Why Intuitive Eating Might Not Work for You

Intuitive eating is one of those weight-loss fads people swear by, but is it actually effective? Like so many weight loss methods floating around out there, it may work for you or it may not. I know, that’s so noncommittal. But let me explain.

Intuitive eating isn’t a diet. It’s a method of eating that gives its users a great degree of freedom of what and how much they eat. Some people experience success with intuitive eating and are able to use the technique to lose excess weight. But unfortunately, not everyone responds well to this dietary strategy. In fact, it can cause some people to gain even more weight!

So how can you tell if intuitive eating is a good strategy for you to try, or if it will cause you to fall back even further on your weight-loss journey? While you won’t know for sure unless you try it, here are a few indications that intuitive eating might not work for you (even if it worked for your sister, best friend, or cousin Harry).

Understanding How Intuitive Eating Works

Before we dive into the pros and cons of intuitive eating, let’s review what it is and what it isn’t, shall we? Intuitive eating is a pretty simple idea, and its main principles were developed in 1995 by two dietitians (Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch).

The main idea behind this type of eating is to come to peaceful terms with all different types of foods. You’re not supposed to refer to any foods as bad or off-limits when you adopt this way of eating. Instead, you do the following:

  • Listen to your body and consume what feels right in the moment

  • Eat when you’re hungry and stop eating when you’re full

  • Select foods that make your mind and body feel good while satisfying your health needs

  • Respect your emotions and seek treatment for them instead of engaging in emotional eating

Some people may lose weight with this eating strategy, but many others may not. Here are a few indications you may not want to try intuitive eating.

Indications Intuitive Eating May Not Be Right for You

Here are a few indications that intuitive eating may not work for your situation:

  • You have certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Consult with your doctor to see if there are certain foods you should add or cut out of your diet completely.

  • You don’t know how to recognize your body’s hunger or satiety signals. Eating intuitively sounds great in theory, but what if you don’t trust your body’s intuition? For some people, counting calories is a more reliable way to avoid overeating (or undereating).

  • You have a hard time losing weight. If you already struggle to lose weight, you may plateau or even gain weight by eating intuitively. Some people have higher ghrelin levels than others (that’s the hormone that triggers hunger), and they’re more likely to gain weight if they always eat until they’re full. For people like this, tracking calorie and macro intakes is essential for weight-loss success.

  • You’re addicted to sugar. Yes, science shows that it’s possible to become addicted to sugar. And if you follow the intuitive eating mindset, you can eat sugar if you really want it. As you can imagine, this can lead to over-indulgence for people whose relationship with sugar is out of control. It’s generally best to stay away from sugar or severely limit it in your diet rather than allow yourself to eat it “intuitively.”

So there you have it. If any of the above bullet points sound like you, intuitive eating may be something you want to skip (especially if you are trying to lose weight).

The 3 Best and Worst Drinks for Weight Loss

Have you ever had someone tell you “don’t drink your calories”? I know I have. It can get a little annoying because I like to enjoy my beverages without judgment. But I did decide to see what all the commotion is about and check out the nutrition and calorie content in some of my favorite drinks. What I discovered surprised me, so I decided to share my knowledge with you.

If you’re trying to lose weight, some drinks can derail your progress (or at least slow it down significantly). But other drinks can actually help you reach your weight loss goals! The key is being able to differentiate between them. Now that I’ve got your undivided attention, here are the three best and the three worst drinks for weight loss.

DO Drink These!

Ready for the list of top beverages that can help you reach your weight loss goals? Here you go!

1. Water

Before you get disappointed by the first beverage on the list, I promise you that water doesn’t have to be bland. I have a few great tips for making plain old H2O much more appealing. They include:

  • Pour your water into a fun, brightly-colored bottle (yes, this really can make it more fun to drink!)

  • Drink your water with ice to help you feel refreshed and hydrated.

  • Put slices of lemons, cucumbers, strawberries, and any other type of favorite fruit into your water. This lends a subtle flavor to the beverage and looks pretty, too!

  • Squeeze some water-flavoring products into your water bottle each day.

Water has zero calories and it hydrates your body, so it deserves its spot as the #1 best drink for weight loss.

