The Dos and Don’ts of a Healthy Halloweeen



Halloween is right around the corner! Here are some dos and don’ts to keep you on track on this All Hallows’ Eve:

DON’T give out candy on an empty stomach.
The hungrier you are with a bowl of candy close by, the more likely you
are to indulge in eating some. Be sure to keep your regular eating
habits, and that includes dinner.

DO have healthy snacks close.
Even if you aren’t hungry, it can be hard to resist taking a little
dive into the sea of miniature candies. Have some fruit or nuts close by
that you can reach for instead. Even better, stock up on some Robard
bars and snacks. You’ll thank yourself later.

DON’T have the candy in a place you have to look at it all the time. Having
the candy right next to you on the couch or table makes it more
tempting. Keep the candy by the door and the only time you’ll see it is
when you are handing it out to trick-or-treaters. Out of sight, out of
mind.

DO buy candy as close to the day as possible. The sooner
you buy it, the longer it’s in your house. And that means you have to
maintain the willpower to avoid it for a longer period of time. Instead,
wait until a day or two before October 31.

DON’T bring left
over candy with you wherever you go after Halloween is over.
Before you
know it you’ll be eating candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner — and a
snack in between. If you have leftover candy, leave it at home so after a
long day’s work (and a nice workout), you can indulge in a piece if you
feel so inclined — but leave it at a piece. Better yet? Save yourself
the temptation and bring the leftover candy to work and leave it out for
co-workers to enjoy!

DO give out as many treats as you can and
leave as little as possible leftover.
If the night is over and you have
three unopened bags of candy left it means one of two things: 1.) You
overestimated how many trick-or-treaters you were going to get; or 2.)
You bought too much candy for the occasion. It’s OK to have a little
surplus at the end but make a conscious effort to buy only what you’ll
think you’ll need.

DON’T buy more candy than you need to. When
this time of year comes around candy can be bought at a bargain. Buy
just enough so that trick-or-treaters leave your house with a smile on
their faces. Don’t buy so much that you will be in a sugar coma by the
end of the night by eating leftovers that you didn’t give out.

DO
dress in a costume.
For our last “do” let’s get into the spirit of the
occasion. Halloween has become a day that gives us a reason to have fun!
Enjoy yourself! If you’re invited to a costume party then go, but go
WITH a costume. It’s more fun and is always a conversation starter!


Blog written by Marcus Miller/ Robard Corporation

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Your Biggest Enemy When It Comes to Cravings Could Be… Your Brain



Obesity stigma may lead many of us to believe that giving in to cravings is just a problem with overweight people and that it is solely the result of a lack of willpower and self-control. But the truth is we all experience food cravings that range from mildly annoying to completely distracting. But what makes us crave foods, particularly foods with the most fat and sugar and the least nutrition? Many studies suggest the answer lies in our brain.

Most of us have food cravings. In fact, 97 percent of women and 68 percent of men who participated in a study published in the journal Appetite reported experiencing them. Cravings are motivational states that give us the urge to seek out and consume a particular food.

Some theories suggest that cravings signal areas that are nutritionally deficient in our diets; for instance, if you are deficient in sodium, you may crave salty foods. However, that is not always the full picture. Other theories suggest that cravings for high-fat, high-calorie foods are linked to hard-wired survival mechanisms in our brains because our instinctual hunter-gatherer origins connect this type of energy dense food with our ability to sustain our bodies till the next meal.

Another reason we may crave fatty foods? Opioids. Fatty, sugary foods release chemicals called opioids into our bloodstream. Opioids bind to receptors in our brains and give us feelings of pleasure and even mild euphoria. Similarly, in a 2004 study, participants were asked to think about a favorite food. This triggered various areas in the brain and ultimately the dopamine reward system. Dopamine is a feel-good hormone also produced during sex, compulsive gambling and drug activity. That’s right… you can get high on chocolate.

Psychological factors can also influence the intensity and timing of cravings. Studies on mood have found that our emotional state normally has a greater impact on cravings than hunger. Diet influences our levels of the hormone serotonin, which regulates our disposition. Read more about whether or not you are an emotional eater here.

