How Does Sleep Impact Mental Health?

by Elizabeth Petty | The mechanisms of sleep disruption and mental health are complicated to understand. But what scientists do know is that sleep and mental health are intimately related. After all, it’s during sleep that we process our emotions and memories.

Sleep for the brain is like gas for a car. When the tank is full we get where we need to be. But as time goes on, the gauge falls lower and lower until the gas is gone and the car stops. Without the fuel it needs, the car is useless.

Our brains operate in a similar way. The only difference is the brain’s fuel is sleep. Without proper sleep, our minds begin to slow, unable to operate at their full potential. This happens until the mind becomes so deprived of the rest it needs, it breaks down. And without the commander-in-chief acting accordingly, the rest of the body pays the price.

In this guide, we are going to deep dive into the complex relationship between sleep and mental health, including how these two aspects of health are inversely related, the consequences of sleep deprivation on the mind, and the link between sleep disorders and mental health disorders.

You ready? We’re really about to exercise your mind.

How Sleep Impacts Mental Health
Sleep is the mind’s time to rest and recharge. When we get proper sleep, memories, emotions and new information are processed and filed away for our minds to retrieve later on. You know, so you can recall the name of the new coworker that started in your office last week. If you fail to get adequate sleep, well, let’s just hope you don’t run into that new coworker in the bathroom. Because sleep is the time our mind blocks for mental processing, it makes sense why we would be forgetful when we miss out on a good night’s sleep. That’s not all. Sleep is also the time emotional processing takes place. This is why if we miss out on precious rest, we are far more likely to silently curse the car who cuts us off in traffic, or worse.

While these may seem like comical examples of sleep deprivation’s effects on the brain, unfortunately, the consequences are much more severe than forgotten names and road rage.

Consequences of Sleep Deprivation on Our Psychological State
The mechanisms of sleep disruption and mental health are complicated to understand. But what scientists do know is that sleep and mental health are intimately related. After all, it’s during sleep that we process our emotions and memories.

Think about it like this: sleep for the mind is like the quiet hours at the office. When there is less to respond to, you get more work done. Same goes for the brain. When we are asleep, the brain can really get to work because it doesn’t have to respond to all the external stimuli we encounter when we are awake. But if we rob the brain of this precious time, we pay the price.

Here are a few of the primary consequences sleep loss has on our psychological state.

Emotional Instability

Mood after a night of too little sleep.

Mood the night after too little sleep.

Have you ever noticed that when you miss out on sleep you tend to be more sensitive, easily irritated, or impulsive? There’s a biological reason for that, and it has to do with two areas of the brain called the amygdala and prefrontal cortex.

The amygdala is in charge of our emotional responses. But to do its job correctly it needs us to sleep, because that’s the time it’s allocated to process emotion. When we miss out on sleep, the amygdala goes into overdrive, causing our immediate emotional reactions to intensify. In fact, one study using MRI brain scans showed that the amygdala was around 60% more emotionally reactive in participants who were sleep deprived compared to those who were well rested. Hence, why you are more prone to road rage after a night of poor sleep. It’s not only negative emotions that intensify with lack of sleep; positive ones do too.

That’s not all. The amygdala isn’t the only area of the brain that gets hit with the consequences of sleep deprivation. Another area involved in emotional regulation, the prefrontal cortex, does as well. The prefrontal cortex does a lot of impressive things. One of which is being “the voice of reason” to our emotions (aka putting the brakes on our amygdala when it’s being a diva). The prefrontal cortex helps control our impulses.

However, like the amygdala, the prefrontal cortex can’t do its job properly when we don’t sleep well. Much of this has to do with a disruption in communication between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, who work closely with one another. This makes us more impulsive and less likely to think through our emotional reactions, which is a dangerous place to be.

The disruption of the amygdala in combination with the prefrontal cortex is what makes us more vulnerable to mood swings, erratic behavior, and increased emotional reactivity when we lose sleep. This is also why all parents dread when their teenager comes home from a sleepover.

Hormone Disruption

In addition to emotional instability, scientists know that lack of sleep causes a chemical imbalance in the brain. Some of the most valuable chemicals in the brain are our hormones.

Our body produces and regulates roughly 50 different hormones which act as chemical messengers for the brain, traveling through our blood and delivering messages from the brain to different areas of the body. Hormones influence appetite, weight, mood, immunity, growth, healing, and much more. In a word, hormones (amongst other things) allow us to function properly.

However, lack of sleep messes up the communication between the brain and it’s messengers, causing our hormones to act incorrectly or deliver misinformation to the body. This is why sleep deprivation poses such a dangerous threat to mental health—there’s a lot at risk if our hormones don’t deliver the correct information across the body.

Hormone disruption caused by lack of sleep is mainly due to how sleep affects the endocrine system, particularly the hypothalamus which is attached to the pituitary gland. The endocrine system consists of several glands that secrete (aka produce) hormones. The mastermind behind the endocrine system is the hypothalamus.

The primary responsibility of the hypothalamus is to maintain balance in the body, including hormonal balance. It tells the glands of the endocrine system when to produce certain hormones and when to regulate others. Put another way, the hypothalamus tells the hormones what messages to communicate to the body and when. Much of this critical instruction from the hypothalamus is given during sleep.

At night, the hypothalamus instructs certain glands of the endocrine system to physically produce the following hormones and regulate others. But if we don’t sleep, it can’t deliver the proper information causing everything to fall out of balance. This puts our bodies in a state of chaos trying to find homeostasis again.

Although many hormone levels are influenced by sleep, cortisol (the hormone that impacts stress levels) has one of the biggest impacts on the state of our mental health.

Less Sleep, More Stress

Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands that plays a big role in our “fight or flight” response. It helps keep us alert. The production of cortisol is regulated by the pituitary gland (remember, the one the hypothalamus is connected too). It’s very important for cortisol levels to be just right. If too much or too little cortisol is produced, there are consequences.

Unfortunately, when we don’t get enough sleep, too much cortisol is produced. This puts our body in a constant state of stress, unable to relax. This is the reason individuals under a lot of stress struggle with insomnia—the increased amounts of cortisol keep them awake!

We know stress has a number of detrimental effects on the body, including impaired thinking, weight gain, and the inability to control emotions. The worst part is, sleep deprivation and stress contribute to a negative feedback loop that can be difficult to break and often results in mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and depressive disorders.

With heightened stress, comes heightened anxiety which can make you hypersensitive to all sorts of physical, mental, and emotional stimuli. For anyone diagnosed with mental health disorders or sleep disorders, additional stress can increase the severity.

Our mind is pretty complex, huh? Amazingly, this is only scratching the surface in terms of how sleep impacts our mental health. But what about how our mental state impacts sleep? That’s a whole other fish to fry. I told you our sleep and mind have an intimate relationship.

How Mental Health Impacts Sleep

There’s no denying sleep and mental health have a reciprocal relationship. Lack of sleep impacts mental health, and vice versa. One thing is for sure: when our mental health is on the rocks, our sleep is right there with it.

Research shows Americans with psychiatric conditions are far more prone to sleep issues and abnormal sleep habits. In fact, chronic sleep problems affect 50 to 80 percent of patients in a typical psychiatric practice, compared with 10 to 18 percent of adults in the general U.S. population. So what’s the connection between mental illness and sleep disorders?

Mental Illness and Sleep Disorders

Traditionally, clinicians believed sleep disorders were a symptom of mental illness. Now, current research suggests sleep problems may raise risk for, and even directly contribute to, the development of some psychiatric disorders. But it’s not that simple. The link between sleep health and mental health is stronger and more complicated than ever.

It’s important to note that the relationship between these two ailments varies in severity and complexity across different disorders. One mental illness may develop in part due to a specific sleep disorder, but it can also be a symptom of the same mental illness — creating a positive feedback loop. Some mental issues may show no causal relationships with sleep at all. And some sleep disorders have no relationship with mental disorders whatsoever.

The most common mental illnesses in the United States are anxiety and depressive disorders, affecting roughly 40 million American adults, of which 50 to 90 percent also have a sleep disorder. The most common sleep ailments for individuals with mental illness are insomnia (not being able to sleep) and hypersomnia (sleeping too much), with sleep apnea following close behind.

While the relationship is complex, here’s what we know for a fact:

  • Sleep disorders are more common among the mentally ill
  • Lack of sleep can worsen mental illness and make it more difficult to cope with symptoms
  • It’s very likely that treatment for sleep disorders will alleviate symptoms of mental health disorders
  • Those with mental health disorders often spend time in lighter, less restorative stages of sleep than deep, REM sleep, which is critical to health and healing

The relationship between lack of sleep and mental illness is particularly important to understand because it has the potential to become very dangerous when untreated. A University of Michigan study found a strong correlation between insomnia and suicide.

Common Mental Illnesses and Their Associated Sleep Disorders

Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness across the United States, affecting 18 percent of the adult population. Anxiety disorders typically develop from a number of risk factors including genetics, brain chemistry, and life events. The good news is, anxiety disorders are highly treatable.

COMMON SLEEP PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH ANXIETY DISORDERS
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Night time panic attacks

Anxiety is a reaction to stress. While all of us experience and react to stress, the nervous system of those with an anxiety disorder fails to reset back to normal after fighting or fleeing the stressor. A heightened state of stress and anxiety keeps the nervous system alert, unable to relax enough for you to fall asleep. This is why insomnia is a common companion to anxiousness. Individuals with anxiety might also find themselves battling hypersomnia or oversleeping, as a response to the exhaustion from insomnia.

