- 8 Tips for Keeping a Food Journal for Weight Loss
- The Mindful Classroom
- Blue Bell Recalls Ice Cream Over Listeria Concerns
- Why ‘Natural’ Household Cleaners Can Make Allergies Worse
- Entitled People Are More Likely to Be Disappointed by Life: Study
Posted: 22 Sep 2016 09:37 AM PDT
Most people think of weight loss as a formula: healthy food + exercise = weight loss. Why, then, is the scale still not budging even though you’re doing everything right? It’s probably because the weight loss industry doesn’t teach us the secret ingredient that’s vital for a healthy life and healthy body: our minds. We often overeat not because our body is demanding it, but because our brain is. Stress, powerful emotions and lack of sleep all lead us to dip our hand into the cookie jar or to order the burger instead of the salad. Simply put: being in tune with our mental state makes us more in tune with the rest of our body. But how exactly do you find out what’s going on up there to lose weight down below? Thankfully, there’s a super simple brain hack. It’s called a food journal, and it’s time you get writing.
In 2008, the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that among 1,700 people, those who journaled daily lost double the weight compared to non-journalers. And a 2012 study from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics discovered that, out of 439 women, those who kept a food journal lost about 13 percent of their starting body weight compared to the 8 percent of those who did not journal.
The power of the food journal is that it keeps you accountable and makes you more aware of your eating. You are less likely to grab that piece of chocolate cake if you know you have to write it down later and face the ultimate critic—you. Plus, you become more aware of the emotions tied to your food and the habits you’ve fallen into, like craving fatty snacks around 4 p.m. When you sit down and ask yourself the simple question “why” in your journal, you realize that 4 p.m. is peak stress time at work. The following day, you come prepared with a healthy snack to munch on at 4 p.m.; maybe you even do yoga before work to help prevent your stress.
Journaling is a scientifically proven weight loss tool, and it can also be used to track your step-by-step progress in fitness or your success at work. Whatever you use it for, there’s one downside to journaling: it’s hard. It can be burdensome to consistently write in a journal every day and difficult to face your emotions head on. But trust us: just one short journal session a day can help you keep your word when it comes to weight loss. Here are some tips you need to successfully put pen to paper and put your weight loss efforts on the fast track to success.
1. Keep your journal on your nightstand
Some people are creatures of habit. Others go where the wind takes them. But there’s one thing that everyone does every single day: sleep. Keeping your journal next to your bed is a great daily reminder to write down what you ate that day. Bedtime is also your least distracted, least hectic time of day, which means you can’t make the “I’m too busy right now” excuse and can instead reflect on your habits. (Oh, and before you hit the hay, whip up a healthy overnight oats recipe for the morning. You can proudly jot those down in your food journal tomorrow.)
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2. Or write as you go
If totaling up the day’s eats seems like an overwhelming task, try doing it step by step. Quickly writing down what you ate right after a meal or snack is a more manageable way of writing your food journal. Plus, writing it in the moment allows you to more accurately portray exactly what you ate and how you felt about it.
3. Go digital
These days, tons of apps are available to help you track your weight loss progress. They function the same way as a food journal, allowing you to document exactly what you ate, how much and when. A recent study out of Northwestern University found that those that tracked their eating on a mobile device were more likely to lose weight than those who did not. Not many of us carry a journal with us everywhere, but most of us have a smartphone glued to our pocket 24/7, making this the most convenient way to dive into food journaling.
4. Get the picture
A recent study out of a nutrition clinic found that those who take weekly pictures of themselves are more likely to lose weight than those who shy away from the lens. Try adding pictures of yourself to your diary or add them to your digital food log. They’ll serve as motivation and reward since you’ll literally be able to see the changes in your body.
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5. Be specific
This is probably the most important aspect of keeping an effective weight loss journal. It’s easy to say “I had a sandwich for lunch,” but if you want to get the most out of your journal, write down word for word what you ate that day. Focus on portion size, time of day, environment and how you felt before, during and after eating. This will give you insight into your eating patterns over time and can help you make small interventions for a big change in the long run. Don’t forget to list what you drank that day, too.
6. Get emotional
Part of being specific is being emotional. Don’t just write what you ate, but also include how it made you feel. If you notice that you reach for a bar of chocolate every time you fight with your husband because you feel sad and stressed, then perhaps next time you’ll be more likely to go for a run when things get tense. It’s not going to be a perfect science, but it will point you in the direction of healthy habits.
7. Be honest
You may feel guilty about the pizza you had today and you might not want to write about it, but that’s the point! Being totally honest in your writing allows you to notice your eating trends and pick up on your feelings around food so that you can take steps toward tangible change. A recent study from journal Appetite found that those who felt guilt around food were more likely to overeat and gain weight in the long run. Allowing yourself to fully address those feelings of guilt (or anxiety or sadness or whatever you’re feeling), could help you develop a better relationship with food over time.
8. Set a date
We’re proposing a new kind of date night: a date with you and your journal. Logging your food every day is great, but it won’t actually do anything until you sit down and face the truth. Try to meet once a week with your journal and reread everything you have written. Notice patterns, notice emotions around food, notice cravings. Try to find places where you can intervene to set yourself on track for weight loss success.
Some experts think mindfulness is the antidote to distraction, misbehaving--even poor math scores. Are they on to something?
Posted: 21 Sep 2016 05:12 PM PDT
Blue Bell recalled packages of ice cream that contained chocolate chip cookie dough over concerns of potential listeria contamination.
