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This Is Exactly What You Need to Eat For Breakfast to Lose Weight

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Did you know you can use the first meal of the day as a tool to lose weight? Want to know how? We’ve enlisted the expertise of two nutritionists — Stephanie Clarke, RD, and Willow Jarosh, RD, of C&J Nutrition — to share the perfect equation for how to make a scrumptious and satisfying breakfast that will help you lose weight. Follow their advice below to start seeing results.

Calories

Aim for a range between 300 and 400 calories. If you’re trying to lose weight, stick with the 300 to 350 range, and if you’re trying to maintain weight, especially if you’re working out, shoot closer to 350 to 400 calories.

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Carbs

About 45 to 55 percent of your breakfast calories should be devoted to carbs, which is about 40 to 55 grams of carbs. Skip sugary and overly processed foods or those made with enriched white flour, and choose whole grains, fruits, and veggies.

Protein

About 15 to 20 percent of your breakfast calorie amount should be protein, which works out to about 13 to 20 grams. Getting enough protein at breakfast is important for keeping you satisfied throughout the morning. And studies have shown that getting at least 20 grams of protein at breakfast may help you lose weight as well. Eggs, dairy products, soy milk, protein powder in smoothies, nuts and seeds, and whole grains are great sources of protein.

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Fats

Shoot for about 10 to 15 grams, which is about 30 to 35 percent of your total breakfast calories. Instead of saturated fats like bacon and cheese, go for monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) like olive oil, nuts and seeds and the butters made from them, and avocado.

Fiber

Aim for about 25 percent of your recommended daily total of 25 grams per day. That works out to about six grams, but it’s OK to go above that, as long as it doesn’t bother your digestive system. Berries, pears, apples, greens and other veggies, nuts, seeds, and whole grains can help you reach that goal.

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Sugars

If you follow the equation for carbs above, then you won’t have to worry about going overboard on sugars, especially if you’re eating a combination of foods like fruits, whole grains, and dairy products. But for a ballpark number to keep in mind, stick to 36 grams or fewer. And when it comes to added sugar, try not to exceed six grams — that’s about 1.5 teaspoons’ worth of any sweetener (white sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, or agave).

Timing

Ideally you should eat breakfast within 30 to 60 minutes of waking up. If you’re not keen on eating anything big first thing, split this meal up into two parts, having something light close to waking up and the other half about an hour and a half later. This also works well if you’re a morning exerciser and prefer not to have a full stomach while you work out. If you’re exercising, you can aim to have the more carbohydrate-based portion of your breakfast (fruit, toast, etc.) prior to working out and the more protein-centric portion afterward.

A Few Examples of Perfect Breakfasts

Steel Cut Oats With Fruit and Nuts: Steel cut oats not only have more fiber than an equal amount of rolled oats, but they also have more protein since you’re eating more of the original grain. Cook one-half cup steel cut oats in a mixture of one-half cup water and one-half cup unsweetened soy milk. Top with one-half cup blueberries, one tablespoon chopped walnuts, and one teaspoon drizzle of maple syrup.
Calories: 328
Total fat: 9.7 grams
Saturated fat: 1 gram
Carbs: 51.1 grams
Fiber: 7.2 grams
Sugars: 16.6 grams
Protein: 11.8 grams


Mexi-Egg Wrap: Scramble one egg and one egg white with two tablespoons black beans, one-quarter cup chopped tomato, and two tablespoons onion, until eggs are set. Stir in one cup spinach. Fill a nine-inch whole-wheat tortilla with the egg mixture and top with one-quarter of an avocado, cubed, and one tablespoon salsa. Add salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder to taste.
Calories: 345
Total fat: 15.7 grams
Saturated fat: 3.5 grams
Carbs: 36.8 grams
Fiber 9.7 grams
Sugars: 3.2 grams
Protein: 17.4 grams