When anxiety is caused by trauma, such as PTSD, it’s not uncommon for them to relive that trauma through a vivid, unsettling dream that jerks them out of sleep. For those with panic anxiety disorder, it’s not uncommon for them to experience nocturnal panic attacks which take place during the lighter stages of sleep. The individual wakes up feeling extreme panic or fear, perhaps accompanied by sweats, pains in the chest, and increased heart rate.


Depression

Depression is a mood disorder that is far more severe than just feeling sad. We all experience low points, trying times, or stressors that bring our mood down—that is completely normal. It’s when these negative moods persist and eventually manifest into harmful thinking or behavior that depression becomes a psychiatric disorder.

Roughly 16 million Americans suffer from depression, constituting 6.7% of the entire population. Depression is more prevalent in women and is the leading cause of disability in people ages 15-44. Fifty percent of depressed individuals also have an anxiety disorder as well.

COMMON SLEEP PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH DEPRESSION
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Sleep Apnea

Insomnia affects 75 percent of individuals with depression. Depressed individuals can struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, and even wake up from sleep (hypersomnia). There has also been research that insinuates a relationship between sleep apnea and depression. In fact, individuals with sleep apnea are five times more likely to suffer from depression as well.


Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD is the most common mental illness among children and is a condition that consists of differences in brain development where attention, self-control, and hyperactivity are controlled.

COMMON SLEEP PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH ANXIETY DISORDERS

  • Insomnia
  • Daytime Sleepiness
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD) and Restless Leg Syndrome

Both the symptoms of ADHD and the medication used to treat it result in fragmented sleep, as well as other sleep disorders. Seventy-five percent of individuals with ADHD suffer from insomnia, believed to be caused by a delayed circadian rhythm. In addition to trouble falling asleep, individuals with ADHD can have trouble staying asleep as well.


A Final Note on Mental Health

It’s important to understand that mental illness is just that—an illness. Just like you get a fever or a sore throat, it’s not something you have control over and it’s not something to be ashamed of! Mental illnesses, like physical illnesses, can be treated. They just might be a little harder to recognize than a pounding headache. If you suffer from a mental illness of any kind, don’t be afraid to seek help. Just as we nurture our bodies back to health, so we can nurture our minds back to health too.

Elizabeth PettyRead the original article, Sleep and Mental Health: Why Our Brains Need Sleep



Spicy Indian Steak

by Linda Larsen | You can use any type of steak in this easy recipe, but strip steak or flank steak are both excellent choices. These cuts are best when marinated and quickly grilled, then sliced against the grain.

Usually, Indian cuisine does not include beef, for obvious reasons. But you can use Indian flavors and other foods of the cuisine to make beef recipes. The marinade for this delicious Indian recipe is very spicy. You can reduce the level of spices by simply reducing the amount, or omit the cayenne pepper or mustard seeds if you aren’t a fan of very hot foods. If you love spicy foods, of course, you can increase these ingredients!
Level: Easy
Preparation: 15 mins.
Cook: 25 mins.
Total: 40 mins.
Yield: 6 servings (2 Pounds Steak)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds flank steak or strip steak, cut into 6 serving size pieces

Preparation

  1. Place the ginger root, onion, and garlic in a blender or food processor and blend or process until very finely minced.

  2. Grind the coriander and cumin seeds, cayenne pepper, salt, and mustard seeds in a spice grinder or coffee grinder until they are powdered. Stir the spices into the onion mixture.

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large skillet over medium heat and add the onion and spice mixture; immediately reduce the heat to medium-low. Saute the ingredients gently over medium-low heat until they are very fragrant. Remove the onion mixture from the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes. Then spoon the onion mixture on the steaks, turning the meat to coat. Refrigerate the steaks, tightly covered, for 2 to 24 hours so the ingredients can permeate the meat.​

  4. When you’re ready to cook, prepare and preheat an outdoor gas or charcoal grill. Remove the steaks from the onion marinade and cook over medium-high coals for 10 to 15 minutes or until desired level of cooking but at least 145 F as tested with a meat thermometer. When the meat is done, remove it from the heat, place on a clean plate, and cover with foil. Let stand for 5 minutes. Slice the steak thinly across the grain to serve.

Tips

  • Serve this recipe with a crisp green salad and a cool cucumber salad for contrast. Some naan bread would also be a good addition. Add some cold beer or a red or rose wine for an excellent dinner.
  • You can use any type of steak in this easy recipe, but strip steak or flank steak are both excellent choices. These cuts are best when marinated and quickly grilled, then sliced against the grain. That means you cut the steak perpendicular to the natural lines in the steak. Those cuts of beef are tender and very flavorful and inexpensive too.

Linda Larsen is a journalist and author. Connect with Linda via her blog at “Linda’s Best Recipes.”  Linda have been developing and testing original recipes since 1987. She is also the author of 37 cookbooks as well as cooking articles and blog. Her work has been published in Woman’s Day magazine, Woman’s World, Quick and Simple, and First. Some of her publications include:



Nobody Does French Fries Like Thrasher’s in Ocean City, Maryland

Mr. Thrasher was a Georgian who introduced a unique concept to the Ocean City Boardwalk, a food stand specializing in only one item (the French fry), unheard of in 1929.

Mr. J.T. Thrasher introduced in 1929 to Ocean City, Maryland a food stand concession specializing only in the noble French fry. The process Thrasher originated was based upon quality ingredients, hard work, and above all attention to the perfection of each cup of fries. Thrasher found that only the highest quality potato would suffice. This meant that potatoes had to be purchased from all over the states at different time of the year.

Through five generations and eighty years, Thrasher’s has changed hands only twice. Tradition rules and quality reigns supreme. Only experience and exquisite attention to detail have allowed Thrasher’s to grow and flourish as few businesses have, nowhere will more emphases on quality be found. Nowhere will be a better fry be found – anywhere!

The dark crisp fries come in tubs that range from large to jumbo and served at three locations alongside a classic American boardwalk in Ocean City;

  1. At The Pier,
  2. 2nd St & Boardwalk and
  3. 8th St & Boardwalk.

Although some may prefer their fries plain, the real kicker is the malt vinegar you can shake liberally over your fries to get a good hit of tang. If you cannot make it to Thrasher’s, here are other excellent French fries locations across the country that you can try out:

Here is a link to Thrasher’s website



Home-Based Tools Can Help Assess Dementia Risk and Progression

by Daniel Bennett, University of California – San Diego | Researchers report on a novel four-year, randomized clinical trial evaluating different home-based methods to assess cognitive function and decline in participants over the age of 75. (image, Pixabay)

Clinical trials to develop new therapeutic and preventive treatments for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are costly, complicated and often preclude persons most at risk of developing the degenerative neurological condition: Older individuals with less mobility and significant medical issues, both making it more difficult for them to participate in traditional, clinic-based assessments with trained personnel.

In a new paper, published this month in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, a multi-institution team led by researchers at Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study (ADCS) at University of California San Diego School of Medicine published results of a novel four-year, randomized clinical trial evaluating different home-based methods to assess cognitive function and decline in participants over the age of 75.

Almost 600 persons participated in the home-based assessment (HBA) study; all had been previously diagnosed as either possessing normal cognitive abilities or suffering from Mild Cognitive Impairment, a condition that often precedes AD.

The HBA study evaluated three different methods for monitoring and measuring cognitive function, particularly as participants progressed from normal abilities to impairment and dementia. There were three primary objectives: 1. Establish feasibility and efficiency of the three home-based assessment methods; 2. Determine how home-based assessments captured cognitive change over time; and 3. Evaluate participants’ adherence in taking prescribed medication as a performance-based assessment of functional ability. (Results related to the third objective were not part of this paper.)

“We wanted to know if we could remotely assess cognition and other outcomes using various types of technology,” said first author Mary Sano, PhD, professor of psychiatry and director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “We needed to know this because prevention of dementia studies are long and assessing people in their home may reduce the burden of traveling to medical centers for study participants.”

Researchers also wanted to determine if home-based assessments would improve participant retention rates, lower study costs and create a more robust representation of varied study participants.

The assessment methods used were mail-in questionnaires with live telephone interviews; automated telephone calls with an interactive voice-response system; and computer-based assessments with internet connectivity, using a kiosk interface installed at the participants homes. Cognitive and functional tests were employed using all three assessment methods.

Feasibility was measured by the ability to recruit, screen, enroll and retain participants. Efficiency was measured by the number of site staff contacts and amount of site staff time required to complete assessments.

The team found that all three approaches were feasible, but with modestly different degrees of success. Dropout rates were low and similar across technologies, though participants who had kiosk tools installed in their homes were more likely to dropout earlier.

Staff resources were also higher for the kiosk group. All of the in-home instruments were able to distinguish between neurologically stable participants and those experiencing cognitive decline. Internet-based assessments were less efficient compared to testing by live assessors.

Overall, researchers said the results were broadly encouraging, and worth further investigation and development.

“This study taught us how to engage a diverse community of very elderly subjects with a mean age over 80 years in web-based data collection, as well as in traditional testing methods over multiple years,” Sano said.

