Childhood Obesity: The Epidemic and Cure

More and more children are becoming obese. While alarming, the cause is not surprising. Like adults, obesity in children results from the consumption of too many calories, leading to a BMI measurement that places them into a category beyond the ideal weight classification for someone their age and height.

The rising numbers are alarming because medical professionals are beginning to see younger patients presenting with high blood pressure, liver disease, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and more. While medical researchers continue to dig into potential treatment options for obese children, the primary treatment remains preventative.

If parents want to protect their children against the potential health consequences of obesity, they must take responsibility and control for incorporating a healthy diet in the home. Additionally, parents can help children maintain efficient physical activity every day — a minimum of one hour per day.

Exploring the Underlying Causes of Childhood Obesity

Not all factors of obesity stem from unhealthful eating; there are also genetic and medical conditions to consider before diagnosing the underlying problem. However, despite other contributors to weight gain, most cases of obesity, especially among children, stem from unhealthy foods and a sedentary lifestyle. Understanding the lifestyle and genetic predisposition of children will help determine the cause of the growing crisis of obese children. Still, it is not as simple as saying eat less and exercise more.

To understand the problem, it is necessary to break down obesity into several factors: behavioral, environmental, medical, and genetic. Behavioral factors contributing to weight gain include eating a nutrient-poor diet, consuming more significant portions, spending too much time in front of a computer or television, and spending too little time being active. Environment factors include access to junk food over healthy food and limited access to parks or physical activity. Genes also play a role in the risk of obesity, but they do not determine the outcome. Finally, certain medical conditions can contribute to weight gain, including specific treatments and medications for those conditions.

Is Childhood Obesity Really a Problem, or Is It Overblown?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 19.3% of children and adolescents or 14.4 million young individuals are considered obese by BMI measurements. While that number might not sound too jarring, it has tripled in the past 30 years and continues to grow.

Even among two to five-year-old children, the number is growing and is currently sitting at 13.4%. The percentage increases to 20.3% for children ages six to 11. These numbers are not overblown, and if they are anything, they are a favorable estimate, meaning real numbers are likely higher than these estimates. Additionally, those numbers only worsen when factored into the socioeconomics, with lower-income and minority communities showing a greater presence of obese children.

Something has to be done to curb the numbers and improve the health of children. Without intervention, children are sure to experience negative symptoms and consequences throughout their lives.

Symptoms and Consequences of Childhood Obesity

Children will suffer psychologically and physiologically from poor diets and sedentary lifestyles. In many cases, children begin to suffer from depression as they hit their teens. They may suffer from body-image issues. Additionally, they will experience greater health risks, including asthma, heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, cancer, and reproductive problems later in life.

Prevention is the most effective tool to prevent childhood obesity, meaning healthy eating and exercise. Parents must instill their children with a nutritional foundation to make the best choices as they get older.

Do you have any advice for concerned parents? Leave a comment.

The Benefits of Vitamin C For Your Skin: A Simple Guide

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory; it is these underlying advantages that result in comparisons of Vitamin C to the holy grail of skincare. The question: is there evidence to support the rumors? According to the research, vitamin C can brighten complexion, repair skin damage, prevent premature aging, heal wounds, and improve the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. If vitamin C is the holy grail, how do you take advantage of it?

Benefits of Vitamin C for Your Skin

Your body cannot make vitamin C on its own, which is why it is necessary to include the vitamin in your diet through foods or supplements. Vitamin C is capable of incredible things, including:

  • Counteracting sun damage

  • Improving overall immunity

  • Treating skin conditions, like psoriasis, acne, scars, wrinkles, and fine lines

How To Take Advantage of Vitamin C

If you have heard enough, it's time for you to make your skin glow. What you eat and apply can help you achieve that happy, glowing complexion of your dreams. Vitamin C can be found in sources such as oranges, grapefruits, papaya, lemons, limes, berries, and fortified cereals, like yogurt and granola. The highest food sources of the vitamin are found in citrus fruits. It is these foods that are particularly powerful when used as skin-care ingredients, which leads to the other source of vitamin C in topical treatments.

What Skin Conditions Can Vitamin C Help With?

In general, vitamin C can help reduce the effects of several conditions, including acne and premature aging. However, the full impact of vitamin C is achieved when you consume or use enough of it, and there are plenty of ways to get enough of the vitamin. If you want to consume vitamin C in your diet, focus on fruits and vegetables; if you want to include it in what you drink, look to orange juice. However, if you want to use vitamin C at high and effective levels, look to supplements and topical treatments. 