Smoothie and a Hard-Boiled Egg: Pair a carrot cake smoothie made with two medium carrots, half a frozen banana, two cups spinach, one cup unsweetened soy milk (you can use almond), half a scoop plant-based protein powder, one-eighth cup golden raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. This is easy to split — have half of the smoothie before your workout, then have the rest plus the egg after the workout.
Calories: 368
Total fat: 12.6 grams
Saturated fat: 5.1 grams
Carbs: 49.5 grams
Fiber: 9.4 grams
Sugars: 25.5 grams
Protein: 25.4 grams

Breakfast Mistakes to Avoid

Skipping out: When you sleep, your body slows down while you’re not eating. So when you wake up, if you don’t break the fast (yup, that’s where the name comes from), your body will burn calories slowly. To jump-start your metabolism and get your body burning calories, you need to eat. Not fueling up also deprives your brain of glucose, which is why you feel foggy-headed and cranky. Think of breakfast as an opportunity to get your fill of valuable nutrients such as calcium, iron, and vitamin C.
Skimping: You know skipping breakfast entirely is a no-no, but not eating enough will also backfire. It’ll leave you feeling hungry soon after eating, which will cause you to need more food and can translate to more calories consumed over the course of the entire day. Stick to the formula above, and you’ll not only feel satisfied longer, but you’ll also have more energy for the workouts that can make you drop pounds even faster.
Imbalanced meal: Leaving out a key component of the breakfast formula such as avoiding all carbs or going too heavy, such as having an all-protein meal, means you’re not going to get enough satisfaction or nutrition from this first meal. Following the formula above will allow you to eat a balanced meal while also helping you see weight-loss results.

Looking to lose weight during other times of the day? Here’s what to eat for lunch, what to eat at snack time, and what to eat at dinner to lose weight.

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Even Optimists Tend to Expect the Worst

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Even if you consider yourself to be pretty upbeat, it’s easy to get caught up in feelings of dread as you wait to hear about uncertain news. As the moment of truth draws nearer, people often find themselves increasingly convinced that bad results are ahead.

These emotions may feel stressful and unhealthy, but a new study suggests they’re totally normal. In fact, this instinct to brace for the worst can actually be protective and serve as a buffer against potentially bad news, say researchers from the University of California Riverside.

In previous studies, it’s been recognized that, as individuals wait for their respective results, students become increasingly convinced they’ve failed an exam, patients become increasingly convinced they have a terrible disease, and voters become increasingly convinced that their candidate will lose an election.

RELATED: Optimism Can Help You Live Longer

Kate Sweeny, Ph.D., a psychology professor at UC Riverside, wanted to see if this was true of optimists and pessimists alike. “Intuition might suggest that some people are more likely to brace than others,” Sweeny said in a press release. “In particular, happy-go-lucky optimists would seem immune to the anxiety and second-guessing that typically arise as the decisive moment draws near.”

So she and her co-author performed nine different experiments in their lab and in real-life settings. Some involved college students anticipating rankings of their attractiveness from peers, for example, while others involved law-school graduates awaiting the results of their bar exams. All participants answered questions beforehand to determine their natural disposition.

The researchers’ findings, published in the Journal of Personality, were “counter to intuition,” Sweeny said. “Optimists were not immune to feeling a rise in pessimism at the moment of truth. In fact, not a single study showed a difference between optimists and pessimists in their tendency to brace for the worst.”

RELATED: Happy People Make Their Spouses Happier

There was a difference, unsurprisingly, in overall predictions: Optimists started out with more positive expectations than pessimists. But everyone in the study tended to shift those expectations downward over time.

This may be because not getting one’s hopes up can be a natural defense. “If you expect the worst, you can lessen feelings of shock and disappointment if things don’t go as you hoped,” Sweeny told RealSimple.com, “and you’ll be pleasantly surprised if they do.”

So if you feel down right before a big announcement, Sweeny says you shouldn’t necessarily fight those feelings. Rather, she says, we should all try to be more like the optimists in this study, and save our pessimism for these strategic moments.