The select products recalled include Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Blue Bell Cookie Two Step, which were produced at an Alabama plant, the company announced on Wednesday. The cookie dough ingredient in the ice cream potentially contains listeria, according to Blue Bell.
Aspen Hills, Inc., a third party supplier, provided the cookie dough ingredient, Blue Bell said. Aspen Hills has since issued a voluntary recall of the products it supplied to Blue Bell.
“Blue Bell is initiating this recall out of an abundance of caution,” the company said in a release. No illnesses have yet been reported.
Blue Bell voluntarily suspended operations at an Oklahoma production facility in 2015 after three people died in Kansas from eating ice cream products contaminated with listeria. The company issued a widespread recall for all its products.
Posted: 21 Sep 2016 03:30 PM PDT
Researchers behind the study, published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, focused on enzymes in household chemicals genetically modified to resemble natural flavors and smells. The process of genetic modification could change the products’ allergenic properties in a way that leaves humans more susceptible, according to the research.
The researchers tested people with occupational exposure to the enzymes—like workers employed in manufacturing and food processing facilities—to evaluate the effect of these chemicals. Nearly a quarter of the more than 800 employees tested had produced antibodies in response the genetically modified enzymes. More than a third of such employees had developed symptoms of asthma or rhinitis (though data was only available for a fraction of the 800 tested).
The enzyme alpha amylase—found in detergents and cleaning products—produced the significant results for workers exposed to it when compared to other chemicals. Nearly 45% of workers exposed to it produced the antibodies that signal an allergy in response.
Genetically modified enzymes have seen increased use in recent years as manufactured have increased their offerings of certain “natural” flavors in household products like detergent, perfume and pharmaceuticals. Producing such flavored products is now a $10 billion industry, the study notes.
Better methods for protecting workers from the chemicals would help address the problem, the authors write. Still, some workers may be left vulnerable. “There is no doubt that good occupational hygiene practice is the most effective risk management strategy,” the study says. “But, it has to be assumed that the introduction of new enzymes might increase the risk of allergy.”
Posted: 21 Sep 2016 10:28 AM PDT
The next time you’re feeling bummed out or angry at the world, ask yourself if you’ve really been dealt a poor hand—or if, just maybe, you were expecting too much.
That’s one message that can be drawn from a recent study on entitlement, a personality trait characterized by exaggerated feelings of deservingness and superiority. Entitlement may lead to chronic disappointment, say researchers from Case Western Reserve University, and can throw people into a “perpetual loop of distress.”
The authors reached these conclusions after analyzing more than 170 academic papers, and published their results in the journal Psychological Bulletin. They found that people who possess high levels of entitlement consistently fall victim to a three-part cycle: First, they don’t always get everything they think they deserve, leaving them constantly vulnerable to unmet expectations. Those unmet expectations are then perceived as injustices, leading to volatile emotions like anger and sadness. Finally, to justify those emotions, entitled people reassure themselves of their own specialness. This helps them feel better temporarily, but ultimately starts the process all over again.
“At extreme levels, entitlement is a toxic narcissistic trait, repeatedly exposing people to the risk of feeling frustrated, unhappy, and disappointed with life,” said lead author and recent Case Western Reserve graduate Joshua Grubbs, PhD, in a press release.
“Often times, life, health, aging, and the social world don’t treat us as well as we’d like,” added Grubbs, who is now a clinical psychology professor at Bowling Green State University. “Confronting these limitations is especially threatening to an entitled person because it violates their worldview of self-superiority.”
Along with perpetual disappointment, the consequences of entitled behavior can also include poor relationships, interpersonal conflicts, and depression, says co-author Julie Exline, PhD, a professor of psychological sciences at Case Western Reserve.
“So much of entitlement is about competition—being better or more deserving than other people,” she told Health.com. “It really pits you against society, and it can be very isolating.”
It’s not easy for true narcissists to see themselves for what they are, or to change their way of thinking—and the researchers haven’t yet come up with any type of “entitlement intervention,” Exline says.
Health.com: 10 Signs You Might Be a Narcissist
But she does believe that, for many well-intentioned people, feelings of entitlement can be reigned in. “Conditioning yourself to think about other people and what they deserve—and also being willing to admit your own faults and weaknesses—can help you feel more connected to others,” she says.
“Being able to admit that, ‘Yes, I am special, but so is everybody else,’ may help you shift your mindset to one of gratitude, rather than one of entitlement,” she adds.
Exline says that even when people have humility in some areas of their lives, it’s possible to feel entitled in others. “For example, some people might be really entitled about academics, or about how they want their relationships to go,” she says.
She also points out that not all feelings of entitlement are wrong or bad: We shouldn’t just lower our standards or stop expecting things we truly do deserve, just so we can be happier. But if you do notice that you’ve developed an inflated sense of self—and it’s causing you to be irritated or not get along with others—you can definitely try to do something about it.
“If you’re having thoughts like ‘But I’m better than them,’ or ‘I deserve this more,’ try to challenge yourself to think about things in a different way,” Exline says. “Find a way that helps you still feel valuable, but connected to others rather than set against them in a competitive way.”
This research has become increasingly important, Exline says, as rates of entitlement have risen sharply in the United States in the last 50 years. At the same time, she notes, anxiety and depression rates have gone up too. “These attitudes are more pervasive in our society,” she says, “but it’s not like they’re making us happier.”
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