If you’ve experienced coming home from a stressful day at work and turning to food as a way to cope, you are not alone. For some, certain foods can evoke a sense of comfort, but when your body is getting mixed messages, such as being fed when it’s not physically hungry, this can lead to a pattern that can thwart your healthy eating intentions and weight loss goals. If you identify with this scenario, chances are you’ve experienced emotional eating—eating for other reasons than physical hunger.
Emotional eating isn’t really about food. It is a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, including anger, anxiety, boredom, fear, loneliness, and sadness.1 Daily stresses may lead to emotional eating, but so can major life events, so self-awareness is very important during any stressful scenario, whether it be spilling a carton of milk all over the kitchen floor or dropping your child off at college.
Is Emotional Eating Harmful?
As you can imagine, using food as a coping mechanism long-term is not a healthy strategy to manage stress and other negative emotions; it doesn’t address the real emotional need and it can lead to unwanted extra calories, as it can be almost automatic to gravitate toward the quick, high-calorie foods when in distress.2 These types of foods usually lack nutritional value, and it can be easy to consume a significant number of calories in a short period of time. Repeating this type of behavior often may lead to weight gain which could increase the risk of other serious health problems, such as diabetes, fatigue, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.3
How to Identify Emotional Eating
You may not realize you’re an emotional eater, but there are clues to help you figure out whether you may be turning to food for comfort. One of the signs of emotional eating is eating until you’re uncomfortably full.4 Although overeating happens sometimes, doing this regularly may suggest that you are eating for a reason other than hunger.
Another indication of emotional eating is if you’re not sure why you’re gaining weight.4 While it can be easy to assume that you need to hit the gym more often—you should also consider your emotional state and whether it’s affecting the way you eat.
Tips to Identify Emotional Eating
If you think you may tend to eat due to emotion rather than hunger, there are alternative, healthy ways to help manage your feelings. And please talk to your healthcare professional if you are experiencing eating issues that you think are tied to your emotions and you or your loved ones have concerns.
Monitor Your Thoughts & Feelings
Start by actively paying more attention to your thoughts and feelings. If you’re tempted to reach for a pint of ice cream whenever you’re feeling stressed or anxious, take a minute to internalize your true feelings. Is it hunger that is making you reach for the food, or is something else bothering you? Try listing out your feelings and emotions on paper. A lack of awareness may contribute to emotional eating5, but understanding your feelings and thoughts may help you learn how to cope with them. Keeping a food journal may also help you spot patterns in your mood and eating habits.
Once you identify how you’re feeling and what situations may trigger stress, you can try and change your response. If the stressor is something you are having trouble alleviating and you think it’s impacting your health and well-being, please see a trained health professional who can help support.
Take A Pause
It may also help to pause when you feel the urge to eat during a stressful or emotional situation. During this time, you can check in with your feelings and body to determine if you’re hungry or whether you’re tempted to eat for another reason.
If you find that you’re eating in response to stress, try to incorporate stress management techniques like yoga or meditation. If boredom is the cause, distract yourself with something healthier. A few ideas include watching a movie, taking a walk, or calling a friend.
No matter the cause, it can be helpful to remove temptation from your pantry. Swap chips for crunchy veggies in your fridge, replace ice cream with fresh berries for a sweet treat.
Although it may seem like a difficult task, you can work to edit your emotional eating habits. You may experience setbacks on your journey, but don’t give up—learn from them and focus on the positive changes you’re making in your life!
If you are interested in learning more about Jenny Craig, book your free appointment and get started today!
Before I sat down to write this article, I searched high and low for my glasses, looking in every imaginable drawer, upturning couch cushions, even taking a furtive peek in the refrigerator. Well, it turns out my readers were perched smack-dab on top of my head, as my kids were all too happy to point out. And I have zero recollection of how they got there.
Granted, I am in the middle of moving, and as anyone who has been through such an aggravating experience can attest, stress can cause a fair amount of distraction, perhaps even a lapse in memory.1 But is there anything you can do, beyond managing your stress, to help improve your memory? Turns out there is.
Read on for eight ways to keep your memory sharp—and your glasses, your keys and the remote control where they should be.