Vitamin C, when applied topically, accelerates collagen and elastin production. Using topical treatments helps to keep skin firm and plump, ensuring a youthful appearance and preventing premature aging. 

Every skin treatment requires adherence to the instructions to achieve desired results. However, before using any skincare supplement, check with your dermatologist to ensure your skin is capable of the regimen.

After following the basic steps of the vitamin C topical application, how do you ensure that you are getting the most out of this little beauty treasure? No matter the technique, choosing the right Vitamin C-based skincare products, the proper application technique, and making sure you are adding the proper amounts to your diet, you will be rewarded with improved, smooth, and glowing skin.

Obviously, vitamin C is not the only thing you need to ensure healthy and beautiful skin. A dermatologist can help you determine the right creams and treatments to achieve your best skin. However, vitamin C is a highly effective vitamin, and it does provide several research-backed benefits when applied or consumed correctly.

What do you think of vitamin C as a skincare holy grail? Leave a comment below.

Why I Am a Fiber Enthusiast

There always seems to be some new discovery in the world of health and nutrition, doesn’t there? Every so often, we hear about a new and exotic ingredient that can solve all our healthcare woes and help us finally slim down and enjoy optimal health. But what if the most effective solutions aren’t new at all?

I assert that fiber is one of the familiar ingredients we’ve highly underestimated in our society. While we’ve been searching for the newest and greatest health-promoting ingredients, fiber has been waiting around and hoping we’d slow down and notice its incredible health qualities. Unfortunately, 95% of Americans don’t get enough fiber in our daily diets. In fact, few of us come close to the recommended 20-30 grams of fiber we should be eating every day.

If you don’t know what fiber can do for your health and weight goals, you’re in for a surprise! Here are a few of the top reasons why I am now a fiber enthusiast.

Fiber Helps Maintain a Healthy Weight

Who doesn’t want to have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight? The battle of the bulge is a challenging one for many of us, which is why we should try to consume the recommended amount of fiber every day.

Foods that are high in fiber tend to fill us up more effectively than foods with little to no fiber. So if your current diet leaves you feeling famished all day long, the secret may be as simple as eating more fiber! High-fiber foods also tend to have fewer calories than the same volume of low-fiber foods.

Fiber Helps Lower Cholesterol Levels

It’s no secret that keeping your cholesterol within a healthy range can be challenging as you grow older But fiber can help. Studies reveal that foods high in soluble fiber (such as flaxseed, beans and oats), may lower “bad” cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein) and total blood cholesterol levels. It may even help reduce inflammation and blood pressure while it’s at it!

Fiber Normalizes Bowel Movements

Nobody likes to talk about their bowel habits, but if you struggle to stay regular, it’s time to eat more fiber! Dietary fiber softens the stool and increases its weight and size so it passes more easily. Eating sufficient fiber can also help you out if you tend to get diarrhea often because it absorbs the excess water.

Fiber Helps Control Blood Sugar

If you’re diabetic or pre-diabetic, eating high-fiber foods can slow down your body’s absorption of sugar and help control your blood sugar levels. If you don’t have diabetes, eating a healthy diet that includes sufficient insoluble fiber may help prevent you from developing the disease in the first place!

Fiber May Prevent Certain Diseases

We are all destined to die sometime, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fight for greater longevity. Consuming dietary fiber (especially cereal fiber) is associated with a reduced risk of death from certain diseases (such as cancer and cardiovascular disease).

How Much Fiber You Should Take

Here are daily fiber intake recommendations for adults (as provided by The Institute of Medicine):

  • Men (ages 50 or younger): 38 grams/day

  • Men (Ages 51 and older): 30 grams/day

  • Women (Ages 50 or younger): 25 grams/day

  • Women (ages 51 or older): 21 grams/day

You can determine how much fiber you’re getting each day by looking at food labels and looking up the nutrition information of foods that aren’t prepackaged (such as produce).

Good Sources of Fiber

There are a lot of delicious sources of fiber you can turn to if you need to increase your intake. They include:

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Whole-grain products

  • Vegetables

  • Fruits

  • Peas, beans and other legumes

It’s best to get your fiber from whole foods whenever possible. If you’re ready to start experiencing the many health benefits fiber can offer, start digging in to healthy, fiber-rich foods today!

