How to Fight Sugar Cravings This Holiday Season

Holiday Sugar Guide

First it’s Halloween. Bowls of candy begin to cloak your office’s kitchen counters like a captivating costume. As you’re working through a tough project or a mundane weekly task, your mind is thinking candy, and perhaps your hands start to follow.

Then comes November. Aunt Jane, Cousin Joey, coworker Christy – they’re all making pie. There’s apple and pumpkin, soon to be followed by December’s 12+ days of cookies. Pretty soon, you feel your pants are fitting a bit snugger, and you’re energy is flying up and down like a reindeer sleigh running out of steam.

As sugar season (aka, the holidays) nears full swing, temptations are bound to show up frequently, which is why we’re bringing you a game plan to keep your health on track. Remember, a healthier you = a better feeling you = a happier you. Avoid reaching for the candy bowl, and you’ll keep your energy levels from crashing and all those empty calories from packing on the pounds.

sugar_holidays copy

We’ve got 5 sweet, sugar-free escapes in the printout* above, so whenever the sugar fairy tries to cast its spell, you can turn away towards an even better alternative. Print it out and hang it by your desk or kitchen.

When temptation arises, turn to this guide and choose the option that feels most appealing to you. Go in with the mindset of each being a pleasant experience (or “sweet escape”, as we at LifeVest like to call it). This will set yourself up to enjoy each choice, and also make it so you won’t feel deprived.

Click here to keep reading…

5 “Healthy” Foods with Hidden Sugar


There’s no way to sugarcoat it – sugar is bad & we’re eating too much of it.

On average, Americans consume 156 pounds – or 31 five-pound bags – of sugar per year. Yikes! When considering its linked to everything from diabetes to high blood pressure to heart disease, that’s some Sour Patch Kid news right there. In fact, many experts believe our collective sweet tooth may not just be making us fat, but bringing us to our death. Poison alert, poison alert!

Some of you might be thinking, “I’m no Cookie Monster. I don’t eat candy or drink soda, so I’m fine.” It’s a thought that some of us here at the LifeVest have held, too. Yet, according to the latest guidelines from the World Health Organization, no more than 100 daily calories (25 grams) should come from sugar, and with it often lurking in unexpected places, that’s a number that can add up quickly.

From bread to breakfast to salad dressing, here are five hidden sources of sugar that could be taking a toll on your health without you even knowing it, along with the best options to keep these “healthy” foods actually beneficial to your health.


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Happy National Fruit & Vegetable Month!

green and red healthy food

“Hey June, don’t make it bad.
Take a sad diet and make it better.
Remember to let produce into your bowl.
Then you can start to make it better.”

In honor of National Fruit & Vegetable Month, we’re calling on the Beatles for a little celebration. (If it’s sounding like we drank too much carrot juice and you have no idea what we’re referencing, you best take a few moments to watch the original Hey Jude.) The month’s farm-to-fork designation has officially made June our favorite time of year.

We’d like to invited you to join us in using the month-long holiday as extra motivation to fill up on fruits and veggies. Here’s the research on why you simply can’t say no:
  • A study released this past March suggests people who eat up to 7 servings of fruit & vegetables a day can cut their risk of premature death by 42%. Um, yes peas!
  • The unfortunate news? Research shows most people are consuming less than half of what the government recommends. And when we do plate up on produce, the #1 items in America are potatoes and tomatoes — in the not-so-nutritious forms of french fries and pizza, according to a report from the U.S. Dpt. of Agriculture. With that comes a hefty side of fat and sodium.
  • Are your readings showing high blood pressure? Filling up on produce lowers blood pressure and your risk for type 2 diabetes since fiber tempers blood-sugar swings by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates into your bloodstream after meals.
  • They’re also packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants, and a recent study released by the American Heart Association suggests with every 200 grams per day, you could cut your risk of stroke by 1/3.

We could have a never-ending sing-off about the benefits of fruits and veggies. Instead, however, we’re going to move on and highlight some of this month’s prime produce.


Celebrate the holiday and the month of June with these 3 seasonal S’s:
If you want to make your diet smile like a banana, fill it with tons of fruits and veggies. And if you recall from our farmer’s market email, seasonal produce is often the best. (Remember – local produce needn’t travel as far, meaning it can be picked closer to its prime ripeness. This results in both tastier and more nutritious food for you.) This month, cook up a few of the items below, all cropstars of June.

  • Strawberries: 8 medium-sized berries yield 150% daily value (DV) of vitamin C at just 50 calories. That sounds pretty sweet to us, as does this recipe for Fish Tacos with Strawberry Mango Salsa.
  • Sugarsnap Peas: This hybrid of both a green pea and a snow pea is known for its high levels of B vitamins, which help your body convert food to energy. Pair them with shrimp and toss over brown rice in this light coconut curry recipe for a satisfying meal.
  • Spinach: Spinach is a vitamin K superstar, a vitamin essential for bone health. One cup contains nearly 200% DV, and also contains twice the amount of iron as most other greens, which is important for keeping your energy levels up. Serve this Spinach and Pumpkin Seed Pesto over whole wheat pasta for a Popeye and LifeVest approved meal.