“It’s generally good to be optimistic about the future,” she says. “Optimists are happier and healthier in lots of different ways, and it’s true that worrying too much or for too long can lead to anxiety and rumination. But in these final moments before you get big news, optimism can be really treacherous.”

In other words, she says, making sure you’ve done everything you can to ensure your chances of success—and then putting off your worries until those final moments—may be the best balance you can strike. And if you do feel like the world’s about to end while you wait, take heart in knowing that that’s normal, too.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

Also check out http://healthywithjodi.com

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Why You Should Be Putting Lemonade In Your Coffee

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As cooling caffeine-delivery systems go, your standard issue cold brew is pretty hard to beat. Hard… but, it turns out, not impossible. The evidence? Consider the Thunderbolt, an icy, tart, insanely refreshing drink that’s just a simple combo of espresso and lemonade. (And which I’ll be drinking every afternoon from now until November.)

I first encountered the Thunderbolt two years ago at Smith Canteen, a cafe in my Brooklyn neighborhood, and was immediately hooked. Since then, I’ve discovered that the formula, though inspired, is not wholly original—and actually has a devoted following among coffee geeks everywhere from Sweden to Mexico.

RELATED: 4 Genius Breakfast Ideas That Start With Avocado

The best part about this new breed of icy beverage? It really couldn’t be easier to make at home—no fancy gear required. Just grab yourself a glass, fill it with ice, and combine lemonade with a shot or two of chilled espresso or cold brew concentrate. Store-bought lemonade is fine (I’m partial to Newman’s Own) as long as it’s not too sweet.

Or, if you really want to play around, try swapping out the still stuff for some sparkling lemonade instead. Indeed, while its origins are hard to pin down, with its tart, citrusy edge, the Thunderbolt does have a lot in common with the espresso tonic, another (seemingly Swedish-derived) coffee trend that’s been the darling of craft coffee shops for a few summers now. (For the uninitiated, it is exactly what it sounds like: a glass of tonic water over ice, topped with a shot of espresso.)

RELATED: 14 Trader Joe’s Items That Will Basically Change Your Life

Coffee and soda hybrids of all stripes might just be the “it” drinks of the summer. During a recent swing through Charleston, SC, I stopped in at the Daily and sat in the sun sipping a delightful combination of grapefruit soda and espresso, garnished with a twist of orange peel. At Cocoa Cinnamon in Durham, NC, you can order a dark and sweet Kokytu, which consists of an espresso over an iced cane sugar Mexican Coke. And, at the new Stumptown cafe in New Orleans’ Ace Hotel, they’re serving the “Endless Summer,” a julep-inspired concoction made from cold brew laced with mint simple syrup and sparkling water.

But why stop there? We’re already dreaming of an amped-up espresso Dark and Stormy and a cherry cola cold brew.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

Also check out http://healthywithjodi.com

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Repealing The Affordable Care Act Could Be More Complicated Than It Looks

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After six controversial years, the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, may be on the way out, thanks to the GOP sweep of the presidency and both houses of Congress Tuesday.

“There’s no question Obamacare is dead,” said insurance industry consultant Robert Laszewski. “The only question is whether it will be cremated or buried.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confirmed Wednesday that repealing the law is something that’s “pretty high on our agenda.”

But promising to make the law go away, as President-elect Donald Trump did repeatedly, and actually figuring out how to do it, are two very different things.

“Washington is much more complicated once you’re here than it appears to be from the outside,” said William Pierce, a consultant who served in both the George W. Bush Department of Health and Human Services and on Capitol Hill for Republicans.

For example, a full repeal of the health law would require 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster. Given the small GOP majority in the Senate, “they would have to convince six or eight Democrats to come with them to repeal. That seems highly unlikely,” Pierce said.

Republicans could—and likely would—be able to use a budget procedure to repeal broad swaths of the law. The “budget reconciliation” process would let Republicans pass a bill with only a majority vote and not allow opponents to use a filibuster to stop movement on the bill.