The Fitness and Diet Routine of Jennifer Lopez: Motivation for Everyone, Especially Mature Women

Jennifer Lopez is an icon and a natural beauty. It is hard to believe that this mother of two is 52 years old and still rocking a six-pack. How does she find the time to balance her unbelievably busy schedule with exercise and a healthy diet when most people struggle to do one or the other? If you ask her and her trainers, it is a matter of dedication and perseverance — it also doesn’t hurt having access to some of the best personal trainers in the business.

Still, getting healthy and fit is attainable, but it requires discipline. Jennifer's routine and diet plan is something worth examining, but you also need to remember her routine is not your routine. It is an advanced fitness and health regimen designed for a world-class performer and entertainer. Do not beat yourself up if you find her routine unrealistic for your life and current fitness level.

Jennifer’s Exercise Routine

When it comes to exercise, J. Lo works out four to five days per week. Each workout day incorporates about an hour of her time, and it focuses on different body parts each session.

For session one, J. Lo might focus on abs. She’ll perform three sets of a combination of ab workouts:

  • 50 Rope crunches

  • 50 Hanging ab raises

  • 50 incline sit-ups with a 45-pound plate

In sets two and three, J. Lo performs fewer reps. Set two includes 35 reps and set three is 21.

Session two will include several lower body exercises. Some of the performers favorite go-to exercises include:

  • Supported lunges

  • Weighted leg presses

  • Single dumbbell sumo squats

  • Weighted hip thrusts into calf raises

  • Single leg extensions into weighted leg curls

  • Platypus walk

Finally, session three focuses on arms. Unfortunately, there is not much information on her arm workout, but her trainer has explained that Spiderman push-ups have been a part of her routine in the past.

J. Lo’s Diet

While J. Lo’s workout routine might seem overwhelming, her diet is also fairly strict. Her diet is built on high protein and fresh, whole foods. Her diet is nutrient-dense and does not leave a lot of room for treats. However, she does allow herself a cheat day once per week.

There are times when the star’s diet is hyper-regimented. When she is being super strict, she does not allow herself to eat sugar. She also avoids caffeine and alcohol, choosing to drink lots and lots of water instead.

Should You Try Jennifer Lopez’s Diet?

While everyone should strive to be as committed to health and fitness as J. Lo, her specific routine is not for everyone. If you are just starting your fitness journey, focus on the basics before diving into rigorous and demanding exercises.

One of the problems with jumping right into a celebrity routine is that you might not be ready for such a commitment, which can be counterproductive. Part of getting fit and staying healthy is staying motivated. If you try to join a routine that is too advanced, you might become discouraged.

Instead of focusing on celebrity routines, consider focusing on the basics of nutrition and making small life changes. By building habits over time, you are more likely to stay committed to healthy changes.

With all that said, if you feel up to a challenge and your doctor believes it is safe, go ahead and give J. Lo’s routine a shot. Keep in mind that J. Lo’s body is a result of years of dedication, and it will take time for you to see positive results from a similar workout.

What do you think? Will you give Jennifer Lopez’s routine a try, or will you start with something more manageable? Leave a comment and keep the conversation going.

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Brush Your Teeth Right After Breakfast

Hopefully, brushing your teeth is a staple of your morning and bedtime routines. (If it's not; it's past time to start!) Brushing at least twice a day like this is crucial for both your oral health and your overall health. While getting into a brushing routine that includes brushing first thing in the morning and last thing before lights out is great, it’s time to stop brushing your teeth right after breakfast. Here are three reasons why:

1. Your Morning Breath Is Trying To Tell You Something

Morning breath — or “dragon breath,” as my grandkids like to call it — isn’t just the side effect of a dry mouth. It’s due to the massive amount of bacteria that has quietly multiplied in your mouth overnight. In other words, your mouth is kind of gross when you first wake up and a literal breeding ground for tooth decay.

As such, most dental health experts recommend brushing your teeth before breakfast, first thing when you wake up. You might think of it like hitting the “reset” button on your mouth.

2. Your Mouth Needs Saliva, STAT

Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “Why in the world is more spit a good thing?” Three reasons:

  1. It eliminates harmful bacteria roaming around your mouth. After multiplying all night long, they’re running wild by sunrise.

