April 17, 2014

The Late-Night Snacking Mistakes that Are Wrecking Your Diet

After a jam-packed day of eating right, staying active, and other healthy choices, the last thing you want to do is undo all your hard work just minutes before bedtime. Make sure you stay on the right track by avoiding these late-night eating mistakes.
Mistake #1: Going to Sleep Too Full
Going to sleep on a full stomach can cause discomfort and disrupted sleep, which can wreak havoc on your waistline by causing you to hold on to belly fat and eat more. Make sure you eat dinner at least a few hours before bedtime; if you need a snack later on, keep it under 200 calories.
Mistake #2: Eating the Wrong Thing
It's not just when you eat, but what. Eating the wrong foods late at night can also leave you wishing you could just drift off to slumber. Avoid greasy, high-fat, heavy-protein foods if you want to catch more weight-regulating Z's; a small amount of lean protein and a little carb should be your go-to option. 

Mistake #3: Going to Bed Hungry
You may think that going to bed with a grumbling stomach will help your body burn off more fat while you sleep, but studies have shown this isn't the case. In fact, going to bed hungry may actually cause you to lose muscle instead - which, in turn, slows down your fat-burning potential. Keep your metabolism soaring by having a small, 150-calorie snack before you climb into bed.
Mistake #4: Not Factoring In Your Snack
You've powered down for the day and put your food journal away, but don't think that those late-night nibbles don't add up. If you're sticking to a weight-loss plan, make sure you keep track of any postdinner calories, so you're not left wondering why the number on the scale doesn't budge. If you know you like to have a snack before going to bed, making sure you've "saved" a few calories from the day can help you stick to your limits. 

Mistake #5: Starving All Day, Feasting All Night

There's nothing you like more than relaxing on the couch with a bowl of ice cream, so you pick at your dinner just so you can indulge before bedtime. This is a recipe for disaster; not only are you almost guaranteeing an uncomfortable night with a full stomach, saving your "cheats" for after dinner and beyond can lead to an unhealthy cycle of junk food and regret. Try to disassociate your late-night snack with unhealthy foods, and focus on eating regularly throughout the day and having a healthy snack after dinner only if you're hungry.

10 Strange Things You Didn't Know Were Contagious

You wouldn't think of using your gym's elliptical without first wiping it down, and you've been giving anyone with the slightest of sniffles a wide berth since you could walk. But it turns out some of the most contagious things lurking about don't even involve germs--and all the hand sanitizer in the world won't keep these weird things at bay. Check out these surprisingly "catching" issues and the simple ways to protect yourself. 
Your co-worker's crummy day
A stressful day for your office mate may rub off on you, according to research from the journal Social Neuroscience. The study shows that even simply seeing an anxious person ups your stress hormones. "To protect yourself, take steps before and after you interact with a stressed-out person," says Elizabeth Lombardo, PhD, a Chicago-based psychologist. When you have to deal with a stressed coworker, tell yourself, "I choose not to absorb her stress." Afterward take a few deep breaths to calm yourself before going back to work.  

The desire for your friend's ridiculously expensive shoes

If you want what you can't have, you're in good company. A 2012 study in the Journal of Neuroscience shows that people rate an object as more desirable when they think another person wants it. "I call this wedding-band syndrome," says Lombardo. "A man is more attractive if someone already wants him-he must be worth having." Put the kibosh on desire by stopping the comparisons, says Lombardo. Remind yourself that happiness (which people tend to think they'll achieve by obtaining the desired thing) doesn't come from having what others have--no matter how pretty those shoes may be.
An itch
When you see someone scratching her head, your own scalp is probably about to get super-itchy, too. Watching someone scratch an itch produces itchy feelings in the observer, finds a study published in the journal PNAS. "People often unconsciously mimic other peoples' behaviors," says Jonathan Alpert, NYC psychotherapist and author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. "Even if at a very subtle level, it's in part how we empathize and connect with people. Behaviors such as itching (and yawning) are highly suggestive behaviors and the natural tendency is to copy them."  
If you use a towel at the gym that's not as clean as it should be, and then notice a rash in the shape of a ring with normal-looking skin in the center, you may have ringworm. It's not actually a worm at all, but a fungus, says Michael Schmidt, PhD, microbiologist professor at the Medical University of South Carolina. "And you're most likely going to catch it at the gym, as it's easily transmitted by towels or contact." It can be carried by pets as well. The good news is that most cases clear up with over-the-counter antifungal products.