1. Follow your circadian rhythm.
Not only does eating according to your circadian rhythm—the body’s natural 24-hour cycle that follows light and darkness—assist with weight loss2, it also can improve many aspects of your health, affecting hormone release, digestion, depression and more.3
In addition, research4 suggests that the circadian system has a “pronounced influence” on memory and learning. Researchers also have found a link between disturbances in circadian rhythm and Alzheimer’s disease, although they note that they are unsure whether disrupted rhythms increase the risk of the disease, or if the disease itself causes disrupted rhythms.5
So do as your ancestors did: Rise (and eat) with the sun, sleep when it’s dark and avoid late-night snacking … not only will your waistline and your overall health thank you, but so may your memory.
2. Go for a walk.
In a study6 of older women with probable mild cognitive impairment, aerobic exercise improved spatial memory and significantly increased the volume of the hippocampus, the part of the brain involved in memory and learning. A few simple ways to sneak more cardio into your day: take a walk on your lunch break, choose the stairs instead of the elevator or park at the back of the lot when running errands.
3. Eat your spinach.
Research7 suggests that folic acid, (the synthetic version of folate, which is a naturally-occurring B vitamin found in dark leafy green vegetables), may improve cognitive function such as memory and thinking skills. You can find folic acid in supplement form, or if you want to go the natural way, some of the best food sources of folate include spinach, asparagus and Brussels sprouts.8 Compliment your next lunch with a side salad made with spinach or add grilled asparagus to your next meal for an extra crunch!
4. Don’t forget the berries!
Evidence9 suggests that flavonoids, a group of compounds found in many plant-based foods, may help improve memory impairment. An extensive study10 of approximately 124,000 people, conducted over 24 years, also suggests that they could help with weight maintenance. Berries, grapes, broccoli, citrus and legumes are good sources; so are teas, particularly white and green.11
5. Get enough vitamin D.
Researchers suggest that increased levels of the “sunshine vitamin” may help improve memory, although they say more research is needed.12 Some good food sources include seafood such as tuna, vitamin D-fortified milk, yogurt, and eggs.13
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Giggle.
That’s right: Find something to laugh at. Not only does it make you (and others) feel good, but having a good belly laugh can help reduce the stress hormone cortisol.14 That, in turn, can improve your short-term memory, researchers have found.15
In a study16 of college students, researchers found that just two weeks of mindfulness training, such as meditation, significantly enhanced working memory. Reading ability and the ability to focus on tasks also improved after meditation.
8. Don’t Skimp on Rest.
Research abounds on the importance of sleep to your memory—more than a century’s worth, in fact. According to the American Physiological Society17, sleep is a brain state that optimizes the consolidation of memories. What’s more, sleep—specifically napping—can be especially good for the adolescent mind, improving so-called verbal declarative memory, a recent study found.18
As frustrating as memory lapses can be, keep in mind that they’re common among all ages and all types of people. And, by following the tips here, you’re making good progress toward keeping your mind sharp and your memory in top form.
Want more information on how eating according to your circadian rhythm can help you work towards your weight loss? Book your free appointment and start your journey today.
More than 30 million people in the United States have diabetes and 1 in 4 of them don't even know it.1 Though researchers are still working to gain a full understanding of Type 2 diabetes, certain factors are known to increase one’s risk of developing this potentially harmful condition. Some of these factors are out of your control, like your family history, age and where you carry extra weight,2 but some factors you may be able to control by changing some lifestyle behaviors.
The primary risk factor for Type 2 diabetes is obesity—something that can be controlled with education and the right support system.3 The more fatty tissue you have, the more resistant your cells become to insulin, the hormone that helps your body absorb and utilize sugar.2 With insulin resistance, sugar builds up in the bloodstream, ultimately wreaking havoc on all your body’s systems.2 So what can you do about it? Here are four natural ways to potentially reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
1. Eat Well
You likely already know that a healthy, balanced diet is essential to maintaining a healthy weight. And, as it turns out, the nutritional guidelines4 for people with a high risk of developing or currently living with Type 2 diabetes include recommendations that basically benefit everyone. So what’s the secret for healthy eating?
The American Diabetes Association recommends the majority of an individual’s carbohydrate intake should come from vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes and dairy products.3 Trans and saturated fats should be limited or avoided, while good fats (found in foods like olive oil and nuts) can be enjoyed in small amounts.3 In addition, added sugars should be limited, and an individual’s sodium intake should fall under 2300 mg per day.3
All of Jenny Craig’s menus, including our Type 2 diabetes menu, follow expert guidelines and are also suitable for those with Type 1 diabetes and pre-diabetes.