By providing the tools and the access to all technologies, the study was also able to engage a large group of minority participants, demonstrating that participation is possible when resources are provided.

Howard Feldman, MD, director of ADCS and professor of neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine, said the HBA study sets in motion multiple possibilities.

We are always looking at ways to improve cognitive assessments by the most effective and expedient means possible. If we can make participating in clinical research easier on participants, through tools they are comfortable using, everyone benefits. This study is another reminder that human interaction is an important part of successful clinical trials.

Mary Sano, Carolyn W. Zhu, Jeffrey Kaye, James C. Mundt, Tamara L. Hayes, Steven Ferris, Ronald G. Thomas, Chung-Kai Sun, Yanxin Jiang, Michael C. Donohue, Lon S. Schneider, Susan Egelko, Paul S. Aisen, Howard H. Feldman. A randomized clinical trial to evaluate home-based assessment of people over 75 years old. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.jalz.2019.01.007

University of California – San Diego. “Home-based tools can help assess dementia risk and progression: Technologies may save time, money and make it easier for more people to participate in needed clinical trials.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 March 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190329093756.htm>.



A Complete Vegan Meal Plan and Sample Menu

by Rachael Link, MS, RD | The vegan diet is an eating plan that eliminates all animal products, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and honey. People decide to adopt veganism for different reasons, such as ethical concerns or religious principles.

Vegan diets have been linked to a variety of health benefits, including improved weight management and protection against certain chronic diseases.
However, finding balanced, healthy meals on a vegan diet can often be difficult and overwhelming.

If improperly planned, vegan diets may cause nutritional deficiencies and health problems.

This article provides a healthy vegan meal plan and sample menu to get you started.

What is a Vegan Diet?
The vegan diet is an eating plan that eliminates all animal products, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and honey.

People decide to adopt veganism for different reasons, such as ethical concerns or religious principles.

Others may decide to become vegan to decrease their ecological footprint, as plant-based diets are thought to generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions and use fewer natural resources.

Still, the environmental impact of any diet depends on multiple factors, including the way that foods are produced, packaged, and transported.

Some also decide to follow a vegan diet for health reasons, as veganism is associated with a multitude of benefits and may even help prevent certain chronic diseases.

In particular, vegan diets have been shown to improve heart health, increase weight loss, and support blood sugar control.

SUMMARY Vegan diets eliminate all animal products, including meat and dairy. People may adopt veganism for ethical, religious, environmental, or health reasons.

Health Benefits of Veganism
Research demonstrates that a well-rounded vegan diet may improve several aspects of your health.

According to one review, vegans have a 75% lower risk of developing high blood pressure than omnivores, or those who eat both meat and plants.

They also tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and lower levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. High levels for these markers are all risk factors for heart disease.

Vegan diets may also aid in weight management.

One study in 18 women found that following a vegan diet for 6 months resulted in decreased calorie and fat intake, as well as faster short-term weight loss, compared to a low-calorie, omnivorous diet.

Some research also suggests that veganism may be beneficial for blood sugar control and could help reduce your risk of diabetes.

In fact, one study in nearly 61,000 people showed that vegans were 2.6 times less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than omnivores.

A vegan diet may also reduce osteoarthritis symptoms — including joint pain and swelling — and your risk of certain cancers, such as those of the breast and prostate.

SUMMARY Vegan diets are associated with many benefits, including improved heart health, faster short-term weight loss, enhanced blood sugar control, less joint pain, and a decreased risk of cancer.

Vegan Shopping List
A healthy vegan diet should contain a variety of whole grains, proteins, healthy fats, and fruits and vegetables.

Foods like nuts, seeds, legumes, soy products, and nutritional yeast can all help boost your protein intake throughout the day.

Meanwhile, avocado oil, coconut oil, and olive oil are nutritious, vegan-friendly choices for healthy fats.

Here is a sample vegan shopping list to help get you started.

Fresh produce

  • Vegetables: asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, kale, onions, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, etc.
  • Fruits: apples, bananas, blueberries, grapes, grapefruit, lemons, limes, kiwis, oranges, peaches, pears, pomegranates, strawberries, etc.

Frozen produce

  • Vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, corn, green beans, peas, vegetable medley, etc.
  • Fruits: blackberries, blueberries, cherries, mangoes, pineapples, raspberries, strawberries, etc.

Whole grains

  • barley
  • brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • bulgur
  • farro
  • oats
  • quinoa
  • sorghum
  • teff

Breads and pastas

  • brown rice pasta
  • Whole-wheat pasta
  • sprouted bread, such as Ezekiel bread
  • brown rice wraps

Protein sources

  • Nuts: almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, etc.
  • Seeds: chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
  • Legumes: black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils, navy beans, pinto beans, etc.
  • Soy products: tempeh, tofu, etc.
  • Protein powders: pea protein powder, brown rice protein, hemp protein, etc.

Dairy alternatives

  • Milk substitutes: almond, cashew, coconut, flax, oat, rice, and soy milks, etc.
  • Yogurt substitutes: almond, cashew, coconut, flax, and soy yogurts, etc.
  • Vegan cheese: vegan parmesan cheese, shredded and sliced varieties, etc.

Egg alternatives

  • aquafaba
  • arrowroot powder
  • chia seeds
  • cornstarch
  • flax meal
  • prepackaged vegan egg substitute
  • silken tofu

Healthy fats

  • avocados
  • avocado oil
  • coconut oil
  • flax oil
  • olive oil
  • unsweetened coconut
  • tahini

Snack foods

  • edamame
  • dark chocolate
  • dried fruit
  • fruit leather
  • hummus
  • nut butter
  • pita chips
  • popcorn
  • roasted chickpeas
  • seaweed crisps
  • trail mix

Sweeteners

  • coconut sugar
  • dates
  • maple syrup
  • molasses
  • monk fruit
  • stevia

Spices and condiments

  • cayenne pepper
  • chili powder
  • cinnamon
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • ground ginger
  • nutritional yeast
  • paprika
  • pepper
  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • turmeric

Note that many processed vegan products found at the store — such as vegan meat substitutes — are often loaded with sodium, fillers, additives, and other ingredients that may harm your health.

Try to stick to mostly whole, unprocessed foods — and steer clear of mock meats and other highly processed vegan ingredients and premade meals.

SUMMARY A balanced vegan diet should include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, proteins, and healthy fats.

Sample Meal Plan
Here is a sample one-week meal plan that features a few of the nutritious foods that can be enjoyed on a vegan diet.

Monday

  • Breakfast: tempeh bacon with sautéed mushrooms, avocado, and wilted arugula
  • Lunch: whole-grain pasta with lentil “meatballs” and a side salad
  • Dinner: cauliflower and chickpea tacos with guacamole and pico de gallo
  • Snacks: air-popped popcorn, kale chips, and trail mix

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: coconut yogurt with berries, walnuts, and chia seeds
  • Lunch: baked tofu with sautéed red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and herbed couscous
  • Dinner: mushroom lentil loaf with garlic cauliflower and Italian green beans
  • Snacks: bell peppers with guacamole, fruit leather, and seaweed crisps

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: sweet potato toast topped with peanut butter and banana
  • Lunch: tempeh taco salad with quinoa, avocados, tomatoes, onions, beans, and cilantro
  • Dinner: oat risotto with Swiss chard, mushrooms, and butternut squash
  • Snacks: mixed berries, vegan protein shake, and walnuts

Thursday

  • Breakfast: eggless quiche with silken tofu, broccoli, tomatoes, and spinach
  • Lunch: chickpea and spinach curry with brown rice
  • Dinner: Mediterranean lentil salad with cucumbers, olives, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, kale, and parsley
  • Snacks: roasted edamame, sliced pear, and energy balls made from oats, chia seeds, nut butter, and dried fruit

Friday

  • Breakfast: overnight oats with apple slices, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, and nut butter
  • Lunch: black bean veggie burger with steamed broccoli and sweet potato wedges
  • Dinner: mac and “cheese” with nutritional yeast and collard greens
  • Snacks: pistachios, homemade granola, and coconut chia pudding

Saturday

  • Breakfast: breakfast skillet with tempeh, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, and zucchini
  • Lunch: garlic-ginger tofu with stir-fried veggies and quinoa
  • Dinner: bean salad with black-eyed peas, tomatoes, corn, bell peppers, and onions
  • Snacks: roasted pumpkin seeds, frozen grapes, and celery with almond butter

Sunday

  • Breakfast: whole-grain toast with avocado and nutritional yeast alongside a vegan protein shake
  • Lunch: lentil chili with grilled asparagus and baked potato
  • Dinner: vegetable paella with brown rice, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, artichoke, and chickpeas
  • Snacks: almonds, fruit salad, and carrots with hummus

SUMMARY The sample meal plan listed above highlights many of the healthy ingredients and dishes that can be enjoyed on a well-rounded vegan diet.

Potential Downsides and Precautions
Although a well-rounded vegan diet can be healthy and nutritious, a vegan diet that is not properly planned can harm your health.

Here are a few factors that you may want to consider when starting a vegan diet.

Nutritional deficiencies
Vegan diets may be associated with an increased risk of several nutritional deficiencies.

