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You are what you eat, and eating healthier can be the biggest step toward an overall healthier life. These tips should help you eat better and eat a little less, which is better for you, too:
Cut Your Calories
With all the buzz about the latest diet trends, it’s easy to forget the most basic tenet of successful weight loss: Make sure you take in fewer calories than you burn.
Each of our bodies is different, but you can use tools like this one to roughly calculate energy needs. Remember, you must eat in a way that is sustainable to you—not in grapefruit diets or cabbage-soup cleanses. That in mind, we present three calorie-cutting tricks that could weigh in big:
Don’t skimp on fiber: It will help you feel full, while also aiding with elimination. Swap fiber-rich vegetables for empty, refined carbohydrates—say, spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti noodles. You will meet nutritional requirements and feel satisfied while decreasing your calorie intake.
Watch what you drink: Sodas, juices, and mocha lattes can pack on pounds without leaving you full. The average American drinks more than 20 percent of their calories. Stick to water and teas instead, and make sure you sweeten your tea naturally—chemical sweeteners are increasingly controversial. If you’re craving fruit, it’s best to eat one: An orange has three grams of fiber and only 65 calories, while a serving of orange juice contains 110 calories (a tall glass would be two servings) and no fiber.
Get your protein: While you shouldn't cut out any one type of nutrient, like carbohydrates, eating more protein will stave off hunger by keeping you full longer. For best results, eat it in combination with high-fiber foods, or get it from foods like lentils, which contain both protein and carbohydrates.
A MORSEL FROM HEALTHYMAGINATION
Cook a healthy stir-fry with tofu instead of red meat to eliminate excess artery-clogging animal fat.
Tofu has fiber, protein and good fats, plus the benefits of soy. Saute firm tofu in oil and garlic and add lots of veggies for a creative, filling meal.
Smaller Meals for a Smaller Waist
Our portion sizes over the years have grown in tandem with our pant sizes—which is to say, they’re now enormous. But many health experts argue that the healthiest way to eat is to ingest several smaller meals throughout the day, instead of cramming down three enormous ones.
In studies, those who subscribed to this type of regimen were shown to have lower levels of low-density liprotein or LDL (that’s the bad cholesterol). Eating like this also helps regulate metabolism and blood sugar. But the biggest benefit? Your stomach adjusts in size based on your intake: With discipline, eating small portions will get easier. There’s one caveat, though: Our eyes can be just as dangerous as our appetite. Here's how to keep them in check:
Use smaller plates: The might sound silly, but plate sizes have actually grown by about four inches in diameter since the 1950s, and our waists have followed suit. Some experts think that the fuller your plate looks, the more satisfied you will feel—regardless of how much you actually consume. Opt for nine-inch plates over the more common 13-inch ones.
Keep serving dishes out of sight: Now that you have a smaller plate, you have to avoid refilling it. When serving bowls are in view, it’s easy to keep adding to your dwindling plate. Commit to eating one serving per mini-meal and keep the rest out of arm’s (and eye’s) reach.
Take half to go: It’s virtually impossible to avoid super-sized meals in restaurants. Because it’s hard not to finish what’s in front of you, immediately pack part of the serving in a to-go box before you begin.
Eat Your Superfoods
They say a calorie is a calorie no matter where it originates, but nutritionally, that isn’t the case. When it comes to getting the right vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins, not all foods all created equal. One simple rule of thumb: Focus on nature’s nutritional heroes, sometimes known as superfoods. See how many of these you can eat in a week:
Berries: Blueberries are the simplest option for a low-calorie, high-antioxidant snack, but all berries are beneficial. Because they spoil quickly, buying frozen is an easy way to keep them on hand. Grind the chilled fruits up in a smoothie, or defrost them in a freezer bag in cold water. Then, toss a handful into yogurt, cereal, or sorbet. Or crush them onto buttered toast for an improvised jam.
Broccoli: All dark green vegetables are nutritious, but broccoli is especially so—boosting immunity and eye health, fighting cancer, and reducing inflammation. It’s also versatile to cook with. You can toss it in any pasta dish, serve it steamed or sautéed, or keep the florets frozen to defrost and use when mixing up a simple side dish.
Tomatoes: A chemical in tomatoes, called lycopene, is a powerful antioxidant that can fight cancer and heart disease. Consume the veggies raw or cooked, alone or in sauces and casseroles—even on a pizza—at least four times a week.
Lentils: Lentils and other legumes and beans are nutritious sources of low-calorie, non-animal protein. Throw some cooked lentils in any salad or soup, crush garbanzos into a homemade hummus, or load black beans into a tortilla for a vegetarian taco.
Green tea: Coffee is not without its health benefits (caffeine can help stave off Alzheimer’s disease and dementia), but instead of two cups a day, replace one of those with organic green tea. Loaded with antioxidants called polyphenols, green tea can help lower cholesterol and fight off cancer.
A MORSEL FROM HEALTHYMAGINATION
Lean against a wall, hands on your thighs. Gently move into a squat position and hold for 10 to 30 seconds.
This squat strengthens all your lower-body muscles. Holding the squat isometrically deepens the intensity. Contract your abdominals, relax your shoulders and breathe.