Chocolate bars, jelly beans, and taffy, oh my! Since January we’ve made strides to keep a healthy diet during the year’s festivities. We limited our chocolates on Valentine’s Day, we kept Easter dinner portions a reasonable size, and we held to a one hotdog maximum on the Fourth of July. But next thing we know its October and there are unavoidable candy bowls tempting us everywhere we look.
And while it’s okay to occasionally indulge in a bite-sized treat, the problem lies when one turns to two and two turns to…well, you get the idea. Eventually, we find ourselves with unintentional weight gain and it’s not even Thanksgiving yet! Meanwhile, the threat of an increase in hyperactivity and cavities in our children is giving us a bigger headache than our neighbor’s talking pumpkin.
Like in all things health and nutrition, careful planning is the key. Nutrition Lately has pulled together some simple tricks to help you and your family successfully ‘treat’ this Halloween.
TRICK: PREPARE THE TROOPS
Eating a healthy meal pre-‘trick-or-treating’ is your first defense against overindulging later. We often turn to candy first because our blood sugar is low and as a result we feel hungry. Before leaving home, serving a high-protein, high-fiber meal for you and family should keep temptations at bay for the next 2-3 hours.
A suggestion would be grilled chicken breast, wholegrain rice, broccoli florets, a glass of skim milk, and apple slices for dessert. Drinking plenty of water is also important for keeping cravings at bay. Revert back to your MyPlate guide for other suggestions and tips.
TRICK: BE THE NEIGHBORHOOD HERO
There are several alternatives to passing out candy on Halloween. Here are some suggestions that will make your neighbors both admire you and think twice about what they hand out next year:
- Mini Toothbrushes
- Halloween stickers
- Rubber Balls
- Party Favors
- Colored Pencils
- Raisins Packets
- Key Chains
TRICK: SET A POST-TREATING PLAN
When kids get home from trick-or-treating, allow them to use their newly acquired candy as a sort of currency. First, have kids pile through and choose favorites and non-favorites. Then, make a wager with them that for every piece of candy they fork over they get a penny or nickel. Then kids can use their newly acquired money to buy something (non-food focused) at the store. With the candy that is left, be sure to immediately stash out of sight. Allow kids to choose one piece a day and preferably after a meal.
TRICK: MAKE THE BEST CHOICES
Not all candy is created equal. When you do indulge, try to pick out the lowest calorie and sugar options available. Check out our list for some suggestions:
- 3 Musketeers Miniatures- 24 calories– WINNER!
- Milky Way Mini- 28 calories
- Snicker Mini- 42.5 calories
- Two Twix Bars- 160 calories
- Peanut Butter Pumpkin- 180 calories
- Almond Joy/Mounds- 200 calories
- Include dark chocolate when possible for an antioxidant boost
- Choose hard candies, which you can’t eat as quickly
- Opt for the sugar-free candies, if provided
For more nutrition tips, suggestions and family friendly recipes, visit Kids Eat Right.
The grilling season is a special time often accompanied by an array of grilled treats like hotdogs, hamburgers, and barbequed chicken. But if not prepared correctly, sometimes those delicious foods can harbor harmful bacteria and spoil your feast, potentially leading to foodborne illness.
This grilling season avoid becoming one of the 76 million Americans that fall victim to foodborne illness each year and be prepared by following these 5 easy tips to food safety:
1. KEEP HOT FOODS HOT AND COLD FOODS COLD
Sounds simple enough, right? But what exactly qualifies as a safe temperature for cold foods and hot foods? The answer: follow the 40/140 rule. Keep cold foods below 40° Fahrenheit and hot foods above 140° Fahrenheit and you’ll cut down the chance for harmful bacteria to grow significantly. In order to ensure this food safety range use a thermometer as well as other necessities (coolers, ice, thermal containers, etc.) to keep hot and cold foods at their proper temperatures, especially if you’re traveling long distance with food.
2. WASH YOUR HANDS…THOROUGHLY
Another easy way to cut down on the chance of contaminating your food with harmful bacteria! But don’t just settle with a quick rinse with some luke warm water. Use soap, warm water, and be sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Try singing the ABCs in your head while your wash as a good measuring stick towards reaching the 20 second mark.
3. DON’T LET THE LEFTOVERS LINGER
It’s easy to forget about the leftovers shortly after eating a large meal, especially when hunger is no longer a concern and post-meal festivities occupy your thoughts. But this is often the time where bacteria gets its best opportunity to spoil the night (and your food). That’s because within a few hours many foods can fall within 40-140 degrees, a danger zone in which most bacteria thrive. Unfortunately, a few hours after a meal is also typically the time when people tend to pick at food for second helpings and that could lead to trouble so be sure and put the leftovers in the fridge 1-2 hours after serving to keep harmful bacteria at bay.