This is because meat, fish, and poultry are rich in several important nutrients that are mostly lacking in plant-based foods, including protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Animal products like eggs and dairy are also high in protein and micronutrients like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iodine, iron, and magnesium.

Completely cutting these foods out of your diet can increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies.

In particular, vegans may be at a higher risk of deficiency for vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iodine, iron, and protein.

This can lead to an increased risk of issues like anemia, weakened bones, and impaired immunity.

Low levels of vitamin B12 can be especially concerning during pregnancy, as a deficiency could potentially increase the risk of neural tube defects and impair your baby’s brain and nervous system.

Including a variety of nutrient-rich ingredients and fortified foods in your diet is necessary to ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs.

Vitamin B12 and vitamin D can be found in fortified foods, such as plant-based milks, cereals, and nutritional yeast.

Meanwhile, protein, zinc, and iron are found in legumes, soy products, nuts, and seeds.

Including moderate amounts of iodized salt in your diet can also help you meet your needs for iodine.

Supplements
It can be challenging to meet your nutritional needs while following a vegan diet.

Certain nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin D, and iodine, are found primarily in animal products and certain fortified foods.

Plus, while non-heme iron occurs in a variety of plant foods, it may not be as well absorbed as the heme iron found in animal products.

Taking a multivitamin or other supplements can help fill in any nutritional gaps and provide key micronutrients that you may be missing.

For best results, look for a multivitamin that contains vitamin B12, zinc, iron, vitamin D, and calcium.

Keep in mind that it’s typically recommended to supplement with higher amounts of vitamin B12 than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), as your body is only able to absorb a small amount at a time.

Try to aim for 2,000–2,500 mcg of vitamin B12 per week. This can be divided into several smaller doses and may require a separate supplement in addition to your multivitamin.

You may also want to consider taking algal oil, a plant-based form of omega-3 fatty acid. Your body needs this kind of fat for optimal heart health, brain function, and disease prevention.

Supplements like vegan B12 and algal oil can be commonly found online.

SUMMARY When not properly planned, vegan diets can increase your risk of several nutritional deficiencies. Following a balanced diet and taking certain supplements can help ensure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs.

The Bottom Line
Well-rounded vegan diets are healthy, nutritious, and associated with a number of health benefits, including improved heart health, blood sugar, and body mass.

Following a vegan meal plan can help you incorporate many nutrient-rich, whole foods into your diet to provide your body with the nutrients it needs.

Keep in mind that supplements and proper planning are essential to avoid deficiencies in several critical nutrients.

If you’re interested in veganism, check out this foods list and meal plan to get creative ideas for your next vegan dish.

Rachael Link, MS, RD is a registered dietitian based in New York City. Rachael completed her undergraduate degree in Missouri and received her Master’s degree from New York University. She is passionate about plant-based nutrition and achieving better health by balancing her time between the kitchen and the gym. She also enjoys sharing healthy recipes and nutrition tips on her blog and Instagram.



How to Develop the 3 Types of Empathy

by Justin Bariso | Understanding the 3 types of empathy can help you build stronger, healthier relationships. The following article is an adapted excerpt from my new book, EQ Applied: The Real-World Guide to Emotional Intelligence.

We often hear about the need for more empathy in the world. No doubt you’ve witnessed this in one form or another: The manager who can’t relate to the struggles of his team, and vice versa. Husbands and wives who no longer understand each other. The parent who has forgotten what teenage life is like…and the teen who can’t see how much his parents care.

But if we yearn for others to consider our perspective and feelings, why do we often fail to do the same for them?

For one thing, it takes time & effort to understand how and why others feel the way they do. Frankly, we aren’t willing to invest those resources for too many people. And even when we’re motivated to show empathy, doing so isn’t easy.

But learn we must; otherwise, our relationships deteriorate. As one person remains fixated on the other’s failings, the result is a mental and emotional standoff where everyone sticks to their guns, no problems get solved, and situations appear irreconcilable. But taking the initiative to show empathy can break the cycle–because when a person feels understood, they are more likely to reciprocate the effort and try harder, too.

The result? A trusting relationship where both parties are motivated to give the other person the benefit of the doubt and forgive minor failings.

So, what is empathy exactly? And how can you develop yours?

What empathy is (and what it’s not)
Today, you’ll get different definitions for empathy, depending on who you ask. But most would agree to some variation of the following: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the thoughts or feelings of another.

To feel and display empathy, it’s not necessary to share the same experiences or circumstances as others. Rather, empathy is an attempt to better understand the other person by getting to know their perspective.

Psychologists Daniel Goleman and Paul Ekman break down the concept of empathy into the following three categories.

  1. Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand how a person feels and what they might be thinking. Cognitive empathy makes us better communicators, because it helps us relay information in a way that best reaches the other person.
  2. Emotional empathy (also known as affective empathy) is the ability to share the feelings of another person. Some have described it as “your pain in my heart.” This type of empathy helps you build emotional connections with others.
  3. Compassionate empathy (also known as empathic concern) goes beyond simply understanding others and sharing their feelings: it actually moves us to take action, to help however we can.

To illustrate how these three branches of empathy work together, imagine that a friend has recently lost a close family member. Your natural reaction may be sympathy, a feeling of pity, or sorrow. Sympathy may move you to express condolences or to send a card–and your friend may appreciate these actions.

But showing empathy takes more time and effort. It begins with cognitive empathy: imagining what the person is going through. Who did they lose? How close were they to this person? Besides feelings of pain and loss, how will their life now change?

Emotional empathy will help you not only understand your friend’s feelings, but share them somehow. You try to connect with something in yourself that knows the feeling of deep sorrow and emotional pain. You might remember how it felt when you lost someone close, or imagine how you would feel if you haven’t had that experience.

Finally, compassionate empathy moves you to take action. You might provide a meal, so your friend doesn’t need to worry about cooking. You could offer to help make necessary phone calls or do some chores around the house. Maybe you could go over to help keep them company; or, if they need to be alone, you could pick up the children and watch them for a while.

This is just one example of how empathy works, but every day will bring new opportunities to develop this trait. In fact, every interaction you share with another person is a chance to see things from a different perspective, to share their feelings, and to help.

Building cognitive empathy
Building cognitive empathy is about making educated guesses. We often misinterpret physical movements and facial expressions; a smile can mean joy or exuberance, but it can also signal sadness.

So, before you engage with another person, consider what you know about them, and be willing to learn more. But keep in mind that your interpretation of another person’s mood, behavior, or thinking will be influenced by your prior experience and unconscious bias. Your instincts may be wrong. Don’t be quick to assume or rush to judgment.

After you engage with others, take time to consider any feedback they provide (written, verbal, body language). Doing so will help you better understand not only others and their personalities, but also how they perceive your thoughts and communication style.

Building emotional empathy
To achieve emotional empathy requires going further. The goal is to actually share the feelings of the other person, leading to a deeper connection.

When a person tells you about a personal struggle, listen carefully. Resist the urge to judge the person or situation, to interrupt and share your personal experience, or to propose a solution. Instead, focus on understanding the how and why: how the person feels, and why they feel that way.

Next, it’s important to take time to reflect. Once you have a better understanding of how the person feels, you must find a way to relate.

Ask yourself:When have I felt similar to what this person has described?

Friend and colleague Dr. Hendrie Weisinger, bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence at Work, illustrates it perfectly:

“If a person says, ‘I screwed up a presentation,’ I don’t think of a time I screwed up a presentation–which I have [done] and thought, no big deal. Rather, I think of a time I did feel I screwed up, maybe on a test or something else important to me. It is the feeling of when you failed that you want to recall, not the event.”

Of course, you’ll never be able to imagine exactly how another person feels. But trying will get you a lot closer than you would be otherwise.

Once you find a way to connect with the other person’s feelings, and have a more complete picture of the situation, you’re ready to show compassionate empathy. In this step, you take action to help however you can.

Exercising compassionate empathy
Begin by asking the other person directly what you can do to help. If they are unable (or unwilling) to share, ask yourself: What helped me when I felt similarly? Or: What would have helped me?

It’s fine to share your experience or make suggestions, but avoid conveying the impression that you’ve seen it all or have all the answers. Instead, relate it as something that has helped you in the past. Present it as an option that can be adapted to their circumstances, instead of an all-inclusive solution.

Remember that what worked for you, or even others, may not work for this person. But don’t let that hold you back from helping. Simply do what you can.

Putting it into practice
The next time you struggle to see something from another person’s point of view, strive to remember the following:

  • You don’t have the whole picture. At any given time, a person is dealing with many factors of which you’re unaware.
  • The way you think and feel about a situation may be very different from one day to the next, influenced by various elements, including your current mood.
  • Under emotional stress, you may behave very differently than you think you would.

Keeping these points in mind will affect how you view the other person and influence how you deal with them. And since each of us goes through our own struggle at one point or another, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll need that same level of understanding.

Justin Bariso is an author and a consultant who helps organizations think differently and communicate with impact. In 2016, LinkedIn named him the “Top Voice” in “Management and Culture.” His new book, EQ Applied, shares fascinating research, modern examples, and personal stories that illustrate how emotional intelligence works in the real world. Connect with Justin Bariso Founder, Insight@JustinJBariso



5 Healthy Snacks

These snacks can easily be packed for the road. And since all of them are low in calories, you don’t have to feel guilty of eating one or two packs.

