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21 Pasta Recipes 'Cause We Can't Say No to Carbs

When it comes to curling up with a bowl of something warm and satisfying, you really can’t beat pasta. It tops practically every “comfort foods” listicle out there: It’s incredibly versatile and can easily be made healthier without sacrificing flavor. Don't believe us? We'll prove it. Baked Pastas 1. Healthy Mushroom Alfredo Pasta Bake Photo: Pinch of Yum The secret to this cream-free cream sauce? Cauliflower! Puréed with milk, garlic, and olive oil, it gives this whole-wheat pasta bake an extra serving of veggies. A hefty sprinkling of Gruyere on top makes sure that no cheesy flavor is sacrificed. 2. Tuna Pasta Bake With Tomatoes Photo: Give Recipe Think of this as the pasta version of a tuna melt. This fish is sautéed in a light pink sauce of puréed tomatoes and milk (no cream necessary), with plenty of mozzarella for that necessary bubbly, cheesy topping. 3. Vegan Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese With Crispy Sage Breadcrumbs Photo: She Likes Food Blanketed in a nutmeg-spiced butternut squash and peppered with sage-speckled breadcrumbs, this is the quintessential fall pasta. It’s the perfect way to satisfy a mac and cheese craving while keeping things nutritious. 4. Baked Pasta With Creamy Spinach and Brussels Sprouts Photo: Vegan Sandra Who needs butter, cream, milk, or cheese when you can get the same Alfredo-like results with just one ingredient: sunflower seeds. The tiny but healthy fat- and vitamin E-packed powerhouses give this bake a fantastically nutty flavor that pairs perfectly with the roasted Brussels sprouts. 5. Cheesy Hot Italian Sausage Pasta Bake Photo: The Cooking Jar Sometimes a nip in the air calls for a stick-to-your-ribs meal. This one fits the bill, with sausage, mozzarella, and Parmesan teaming up for a hearty dinner that takes just 15 minutes of prep before the oven does the rest of the work for you. Go for lean meat and part-skim cheese if you’re looking for healthier swaps. 6. Healthy 3-Cheese Chicken Penne Pasta Bake Photo: The Girl Who Ate Everything You may not think that something with “three-cheese” in its title could ever be made healthy, but when those cheeses involve lower-fat Neufchatel (or cream cheese), 2% mozzarella, and just two tablespoons of Parmesan, it can be done. Increase the fiber count by using multigrain penne and plenty of spinach, and this dish can easily become part of your usual dinner rotation. 7. Pumpkin and Kale Stuffed Shells Photo: Veggie Inspired Journey This bake fits right into the season of pumpkin-spiced everything, except it relies on pure pumpkin instead of artificial flavorings—win! The beta carotene-rich veggie is stirred with tofu and chopped kale to become a delicious nondairy filling for the pasta shells. 8. Baked Risotto With Squash, Mushrooms, and Sage Photo: Ciao Veggie Who needs dairy when you've got creaminess from the puréed squash, tons of garlic flavor, and depth from the caramelized onions and white wine? It does take a while to make (most risotti do), but a good chunk of the cooking time is spent in the oven, meaning you’re not stuck at the stovetop, stirring constantly. 9. Baked Chicken and Orzo Photo: Maya Kitchenette You don’t even need to boil the orzo beforehand for this bake—just sauté the dry pasta in some spices before putting it in the oven, where it’ll actually cook. Topped with chicken pieces and juicy cherry tomatoes, it’s a well-balanced, insanely tasty one-pot meal. 10. Seafood Gratin Pasta Bake Photo: Recipe Tin Eats Whoever said that fish and cheese don’t go together needs a big ol’ helping of this recipe. Not only does it take just 35 minutes and nix the cream that’s usually poured by the cupful into gratins, but the seafood and white sauce mixture tastes like something out of a fancy French restaurant. Far from mismatched, the combo is meant to be. Stovetop/Skillet Pastas 11. Whole-Wheat Spaghetti and Eggplant “Meatballs” Photo: The Kitchen Flamingo Take eggplants out of the Parmesan rut and use them as the base for easy vegetarian meatballs. Mixed with egg yolks, cheese, and breadcrumbs, they’re a wholesome way to make a simple meal of spaghetti and jarred marinara sauce a bit more exciting. 