2. Green Tea

Green tea is practically bursting with antioxidants and other nutrients. It’s also been shown in studies to decrease both body fat and body weight. Those are both causes we can stand behind! In addition to antioxidants, green tea also contains caffeine, which helps boost energy and exercise performance.

3. Ginger Tea

Did you know ginger tea can potentially reduce your appetite while helping you expend more calories? According to one study involving 10 overweight men, ginger tea consumption increases satiety and decreases hunger.  

DON’T Drink These!

Now that you know what drinks are great choices for losing a few extra pounds, let’s talk about the three worst drinks for your weight loss journey.

1. Soda

You can’t say you’re particularly surprised about this one, can you? Soda has no redeeming qualities, and it can actually harm your health in the long run. Every time you choose to indulge in soda (whether it’s a regular or sugar-free variety), you’re pumping your body full of artificial flavorings and colorings. Soda is also acidic, which can negatively impact your gut microbiome and make it more difficult for you to lose weight.

2. Energy Drinks

While some caffeine has been shown to aid in weight loss, too much caffeine can stress your body and cause a wide variety of health problems (such as nausea, nervousness, and increased blood pressure). When you’re not feeling good, you’re less likely to exercise and take care of your body. So it’s best to consume caffeine in moderation (400 mg or less is ideal for most people).

3. Specialty Coffees

A simple cup of coffee won’t derail your weight loss goals. In fact, it may help you reach them. But stay away from specialty coffees! A 12-ounce cafe mocha, though delicious, contains nearly 300 calories! Compare that to a simple cup of black coffee, which contains just three calories.

How did you do with the above lists? Do you drink primarily the beverages in the “DON’T drink” category or the “DO drink” category? The great news is that you can change your habits today to optimize your weight loss journey by indulging in drinks that can help you reach your goal.

These Are My 4 Favorite Milk Alternatives

Cow’s milk is rich in nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, magnesium and amino acids, or protein. If you're planning on switching to a milk alternative, you need to fill those nutritional needs. Which are the best milk substitutes?

1. Soy Milk: Super-Nutritious, Mild but Weird

Soy milk is a nutrient superfood, which makes it one of the best milk alternatives for your health. It has almost the same amount of protein that cow’s milk does, a filling 7 grams per cup. This protein contains all the essential amino acids that your body can’t make on its own, which is why vegetarians and vegans benefit a lot from drinking soy milk.

There’s only one tiny catch, at least for me: the taste. I’m not a huge fan of the flavor of soy milk or tofu (another high-protein food made from soy).

What I would recommend is to start yourself off eating soy yogurt. After you get used to the texture and flavor, mix soy milk with fresh fruit and enjoy a nutrient-packed morning smoothie.

2. Almond Milk: Thick, Creamy, and Delicious

Personally, I could drink almond milk all day long. It has a slightly sweet, nutty taste and an amazing texture. Imagine drinking a creamy glass of whole milk, but way better for your waistline.

This is my go-to option for recipes that call for milk, such as baked goods or creamy Italian dishes. I also love it with coffee because it’s like having a shot of amaretto and cream.

Any downsides? It's low in protein. So, while almond milk is an excellent replacement for cow’s milk flavor-wise and calorie-wise, it doesn’t fill your protein needs completely.

3. Coconut Milk: Sweet, Great for Weight Loss, But High in Fat?

If you haven’t tried coconut milk yet, trust me, go out and buy yourself a carton. This sweet treat will put a big smile on your face.

But is it healthy? Yes and no. This tropical drink gives you lots of vitamin D, vitamin B12 and other nutrients. But it also has the same amount of fat as whole milk.

The interesting thing is that some scientists think the type of fat in coconut milk and coconut oil can actually help you lose weight. These MCTs help your metabolism burn fat instead of storing it. They may also calm your appetite and improve your cholesterol levels.

4. Macadamia Milk: All-Around Amazing but Expensive

This rising superstar would be my favorite milk alternative … if it wasn’t so darned expensive in the stores near me. Macadamia milk has it all: great flavor, lots of protein, a smooth texture and few calories.

As long as you choose a fortified version, you’re getting magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium and vitamin B6. Plus, this creamy nut milk has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids too, which are amazing for heart health. Macadamia milk is low in carbs, making it ideal for keto dieters.

