Tips for self-care this holiday season

The holiday season is well underway, and for most Americans that means elevated stress, and with increased stress can come sickness, fatigue and depression. Fight the holiday slump this year with these tips for self-care this season.

There are many reasons people feel more stressed and blue during the holidays. There are more activities, pressure to meet families’ expectations, reminders of friends and family you may have lost, and shorter, darker days can exacerbate it all.

That’s why it’s increasingly important for everyone to take time for themselves to make sure they can truly enjoy the festive season. Try just one of these activities this year to see if it helps improve your mood and enjoyment of the season.

  • Keep your exercise routine – With a busier schedule, for most people one of the first things to go is their typical exercise routine. But with all the added activity and dietary indulgences, exercise becomes that much more important as a way to destress and  burn off excess calories.
  • Protect your sleep – Just like exercise, sleep tends to  be something we sacrifice during the holidays, but sleep helps your body recover and keeps your mood up. It’s difficult to enjoy family and friends’ delightful little quirks when you’re exhausted from the activities of the week.
  • Throw out expectations – There’s a lot of pressure at this time of year to create and capture “magical moments” to make a perfect holiday experience. Unburden yourself from these expectations, and you will have an easier time enjoying the moments for what they are.
  • Feel (don’t eat or drink) your feelings – The holidays inevitably bring up strong emotions, including anxiety about new relationships, reminders of family losses or pressure of entertaining relatives. In all of these instances, the instinct can be to eat or drink more than usual. This year try to remind yourself that all of this is normal and try to live in the discomfort of the moment, rather than run from it.
  • Keeps snacks and water with you – This may not be something you do the rest of the year, but in all the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, holiday parties and end-of-the-year work expectations you may find yourself out and about having forgotten to hydrate or eat. Keep a high-protein snack in your car or bag as well as a water bottle at the ready to avoid this.

The most important advice for this time of year is really just to give yourself a break. Don’t have enough time to make cookies from scratch? Get some from the store. Too tired to go to a third family holiday dinner? Send your regrets and relax. Caught up worrying if people are having fun at your party? Assume they are and catch up with a friend or family member instead.

All of these are hard to put into practice, but you’ll be thanking yourself come January if you’ve been able to find the joy in the holiday season.

Tips for this article were taken from:
Psycology Today
Lifehack.org
Motherly

FDA Joins Modern Nutrition Thinking With Updates

Which afternoon snack do you think is healthier: a handful of almonds or a handful of Frosted Flakes?

According to the Food and Drug Administration’s current definition of the word “healthy,” you should grab the Frosted Flakes.

The agency announced this month that it will be reevaluating its regulations on which foods can be labeled “healthy,” as well as other nutrient claims, after decades of evolution in the field.

 “Just because a food contains certain ingredients that are considered good for you, such as nuts or fruit, it does not mean that food can bear a ‘healthy’ nutrient claim,” FDA spokeswoman Lauren Kotwicki wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times.

Current food regulations reflect the more simplistic views from the 1980s and 1990s. As such, food can only be marketed as healthy if it meets five criteria: fat, saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol and beneficial nutrients, such as Vitamin C or Calcium.

When the term “healthy” was first officially defined in 1994, low fat content was the primary focus for health professionals. Sugar content, processed chemicals and sodium levels were not yet on the FDA’s or most nutritionists’ radar.

For this reason, foods like Kellogg Co.’s Frosted Flakes and Pop-Tarts and Campbell’s SpaghettiOs can be marketed as healthy. Though they are all still high in sugar and processed chemicals, they meet all the current criteria, as they are low in fat and are fortified with vitamins.

Meanwhile, foods like salmon, avocado and almonds could not be marketed as healthy under the current regulations, because of their high content of fat per serving.

Kind, makers of the fruit and nut bars, discovered firsthand how outdated the FDA’s regulations are when they received a warning letter to stop using the word healthy on its packaging. As most of Kind’s bars are made with almonds and other nuts, they do not meet the requirement for low fat content.

Kind has since petitioned the FDA to change the requirements and has received support from doctors, dietitians and lawmakers around the country.

“We very much hope the FDA will change the definition of healthy, so that you don’t end up in a silly situation where a toaster pastry or sugary cereal can be considered healthy and a piece of salmon or a bunch of almonds cannot,” Kind Chief Executive Daniel Lubetzky said in an interview.

Congress is pushing the FDA to make this issue a priority, as it affects how agricultural companies can market their products in the future. However, the process will still likely take several years.

If the FDA changes the definition, it will first propose updating the “healthy” definition, followed by a comment period for food makers and the public to submit their ideas and research what “healthy” means. Then the FDA will present its proposed rule change, followed by another comment period, the final rule and an implementation period to give food makers time to comply.

It would serve as a test case in a long list of necessary FDA regulation updates surrounding nutrition — changes many nutritionists agree are finally time to make.

New Cases Of Diabetes Finally Decline In The U.S.

The message was clear: obesity and the resulting cases of diabetes were harming millions of Americans. Changes in lifestyle and eating habits had to be made.

And it appears many citizens actually listened.

Finally, after decades of what appeared to be an insurmountable number of reported cases, rates of diabetes in the United States have declined.

The number of new cases fell by about 20 percent from 2008 to 2014, according to research at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s the first consistent drop since the disease started to explode in the country about 25 years ago.