12. Caramelized Fig Walnut Pasta Photo: Avo Maniac If you’re always looking for outside-the-box flavor combos, this recipe is a must-try. Figs and onions are caramelized in coconut sugar; spiralized zucchini allows for more volume without going overboard on the carbs; and roasted walnuts add healthy fats plus a nice, crunchy contrast to the melt-in-your-mouth fruits and veggies. Did we mention it’s ready in less than 30 minutes? 13. Pumpkin Orzo Photo: Blommi It may have been meant as a side dish, but we’d say this recipe is filling enough for a quick-fix meatless main. With only four main ingredients—most of them pantry items like canned pumpkin and dry pasta—it’s what you make when you’re short on time and groceries but refuse to give in to takeout. 14. Winter Squash Carbonara With Broccoli Rabe and Sage Photo: Half Baked Harvest If you haven’t used broccoli rabe much before, this is the recipe to introduce the vitamin A-rich veggie into your kitchen. It’s swirled into pasta, topped with cheese, and bacon is involved. What’s not to love? 15. Creamy Garlic Spinach Chicken Pasta Photo: Becky's Best Bites With cream cheese, grated Parmesan, and plenty of chicken, this is the ultimate bowl of pasta to curl up with on a chilly evening. There are a few healthy tweaks, like whole-wheat pasta and the addition of spinach to give it some more fiber, but really, this one’s got “treat yo-self” written all over it. 16. Vegetarian Fettuccine Carbonara With Mushrooms Photo: Healthy Seasonal Recipes In most carbonaras, you’ll find at least three egg yolks and no shortage of pancetta. This vegetarian version skips the bacon entirely, slashes the yolk count down to one, and is still as tasty as ever, proving that a few quality ingredients can go a long way when it comes to making rich recipes healthier. 17. Spicy Red Pasta With Lentils Photo: Minimalist Baker Vegan pastas can often fall short in the protein department. Not this one! Quick-cooking red lentils are a unique way to give this recipe some more staying power. Sautéd in a garlicky tomato purée, they make the sauce taste like a plant-based Bolognese. 18. Pasta Alla Norma Photo: Green Thumb White Apron Olive oil is a good fat, but this traditional Sicilian pasta usually requires the eggplant to be soaked in it—not quite so healthy. This recipe cuts down the oil to just 1/4 cup, which turns out to be more than enough for the veggies to become tender and keep the sauce from drying out. 19. Easy One-Pot Lasagna Photo: Damn Delicious Skip that finicky assembly process of baked lasagna with this “deconstructed” stovetop version, which requires no pre-boiling and no layering; short-cut pasta cooks right in the sausage and tomato sauce, with big dollops of ricotta melting on top. It also takes just 30 minutes from start to finish—no waiting impatiently by the oven. 20. Crab Bolognese Photo: Healthy Living in Heels Crab may be an unusual ingredient in a pasta sauce, but there ain't nothing fishy about this Bolognese. Flavored with fennel, basil, and lemon, this single-serving recipe shows you that there’s no reason not to eat well just because you’re eating solo. 21. Roasted Butternut Squash Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta Photo: Joyful Healthy Eats Roasted butternut squash and soft goat cheese. Crispy strips of bacon and crunchy pecan pieces. Caramelized onions and sage. Need we say more?

