Chocolate Choose the dark chocolate – 70 percent cocoa or more— to get health benefits including lower blood sugar and lower blood pressure. The catch? We have to limit ourselves to two squares a day.
Fruit. When you need a sweet treat, any whole fruit is good for you.
Nuts: All nuts make great snacks, says Dr Miles Hassell. But he advises eating them raw, because of the added unhealthy oils and salt in most roasted nuts. Besides if you eat nuts raw you might not be tempted to eat too many.
Carrot and celery sticks: the Greeks eat them with a little lemon and salt. That's too much sodium for most of us, so try eating them with a hummus dip, peanut butter, guacamole or this cucumber dip.
Dried Fruit: Prunes, apricots and raisins make sweet chewy treats
Diet Foes: What to Avoid
Processed Foods: White breads, processed grains and cereals. Processing grains removes essential nutrients. Whole grains contain the fibre and nutrition we need.
Sugar: "if you're aiming to for maximum health then you have to eat less sweets – but the less sweet stuff you eat the less you want," says Dr Miles Hassell.
Juices and Soda: Sorry, you can't have that soda -- even the diet kind has been linked to poorer health. Juices are fruit without the fibre we need, and they are loaded with sugar.
Commercially fried foods and anything containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Guaranteed artery cloggers.
Preserved meats like bacon, sausage and hot dogs. Ouch. But we can still have egg on wholewheat toast for breakfast.
If your reaction to this list is, HELP, don't panic. You can improve your diet --- even if you can't immediately cut out everything on the list. The best defense is a good offense. Eat plenty of the good stuff.
Your Friends: Stress Reducers
Get enough sleep: people who sleep less than six hours a night have an increased risk of diabetes. Too little sleep is also linked to weight gain. The optimal amount is 7 or 8 hours a night for adults. Teens and children may need more.
Exercise: Sometimes called the other Vitamin E, exercise is one of the best ways to reduce your stress, improve your mood and get fit.
Massage: By helping you feel better, massage can support your diet and exercise program. Yoga gives similar benefits.
Relaxation: Anything you do that relaxes you and leaves you energized and happy is good for you: music, dancing, sports and...
Sex: There's a reason why Latin Lovers live longer. Sex with a trusted partner may offer a wide range of health benefits. A study of 1000 men by Queens University in Belfast found those who had sex four times a week were healthier and lived longer. Here's a report on the study in Forbes Magazine.
Foes: Smoking, Addictions and Stress
Yes, it can be painful to kick bad habits such as addictions to cigarettes, alcohol or junk food. But any positive changes you make can improve your health and wellbeing. So make those big changes – like stopping smoking – when you are ready. And know that you don't have to do it alone. Support groups are out there for everything from losing weight and stopping smoking to alcohol addiction.
- For support to stop smoking call 1-800-784-8669 or in espanol 1-877-266-3863
- For help with addictions to alcohol, drugs or gambling OR for help with depression or any mental health problem call:
- Cascadia Behavioral Health 503-674-7777
- Lifeworks NorthWest 503-645 9010 or 1-888-645-1666
- Quest Center 503-238-5203