Moody News and Favorite Fit Finds!
For my birthday this year, my parents bought me a lamp with a full-spectrum bulb in it - you know, the kind that mimics natural sunlight. That sucker's pretty neat! It's no wonder they use full-spectrum lighting to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder, it's like happiness on a dimmer switch! It took me a little while to get used to the blue-ish, white light versus the standard slightly yellow (for lack of a better color description) lighting emitted from a regular household light bulb, but I've come to really enjoy turning that baby on full-blast and letting it shine down on my insanely pale, sick-and-tired-of-winter face. And since sunlight is a stimulus for regulating our circadian rhythm (the 24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings - uhh...also known as our body's ebbs and flows), having a full-spectrum light bulb in the house while Mother Nature gets this cold stuff out of her system is like getting a mood lift!
You see, I'm not a winter person. I do not enjoy the hibernation-like state that cold weather puts us all in, nor do I like the bad moods people seem to be in all winter long. Unless I'm snow-shoeing, on a snow mobile, or in a cabin in the mountains, snow is simply useless to me and is only there to make everything a muddy mess as soon as it melts away, especially my white dog. If you feel this way as well, you may be in need of some serious mood therapy right about now, so I present to you some interesting and helpful info about how to balance your moods with food from the folks at WebMD! I'm including some tid-bits from the article below, but definitely check it out here for the full article (a short read) because it's great stuff! Unless, of course, you'd rather be a Moody Molly and sit in the corner and sulk. But if that were the case you wouldn't be reading this blog, would you?
So here you have it, Recommendations for Managing Moods:
- Maintain a stable blood sugar, no big swings. This means frequent small meals and snacks, every four hours or so.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Exercise 20 minutes a day for mood -- and an hour for fat-burning.
- Do not follow an extremely low-fat diet (quick weight loss is also bad for mood, Heller says). Fat is needed for anti-depression. Stick with polyunsaturated and monounstaurated fats and fatty fish or flaxseeds, which are full of healthy omega-3 fats.
- Take in tryptophan, an amino acid that makes blood sugar accessible to the neurotransmitters. This means milk or turkey. Eat a carb alongside your tryptophan source for better absorption.
- Have breakfast (Crystal's note: HAVE BREAKFAST NO MATTER WHAT MOOD YOU'RE IN!!).
- Spend time in the produce department when you shop (try to eat a lot of bright colors, which means fruits and veggies).
- Pass on food items that come wrapped in crackly cellophane.
- Limit coffee.
- Don't eliminate any one food group, such as carbs.
More Good News!
I come across some pretty special things in my continuous hunt for neat, nutritious things, and I promise to share them with you as I find them. Right now I've got a Top 6 list (it's a nice round number) of my must-haves. These are items I have come to know and love and are ALWAYS on my grocery list. They're my Favorite Fit Finds!
1. Ziploc Zip'n Steam Bags
In a word: Fanfreakin'tastic! I've been raving about these to anyone who will listen. These are the coolest things ever for making healthy meals on the go! I'll throw in some asparagus, a drizzle of honey and some garlic, nuke it for 3-4 minutes and voila! You can steam everything from veggies, potatoes, fish, chicken, the list goes on. They even include cooking times on the bag for your extra convenience. Coolest. Things. Ever. And no, I'm not getting paid to say that. But it would be neat if I were!
2. Stevia Sugar Substitute
Hate aspartame and saccharin? Stevia is a sweet herb and it's actually labeled as a dietary supplement but you can buy it in individual packets much like you do Splenda or Sweet'n Low, only it tastes MUCH better and is all-natural. I add it to teas and coffee or anything that you would normally add sugar to. You can find it in health food stores and can even buy the Stevia Extract version, which is still in individual packets but it guarantees no aftertaste. Calorie-free, baby!
3. Laughing Cow Light Cheeses
A cheese lover's must! Laughing Cow makes spreadable light cheeses that taste like they have loads of fat but they don't! At 35 calories and about 2 grams of fat for 1 wedge, you've gotta give 'em a try. I spread them on crackers or even use them in sandwiches and in recipes. There's Light Garlic & Herb, Light Swiss Original, and Light French Onion. They should be located next to the gourmet cheeses in your local grocery store.
4. Quaker Simple Harvest Instant Multigrain Oatmeal
The best oatmeal ever, in my opinion! Most instant oatmeals have loads of sugar in them so they just send your blood sugar levels into dive mode later on in the day. The Quaker Simple Harvest oatmeals are not that way. They come in 3 flavors but the Vanilla, Almond and Honey and Maple Bown Sugar with Pecans are my favorite (granted, I haven't tried the Apple Cinnamon one yet because I'm hooked on the other two). Add some cinnamon on top and eat along with fruit (or slice a banana on top) and you've got a balanced breakfast!
5. Pure Canned Pumpkin
This should be high up on the cheapest and healthiest list, if there is such a thing. 40 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 5 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein for a 1/2 cup of this stuff. Wow! I actually add a couple spoonfulls to my oatmeal (see above) before cooking it and it gives it a comforting, creamy flavor. Good stuff!
6. Tofu Smoothies
I know what you're thinking. "Tofu?! Gross!" Don't knock it 'til you try it, my friend! Actually, you can hardly taste any tofu when you add it to smoothies. I buy the soft tofu and blend about 1/4 cup of it into a shake just to get a creamier and heartier texture. It's also loaded with protein, which will fill you up and keep your muscles happy after a workout. Just blend some fruit, honey, milk and add the tofu and see for yourself!
There you have it, your first installment of my Favorite Fit Finds. I promise there will be many more!
Have a healthy and happy weekend!