Serena Williams Talks About What It’s Like to Be a Black Person Behind the Wheel in 2016

It seems another instance of police brutality against a black man surfaces every week, and Serena Williams is no longer staying silent. She got super candid in a recent Facebook post, talking about the panic she felt after seeing a cop car in the distance while driving with her nephew. She instantly thought of the Facebook live video that went viral in July of a woman sitting in the passenger seat next to her boyfriend who had just been shot and killed by the police. Could something similar happen to Williams? The sad reality is it could. Hopefully by sharing her story (check out the full text below), the all-star tennis player can help others better understand the worries black people have to deal with every day: Today I asked my 18 year old nephew (to be clear he's black) to drive me to my meetings, so I can [sic] work on my phone #safteyfirst. In the distance I saw [a] cop on the side of the road. I quickly checked to see if [my nephew] was obliging by the speed limit. Then I remembered that horrible video of the woman in the car when a cop shot her boyfriend. All of this went through my mind in a matter of seconds. I even regretted not driving myself. I would never forgive myself if something happened to my nephew. He's so innocent. So were all "the others." I am a total believer that not "everyone" is bad. It is just the ones that are ignorant, afraid, uneducated, and insensitive that is affecting millions and millions of lives. Why did I have to think about this in 2016? Have we not gone through enough, opened so many doors, impacted billions of lives? But I realized we must stride on—for it's not how far we have come but how much further still we have to go... I had to take a look at me. What about my nephews? What if I have a son and what about my daughters? As Dr. Martin Luther King said " There comes a time when silence is betrayal." I Won't Be Silent

Breastfeeding mom claims deputy threatened to arrest her for being 'offensive'

A woman who was breastfeeding in Columbus, Georgia, took to Facebook after claiming a deputy threatened to arrest her for doing so, saying some may find it “offensive.”

Savvy Shukla uploaded a lengthy post to Facebook on Sunday explaining the incident. Shukla said she was at Piggly Wiggly with her sister and two children when a deputy came up to her.

>> Read the Facebook post here

Posted by Savvy Shukla on Sunday, September 25, 2016

Shukla said she told the deputy that Georgia law allows her to breastfeed in public. The deputy then fired back, she said.

“You just THINK you know what the law says and if your nipple becomes exposed I really don’t want to have to arrest you or you be arrested for being offensive. This isn’t like the first amendment where you can say something offensive,” Shukla claimed the angry deputy told her.

>> Read more trending stories

“I’m so upset about it and I understand why this type of harassment can cause moms to stop,” she added.

Muscogee County Sheriff John T. Darr wrote about the incident on his Facebook page Monday morning and clarified that breastfeeding is legal in Georgia.

"We are currently looking into this incident, and it will be addressed," Darr wrote. "Our office does not condone these actions and will ensure all officers know and understand the law. On behalf of the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office, I would like to personally extend an apology to the woman involved, and we hope that she knows that these are not the opinions or practices of the office as a whole."

>> Read the full post here

Good Morning, I have seen and am aware of a post circulating Facebook, regarding a situation between a Muscogee County...Posted by Sheriff John T. Darr on Monday, September 26, 2016

Later, Darr told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer that he talked to the deputy, who said he only told Shukla that she might want to "cover up" after customers approached him.

“I think she had the mindset that he said that she couldn’t (breastfeed), and that’s so far from the truth,” Darr told the Ledger-Enquirer. “That’s my problem. People put that stuff out there on Facebook without getting all the facts.”

Shukla took to Facebook again to respond to the article.

"I am FURIOUS!" she wrote. "No the Deputy didn't just tell me to cover and leave it at that. He ARGUED with me about the law and told me I just 'THINK' I know the law and THREATENED TO ARREST ME or that I'd be ARRESTED IN THE FUTURE. Are you kidding me!?"

>> Read the post here

I am FURIOUS! No the Deputy didn't just tell me to cover and leave it at that. He ARGUED with me about the law and...Posted by Savvy Shukla on Monday, September 26, 2016

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Yankee fan pops question during game, loses ring

It was his big moment, but one New York Yankees fan dropped the ball, or make that the ring. 

Andrew Fox made the biggest error of his life, and it was all broadcast on the diamond vision at Yankee Stadium.