4. KEEP CONTACT SURFACES CLEAN
Countertops, cutting boards, plates, bowls, utensils and other containers should always be kept clean when preparing food items. In the case of raw food items, keep them as well as the containers they’re in separate from cooked or ready-to-serve items to avoid cross-contamination.
5. WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT
If a certain food item looks, smells, or tastes suspicious don’t take any chances – just toss it. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.
WANT MORE FOOD SAFETY INFORMATION?
For more great food safety information and tips, visit these other great sites specifically aimed at fighting foodborne illness:
With the summer season fast approaching, many are also working back into exercise routines in hopes to obtain the fit beach body to show off in the warmer weather. But with warmer and exercise also comes increased perspiration and hydration becomes an important factor in a successful workout. From sports drinks touted by professional athletes to antioxidant and vitamin-enhanced smoothies, today the beverage market offers more variety than ever. But what drinks are REALLY best for your body and your health?
Surely it’s one of those sports drinks that bolster a mountain of scientific research showing their ability to rehydrate, right? Or maybe it’s the vitamin and mineral enhanced protein shakes that help build muscle and fuel workouts? Perhaps it’s even a more natural beverage like coconut water?
Would you be surprised if you were told you that the miracle drink you’ve been looking for was one that you’ve likely had access to all your life and is essentially free? That’s right, I’m talking about good ole’ water.
WHY H2O IS THE WAY TO GO
I see it nearly each time I work out at the gym. Someone hops up on the treadmill, jogs at a moderate pace for 10 minutes, hops off the treadmill, then chugs an ENTIRE sports drink. Little do they know they just added unnecessary sugar and more calories than they likely burned simply because they rehydrated inappropriately.
The fact is, if you are exercising at low to moderate intensity for less than 60 minutes, water should be your drink of choice. For short duration exercise your body won’t have much of a need to replace electrolytes (unless you sweat profusely) or carbs, so stick to water to rehydrate best.
Besides comparing water to other beverages from a hydration standpoint, water has no equal when it comes to these other roles it plays in the body:
- Regulating body temperature
- Lubricating joints
- Aiding the kidneys in flushing out wastes
- Carrying nutrients to cells
- Helping to prevent constipation
- Moistening tissues like the eyes, mouth, and nose
WHEN OTHER DRINKS ARE BEST
If you’re exercising at a moderate or high intensity for greater than 1 hour, sports drinks are a good option for replacing the lost carbs and electrolytes, especially in hot weather or if you sweat a lot.
When taste is of upmost importance and hydration isn’t much of a factor, your drink of choice should be one you enjoy. Just be aware of the added calories, sugar, and other ingredients, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Be sure to look at the ingredient list and Nutrition Facts label as well to get a clearer picture of exactly what you’re drinking.
Each day, drinking enough water should be a priority no matter what. Aim for 6-8 eight ounce glasses each day; more if you are working outside or participate in regular physical activity.
March is here and [NL] is especially excited because that means it is time to celebrate National Nutrition Month® (NNM). Not familiar with this month-long celebration that highlights the importance of making informed, sound, and healthy eating choices? Here’s what YOU should know…
This year’s theme is “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” which encourages us to eat foods that provide both the nutrients we need and the tastes we love. There are so many ways to do this and below are just a few. Happy NNM!
CELEBRATE YOUR PLATE
There are many different ways to “Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day” and celebrate a healthier lifestyle through proper nutrition. Here are just a few recommendations:
Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Veggies
Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables can give you the energy, fiber, vitamins and minerals needed to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Remember to incorporate a variety of color such as red, orange, green, and purple as well.
Go for Whole Grains
When eating breads, cereals, pastas, crackers, and rice try to make at least half of what you’re consuming WHOLE grains. To be sure check the ingredients list to make sure the word “whole” is included.
Stick to Low-Fat or No-Fat Dairy
Fat-free and low-fat milk contain the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but with FAR fewer calories and fat. If You are lactose intolerant, you can try lactose-free milk or a calcium-fortified soy beverage instead.
Vary Your Protein
Seafood, nuts and beans, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs are all excellent protein sources. Be sure to vary the ways you get your protein by switching it up within these categories. Be sure and try to have a seafood protein twice a week for additional heart-health benefits provided by omega-3s.