So what can you do about cravings? Well, first off, be gentle with yourself. Acknowledging that there is a physiological and mental component to why you crave unhealthy foods can be the first step in letting go of the shame that can contribute to overeating and giving in to cravings. Then, you can start to use various tools and tricks to control them, such as our 5 Tips to Control Your Worst Food Cravings.

Interested in learning more about how the brain and hormones influence appetite? Join us for a free webcast, “Brain Systems Underlying the Munchies,” at 3:00 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday, April 12, 2017. Dr. Alfonso Abizaid will discuss the problems associated with dieting, as well as identify hormonal mechanisms associated with the generation of appetite, and how the motivation to eat may change under normal and during stressful situations. Register now!

Sources: Lifehacker, How Stuff Works: Science, Tufts University


Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation

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9 Tips on How to Eat Mindfully for Weight Loss



When it comes to dieting, many people develop an adversarial relationship with food. Dieting often becomes about what you can or can’t eat … with all our favorite (junk and comfort) foods ending up on the chopping block. However, while watching what you eat is certainly important, more experts are pointing to HOW you eat as an important tool toward better eating. It’s called mindful eating, and it’s helping people rethink and shift their relationship to food.

Registered dietitian, Jenni Grover, describes mindful eating as “intuitive eating… a concept with its roots in Buddhist teachings, [which] aims to reconnect us more deeply with the experience of eating — and enjoying — our food.” No, you don’t have to be a Buddhist monk or meditate every day to be a mindful eater. Mindful eating is based on the idea that there is no right or wrong way to eat, but rather varying degrees of consciousness about what we are eating and why. The goal of mindful eating, then, is to base our meals on physical cues, such as our bodies’ hunger signals, not emotional ones — like eating for comfort. According to a recent article in the New York Times, mindful eating is not a diet, or about giving anything up. Rather, it’s about experiencing food more intensely — especially the pleasure of it.

Part of the reasoning behind mindful eating when it comes to health and weight loss is that it combats mindless or unconscious eating. Research shows that mindless eating plays a significant role in weight gain because we do not recognize when we’re actually full, causing overeating. However, when we eat mindfully, not only can we better experience the pleasure of the food we eat, we build more awareness around how much food we need to eat, as well as create opportunities to make healthier choices around food selection.

Thinking about trying it? Consider these 9 tips to start you off in exploring the concept of mindful eating, which are intended to help you slow down and pay attention to your meal:

1. Chew 25 times
2. Feed yourself with your non-dominant hand
3. Eat everything with chopsticks for a week
4. Put your fork down between each bite
5. Take your first bite with your eyes closed
6. Try to identify every ingredient in your meal
7. Put your food on a plate
8. Sit at a table
9. Eat in Silence

For a little more in-depth resource about mindful eating and how it can benefit your weight loss goals, check out this fun Infographic from the Summer Tomato blog, all about the benefits of eating mindfully.


Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation


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Here’s How to tell if you’re an Emotional Eater



There’s no denying that food makes us feel good. There’s something about that tub of Häagen-Dazs after your first major breakup or devouring that entire bag of chips while you’re up late cramming for an exam that is immensely satisfying. When we eat large amounts of food — especially “comfort” or junk foods — in response to feelings as opposed to hunger, it’s called emotional eating. And while it may seem harmless, emotional eating is actually a form of disordered eating that can send your weight spiraling out of control before you know it.

The link between food and emotions has been well documented. Carbs can cause actual changes in your brain chemistry, boosting a chemical in the brain called serotonin. The higher the levels of serotonin, the more content you feel (at least temporarily). Overeating can also be related to chronic stress, which creates elevated levels of the hormone cortisol, tricking your body into thinking you’re going through a famine and increasing food cravings. And according to a recent study from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, consumption of foods high in sugar and fat releases dopamine, the chemical that stimulates the brain’s pleasure center and makes us feel euphoric. That chocolate is actually working like a drug in your body, numbing feelings of stress or sadness, and giving you a temporary high… with a much less temporary muffin top!

If you are unsure about whether or not you are emotionally eating, look to these four tell-tale signs:
 
• You eat when you are not physically hungry.
• It is hard to find food that satisfies you.
• Cravings are triggered by an emotion such as anger, anxiety, or boredom, etc.
• Comfort eating has a mindless component to it. You may not enjoy or taste the food because you are eating it mechanically, as if in a trance.

