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Eating Healthy is Affordable

August is myth-busting month. Did you know that it’s a myth that eating healthfully is more expensive? A recent Harvard analysis found that on average, the healthiest diets cost just $1.50 more per day than the least healthy diets. Also, a USDA study concluded that per serving, healthy foods are incredibly affordable – for example, the price of potato chips is nearly twice as expensive as the price of carrots when the foods are evaluated by portion size. Even organic options can be the same price or less than conventional, particularly in-season produce and store brands. Also, some of the most stealth superfoods in the market are low cost, like beans, lentils, and bulk whole grains. So if fear of a fatter grocery bill has been holding you back from improving your diet, commit to exploring healthier options this month.

Shop Fresh. Shop Local.

Did you know it’s a myth that a calorie is a calorie? One animal study found that monkeys fed foods high in man-made trans fat gained four times more weight and 30% more belly fat compared to animals who munched on meals made with natural plant-based fat. Recent studies have also revealed that some foods rev up metabolism in the hours after eating, which offsets some of their calorie cost. Also, research shows that we burn about 50% more calories metabolizing whole foods versus processed foods, and that eating more plant-based foods triggers your body to burn more calories. Bottom line: instead of zeroing in on calories alone, focus on the quality of what you eat. Reach for more fresh foods, foods as close to their natural state as possible, and incorporate more veggies, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, and plant-based fats, like avocado into your diet. Quality is king!

Weight Loss Superfood

It’s a myth that chocolate is fattening. In fact, it just may be one of the best weight loss superfoods (if you go dark that is). One recent study found that eating a small amount of dark chocolate each day helped curb cravings for both sweet and salty foods. Another revealed that dark chocolate’s antioxidants may help block the absorption of fats and carbohydrates. And dark chocolate’s distinct scent may also play a role in reducing food intake, as recent research shows that people tend to eat smaller portions of more aromatic desserts. Finally, dark chocolate has been shown to act as a natural stress reliever, which is key for weight control, because a surge in stress hormones is tied to an increase in appetite and belly fat deposits. So go ahead, and indulge in a daily square or two of chocolate that’s 70% cocoa or greater. A little goes a long way, and it may just be the most delicious way to help manage your weight!

Focus on Positive Ways to Reduce Stress

Did you know it’s a myth that weight loss is only about diet and exercise? Stress and sleep also play key roles. Both high stress and a lack of sleep have been shown to trigger an increase in appetite and up cravings for unhealthy foods. As part of overall wellness and weight management, focus on positive ways to reduce stress, including: spending time in nature; connecting with friends, family and pets; meditating, stretching and deep breathing; engaging in a hobby; volunteering or getting involved in your community; and anything else that helps you feel more “you.” This month, also commit to making sleep a priority. Try to nix caffeine at least six hours before going to bed, and create a cool, dark sleep-conducive environment. These strategies can help you feel better physically and emotionally, and they may just be the key to controlling your weight to boot.