>> Read more trending stories  

The New Castle, Pennsylvania man dropped to one knee, ready to propose during the fifth inning of Tuesday's Yankee/Red Sox game, and he dropped the ring, The Associated Press reported

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The crowd of more than 35,000 fans made a collective gasp, then booed the drop as Fox and his potential fiancee Heather Terwilliger searched for the ring. For five minutes, the couple and surrounding fans frantically searched.

Finally Terwilliger noticed something shining in the cuff of her pants, the ring!

>>Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

So Fox dropped to his knee a second time, hopefully holding onto the bauble tightly, asking Terwilliger to marry him. She did say yes. 

They were also named fans of the game during the seventh-inning stretch.

The Right Way to Microwave Food So It Doesn’t Explode

Don’t feel like planning ahead to reheat yesterday’s chicken and veggies in the oven? Can’t stand the thought of having to wash a pot for warming your soup or cooking oatmeal? With a microwave you don’t have to. The device exists to make things more convenient. And yet, when you have to waste time scouring the inside of your hotbox because your food blew up—again—they’re anything but. Sure, you could be one of those people who ignores the mess and lets the crusty, old food build up like snow in a polar vortex. (It’s just gonna happen again, so what’s the point?) But instead of wiping down messes for the umpteenth time, why not prevent the disgusting explosions in the first place? Why Foods Explode in the Microwave Microwaves function differently than other heat-inducing appliances: Ovens and stovetops heat food from the outside in, but microwaves warm everything at the same time, Penn State experts say. The electromagnetic waves cause the water molecules to gyrate back and forth, like middle schoolers at a dance. All that motion generates friction, which generates heat. (The waves, FYI, do emit small amounts of radiation. But there’s no evidence proving that there’s enough radiation to actually hurt you. So go ahead and nuke.) Things can start to go awry when that heat penetrates food with a high water content. With notorious exploders, “Water starts to turn into steam, which could get trapped and form a bubble,” explains Institute of Food Technologists Student Association president-elect Matt Teegarden. That bubble eventually ends up bursting, and you end up with @%#! all over your microwave. How to Stop the Splatter Microwaving burst-prone foods is all about keeping that wild water under control. The best way to do that? It depends on the item in question. Potatoes White and sweet potatoes both have a thick skin that traps steam. But making lots of little holes in the surface with a fork would allow that steam to escape easily, Teegarden says. I tried it with a sweet potato, and I heard a lot of scary hissing. “That’s the sound of the water getting hot and turning into water vapor,” Teegarden told me. The verdict: Despite the horrifying noises, this worked like a charm. And it was a lot faster than baking the potato for an hour an the oven. Eggs With its steam-trapping shell, trying to hard-boil an egg is practically begging for an explosion. The most obvious way to prevent steam from building up is by pricking a hole in the eggshell with a pin. But that didn’t do much good for me: The egg still kablammed. Making a larger hole just caused the egg white to start leaking out. Some people say to cook the egg at 50 percent power, but the only way that my microwave rolls is full-throttle. So I decided to get rid of the shell altogether and make scrambled eggs instead. Stopping to stir the eggs every 30 seconds or so helped me achieve a fluffy, curd-like texture, rather than a mass of uniform egg. The verdict: In my non-fancy microwave, it was impossible to make a hard-boiled egg. So I got rid of the steam build-up problem altogether by making scrambled eggs instead. It was easy. Spaghetti Squash A spaghetti squash is a lot like a potato, just with thicker skin... skin that’s too thick to prick with a fork. To deal with this, most recipes for microwaved spaghetti squash say to slice the squash in half horizontally and place the squash cut-side down on a microwave-safe plate. That allows enough steam to escape without totally drying out the squash flesh. The verdict: This worked! The squash didn’t blow up, and the inside cooked up tender and moist. (Tip: Don't forget the microwave-safe plate like we did in the above GIF.) Oatmeal I came across a couple of odd methods that were supposed to keep big bubbles from forming in my oatmeal. Adding copious amounts of butter was supposed to make the oatmeal more slippery and less gel-like. Resting chopsticks on top of the bowl was supposed to break up bubbles before they got too big. Thankfully, there were also simpler options: Teegarden said I could stir the oatmeal frequently to promote more even heat distribution and stop bubbles from forming in the first place. Using a big bowl was supposed to reduce the likelihood of spillovers. The verdict: The part of the buttery oatmeal that didn’t end up all over the microwave (about half?) was rich and delicious. Chopstick oatmeal was just plain messy. Stirring the oatmeal often in a big bowl worked, but I had to be vigilant. If I walked away for more than 30 seconds, I risked returning to a bubble on the verge of bursting. Tomato Sauce Tomato sauce and oatmeal explode for pretty much the same reasons. So I figured that I could keep my tomato sauce tidy the same way as my morning porridge: Use a big bowl and stir the sauce frequently. And if that didn’t work? “The best thing might be to get one of those splatter shields,” he told me. The verdict: As predicted, using a big bowl and stirring every 30 seconds got the job done. Yes! The Bottom Line You can end the cycle of endless microwave explosions by stopping steam from building up in your food. And maybe getting a splatter shield for extra insurance.