Strawberry Cherry Apple
PER 1 POUCH: 60 calories, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 14 g carbs (2 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 0 g protein.
No added sugars, fruit juices, purees, preservatives, or concentrates, every pouch is a full serving of real fruit.

SHOP NOW ON AMAZON

  • Contains 40 – 0.6oz KIND Fruit Bites Pouches
  • With only 3 fruit ingredients: strawberry, cherry and apple, these bite-sized snacks combine all our farmers’ market favorites
  • With no added sugar and a full serving of fruit in each pouch, it’s the perfect lunchbox snack.
  • 1 serving of fruit, Gluten free, No Genetically Modified Ingredients, No juice concentrates or purees, No preservatives, Kosher, Nut Free, Vegan
  • No sugar added, 0g Trans Fat, low sodium

Munk Pack Protein Cookie
PER 1 COOKIE (84 G): 320 calories, 14 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 36 g carbs (6 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 18 g protein
This oatmeal raisin spice flavor is full of 18 grams of protein at just 320 calories.

SHOP NOW ON AMAZON

  • PACKED WITH PROTEIN & FLAVOR: Fuel your day with our delicious oatmeal raisin spice cookie made with real ingredients like gluten free oat flour, raisins, and cinnamon to give you 18 grams of protein per cookie
  • GREAT TASTE: Oatmeal Raisin Spice Protein Cookies are soft and chewy but not too sweet, making them a great snack for any time of day, whether you need a protein boost post workout or just for an anytime nutritious snack
  • REAL INGREDIENTS & ALLERGEN FRIENDLY: Our cookies are gluten free, Non-GMO,vegan and they contain no sugar alcohols, no trans fats, no dairy, no soy and no eggs
  • GOOD SOURCE OF FIBER: In addition to being packed with protein, our cookies are also a good source of fiber (6 grams per cookie) and other nutrients like iron and calcium
  • 6 PACK: Our deliciously soft-baked oatmeal raisin spice cookies come in a 6 pack so you can share with friends or keep them all to yourself

Tortilla Style Protein Chips
PER 1 Bag (32g) 140 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 340 mg sodium, 5 g carbs (1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 18 g protein
The Quest Nutrition Tortilla Style Protein Chips is good alternative to nacho lovers. The pack contains 8 Count of protein chips bags.

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  • 18g of Protein and 4g of Net Carbs
  • Baked – never fried; Made with high-quality Whey and Milk Protein Isolates
  • No added soy ingredients
  • All natural, Gluten and Soy Free
  • Includes 8 bags of Quest Nacho Tortilla Protein Chips

Terra Exotic Harvest Vegetable Chips
PER 16 CHIPS (28 G): 130 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 145 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (3 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 2 g protein
This fun mix of carrots, blue potatoes, and kabocha squash boasts 40 percent less fat than potato chips and enough fiber to take the edge off your hunger. (Plus they look pretty on the chip ‘n’ dip platter.)
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  • One 6 oz. bag of Exotic Harvest Chips with Sea Salt
  • Blend of naturally blue potatoes, carrots and Japanese kabocha squash
  • Made with real vegetables
  • Gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO Project verified and Kosher
  • 0mg of cholesterol and 0g of trans fat and no artificial flavors or artificial preservatives

Skinnypop Popcorn
PER 1 PACKAGE (18 G): 100 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 45 mg sodium, 9 g carbs (2 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 2 g protein
Volumetrics is an eating plan championed by Barbara Rolls of Penn State University, and it’s based on getting more mileage out of low-density foods. For example, a huge salad—or in this case, nearly 4 cups of popcorn—will leave you more satisfied than a square of chocolate, and for far fewer calories. If you’re someone who gets depressed by measly portions, reach for healthy snacks that have a high water content like fruits, veggies—or our favorite crunchy munchie: popcorn. For a pre-popped variety, we love SkinnyPop because it’s free of additives and tasty without being too salty.
SHOP NOW ON AMAZON

  • ORIGINAL FLAVORED POPCORN: Guilt-free snacking never tasted this delicious
  • POPCORN BAGS: Pack of 12, 4.4 ounce bags of SKINNYPOP Original Popped Popcorn. A delicious and smart food for snacking with only 39 calories per cup
  • GLUTEN FREE SNACK: SKINNYPOP POPCORN is a great-tasting, gluten free and non-GMO snack with no artificial ingredients
  • SKINNYPOP POPCORN: Delicious SKINNYPOP popcorn has zero trans fat and is dairy free, peanut free, tree nut free, preservative free and is a good source of fiber
  • SKINNYPOP: Our delicious popcorn is a great alternative to Popcorners Kettle Corn, Cracker Jack, vintage candy, Circus Peanuts, baseball candy, Smartfood white cheddar popcorn, individual popcorn snack bags, Lay’s kettle chips and cheddar popcorn


Baked Sweet Potato Chips

by Sommer Collier | I’m not a cheapskate by any stretch, but I hate to waste money on things I can easily make myself. Especially when my version is quick and just as good, if not better.

It’s a superfood for a reason – sweet potatoes are choc full of potassium, protein, and fiber. Bake them for a light, crispy treat.

Lately I’ve been buying bags of gourmet vegetable chips to serve with dips at cocktail parties and neighborhood gatherings. After all, they’re colorful, uniquely flavored, and seem to be appreciated by friends with certain food allergies.

After looking back at my grocery receipts over the last few weeks, it occurred to me that I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of money on fancy chips this month. Yikes!

I’m not a cheapskate by any stretch, but I hate to waste money on things I can easily make myself. Especially when my version is quick and just as good, if not better.

So today, I’m sharing my Baked Sweet Potato Chips Recipe. It’s super simple to make, requires only 3 ingredients, and tastes better than store bought chips, because they’re fresh! Plus, making sweet potato chips at home allows you full control of chip thickness, fat content, and seasoning.

Not. Too. Shabby.

Baked Sweet Potato Chips Recipe
This simple 3-ingredient recipe makes a fabulous healthy snack and side dish.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Servings: 8 Servings

How to Make Sweet Potato Chips

    • Slice sweet potatoes very thin on a mandolin slicer. You can use a standard chef’s knife to cut the sweet potatoes, but it’s much faster on a mandolin. You can also choose to slice your sweet potatoes thicker for sturdier chips, but they will take a little longer to bake.
    • I like mine super thin and crispy.

Sliced Sweet Potato Chips

  • Place the sweet potato slices in a large bowl and drizzle olive oil over the top. Toss the slices with your hands to make sure every single slice is kissed with olive oil on both sides.
  • Lay the sweet potato slices on baking sheets in a single layer.

    Diamond Crystal® Kosher Salt.

    Diamond Crystal® Kosher Salt.

  • Lightly sprinkle the unbaked chips with Diamond Crystal® Kosher Salt.
  • The kosher salt flakes are large and flat, so they hold tight to the oiled chips and offer great salty flavor that brings out each chip’s natural sweetness.

Once they are baked, the sweet potato chips are light and crispy with an intense salty-sweet flavor.

You can store them in an air-tight container for lunchbox snacks all week, pack them in spring picnic baskets, or serve them at parties.

Nutrition Facts
Baked Sweet Potato Chips
Amount Per Serving (10 Chips)
Calories 152 Calories from Fat 81

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 14%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 46mg 2%
Potassium 286mg 8%
Total Carbohydrates 17g 6%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 3g
Protein 1g 2%
Vitamin A 241.3%
Vitamin C 2.5%
Calcium 2.6%
Iron 3.2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
US Customary – Metric
Calories: 152 kcal
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American

 



11 Tips On How To Survive A Polar Vortex

by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia | Technically, to prepare for just a polar vortex, you only need to worry about the cold, but since it often coincides with a snow storm, we’re going to assume that the worst case scenario and prepare for both a polar vortex and a snow storm, (Cloud streets over the Great Lakes in this Jan. 27, 2019 image. NOAA, NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory).

The term “polar vortex” isn’t one that most people became familiar with until just recently. We had to face it last winter, and we have to face it again these days.

Now, however, it’s a serious concern and needs to be figured into your potential disaster events if you live in areas that may be affected.

Read the following article to find out what a polar vortex is, what it isn’t (if you haven’t been affected by one), and what you need to do to prepare!

What is a Polar Vortex?

We have two polar vortexes – one around each pole. It’s an area of low pressure that circulates counterclockwise in the stratosphere around the pole all the time, but weakens in the winter time.

Sometimes it wobbles a bit and throws a surge of bitter cold south into the US, and other countries in equivalent latitudes around the world.

When this happens, it can drop temperatures below zero. It’s a phenomenon that is always around, but we just don’t notice it until it puffs a blast of freezing air toward us.

Scientific American - A blast of freezing air

Scientific American – A blast of freezing air

It actually plays a big part in the weather worldwide throughout the year. Think about it – how often do you ever hear of cold fronts coming from the south?

Usually, polar vortexes force temperatures down into the single digits in areas of higher latitude such as the Dakotas and Michigan, but the temperatures go up farther down the map.

Still, even if temperatures drop into the teens or twenties, even a light wind will make that temperature seem exponentially colder.

What a Polar Vortex Isn’t

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about polar vortexes, so let’s clear some of them up. First, they’re not a sign or result of global warming. Though many weather anomalies of recent years are linked to the warming of the Earth, polar vortices aren’t. They’ve existed exactly as they are since we started tracking them and the frequency or intensity hasn’t changed.