All in all, with half the fat of cow’s milk, one-third the calories and the same amount of protein, this nutty milk is a homerun for parents and kids. Just maybe not for your wallet.

The Best Alternative Milk for Your Family

Honestly, no one said you had to choose just one. Try a few kinds and settle on the ones that fit your lifestyle. It’s OK to use some for coffee, some for cooking, some for smoothies and some for drinking happily.

Ranking Salad Dressings From Most Healthy to Least Healthy

There's nothing wrong with wanting to enjoy a variety of salad dressings. These days, you have a lot of options for giving salads a kick of flavor. What are the best healthy salad dressings?

The Healthiest Salad Dressings

These are my favorite dressings, and they won't add to your waistline:

  1. Vinaigrette: These dressings are full of flavor and focus on a few simple ingredients. What I love is the endless variety. You can go for balsamic vinegar, orange juice, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar — even strawberries! And with basil, cilantro and other herbs, all I can say is “yum.”
  2. Green Goddess: It’s easy to find green goddess dressing made with a base of Greek yogurt. This gives you the creaminess you crave without the fat. Along with probiotics from the yogurt, you’re getting lots of vitamins from olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and green onions.
  3. Greek or Mediterranean Dressings: Think creamy Italian dressing, minus the cream. Many Greek dressings use avocado oil and extra-virgin olive oil for thickness. Both of these oils give you lots of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant vitamins.
  4. Sesame Ginger: My kids love Asian-style dressings, and I think they spice up meals at home. Look for real garlic, ginger and rice wine vinegar in the ingredients, and try to keep sugar down with nut butter.
  5. Honey Dijon: Both Dijon mustard and honey make dressings thicker and smoother naturally. If you’re adding a salad to a meat-and-potatoes meal, try this dressing. The reason it's near the bottom is that you have to keep an eye on sugar and calories with store-bought versions.

The Least Healthy Salad Dressings

Basically, anything with the word “creamy” in its name is going to shock you into falling backwards when you look at the fat content and calories. This includes blue cheese, Caesar dressing, thousand island, French and (sigh) everyone’s favorite ranch dressing.

Now the good news. You can find reasonably healthy alternatives to each. Some replace mayo with avocado oil, coconut milk or Greek yogurt. Others go big on flavor from high-quality ingredients (like more blue cheese) to reduce the amount of other ingredients. Herbs and spices such as chipotle, jalapenos, basil, dill, parsley and chives add a boost of flavor all by themselves.

The Benefits of Homemade Salad Dressings

Homemade dressings offer a lot of benefits:

  • You control salt and sugar levels
  • Non-refined, natural oils give you more heart benefits than many store-bought dressings
  • Fresh ingredients provide more vitamins and minerals
  • Homemade dressings offer more flavor with less fat
  • Dressing you make at home doesn’t have any preservatives

That said, as a mom, it’s not always easy to find the time. Don't feel guilty if organic from the store is the best you can do.

A Sensible View of Dressings

I like to take a balanced view of mom-hood and weight loss. Focusing too strictly on every calorie can make healthy eating a chore. Isn’t encouraging your family to eat more salad a good thing?

It keeps you and your kids munching on fresh ingredients: romaine lettuce, arugula, alfalfa sprouts, carrots, tomatoes, yellow peppers and avocados. That's WAY better kids begging for pizza every night because they're tired of plain vinaigrette with every salad.

More salad + healthy dressing options = more omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate and more! That’s a win in my book. So, don't punish yourself if you buy (gasp!) the tiniest bottle of (double gasp!) Ranch dressing sometimes.

5 Reasons Why Fiber Is So Important

I like to think I know the basics of good health. But periodically, I learn some new health fact that catches me by surprise. The importance of fiber is one of those health facts I didn’t really grasp until recently. Sure, I’ve always known fiber is an important part of a healthy diet, but I didn’t realize just how necessary it is for optimal health and digestive function. Here are five reasons why fiber is so important for all of us to consume regularly.

1. Helps Control Blood Sugar

If you struggle to keep your blood sugar under control, eating fiber may help. It’s especially helpful for people with diabetes to consume sufficient soluble fiber to slow down their body’s absorption of sugar. For those of us who don’t have diabetes, eating insoluble fiber may help us avoid developing it.