In heartwarming video, dad hospitalized after cancer diagnosis welcomes baby boy

An emotional video that shows a dad with cancer experiencing the birth of his son is going viral.

According to the Huffington Post, doctors diagnosed Cagney Wenk with stage-four gliboblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, three weeks before his fiancee, Jessica Li, was due to give birth to their son, Levon. As the Colorado man recovered from surgery in the ICU at Boulder Community Hospital, his nurses wanted to do something nice for the couple.

That's when they contacted an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep to document Wenk welcoming his baby boy.

On Sept. 18, Sarah Boccolucci, a photographer and videographer, captured the emotional moment Wenk was brought from the ICU for Levon's birth. Her heartwarming video has been viewed more than 24,000 times.

>> Click here to watch

<script>(function(d, s, id) {</span><br /><span>  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];</span><br /><span>  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;</span><br /><span>  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;</span><br /><span>  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.7";</span><br /><span>  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);</span><br /><span>}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>I was recently connected with this amazing family via Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. While this type of session isn't what...Posted by Sarah Boccolucci Photography + Birth Services on Monday, September 19, 2016

“There is a point during the birth where Cagney tells Jessica that they are surrounded by all the love in the world right now,” Boccolucci told the Huffington Post. “It is my hope that people will see the video, feel the love this family shares, and help lift them up and make a donation if they are able.”

>> Read more trending stories

She added, "My hope is that the family gets all the support they can and remain hopeful that Cagney will beat this cancer."

If you would like to donate to the family to help cover their medical costs, visit their GiveForward page.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

<script>(function(d, s, id) {</span><br /><span>  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];</span><br /><span>  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;</span><br /><span>  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;</span><br /><span>  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.7";</span><br /><span>  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);</span><br /><span>}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>Posted by Cagney Wenk on Sunday, September 25, 2016

