Monthly Archives: May 2017

Foods that are Low in Carbs

A low carb diet is a good lifestyle choice. Studies show it is a healthy way to lose weight, and for many it is a great way to keep weight off. Diet and exercise together are the best way to keep yourself fit and ward off disease. Here are many low carb food choices you can make.

 

Most low-carb diets suggest limiting carbohydrate intake to between 50 to 150 grams per day, depending on the diet. Most low carb diets for weight loss start with extremely low carbohydrate intake,  in the range of 20-25 grams per day. That lasts for a couple of weeks, then rises to 60 to 90 grams per day for continued weight loss.

Things to be aware of with low carb diets

Especially if you are used to eating a lot of high-carb items and sugary foods. Your body will crave them like crazy for the first three weeks or so. Your body is going into a state called ketosis, which starts to use your fat for energy. This can cause bad breath, so stock up on sugar-and-carb-free mints.

You may experience… how can we put it delicately… trouble with your digestive tract. Drink lots of water. Lots and lots of water.

If your body is used to a lot of carbs, you may experience something called the “Keto flu”. You might feel fatigued, and have muscle weakness. It will go away within a week or so.

If you do eat a lot of carbs and sweets, it will be easier on your body and will power to do a pre-diet slowdown. Start eating fewer carbs every day for a week or so, to get your body used to fewer carbs. Then the first two weeks won’t be potentially painful.

We wish you luck on your low carb lifestyle. For many people, it’s the key to taking weight off and keeping it off!

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Home Safety Tips for Seniors

It’s just a fact of life: as we age we become less, shall we say…agile, nimble, sprightly, dexterous…choose any synonym for quick and spry you like, we simply don’t move the way we used to.  We also develop certain ailments that require certain medications and if we continue to live independently as we reach our “senior” years, certain accommodations must be made to these simple facts of life.  As I continually tell my kids, “Getting old generally sucks, but you can make some minor adjustments to make it suck less.”

Let’s just accept the fact that accommodations must be made for our continued seniorly independence and those accommodations must be made for the sake of safety.  Given that the number one cause of injuries among seniors is from falls (falls are also the number one cause of fatal injuries), the following tips will focus on how to avoid them.  Simply stated, do whatever you need to do to avoid falls within and without your home. The other area of concern for seniors is that of medicine and ensuring that they take the proper amount…think Goldilocks here, neither too much nor too little, but the proper amount.

Tips to “fall-proof” your home

  • Add rails and grab bars where needed. The two main problem areas here are stairs and the bathroom.  Yes, this will probably require the assistance of either a contractor or someone with carpentry skills, but isn’t your safety worth it?  Along stairways, both interior and exterior, handrails should line both sides and both should be used, especially when descending.  In the bathroom, rails should be added in and around the tub/shower and around the toilet to prevent slipping and to assist with sitting and standing.
  • Remove excess clutter throughout the home. “Clutter,” in this instance, refers to anything that could be a tripping hazard and can include shoes (while not on your feet), magazines, pet toys, books, clothes, and trash in any form.  “Everything has a place and there’s a place for everything,” as my dad is still fond of telling me when I leave one of his tools in a place other than where it’s supposed to be.  It’s simple.  Keep your floors free from junk and you’ll greatly improve your odds of staying upright.
  • Watch those throw rugs and floor surfaces. Ensure that all rugs are properly secured to the floor to prevent them slipping from underfoot and avoid the use of slippery cleaning solutions on hardwood and tile floors.
  • Install non-slip surfaces in the tub and/or shower. Actually, this rule applies to people of all ages, not just seniors.  Water, soap/shampoo and a slick, smooth surface is a recipe for disaster, seriously.  It matters not whether you use simple non-slip strips or cute little fishies and duckies, just put them in place.
  • Light dark/dim places, inside and out. It really, really, really, really, helps if you can see where you’re walking…really.  Replace burned out or dim bulbs throughout your home and add additional lighting if there’s any question regarding proper illumination.  Oh yeah, leave some lights on during the night, especially in the bathroom.
  • Consider wearing a medical alert system with fall detection. Some come GPS equipped to ensure fallen seniors are quickly located and they are relatively inexpensive, usually under $50.