2. Promotes Normal Bowel Movements

Nobody likes to talk about their bowel movements (unless you’re my over-sharing Aunt Kathy), but how often you go is really important. The consistency of your poop is also really important. If it’s consistently runny, adding some fiber to your diet can give it a little bulk so you’re more regular and can pass your stools more easily.

Whew. Now that we got that topic over with, let’s move on to the next reason why fiber’s so important!

3. May Decrease the Likelihood of Hemorrhoids

OK, so going from bowel movements to hemorrhoids isn’t exactly a step up. But it’s important to talk about how fiber can potentially help us avoid developing hemorrhoids. That reason alone is good enough for me to increase my daily intake of fiber!

In addition to decreasing your likelihood of getting hemorrhoids, studies show that a high-fiber diet may also lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer. Research is still being done to understand exactly how fiber helps prevent colorectal cancer, but it’s thought that it has something to do with how fiber ferments in the colon.

4. Assists With Healthy Weight Maintenance

It’s generally easy to put weight on, but difficult to take it off (unless you’re someone who can’t seem to gain weight no matter how hard you try). When you’re trying to let go of a few extra pounds, you probably think about exercising, cutting out sugary foods and drinks, and eating healthier. But if you’re neglecting to eat sufficient fiber, you could be making your weight-loss journey more difficult than it needs to be.

High-fiber foods are typically more filling than foods with little to no fiber. That means the more high-fiber foods you eat, the easier it will be for you to manage your appetite and keep your weight in check. Additionally, foods high in fiber typically require more chewing, which means you’re expending more calories to eat them.

5. Reduces the Risk of Some Diseases

One of the most surprising things I have learned about fiber is that it may reduce your risk of developing some diseases. According to studies, there is a link between increased dietary fiber intake and reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. So if you have a family history of cancer, make sure you add fiber to your daily healthy eating plan!

Though fiber has a lot of great benefits, it’s possible to eat too much of it. If you feel like your fiber intake is clogging you up and messing with your regularity, it may be time to cut back a little bit. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men aged 50 or younger consume 38 grams of fiber daily. Women aged 50 0r younger should aim to consume 25 grams of fiber per day.

Some good sources of fiber include vegetables, seeds, nuts, fruits, whole-grain products and legumes. Figure out how to incorporate these foods into your daily meals and you’ll start reaping the benefits of a high-fiber diet.

My Go-To Natural Sugar Substitutes

I may not have the body of a goddess, but I do like showing off some pleasant curves at the beach (just a little). One of the biggest things that has helped me burn way more calories, and that I know can help you, too, is avoiding refined sugar. Of course, ditching table sugar doesn’t mean giving up everything sweet. Try these natural sugar substitutes instead.

1. Fruit

My absolute favorite substitute for sugar is real fruit. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, apples, oranges, peaches and pineapples all have a great blend of tart and sweet that makes me smile.

Do you like smoothies for breakfast? You don’t need sugar. Just add a banana, some date paste or applesauce to the blender with the rest of your ingredients. You won’t notice the difference.

Eating fruit gives your body tons of antioxidants and enzymes. They protect your heart, balance blood sugar levels, give you more energy, fight inflammation, improve digestion and strengthen your immune system.

Why Not Try This?

Take a handful of raspberries, chop half a banana, and mix it with a serving of Greek yogurt when you're feeling hungry. The burst of protein and nutrients will energize you and tide you over until later. Real fruit, both fresh and frozen, has a lot of dietary fiber, so it calms the munchies like junk food never can.

2. Stevia

This natural sweetener comes from South America. Stevia is herbal, not artificial, so you don’t have to worry about any weird side effects (those terrible headaches) like with aspartame and saccharin.

The leaves of the stevia plant have been used as sweeteners for at least 500 years. Pressing the leaves provides an extract that is 200 times sweeter than sugar. But it has ZERO calories!

For tea or coffee, stevia is my go-to sweetener. You only need a few drops. For baking, go with stevia powder. Just remember to use less than half the amount you would with refined sugar because it’s so potent.

3. Honey, Pure Maple Syrup and Organic Molasses

Honey is a true superfood. It has special prebiotics that benefit your gut flora, plus lots of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins for your heart and eye health. Honey has been famous for its healing powers since the times of ancient Egypt!