  2. It helps breaks down what you eat. This takes stress off your teeth and jaws.

  3. Saliva plays a pivotal role in protecting your teeth by re-mineralizing your enamel.

Who knew spit was so essential to your health?

3. Many Breakfast Foods Are Acidic

If you must brush your teeth after breakfast, the American Dental Association strongly suggests that you wait an hour before doing the deed. The reason for this can be found on your breakfast table: Several breakfast staples, including coffee, sugary cereal, toast, citrus fruits and many juices are acidic. Brush your teeth too soon after the most important meal of the day, and you’re just spreading that acid around your mouth, helping it weaken your teeth and stripping off your tooth enamel with your very own toothbrush.

Unsurprisingly, this is terrible for your smile. It not only erodes your tooth enamel and damages your gums, but it also stops your saliva from beefing up your teeth’s natural defenses. Your teeth enamel is the hardest substance in your body, but even it can’t stand up to the potent combination of acid and bristles. Over time, enamel loss can lead to a host of undesirable side effects:

  • Yellow teeth

  • Higher risk of cavities

  • Increased tooth sensitivity when consuming hot, cold or super-sweet foods and drinks

  • Abscesses

  • Tooth loss

Tooth erosion isn’t reversible, either. Once that enamel is gone, it’s gone for good. Depending on how far things progress, you may need fillings, crowns, veneers and even a root canal or two to maintain your smile. While you wait to brush, drink plenty of water or pop a piece of sugar-free gum into your mouth to start safely precleaning your chompers.

Why Not Just Skip Breakfast?

This isn’t a healthy alternative to smart brushing. Your body needs those morning nutrients to propel you through your day. Instead of skipping breakfast all together, enjoy acidic foods in moderation and chow down on plenty of calcium-rich, non-acidic fare such as yogurt and chia seeds.

While we’re at it, it’s not smart to skip brushing your teeth, either. While brushing after breakfast is far from ideal, it’s better than leaving your toothbrush in the medicine cabinet until bedtime.

If you’ve been brushing your teeth right after breakfast for years — decades even — it can be hard to revamp your morning routine, but it’s worth it. Daily brushing right after your morning coffee or OJ can do more harm them good. Keep your winning smile — and your original teeth — by waiting an hour after eating breakfast to fire up your electric toothbrush.

What Your Poop Is Trying To Tell You

There’s virtually no way to have a conversation about poop that isn’t awkward, embarrassing or downright difficult. We all go, but most people — most adults, that is — don’t like to talk about it. The thing is, your poop can offer a wealth useful information about your health.

What the Color of Your Poop Means

If your stool is brown, that’s a good thing. If it’s brown with just a hint of green, that’s a sign that all is well, too. If your poop scoots further along the spectrum, though, it may denote trouble.

Green

Green poop isn’t necessarily worrisome, but it does mean that food is zipping through your digestive system too quickly. Green stool may also be the result of eating certain foods, especially dark, leafy greens that are high in chlorophyll, such as spinach and kale.

Yellow

If your stool is yellow, it may mean its fat content is too high. It could also be symptomatic of celiac disease or an inability to absorb nutrients properly.

White

Poop that’s white, pale or resembles clay in color is often the sign of a blocked bile duct.

Black

Things start getting more serious if your stool is black in color. While it could just be the result of iron supplements or eating black licorice, it could also point to a bleed in the upper part of your intestinal tract.

Red

Like black stool, red stool may indicate bleeding, only this time it originates from the lower intestine. It could also mean hemorrhoids or simply that you dined on beets, Gatorade or other red food and drink recently.

What the Shape of Your Poop Means

Your stool’s shape is just as revealing as its color, if not more so. In fact, it’s so informative that there’s a scientific scale for it called the Bristol Stool Scale. It identifies seven stool types:

Type 1: Hard Pellets

Small, hard pellets that are difficult to pass mean you’re probably constipated, but it should pass soon (no pun intended.) If you’re still blocked up after several days, however, it's important that you talk to your doctor.

Type 2: Lumpy Logs

This also means you’re constipated. Once again, your discomfort shouldn’t last long, but you can help speed things up by snacking on fiber-rich foods and drinking plenty of water.

Type 3: Cracked Logs

Despite the unappealing description, this is one of the two types of “perfect” poop you want. It should be soft, easy to pass and roughly 2 inches long.