2. Move More
Keeping active is another component of maintaining a healthy lifestyle—regular exercise can help lower blood pressure, control your weight, tone your muscles, prevent bone loss, and improve your mood—to list a few of the benefits.5 But did you know: staying active could also help lower your blood glucose levels?6 When your muscles contract during physical activity, your cells can more efficiently absorb glucose and use it for energy—with benefits that can last up to 24 hours following each period of activity.7
3. Stress Less
You may associate stress with an increased heart rate, so it feels like exercise—but it’s actually having the opposite effect on your body. When your brain signals stress, your body reacts by releasing the hormone cortisol into the bloodstream.8 A holdover from our caveman days, cortisol is released during a “fight-or-flight” situation—and can slow other systems that aren’t needed during a crisis—including digestion.9 What’s more, cortisol can provide the body with glucose, which may lead to increased blood sugar levels over time.10 By finding ways to de-stress, you may be able to decrease your cortisol levels, potentially reducing your risk for developing diabetes.
4. Catch More Z’s and Follow Your Rhythm
Researchers around the world have long understood that lack of sleep can contribute to poor nutritional choices—which may, in turn, lead to weight gain.11 But recent studies have uncovered even more information: lack of sleep may disrupt your natural circadian rhythm, also known as your body’s internal clock, which can cause further health consequences, including a potential risk for developing diabetes.12
A recent study13 found that sleep disruption from rotating shifts, overnight work, artificial light and erratic eating patterns can affect our body’s internal clock mechanisms—and ultimately have an adverse effect on the way our bodies metabolize blood glucose. Further aggravation was caused by inconsistent bedtimes and eating just before bed—contributing to obesity, increased insulin resistance, reduction in lean muscle mass and a higher concentration of body fat.13
So how can you follow your natural rhythm? Start by trying to integrate a daylight nutrition strategy into your routine. Focus on eating during a 12-hour time period (for example, from 7a.m. – 7 p.m.) followed by a 12-hour break from the consumption of food or caloric beverages (this time includes sleep). During this rest period, your body has time to rejuvenate and “clean house”—repairing and regenerating cells so your body can optimally function the next day.14 Jenny Craig’s newest program, Rapid Results, incorporates this science-based daylight nutrition strategy.
For more information on how to lose weight and potentially reduce your risk for diabetes, book your free appointment today.
If you’ve dreamed up a way to make your Jenny Craig meal even more delectable, we want you to share your creation! Read on for tips to submit your recipe for a chance to win $2,500* plus other Jenny Craig goodies and potentially have your dish shared in our Simple Inspirations Recipe Book!
We’re excited to announce the fourth anniversary of our Simple Inspirations Recipe Contest, where you can choose from more than a hundred Jenny Craig menu items and add some flare with Fresh & Free Additions or Limited Foods to craft a new recipe that falls within your meal plan.
Think you’re our next culinary master? Before you enter the contest, read these tips to get ahead of the game and submit your best piece of work. Bon Appétit!
1. Do a Creative Brainstorm.
Do you have an idea to transform your Turkey Burger with unique fixings? Talk to your consultant to confirm your recipe’s ingredients fit into your menu plan.
For example, what kind of burger toppings are you including in your recipe? If you’re making veggies from our Fresh and Free Additions list—the more, the better! (Make sure they’re grilled or baked)
And just ensure your added foods are Jenny Craig-friendly!
2. Choose Your Category.
Is your dish best served in the morning or later in the day? There are four categories to choose from:
Snacks and Desserts
Fresh & Free Additions – (Jenny Craig Meal Not Required)
You don’t need to include a Jenny Craig food in your recipe, but you do need to use foods from the list of Limited Free Foods and Fresh and Free Additions.
3. Photograph Your Food from its Best Side.
Capture the quality—and appeal—of your recipe by taking advantage of natural light when snapping a pic.
A few photos tips:
Take multiple shots at different angles—the more, the better! Take shots from above and from the side.
Use natural lighting as much as possible and avoid using a flash.
Don’t worry too much about the background—your food is the star!
Try to use clean and simple dishware to showcase your delicious creation.
4. Record Every Ingredient & Every Step.
Start by listing out each ingredient used in your recipe (even your Jenny Craig menu item) along with the specific measurement. Then, outline your cooking instructions, including cook times.
5. Monitor your measurements.
Measure all your ingredients with standardized cups and measuring spoons. Be exact, especially with seasonings—there’s a big difference between 1/8 teaspoon (a pinch) and ¼ teaspoon of cayenne powder! Also, note pinches, dashes and “to taste” notes for finishing the dish, such as for salt and pepper.