Personally, I adore the taste of honey, which is why I usually prefer it over maple syrup or molasses. But all three of these thick liquids are good sugar substitutes with important nutrients. Of course, they’re also high in calories, so you have to be careful with how much you use if you want to lose weight.

I love to make oatmeal with rolled oats and drizzle a tablespoon of honey on top with a dash of milk. Instead of marinades with brown sugar, use organic molasses.

What About Monk Fruit Extract?

This exotic sweetener is natural, tasty and filled with nutrients. Monk fruit extract doesn’t have any calories, so it’s good for weight loss programs. Unfortunately, where I live, it’s also really expensive. If you can afford it, definitely try it!

Sugar Free Living Isn’t That Complicated

It’s OK to enjoy honey, stevia and fruit whenever you want during the week. To be honest, I find making sweet things for breakfast, like homemade muffins, granola or pancakes, is easier for me as a mom. For supper time, chicken (honey-lemon chicken anyone?) and pork recipes work great with honey instead of sugar. You don't need refined sugar.

How and Why To Try Hot Yoga at Home

Hot yoga is the “hot” new workout trend that offers a wide variety of benefits. If you think the idea of doing yoga in a hot and sweaty environment sounds like torture, you’re in for a treat! While it’s true that yoga isn’t “hot” unless it’s done in a humid and warm environment, it’s a much more enjoyable practice than you’re probably imagining in your head. You don’t have to take my word for it, though. Here’s how and why to try hot yoga in your own home this week.

Understanding the Point of Hot Yoga

I have to admit, I used to look that people who did hot yoga were a little crazy. Why in the world would you choose to exert your body in an environment that forces you to release as much sweat as possible? But now that I’ve learned more about it, I’ve come to understand the point of this unconventional form of exercise.

Hot yoga offers the same benefits as traditional yoga (you know, the standard benefits like improved strength, stress reduction and flexibility), but it also gives you an even more intense workout in less time. So if you don’t have an hour to spend on a typical yoga routine, you can spend half an hour doing hot yoga and get the same benefits! Plus, the humid environment a hot yoga session provides is meant to replicate the humid natural environment found in India, where yoga originated. So you get a more authentic experience from doing hot yoga than from doing traditional yoga in an air-conditioned environment. Just make sure you drink lots of water before you get your sweat on!

Benefits of Hot Yoga

Now that I’ve got you thinking hot yoga may not be so bad, here’s a list of some of the impressive benefits the practice can provide.

  • Increased calorie burn

  • Improved flexibility

  • Reduced stress

  • Improved mood

  • Boost in cardiovascular health

  • Improved bone density

  • Decreased blood glucose levels

Now keep in mind that in order to maximize these benefits and stay safe during your hot yoga session, you need to stay hydrated. Drink water before, during and after your hot yoga session. You may also want to guzzle a low-calorie sports drink to restore your body’s electrolyte balance.

If you’re pregnant, don’t do hot yoga unless you’ve been given the green light from your doctor. And if you have certain health conditions, such as low blood sugar, heart disease, anorexia or a history of fainting, hot yoga may be too intense for you.

How to Start Hot Yoga at Home

While prepping your space for a hot yoga session requires a little effort, it’s worth it if you don’t have a gym membership or don’t have time to go to an official hot yoga class. Here’s how to set up any room in your home for hot yoga.

  1. Designate one room in your home for you hot yoga session, and close the doors and windows.

  2. Put a small space heater in the room to bring the space to your desired temperature.

  3. Consider adding extra layers if the space heater isn’t getting the room warm enough for your liking.

  4. Bring in a humidifier and steam things up!

  5. Have a water bottle on-hand at all times.

  6. Complete your planned yoga session, making sure to take frequent water breaks throughout.

  7. If you need help coming up with your own hot yoga workout routine, look online or find a favorite workout on YouTube. You can also make things more fun by inviting a friend to come work out with you.

Hot yoga isn’t for everyone. But for those who like a challenging workout that delivers maximum benefits in minimal time, it’s a must-do routine to work into your weekly schedule. Give it a try this week to see if you’ll fall in love with it like I did!

