Are you suffering from any of these bad nutrition habits? Read on for easy ways to get back on track with your weight-loss goals.
When it comes to nutrition, we all have certain habits that need to be broken. While some treats and indulgences are harmless in moderation, some habits can have negative effects on your general health such as weight gain, fatigue, irritability and faulty digestion.
Here are 5 of the worst nutrition habits and advice on how to break them.
1. Drinking too much coffee
A certain amount of morning java can help to boost alertness, performance and concentration. In addition to containing anti-oxidants, research also suggests coffee contains health benefits that can lower the risk of heart disease, decrease the risk of Parkinson’s disease and help prevent gallstones. But, when your body has had too much caffeine you can experience numerous ill effects such as increased in heart rate and blood pressure, the jitters and dehydration. Also, too much coffee can interfere with proper absorption and elimination and can upset optimal weight loss results.
While you do not have to retire your coffee mug completely, the key to drinking coffee is moderation. Research suggests you can safely consume one to two cups of coffee a day.
2. Eating after dinner
After a long hard day, many of us turn to snacking after dinner to soothe emotions, deal with stress or as a treat in front of the TV. Unfortunately, late-night snacking is a one-way ticket to weight gain. Ideally, after dinnertime, the kitchen should be considered closed. If you have eaten a sufficient dinner with a protein source, you should be left feeling satisfied. If you still are feeling the need to snack at night, opt for lighter calorie foods that do not create excess weight gain such as unsweetened apple sauce, a small yogurt, vegetables, soup broths or air popped pop corn.
3. Skipping breakfast
When Mom told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, she was right. Research suggests those who skip breakfast make poorer food choices throughout the day and tend to gain more weight then those who enjoy a healthy breakfast. While you do not have to consume a huge meal first thing in the morning, it is important to spark your metabolic engine and eat a small balanced meal in the morning hours. Natural yogurts, low fat cottage cheese, steel cut oats, fruit, whole grain bread and natural nut butters and fruit are all terrific options to start your day off on the right foot.
4. Falling prey to the afternoon slump
Is it usually the mid or late afternoon when you start to feel groggy and your craving for sweets rears its ugly head? Before you know it, you have grabbed a muffin, cookie or some other starchy carbohydrate to satisfy your hankering for refined, sugary goods. While grabbing a treat mid-day might make you feel better temporarily, you are encouraging the cycle of energy and blood sugar fluctuations, eventually causing weight gain.
Instead of grabbing a processed sweet treat, opt for natural sweets such as a handful of healthy trail mix with raisins, protein bars, fruit, yogurt, vegetables and hummus, a salted hard-cooked egg or a small piece of dark chocolate with at least a 70-per-cent cocoa.
5. Not drinking enough water
Symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, headaches, bloating and weakness, and can cause premature signs of aging. Drinking your six to eight glasses of water every day needs to become a habit. To get in the habit, put a dot on your hand as a reminder. Whenever you look at the dot, take a few sips of water. Keep your water handy at your desk, in your car or invest in a home water dispenser unit. Squeeze fresh lemon to you water for a refreshing taste and reap the benefits from its detoxifying properties.
If you identify with one of the bad habits listed above, just remember the key is moderation. Small changes such as making better choices when wanting sweets, drinking more water or eating a balanced morning meal can have positive effects on your health, weight and energy.
Gluten-Free Strawberry Crumble<br>Photography by Jeff Coulson Credits: Gluten-Free Strawberry Crumble<br>Photography by Jeff Coulson
Photography by Lauren Hayes Credits: Photography by Lauren Hayes
You don't need a gym membership to build muscle. These strengthening exercises from trainer Samantha Montpetit-Huynh of Toronto's Core Expectations are easy to do at home. The payoff? You'll burn more calories, protect your joints and help your bones stay healthy. Here's how to do it.
1. Squat with shoulder press
Standing with feet a little more than hip-width apart and holding weights at shoulder level with arms bent and palms facing forward, inhale and slowly bend at the knees into a squat. Exhale and stand up, extending your arms straight overhead. Do eight to 12 reps.