Type 4: Smooth Logs

Stool that is easy to eliminate and resembles a snake or a hot dog is also normal.

Type 5: Soft Pellets

Small, soft pellets that are quick and painless to pass often suggest you need to add more fiber to your diet.

Type 6: Mushy Blobs

If your stool is super-soft and disjointed with jagged edges, it usually means mild diarrhea. Be sure to hydrate to replace lost fluids.

Type 7: Watery Nightmare

You have the runs, a.k.a. diarrhea. This happens when stool races through your digestive tract so rapidly that it never has the chance to form into a solid.

What It Means If Your Stool Floats

Stool that floats typically means one of two things: First, it may mean that it’s high in gas or water content, making it light enough to bob on the surface. Second, it could suggest that your body’s not absorbing nutrients well. Malabsorption like this is usually accompanied by constipation.

If watching your preschool grandchildren play a 14-hour soccer game sounds preferable to talking to your doctor about your bowel movements, you’re not alone. You also need to steel your nerves and have that talk. Stool that’s suspect is almost always trying to tell you something important about your health, and having a tête-à-tête about poop is just another part of the job for your physician.

Is Dairy Really the Best Way To Get Calcium?

Dairy has gone through a lot of marketing changes over the years. At one point milk was touted in commercials as the solution for everything from achieving smooth skin to fending of bullies (yes, really!) Remember the old slogan “Milk: It Does a Body Good” from the 1980s? Back then, milk could do no wrong.

But more recently, dairy products have started to get a bad reputation. Not long ago, dairy was blamed for a wide variety of problems, including acne, weight gain, digestion issues and more. So which is it? Is dairy a caped crusader or a masked foe? The answer is that it’s likely somewhere in between.

Though milk probably isn’t as miraculous as the 1980s led us to believe, it’s also not as bad as some modern activists try to convince us it is. One of milk’s primary health claims is that it strengthens bones due to its calcium content. While it’s true that dairy products contain calcium, are they really the best source of this important component of bone health? Surprisingly, the answer is no! Here are several foods that contain more calcium than a glass of milk (which contains about 300 mg of calcium).

Almonds

Who doesn’t love to snack on almonds? I know I do! I feel even better about it now that I know ¾ cup of almonds contains 320 mg of calcium. So if you’re trying to get more of this important nutrient in your diet, feel free to enjoy a serving of almonds each day. Just don’t eat too much, since these tasty little nuts are also high in calories and can derail your weight loss goals if you aren’t careful.

Kale

If you weren’t already convinced that kale is a superfood you should consume regularly, consider the fact that it’s packed with calcium. Though it can be hard to consume sufficient kale when it’s raw, cooking it makes it easier to eat more. Two cups of cooked or sauteed kale will provide your body with 359 mg of calcium.

Bok Choy

If you haven’t tried bok choy yet, you’re missing out! This delicious Chinese cabbage is a little reminiscent of broccoli in flavor, but it looks more like lettuce. Just two cups of this vegetable can provide you with 316 mg of calcium. Try chopping it up and adding it to salads or stir-fries.

Tofu

Like it or hate it, tofu is a great source of calcium. But you have to find the type of tofu that’s made with calcium sulfate. Extra-firm or firm tofu provides up to 300 mg of calcium per 6-ounce serving. The firmer the tofu, the more calcium it typically contains.

Calcium-Fortified Orange Juice

It’s usually best to cut back on fruit juices because they contain a lot of sugar and calories. But if you feel the need to indulge occasionally, choose orange juice that’s fortified with calcium. An 8-ounce glass of calcium-fortified orange juice can give you approximately 350 mg of calcium. It contains other healthy nutrients, too!

Canned Salmon (With Bones)

Before you cringe at the thought of eating salmon bones, hold on for just a minute! The bones in canned salmon are very difficult to detect because they’ve been softened by sitting in a moist can. The bones themselves are packed with calcium and are great for your body. Try eating canned salmon on top of a green salad, in rice bowls, or on top of pasta. It’s an effective and tasty way to improve your daily calcium consumption.

What do you think of this list of calcium-rich foods? If you don’t like dairy or are lactose intolerant, these are all great alternative foods to help you meet your daily calcium intake needs.

The 5 Best Vitamins for Your Joints if You’re an Active Senior

Often, I hear people say they’re surprised I’m so “active for my age.” I have to admit, there’s a big part of me that’s proud when I hear such things, and a small part of me that feels a little indignant. Why do people automatically expect the seniors in their lives to become fragile and immobile? I certainly don’t subscribe to that idea!