A few more safety tips

  • Create and use a system for your meds. There’s an app(lication) for that.  If you’re comfortable using a smart phone, download a medication reminder app.  It’s the next best thing to a nagging spouse.  Or use a pill box, or a pocket calendar, or link taking your meds to a daily activity (wake up, teeth brushing, eating), or use your friends and family members.  Also, keep an up-to-date list of your current meds, to include name, dosage, number of refills, and strength.
  • If you haven’t already, install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home. And change the batteries every time you alter the clocks for daylight savings time.
  • Eat well and stay hydrated. MagicKitchen.com can sure help you here.  As we’ve discussed in previous posts, as we age our nutritional needs change.  Ensure you’re getting the RDA of all essential vitamins and minerals through eating a variety of fruits, vegetables and proteins.  As for hydration, there’s a simple test to determine if you’re properly hydrated.  If you’re urine is clear, you’re good, if it’s eye-blinding neon yellow, you’re dehydrated and need some liquid.

Getting old doesn’t necessarily mean you must give up your independence.  However, there’s no doubt that our bodies change as we age and some accommodations must be made due to this fact…so don’t be a “stubborn old codger,” as my mom likes to call my dad, and make them!

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Common Foods with Surprising Health Benefits

It seems that many people believe that some sort of special diet with exotic foods is required to “eat healthy.”  We go out of our way to locate and drive to so called specialty stores to find strange foods that we discovered in some online article that extolls the nutritional virtues of these foods we can’t pronounce (like spirulina, harissa and cupuaca).

And, often times, we pay exorbitant amounts of money to purchase these foods when we could gain the same health benefits from far more common and less expensive alternatives.  Since you seem skeptical, here are five examples of foods found in every local grocery store that offer numerous health benefits.

Heirloom Tomatoes
Heirloom Tomatoes

Tomatoes – There isn’t a more common food than tomatoes, is there?  These semi-round spheres of fruity goodness (yes, they are considered a fruit) are chock full of nutritional nutritioness that provide numerous health benefits.  They contain all four major antioxidants (alpha and beta carotene, lutein and lycopene) which are concentrated in their peels and provide them with their rich red color.  Studies have found that the regular consumption of tomatoes can reduce the risk of stroke and prostrate and pancreatic cancers due to the presence of these antioxidants.

Raisins – Also known as concentrated grapes, raisins possess plenty of B vitamins, iron, potassium, carbs and fiber.  Dietary iron is primarily used by our bodies to transport oxygen, via red blood cells, to our various muscles and brain.  It also supports our immune system, aids with metabolism and assists in the building of amino acids.  The potassium in raisins has been shown to lower blood pressure by limiting the effects of sodium.  Its fiber, half of which is soluble fiber, helps to lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels.  And while the reputation of carbohydrates has recently been drug through the mud, they are very necessary for energy and many endurance athletes (yours truly included) substitute raisins for sport gels in order to avoid processed sugars.

Grapefruit – This low-cal, high nutrient fruit contains plenty of vitamins C and A, fiber, and the antioxidants beta-carotene, lycopene and flavanones.  Studies suggest that these nutrients reduce blood pressure, LDL (or bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels.  They also provide a boost to our immune systems, stabilize our blood sugar levels and prevent insulin resistance whereby our cells stop responding to insulin which can lead to type 2 diabetes.  The fiber contained within grapefruit can also provide appetite control as it slows the rate at which our stomachs empty which causes us to feel full for longer periods of time.

Yogurt – One of the key elements contained within yogurt are probiotics or “friendly” bacteria that improves our digestive health and can help with constipation, diarrhea (side note: I could never spell “diarrhea” without spell check) and inflammatory bowel disease.  Yogurt also naturally contains plenty of calcium and many manufacturers add vitamin D, both of which are necessary for bone health and the prevention of osteoporosis.  Finally, yogurt also contains plenty of protein that assists with muscle recovery and creation.  One last piece of advice: use plain yogurt and add natural flavoring, such as berries and other fruit as many manufacturers add tons of unnecessary sugar, even the one with the “fruit on the bottom.”

Ginger – The Asian spice, not the British Spice…Girl (you knew I couldn’t go a whole post without a lame joke).  And yes, I realize that ginger is somewhat exotic as it originates from Asia, but its been here for centuries and its been used for medicinal purposes in Asia and India for longer than that.  The active ingredient in ginger is a volatile oil known, appropriately, as gingerol.  It is why, when we were children and had an upset stomach, our moms gave us ginger ale, which, for me, was a very rare treat and almost made vomiting worth it (side note II: ginger ale came from the practice of British pubs placing out bowls of ground ginger for the patorns to sprinkle in their beers).  Gingerol, it seems, eliminates excess gas within our digestive tracts and eases symptoms associated with motion sickness, such as dizziness and nausea.  Gingerol is also an anti-inflammatory which can lessen the pain associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as well as improve mobility in the affected areas.