But that budget process has its own set of byzantine rules, including one that requires that any changes made under reconciliation directly affect the federal budget: in other words, the measure must either cost or save money. That means “they can only repeal parts” of the law, said Pierce.

Republicans have a ready-made plan if they want to use it. The budget bill they passed late last year would have repealed the expansions of Medicaid and subsidies that help low- and middle-income families purchase health insurance on the law’s marketplaces, among other things. President Barack Obama vetoed the measure early this year.

That bill also included, as Vice President-Elect Mike Pence promised in a speech last week in Pennsylvania, “a transition period for those receiving subsidies to ensure that Americans don’t face disruption or hardship in their coverage.” The bill passed by the GOP Congress at the end of 2015 set that date at Dec. 31, 2017.

Delaying the repeal date could work in Republicans’ favor, said Laszewski. “Then they’ll turn to the Democrats and say, ‘Work with us to replace it or be responsible for the explosion,’” he said.

But Tim Westmoreland, a former House Democratic staffer who teaches at Georgetown Law School, said that strategy won’t work. “I don’t think people will see the Democrats as responsible if it all blows up,” he said.

Meanwhile, Republicans have only the broadest outlines of what could replace the law. Trump’s campaign website has bullet-point proposals to allow health insurance sales across state lines and to expand health savings accounts—which allow consumers to save money, tax-free, that can be used only for health care expenses. House Republicans last summer offered up a slightly more detailed outline that includes creating “high-risk pools” for people with preexisting health conditions and turning the Medicaid program back to state control through a block-grant program.

Yet even Democrats are convinced that Obama’s signature accomplishment is on the chopping block. “A lot of people say, ‘Oh, they can’t really mean it. They wouldn’t really take health insurance away from 20 million people’” who have gained it under the law, John McDonough, a former Democratic Senate staffer, said at a Harvard School of Public Health Symposium last week. “How many times do [Republicans] have to say it before we take them seriously?”

One possibility, according to William Hoagland, a former GOP Senate budget expert now at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington-based think tank, is that Republicans could use the budget process to combine tax reform with health policy changes. “And a reconciliation bill that includes reforms in Obamacare and tax reform starts to become a negotiable package” that could attract both Republicans and potentially some Democrats, who are also interested in remaking tax policy.

But if Congress does pass the GOP’s “repeal” before the “replace,” it needs to make sure that insurers will continue to offer coverage during the transition.

“Are [Republicans] going to invite insurers in and listen?” said Rodney Whitlock, a former House and Senate Republican health staffer. If there is no acceptable transition plan, “insurers can say the same thing to the Republicans that they’ve been saying to Democrats,” said Whitlock, which is that they are leaving the market.

That’s something that concerns insurance consultant Laszewski, who says that already there are more sick than healthy people signing up for individual coverage under the law. With probable repeal on the horizon, he said, that’s likely to get even worse. “A lot of [healthy] people will say, ‘Why sign up now? I’m going to wait until they fix it.’”

And if that happens, he said, there might not be any insurers offering coverage for the transition.

 

This article originally appeared on KHN.org

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Immunity Boosters: A Guide to Tea's Health Benefits

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Steamy or iced, chai or green, bottled or not: Tea is hot, and getting hotter. Tea drinkers can be as passionate and picky about their drink of choice as the most snobby oenophile is about her wine. There are more and more choices. And annual tea sales in the United States have jumped from nearly $2 billion in 1990 to $5.5 billion last year, says Joseph Simrany, president of Tea Association of the USA Inc.

What you'll see in restaurants

Chefs across the country are weaving tea into signature dishes and specialty drinks. Munch on tea-smoked chicken at New York Citys Yumcha (“drink tea” in Cantonese), or sip green-tea martinis infused with pear at Jack Falstaff in San Francisco. And the first green-tea liqueur—Zen—hit the U.S. market this summer and is being served up in hot spots like New Yorks Sushi Samba.

