Your Own Personal Nurse Is a Phone Call Away

Your doctor can be a great resource to help guide you toward a healthier life. But every so often, you might need professional health advice immediately--advice that you can't necessarily get from a quick Google search. Maybe you're dealing with a chronic condition and don't have the time, energy or money to make an appointment with your physician for every little question. Dealing with a chronic illness can be confusing and challenging, and it might seem like you need a go-to person who can address all your concerns as they come up. The good news is, those people do exist! They are called Personal Nurses, and they may be available at no cost through your insurance provider. We interviewed Jessica, a Personal Nurse at Humana, to find out what these professionals can do for you. She also gave us some great tips on how to get the most out of your doctor's visits, how to effectively cope with a chronic illness, and more--so take notes! 

Posted 11/18/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 4,276 views

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Get a Team of Personal Health Professionals

When you’re not feeling like yourself, it’s good to have a team of friends and family to help. But where do you turn when you need support and expertise? Many people don't know that some health insurance plans offer up personal health professionals to help you navigate the healthcare space and design a plan to become your healthiest, happiest self. These experts are available to work one-on-one with you to establish a baseline and set realistic goals. They can provide personalized guidance, education and resources. Additionally, they will follow up with you based on your personal needs and preferences--all included in your health insurance package.

Posted 11/6/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 6,235 views

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The Best Ways to Stay Motivated for Good

You can read hundreds of nutrition articles and talk about getting healthier until you're blue in the face, but all the knowledge in the world won't do you any good unless you've got the motivation to go with it. And even though getting motivated might sound like the easy part, it's actually the trickiest! In our world of instant gratification and convenience, it can be all too easy to plop down on the couch instead of hitting the gym, or to grab takeout in favor of cooking a healthy dinner. To help us answer the million-dollar question of how to get and stay motivated, we asked two Humana Health Coaches to give us their top ten tips for setting—and reaching—any goal you set your mind to. 

Posted 10/27/2014  1:00:00 AM By:   : 21,668 views

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Memphis and Meta Take Small Steps for Big Health Changes

Here at SparkPeople, we love seeing other companies help communities reach healthy, positive goals—and Meta is doing just that! This summer, Metamucil® underwent an evolution to become part of a full line of wellness products called Meta, which aims to give people simple solutions to help them live their best, healthiest lives. The folks at Meta believe that making small, everyday changes can lead to long-term health and wellness results (a philosophy that mirrors our own). Now, Meta is challenging Americans in Memphis, TN—which is currently ranked as the unhealthiest city in the United States*--to make strides toward more healthful living, one step at a time. Memphis is up for the challenge, and the city is making better health more attainable for everyone with a year-long partnership with Meta and national sweepstakes** hosted on the Meta Facebook page

Posted 10/16/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 1,838 views

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Peek Inside the Mind of a Health Coach

These days, getting and staying healthy is becoming a bigger concern with diseases like obesity, diabetes and heart disease on the rise. But it can be hard to know where to start or who to ask for help beyond your primary care physician. Where do you turn when you just want someone to help you put together a plan to help you reach basic healthy lifestyle goals?

This is where Health Coaches come in! These professionals are fairly new faces in the healthcare world, but their impact has been growing rapidly. Health Coaches can help tailor a plan specific to your goals, whether you would like to lose weight or simply start building healthier habits. We've interviewed two Humana Health Coaches, Melina and Kristina, to give you a peek into the world of these professionals--and why you should consider giving Health Coaching a try to take your healthy lifestyle commitment to the next level. 

Posted 10/10/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 10,893 views

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5 Ways Health Insurance Companies Can Reward Your Healthy Habits

You know how health insurance works: You pay a premium, you pay a deductible and sometimes you also pay a copay. It can feel like a lot of paying, all told. But health insurance doesn’t just have to cost you money. Health insurance companies have an interest in you staying healthy and preventing chronic illness, too. After all, someone who is healthy will end up living a longer, happier life--and spending much less on medical expenses.
 
While yesterday’s insurers took a here-and-now approach, today’s companies are offering a host of health-promoting incentive programs to help their members prevent and manage health conditions. These programs are painless and powerful motivators to keep up healthy habits. Every insurance company is different, but most of the time, all it takes is a quick, baseline assessment in which you create personal, measurable goals (like getting a check-up or tracking workouts), and you’ll soon be earning rewards. These rewards most often consist of discounts or points toward the purchase of items or services (like exercise equipment, movie tickets, hotel stays and more) simply for doing basic health-related tasks. Here are some of the ways you could reap rewards from your insurance company (many of which you would probably do anyway!). 

Posted 9/22/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 18,122 views

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The Best Health & Motivation Resources You Aren't Using

Getting motivated is tough, and staying motivated is health’s million dollar question. You might be able to muster up the will to get to the gym a few times a week for a few weeks and then… nothing. Working out starts to feel like a slog. You fall back into your old TV habit and the next thing you know, you’re back on the couch instead of taking that after-dinner walk or meeting a friend for tennis. Inspiration can be especially sparse if you’re balancing a crazy work schedule, kids, aging parents, and everyday chores. But the good news is, there are now more motivational tools out there than ever to help you get (and stay) inspired to live a healthier life. One of the following helpful resources is bound to help you stick with your goals for the long haul! 

Posted 9/15/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 20,639 views

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Are Low- and No-Calorie Sweeteners Really Safe?

