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Friday, June 10, 2011

Hitting the road? Keep your nosh healthy and light with our tips.

Summer means road trips to the cottage, the lake, and other vacation destinations. Don't let road-trip weight-loss anxiety get in the way of your summer fun. Instead, read our tips for the best road trip snacks suited for any kind of travel.

Whether you're traveling alone, with your significant other, or the kids, these snack ideas are designed for easy access, and most importantly, to steer you away from fast food stops along the way.

We suggest you bring along a small cooler to keep your healthy snacks fresher for longer.

If you're driving alone
Driving alone can be a cathartic experience, especially with the windows down, the wind blowing through your hair, and your favorite music blaring. To make the trip even better, come prepared with these easily accessible snacks that don't require help from someone in the passenger seat.

Grape tomatoes: Actually a fruit, these miniature tomatoes, when ripe, make a delicious snack. This is a no-mess, grab-and-go snack, and one you can reach your hand in the bag for over and over.

Quaker® Quakes: These delicious snacks come in a variety of flavours and can satisfy even the most stubborn sweet or salty craving.

Summer berries are in abundance: Throw together blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or any mix of berries in a plastic container. This snack can get messy, so unless you've got a bunch of napkins tucked away in your glove compartment, leave this one for the rest stop.

If you're with that special someone
Sometimes it can be hard when you're traveling with your significant other, and they are looking forward to all the high PointsPlus™ values foods they are going to indulge in on the road. Fear not! As your loved one dives into a bag of fries, you are armed with a bag of popcorn sprinkled with Parmesan cheese or chili pepper flakes. And when you inevitably end up at the drive-thru window, you can either sink your teeth into a delicious sandwich you made or make a smart choice from the menu. Whatever you do, remember to spin the situation positively, and when it's time for you to eat your healthy snacks, the extra pair of hands will help you open your yogurt or pull the plastic wrapper off your string cheese. Here are some ideas.

Popcorn sprinkled with low-fat Parmesan cheese or hot chili peppers.

Open the lid of your yogurt and toss in some crushed cereal or granola for a little extra crunch. This will give you a solid dose of calcium, and although a little more challenging to eat in the car, you can make it work by placing the yogurt in your cup holder.

Cheese and crackers: Decorate some whole wheat crackers with your favorite low-fat cheese, and portion them out in plastic bags for easy access. You can use string cheese and snack on it by itself too!

If you're with the family
You can prepare these snacks in bulk to pass around the car and share with the whole family. These foods are sure to keep the kids happy so they don't start asking to visit the nearest fast food drive-thru window.

Core an apple and cut it into pieces. Throw it in a plastic container. Bring along a jar of peanut butter, and a plastic knife. If you're not driving, spread peanut butter onto the apple pieces and enjoy! This is one for the whole family.

Mini pita snackwiches. Hummus is full of protein and can help keep your hunger at bay until you reach your destination. Put some between mini pitas. These mini hummus sandwiches make the perfect portable snack that the kids will love too!

If you're with someone you don't know well
If you're grabbing a ride with a friend of a friend, or giving someone you don't know very well a lift to your destination, you might consider bringing along snacks that won't create crumbs (if it's the other person's car) and that you can easily share with them as a nice gesture (don't forget to pack a little extra). If you're worried the other person is going to stop at fast food restaurants along the way, you can pack yourself some portable main meals too. Also, packing foods with more neutral ingredients will minimize the possibility of strong smells filling up the car.

Try our Hot Pepper Pretzels – a perfect snack to tote along with you wherever you go! You can bring several plastic baggies, each containing one portion size.

Meringue cookies: These light cookies made from egg whites and sugar make a delicious low PointsPlus value sweet craving satisfier. You can get the store bought ones, or follow any recipe. Try our Chocolate Meringue Cookies recipe.

Happy snacking, and bon voyage!
from WW.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hydration & Sodium

Hi gang, yes I'm still around. Had a couple of months where motivation was hard to find but that seems to be coming back. I've managaged to get in a walk or jog everyday since this past Sunday. I plan to post more on that over on Snowy Tundra later (yes I'm leaving the vault) as time allows. For now I wanted to share two articles I came across on the NPR website. Watching sodium levels or rather not depleting them was a topic that Justin and I discussed many months ago. During long runs I have a tendancy to get cramps in my calves, usually after mile eight. This past January I took in more Gatoraid out on the course beginning at mile six. I also had a couple of shot block 30 and 60 minutes in. This seemed to work well for me and I didn't feel a cramp coming on until mile twelve. Of course we are all different and you will need to learn what works best for you. Just remember to experiment prior to an event and not during one.