What You Should Know About Eating Yogurt for Gut Health

Hey there! Are you ready to talk about gut health for a little bit? I know, it’s not the most riveting topic, but the health of your gut is directly related to your overall physical and mental health. I’ve learned over the years that most gut imbalance issues don’t resolve themselves on their own. In fact, seemingly minor things such as occasional heartburn or excessive gas often turn into bigger problems down the road if you ignore them while they’re small.

Whether you have occasional digestive issues or you’re constantly fighting abdominal pain and other unpleasant symptoms, there are things you can do to restore the balance of your gut bacteria. One of those things is incorporating quality yogurt into your regular diet. Here’s what you should know about eating yogurt for gut health.

What Yogurt Can Do for Your Body

If you look at a spoonful of yogurt, you might think to yourself “this doesn’t really look that special.” But you’d be wrong! Hidden in that unassuming bite of delicious goodness are a bunch of microscopic bacteria known as probiotics. While the thought of little squirmy things on your spoon might make your stomach feel a little queasy, just know that the little guys inside yogurt are your friends. Think of them like microscopic superheroes getting ready to plunge into your stomach acid and beat up all the “bad guys” in there.

If you still need a little convincing that yogurt should become a regular part of your plan, here are some of the best things about yogurt.

  • It’s high in protein. Your body needs protein to maintain muscle mass, regulate your appetite and control your weight.
  • It’s good for digestive health. The key, though, is to look for the types of yogurt that contain probiotics. Otherwise, you’re missing out on one of the most important benefits yogurt can provide.
  • It has a lot of nutrients. Quality yogurt contains B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D (in fortified versions). These vitamins can help your body feel and function great.
  • It may prevent osteoporosis. Thanks to its calcium, phosphorous, potassium and protein content, yogurt is great for your bones. It can strengthen them and help you stave off unpleasant diseases such as osteoporosis.
  • It may enhance your immune system. Did you know many of your immune system cells are found in your gut? That came as a surprise to me. So if you want to build your immunity, you should start by giving your digestive system the probiotics it needs to thrive.
  • It could help you maintain your weight. Foods that are high in protein tend to reduce levels of hormones responsible for appetite. Additionally, there are several studies that show eating yogurt is associated with lower body fat percentage and body weight.

There’s a good, long list showing why you should start eating yogurt today. For best results, though, you need to stay away from the more sugary versions. Instead, opt for yogurt that is low in sugar and provides you with plenty of probiotics. You can even go with a plain version and add berries or fruits to sweeten it without all of the added sugar.

Considerations for Those Who Are Lactose Intolerant

Some people are lactose intolerant, which means they can’t consume dairy products without experiencing unpleasant symptoms. If you are one of those people, you may be able to get some of the benefits of yogurt by simply consuming probiotics in supplement form.

Additionally, some people with mild lactose intolerance are able to consume kefir, which is a yogurt-like drink that contains lots of probiotics. The bacteria within kefir break down much of the milk, and some brands of kefir claim to be up to 99% lactose-free.

Whether you choose to get your probiotics from yogurt, kefir or supplements, you’re making a wise decision. Your gut and your health will thank you!

The Best Alternatives to Peloton in 2021

One of the reasons Peloton bikes are so popular is that they’re more than an exercise machine: They’re a lifestyle. Unfortunately, this particular lifestyle also costs a pretty penny. What if you don’t have upwards of $1,900 to spend on exercise equipment? You can save money by choosing smart alternatives.

The Best Features of Peloton Bikes

Peloton-style bikes are sleek, stylish and state-of-the-art. Four main features make this type of equipment stand out:

  • Virtual classes: One of the biggest things that makes Peloton bikes popular is the online experience. You can access live group workouts, exercise to awesome videos, hang out with friends in a virtual community and follow your favorite instructors. And let me add that you can do it all in your pajamas.

  • Touchscreens: An essential part of the Peloton experience is a touchscreen that lets you interact with content as your working out. Most people use this to follow virtual instructors or imagine they’re mountain biking in the wilderness. This working mom may or may not secretly use it to watch Netflix and burn calories at the same time.

  • Ride customization: This part is pretty unbelievable. Some Peloton-style bikes control the way your workout feels as you’re riding. Online instructors may even be able to tweak these settings for the group. Let’s say you’re taking a virtual mountain biking class. As you “climb,” the bike makes you work harder for it, and “going downhill” gives you a chance to rest.