Tip: This is a compound movement, which means you're working more than one muscle group at a time to maximize the rewards.
Works: Quads, hamstrings, glutes and shoulders
2. Reverse lunge with knee up
Standing with feet shoulder-width apart and holding weights at your sides, inhale and lift your right knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor. Then, swing that leg behind you and plant your toes on the floor, bending both knees until they form 90-degree angles. Exhale and push off your toes to bring your knee back up. Do eight to 12 reps with each leg.
Tip: Swinging your leg elevates this lunge to a dynamic movement, which helps get your heart rate up.
Works: Quads, hamstrings and glutes
3. Biceps curl one leg
Standing with feet together and holding weights at your sides with palms facing forward, bend your right knee, keeping both knees together, until your calf is parallel to the floor. Balancing on your left leg, exhale and bend your elbows to bring the weights toward your shoulders, keeping your wrists straight. Inhale as you release back down. Do eight to 12 reps on each leg.
Tip: Standing on one leg forces you to engage your core muscles for balance.
Works: Biceps and core
4. Triceps dip
Sitting on the edge of a chair with your hands on either side of the seat and your feet together on the floor, scoot forward a bit off the seat, supporting your weight with your arms. Inhale and bend your elbows to lower your body, keeping your knees directly above your ankles and your shoulders dropped, until your arms are at a 90-degree angle. Exhale and straighten your arms, pushing yourself up. Do eight to 12 reps.
Tip: For an added challenge, rest your feet on a step or a chair instead of the floor and extend your legs.
Works: Triceps and shoulders
Do one of these plank positions and hold for 20 to 30 seconds, progressing to one minute once you get stronger. When you can do the easiest plank position for one minute, move on to the more advanced positions.
A. Easy: Hover plank
On your hands and knees, with your back flat, abs tight and arms straight with shoulders aligned directly over your wrists, lift your knees to hover about two inches off the floor.
B. Intermediate: Knee plank
Support your weight on your forearms and knees, with your feet crossed in the air behind you. Keep your shoulders directly above your elbows, your back flat and abs tight.
C. Advanced: Full plank
Support your weight on your forearms and toes, with legs extended. Keep your shoulders directly above your elbows, your back flat and abs tight.
Tip: If you're feeling the burn in your lower back, your hips are too low. Make sure your back is straight.
Works: Core muscles, including the transversus abdominis (the innermost
abdominal muscle that stabilizes the pelvis), obliques (muscles along the sides that allow you to bend sideways and twist) and rectus abdominis (the outer muscles—sometimes called the six-pack— which help you bend forward)
On your hands and knees, straighten your arms, keeping your shoulders aligned directly over your wrists, then scoot your knees back and lift your feet behind you, dropping your hips so your torso forms a straight line. With your neck straight and abs tight, inhale and slowly bend your arms to lower your chest toward the floor. Exhale and push yourself up. Do eight to 12 reps.
Tip: When you can do 12 to 15 knee pushups, you're ready for the regular pushup. Remember to keep your torso lengthened and straight.
Works: Chest, shoulders and triceps
Lying on your stomach with arms and legs extended, raise your left arm and right leg a few inches off the floor without rotating your spine and hold for two or three seconds. Return to start position, then repeat with your right arm and left leg. Alternate from side to side, exhaling as you lift your limbs and inhaling as you lower. Do four to six reps per side.
Tip: These movements are small but effective; don't try to lift too high or you'll risk injuring yourself.
Works: Erector spinae (the muscles that run along the spine, which bend and extend the back and let you move from side to side)
Lying on your back with arms relaxed at your sides, knees bent and feet flat on the floor, exhale and lift your hips, squeezing your glutes and keeping your back flat. Inhale as you lower your bum to the floor. Do eight to 12 reps.
Tip: For an added challenge, extend one leg as you lift and lower your hips.
Works: Hamstrings, glutes and lower back
Check out the full workout for these strength-boosting moves.
Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins <br /> Photography by Mark Burstyn Credits: Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins <br /> Photography by Mark Burstyn