But I have to be honest. Within the past few years, I’ve noticed more joint pain than usual. So I decided to look into supplements (specifically vitamins) and learn which nutrients can help minimize my joint pain. I found out that these are the best vitamins for the active senior to take for joint support.

1. Vitamin D

I like to call Vitamin D the Captain America of the vitamin world. I mean, this guy is no lightweight! Vitamin D is touted to help all kinds of things, from general immunity to your mood. It turns out that taking a vitamin D supplement can also help relieve joint discomfort.

Vitamin D is great for bone health because it reduces inflammation in the joints and it helps your body absorb calcium (which is one of the most important components in your bones). If you’re not a fan of supplements, try getting more of this important vitamin from fish, whole milk (or fortified milk), cod liver oil, mushrooms, eggs and cheese.

2. Vitamin K

You’ve probably heard of vitamin D and how important it is for your health, but when’s the last time you heard someone say you should increase your consumption of vitamin K? Though it’s talked about much less than most other vitamins, vitamin K is essential for good bone formation.

This unassuming vitamin helps to make bones strong by activating proteins that help with bone mineralization and formation. It’s important to note that vitamin K deficiencies aren’t very common. Most people get enough vitamin K from their diets. Foods such as spinach, broccoli, eggs, liver, and strawberries are all high in vitamin K.

If you think your body could use a boost of this important bone-health ingredient, try supplementing with it. There are no known risks of taking too much vitamin K, but it is best to carefully follow the recommended daily intake instructions on your vitamin K supplement packaging.

3. Vitamin C

Scientists have done some research on vitamin C and its role in bone health, and the results are very interesting. It appears that vitamin C stimulates the cells responsible for building bone. It also enhances the effects of vitamin D on bone metabolism and aids calcium absorption. Who knew?

Vitamin C also plays a role in forming collagen (an important component of bones). Research also shows that this lovely vitamin may help prevent osteoporosis. So load up on these foods that are packed full of vitamin C: bell peppers, cruciferous vegetables, Guava fruit, kiwifruit, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and strawberries.

4. Vitamin E

You probably already know that vitamin E is really great for your skin, but did you know it can help reduce oxidative stress on joint cartilage as well? Some studies show that vitamin E helps reduce joint pain more than nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs!

Foods high in vitamin E include sunflower seeds, nuts, avocado, salmon, mango, kiwifruit, and wheat germ oil. Add these foods to your diet or supplement with vitamin E to boost joint comfort and health.

5. B Vitamins

B vitamins are great for energy, and they can also help reduce joint pain. Vitamin B12, in particular, reduces the amino acid homocysteine (which is usually high in people with rheumatoid arthritis). You can get vitamin B12 from organ meats, fortified cereal, beef, and tuna.

So there you have it! A list of delicious, natural foods that are packed full of joint-healthy vitamins. Try to incorporate these foods into your diet and consider supplementing with the above-mentioned vitamins if you think you’re deficient.

The Problem With Beach Body Diets and the Unrealistic Beauty Ideal

People commit to losing weight fast every spring and summer using beach body diet plans — not to be confused with specific brands. Consequently, you see many people choosing unhealthy fad diets in the hopes of looking good in a bathing suit.

The Nagging and Unrealistic Pursuit of Ideal Beauty

Before diving into the consequences and problems with fad dieting, it is necessary to discuss the idea of beauty. As women age, they must come to terms with their bodies changing and no longer looking like bikini-clad supermodels. In all honesty, how many women can even live up to those male- and industry-driven preferences even when in their 20s and 30s?

At some point in nearly every woman’s life, she acknowledges a discrepancy between actual and perceived beauty. Natural beauty is attainable, and it is about making your best life through healthy physical, dietary, and mental decisions. Perceived beauty is unrealistic and can encourage negative stigmas and behaviors, including eating disorders and body shaming. Unrealistic expectations and the pressure to be viewed as attractive in a magazine or Hollywood sort of way are the primary motivation behind rapid weight loss and fad diets.

While women typically lead the charge in the beauty debate, men are also affected. The pressure to present outward attractiveness regardless of the methods used to achieve it is a societal problem. People need to take to heart the idea that beauty is more than a number on a scale or flawless complexion; it is confidence and self-respect.