Next, a polar vortex doesn’t bring snow with it. Weather events such as rain and snow occur in the lower level of the atmosphere and polar vortices occur right above that. They bring bitter cold that can make snowstorms much worse, but they don’t actually bring snow or freezing rain with them.

What you need to Know about a Polar Vortex

The first and most important thing that you need to know about a polar vortex is that it can be lethal.

Even if you’re in a warmer part of the area that’s affected by the vortex, temperatures combined with wind chill can easily drop to temperatures that can cause frostbite and hypothermia quickly if you’re not bundled up.

Polar vortexes also tend to set in fairly quickly and hang around for at least a few days. If you don’t have to go outside during one, don’t. Avoid driving anywhere if you can, because it’s a guarantee that the roads are going to be icy even if it does snow.

If snow or freezing rain is going to happen right before or during a polar vortex, that danger is going to be amplified because temperatures that low can cause several disasters including car crashes, hypothermia, collapsed rooves, limbs, and powerlines, and burst water pipes.

Obviously, even one of those can be horrible, but they may also occur in tandem. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that your roof can collapse while your power is out. That’s why you need to take precautions and be prepared.

How to Prepare for a Polar Vortex

There are relatively small steps that you can take in advance that will help keep you safe. Other steps will need to be taken during/after the snow, but they’re relatively minor.

Technically, to prepare for just a polar vortex, you only need to worry about the cold, but since it often coincides with a snow storm, we’re going to assume that the worst case scenario and prepare for both a polar vortex and a snow storm.

1. Stockpile Food and Water

You may have a tough time getting to the store because of ice or snow, so make sure that you have at least a week’s worth of food and water stored back.

Yes, you’ll have access to plenty of snow, but if you want to drink that, you’ll have to filter and purify it. Stockpile at least 2 gallons of water per person per day. You’ll need to drink more because, oddly enough, water needs increase with extremes in temperature.

Regarding food, figure on at around 2000 calories if you’re going to be outside for more than just a few minutes at a time because your body burns a lot of fuel just to keep warm when temperatures drop that low.

You typically have several days of warning, so there’s no excuse not to be prepared.

2. Stay Inside

Seriously. If you don’t have to be outside, don’t be. In temperatures in the single digits, it only takes 15 minutes or so for frostbite to become a possibility, and when the temperatures are below zero, that time decreases even more.

Hypothermia is also a problem and, like frostbite, increases the colder it gets. Wind plays a big factor in the onset of both conditions.

Also, it’s a guarantee that there’s ice on the road, so there’s no reason to risk it if you don’t have to. Be prepared in advance, because crashing your car for a gallon of milk is bad, but dying for it just isn’t worth it.

3. Wrap Your Pipes

If you can access them, wrap your pipes to protect them from freezing. This tape keeps your pipes warm enough that the water in your pipes won’t freeze.

This not only saves you a ton of money if your pipes burst, but also ensures that you have access to your water and heat as long as you have city water or a generator for your pump.

4. Trim your Trees

There’s nothing cozier than sitting around a tree limb that’s fallen through your roof and into your living room. Oh wait – yes there is.

Frozen Blossom

Frozen Blossom

This is a relatively easy disaster to avoid – simply keep your trees trimmed back from your house. There is very little you can do to protect plants that are already up and blooming than to build a wooden frame around them and cover them with a clear plastic.

5. Bundle Up

If you absolutely must go outside, bundle up. Make sure that your fingers, ears, nose, and toes are particularly protected because when you get cold, your body automatically pulls the blood flow to the center of your body to preserve heat. This leaves your extremities vulnerable to frostbite.

You also naturally lose more heat through the top of your head, the bottom of your feet, and your palms, so make sure they’re covered well to preserve that heat.

Gingerbread cookies with your hot cocoa while wearing your mittens

Gingerbread cookies with your hot cocoa while wearing your mittens

Mittens are actually better than gloves because they keep your fingers together and allow the heat that emanates from your palms to warm your entire hand.

6. Your Animals

Your animals are going to need some special attention depending upon what kind they are. Regardless of their species, they’re going to need to stay warm and they’re likely going to need extra food and water to meet the caloric needs required to stay warm.

Extremes in temperature can also cause animals such as milk cows and chickens to stop producing milk and eggs, so it’s especially important to keep them comfortable.

Winterize your barn and coop by sealing it up, but leave ventilation going through in order to keep the air fresh. Know your animals and adjust to meet their needs.

7. Check your Roof

Before winter even sets in, check your roof and rafters for damage and stability. This is one of the biggest risks you have in the case of a polar vortex and snow storm clashing.

If temperatures drop enough to make building materials brittle, then heavy snow is piled on top, the odds of your roof collapsing increases quite a bit.

8. Seal Windows and Doors

Your heating system is working hard enough to keep you warm even if your house is well insulated and sealed.

Cracks around windows and doors can really dampen that effort and make it nearly impossible to keep your house warm, so take care of that before winter sets in. It will also help save you money in the summer by keeping cold air in.

9. Winterize Your Car

This may not seem like a big deal, but it can save your life. You need good tires, but not as much for traction (nothing really sticks to ice though good tread does do much better in snow and mud) as to make sure that you don’t get a flat.

Chains for your tires, adequate anti-freeze, winter-grade thinner-viscosity oil, and just a general winterizing is important. Getting stranded in freezing weather is extremely dangerous.

On that note, make sure that you have a get-home bag in your car. You need a full change of clothes, extra socks and gloves, and even extra shoes. Also, have several bottles of water, hand warmers, several protein bars or MREs, and flares.

Blankets, at least emergency blankets, should be in there, too, and a fire-starter wouldn’t hurt. Besides these essentials, you just need to know your circumstances and build the rest of the bag around your needs.

10. Have Alternate Heat

If you rely on electricity for heat, you REALLY need to have an alternative heat source. Installing a wood burner is probably your best option, but a generator or wood for your fireplace (if you have one) are good, too.

Whatever you decide on, have plenty of fuel and the equipment to start it. Be realistic and base your heating needs on your house and your family, not some ideal version of them.

11. Include Games and Activities in your Stockpile

You’re going to get bored pretty quickly, especially if you lose cable and power. Make sure that you have several different games, books, or hobby supplies on hand to alleviate stress and boredom.

Being prepared for a polar vortex is extremely similar to preparing for a blizzard, except you need to make some modifications for the extreme temperatures that you may have to deal with.

Read the original article on Survivopedia.

Theresa Crouse is a full-time writer currently living in central Florida. She was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, where she learned to farm, hunt, fish, and live off the land from an early age. She prefers to live off the grid as much as possible and does her best to follow the “leave nothing behind but footprints” philosophy. For fun, she enjoys shooting, kayaking, tinkering on her car and motorcycle, and just about anything else that involves water, going fast, or the outdoors.



Teaching Quality Health and Physical Education

by Dean Dudley, Amanda Telford, Claire | This practical new text will help pre- and in-service teachers to develop and implement quality health and physical education experiences in primary schools.

Teaching Quality Health and Physical Education
Ⓒ 2018ISBN 9780170387019Edition 1 344 Pages
AU / NZ
Published: 2017 by Cengage Learning Australia
Author/s: Dean Dudley / Charles Sturt University, Bathurst
Amanda Telford / RMIT University
Claire Stonehouse / Deakin University
Louisa Peralta / University of Western Sydney
Matthew Winslade / Charles Sturt University

 

Taught well, Health and Physical Education can provide purposeful, stimulating and challenging learning experiences. It can help children to develop sophisticated understanding, skill and capabilities through their bodies and to see greater meaning in not only what they are learning but also their wider lives; and it can enrich all other aspects of the curriculum.
This practical new text will help pre- and in-service teachers to develop and implement quality health and physical education experiences in primary schools. It introduces the general principles of teaching and learning in Health and Physical Education and explains why this learning area is an important part of the Australian Curriculum. Chapters then discuss considerations and practical implications for teaching both health and physical education using a strengths-based approach.
Packed with evidence-based and research-informed content, this valuable text also includes numerous examples and activities that help you bridge the gap from theory to real-world practice. Above all, it will give educators the confidence to teach primary health and physical education so that every child benefits.

 

Contents

Part 1: Introduction to the area
1. Introducing Health and Physical Education
2. Understanding quality Health and Physical Education
3. Overview of the Australian Curriculum: Health and Physical Education
4. Authentic learning and assessment in primary Health and Physical Education.
Part 2: Understanding and teaching about personal, social and community health
5. Pedagogies and issues in teaching for health
6. Exploring identity, help-seeking behaviour and decision making
7. Communicating for healthy relationships and wellbeing
8. Whole-school approaches to promoting health.
Part 3: Understanding and teaching about movement and physical activity
9. Planning for developmentally appropriate learning
10. Moving for purpose: skills, knowledge and values
11. Moving for life: experience and expression.

 

About the author (2017)

Dr Dean Dudley is a former Health and Physical Education Head Teacher and Director of Sport and now works as a physical education academic at Macquarie University. He is Senior Lecturer and Researcher of Health and Physical Education at Macquarie University, as well as Vice President (Oceania) of the International Federation of Physical Education and Chief Examiner (Personal Development, Health, and Physical Education) for the NSW Board of Studies and Teacher Education Standards. Dean was Expert Consultant on the Quality Physical Education Guidelines for Policymakers published by UNESCO in 2015. His research is focused on the assessment and reporting of physical education and the development of observed learning outcomes pertaining to physical literacy.