Even rock stars are getting in on it

After electronic-music king Moby opened his own New York teahouse, Teany, he decided to get even more creative. “He was a mad professor behind the counter,” says partner Kelly Tisdale, experimenting with different flavors and launching the Teany line of chilled bottled teas, like the new white tea with pomegranate, carried in New York and the U.K.

Tea as wine

At the chic tea boutique Le Palais des Thes in Beverly Hills, sections of the store are devoted to teas from different regions, similar to the way most wine shops are organized. Increasing numbers of tea snobs are seeking out teas sourced from a single place, like Darjeeling Puttabong, the first tea estate in the Himalaya and the mother of the Darjeeling tea industry.

The coffee comparison

While many people still want their Starbucks coffee fix, a growing crowd is looking for a leafier sip. “The difference between people who drink coffee and those who drink tea is similar to the difference between beer and wine drinkers,” says Le Palais des Thes David Barenholtz. Tea drinkers are looking for a relaxing experience, while coffee drinkers tend to slug coffee for a jolt of energy.

The payoff

Beyond its pure enjoyment, tea is packed with health perks. The heart-health and cancer-preventive benefits of black and green teas are well-publicized. And more research is under way; some studies suggest tea may also increase bone-mineral density, boost immunity, fight cavities, combat diabetes, and reduce body fat. What makes it so healthy? Scientists point to a group of natural antioxidants called catechins present in all teas, but not in coffee. Certain antioxidants can protect against exposure to ultraviolet light and its consequences, such as sun damage and skin cancer. And while coffees caffeine is known to sharpen concentration, tea has caffeine too, sometimes as much as or more than coffee.

 

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7 Things to Know Before You Donate Blood

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The summer’s no vacation for blood banks, and this one has been especially hard: Just after the fourth of July, the American Red Cross issued an emergency call for blood and platelet donations. This time of year, “blood donors are typically out of town and unable to give," explains Justin Kreuter, MD, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center in Rochester, Minnesota; or they may not be eligible to donate after traveling to certain areas outside the United States. “It really hits us in the summer months,” Dr. Kreuter says. Your community needs your help now; here’s what you should know about pitching in.

Eligibility is always changing, and Zika’s a concern this year

The Red Cross maintains an alphabetical list of eligibility criteria for potential donors—from acupuncture (thumbs up) to Zika (thumbs down)—and can give you the latest information on whether or not you’re good to give. There have been no reported cases of Zika transmission via blood transfusion so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but there’s a strong possibility that the virus can be transmitted that way. “What we’re doing now, per the FDA, is deferring [donors who may have been exposed to Zika] for 28 days, which is twice the known period of infectivity,” Dr. Kreuter says. Because Zika can be transmitted by sexual contact (via semen) as well, women with male partners who have visited Zika-affected areas are deferred for three additional months.

RELATED: 4 Unexpected Benefits of Donating Blood

The FDA regulates donor blood just as aggressively as it regulates drugs

“It takes a lot of money to do the infectious-disease testing that we do [on donor blood], and when we create blood products out of the donation, that’s done to the same standards as any drug manufactured in this country. The FDA holds us to those same standards, so it’s a very high level of quality and also resources that are invested,” Dr. Kreuter explains. “These tests and high standards are what’s keeping the blood supply safe, so that if my wife or one of my daughters needs a blood transfusion, I can feel assured that I can just sit at their bedside and hold their hand rather than worry about what that might result [in] for them later down the road.”  

You’ll get a mini-physical before you donate

The flip side of donor blood screening (which ensures that it’s safe for the eventual recipient) is confirming the donor’s health (which ensures that the blood draw won’t have a negative effect on them). “We check blood pressure and pulse, we do a pinprick to check red blood cells to make sure they’re safe—we don’t want to make our donors iron deficient,” Dr. Kreuter says. He makes no specific suggestions about what you eat and drink prior to donation; just be sure you have breakfast and lunch under your belt, and take it easy on caffeine. “We all live on our daily espressos and whatnot, but we see donors who show up and haven’t eaten [meals] and they’ve only been drinking coffee, and they’re quite dehydrated. When you donate you’re losing circulating fluid, so the water that you drink before and after your donation is important.”