6. Be specific about the type of ingredients.
Did you use a non-stick cooking spray or olive oil in your recipe? Did you use yellow mustard or Dijon? The taste and calories of your dish depend on your specifications.
7. Note how ingredients are prepared – for instance, fresh, frozen or canned.
Did you use fresh spinach leaves or frozen spinach, fresh tomatoes or a can of diced tomatoes?
8. When documenting preparation steps, be clear on how you cut ingredients.
With each ingredient, did you chop, slice or dice? Want the quick tour on each term? We love this simple guide to different cooking terms.
9. Outline your steps in order.
Is there a method to your madness? Let us know each prep and cooking step in chronological order so we can follow along!
Pro tip: be specific when in doubt. Record any and every step you take to ensure we can recreate your dish perfectly!
10. Have fun naming your creation!
Make it as appealing and fun to say as it is to eat!
Examples we love from our 2017 contest include: Very Berry Barscotti Parfait, Shake It Up S’More, Chicken “Zoodle” Soup.
Here’s an example recipe submission:
Very Berry Barscotti Parfait
Submitted by Jamie B. from Knoxville, Tennessee
Jenny Craig Cranberry Almond Barscotti, crushed
½ cup frozen cherry berry fruit blend
6 oz. nonfat Greek vanilla yogurt
Non-stick cooking spray
Turn stove on medium-low heat and spray skillet with non-stick cooking spray.
Cook frozen fruit over medium-low heat, until fruit softens and releases their juice, about 15 minutes— or to desired thickness.
Remove skillet from heat and let cool.
Layer crushed Barscotti bar in bottom of bowl, reserving 2 Tbsp of bar mixture for top of parfait.
Spread vanilla yogurt evenly over Barscotti crumbs.
Top yogurt with cooked fruit mixture and reserved Barscotti crumbs.
When filling out your submission, remember to:
11. Add each ingredient in separate lines.
List the ingredients in the same order as you name them in the preparation steps. If your recipe has more than seven steps, include further numbered steps in the “Additional Steps or Comments” field.
12. Include recipe prep time and cook time.
Prep time is the period you spend cutting and preparing all the ingredients. Cook time is when everything is transferred to the oven, microwave, or stovetops.
13. Specify heat levels.
Did you sauté, simmer, boil, bake at 350°, roast at 450° or broil at 500°? Name a prep time, plus a descriptor, for example: “Sauté onions for 10 minutes or until golden brown”.
Looking for inspiration? Check out one of last year’s winning recipes. We can’t wait to taste your creation — good luck!
*Open to legal residents of the US and Canada (excluding Quebec), 21 + who are members with a non-expired Jenny Craig program as of 7/9/18. Contest open 7:00 a.m. PT on 7/9/18 to 11:59 p.m. PT on 7/27/18. Void where prohibited. Prizes awarded on or before 10/31/18: 8 Winners receive $2,500 USD check or gift card, and Jenny Craig Goodies (ARV: $2,050 USD ea.) Sponsored by JC USA. See Official Rules (by which all entrants are bound) for online voting information and complete details at http://www.jennycraig.com/simpleinspirations or http://bit.ly/SimpleInspirationsContestRules
Ah, vacation. It’s the break most of us look forward to every year. A time when we can press pause on our busy lives and put our never-ending to-do list on hold. A time when we’re supposed to relax and recharge. However, because vacations take us out of our usual routine, staying healthy while traveling can prove challenging.
So how can you enjoy your break from reality without hindering your weight loss progress? We’ve compiled six healthy travel tips to help you stay on track—from eating healthy on vacation to staying fit while on the road. So that no matter where you are, you can feel good about keeping up your healthy lifestyle—while still enjoying everything vacation has to offer.
1. Be Conscious of What You Eat
If thoughts of vacation bring-to-mind decadent meals, you aren’t alone. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself in moderate amounts, being conscientious of the food you’re consuming during a trip can help you stay on track. Try to opt for healthy food choices the majority of the time—and load up on extra veggies when you can, so that you’re consuming good nutrients that help support satiety. When it comes to the occasional indulgence, try a couple of mindful eating practices—savor each bite and enjoy the experience with those around you.
It’s also common to eat out frequently while traveling or on vacation. And while you may try to choose the healthiest looking dish on the menu, restaurants typically serve high-calorie dressings and include extra cheese and butter in their meals.1 There are several tips for dining out while trying to lose weight, but a few simple ones include planning ahead, making substitutions and asking for the dressing on the side. Another tip: don’t be afraid to ask about the menu! It’s easier to make smart choices when you know what’s going on your plate.