Amanda Telford is Associate in the School of Education at RMIT University. In addition to experience as an academic and as a health and physical education teacher, Amanda has experience as a company director of an organisation consisting of a network of over five thousand health and physical educators. She has been an advisor for state and federal governments in the area of Health and Physical Education and was involved in the development of the 2004 National Physical Activity Guidelines for children and young people. Her research focuses on the influence of family, community and school environments on youth physical activity behaviour.Claire Stonehouse lectures at Deakin University in Health Education, Student Wellbeing and Sexuality Education in both primary and secondary pre-service education. Claire has worked in many sectors of the community, and has experience writing curricula and educating young people. Her areas of interest include: sexuality education; the educational impact that parents have on their children; and opening up conversations about mental health.

Louisa Peralta is Senior Lecturer of Health and Physical Education in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. As an academic, Louisa teaches in the areas of primary and secondary Health and Physical Education and professional practice studies. Her teaching, research and publications focus on school-based programs for improving students’ physical activity levels and motivation, improving adolescent health literacy through whole school approaches, and designing and delivering professional learning experiences for preservice and inservice Health and Physical Education teachers.

Matthew Winslade is Associate Head of the School of Teacher Education and Course Director for Health and Physical Education at Charles Sturt University. Prior to moving into the tertiary sector he was both a Head Teacher in the state system and a Director of Sport in the Association of Independent Schools. His current research activities include evaluating school- and university-based health and physical activity programs, and the development of intercultural competency in pre-service teachers. Matt currently divides his time between Australia and Samoa, working closely with community groups and sporting organisations at both school and university level.



On the Go Fun and Easy Workout

by Malia Frey | Reviewed by Richard N. Fogoros, MD | You don’t have to kill yourself at the gym every day to slim down. There are easy exercises to lose weight that you can do at home or on the go. In fact, sometimes easy workouts work better (Photo by Nathan Cowley from Pexels).

Before you try CrossFit, join a hardcore boot camp class, or sign up for heavy duty HIIT program, find out how fast weight loss exercises can speed up weight loss and then incorporate one of these workout routines into your schedule.

To lose weight, you need to create a specific calorie deficit. For example, you might want to reach a 500-calorie deficit each day to lose one pound per week. Or you might set a goal to reach a 1000-calorie daily deficit to lose 2 pounds per week. Either way, you need to control the number of calories you eat and burn more calories with movement to reach your target.

Many dieters start an intense workout plan to slim down. But, sometimes it’s better to do easy exercises to lose weight fast. There are four ways that easy exercise can help you to slim down:

  • Improve daily non-exercise movement. Easy workouts are designed to increase your heart rate to burn calories, but they shouldn’t wear you down. So you don’t feel the need to take a nap or lay on the couch all day after doing a workout. This helps you to stay active throughout the day and boost the number of calories you burn from NEAT.
  • Exercise every day. When you do easy workouts, you can exercise every day. Hard exercise, on the other hand, requires a recovery day following the session. When you work out daily (instead of 2-3 days per week) you may be able to burn more calories from exercise.
  • Maintain a consistent exercise program. Even though intense exercise is effective for weight loss, hard workouts put your body at a higher risk for injury and burnout. And you’re not likely to burn enough calories for weight loss while you’re recovering on the couch. Easy workouts are usually safer for your body and may allow you to be more consistent, week to week and month to month.
  • Keep hunger levels steady. Hard workouts often increase hunger levels. And sometimes they even increase your sense of entitlement to food. For example, you might feel that you deserve a high-calorie meal or treat after hard exercise because you earned it with your effort. But easy workouts are less likely to leave you starving. The result is that you may eat less with an easy fitness program.

If you are healthy enough for vigorous activity, hard workouts are good for your body. High-intensity exercise helps to build muscle and burn fat. But easy workouts can speed up weight loss, too.

The Easy Workouts

There are two easy workout routines listed below. Choose a fitness plan based on your current level of fitness and health.

1. Easy Exercise Routine for Beginners

This plan works well for people who don’t exercise at all. The easy exercises will jolt your metabolism out of lazy mode and get it moving again. But to make this plan work, you need to keep your workouts short and manageable. That way, you never have an excuse to skip a session.

For this plan, you’ll exercise 1-3 times each day, but each workout won’t last long. You don’t need to change clothes, you probably won’t get too sweaty and you don’t need any extra equipment.

Easy beginner workout:

  • 7 minutes fast walk
  • 7 minutes of easy lunges and easy push ups
  • 7 minutes fast walk

You can do this workout at a local park, at your office, or in your home.Set reminders on your smartphone to remind yourself to complete your sessions. Or better yet, recruit a friend to hold you accountable.

Need more of a challenge? Swap brisk stair climbing for walking. If you are at work, climb the office stairs, do lunges on the landing and push-ups against the wall.

Why this easy fitness plan works: The duration of the workout makes it easier to tolerate and more likely that you’ll stick to the plan. And even though the workouts are short, you are still burning substantial calories in a short period of time. Done properly three times per day, you can burn up to 300 – 500 calories. If you do this easy workout around mealtime, you’ll probably also shorten the amount of time you spend eating which will help you to decrease the amount of food you want to consume.

2. Easy Exercise Routine for Regular Exercisers

This plan works for people who already exercise. The purpose of this plan is to bump your body out of its regular routine for faster weight loss. You’ll do this by adding more activity to your day, but you’ll keep the extra sessions easy so that your body and brain don’t get burned out.

Your easy workout will consist of adding 30-45 minutes of easy enjoyable activity at the opposite end of your day as your normal workout:

  • If you work out in the morning, add a brisk evening walk to your schedule.
  • If you exercise in the evening, consider biking or walking to work in the morning.

Why this easy fitness plan works: It’s common for people who exercise regularly to do the same routine week after week. If you do the same exercises at the same intensity all the time you’ll get the same results. Your body hits a plateau. This plan increases your activity level without added stress or strain to your joints. So you burn more calories without taxing your body.

Boost Your Easy Exercise Routine for Faster Weight Loss

Your new easy exercise routine will help you burn more calories. But you can lose weight faster by adding these challenges:

  • Skip dessert for a week. Grab a small serving of berries instead
  • Skip the drinks that cause weight gain and drink water instead. Not a fan of water? Learn to make flavored water to curb your cravings.
  • Dump starch. Instead of eating empty calorie white foods like bread, white rice or pasta, fill up on a variety of lean protein and good carbs.

Turn Fast Weight Loss into Long-Term Success

If you stick to your easy workout routine, you should see some change in the scale or in the way your clothes fit after a week or two. Then ask yourself this question: was it worth it?

If the answer is yes, then keep your easy fitness plan going. You may even want to make it more challenging by adding moderate exercise and high intensity sessions. Then start tracking your diet to make sure you eat the right amount of protein to lose weight and maintain muscle.

If the answer is no, don’t worry. Even an easy exercise plan requires a big commitment. You may not have been ready for the investment. But don’t give up entirely. Choose a few parts of the plan that seem manageable and try to incorporate them into your schedule. Your weight loss will happen more slowly, but at least it will happen.

Malia FreyMalia Frey is a certified weight management specialist, certified health coach, certified personal trainer, and certified fitness nutrition specialist. Malia has been helping people reach their fitness and weight loss goals for over 25 years. She has taught health, exercise, and wellness classes in colleges, universities, hospitals and fitness centers around the country. She is the weight loss expert at Verywell and provides expert diet and exercise advice to both print and online sources including About.com, Muscle & Fitness, Zliving, GetHealthyU, Examiner.com, Worldlifestyle.com, Diet.com, North Memorial Medical Center and many more.. Her passion for good health inspires her to stay active, eat well (most of the time) and encourage others to do the same. Connect with Malia on Facebook, Google, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter, or visit her website The Daily Diet Tip for more weight loss support and tips.



Going the Mediterranean Eating Style for 2019

By Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute | What makes this “diet” so great is that it’s a lifestyle, not a traditional weight-loss plan that has you counting calories or measuring portions. It’s all about enjoying meals with friends and loved ones, savoring each flavor, indulging in delicious, quality items like flavorful cheeses and desserts, and making time for plenty of physical activity (ah, to be walking on the beaches of Greece right now!) (Image, Pixabay).

It’s the most popular time of the year to go on a diet. But in my book, better health and weight loss begin not with fad diets but with choices that, over time, become habits — supporting lifelong change through tangible, actionable strategies that you can adapt for any scenario. (Hint: You can start by setting boundaries.)

First, here are my basics for a healthy approach to better eating habits:

  • Pack on the produce: veggies and fruit
  • Prioritize good-for-you fats: plant-based oils and other unsaturated fats
  • Eat more seafood: fatty fish plus crustaceans and mollusks
  • Choose 100% whole grains: farro, buckwheat, bulgur, wheat, and oats
  • Enjoy conscious indulgences: chocolate, sweets, and baked goods in moderation
  • Think inclusive vs. exclusive: full-fat and low-fat dairy, prioritizing quality over quantity
  • Provide enrichment of multiple varieties: cooking with herbs and spices, enjoying favorite restaurants, and trying new flavors

What makes this “diet” so great is that it’s a lifestyle, not a traditional weight-loss plan that has you counting calories or measuring portions. It’s all about enjoying meals with friends and loved ones, savoring each flavor, indulging in delicious, quality items like flavorful cheeses and desserts, and making time for plenty of physical activity (ah, to be walking on the beaches of Greece right now!).

