.
  2. Place steaks in large dish, pour marinade over the top. Marinate 4-6 hours in the refrigerator, turning steaks over at the halfway mark.
  3. Preheat grill to medium high heat. Blot excess marinade from steaks with a towel.
  4. Grill steaks 3-4 minutes on each side.
  5. Remove from grill, tent with foil 15 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain.

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References

Walker, Danielle; Against All Grain – Grilled Flank Steak; accessed May 26, 2015

Walker, Danielle; Against All Grain – Almond Matcha Superfood Smoothie; Almonds.com; accessed May 26, 2015

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Filed under Food (Benefits, Cooking and Nutrition), Recipes

What in the World is Dopa Mucuna?

What in the World is Dopa Mucuna?

While researching herbs and supplements, have you ever come across something and asked yourself, “what in the world is that?” This series of articles will give you insight about some of the lesser-known herbs currently available on the market. From there, you can decide whether it’s a natural remedy worthy of further exploration.

Today, it’s all about Corn Silk!

Mucuna Pruriens, also known as Dopa Macuna, velvet bean or cowhage, is a bean that grows into a vine-like plant found mainly in tropical regions of the world. This bean was historically used for a variety of conditions and is currently being studied for modern-day applications.

While there are some potential benefits to using this herb for certain conditions, there are also some cautions that you should be aware of before you begin using this herb as a treatment.

History

The word “pruriens” in the name of this bean arise from the itching caused by the red hairs that grow on the exterior of the bean. Central American natives use the beans as both a medicine and a food source, often drying and grinding up the beans to make a type of coffee. In Indian Ayurvedic medicine, this bean is used to treat conditions such as snakebites, worms, dysentery and many other health concerns.

Uses

According to a study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, certain components of this plant have antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and mood-enhancing effects. This herbal remedy may be effective at reducing toxins from snake venom, lowering blood sugar and blood pressure, improving mood, and other benefits.

Cautions

Even herbal medicines may have side effects, and velvet bean is no different. According to WebMD, there are a few complications and medication interactions that could occur for some individuals taking dopa mucuna. Due to certain effects of this herbal remedy, those with heart conditions, diabetes, low blood pressure, certain types of mental illness, liver disease, or skin cancer may wish to avoid use of dopa mucuna. It is wise to check with your doctor or another health professional before starting new herbal supplements.

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Reference

Lampariello LR, Cortelazzo A, Guerranti R, Sticozzi C, Valacchi G. The Magic Velvet Bean of Mucuna pruriens. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. 2012;2(4):331-339; accessed July 13, 2015
WebMD; Cowhage; accessed July 13, 2015

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Top Three Disease Killers in the US

Top Three Disease Killers in the US

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following diseases were the top three causes of death in the United States in 2013 — the most recent year for which complete data is available. Read on to learn more about these illnesses and ways you may be able to lower your risk.

1. Heart Disease (611,050 deaths)

Heart disease is a category that includes several different types of cardiovascular issues. The most common of these is coronary artery disease in which the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart become clogged and narrow. Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of heart attack. Though some risk factors for heart disease cannot be controlled, you can lower your risk by exercising regularly, eating a nutritious diet and not smoking.

2. Cancer (584,881 deaths)

There are many different types of cancer, a disease in which the cells begin to mutate and eventually form a mass called a tumor. Cancer that starts in one body part often spreads to other parts of the body if left untreated; some types of cancer are more easily treatable than others. As with heart disease, lifestyle changes can control some risk factors for developing cancer.

3. Chronic Lower Respiratory Diseases (149,205 deaths)

This category includes serious lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema and chronic bronchitis. These diseases are typically caused by smoking, so avoiding tobacco use will greatly lower your risk of developing COPD and related issues. You should also avoid irritants such as chemical fumes and dust.

If you are concerned about your risk for developing heart disease, cancer or lung disease, talk with your doctor. He or she may be able to recommend a plan to help you achieve better health.

Looking for vitamins, herbal supplements and other alternatives to help you keep a healthy balance in your life? Check out the thousands of products we sell at iHerb.com. Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get you up to $10 off your first order.

Looking for vitamins, herbal supplements and other alternatives to help you keep a healthy balance in your life? Check out the thousands of products we sell at iHerb.com. Use Rewards Code WOW123 to get you up to $10 off your first order.

References

Leading Causes of Death; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Accessed March 20, 2015

Cancer; National Cancer Institute; Accessed March 20, 2015

Heart Diseases; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; Accessed March 20, 2015

Chronic lung diseases; Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Accessed March 20, 2015

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Filed under Allergy, Asthma and Respiratory Info, Cholesterol, Heart and Hypertension Health, General Health

How to Remove Tough Permanent Marker Stains

How to Remove Tough Permanent Maker Stains

Most people have felt the horror of realizing that a child has used permanent marker on a cloth item, followed by the confusion over what to use to clean up the mess. Unlike other types of ink, permanent marker is made to last through wash cycles, so it is impossible to simply wipe it away.