2. Start Your Day with Breakfast
While there are numerous benefits of eating breakfast, one of the best reasons to fuel up in the morning is to potentially stave off hunger later in the day, furthering your weight loss efforts. By front-loading your calories, you may be less likely to reach for late-night snacks. One study found that those who ate more calories in the morning compared to those who ate more at night experienced almost a two and a half times greater weight loss.2
3. Sleep Well
While it may be tempting to stay up late and sleep until noon during vacation, it may not be doing your body any favors. When your sleep schedule is inconsistent it can affect your natural circadian rhythm, also known as your body’s internal clock.
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences defines circadian rhythms as one’s mental, behavioral and physical changes over a 24-hour cycle.3 The patterns are typically divided into two 12-hour periods, which are dictated by daytime and nighttime. Usually, you’re likely to follow this rhythm by being most active during daylight hours and then allowing your body to rest and recover during sleep. However, when you stay up late or sleep well into the day, you may be throwing off your natural rhythm.
What happens when your rhythm is out of whack? It may impact your health—chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and depression have been linked to irregular circadian rhythm patterns.4 What’s more, your circadian rhythm could affect your metabolism. One study found that people experienced a drop in their metabolism when they reduced their sleep to four hours a night.5
As tempting as it may be to throw caution to the wind when it comes to your sleep schedule on vacation, try to stick to a routine. Your body will thank you!
4. Stay Hydrated
Did you know your body is made up of almost 60% water?6 Staying hydrated not only helps keep your body functioning properly, it could also be beneficial for weight management.7 While it can be easy to forget to sip water when you’re on the road, try making a reusable water bottle your new travel companion. An added bonus: it may help you save money if you’re not spending it on plastic water bottles. Lastly, when thirst calls, try to avoid reaching for juices, blended drinks and regular sodas. These beverages are typically loaded with empty calories and sugar.8
5. Walk When You Can
Opt to walk instead of drive when you’re on vacation. Not only does walking help burn calories,9
but it can also be a great way to experience your destination. If you aren’t pressed for time and you’re in a safe area, skip hailing a cab and explore by foot!
Another way to sneak in exercise while traveling is to take the stairs. As tempting as it may be to hop in the elevator, taking the stairs is a quick and easy form of cardio that gives your heart rate a boost and gets your muscles working.10 It’s a practical way to keep active while you’re on vacation and you can do it almost anywhere!
6. Try Something New That Gets You Moving
Traveling is the perfect opportunity to try new things. If you’re on a tropical getaway, you can try snorkeling or paddle boarding. If you’re enjoying a winter escape, consider skiing or snowboarding. These activities can not only help you stay active, but you could also pick up a new hobby!
No matter what you do, or where you go, vacations are a chance to unwind and rejuvenate. Take the time to focus on you while staying on track with your wellness goals. Use these healthy travel tips for your next vacation or any other trip you may have lined up—they can work all year round.
Learn how Jenny Craig can help you get started on your weight loss goals whether it’s for your next vacation, a big event, or to live a healthier lifestyle. Book a free appointment to get started.
You’ve probably heard of the word “mindfulness,” but what exactly does it mean? Mindfulness involves maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of your bodily sensations, thoughts, feelings, and environment.1 It’s also a practice that may help improve your life and enhance your weight loss efforts.
Implementing mindfulness techniques into your daily routine may bring more than just awareness, they may also help with your weight loss journey.2 And while you can find a wealth of mindfulness techniques and tips online, it can be overwhelming to sort through all of them. So, to help take the guesswork out of determining which mindfulness tips are useful, we’re sharing our top seven. Read on to learn ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your everyday routine!
1. Get in Touch With Yourself
Part of mindfulness involves understanding your body and how you are feeling in the moment. Keeping a journal is a great way to track your eating habits and emotions and may even be a way to further your weight loss goals.3 Not only can journaling help you to become more mindful by providing you insights into your eating patterns, but it’s also a great way to de-stress.4
Keeping a written diary can also help you identify causes for emotions, such as anxiety and sadness which have the ability to impact your eating habits.5 Identifying these feelings can help you take steps to change any practices that aren’t positively serving you.
2. Avoid Digital Distractions
While we all live in a digital world, if you start your day by checking your phone, it might be beneficial to adopt a new morning routine. Instead of scrolling through your social media feed first thing, try something that will leave you feeling productive and accomplished.6 Going for a quick walk with your morning coffee is a great way to get your thoughts organized for the day, plus you’ll be sneaking in some activity!