RELATED: 15 Signs You May Have an Iron Deficiency

You’ll hardly feel a thing—seriously

The needles used to collect blood are a bit larger than those you’d encounter when, say, receiving a flu shot, but the so-called ‘small pinch’ you feel at insertion is, truly, no big deal. “What we feel [at the start of a blood draw] is just on the surface of our skin. These needles have silicone on them, they’re made to glide and be quite comfortable. After that initial stick, you’re not going to feel anything,” Dr. Kreuter says. If needles give you the shivers, look away for the quarter-second in which yours is placed; then ask a staffer to cover up the insertion site for you. Since the "tough" part is already over, you can lie back and spend the next eight to 10 minutes zoning out.

It’s okay to have a cookie after you donate

“What’s healthy is to keep a balanced diet as you go forward in the day [after your donation],” Dr. Kreuter says. “We tend to stock our canteen area with things like water and juice and then salty snacks, because salt helps you retain a little more of the [water] volume that you’ve lost through donation. The cookies are there because [they’re] something the donor culture has grown up in—maybe not the healthiest option, but certainly an expectation. Believe it or not, I have meetings about cookies. I’ve seen shirts before that say ‘I donate for the cookies.’” Bottom line: Rewarding yourself with a treat isn’t going to do any harm, provided that you indulge in moderation.

Your blood could save patients who haven’t even entered the world yet

Though many of us are reminded of the importance of blood donation when tragedies happen, much of what we give does the quiet work of saving people who’ll never show up on the news. Since the need for blood doesn’t go away, the best way to save lives is to contribute regularly. “At Mayo, about 15% to 20% of our blood is going to trauma patients and being used in our ER; a lot of our blood gets used supporting patients through life-saving cardiac or cancer surgeries. Cancer patients [also need blood]—chemotherapy knocks down their ability to make their own red blood cells and platelets—and folks who have medical conditions like autoimmune diseases also need transfusions.”

Donations flow to delivery rooms, too: “If anemia is significant enough in utero we transfuse during pregnancy and sometimes immediately after delivery,” Dr. Kreuter explains. “A lot of kids need blood in the first couple of minutes of life. Sometimes with newborn babies an emergency platelet transfusion in the first few moments of life is absolutely necessary; in their situation the newborn brain is so delicate and fragile that having these platelets immediately available is the name of the game in order to prevent bleeding into their brains, which results in long-term disabilities.”

Note that platelets have a shelf life of just five days, while whole blood can be stored for up to six weeks. The immediate need for platelets—and platelet donors—is constant.

RELATED: 6 Iron-Rich Food Combos—No Meat Required

Donating your voice is vital, too

Those "Be nice to me, I gave blood today!" stickers aren’t merely a cute (and justified) humblebrag: They’re also a benevolent form of peer pressure, not unlike the "I voted" stickers we earn and wear on election days. “Hearing about blood donation from a friend or colleague is very motivating in getting [potential first-timers] to think about taking that next step,” Dr. Kreuter says. “Our donor population [in Rochester] has an older average age, and we’re trying to reach out to the younger generation to start having the same blood donation habits.”

Think about it this way: Taking your kids to see you strengthen your community’s heartbeat at a blood center is just as important as bringing them with you to the voting booth. Donate visibly, donate vocally, and donate as often as you can.

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3 Simple Steps to Mindful Eating (And Why You Should Try It)

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Mindfulness is a major buzzword right now—and rightly so. In my experience, becoming more mindful is life-changing. It can help you react more calmly and thoughtfully in any situation, whether you’re stuck in traffic, dealing with a difficult boss, or making food choices. And mindfulness isn’t just a new age theory; its benefits are backed by plenty of research. Studies have found it may help reduce inflammation (a known trigger of premature aging and disease), lower stress hormone levels, boost happiness, shrink belly fat, improve sleep, and curb appetite.

