Happy International Coffee Day

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Today is International Coffee Day. Last year, Americans consumed 88.8 gallons of coffee per capita with the average coffee drinker consuming 3 cups per day. Luckily, coffee offers several health benefits.

  • Research has linked coffee consumption with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Those who drink more than six or seven cups of coffee per day have been shown to be 35% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who drink fewer than two cups per day. For those who drink 4-6 cups of coffee per day, there is a 28% lower risk.
  • Coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet, which helps to prevent tissue damage. Coffee also contains magnesium and chromium, which help the body to use insulin more effectively and to control blood sugar.
  • Coffee has been linked to lower risks for heart attack and stroke. Women who drink two or more cups of coffee per day have been found to have a 20% lower risk of stroke. Furthermore, people who drink 1-3 cups of coffee per day are 20% less likely to be hospitalized for heart arrhythmias than nondrinkers.
  • Higher consumption of coffee has been linked to a decreased risk of Parkinson’s, likely due to the caffeine.
  • People who drink 3-5 cups of coffee per day are 65% less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • High coffee consumption is associated with a decreased risk of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
  • The caffeine in coffee can make you feel happier. Women who drink 4 or more cups per day have been shown to have a 20% lower risk of becoming depressed.

There are times, however, when you should limit your coffee intake. Pregnant women should drink no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day, or about 12 ounces of coffee. Higher amounts have been associated with miscarriage, premature delivery and poor fetal growth. In addition, if you are watching your calorie intake, stick to black coffee, which contains only 7 calories in 6 ounces. Be careful of additional cream and sugar or specialty coffee drinks, which can quickly pile on the calories.

Enjoy a cup of coffee today and think about all of the health benefits!

Celebrate National Taco Day

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Attention taco lovers: National Taco Day is on October 4th. Last year, Americans ate over 4.5 billion tacos. That equals 775 million pounds, which is the weight of two Empire State Buildings. You can celebrate this year while making a few simple changes to make your tacos nutritious, yet still tasty.

  1. Skip the chips. Tortilla chips are high in calories and are filled with saturated fats and sodium. In fact, one cup of tortilla chips contains 300 calories.
  2. Pile on the veggies. Add sautéed peppers, onions, zucchini, celery and tomatoes to add flavor without adding extra calories.
  3. Make your own salsa. Bottled salsa from the grocery store can be filled with sodium. In fact, one cup of salsa from the store can contain over 1500 mg of sodium! It is easy to make healthy salsa at home with some fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, green chiles, cilantro, and lime juice.
  4. Season with fresh herbs and spices. Prepackaged dry taco seasoning contains 205 mg of sodium per teaspoon. Lemon, lime, garlic, paprika and cilantro are good options to spice up your tacos without adding sodium.
  5. Focus on fiber. Use whole-grain or corn tortillas rather than flour tortillas to increase fiber intake. Add in ½ cup of black beans to add a whopping 10 grams of fiber, which will keep you full throughout the day.
  6. Choose lean meats. Skip fatty cuts of meat and choose 90% lean ground beef, chicken or fish. Tilapia, red snapper, Mahi Mahi and even salmon pair well with tacos. Remember that a portion size of meat is 3 ounces, which is the size of a deck of cards.
  7. Be smart about toppings and sides. Shredded cheddar cheese or sour cream add 110 calories per ¼ cup, so top your tacos with low-calorie vegetables instead. Alternatively, guacamole contains a similar amount of calories per cup as cheese and sour cream, but is full of healthy monounsaturated fats, which can help to lower cholesterol and your risk of heart disease.

Celebrate National Taco Day with these tips to enjoy a healthy meal. Check out the recipe below from Cooking Light:

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 tacos)taco
Total Time: 30 minutes

 

Mindfulness: building a better relationship with your food

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Food, nutrition, body image, and self-acceptance are intricately and sometimes complexly intertwined. Our busy lifestyles can blur our relationship with food. We are often so hurried that breakfast gets skipped or eaten on the way to work, lunch disappears in front of a computer screen, and we are lucky if dinner is at a real table.

Does this sound familiar to you? You’re not alone! We call this mindless eating. Mindless eating is that bag of chips that is gone before you know it, or that habit of eating in front of the TV; it is scrolling through your phone instead of tasting your food. Mindless eating is autopilot mode, without much conscious attention to the experience of eating.

The practice of mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment, on purpose, without getting attached to passing thoughts or judgments. Many people find it helpful to focus on their breath while practicing mindfulness, as a way to quiet their mind and let go of their internal dialogue. When your mind starts to wander, bring your attention to what your breath is doing. Bring your attention back to the present moment. You can practice mindfulness while you are waiting in line at the store, stuck in traffic, on a nature walk, or playing with your children.

In a nutshell, mindfulness is…

“observation with judgment suspended”.

Judgment helps to keep us safe and make informed decisions, however, if we are constantly judging the present experience, how can we enjoy the present experience?

Eating should be a pleasurable experience. Mindless eaters often do not get the maximum enjoyment out of their food, simply because they are distracted. In turn, this often leads to overeating and disregarding the body’s natural fullness cues. Beginning a mindful eating practice may help you develop a more healthy relationship with food, better identify hunger and fullness cues, and enjoy your food more.

Research shows that mindful eating…

  • Increases self-compassion and the ability to accept one’s body shape and size, and promotes lower self-criticism.
  • Reduces emotional eating
  • May help reduce binge eating episodes and behaviors

Sounds like a win-win, right? Here’s how to begin:

At your next meal, sit down at the table. Take 5 deep breaths before you begin eating. Check in with how you are feeling and rate your hunger on a scale of 1-10. Use all five senses to enjoy your meal, and put the fork down between each bite. Eat without distractions, and try to let go of any self-judgments that arise. Remember that mindfulness is a ‘practice’, not a perfect; it may be difficult at first, but stick with it to see how it affects your relationship with food and yourself. If a whole mindful meal is not in the cards for you, try to begin each meal with a mindful bite, to set the tone for your eating experience.

Below is a mindful eating exercise to get you started. Try it with a friend or family member to make it a little more fun!

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