The mornings aren’t the only time to limit your screen activity. Avoiding your phone during meals can help you eat more mindfully. When you’re distracted during a meal, studies have found you may tend to eat more.7 By focusing on the food in front of you, you’ll have fewer distractions, and it may help you savor your food and eat less.6
3. Take a Deep Breath
You’ve likely heard to take a deep breath when you’re stressed—and research supports this suggestion.8 Because food can be used as a way to cope with emotions, various stress-relieving techniques may help with weight loss.9
One great breathing exercise is diaphragmatic breathing. Begin by breathing in slowly, focusing on filling your belly, not your chest with air. Then, calmly exhale. Pause briefly before taking your next slow inhale. After a few of these breaths, you may feel much calmer.
4. Set Aside Time To Meditate
Adopting mindfulness meditation techniques may help you get in touch with yourself and the present moment. The goal isn’t to change anything, but to become aware of what is happening in the here and now.11 Think of it as living and focusing in the moment.
The best part about meditation is it doesn’t require any fancy equipment—you just need yourself and a quiet space.
Try this: find a peaceful place to sit, and then pay precise, but nonjudgmental attention to the details around you. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to your body and environment. Meditation will become more natural over time, and it can help you connect with yourself and your thoughts.
5. Find Acceptance
As important as self-improvement is, sometimes it’s just as valuable to find acceptance in our positive attributes. It’s normal to want to change some things about yourself or your life. But when we focus only on what we want to change, we can sometimes forget about our unique gifts—what makes you, you.
Focus on what you like about yourself—and surround yourself with people who accept you and share your values. This provides an excellent foundation for strong self-confidence and may actually help you achieve your goals.
6. Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating involves several components, including taking time to enjoy your food, eating more slowly to savor every bite and recognizing when you’re tempted to eat for reasons other than hunger.
When you practice mindful eating, you can shift your focus on enjoying foods that nourish your body. Being mindful can allow you to focus on your meal, helping you to enjoy your food even more!
7. Visualize Success
Your mind is a powerful tool, so use it to your advantage. If you feel discouraged, close your eyes and visualize yourself achieving your goals. Even when your aspirations seem out of reach, visualizing them can help you refocus and may bring you one step closer to accomplishing them.
Try one or all of these seven mindfulness tips—they may just help you along your weight loss and wellness journey. Remember, little changes can add up to make a big difference!
Are you interested in getting more support on your weight loss journey? Contact Jenny Craig today for a free appointment and see if a consultant can help you simplify.
For decades, nutritionists and other health professionals have focused on the importance of the calorie in weight loss – balancing the number of calories we consume with the amount of energy we burn. And while there is science and credibility behind this equation, recent research has found it may not be giving us the complete picture.1 We asked our Jenny Craig Nutritionist, Monica Ropar, to help explain why all calories may not be created equal and why maintaining a balanced diet is so important.
What is a Calorie, Anyway?
Simply put, calories are the energy your body needs to keep working, running, parenting, playing and so on. By definition, a calorie is an amount of food having an energy-producing value of one large calorie.2 Your body uses three basic kinds of macronutrients—protein, carbohydrates and fat—to create caloric energy.3 Each type of macronutrient provides a specific amount of calories per gram (protein and carbohydrates contain four calories while fat provides nine calories4), and are used as an energy source.
So, the question arises, “Does it matter which foods I eat in order to lose weight?” If we use the simple equation of calories in vs. calories out—the types of food you eat shouldn’t make a difference, as long as excess calories are not being consumed. However, recent research has found that food quality may have an impact on weight loss beyond calories.5 To understand why, we’re taking a more in-depth look at each nutrient source.
Carbohydrates: Sweet Energy
When it comes to weight loss, carbs are often vilified as the food source that will hinder your goals. You’ve likely heard about different extreme low-carb lifestyles; their general philosophy is to drastically reduce the number of carbohydrates you consume, in order to avoid excess glucose being turned into adipose tissue, or fat.6
However, if you’re selecting the right kind of carbs, they actually may be aiding your weight loss efforts.
There are two kinds of carbohydrates: complex and simple. Complex carbohydrates are digested slower and release a steadier stream of glucose to the bloodstream,7 providing sustained energy. Additionally, they usually contain fiber and other essential nutrients.7 Examples include foods like fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and oatmeal.