Mindfulness can also be pretty powerful when it comes to your eating habits. With my clients, I've observed how mindful eating can totally transform a person's relationship to food. (That's why I devoted an entire chapter to it in my book Slim Down Now.) Mindfulness can help you eat less and enjoy your food more. Plus, feeling relaxed while you nosh helps improve digestion and reduce bloating. And while becoming mindful doesn't happen overnight, the process is actually pretty simple. Here are three steps you can take today.

RELATED: Do These 5 Things Every Day to Live Longer

Practice slowing down

If you find yourself eating too fast, or making spontaneous food decisions often (like grabbing a handful of M&Ms from the office candy jar), start by slowing the pace of your day. One way to do so: Pop in your earbuds and listen to a five-minute guided mindfulness meditation. You’ll find many options on YouTube, and through apps like Headspace, Meditation Studio, and Calm.

At meal times, try putting your fork down in between bites. You can also try an app like Eat Slower which allows you to set an interval (anywhere between 20 seconds and 3 minutes) between bites; a bell lets you know when it's time to lift your fork again. Even if you don’t do this at every meal, regularly practicing slow eating will help you become accustomed to unhurried noshing.

RELATED: 49 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full

Take smaller bites and sips

When clients really struggle to quit a speed eating habit,  I often recommend that they cut their food into smaller pieces. I also advise choosing  “loose” foods. For example, it's helpful to eat popped popcorn kernels or nuts one at a time, and chew each well before grabbing another. Grapes, berries, and grape tomatoes can also work well for slowing the pace.

RELATED: 5 Superfood Snack Recipes You Can Make at Home

Eat without distractions

As efficient as multitasking may be, it’s not a great idea for meal or snack time, since it’s extremely difficult (if not impossible) to really pay attention to more than one thing at a time. So step away from your computer, TV, phone, and even books during meal time. By removing distractions, you can really pay attention to the flavors, textures, and aromas of your food, and better tune into your hunger and fullness levels. You’ll also be more mindful of how quickly you’re eating, and likely realize that gobbling down food at lightening speed doesn’t actually feel good. If you can’t do this at every meal, commit to undistracted eating at least once a day.

RELATED: 8 Sneaky Reasons You're Always Hungry

Ready to give it a go? In my experience, this trio of steps can lay the foundation for balance, and help remedy chaotic or erratic eating. So rather than thinking about calories or carbs, shift your focus inward, take a deep breath, and start to adopt a new type of healthy eating pattern.

Do you have a question about nutrition? Chat with us on Twitter by mentioning @goodhealth and @CynthiaSass. 

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Yankees, previously consulted for three other professional sports teams, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Sass is a three-time New York Times best-selling author, and her newest book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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New York Legislature Passes Bill to Eliminate the ‘Tampon Tax’

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Early this year, the “tampon tax” made headlines when California legislator Cristina Garcia introduced an Assembly Bill to exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax. According to a press release from her office, California women coughed up $20 million annually in taxes for these products, despite them being, in Garcia’s words, a "basic necessity." Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo stated that New York State will no longer tax feminine hygiene products, a move that will take effect in the next sales-tax quarter.

Supporters of the bill maintain that tampons and other feminine hygiene products are necessities, and should be treated as other tax-free healthcare items.

Politico reports that the unanimous Senate vote only took “about one minute” on Monday before the bill headed to Governor Cuomo’s office. New York will join a handful of states that lifted the "luxury tax" on these items—a tax many (including President Barack Obama) have called sexist and unjust. Ten other states, including California, are considering similar legislation.

“Repealing this regressive and unfair tax on women is a matter of social and economic justice,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “I look forward to signing it into law."