The Unsustainable Fads of Beach Body Diets

Beach body diets are typically focused on restriction and elimination. Dieters are expected to reduce their calories, typically beyond healthy limits, and eliminate specific foods or food groups. Through caloric disparity and nutritional sacrifice, weight loss is inevitable, and when compounded with aerobic routines, it is easy to make promises.

Unfortunately, these fad diets are not sustainable, and their effects are not long-lasting. If a person commits to the four weeks or another timeframe, they will lose weight. However, if they do nothing to alter their relationship with food and exercise, the pounds will return, and in some instances, more than before.

Fad diets tend to wreak havoc on your metabolism, and consequently, it may never return to normal. Instead of choosing a fad for rapid weight loss, select a sustainable diet, focusing on nutrition and healthy activity. True, you may not lose at the same pace as other fad diets, but you will lose healthily and sustainably, resulting in a lifestyle change rather than a temporary fix.

Real Change Starts With Realistic Objectives

If you are ready to lose weight and get fit, restrictive diets and fads are counterproductive. They require too much sacrifice too quickly, leading to motivational issues and potential feelings of inadequacy.

Real change starts with minor adjustments, like eating more vegetables or drinking less soda. You want to build healthy habits. Before starting any new diet, take your time to prepare for the change, allowing you to build confidence in your decision.

What is your experience with fad diets? Leave a comment and let the community know what worked for you and what didn’t. Do you think fad diets are helpful tools in permanent weight loss or sustained weight management?

5 Healthy Snacks Everyone Can Enjoy

Hanger is real, and it is a problem. However, rather than letting your worst angels take advantage of you when you feel ravenous, it is better to save your family and have a snack.

While most people turn to homemade snacks without the preservatives and added chemical ingredients, you will not always have time to make a snack from scratch, which means you will need some store-bought options mixed with handmade selections.

Finding Healthy Options

When looking for healthy snacks, you will still need to focus on ingredients, even if you resort to store-bought selections. There are several things you will want to keep an eye out for, including:

  • Added Sugars
  • Calories per serving
  • Low-nutrient value

When selecting your snacks, look for items high in protein and fiber. Both items ensure the snack is filling, especially when several grams of each are included. Additionally, you want your snacks to have whole grains and complex carbohydrates, which are satiating and provide energy.

Selecting the Best Snack Options

When it comes to healthy snacks, you will receive a decent balance of nutritional balance and satiation. There are at least four healthy snack options for you and your family to enjoy.

1. Fruit

One of the best snacks for any diet is fruit. Fruit packs a powerful nutritional punch, and it often pairs well with grains or nut butter. For example, snacking on apples or bananas with a bit of peanut butter or almond butter provides a well-rounded and filling snack. Or, you can try upping your intake of antioxidants by choosing berries and pairing those with almonds.

2. Granola Bars

Not all granola bars are created equal. When looking for options at the grocery store, be sure to read the ingredients and nutrition label. Many companies sell granola snacks under the guise of healthy food, but when you review the labels, the items are swimming in added sugar and preservatives.

Some of the best commercial granola bar options include brands like Kashi, KIND, and RXBar. However, if you would rather make your own, there are plenty of recipes online — peanut butter granola bars are delicious.

3. Yogurt and Granola

An excellent combination snack, yogurt and granola is often reserved as breakfast food, but why? It is a readily available mix that you can grab from the fridge at a moment's notice. Additionally, it is a protein-powerhouse.

As with most snacks, however, you want to be careful when buying yogurt, watching the labels for added sugars. If you don't mind a bit of extra work, you can look for plain yogurt and add your own sweetness using maple syrup or honey.

If you are interested in making your own granola, you can, again, look online. There are so many health-conscious people out there putting up healthy granola recipes, some using crockpots and other more traditional or quick methods.

4. Roasted Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a high-protein snack on their own, but roasting these tiny beans creates a crispy, crunchy, addictive delight. While you can roast your own chickpeas, there are many brands, like the Good Bean, that sell crunchy chickpeas in a variety of flavors.

The beauty of this snack is one serving is equivalent to the fiber intake of two cups of broccoli, the folate intake of three cups of spinach, and equal to the protein of a serving of almonds — all that nutritional power in an on-the-go snack.

Do you have a favorite healthy snack? Leave a comment below explaining your answer.