How a 'Bad Food' Attitude Can Backfire

Do you struggle with cravings and wish you had the will power to cut out certain foods completely? When we work toward a healthy diet, so many of us think that making a list of food culprits and calling them off-limits will help us to succeed. However, if you take a deeper look at the psychology behind this flawed method, you’ll see so many reasons why adopting a ''good food'' or ''bad food'' attitude will never work.  Restricting certain foods won't just make dieting miserable--it can also ruin your good intentions of getting healthy and losing weight. Making arbitrary rules about good and bad food isn’t the answer to lasting lifestyle change. Instead, use the tips below to build a better relationship with food, learn to master cravings, build self-control and enjoy all foods in moderation.   Stop Labeling Foods as 'Good' and 'Bad' For decades, behavior analysts have studied the effects of deprivation on people’s preferences for food, tangible items and activities. The majority of literature on this topic says that, when we’re deprived of something, we’re more likely to select that particular item from an array of choices. In a recent study conducted at the University of Toronto at Mississauga, researchers found that participants who were asked to restrict either high-carb or high-protein foods for three days reported higher cravings for the banned foods. So, if you label chocolate as evil and forbid it from your menu, you’ll be more likely to want it in any form.   The good news is that some level of satiation (satisfying your craving for a particular food) can actually help you to avoid overindulging more often than not. If you can be conscious about your eating and have just enough of your favorite chocolate bar to satisfy that craving, you’ll be much less tempted to dip into the candy jar on your co-worker’s desk or buy a sweet snack from the vending machine.   This information about deprivation seems like common sense, but you’ve probably heard from friends or fellow dieters that the first step in avoiding high-calorie foods is putting them out of your mind altogether. Not true! Researchers are realizing that suppressing thoughts about a particular food can cause an increase in consumption of that food. In a 2010 study, 116 women were split into three groups. The first group was asked to suppress thoughts about chocolate, the second group was asked to actively think about chocolate, and the third group was instructed to think about anything they wished. Afterward, each of the participants was given a chocolate bar. The women who had suppressed their thoughts about chocolate ate significantly more chocolate than the others, despite identifying themselves as more ''restrained eaters'' in general. This just goes to show that ''out of mind'' doesn’t necessarily always mean ''out of mouth.''   Dump the Idea of 'Diet Foods' Often, when people are trying to eat better, they start to categorize foods into those that are on their diet plan and those that are not. However, banning specific foods from your weight-loss plan may just make you crave them more.  According to an article published this year in the journal Appetite, a UK study of 129 women measured the cravings of those who were ''dieting'' to lose weight, ''watching'' to maintain their weight, and not dieting at all. The researchers found that, compared with non-dieters, dieters experienced stronger, more irresistible cravings for the foods they were restricting.   Noticing the difference between healthy and unhealthy options is definitely key in establishing a pattern of better eating. And, when you’re starting a weight-loss program, it does help to read food labels and menus carefully so that you can choose wisely. However, when you start to categorize specific foods such as candy, baked goods, alcohol and fried chicken as foods you can’t have, you’re setting yourself up for a backfire. The issue with labeling a food as a forbidden substance is that your thoughts immediately center on that particular item... and then you inadvertently start bargaining and rationalizing to get more of it. (How many times have you broken your ''diet rules'' to reward a trip to the gym with chocolate or a long day at work with a cocktail or two?)   There are some diet plans out there that advocate choosing a particular day of the week as your ''cheat day''--a day when you can indulge in all the foods you’ve cut out during the week. But listing certain foods as ''cheats'' or ''treats'' can set up a scenario where you’re depriving yourself all week long and constantly looking to the future, waiting on the moment that you’ll be showered with your favorite forbidden goodies (like those commercials where fruit-flavored candies fall from a rainbow).   