Athletes Run Risk of Over Hydrating
by Allison Aubrey August 10, 2006

There is such a thing as too much water; excessive intake can dilute levels of sodium in the blood. University of Connecticut researcher Douglas Casa says people get into trouble when they try to follow set requirements for hydration.

If you're training for a marathon or an Ironman, a hydration plan is important. Of course, there's the risk of dehydration. But athletes now know they can also get into trouble by drinking too much. Excessive water intake can dilute levels of sodium in the blood. The death of a 28-year-old woman following the Boston Marathon caught the attention of many runners and led to new research.
Experts advise long distance runners to replace the liquids they sweat out.
"Our goal is to try to keep someone from not getting dehydrated by more than 2 percent of their body weight," says Douglas Casa, a researcher at the University of Connecticut's Human Performance Laboratory.
One technique for calculating how much fluid you need is to get an accurate scale. Runners can weigh themselves before and after a run to determine how much water weight they've lost. If their weight drops by more than 2 percent, they have not consumed enough fluid.
Hyponatremia occurs when runners drink so much liquid that concentrations of sodium in the blood drop off. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last year tracked 488 runners who completed the Boston Marathon and found 13 percent of them had dangerously low blood salt levels.
The first symptoms that runners may notice is minor swelling in the hands. "They can't get their rings off, then they might get nausea and dizziness. They may not remember where they are" says Dr. Lewis Maharam, who directs the International Marathon Medical Directors Association.
Most runners get enough salt to restore normal levels by eating just one meal after a run, and most never need medical attention. But with a spate of reported cases of hyponatremia, Maharam's group has a new guideline for hydrating.
The recommendation is contrary to the old advice that runners should drink as much as they can stomach to prevent dehydration.
"The new research has shown that the body is a remarkable machine that actually tells you via thirst when you need fluid," says Maharam.
Performance-oriented runners may prefer the more exacting scale-weighing technique. Casa recommends that runners use that method until they start to get a good estimate of how much water they sweat out during a typical training run.

Everyday Hydration Tips
by Roseanne Pereira

Dr. Douglas Casa, Director of Athletic Training Education in the University of Connecticut's Neag School of Education says people get into trouble when they try to follow set requirements for hydration. A magazine article that endorses eight glasses of water a day may not be right for you. Quench your thirst for information with Dr. Casa's tips on how to regulate your daily drinking.
Peek at Your Pee: Monitor its color. If it's light, like lemonade, you're doing pretty good. If it's darker, like apple juice, start gulping down liquids.
Step on the Scale: And do it both before and after exercising, to get a better sense of your individualized hydration needs. If you weigh more after a workout, chances are you drank too much while exercising. If you weigh much less, you may need to drink more. Experts recommend losing no more than 2 percent of your body weight during activity. Weighing the same before and after exercise, or slightly less, suggests you are an efficient hydrator.
Consider Sports Drinks: Because they replace some of the salts you lose when sweating, they're ideal for activities that last longer than an hour (for instance, hiking or biking treks) or even during very intense activities. Or if you're the kind of fanatic who's jogging in 110-degree heat.
Remember Chug Capacity: Recent studies show that coffee doesn't dehydrate, but Casa still doesn't recommend it for a workout; it's not the kind of fluid you can chug when you need to replace a lot of fluid in a short period of time.
(But Not for Beer!:) Alcohol does not leave you in the best possible state to recognize your fluid needs, prepare for the next bout of activity, or maximize fluid retention. Only use if stranded on an island with a case of beer, not for the purpose of fluid replacement.
Shun Sugar: Sodas, fruit juices and even beer have a higher level of sugar (which means more calories per serving) than most sports drinks or water. These drinks can rehydrate your body because they contain water, but their sugars give the stomach and intestines more to deal with; as a result, the fluids aren't absorbed into the body as quickly. It's fine to drink these beverages with meals and during leisure activities, but they won't keep you optimally hydrated during exercise.