An imagined illnesses

Remember the teenage girls in Amherst, NY, who recently developed strange Tourette's-like symptoms? You can chalk that up to mass hysteria, which typically spreads when we look for cues from others on how to behave, says Lauren Napolitano, a licensed psychologist in Bryn Mawr, PA. "If you're at a loud concert, for example, but others look like they're enjoying it, you rationalize that you're supposed to enjoy loud music. If, in the same situation, you saw others covering their ears, you would agree it's too loud." Similarly, hysteria can become "contagious" as we can take on emotions of those around us, says Napolitano. Furthermore, new research shows we can pick up on fearfulness from others much like animals--through body chemicals. 
Itch mites
An itch that drives you crazy may be a sign you've been bitten by the human itch mite, resulting in scabies. "As the name implies, it makes you itch like crazy," says Schmidt. The mite burrows deep into the upper layer of the skin, where it wreaks havoc that results in a purple pimple rash. It takes 4 to 6 weeks to develop, making it difficult to pinpoint its origin, but experts suspect it's spread from skin-to-skin contact. If you get it, be sure to wash your linens and clothes in hot water (over 122°F) with bleach before using them. Treatment involves a prescription scabicide.
Feeling lonely
Social networking as a way to connect with others may, ironically, make you feel lonelier, according to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. "Loneliness tends to escalate because people are attempting to associate or socialize virtually with other lonely people, all of whom really need direct social contact," says David Solly, a psychology professor at University of the Rockies. "A copycat effect ensues, under which all involved tend to increase in their feelings of loneliness." The solution: Log off and get thee to a coffee shop to meet up with a friend. 
Your friend's weight issues
Numerous studies show dining with people who overeat makes it more likely you, too, will eat too much, potentially leading to bigger weight issues. For example, a University of California, San Diego, study of more than 12,000 people found that if one person became obese, the people closest to him were 57% more likely to put on weight. "To avoid 'catching' obesity from your friends, you must be confident in your own decision to eat healthier," says Lombardo. Plus, making the choice to eat well can also be contagious, helping inspire healthier decisions from those around you.

Feeling disgusted

When your friend smells another person's body odor and feels disgust, you may pick up the same feelings of repulsiveness if you're nearby, according to a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Recent evidence suggests that pheromones released by a person experiencing fear or disgust affect other individuals," says Elizabeth Krusemark, lead researcher of the study. "Emotional contagions" were previously believed to operate solely visually or by verbally expressing disgust, but Krusemark's study shows people are also able to perceive and communicate emotional states through chemical signals, similarly to animals.  
On the flip side of negative emotional contagions like disgust and stress, happiness can also spread like, ahem, germs--particularly through Facebook, according to research by PLOS ONE. Researchers found that each positive post generated about 1.75 additional uplifting posts amongst friends, while each additional negative post garnered 1.29 more negative posts. "The Facebook culture promotes positivity and feel-good stories," says Lombardo. "Make the most of it by keeping posts positive with stories of resiliency, gratitude, and inspirational quotes." 

April 16, 2014

Food Hacks And Facts (21 pics)

How Fast Food Signs Can Make You Overeat

When “fast foods” were first introduced to the world, the idea was simple: quick and cheap foods would allow people to eat a meal on-the-go and move on to complete their work. This, it was believed, would help increase efficiency levels.
The idea proved to be appealing. Today, the consumption of fast food in America has jumped 500% in the last three decades. And with the passage of time, the brain has learned to recognize fast food signs as an indication to hurry up. According to a study done at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, just the sight of a familiar fast food sign can trigger impatience.
During the study, participants were exposed very briefly to a leading fast food chain’s logo. Soon after, they were assigned simple tasks. The results were telling: these participants read a book faster and chose time-saving products such as a two-in-one shampoo. Researchers connected this behavior to the subconscious message given off by the sight of the fast food sign: Hurry up!
Why is this bad for our health? When we order in a hurry, our nutrition can suffer. We might make more rash decisions to consume high-calorie foods.
But it does not stop there. Driving into a fast food restaurant is only the first step toward eating a high-calorie, unhealthy meal. Those items we order can sabotage our health further, suggests another study conducted at the UT Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas.

This study found that foods high in fat–especially those that contain beef, cheese, butter and sugar–inhibit our resistance to insulin and the hunger-suppressing hormone, leptin. As a result, the brain is unable to communicate to you that your stomach is full and that you should stop eating.
No wonder chains started offering a “super size” option. 

10 Common Flowers You Should Eat

When most people think of flowers, eating them isn‘t usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, many of these beautiful plants can be eaten and can add color and texture to a raw salad or even a cooked meal. Some are sweet and yummy by themselves while others need a little extra love to make them enjoyable. So make sure to check before just chomping on the first flower you recognize! Unfortunately, no flower is really safe unless it was grown organically without the use of pesticides or chemicals. In lieu of this, always make sure to use organically grown species. Also, make sure to thoroughly wash your flowers before eating.
It’s also important to remove pistils and stamens from flowers before eating. Sometimes these parts of the flower are not as tasty as the rest. You may want to separate the flower petals from the rest of the flower just prior to use to keep wilting to a minimum.
The flowers, along with the heart-shaped leaves of the wild violet, are edible. Both can be used to add color and complexity to salads. The flower is often used to make jellies and teas and can also be candied and used as a decorative garnish.
Rose Hips
These circular buds have played an essential role in the Native American diet for a long time., Rose Hips contain vitamin C and store well when dried properly. 