Besides causing you to crave, labeling certain foods as ''forbidden'' makes it really difficult to be mindful of and content with the healthy food you’re eating most of the time. Instead of worrying about restricting foods, try to redirect your focus on creating the most delicious salad, grilling a succulent chicken breast or munching a juicy piece of fruit. If you turn your attention to the abundance of healthy options in front of you instead of weighing the pros and cons of particular foods, you’ll be more likely to really relish and rejoice in your everyday choices.   Make Sense of 'Moderation' You’ve heard the line a thousand times: Everything in moderation. But what does this phrase really mean and how can you apply it to your healthy eating plan? Usually, people hand this advice out when they’re indulging in unhealthy food and drink and trying to get you to join in, say at a wedding or birthday party. So is it just peer pressure? Or is there something to this age-old saying?   Choosing to eat all foods in moderation works just fine for some people. If you have a healthy relationship with food (e.g., you have no trouble putting away the bag of chips after just one serving), then eating a little bit of your favorite food may satisfy your craving and leave you full until the next healthy meal.   However, for some people, it just doesn’t work that way. Sweets, salts and alcohol all cause biological reactions in the body that are hard to ignore. And, if you’re someone who responds strongly to these reactions, even one small bite can trigger you to continue sampling similar goodies. If you’re one of these folks, you’re definitely not alone, and it is important to know which foods affect you in these ways. Perhaps you’re a person who can have a bite of a sundae and pass the rest on to your spouse, but a fun-size candy bar can unravel your motivation and spark unhealthy choices for the rest of the day. Noting which tempting foods are your triggers can help you arrange your environment so that you don’t overindulge.   Rearranging your environment for success is the easiest way to change your behavior. If you do decide to indulge in a ''trigger food'' in moderation, opt to eat it in a place where there aren't any other snack options for you to munch on afterwards (a food-filled party would not be the best environment!). Choose snacks that you like, but don't love, so you're not tempted to eat too much but are still satisfied. Understanding which foods are likely to lead you down a slippery slope and preparing your environment and schedule for success will help you keep cravings at bay and keep your overeating under control.   Keep Cravings in Check Cravings are a good thing. On a basic, biological level, cravings tell us when we’re hungry, thirsty, sleepy and even when we need some human attention. The problem is that, because we’re so accustomed to having easy access to eat whenever we want and we’re able to choose from many unhealthy foods, the ratio of our wants and needs are all out of whack! It is time to step back and become aware of what we’re really craving and why. When we can look objectively at our yearnings for soda, chips, cake and cookies, we can make much better decisions about what we put in our mouths.   One of the best ways to get back in touch with your true cravings is to keep track of them.  For a few days, keep a journal of the time of day, what you’re craving, and whether you’re at work, at home, on the road, with your kids, etc. You can still give in to temptation—this exercise will simply give you a clearer picture of how often you crave, what you crave and in what settings those cravings occur.   In behavior science, before we try to change any habit, we do an assessment like this to look at the person’s current patterns so that we can set goals for small, stepwise changes. You’ll likely notice a pattern quickly (e.g., I always want something sweet with my 10 a.m. coffee). Then you can put some measures in place to deter this craving or make a healthy choice before it happens (e.g., I’ll start bringing a piece of fruit to eat with coffee so I don’t grab a muffin from the break room).   With a little mindfulness, you can ditch the ''good food, bad food'' attitude! Plan carefully and stay in tune with your body to make sensible decisions that will satisfy your cravings and promote weight loss.        References:   James A.K. Erskine & George J. Georgiou. 4 February 2010. Effects of thought suppression on eating behaviour in restrained and non-restrained eaters. Appetite 54, 3 (2010):499-503.   Jennifer S. Coelho, Janet Polivy, C. Peter Herman. 16 May 2006. Selective carbohydrate or protein restriction: Effects on subsequent food intake and cravings. Appetite 47, 3 (November 2006): 352-360.   David B. McAdam, Kevin P. Klatt, Mikhail Koffarnus, Anthony Dicesare, Katherine Solberg, Cassie Welch, & Sean Murphy. The effects of establishing operations on preferences for tangible items. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis 38 (2005): 107-110.   Anna Massey & Andrew J. Hill. 18 January 2012. Dieting and food craving. A descriptive, quasi-prospective study. Appetite 58, 3 (June 2012): 781–785. Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1770