You’ll fill up on tons of veggies, fruit, 100% whole grains, pulses (like beans, chickpeas, peas, and lentils); choose lean protein like seafood, eggs, and some meat; and savor sweets and higher-in-saturated-fat choices (Prosciutto di Parma, anyone?!) in smaller amounts.

While there’s no “restriction” on this plan, the predominant foods in it promote both health and weight loss or management. The idea is to fill up on nutritious items in order to indulge, consciously. This approach naturally limits the amount of ultra-processed foods you’ll eat, which tend to have more sodium, saturated fat, and added sugar. Since the Mediterranean eating style prioritizes enjoyment of your whole dining experience, flavorful ingredients are at the forefront so you’ll never feel deprived.

The Bottom Line
The best diets promote inclusivity over exclusivity and rely heavily on produce. Highly restrictive diets depend on immediate weight loss to motivate you — but some may backfire entirely and others may leave you fully missing out on nutrients and experiences. Think about what works best for you before trying any new approach to eating, and use that as your framework for building healthier eating habits that stick.

For more ideas, tips, tricks, and healthier eating guides that’ll help you stick to your health-focused resolutions, check out our nutrition director’s new book: Dressing on the Side (and Other Diet Myths Debunked): 11 Science-Based Ways to Eat More, Stress Less, and Feel Great About Your Body

Jaclyn LondonJaclyn London is a registered dietitian with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University and a Master of Science degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, Jaclyn “Jackie” London handles all of Good Housekeeping’s nutrition-related content, testing, and evaluation.



Spirit-Filled Counselor Offers Tip to Improve Your Emotional Health in 30 Days

by Dr. Doug Weiss | You can feel! Your body can feel! You can learn to feel, and you can learn as much as you want. To help you move more toward emotional fitness, carve out 15 minutes a day to do five mimes. In one month, your ability to feel emotions in your body will expand greatly (image: Pixabay).

In the ’70s, there was a media fad I remember fondly: Marcel Marceau. He became the rage for quite a while, making appearances on numerous talk shows and in big media events.

What Marcel Marceau did was quite simple, but he was simply amazing at doing what he did. He would captivate audiences everywhere with his ability to mime.

When he did his skits, you both saw and felt what he was doing. A mime does not talk, but instead uses the body and face to communicate and express emotion. I remember one skit where an event made the mime sad. His sadness was so well expressed it felt completely real. Decades later, I still remember that expression.

Mime has much to do with emotional fitness. Miming will become a critical tool in your tool kit as you accelerate in your emotional fitness. Miming allows your body to feel the emotion passively, but as in the last exercise, it also allows you to fully engage and expand your body’s ability to experience and express an emotion. Since this is something you need to experience in order to understand, I am going to ask you to do some miming.

Before we begin, honestly assess which one of the following two categories you are in:

The Wishers Category: These wish they could be emotionally fit. They wish they could feel or master their emotions but they are unwilling to do the work. A weight wisher is someone who wants to lose weight but does not change habits or do the work necessary to lose weight. Weight wishers will not lose weight. They want magic to change them instead of taking personal responsibility to make changes to get the real results.

The Wanters Category: These people make a plan, do the work and keep doing the work until the results arrive. Unlike the wishers, they take personal responsibility, refuse to make excuses, and so always get the results they want. I believe that if you are this far in the book, you must want emotional fitness.

When you mime, it is best for you to be alone so you can in no way be inhibited or self-conscious. Put your body in a position to express an emotion. For example, if you were expressing excitement, you might stand up with your arms raised while you let excitement run through your entire body.

You can sit, stand, lie down or put your body in any position to express an emotion. Remember, acting as a mime would, you will use your face to express the emotion. So much so that if someone were to look at you, they could probably guess the emotion you are experiencing.

It is important that when you actually feel the emotion in your body that you hold the feeling for 15 seconds (make sure to use a timer). Then take a five-second break. After the break, go back to that same emotion until you feel it in your body again. Repeat the miming process until you feel it in your body for 15 seconds. Then take your last break and stop miming the emotion.

For example, first we are miming the feeling of excitement. Excited (held for 15 seconds), break, excited (held for 15 seconds), break, excited (held for 15 seconds). As you do each mime, try to allow your body to express the emotion more each time.

This exercise is powerful for you and your body. Over time, you can go through every emotion on the Feelings list, and you will be extremely connected to your emotions—more connected than you ever imagined.

Find a place to be by yourself, locate a way to time yourself, and then practice miming the six emotions listed below. We will do the same six feelings you just completed in the feeling the emotion exercise.

Calm

Frustration

Boldness

Amusement

Creativity

Eagerness

You can feel! Your body can feel! You can learn to feel, and you can learn as much as you want. To help you move more toward emotional fitness, carve out 15 minutes a day to do five mimes. In one month, your ability to feel emotions in your body will expand greatly. You will no longer fear emotions; you will be able to actually feel them. You can become more emotionally confident and expressive in just 30 days

Doug Weiss, Ph.D., is a nationally known author, speaker and licensed psychologist. He is the executive director of Heart to Heart Counseling Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Amazon Best Seller including, Emotional Fitness. You may contact Dr. Weiss via his website, drdougweiss.com or on his Facebook, by phone at 719-278-3708 or through email at heart2heart@xc.org.



12 Tips for Holiday Eating

by Patrick J. Skerrett | By practicing a bit of defensive eating and cooking, you can come through the holidays without making “go on a diet” one of your New Year’s resolutions. (Images: Cooking Light, Chickpea Salad Boats.)

It’s easy to get swept up in the holiday season. This combination of religious and national celebrations can help keep the cold winter away. But the feasts and parties that mark it can tax the arteries and strain the waistline. By eating just 200 extra calories a day — a piece of pecan pie and a tumbler of eggnog here, a couple latkes and some butter cookies there — you could pack on two to three pounds over this five- to six-week period. That doesn’t sound like much, except few people shed that extra weight in the following months and years.

You don’t need to deprive yourself, eat only boring foods, or take your treats with a side order of guilt. Instead, by practicing a bit of defensive eating and cooking, you can come through the holidays without making “go on a diet” one of your New Year’s resolutions.

1. Budget wisely. Don’t eat everything at feasts and parties. Be choosy, and spend calories judiciously on the foods you love.

2. Take 10 before taking seconds. It takes a few minutes for your stomach’s “I’m getting full” signal to get to your brain. After finishing your first helping, take a 10-minute break. Make conversation. Drink some water. Then recheck your appetite. You might realize you are full, or want only a small portion of seconds.

3. Distance helps the heart stay healthy. At a party, don’t stand next to the food table. That makes it harder to mindlessly reach for food as you talk. If you know you are prone to recreational eating, pop a mint or a stick of gum so you won’t keep reaching for the chips.

4. Don’t go out with an empty tank. Before setting out for a party, eat something so you don’t arrive famished. Excellent pre-party snacks combine complex carbohydrates with protein and unsaturated fat, like apple slices with peanut butter or a slice of turkey and cheese on whole-wheat pita bread.

5. Drink to your health. A glass of eggnog can set you back 500 calories; wine, beer, and mixed drinks range from 150 to 225 calories. If you drink alcohol, have a glass of water or juice-flavored seltzer in between drinks.

6. Avoid alcohol on an empty stomach. Alcohol increases your appetite and diminishes your ability to control what you eat.

7. Put on your dancing (or walking) shoes. Dancing is a great way to work off some holiday calories. If you are at a family gathering, suggest a walk before the feast or even between dinner and dessert.

8. Make room for veggies. At meals and parties, don’t ignore fruits and vegetables. They make great snacks and even better side or main dishes — unless they’re slathered with creamy sauces or butter.

9. Be buffet savvy. At a buffet, wander ’round the food table before putting anything on your plate. By checking out all of your options, you might be less inclined to pile on items one after another.

10. Don’t shop hungry. Eat before you go shopping so the scent of Cinnabons or caramel corn doesn’t tempt you to gobble treats you don’t need.

11. Cook from (and for) the heart. To show family and friends that you really care about them, be creative with recipes that use less butter, cream, lard, vegetable shortening, and other ingredients rich in saturated fats and cholesterol. Prepare turkey or fish instead of red meat.

12. Pay attention to what really matters. Although food is an integral part of the holidays, put the focus on family and friends, laughter and cheer. If balance and moderation are your usual guides, it’s okay to indulge or overeat once in a while.

Patrick J. Skerrett is former editor of the Harvard Health blog and former Executive Editor of Harvard Health Publishing. Before that, he was editor of the Harvard Heart Letter for ten years. He is the co-author of Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Guide to Healthy Eating, The Fertility Diet, and several other books on health and science. His work has appeared in Newsweek, Popular Science magazine, Science magazine, the Boston Globe, and elsewhere. He earned a B.A. in biology from Northwestern University and an M.A. in biology from Washington University in St. Louis.