So, next time you’re contemplating a trip to a specialty grocery store for some durian or chayote, check yourself before you wreck yourself and stop by the local shop for a few tomatoes, grapefruit, boxes of raisins, some plain yogurt and ground ginger.  Your body will thank you for it.

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Making your Dad Smile this Father’s Day

Your dad is unique.  You must recognize this fact before we start discussing gift ideas for Father’s Day.  Some like to fish, some like to build things, some like sports (perhaps all), some like to cook, some like the ballet, some like music (listen to or play), some like a few beers with their beer buddies.  However, almost every dad, to include yours, loves to spend time with their kids, especially if those kids are fully grown, have their own lives and/or families and live many miles away.  That being the case, perhaps the greatest gift you can give your dad this Father’s Day is some of your valuable time.

Ever since I moved away from home and started my own family, I think of Harry Chapin’s melancholy song from 1974, Cat’s in the Cradle, as Father’s Day approaches.  Of all the “likes” I listed above, none applied to my dad.  For you see, my dad liked to work…and not at home.

He was what he called a “tin knocker” aka sheet metal worker/welder and he was very good at his chosen profession (I think I related some version of this story here last year).  He would say that he didn’t “like” to work, but that he “had” to work to provide for our family.  I suspect it was a mixture of both “liked” and “had.”  Whatever it was, all I knew was that when I looked in the bleachers during my little league games or, later on, my high school and college track meets, or among the spectators lining the numerous cross country courses I ran on, I never saw my dad, not once.  And I would sadly sing that Chapin song in my mind.

However, since my dad has retired he is making up for lost time, with me as well as his grandchildren and for my part, I have gone out of my way not to “grow up just like him,” at least with regard to not spending time with my children and then growing up to not spend time with my father.  That being the case, my father, myself, and my two boys spend every Father’s Day together doing things of his choosing…so long as it’s not work.  The moral of the story: its far better to spend time than money on your dad this Father’s Day.

But there’s nothing wrong with doing both, as I usually do.  I just ensure that I don’t spend much on his gift and that I spend some time (get it) choosing a gift I know will make him smile.  Here are a few ideas that just might make your dad smile as well:

  1. What I Love About Dad by me Book – This little treasure offers 50 fill-in-the-blank prompts or sentence starters that allow you to express in your own words (sorta) what your dad means to you. You’ll be amazed how completing the prompts elicits warm fuzzy memories of your dad as you travel back through the years to recall all the things, large and small, he did for you as you grew up.  Here are a few examples of the included prompts: “I love that you taught me to appreciate ____________________.”  and “I’m glad I got your _______________________.”  Learn more here:  https://www.uncommongoods.com/product/what-i-love-about-dad-by-me-book
  2. Photo Tie – Yeah, I know, who gets their dad a tie for Father’s Day? But there are so many ways to go with this and it’s one of those gifts your dad MUST wear after receiving.  All that’s required is to upload your favorite pic of yourself (I highly recommend one that will embarrass the wearer to the utmost degree) and this company places it on that ultimate piece of fatherly apparel.  Check it out: http://www.personalcreations.com/product/Photo-Ties-30033588?prid=pcseogu&ref=PCRorganicgglunkwn&sk=&tile=hmpg_hero1&productgroup=PPHOHIM&viewpos=2&ratings=4.75540000&reviews=139&trackingpgroup=PPHOHIM
  3. (Toothpaste) Tube Wringer – My dad is an ardent skinflint, tightwad, penny-pincher…He’s cheap, OK? And when I purchased this for his last birthday his eyes had that special glint that my mom hasn’t seen in decades when he opened it and realized what it was.  One of the memories of my dad from my childhood years is of him haranguing every member of our family to roll the toothpaste tube from the bottom up in order to extract as much as possible as he, “wasn’t made of money.”  Well, this little gizmo achieved his ultimate goal.  Here you go:  http://incrediblethings.com/uncategorized/tube-wringer-for-the-last-bit-of-toothpaste/

The above are just a small sampling of the unique gifts you can find for your unique dad.  All you need to do is match the gift to the recipient and then remember, time is more valuable than any gift, especially on Father’s Day.

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