On the other hand, simple carbohydrates, like sugary cereals and candy, usually contain little to no nutritional value and are quickly digested and turned into glucose in the bloodstream7 — giving you a rush of energy and then a crash, shortly after.
So while two slices of white bread may have almost as many calories a bowl of oatmeal,8-9 the oatmeal will likely keep you feeling satiated longer—so you’re less tempted to reach for other less nutritious options later in the day. Our recommendation: try opting for complex carbs the majority of the time. Not only will they help fill you up—but you’re less likely to experience an energy crash during the day.
Fats: Unsung Superfoods
Although fats contain more calories per gram than carbohydrates or protein, they are critical components of a healthy diet—providing essential fatty acids and helping to deliver fat-soluble vitamins.10 Unsaturated fats (found in foods like avocados, nuts and fish) may help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, both of which contribute to heart health.10
By contrast, saturated fats—including fatty meats, full-fat dairy and partially hydrogenated cooking oils—have the potential to raise cholesterol, clog arteries, may increase the risk of heart disease and potentially stall weight loss when consumed in excess.10
Proteins: Essential Building Blocks
Like carbs, protein has four calories per gram—with a couple of key differences. While carbohydrates can be processed quickly for energy, protein takes more time; because it moves slower from your stomach to your intestines,11 potentially keeping you feeling full for longer periods of time.12 And, speaking of nutrients, the ones found in high-protein foods like lean meats, eggs, beans and low-fat dairy can help your body build muscle, and may improve recovery.13
The Bottom Line: Balance is Key
While eating 300 calories worth of chips may not provide the same nutritional value (or feeling of fullness) as a similar amount of vegetables, maintaining a healthy balance between all the food groups is a key component of weight maintenance and health. By reaching for quality food the majority of the time, you’ll be setting yourself up for success!
For more information on how Jenny Craig can help you find your optimal caloric balance for weight loss, contact your local neighborhood Jenny Craig center.
The latest nutritional research proves what you eat AND when you eat both contribute to weight loss.†† We created Rapid Results based on this revolutionary research. With Rapid Results, we provide you with a plan that takes maximum advantage of your body’s natural fat-burning ability, so you lose weight faster, plus our consultants have completed new comprehensive training to deliver excellent weight loss guidance for results. Take a look at a typical day on Rapid Results!
†† Cell metabolism 23.6 (2016): 1048-1059. DOI: 10.1016/j.cmet.2016.06.001
The Fourth of July is a day of fireworks, fun and barbecued food, everywhere you turn. The good news—you can have a guilt-free Fourth of July when you’re trying to lose weight. To help you stay on-track with your health goals, we’ve compiled our best tips on how to stay healthy on the Fourth of July.
The number one way to have a healthy Fourth of July is to plan ahead. If you show up starving to a BBQ that is serving platters of macaroni salad and ice cream treats, it is going to feel a lot more challenging to choose a healthier option or refrain from overeating.
But with deliberate planning, you can enjoy the holiday with friends and family while still eating well. Here are our top tips to help keep this Fourth of July on the healthy side.
Nourish Your Body Before the Celebration
You know that feeling when you go to the grocery store hungry? Suddenly, everything in the aisle looks amazing, and it’s easy to go overboard. The same goes for summer BBQs, holiday eating and dining out. By giving your body healthy fuel beforehand, you’ll likely not feel as ravenous or as tempted to grab something less nutritious.
Try this: enjoy a fruit with some protein. Options we love include an apple with a teaspoon of nut butter or a small handful of berries sprinkled over yogurt.
If you do indulge, instead of piling your plate high, try practicing a few mindful eating techniques and enjoy a smaller portion of your favorite treat.
Bring Your Own Healthy Fourth of July Recipes
The best way to make sure there is healthy food to eat is to bring it!
There are plenty of recipes to make food that is nutritious and great-tasting. When you’re excited about the healthy dish you’ve created, you may be less likely to stray from your plan with higher calorie, less-than-stellar options.
Here are a couple of ideas for healthy holiday recipes:
● Sliced veggies and carrots + Summer Salsa
● Lettuce Wrap Tacos
One of the easiest ways to cut way down on calories is to avoid soda and sugary juices. It’s easy to forget that soda is a hidden sugar bomb. Did you know:
● The average soda contains more sugar than the recommended dose for women each day (6 teaspoons) and is essentially the whole daily amount for men (9 teaspoons.)1-2
● Soda is packed with empty calories (which are calories that provide no nutritional value for your body.)1
Looking for a healthy solution? Substitute a cola with an alternative, such as sparkling water, which helps replicate the carbonation without the added calories and sugar. Infuse more flavor into your water by adding fruits like lemons, oranges, and cucumbers.