8 Tips for Deciphering Diet Claims

Though food is supposed to be one of life's simple pleasures, few things cause more angst and confusion. It's no wonder why. We're constantly being told which foods we should eat to be healthy, which diets we should follow to be skinny, which preparation methods we should use to be safe, and which chemicals and contaminants in food we should shun to avoid illness. It's enough to give anyone indigestion. If you're confused about what to believe, you've come to the right place. In "Coffee Is Good for You," I'll give you the bottom line on an array of popular diet and nutrition claims in a quick, easily digestible way. Research about diet and health rarely yields the equivalent of DNA evidence, which provides incontrovertible proof. All types of studies come with caveats. However, if interpreted properly, a body of research can allow us to make sound judgments about how believable a claim is. Trying to make sense of the seemingly endless stream of food and nutrition claims can be overwhelming. Remembering the following 8 rules will make the task easier and allow you to stay focused on what’s really important:

  1. Don’t fixate on particular foods. Be wary of lists of miraculous “superfoods” you must eat or “toxic” foods you should never touch. Rather than worrying about squeezing one food or another into your diet, focus on your overall eating patterns, which should include plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, legumes, and good fats, and limited amounts of refined carbohydrates, junk food, red meat, and trans fats.  
  2. Look beyond narrow categories like carbs and calories. Many diet books and seals of approval on foods emphasize one or two factors, such as the calorie or carbohydrate count, while giving short shrift to other important things, like fiber, sodium, or trans fat. The fact that a hamburger is lower in calories than a salad doesn’t necessarily make it a better option. Likewise, just because fruit punch or cereal has added vitamins doesn’t mean it’s healthful. What’s important is the overall nutritional profile. You can get this from comprehensive food- scoring systems such as NuVal, which ranks the healthfulness of foods based on more than 30 factors.  
  3. Forget about fad diets. A plethora of weight- loss plans promise to melt away pounds quickly and easily. But in the long run, they rarely work. About 95 percent of dieters eventually regain lost weight. Instead of searching for the secret to skinniness, which doesn’t exist, try to eat more healthfully and be mindful of how much you’re consuming. Combined with exercise, this approach can prevent weight gain and, over time, lead to weight loss. And unlike dieting, it’s something you can stick with long term.  
  4. Recognize the limits of vitamin pills. While vitamin and mineral supplements can help make up for deficiencies of nutrients, they generally don’t live up to their billing when it comes to preventing disease, boosting energy, or improving your overall health. Supplements pack far less nutritional punch than food, which contains multiple nutrients that interact with one another and with other foods in a variety of complex ways. As a result, vitamin pills can’t compensate for an unhealthful diet. And they can cause harm if you take too much of certain nutrients.  
  5. Ignore health claims on food packages and in ads. A few such claims, such as those related to sodium and high blood pressure, are officially approved by the FDA, but most aren’t. They fall under a loophole that allows companies to use sneaky language like “helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels” or “helps support a healthy immune system.” Because these phrases don’t explicitly say that the food prevents or treats disease— even though that’s what any normal person would infer—manufacturers don’t have to provide any evidence. What’s more, there are no strict definitions for frequently used terms such as all natural, low sugar, and made with whole grains or real fruit. Because it’s virtually impossible to distinguish between legitimate and misleading claims by manufacturers, the best approach is to disregard them all and get your information from the Nutrition Facts panel on the package.  
  6. Verify emails before forwarding them. The vast majority of emails about food and nutrition are half truths or outright hoaxes. If someone forwards you an email claiming, for example, that canola oil is toxic or that asparagus cures cancer, assume it’s not true, no matter how scientific it sounds. Check it out with a reputable source like Snopes. com or Urbanlegends. about. com. Forwarding unconfirmed claims only adds to the hype, misinformation, and confusion.  
  7. Don’t be influenced by just one study. When you encounter news reports about the latest study, don’t jump to conclusions based on that alone. Remember that it’s just one piece of a puzzle. What matters is the big picture— what scientists call the totality of the evidence. For a credible overview of the science, check out online sources such as the Nutrition Source from Harvard School of Public Health, or newsletters such as Nutrition Action Healthletter, the Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, and the Berkeley Wellness Letter. Or go to www. pubmed. gov and look up the research yourself.  
  8. Enjoy eating! As I said at the beginning of this book, all the admonitions about which foods we should and shouldn’t consume can make eating a stressful chore. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Using science as your guide, focus on the claims with the greatest credibility and relevance, and tune out the rest. That way, you’ll feel less overwhelmed. While following sound nutrition advice is important for good health, it need not spoil your dinner. Bon appétit!
   Adapted with permission from "Coffee is Good for You" by Robert J. Davis, PhD, by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright (c) 2012 by Robert J. Davis, PhD, MPH. Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1725

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