Have you ever wondered why just about everyone likes sweets? Stop wondering.  The fact is we are born with an innate desire for sweet taste. And we begin to enjoy sweet taste as soon as we taste mother’s milk or infant formula. Some believe that desire was nature’s way of leading us to foods that had calories for survival.

As rates of obesity continue to rise in many countries, we know that too often we eat more sweet foods than we need for survival!  The problem occurs when we overindulge in our desire for sweets and consume more calories than we burn off. But there is a way that we can have our cake and eat it, too--by choosing foods and beverages sweetened with low- and no-calorie sweeteners. That’s one reason why these ingredients were initially developed--to allow us to enjoy sweet things with fewer calories. Another reason is to provide sweetness without sugar that increases blood glucose, so that diabetics could enjoy these foods. However, as an expert in food ingredient safety, I am often asked:  are sugar substitutes such as aspartame or sucralose safe? 

Posted 9/5/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 9,682 views

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5 Reasons Why It's Okay to Drink Diet Beverages

If you’re feeling confused by all of the headlines about diet beverages, you’re not alone. There’s a growing amount of misinformation about diet beverages. Here are some of the facts that we tell our patients who ask about drinking these popular drinks:   
 
1. They help satisfy your sweet tooth.
 
Diet beverages can help fulfill our innate desire for sweet – but without adding calories. In fact, University of North Carolina researchers8found that drinking diet beverages didn’t increase appetite or desire for sweets. Diet soda drinkers in their study actually ate less dessert.
 
2. Diet soda doesn’t raise blood sugar levels.
 
That’s a big deal for the 29 million Americans who have diabetes, not to mention the 86 million more with pre-diabetes. No wonder that the American Diabetes Association9recommends that people with this disease consume foods and beverages sweetened with low- and no-calorie sweeteners. 

Posted 8/28/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 9,631 views

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Do Diet Sodas Really Help with Weight Loss?

One of the questions that I am often asked by my patients at the Anschutz Center for Health and Wellness is this: ''Can I drink diet soda and still lose weight?'' The follow-up question is usually: ''Is it true that diet beverages can make me feel hungrier?''
 
That’s when I know that they are seeing some of the same confusing headlines about diet beverages that I often see in the local and national news media, and even more frequently on the web.
 
What I love about my job is that I get to try to find answers to some of these puzzling nutrition questions. To that end, my colleagues and I just completed a study that asked the question: what effect do diet beverages have on weight loss? We were surprised by the answers, which makes me think that you may be, too. 

Posted 8/18/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 9,793 views

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13 Smart Snacks to Keep at Your Desk

Hunger doesn't always stick to a schedule, especially during the workday. Your lunch break might be scheduled for noon, but your appetite doesn't always get that memo! Hunger can interfere with your ability to focus on important tasks, and it can make you cranky (or worse, hangry!), which can certainly affect your relationships with your co-workers. That means you gotta get that hunger in check even when you can't leave your desk. So keep healthy snacks on hand to stay on track with your diet and on task at the office!  

Here are 13 nutritious and filling (yet low-calorie) foods that travel well. Some can be stored in your desk, while others need to be stored in the fridge or an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack until you're ready to eat.

Posted 4/10/2014  6:00:00 AM By:   : 7 comments   21,094 views

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Satisfy Any Craving for Less than 100 Calories

When you're trying to manage your weight or eat better, cravings can be your Achilles' heel. They come at the most inopportune times and cripple your will power; you gotta have [insert your biggest temptation] right now, no matter what. It's all you can think about!

Most of us don't crave healthy or low-calorie foods, unfortunately. It's always ice cream, chips, or chocolate--never cucumbers, rice cakes or broccoli. To make matters worse, those cravings usually hit late at night when we don't have many (or any) calories left in our budget for the day.

The good news is that whether you have a sweet or savory, creamy or crunchy craving, you can satisfy it for 100 calories or less without feeling deprived. Here's how:

First, think long and hard about what you're craving. If it's chocolate, chances are a piece of fruit isn't going to satisfy you. You need to eat what you actually crave to feel satisfied.

Posted 3/14/2014  6:00:00 AM By:   : 64,994 views

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10 Smart Swaps That Save Calories

When it comes to healthy eating, you don't have to sacrifice flavor. You can easily slash fat, calories and even carbs, if you're watching those, from all your favorite dishes without turning them into "diet" recipes. Here are 10 examples of how swapping in one or two simple ingredients can create a delicious dish that's far healthier than the original. With these Smart Swaps, you'll never know we made any changes to affect healthfulness!

Posted 3/1/2014  12:00:00 AM By:   : 8 comments   27,534 views

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11 Ways to Crush Nighttime Cravings

It's 8 p.m. You should be getting ready for bed or at least winding down your day, but all you can think about is how much you want to sink your teeth into that chocolate-covered peanut-nougat candy bar in the kitchen drawer. Or how good a bag of crunchy potato chips would be right now. Or how it would feel to swirl your spoon through a big bowl of butter pecan ice cream and lick up every last drop.

You know you shouldn't…and yet, the craving is all-consuming! Your mind engages in a tug of war so strong you feel like your will power might just be yanked out from under you.

Posted 2/6/2014  6:00:00 AM By:   : 19,282 views

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4 Questionable Sources of Probiotics

It’s no secret that probiotics provide digestive health benefits. But some sources can be misleading in their probiotic reliability. When it comes to your digestive health, you can’t spare reliability.

Here's where the good bacteria can be found.

Posted 12/31/2013  6:00:00 AM By:   : 6,297 views

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