How to Replace Sweets With Healthy Eating

Sweets, candy and others of its kind are empty calories, meaning they are high in calories with no nutritional benefit. Your body needs protein, vitamins and minerals to function efficiently. According to the World Health Organization, making health-conscious food choices can significantly reduce the risk of becoming obese, a condition that can lead to heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. Replacing sweets require lifestyle changes, but with a little creativity, you can make great-tasting snacks that are nutritious.


Start by making sweets less accessible. Easy access to sugary foods increases your likelihood to indulge in sweet snacks, so clear out all the junk food in your kitchen cabinets and fridge.


Stock up on healthy foods. Buy nutritious snacks, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and nuts and seeds. Consider fruit salads, carrot sticks and granola bars with dried fruit and mixed nuts for snacks.


Create a meal plan. By knowing what you are going to eat for the day, you are less likely to buy food at a convenience store. Place the meal plan on your fridge so you can see it every day.


Cook more often. Get into the habit of cooking nutritious, savory foods. Sweet foods require little or no preparation, making them an easy option for novice cooks. With culinary skills at your disposal, you will rely on sweet snacks much less.


Eat small meals regularly. Do not skip breakfast; instead, start your day with a fibrous meal such as oats with low-fat milk or muesli. Eat a light snack or a meal every two to three hours to curb snack cravings. Eat well-balanced meals with lean protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables.


Drink seven to eight glasses of water a day, as dehydration can cause sweet cravings. Sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger, increasing your desire to snack.

5 healthy food trends worth trying

 Lot of food trends emerge and evolve. Some-like clean eating and the growth in organics-have been awesome, while others, like processed, fat-free, sugar free, diet foods, have been downright dreadful. Fortunately, most of the current "it foods" are pretty amazing, with an overall emphasis on getting back to basics and tapping into natural health benefits. Here are five of my favorite currently in fashion, and how to include them into your eating repertoire.

I am a huge fan of nuts-I eat them daily and have long advised my clients to do the same. Undoubtedly you've seen headlines about research pertaining to almonds, walnuts, and pistachios, which have run the gamut from weight loss to heart and brain protection. 

I will remain a nut nut, but lately I find myself talking a lot about seeds, including chia, pumpkin, hemp, sesame, flax, and sunflower. Like nuts, these healthy plant fats provide antioxidants, minerals, fiber, and bonus protein, and they can be enjoyed raw or used in a variety of ways.

I add sesame seeds to slaw and stir frys, whip up chia seed puddings, blend ground flax seeds into smoothies, and sprinkle pumpkin, hemp, and sunflower seeds onto garden salads, roasted veggies, fresh or warmed fruit, hot oatmeal, and cold or hot whole grains, like quinoa and wild rice. Seeds are increasingly sprouting up in packaged products like whole grain crackers, cereals, bars, and bread, as well as butters-I currently have pumpkin seed, hemp seed, and sunflower seed butters in my pantry-and even in desserts and as dark chocolate covered treats.

I love this trend, and I'm hopeful that the interest will grow, and seed products will become more mainstream and easier to find.

Sprouted grains
Sprouted grains are hot. At my local markets I can buy sprouted grain bread, tortillas, English muffins, crackers, and cereal, as well as sprouted grain flour. So just what is a sprouted grain?

In a nutshell, grain kernels contain the raw materials needed to grow a new plant. When temperature and moisture conditions are just right, the kernel sprouts into a new baby plant, and sprout proponents believe that this version of grains offers extra health benefits.

Sprouting requires enzymes, which allow the baby plant to digest the starch in the kernel, to supply its fuel, and boost the plant's access to nutrients to promote its growth. Sprouted grain enthusiasts say that when we eat these plants, we'll enjoy the same benefits: easier-to-digest starch and more nutrition. And you still get the benefits of eating whole grains.

While I'll still keep eating and recommending "regular" whole grains, technically called "non-germinated" (right now black rice, purple barley, and red quinoa are three of my faves), I'm keen on this trend and excited to see how it develops.