  • Fitness apps: At first, an exercise app doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. It may not take long before this is one of your favorite features, however. Keeping track of distance, speed, heartrate and other stats helps keep you motivated. You can see how active you’ve been today, this week, this month and this year.

Before you go shopping for a Peloton or similar exercise bike, take some time to think about which of these features is most important to you. That way you get a killer exercise option for less.

My 3 Favorite Alternatives To Peloton Bikes

Choosing high-quality exercise bike alternatives can save you a LOT of money. They're not a Peloton, but they offer most of the features of one. Here are my three favorite options in a nutshell:

  • Bowflex C6: This bike has no membership requirement. You can use online workout apps and classes from YouTube for free, or sign up for whatever fitness subscription you want. Plus, solid quality for a budget price is hard to resist.

  • Echelon Smart Connect Bike EX3: What helps you save money here is that you can use your own tablet instead of buying a special touchscreen. With a $1,040 price tag ($1,400 with subscription), you’ve just saved almost $1,000.

  • ProForm Studio Bike Pro: With this option, you pay $39 monthly for a subscription but get the bike for free. It has all the top-tier features you expect, including adjustable touchscreen and resistance control. The catch is you have to keep the subscription for three years, bringing the grand total to $1,400 (still less than $1,900). If you can only afford to pay a little each month, this is a great solution.

Connected bikes are an awesome solution for helping busy moms stay in shape. You get a whole-body workout with on-demand virtual classes at any time of day. There’s no searching online for exercises or scheduling dance classes ahead of time. You just hop on the bike, turn on the screen and start burning belly fat!

The Art and Science of Foods That Fill You Up

A big part of healthy eating is filling up on the right foods. The problem is that trying to avoid cravings can feel crazy sometimes. Some people eat lunch and feel hungry again an hour later. What’s up with that?

The Science Behind Feeling Full

The reason you feel full after eating something is all in your head, literally. As your stomach digests your meal, it sends signals to your brain telling you that you’re not hungry anymore. Your body takes time to break down food into nutrients, releasing hormones that help you feel full and content.

Even your emotions are involved. Have you ever noticed how happy and satisfied you are after eating a meal that you love? On the other hand, when you’re stressed or depressed, you probably feel hungrier than normal. This is all because of hormones.

The Reason Some Foods Make You Feel Full Longer Than Others

Why are some foods more filling than others? One reason is that they take longer to digest. The more time your stomach spends processing food, the less time it has to feel hungry. Here are a few things that can make any meal more filling:

  • Fiber: Foods that are high in fiber take longer for your body to digest. Fiber turns the things you eat into a kind of gel, slowing them down as they move through your intestines. Another benefit of fiber is that it balances your blood-sugar levels, basically telling your body that your energy levels are good so you don’t need to eat anything else.
  • Protein: When you eat protein, your body releases specific hormones responsible for feelings of fullness. High-protein foods are the best snacks for calming the munchies. Eggs have a lot of protein, and so do nuts and different types of fish.
  • Water: Getting enough water with meals is a great way to calm your appetite. Not only does water have zero calories, it contributes to fullness. Fruit that naturally has high water content is very filling, such as a slice of watermelon or some fresh pineapple.

Other foods help you stay full longer because they have a low energy density. In other words, they have a lot of volume but not very many calories. You feel satisfied without feeling guilty.

The Best Foods for Calming Hunger

The munchies can make cutting calories from your diet easier said than done. To have success with your weight loss goals, reach for these foods at meal time:

  • Soup: Cooked veggies and protein with plenty of water are the perfect recipe for a filling meal.
  • Greek yogurt: This healthy treat has a lot of protein and probiotics to calm hungry feelings.
  • Vegetables: Did you know that broccoli is 90% water? Leafy greens are packed with fiber, too. Carrots are another filling choice.
  • Fresh fruit: Apples, bananas and oranges have plenty of fiber and water, and they’re super-fast to grab on the go.
  • Potatoes: Boiled or baked potatoes are among the most filling foods on the planet. Scientists think they have a special protein that suppresses appetite.

My personal recommendation is to add a salad to everything (but skip the ranch dressing). If you’re making spaghetti for your kids, make some salad, too. That way you eat fewer calories but still feel satisfied. This helps calm nighttime snacking temptations a lot.