Super Food of the Week: Pears

Pears were once referred to as the “gift of the gods”. Pears are often juicy and sweet, with a soft, yet somewhat grainy texture. Pears are generally in season from August through October, but there are a variety of pears available year-round because of the seasonal variations among the different varieties. Depending on the variety, the paper-think skins of pears can be yellow, green, brown, red or a combination of various colors. Pears are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, copper, and vitamin K providing great protective health benefits.

Pears are a good source of vitamin C (11% of the daily value) and copper (about 9.5% of the daily value). Both nutrients act as antioxidant nutrients that help protect cells in the body from damage due to free radicals. Specifically, copper helps to protect against superoxide radicals that can damage the membranes of cells. Vitamin C protects all water-soluble areas of the body from free radicals and is critical for good immune function.

Fiber found in pears help to lower cholesterol levels by binding to bile salts (made from cholesterol) and carrying them out of the body. Fiber also binds to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon, keeping the colon safe from damage. Research has also shown that fiber in fruit and cereals also provide protection against postmenopausal breast cancer
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Pears have often been considered and recommended by health care practitioners as a hypoallergenic fruit because pears are less likely to produce an adverse response than other fruits. Health care practitioners often recommend pears as a safe way to start the introduction of fruits to infants. Pears antioxidant nutrients help to protect the skin and hair as well providing defense inside and out. Pears can be combined with mustard greens, watercress, leeks and walnuts for a nutritious and delicious salad or with goat or blue cheese for dessert.

Fit Tip of the Week: Weight Maintenance

Often there are success stories of people reaching their goal weight but few people succeed in keeping the weight off. So what do people who are successful in keeping the weight off have in common and what are some practical tips in keeping the weight of? The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) is the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance. The NWCR was developed to identify and investigate the characteristics of individuals who have succeeded at long term weight loss by tracking over 5,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight (at least 30 pounds) and have kept it off for long periods of time. On average, registry members have lost 66 pounds and kept it off for 5.5 years. Researchers found that participants of the database employed a variety of ways to drop the pounds and keep the weight off. Most reported continuing to maintain a low calorie, low fat diet and continued participation in high levels of activity. In addition researchers found the following:

78% eat breakfast every day.
75% weigh themselves at least once a week
62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week
90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour per day.

Just like with weight loss, there is no one size fit all strategy when it comes to weight maintenance. Some people need large quantities of daily exercise and other can maintain their weight on less physical activity. Some need daily food logs and other needs it only during times of stress. The above strategies are research findings but you must pay attention to what does and doesn’t work for you and create your own strategies for keeping your weight down. Here are few more tips to help with weight maintenance:

1. Weekly weigh-ins. For many people a once a week weigh-in offers the right amount of accountability. It’s normal for body weight to fluctuate a few pounds from day to day and from morning to night depending on fluid balance, meals eaten, clothes worn, hormones, medications and so on. A weekly weigh-in allows you to track the trends without getting stuck on small fluctuations.

2. Move as much as possible. It took getting active to get the weight off and it’s going to keep staying active to keep the weight off. Look for and take every opportunity to keep physical activity integrated into your daily life. Even fidgeting while sitting can help burn calories and every little bit helps.

3. Create a healthy home environment. Keep a bowl of fresh fruit on your kitchen counter or at eye level in the fridge is an infamous strategy to keep junk food at bay. Freezers stocked with frozen berries and vegetables can keep healthy nutritious food at hand. Many people keep their gym bags packed and ready to go by the front door as a reminder and motivator.

4. Learn to cope effectively with stress. Stressful times can increase your risk for backsliding into old behaviors. Learning to change your perspective and responding mindfully to stressful situations instead of reacting is key.

5. Keep a measuring tape handy. About once a month, measure your waistline. If your waist circumference creeps up, pay closer attention to your food choices and increase physical activity. Keeping track of inches can also be a helpful tool in weight loss.

6. Look for motivations and inspirations. Sometimes hearing other’s success stories are motivation and inspiration enough to keep the weight off. Joining discussion blogs of others with success stories can be helpful. Also basking in your own personal glory can be motivating as well. Using your own success story to motivate others will help you continue to practice what you preach.

For more information on the National Weight Control Registry research or to read success stories, visit http://nwcr.ws/default.htm.

Until next week…

KinkySheaPT