Dairy alternatives
Before Whole Foods expanded out of Texas, I remember needing to go to my local indie health food store to buy any sort of "milk" that didn't come from a cow or goat. I even learned how to make my own plant-based milk by soaking nuts or seeds, pureeing them, then squeezing the liquid through a nut milk bag. Fun, but not very convenient.

Boy, are those days are over. Today, you can find milk alternatives in every mainstream supermarket, and even at discount stores. And that's just the beginning. With more people ditching dairy, or at least cutting back, a variety of plant-based, dairy-free products are emerging, including pea and hemp protein powder, as well as yogurt and ice cream made from coconut and almond milk, and we'll definitely be seeing more.

At this year's Natural Products Expo West, I saw algae milk, which isn't in stores yet, but it's another addition to the long list of milk substitutes, including options made from nuts (almond, hazelnut), seeds (hemp, sunflower, flax), and whole grains (oat, brown rice, quinoa). This trend is definitely ripe for more growth!

Natural functional foods
For years I've seen products engineered to provide functional benefits (like bars and shakes formulated with isolated nutrients) or foods bolstered with amino acids or vitamins they don't naturally contain. But these days the emphasis is on the functional benefits of whole foods that have antioxidants and nutrients built-in, courtesy of Mother Nature.

For example, beets enhance endurance, blueberries protect against the sun's UV rays, tart cherries reduce pain and improve sleep, a combo of tomato paste and olive oil has been shown fight wrinkles by boosting pro-collagen, and dark chocolate elevates mood by triggering the same sense of euphoria you experience when you're in love.

I can't get enough of this research, and passing it onto my clients and readers is one of the things I love most about my job. Stay tuned: There's a whole lot more of this trend to come. 24 Easy Food Swaps that Cut Calories 

Unusual superfood combinations
Adding spinach or kale to fruit smoothies has been hip for some time but these days, nutritionists, chefs, and health enthusiasts have been getting incredibly creative with combinations that may seem gross at first but they turn out to be delicious. Mish-mashes currently in vogue include veggie desserts, like eggplant cake, tomato ice cream, chocolate covered kale, and my very own vegan spinach brownie recipe.

At Expo West, I saw bars made with both dried fruits and veggies, plus savory spices, like turmeric, cumin, and chili pepper, and my favorite find was a cocoa and chipotle flavored hummus (trust me, it's amazing!).

I've been into this trend for some time now. My last book, S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim, included recipes for a pineapple almond peppercorn parfait, mango mint avocado smoothie, and strawberry avocado tacos garnished with cilantro and balsamic vinegar. 

If you're thinking, "No way!" give some of these odd pairings a try-you may be surprised just how much you like them, and mixing things up can be a great way to reignite your excitement about eating healthfully.

Salty snacks may speed up aging in overweight teens

Eating snacks high in salt may speed up cell aging in overweight teenagers, Counsel and Heal reported.

In a new study, researchers from the Medical College of Georgia sought to analyze the relationship between high sodium intake and telomere length.  Telomeres are the protective caps covering the ends of chromosomes, and they naturally shorten over time as people age.  However, harmful lifestyle habits – such as smoking and lack of exercise – can expedite the shortening of telomeres, ultimately speeding up the aging process.

The researchers recruited 766 people between the ages of 14 and 18, who were then split into groups depending on their sodium intake.  Participants who ate an average of 2,388 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day were categorized in the low-intake groups, while participants who ate an average of 4,142 mg/day were placed in the high-intake groups.  The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommends that most people consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.

Through their analysis, the researchers found that teenagers who were overweight or obese and had high sodium intake had much shorter telomeres than the teenagers who consumed less sodium.  However, sodium intake did not have an effect on telomere length in normal weight teens.

Given their findings, the researchers argue that lowering sodium levels should be a high priority for overweight teenagers.