Want more farmers’ market inspired ideas? Check out this recipe generator from the New York Times.

Hope For Diabetes?

Newfound hormone holds hope for diabetes treatment

By: Malcolm Ritter, Associated Press, April 25, 2013

The new research suggests that giving diabetics a hormone might help them avoid insulin shots.

NEW YORK — Scientists have identified a hormone that can sharply boost the number of cells that make insulin in mice, a discovery that may someday lead to a treatment for the most common type of diabetes.

People have their own version of this hormone, and the new work suggests that giving diabetics more might one day help them avoid insulin shots.

That would give them better control of their blood sugar levels, said Douglas Melton of Harvard Medical School, senior author of a report published Thursday by the journal Cell.

Experts unconnected with the work cautioned that other substances have shown similar effects on mouse cells but failed to work on human ones. Melton said this hormone stands out because its effect is unusually potent and confined to just the cells that make insulin.

An estimated 371 million people worldwide have diabetes, in which insulin fails to control blood sugar levels. High blood sugar can lead to heart disease, stroke and damage to kidneys, eyes and the nervous system.

Continue Reading…

Interested in learning more about living a healthy life with diabetes? Check out LifeVest Health, where you can get paid to get healthy! Track your health, get tips, get social and get paid.

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Preventable Diseases and LifeVest

Ultimately, LifeVest aims to improve people’s health, especially by
preventing the occurrence of diseases. The September 21, 2012 special
issue of the journal Science focuses on disease prevention and
includes an insightful review of preventing noncommunicable diseases
such as “cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and chronic
respiratory diseases,” which are “responsible for about two-thirds of
deaths worldwide” (Ezzati and Riboli, 2012, p. 1482). Below we share
some key points from this article and their application in LifeVest.

1. Moderate reductions in a few risk factors have great impact.

  • Among leading risk factors for cardiovascular disease are blood
    pressure, body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, and smoking.Ezzati and Riboli (2012, p. 1485) report that:

    • “… studies with detailed measurement of risk factors and long
      follow-up, like the Framingham Heart Study, established elevated
      blood pressure and cholesterol, smoking, and excess body weight as
      some of the most important risk factors for CVD…”

    and that:

    • when “…overlaps are taken into account, these four risks together
      account for 70 to 80% of the burden of IHD [ischemic heart disease]
      and stroke…”

    Today, LifeVest incorporates blood pressure and BMI for general
    consumers and includes all four risk factors for employers.

  • For diabetes, body mass index (BMI) is a significant modifiable risk factor.Ezzati and Riboli (2012, p. 1485) note that:
    • “[n]ot only does high BMI increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases
      and some cancers, it is also the most important modifiable risk
      factor for glycemia and diabetes mellitus.”

    LifeVest uses BMI and related measures like waist-to-hip ratio and
    waist-to-height ratio.

  • Small reductions in risk factors lead to large reductions in disease rates.Ezzati and Riboli (2012, p. 1485) write that:
    • “…the evidence from studies of individuals and populations is by
      now equally compelling that reducing a moderate number of risk
      factors will have large benefits in CVD prevention.”

    The authors also add that:

    • “…given that the burdens of major CVDs like ischemic heart disease
      (IHD) and stroke are many times those of most cancers and other
      NCDs, reducing a prevalent risk factor like high blood pressure can
      prevent a very large number of disease cases or deaths, even if the
      reduction in risk for each individual person is modest.” Ezzati and
      Riboli (2012, p. 1485)

    LifeVest rewards any reduction in risk factors for cardiovascular
    disease and diabetes.

2. Continuously lowering risk factors up to a point provides benefit.

Ezzati and Riboli (2012, p. 1485) mention that:

  • “…studies showed that the benefits of lowering blood pressure,
    cholesterol, and body weight continue to very low levels–as low as
    110 mmHg for systolic blood pressure (SBP), 3.8 mmol/L for serum
    total cholesterol (TC), and 21 kg/m2 for body mass index (BMI)…”

LifeVest does not apply arbitrary cutoffs on risk factors, but instead
rewards people more as they lower their risk factors further.

3. Decreases in disease rates appear quickly following reductions in
risk factors.

Ezzati and Riboli (2012, p. 1485) discuss that:

  • “…the benefits of reducing these key CVD risks not only are very
    large but also can occur relatively fast and be fully realized
    within about 5 years, compared with about three decades for
    achieving the full benefits of smoking cessation on lung cancer and
    chronic obstructive pulmonary disease… This means that
    actions to reduce key CVD risks can have immediate benefits for
    disease prevention and also contribute to reduced demand and cost of
    specialist treatment.”


M. Ezzati and E. Riboli, “Can Noncommunicable Diseases Be Prevented? Lessons from Studies of Populations and Individuals,”
Science 337, 610 (2012). [DOI:10.1126/science.1227001]