While emotional eating can feel great at the height of a stressful situation, making it a habit can have a negative impact on your life, as well as sabotaging your weight loss goals. But like any other lifestyle change, emotional eating can be controlled through awareness and the consistent practice of new behaviors, with some helpful tips like these:

1. To deal with food cravings that result from negative emotions, check out our 5 Tips to Control Your Worst Food Cravings.
2. Use your non-dominant hand to eat. A 2011 study by researchers from the University of Southern California found that this practical strategy can reduce the amount that you eat. This action breaks up the automatic hand-to-mouth flow and encourages you to think about each bite.
3. Develop an awareness of your emotions and what feelings give you the urge to eat. Start a journal and write it down so you can start to figure out what your triggers are.
4. Replace food with a more positive coping mechanism. Once you’ve identified what feelings make you want to eat, replace the urge to eat with a different activity — it can be something fun, physical, or even creative. Make it something you enjoy doing that can serve as a pick-me-up on a tough day that doesn’t add calories.

Take control of your weight by taking control of your emotions. With a little bit of practice, you can put a stop to emotional eating… and you’ll be happy you did!


Sources: Dr. Oz, Shape, Everyday Health, CNN


Blog written by Vanessa Ramalho/Robard Corporation

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5 Tips to Control Your Worst Food Cravings



It never fails. You’re two weeks into your new healthy eating diet, determined to lose some pounds and get ready for beach season. You did your meal planning. You stocked up three to five days’ worth of chicken breast, salad, and quinoa for lunch. Then hump day rolls around in your busy work week, and what rears its ugly head? CRAVINGS.

And you’re not craving that apple in your lunch bag. You’re craving a red velvet cupcake. With a pile of sweet cream cheese frosting, and (gasp!) chocolate sprinkles, this delicious, decadent, mouth-watering dessert will set you back 300-400 calories and cramp all your healthy eating progress this week. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.

In a study published in the journal Appetite, 97 percent of women and 68 percent of men who participated reported experiencing cravings. Cravings are motivational states that give us the urge to seek out and consume a particular food, and generally that food is not broccoli.

Professor Susan Roberts, director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts, has researched the kinds of foods that people crave most often. Not surprisingly, the most commonly craved foods tended to be salty snacks, sweets with high sugar and fat content, and all high in calories.

Though the exact cause of food cravings is difficult to pinpoint, many doctors and nutritionists alike believe that they develop as a result of a complex medley of biochemical processes and a variety of hormonal and emotional factors. Cravings can be strong and persuasive, and when we give in to them, they can leave us feeling like we failed at our diet, not to mention with a sugar crash.

So what can you do when the craving hits? Luckily, there are things we can do to control the urge to binge on our favorite forbidden snacks.
Follow these 5 tips to beat the cravings and get you back on track with your diet or weight loss program:

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In Good Company: How Much You Eat Depends on Who You Eat With



You are the company you keep. We’re sure you have heard the saying before — probably from your parents when you were growing up in an effort to make sure that you were surrounding yourself with good people and staying out of trouble. Or maybe they meant what and how much you eat.

A recent study published in the journal Social Influence surmised that how much food a person consumes can have an impact on how much another person eats. Researchers believe this is caused by social modeling, a psychological effect that would lead a person to eat less simply because the person they are dining with is eating a small amount of food.

“Internal signals like hunger and feeling full can often be unreliable guides,” says Lenny Vartanian, Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales’s School of Psychology, and the study’s lead author. “In these situations people can look to the example of others to decide how much food they should consume.”

Hunger pangs and satiety have less of an influence on how much we eat than someone eating in front of us. That’s an interesting thought in itself, that external factors are used more than internal factors when we decide how much we want to eat. People have the unique ability to affect change in another person by merely being around them. It’s not unusual to start using the same words or develop a habit your friend has simply because you’ve been around to see them do it. It’s also no surprise that such social influence could be prominent in dieting.

“The research shows that social factors are a powerful influence on consumption,” says Vartanian. “When the companion eats very little, people suppress their food intake and eat less than they normally would if alone.”

Source: University of New South Wales


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