"Lowering sodium intake may be an easier  first step than losing weight for overweight young people who want to lower their risk of heart disease," said Dr. Haidong Zhu, assistant professor of pediatrics at Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University in Augusta, GA. "The majority of sodium in the diet comes from processed foods, so parents  can help by cooking fresh meals more often and by offering fresh fruit rather than potato chips for a snack.

Which fats should you be eating?

Fat isn’t all bad. In fact we need fat in our diet for energy and vital functions such as brain and cell function and the body’s absorption of nutrients. Virtually all foods, plant and animal, contain some fat, so instead of thinking we should avoid fat our aim should be to get a healthy balance of it.

A healthy diet is comprised of no more than 30 percent of calories from fat and less than 10 percent from saturated fat.  For an average man consuming 2,000 calories a day, this equals no more than 60g of total fat and less than 20g of saturated fat a day. For women it’s 30 percent of calories from fat and no more than 10 percent from saturated fat as well. This number may be slightly higher or lower than the 60g of total fat depending in their calorie needs. Adolescents and children generally need a higher percentage of calories from fat because it is essential for proper growth and development. Toddlers ages 2-3 need 30 to 40 percent of their daily calories from fat, or 33-62g per day based on 1,000 to 1,400 calories. This number drops to 25-35 percent of calories from fat after age 4.  

There are three types of fat: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated.  

Monounsaturated fat is the healthiest and is linked to lowering the risk of heart disease and cancer.  When added in moderation to a healthy diet, these fats can lower the bad cholesterol in our bodies and raise the good. They are also a great source of Vitamin E, an antioxidant which many Americans need more of. Sources of monounsaturated fats include avocado, olives, almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds, canola and olive oils.   

Polyunsaturated fats are found mainly in plant foods and some sea foods, and they can provide moderate health benefits. There are two main classes of polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6, including essential fatty acids.  Oily cold water fish such as herring, salmon and mackerel are a good source of omega-3, whereas omega-6 is found mostly in plant foods such as walnuts, sunflower oil and rapeseed oil, which contain antioxidant vitamins that help protect against cell damage.

Saturated fat is the least healthy and it is found mostly in animal products such as meat, butter, cream, and lard. Eating a lot of saturated fat can increase the blood cholesterol, and high cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease, including heart attack, stroke and narrowing of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

A fourth type of fat – trans fats – also known as trans fatty acids – are made by adding hydrogen to liquid oil, which turns it into a solid form. Trans fat is doubly bad because it elevates “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels while decreasing “good” cholesterol (HDL), and this can raise your risk for coronary heart disease.

Due to growing health concerns action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has led makers of processed foods such as microwave popcorn, coffee creamers, packaged cookies, canned frosting and frozen pizza, to reformulate their products without trans fats.

Fight a UTI: Parsley tea

Lab research suggests why you should eat the parsley-sprig garnish on your plate (and then some): It's been shown to be an antibacterial force against the germs that cause urinary tract infections—even some of those that have demonstrated resistance to antibiotics. Next time you feel the dreaded twinge of a UTI, try this: Boil some water, steep a bunch of parsley in it for 10 minutes and then drink up, recommends Param Dedhia, MD, internal-medicine physician at Canyon Ranch Resort and Spa, in Tucson, Ariz. Repeat throughout the day.

Moderation in All Things

What comes to mind for you when you hear the word diet? If you’re like most people, you probably imagine eating carrot sticks, going to bed hungry, and giving up your favorite foods—and that's why so many diets fail. Most people just can’t tolerate those kinds of restrictions for very long.

The more you try to eliminate your favorite foods, the more feelings of discomfort, deprivation and resentment build up. This can result in bingeing on all the foods you’ve been denying yourself, undoing all your hard work in a single day. But even if you can avoid that problem, are you willing to eat like a rabbit for the rest of your life?

Studies show that 95 percent of people who follow a highly restrictive diet to lose weight will put the weight back on when they return to “normal” eating again. So what’s the alternative? How do you manage to lose weight without eliminating the problem foods and problem behaviors that made you overweight to begin with?