Permanent marker can quickly ruin a favorite dress or something bigger, like a sofa, but there are ways to naturally remove these stains. When a child has written all over the couch or a favorite shirt, grab the white vinegar and follow these directions:

  • If the fabric is washable, immediately place it in the sink with a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid mixed with 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.
  • Using a clean white cloth, blot the stain every few minutes for about 20 min., dipping the cloth in the white vinegar solution each time.
  • This can also be done on a couch or chair if the cover cannot be removed.

If the stain is particularly deep, has dried on or does not come out with the initial vinegar rinse, switch to rubbing alcohol and blot to remove the stain. Use paper towels or a clean white cloth to absorb as much of the ink as possible. Continue blotting until the stain is gone.

If white vinegar and alcohol do not work for your tough stain, it is possible to use ammonia. However, it is very important never to mix ammonia with bleach, as this can result in toxic fumes.

If the stain is on a piece of furniture or a carpet, use the same procedure but blot carefully and dry completely between steps. Drying is an important part of the process as moisture left deep inside an upholstered chair or carpet can lead to mold growth later.

No matter where the stain is, be patient and blot every five minutes with the solution until the stain is gone. It may take some time to remove completely, but the continual blotting will open up the fabric’s weave and allow it to release the permanent ink.

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References

Staff; How To Remove Permanent Marker From Fabric; Good Housekeeping; accessed August 4, 2015.

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Stress-Busting Essential Oils

Stress-Busting Essential Oils

People are spending long hours at the office, taking on more chores around the house and living a life that’s faster paced than ever. With all of the demands of daily life, stress can take its toll on a person’s well-being. Luckily, essential oils are a safe and natural way to get relief from stress. The best essential oils for stress reduction are listed below.

Lavender

Known as the “universal oil” because of its many uses, lavender essential oil is great for relieving stress. It also has a pleasant scent that is sweet and fresh. Lavender oil helps people relax and is thought to build strength.

Rose

Rose oil has an elegant floral scent, and it may provide relief from stress and depression. It is slightly more expensive due to its extraction process, but it’s very effective in reducing stress.

Frankincense

The most common use for frankincense essential oil is stress relief. Its distinctive, exotic scent can help people to relax and unwind.

Chamomile

There are two types of chamomile oil, Roman and German. Both are considered suitable for calming the nerves, but Roman is especially effective in treating mental anxiety and distress. Sometimes, chamomile oil is used to help digestive troubles.

Bergamot

Bergamot oil is a calming oil that may relieve mild anxiety. It has a fresh, fruity scent that is uplifting.

You can use any of these essential oils to reduce stress by inhaling its aroma, adding it your shower or using it on your skin. You can even spread the scent of these oils throughout your home with a diffuser. Some people add a couple of drops to a cotton pad or scarf to take with them and enjoy the scent throughout the day. However you choose to use the oils, it will help you to reduce the stress in your daily life.

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References

Doss, Angela; Top Five Essential Oils for Stress Relief and How to Properly Use Them; Natural News; accessed July 23, 2015

Banks, Suzanne; 13 Essential Oils to Reduce Stress; Mind Body Green; accessed July 23, 2015

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Filed under Aromatherapy and Essential Oils, Stress Management

Essential Oils for Energy

Essential Oils for Energy

Many people are surprised to know that you can use essential oils as a natural and safe way to boost energy. The essential oils below can help you to find the energy you need to get through the day.

Generally, most spicy or citrus essential oils can be used to boost energy. These oils contain chemicals that stimulate the nervous system, making you feel more awake and alert. Add a few drops of the oils to an unscented body wash, shampoo or a warm bath.

By using an aromatherapy room spray or a diffuser, the scent of the oil will linger. The essential oils below are especially helpful in boosting energy.

Rosemary

Rosemary can boost mental activity and helps to increase concentration. It is a great essential oil to use if you need to study or prepare for an exam, or if you’re working on a particularly challenging project at work.

Orange

Orange essential oil has a powerful scent and can make you feel invigorated and focused. Orange oil promotes productivity and can address fatigue and depression.

Peppermint

Peppermint can help boost physical performance at the gym and can stimulate tired muscles. You can use peppermint by breathing it in, or by applying it directly to the skin for a refreshing feeling.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit essential oil helps to increase physical energy. It can be applied directly to the skin or added to a hot bath to make you feel more alert.

These essential oils are a simple, natural way to increase energy and relieve fatigue. You can use each by itself, or make your own essential oil blend to give yourself an energy boost.

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References

Keay, Penny; Fatigue Relief Using Essential Oils; Birch Hill Happenings; accessed July 24, 2015

Kepes, Carolyn; Essential Oils for Enhancing Energy; Living Naturally; accessed July 24, 2015

Staff; Essential Oils to Boost Energy, Reduce Fatigue; Essential Oils Natural Living; accessed July 24, 2015

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Filed under Aromatherapy and Essential Oils, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia