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health conscious

Guilt-Free Holidays

When it comes to the holiday season, often times we feel guilty for indulging in the decadent holiday foods. While some of us might exercise and eat a balanced diet, others may not. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, eating should not make you feel bad, and the holidays are no exception. Instead of setting rules and feeling terrible for breaking them, try telling yourself these things so that the holidays are more enjoyable and less guilt-laden.

  • I deserve to enjoy holiday meals without the guilt.
    Food is food. It’s meant to nourish and fuel your body, and you deserve to enjoy it. Take time to truly enjoy every bite and the traditions and memories associated with it. The act of focusing on the different elements of your food (such as the smell, look, and taste) without distractions is known as mindful eating. Practicing mindful eating will teach you to fully enjoy what you eat without regret or shame.
  • What I eat every day matters most.
    Rather than obsessing over the foods you eat over the holidays, concentrate on what you eat daily. If you maintain a healthy diet year-round, a few days of indulging won’t hurt. If you don’t usually eat well, make that a goal for the upcoming new year. It’s important to remember that the holiday season doesn’t last forever. Focus on enjoying the quality time with family and friends instead of worrying about the foods you are eating.
  • I have the power to control my portions.
    You are in charge of how much food you eat, and this should be dictated by listening to your body. Slow down and pay attention to the way your stomach feels before eating. If you still feel hungry, have another bite, but once you’re almost full, stop eating.
  • I have the right to eat seconds or to say “No, thank you” when I’m full.
    It is not your responsibility to make someone else happy by overeating, nor by denying your hunger. Although it’s often the norm to eat more when the host graciously offers more, but it doesn’t have to be. Trust your appetite and be polite, yet firm, when declining.
  • It’s normal if I overindulge during the holidays.
    We’re all human. The important thing is to accept that you did and move on. There is no need to dwell, feel guilty, or punish yourself, as this behavior may even push you to seek comfort in more food. As mentioned, eating mindfully has many benefits and may lead to less food consumption to satisfy cravings. So remember to slow down, pay attention, and listen to your body.
  • I will eat when I’m hungry, not when I’m feeling emotional.
    Loneliness, boredom, sadness, and stress are emotions that may lead us to eating, and these emotions can be heightened during the holiday season. More effective ways to deal with these feelings can vary from person to person, but might include calling a friend, exercising, or even practicing meditation. You should take the time to learn what works for you.
  • I don’t need to “healthify” my beloved and traditional holiday recipe.
    The holiday season comes but once a year, so you should enjoy your favorites as they should be. Who really wants sugarless sugar cookies, anyways?
  • I promise not to comment on the size, shape or weight of my friends and relatives.
    Just as your weight is your business, so is theirs. If you find yourself met with a rude, unwanted comment about your appearance, it is okay to tell that person why it’s not okay to talk about it.
  • I will enjoy quality time with the people I love.
    Studies show that our close relationships are crucial to our long-term health and happiness. So rather than worry about the foods you may or may not eat, focus on spending quality time with those near and dear to your heart.

Do you have any mantras or advice that helps you get through the holidays? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Enjoy a yummy breakfast or lunch with us! The Brick Your Neighborhood Deli is located at 105 E. Arrow Hwy in Pomona and we’re open weekdays 7:00am-4:00pm and Saturdays 8:00am-4:30pm.

Food Labels Made Easy

Food labels can be deceiving and tricky. It’s hard to determine what is ‘healthy’ and what isn’t if you’re not really sure what to look for. While ‘healthy’ means something different to every person, here are some easy ways to determine whether a food is nutritious.

Read The Ingredient List
The ingredients list is supposed to go in order of quantity. Be sure to take a look at the first three ingredients. If any of these are sugar, enriched wheat flour, or something relatively unhealthy, you might want to reconsider.

How Long Is The Ingredient List?
If you don’t have enough time to read every ingredient, at least take a glance at how long the list is. If the list is long and contains ingredients you don’t recognize or cannot pronounce, then you should probably pass.

Types Of Fats
Most people think fats are evil, when, in reality, we should be eliminating bad fats and increasing quality fats. For example, we should be aiming to eliminate trans fats and decrease saturated fats in our diets, while increasing our consumption of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Look For “100%”
When shopping for breads, look for “100% whole grains.” They may say whole grain or multigrain, but unless it is preceded by “100%” it is likely processed with refined grains. The same goes for juices and other drinks – if it’s not 100%, it’s probably just sugar.

Convenience vs. Nutrition
Frozen and quick prep meals can be convenient, but it’s likely that their nutritional value is rather low. If you’re looking for something healthy, it is better to buy something in its original state, for example, veggies like bell peppers, and spend some time in the kitchen.

Expiration Dates
Longer shelf lives often mean more added preservatives and fillers. Shorter shelf life may be less convenient but often provide the best nutrients.

Consider Your Location In The Grocery Store
Grocery stores know what they are doing when it comes to product placement. You have likely noticed that the foods around the checkout stand are not the healthiest. Be sure to resist the temptation as you’re checking out.

Focus On Fiber
When people check the label, more often than not, they are simply looking at the calories. However, it proves beneficial to look at it all. If a product has fiber, it helps to eliminate simple-carb, high-sugar food products.

Sugar Content
The American Heart Association recommends that we consume no more than 25 grams of sugar per day, even though most of us go well over that. Try to avoid foods high in sugar content, and beware of the many pseudonyms, which include syrups, nectars, and words ending is “-ose.”

Ponder Packaging
Be wary of claims like “all natural” as this is not regulated by the FDA, thus manufacturers can use it as they please. Commonly, you will find it on protein bars and snack food, despite the chemicals and other additives that would not be considered natural.

If you’re looking for nutritious foods, your best bet is to go with whole foods like fruits, veggies and whole grains. How do you keep your diet healthy? Did we miss anything? Share your tips with your peers and us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or LinkedIn. You can also find us on Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.

For a fresh, natural, and just plain yummy meal, visit the Brick Market & Deli – Your Neighborhood Deli in Pomona. Save time by ordering online or visit us in store weekdays 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm.

Stress Relieving Practices

We all know there are times in our lives when we feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders. Whether your schedule is full or you’re simply going through a tough time in your life, you must remember to take care of yourself, too.

Even with a little bit of stress in your life, you can begin to notice the effects. Stress related health issues come in many forms, including headaches, stomach problems, anxiety, and even depression.

Coincidentally, April is Stress Awareness Month. Take note of what triggers your high stress moments and do your best to keep those triggers at bay. When you feel the stress coming or building up, try to find time for these stress relieving acts to make sure you are the best you can be.

As we sleep, we give our bodies a chance to rest and replenish. When we are busy, we may not have much time for sleep, or stress could affect our quality of sleep. Though unintentional, depriving our bodies of this necessary rest can have negative effects on our health and mood.

Try to tune out worrisome thoughts and practice breathing exercises to help you calm down and ease into a good night’s rest.

While it is important to make time to sleep, squeezing in some time for exercise can help relieve stress, too. This may seem impossible, especially if you are on a time crunch, but a quick walk or yoga session can do wonders.

Trying getting to work a few minutes early, or take a short break during the day for a brisk walk around the office or the building. Or you can kill time at the gym as you wait for traffic to die down.

The vending machine can be tempting, but try to stay away from junk food and opt for real food when you can. Prep meals for the week, or pack fruits or healthy snacks for yourself. It will help to promote your health and immune system than junk food will.

Does your inbox get flooded with texts and emails? Step away from your desk, computer, and phone for a few minutes. Take a deep breath and just focus on having a moment of peace.

Take A Break
Give yourself a break. Whether you want to listen to music or take a short walk to unwind, even a short break can alleviate some stress.

Take It Easy
When your schedule is busy, try to keep everything else simple. Plan your outfits for the week, or make a large batch of food and have leftovers for a few days. Don’t try to take on tasks that might overwhelm you, save those for when your schedule clears up a bit.

Cry It Out
Expressing our emotions in a constructive way can be very helpful. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and tired, go ahead and cry it out.

Take time to connect with a loved one that you trust. A meaningful conversation, whether you are seeking advice, venting, or simply catching up, can help you gain some perspective on things. And it will likely make you feel better.

Grab a pen and pad and start writing. Writing can be therapeutic, giving you a way to get your emotions out in a more private manner. Bottling your struggles and emotions can wear you down. Anyway you can, as often as you can, let it out.

If the real world is getting you down, escape with some fiction. The easiest way is to carry a book with you at all times, and start reading when you have a moment. Whether it’s a book, short stories, or even a movie, escape your reality for a bit and enjoy someone else’s life.

Sure, these sound good in theory, but if you’re already short on time, how on earth will you make time for this? The key is to prioritize. It’s true, your other tasks are important, but all those tasks rely on you. If you’re not your best you, you won’t be able to tackle them in the best way. Make yourself a priority and you’ll see you can handle anything that comes your way.

How do you deal with stress? Share your own tips with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can also connect with us on Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.

Take a break at the Brick Market & Deli – Your Neighborhood Deli in Pomona. Relax with a yummy meal in our dining room or on our patio weekdays from 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm.

Nutrition Labels: What To Look For (And Avoid)

Health-conscious individuals often stress the importance of reading nutrition labels to fully understand what you are eating. Nutrition labels and ingredients lists give us excellent insight into how good or bad the food is for you. However, for most people, the nutrition label can be quite confusing. Luckily, we will break it down so you know what to look for and what to avoid.

Almost everyone looks at calories, and, for some, it may the only thing that you look at. While this number is important, what’s more important is where those calories come from. For example, a healthy snack bar and a candy bar may have the same number of calories, however, the former will likely have lower sugar levels, healthier fats, plus protein and fiber than the latter. And when it comes to snacks, try to keep them below 200 calories per serving to avoid going over your daily limit and gaining weight.

Sugars: Natural vs. Added
While the numbers may seem high, natural sugars are usually not a cause of concern. These are the naturally occurring sugars in whole foods like plain yogurt, milk, or fruit. Where you need to be cautious is with some fruit juices, since you are essentially concentrating all the sugars into a bottle, while removing all the fiber.

Added sugars are the ones manufacturers use to make food sweeter. These will be included in the ingredients list, whereas natural sugars will not be. There are numerous names for them, but the most common are high fructose corn syrup or anything ending in “ose” (such as glucose, fructose, sucrose, dextrose, and maltose). In an attempt to fool consumers into thinking that a food doesn’t have that much added sugars, manufacturers will use different types of sugars in their products. Because ingredients are listed in descending order of weight, using small amounts of various added sugars makes them appear lower on the list.

Natural sources of added sugar, like agave nectar, molasses, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, or coconut sugar, should be avoided as well. These contain the same amount of calories and too much can increase your risk for obesity and diabetes.

When choosing packaged items, an easy rule of thumb is to choose foods that contain less grams of sugar than fiber.

Fats: Beware of Trans & Saturated Fats
Trans Fat is the artificial fat made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil , and can increase your risk for heart disease and type-2 diabetes. The nutrition label should always read 0 grams of trans fat. You should also check the ingredients label for trans fat or “partially hydrogenated oils” (legally, a food is allowed to contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fat and still list 0 grams on the nutrition panel).

With saturated fats, the lower the amount, the better. You want to limit your daily intake of saturated fats to 10 percent of your total calories. These should mainly come from whole, nutrient-dense foods like dairy, lean meats, nuts, and seeds versus crackers or snack bars.

Unfortunately, Americans consume well over the recommended 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Most of that excess consumption can be attributed to packaged foods. Snack foods should contain less than 300mg, while meals should stay below 700mg.

Fiber helps to slow digestion to keep you fuller longer and avoid blood sugar spikes (which spur cravings). Your daily intake goal should be between 20-35 grams. As far as the food label goes, there is no one amount for all packaged foods. Instead, aim for at least 4 grams of fiber per serving for grains, such as whole wheat pasta or macaroni and cheese, and at least 3 grams of fiber per serving for packaged snacks or breads.

Protein content often depends on the individual and their nutrient needs (and yes, you can eat too much protein). It’s best to shoot for snacks with 5-10 grams of protein.

Carbs should make up about 50% of your total caloric intake. Needs will vary depending on activity level, but cutting out carbs completely is not the best choice. Not all carbs are bad, so choose wisely and balance your exercise and intake accordingly.

Steer Clear Of Artificial Additives
So you’ve checked the nutrition panel and it looks pretty good. Next up is the ingredients list to look for any harmful additives.

  • Both butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are petroleum-based artificial preservatives, are linked to cancer, and should be avoided at all costs.
  • Artificial food dyes (often listed as red, blue, or yellow followed by a number) are made from petroleum and have been linked to cancer in animals.
  • Artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, aspartame, and acesulfame potassium, are said to have a negative effect on gut bacteria and the saccharine flavor may increase your sweet cravings.

Have we missed anything? Want to share your own food label tips? Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or LinkedIn. You can also find us on Instagram, Vine, and Pinterest.

Come visit us for a fresh, natural, and just plain yummy sandwich or salad, made to order! We are located on the northeast corner of Arrow Hwy and Garey Ave in Pomona (next to Johnny’s). We’re open weekdays 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm – See you soon!

Health-Conscious Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching – Sunday, February 14, to be exact. If you’ve got a health-conscious significant other, decadent chocolates or over-indulgent meals may not cut it. Think outside of the box and surprise your sweetie with one of these:

Massage/Spa Treatment
Massages can help circulation and relieve some tension and stress stored in your body. If your partner works out regularly, this could be the ideal rest day. Plus, who wouldn’t love to relax and get pampered?

Personal Trainer Sessions
Whether your partner frequents the gym or is a newbie, personal trainer sessions can be a thoughtful surprise. Personal trainers can offer tips and advice, help plan workouts and goals, and even introduce new exercises or routines. A few sessions could be enough, and if your partner chooses to, he/she can continue.

Fitness Tracker
There are plenty of fitness trackers on the market, which range in function and cost. Find the one that suits your budget and is also in line with your partner’s goals. For example, if their goal is to lose weight, find a device that tracks calories burned, or if they are interested in measuring their steps, a step counting device will suffice.

An Outdoor Adventure
Whether it’s that road trip you’ve been dying to go on, a local hike everyone’s been raving about, or even a trek up to the mountains to enjoy the snow, going on an outdoor adventure is great way to spend some one on one time. Taking a class together can also be a fun way to bond with your partner. Try a cooking class, painting class, or even a trapeze lesson.

Healthy Home-Cooked Meal
If you want, you can opt to stay in and cook dinner for your partner. Or you can both work together to make a delicious meal for yourselves. It’s a great way to save some money and enjoy a quiet night in. Added bonus: you can make your meal as healthy or decadent as you please.

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Got any tips for those planning last minute? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Vine or LinkedIn. You can find more great Valentine’s Day ideas on our Pinterest page, too.

Be sure to get your sandwich fix before the big day! Visit us in store or order online and we’ll you’re your order ready for you. We’re open weekdays 10:30am-7:30pm and Saturdays 10:30am-4:30pm. Happy Valentine’s Day from your friends at the Brick Market & Deli – Your Neighborhood Deli!