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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The Crazy Thing That Happened When I Tried Floating in a Soundproof, Lightproof Tank

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It is pitch black, and eerily quiet. I am floating in a foot of salt water, inside a light-proof, sound-proof tank. The air and the water are about the same temperature as my skin, and I realize I’m not sure where my body ends and my surroundings begin. I suddenly feel dizzy, and a wave of nausea washes over me.

Two minutes down, 58 to go.

I am here, belly up in this pod, to see what floatation therapy is all about. In the last five years or so, the practice has grown wildly in popularity, with float centers springing up across the country. Devotees claim floating transports the mind and body, offering profound relaxation, and a variety of other benefits, from pain reduction to enhanced creativity and better sleep.

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A few more minutes into my session, I start to get why people do this: As I focus on my breath—in and out—my tension melts away. I close my eyes and imagine myself drifting on a cloud.

When I hear the signal that the session is over, I can’t believe an hour has passed. I know I didn’t nod off. But my brain had somehow slipped out of its regular rhythm into an altogether different state where I lost track of time.

As I climb out of the pod, I feel a deep sense of calm, and incredibly refreshed—like I just woke up from the best nap of my life.

“The majority of people that achieve that restful state, they report the same type of effect,” says physical therapist Robert Schreyer when I tell him about my float. He is co-owner of the Aspire Center for Health and Wellness in New York City, which allowed me to float for free as a journalist in one of their two pods. (The usual price is $90.)

Schreyer and his staff often recommend that their physical therapy patients float before an appointment. “When they get out, their muscles are more relaxed, and our interventions can be much more effective,” he explains. That benefit may have something to do with the 1,000 pounds of Epsom salts—or magnesium sulfate—dissolved in the bath to make the water denser, and thus floaters more buoyant. “There’s a lot of theories that magnesium provides muscle relaxation,” he says.

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“But floating seems to be beneficial for everyone," he adds. “It’s the ultimate way to detach.”

Out in Tulsa, Oklahoma, clinical neuropsychologist Justin Feinstein, PhD, is trying to understand that mental piece of the float phenomenon. Feinstein is the director of the only float lab in the U.S.—the Float Clinic and Research Center at the Laureate Institute for Brain Research. His team has been using wireless, waterproof sensors and fMRI scans to collect data on what happens in the brain while people float.

“Our preliminary analyses are showing that the stress circuits of the brain are shutting off post-float,” Feinstein tells me over the phone. Once he finishes this current study, he plans to explore the therapeutic potential of floating for people who suffer from anxiety, especially PTSD. (To avoid triggering claustrophobia in subjects, the lab has a specially designed open tank in a light-proof, sound-proof room.)

“So what is it about floating that makes it so restorative?” I ask him.

“It’s most likely a combination of a lot of variables,” he explains. For one, you’re in a near-zero gravity state, he says, which gives your body a chance to relax. “You’re also reducing external sensory input to the brain—reduced light, reduced sound, reduced proprioception, or how you feel your body in space.”

This is why people refer to floating as a form of sensory deprivation. But Feinstein says that’s actually a misnomer.

“What we’re finding in our research is that floating is a form of sensory enhancement,” he says, because it allows you to tune into your own body—especially your heartbeat and your breathing.

“It becomes an ideal environment for mindful meditation,” Feinstein points out. “For anyone who may have trouble focusing on their breath outside of the tank, floating makes it lot easier to enter into a meditative state.”

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What he says explains so much about my experience: I must have reached a meditative state during my float without even trying. I have never been able to meditate before. It had always seemed impossible to quiet the incessant chatter in my head. But inside the pod, it seemed to happen automatically.

Feinstein believes floating can help many other people like me—which could be a powerful thing, considering the proven health benefits of meditation.

As for me, my float has inspired me to try again to meditate the traditional way. Now that I know what’s possible, I’m determined to learn. If I could start every day with that same calm and centered feeling of zen that I had when I climbed out of the tank, it would be life-changing.

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