Check out these 10 tips for drinking more water— on the Fourth of July or any day!
Be Mindful of Your Portions
You’ve probably heard the expression, “My eyes were bigger than my stomach”—and when you’re at a BBQ surrounded by food, it can be easy to relate. When there are so many delicious choices, it can be easy to load your plate with more food than you intend. Try to start by selecting a few reasonable portions of your favorite, healthy options to put on your plate and then savor every bite! You can always come back for more if you’re still hungry. You may even find that by taking your time to enjoy your meal and letting your stomach signal to your brain feelings of fullness, you don’t want seconds after all.
One of the best ways to stay on track with your weight loss goals is portion control. Following a weight loss program doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy any of the delicious treats over the holiday. Use this visual portion guide to help you indulge in moderation. Being aware of your portions can lead to a guilt-free Fourth of July.
Another simple way to keep track of your portion sizes is to use smaller plates. One study conducted by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that reducing the size of your plate can have a significant impact on how much food you consume.3 Swapping a 12-inch plate for a 9-inch dish could potentially shave off around 250 calories a meal.4
How can you use this approach on Independence Day? If you’re hosting a party, set out a variety of small to mid-sized plates. If you’re not the host, you can offer to bring paper plates and napkins. You’ll be helping the hostess while keeping your portion sizes in check!
Keep It Going!
Now that you have a few tips on how to stay healthy this Fourth of July, keep it going so you can feel healthy all summer long! We know summertime can be busy with the kids home from school, but you can still find ways to stick to your weight loss program. Learn how to prevent summer weight gain while balancing kids, vacation, and endless summer BBQs!
Are you looking for a weight loss program that provides support along with delicious, pre-planned meals so you can enjoy the most out of your summer? Contact Jenny Craig and book your free appointment to get started.
Fad diets are nothing new and seemingly pop up every few months, declaring yet another food group to avoid or elixir to drink. But what has stood the test of time on the journey of weight loss is the tried-and-true, and most importantly, healthy, philosophy of eating a well-balanced diet while staying active. We tapped our Jenny Craig Nutritionist, Monica Ropar, to help explain the fad diet phenomenon and talk about what really works.
It seems as more and more scientific testing is conducted around weight loss and nutrition, food trends have been popping up as quickly as the next fashion line. From juice ‘cleanses’ to shunning bread—it can be confusing to figure out what’s simply a fad—or if it’s a plan that can deliver long-term results and health benefits.
What exactly is a “fad diet?”
Usually, a fad diet takes an extreme, “quick fix” approach to losing weight—typically eliminating certain food groups altogether.1
Most of the time, if you do achieve results and return to your regular routine, you’ll likely see the scale tick back up—and just like that, you’re back to square one. Why? Because fad diets aren’t sustainable. And as you return to your normal eating habits, you’ll likely return to your original weight, or worse, gain back even more from feeling deprived.
How to spot a fad
By spotting a few key terms, you’ll likely be able to identify a fad diet from a program that yields long-term results. Watch out for plans that cut out entire food groups, promise extreme results in a few days or claim certain foods will accelerate your progress.2
What really works
There are a few areas to consider when evaluating a weight loss program that will work. First, ensure the plan is nutritionally sound. You should have a good balance of protein, a variety of vegetables and fruits, healthy carbs, and healthy fats to cover all essential and health-promoting nutrients. Secondly, does the program set realistic goals? Usually, losing 1-2 pounds (or 1% of your current weight) per week is considered a reasonable goal.3 However, you may lose weight more rapidly when you first begin a program as your body adapts to a new way of eating. Let it motivate you to keep going!
Another thing to consider: does the program provide help when it comes to changing your habits? If you’re considering losing weight and want to learn how to keep it off, having an accountability partner or personal weight loss consultant can make all the difference in your results. In fact, one study conducted over a two-year period found that a weight loss program with structured support yielded greater results than a program that relied on self-help.4
Finally, can you maintain your new, healthy lifestyle once you aren’t trying to lose any additional weight? Sustainability is key. If a program teaches you healthy portion sizes and how to eat a well-balanced diet that you can continue on your own, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
Are you looking for a sustainable weight loss program? Jenny Craig can help you achieve your goals. With a personal, dedicated consultant and a balanced meal plan, our program is designed to set you up for success! Contact us today to book your free appointment.