The alternative is moderation—in your eating and, perhaps most importantly, in your thinking.

What is Moderation?
On the surface, moderation simply means avoiding extremes. It involves finding strategies and habits that can be maintained over the long-term, without cycling between one extreme and the other.

At a deeper level, moderation is a commitment to balance and wholeness. It is rooted in the recognition that each person has many different (and often competing) needs, desires, abilities, and goals. Living up to your full potential means finding ways to incorporate all of them into your decision-making processes and choices.

Practicing moderation in your weight loss program begins with practical strategies, such as counting calories, measuring portions, learning about your nutritional needs, and planning healthy meals. Achieving a reasonable rate of weight loss (about 1-2 pounds per week) by combining a tolerable calorie restriction with exercise is the moderate way to go. Fad diets, eliminating food groups, severely cutting calories and using diet pills are just as extreme as completely denying yourself foods that you enjoy.

The idea is to follow a healthy, balanced, and enjoyable nutrition and fitness plan that you can stick with—for life. There’s no “ending the diet” or going back to “normal" eating or anything that will cause you to regain the weight you’ve lost. When you reach your goal weight, all you need to do is gradually increase your caloric intake to a level where you can maintain your weight loss.

Sounds simple, right?

Like many things, it's not quite as easy as it sounds. Chances are…you want results quickly. And you probably know that your current routine is problematic in one or more ways—too much fast food, sugar, or fat and not enough physical activity. Your natural inclination is going to be making big, sweeping changes to your diet and activity level right away.

In short, everything in you is clamoring for a very anti-moderate approach. You’re primed to play the extreme diet game, even though your odds of winning are less than five percent.

Moderate Your Thinking
To rescue yourself from your own impatience (and the clutches of the diet industry that feeds on it), you need to moderate your thinking. Here are two core concepts that will help you do that:

Concept #1: Food is not the enemy. There are no "good" or "bad" foods. True, some foods offer you a better nutritional deal than others. Refined sugar, for example, provides calories for energy but no other nutrients, while fruit is sweet but also provides vitamins and fiber in a low-calorie package. But refined sugar isn't evil or bad—it can have a place in a healthy diet. It's important to know what you need nutritionally and where you can find it, so you can take charge of balancing your needs for pleasure, nutrition, and fuel.

The Payoff: When you stop labeling foods as good or bad, diet or non-diet, you won't feel guilty when you eat a food that isn't on your "approved" list. Instead you'll have more energy to learn about nutrition and improve your ability to make informed choices. And you won't have to give up your favorite treats if you find ways to work them into your meal plans so they don’t interfere with your health goals. Without the guilt and deprivation, you’ll be able to break the pattern of cravings, emotional swings, and binges that defeats so many diets. Without all those "diet" rules to follow, you’ll learn to trust your own instincts and make good judgments.

Concept #2: Progress—not perfection—is important. To be successful, you don't have to always make perfect decisions and have perfect days where things go exactly as you planned. If you eat more or exercise less than you wanted to one day, you can make up for it over the next several days if you want, or you can just chalk it up to experience and move on. Remind yourself that what happens on any one day is not going to make or break your whole effort. This is not a contest or a race, where every little misstep could mean the difference between winning and losing. It’s your life—and you’ll enjoy it a lot more when you can keep the daily ups and downs of your eating and exercise routine in perspective.

The Payoff: By refusing to be a perfectionist, you can take most of the stress out of weight loss. You’ll see small problems as what they are—very small problems, not major calamities that mean you've blown it. You'll be able to find pleasure and satisfaction in the fact you’re learning as you go and doing a little better all the time. No more making things worse because your perfectionism caused you to write off the rest of the day or week after one little slip.

There are many more ways practicing moderation can help you both with weight loss and with creating your healthy lifestyle. Be sure to check out the new Wellness Resource Center for additional ideas on how to balance your life and meet all of your needs.

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