The decline has been slow, so gradual over the years, in fact that the drop was not statistically meaningful until new data from 2014 was released. They showed there were 1.4 million new cases of diabetes in 2014, down from 1.7 million in 2008.

“It seems pretty clear that incidence rates have now actually started to drop,” Edward Gregg, a diabetes researcher for the CDC said to the New York Times. “Initially it was a little surprising because I had become so used to seeing increases everywhere we looked.”

Experts cannot yet confirm if the change can be attributed to the increased efforts to prevent diabetes or if the disease has peaked in the population. But the shift is consistent with recent progress reported in the overall health of Americans.

The amount of calories consumed daily by the typical American adult, which peaked around 2003, has declined consistently for the first time since federal statistics began tracking the information more than 40 years ago. Children are also consuming on average about 9 percent less calories per day.

For the first time since the late 1990s, the amount of full-calorie soft drinks Americans are consuming has declined by about a quarter. All of this has likely contributed to the marked halt in the rise of obesity rates for adults and school-aged children.

Americans will need to continue with these trends, as experts say the number of people with diabetes is still more than double what it was in the early 1990s.

“It’s not yet time to have a parade,” Dr. David M. Nathan, director of the Diabetes Center and Clinical Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, said to the New York Times. But he noted, “It has finally entered into the consciousness of our population that the sedentary lifestyle is a real problem, that increased body weight is a real problem.”

10 Tips For Staying Healthy During The Holiday Season

Happy Thanksgiving from ClaimLinx!

The upcoming holidays are a wonderful time to relax, enjoy family and indulge in the traditional tasty foods of the season: spicy pumpkin pie, creamy mashed potatoes, sweet honey ham and cold creamy eggnog.

But it’s important not to indulge too much. Although the average weight gain during the holiday season is only one pound, statistics show most people do not lose that pound during the year.  So that one pound can really add up year after year.

Keep the extra holiday weight off this year with these 10 tips from dieticians and nutritionists.

  1. Make holiday treats year-round – Prevent some of the “last-chance” eating we all do during the holidays by setting dates to make holiday favorites during other parts of the year: green bean casserole in February, pumpkin pie in March.
  2. Don’t be fooled – Many holiday foods seem healthy on concept, with ingredients like sweet potatoes, green beans and Brussels sprouts. But if vegetables are covered in cheese, butter or sugar, they’re no longer the healthy options. It’s important to treat these dishes like the indulgences they really are.
  3. Break out the skinny jeans – Loose clothing, stretchy waistbands and relaxed fit sweaters encourage everyone to overeat. For your next party, squeeze into your skinniest jeans, from-fitting dress or slim-fit suit. You’ll look good and your outfit will be a subtle reminder not to indulge too much.
  4. Catch those Zzzs – Busy holidays schedules, travel and all that shopping sometimes keep people from their regular sleeping schedules, but getting a consistent six to nine hours of sleep helps the body regulate hormones, recover from workouts and prevent sickness.
  5. Detox after the season is done – Over time, our bodies adapt to “hyperpalatble” foods, those stuffed with fat, salt and sugar. By eating these foods, we erode the body’s ability to taste subtler flavors. When the holiday season is over this year, try going just seven days without these foods and your old taste buds will return.
  6. Arrive for the party, not the food – Remember that the holiday season is more about socializing than eating. Try eating a lean meal before a party so that you are full when you arrive and you can enjoy others’ company.
  7. Set down the fork – Next time you’re eating with friends or family, try setting your fork down after each bite. You will naturally slow down your eating and be more aware of when you are full.
  8. Chug, chug, chug water – Don’t confuse hunger with thirst. You may continue to snack without ever feeling satisfied. Try drinking half your body weight in water, so if you weigh 140 pounds, drink 70 ounces of water.
  9. Splurge on your loves, not your likes – Don’t pile your plate high with foods that don’t make your taste buds soar. Choose only foods that you truly enjoy. Most often, you won’t miss munching on the foods you don’t adore.
  10. Set a treat day – The biggest mistake during the holidays is continuing the unhealthy habits. Be sure to keep your treats to only one day during the week.

For even more tips, read the article this information was taken from.

5 Surprising Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Happy Halloween from ClaimLinx!

This time of year brings with it one of tastiest seasonal foods: Pumpkin. This year, chow down on those seeds or bite into that pie with a little less guilt. Pumpkin actually contains these 5 surprising health benefits:

1. Skinny Food – In the perfect combination, pumpkin is rich in fiber and low in calories. That means it keeps you full without expanding your waistline.

2. Happy Heart – Nuts and seeds, including those from pumpkins, are packed with phytosterols, which studies show reduce LDL, or “bad” cholesterol.

3. Mood Booster – Pumpkin seeds are also rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which is a vital ingredient in the production of the serotonin, the body’s mood elevation chemical.

4. Stay Healthy – Your favorite fall treat, just like oranges, are a solid source of the essential nutrient Vitamin C, which helps to ward off sickness.

5. Power Up – Perfect for after a tough workout, pumpkin is full of the nutrient potassium, an important player when it comes to restoring the body’s electrolytes.

Just remember when we’re talking about the benefits of the pumpkin, we’re talking about the seeds and pure pumpkin. Those sugary treats flavored with pumpkin won’t pack the same healthy wallop. But we won’t tell, if it’s just a taste …