This common weed does not get the credit it deserves. The greens of the plant are packed with antioxidants and minerals containing a high level of potassium. Although the plant can be a bit bitter, for those who don’t mind (think arugula), it can be a wonderful addition to any salad.  

Day Lily

This flower has a sweet taste and can be eaten raw. The tubers of the roots can be boiled and eaten like mini potatoes. Just remove the stalks and hairs and, of course, the dirt. The flower buds are a good source of vitamin C and carotene. But be careful — lilies are deadly to cats.  

Squash Blossoms

The orange, yellow blossom found at the top of the squash can be cooked or eaten raw. Be careful, though — the flower perishes fast;  if you want to use them try to pick them right before you cook. 


This flower has been coined the “Poor Man’s Saffron.” Its flavor ranges from tangy to spicy with a bit of a peppery aftertaste. It’s a great complement to rice dishes, soups and pasta. The flower can also be used as a great herbal remedy. 



The flowers can be eaten, but the best way to use hibiscus is to make an infused tea. Just take ten or so flowers and soak them in hot water. Add lime for flavor and enjoy. Drinking it cold is just as delicious as hot, so for a nice summer day, put it on ice!


The base of the flower holds a sweet tasting nectar that can be eaten, and the entire flower makes a great addition to any spring or summer salad.



You guessed it –the beautiful smelling lilac tastes how it smells, but is delicate and not overwhelming. Lilac is best used as a garnish. For something different try mixing it in vanilla frozen yogurt for an interesting treat.


As sweet as they are beautiful, Carnations can be steeped in wine or eaten plain. If you’re the baking type think about creating a beautiful design on top of a cake using these flowers or some of the others mentioned above. 

Top 15 Concerns About Aging

The aging process is often accepted with a combination of humorous resignation—it’s not a fun process, but it definitely beats the alternative, right? The truth of this statement varies from person to person, largely depending on how kind the years have been to an individual’s mental and physical health.
Indeed, “health issues” and “serious illness” top the list of concerns of the over 50-set, according to a recent survey by U.K.-based online social care marketplace firm, cloudBuy. Coming in at a close third was “My mind failing me,” a common fear inspired by the stigma of Alzheimer’s disease.
The survey, which was conducted on a group of more than 1,000 British men and women age 50 and over, led to some other interesting insights:
Men and women have different fears about aging: More women than men dreaded the following; a failing mind (66 percent versus 51 percent), losing their independence (58 percent versus 43 percent) and being lonely (39 percent versus 27 percent).

When do people start to worry about aging? 
Concerns about aging seemed to start in the late 40s or early 50s for most individuals surveyed, but some were plagued by worries even before their 40th birthday.
Worry doesnt always translate to planning: Despite the fact that nearly all of those surveyed (95 percent) said they didn’t want to enter a nursing home, 70 percent admitted to having no strategies in place to help them deal with the challenges of advancing age.
Here’s a list of the top 15 concerns about aging that were uncovered in the survey:
  1. Health issues
  2. Serious illness
  3. My mind failing me
  4. Becoming forgetful
  5. Losing my independence
  6. Losing my sight
  7. Being a burden to others
  8. My body failing me, but my mind being completely fit
  9. Money
  10. Having to go into a nursing/care home
  11. My partner getting seriously ill
  12. Dying
  13. My partner dying before me
  14. Being lonely
  15. Having to move out of my home

The importance of planning for future needs
Experts tout the advantages of planning in advance for old age and retirement, but it is often those individuals who have first-hand experience as family caregivers of an elderly loved one who are most motivated to prepare for their future.
Here are some sentiments expressed by caregivers who say they will take steps to avoid placing undue stress on their younger family members:
“I plan to research facilities and move to one. What my mother has done to me has to stop. And it will stop with me. It’s unfair to ask anyone to take on the elderly.”
“I don’t want my children to go through what I have had to undertake. I’ve already told them there is to be no guilt whatsoever in any decisions they have to make regarding my elderly years. In no way do I ever want to be a burden; it is not my style and I certainly don’t want it to be my legacy. I had children because I longed to be a mother and take care of them. That in NO WAY is the same thing as taking care of an elderly parent, especially a demanding one. I didn’t have children for them to take care of me.”
“I will make my will, POA, and take care of all bills including burial, and hopefully leave a bit of money for each of my nieces and nephews.”
“I have learned that sometimes you have to ignore the negative voices around you that claim you are doomed to a life of pain and/or a loss of independence due to your circumstances. Sometimes, not all the time, the answer is still waiting to be found if we just keep open, keep listening, and refuse to give up on ourselves. Aging may be a part of life, but how we do so is largely up to us.”