The SparkPeople Blog

16 Ways to Grow Your Diet With Plants

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/11/2017  12:00:00 AM   :  16,631 views

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Growing up, most of us incorporated dairy into our daily diet without a thought. Milk on your cereal, a cheese sandwich and yogurt at lunchtime, a good sprinkle of cheddar atop your burger or tacos for dinner and a couple scoops of cookies 'n cream while watching your favorite shows before bed.

As a kid, eating your veggies likely wasn't as high of a priority. A baggie of carrot sticks may have accompanied your lunch, and some green beans might have appeared on your dinner plate.

Then, as you grew older, you were able to make more and more dietary decisions yourself. Maybe some of those childhood habits stuck, while others fell off for various reasons. While milk is high in calcium and a good source of protein, it doesn't always agree with everyone's digestive systems. And while carrots are awesome for vitamin A and beta-carotene, there is more to the plant world than those little bagged orange goodies.

Whether you are on a weight loss journey, aspire to better overall health or simply want to cut back on animal products, now is a great time to try. With a full assortment of plant-based products on the market, from coconutmilk to cashewmilk ice cream, it's never been easier to incorporate more plant-based foods into your daily diet.

If you're ready to commit to an all plant-based diet or just cut back a little on dairy, these tips can help get you there.

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  1. Skip the cow's milk and try a milk alternative in your favorite smoothie (with plenty of your favorite fruits and veggies, of course).

  2. Get creative with your oatmeal by mixing in fresh, frozen or dried fruit, honey, peanut butter or any other yummy fruit or nut spread.



  3. Add a splash of flavored coconutmilk or almondmilk creamer to your coffee.

  4. Get your daily calcium intake from plant-based sources, such as collard greens, soy milk, tofu, kale, oranges or almonds.

  5. Instead of cheese, embrace the creaminess of an avocado on salads or pureed butternut squash in soups or potatoes.



  6. Substitute culinary coconut milk in your favorite creamy sauces.

  7. Enjoy Meatless Monday any day of the week.

  8. For some protein, add beans to your meals instead of ground meat, or try for a mixture of half ground meat and half beans (such as black beans and ground turkey).

  9. Pack single-serving handfuls of heart-healthy nuts in your purse, car or desk drawer as a quick and healthy snack that packs protein.

  10. Add veggies—the more, the better—to any dish. Not only are they low in calories and chock-full of vitamins and nutrients, they keep you fuller longer.

  11. Visit your local farmers market for in-season fruits and veggies. Clean, prep and store them in your fridge for easy, healthy snacking.



  12. Love to dip? Try hummus—it comes in many flavors and varieties. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, try other plant-based dips, such as baba ganoush or guacamole.

  13. Satisfy your sweet tooth with non-dairy desserts made from cashewmilk, coconutmilk or almondmilk.

  14. Try sprinkling seeds—chia, pumpkin, sesame, hemp, flax or others—on top of any meal, or add them to smoothies, dips or trail mix for added nuttiness and nutrition.

  15. Use olive oil instead of butter when sautéing vegetables or making sauces.

  16. Try a plant-based yogurt alternative when you want a cold, creamy snack or quick breakfast.

Swapping plant-based foods for dairy in your diet isn't as difficult as you might think, and it doesn't have to be all or nothing. Start small with a few simple swaps and see where your diet takes you.

What Do You Wish People Knew About Being Overweight?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/7/2017  12:00:00 AM   :  128 comments   :  28,426 views

If you've never been overweight, it's impossible to know what day-to-day life is really like. And it's easy to assume that an obese person has made poor choices that led to their situation—they must eat a lot of unhealthy food and never exercise, right? And beyond the more obvious issues, like low self-esteem and ill-fitting clothes, a slimmer person likely has no concept of the daily challenges of obesity.

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This Video About Healthy Eating Is so Funny Because It's Painfully True

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/4/2017  12:00:00 AM   :  92 comments   :  14,151 views

Every month The Go Get It Guide is your destination for motivation, musings on random goals and probably pop culture references. It's a space where we'll sort through the PR pitches and news, then share our honest thoughts on what's happening in the health and fitness world, what's on the horizon and just what we think of that video the internet obsessed over last week. Check in each month to Spark, Sweat, Smile, Savor and Shop with us!
 

Spark: Carbs Are Bad! No, Wait! It's Eggs That Are the Enemy!
 

Here in my head, we have a saying: Another day, another diet fad. My inbox is regularly flooded with pitches about the latest and greatest in healthy eating, many claiming that this ingredient or that nutrient is to blame for years of obesity and health issues. Others swear by a regulated list of diet rules based on some vague research study or decades-old philosophy that—Hallelujah!—has been resurrected to save us from our worst snacking sins.

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40 Things to Do Instead of Eat When You're Bored

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/3/2017  12:00:00 AM   :  111 comments   :  32,347 views

After a long day at work, at school, in carpool lanes or {insert daily obligation here}, your energy reserves and brain power have been thoroughly zapped. You manage to squeeze in a quick workout, grab dinner, knock out some laundry and maybe answer a few emails—and then before you know it, you find yourself halfway through a bag of chips, a pint of ice-cream or maybe just a few too many crackers with hummus. You're not quite sure how or why you started eating in the first place…after all, dinner was just an hour or two ago, and you're certainly not hungry. It's just that for the first time all day, you finally have some down time, your phone has stopped ringing, no one is clamoring for your attention, your mind is wandering aimlessly and the food is just right there…

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Can Sweat-Inducing Methods Really Accelerate Weight Loss?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/2/2017  12:00:00 AM   :  71 comments   :  22,341 views

Losing weight can be a true test of patience. It's not easy to cut back on eating so many of the foods you love, and it can be challenging to find the time and energy to devote to a regular exercise routine. You put in so much hard work that you expect the reward to be progress on the scale. When the scale isn't moving quite as fast as you'd hoped, though, it's tempting to look outside of just diet and exercise to find ways to speed up the process.
 
Water loss is one of those alternative prescriptions for those seeking quick results on the scale. Like the fighter exercising in a sauna suit before a weigh-in, sweating can help with temporary weight loss. The plastic suit acts as an insulator, increasing body temperature which increases sweat production. But is it a long-term solution to your weight-loss woes? Do products that promote sweating and turn up the heat really help keep those pounds off for good? These four items tout weight-loss claims, so let's find out if they really deliver and are even safe to try.

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6 Fun-Filled Hula Hoop Exercises for Better Fitness

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/1/2017  12:00:00 PM   :  121 comments   :  173,798 views

In 1958 WHAM-O introduced the world to a new toy after Arthur Melin and Richard Knerr observed children in Australia playing with bamboo hoops in their exercise class. Upon their return to the States, they took what they had seen and invented the plastic hoop, what we now know as the Hula Hoop. What started out as a fad in the late 1950's for kids has now turned into a fitness frenzy 53 years later. And if you don't believe swirling your hips can burn calories and tone your body, think again.

Researchers at the Exercise and Health Program at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse led by Jordan Holthusen, M.S. and John Porcari, Ph.D. conducted a study of 16 advanced to intermediate female hoopers. To their amazement, hula hooping expended similar calorie rates and raised heart rates similar to cardio kickboxing, step aerobics and boot camp classes. Although the researchers state that more studies need to be done to determine what the long-term fitness benefits to hooping will bring, one thing is for certain, when we have fun doing an activity we are more likely to participate in it. I always say something always trumps nothing, especially when it comes to exercise.

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