Cut Back on the Added Sodium, Sugar, and Fat
Compare foods and choose those with lower numbers for sodium, sugar, and fat. Find healthier alternatives to adding flavor to your food such as seasoning your foods with herbs and spices instead of salt. Switch from solid fats to healthy oils like olive and canola oil. Replace sugary drinks with water and choose fruit for dessert.
Control Your Portions
Always be aware when your eating a meal or snack. Avoid mindless munching that often leads to overeating and unnecessary calorie consumption. Focus on your meals and STOP eating when you are satisfied. Use smaller plates, bowls, and glasses as an added measure.
Adults need at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of physical activity each week. So go for a walk, bike, or jog. Go shoot some hoops, throw a pigskin around, just get out and move!
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
For more great tips and information on how YOU can “Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right” and celebrate National Nutrition Month, visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics National Nutrition Month website.
Right smack dab in the midst of American Heart Month and just more than a month after our New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and exercise more comes yet another holiday that threatens to sabotage all progress made: St. Valentine’s Day.
Dinner invitations and chocolate-infested work places can easily distract us from our daily healthy eating plans. In light of the American Heart Health month Nutrition Lately has put together a heart healthy action plan to help lighten the load, literally, this Valentine’s Day.
WHAT MAKES A HEART HEALTHY?
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for the American population. This is because the disease is often tied to several other health risks such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
The American Heart Association recommends a combination of good nutrition, physical activity, smoking cessation, and stress management to be truly armed against this disease. Here are some staples of the heart healthy DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet:
- Consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day
- Consume 6-8 servings of grains a day. Make half of the grains whole grains.
- Consume 4-5 servings of both fruits and vegetables a day. Get a variety!
- Consume 2-3 servings of dairy a day. Choose low-fat options.
- Choose lean meats, poultry and fish.
- Add nuts, seeds, and legumes to your meals.
[NL] VALENTINE’S DAY ACTION PLAN
Start out with a healthy breakfast…
You’ve probably heard at least once before that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, it’s the truth. Eating a nutritious, protein and fiber-packed breakfast not only starts our metabolic engines, it helps us to avoid over eating later in the day which is especially important on a day like St. Valentine’s Day.
[NL] Tip: Start V-Day nutritiously: We recommend a delicious bowl of oatmeal. Oatmeal is packed with soluble fiber which binds like a gel to cholesterol to help flush it out of our bodies We like One Hungry Mama’s suggestions for turning oatmeal into an appetizing way to start the day.
Dining out is often fun and romantic part of Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, because someone else is preparing our food, we do not know exactly what is going into the preparation. Restaurant food often has hidden artery-clogging saturated fats, trans fat and cholesterol.
[NL] Tip: Choose the right restaurant: Avoid restaurants that offer all-you-can-eat buffets because this often leads to over-consumption of fat and calories.
[NL] Tip: Decode the menu: Words like au gratin, fried, sautéed and buttered should be clues that your meal will be prepared in fat. Opt for menu options with the words grilled, broiled, or roasted. Also, ask your server how foods are prepared and what ingredients they contain. Most restaurants are happy to prepare food to order to keep your business.
[NL] Tip: When all else fails, share. Sharing is caring, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. So this Valentine’s Day if you must indulge in high calorie dining options, such as steak or chocolate cake, share with the table. An easy way to keep portions in check is to start with dinner salads and share a main entrée and/or dessert.
SWEET TREATS OR HEALTHY INDULGENCES?
Whether it’s the lingering candy bowl at the office, dinner out or our own home-baked treats, less-than-healthy temptations have us surrounded on Valentine’s Day. Here’s our heart healthy advice on common indulgences:
- Chocolate: Though chocolate has a bad rep for being high in fat and sugar, research has linked cocoa and the flavonoids in dark chocolate to heart health. Opt for the darker pieces in that box of chocolates.
- Alcohol: It is important to avoid over consumption of alcohol because it can raise the levels of some fats in the blood stream called triglycerides. However, studies have shown that there are potential benefits to the heart found in red wine called antioxidants. Skip the cocktails and choose a cabernet or merlot.
- Baked Goods: Are you the type who likes to bake goodies for your loved ones? We suggested some healthy alternatives to some popular recipes. Check out these recipes for baby tiramisu, chocolate bliss marble cake, and Strawberry Schaum Torte.
Whether you’re a seasoned health pro or just kick-starting healthy lifestyle changes, it’s important to know the facts that will protect you and your family against heart disease. Visit www.heart.org up-to-date resources for weight management, healthy eating, and physical health. Have a happy, healthy Valentine’s Day!
Whether you drink it to get a lift each morning, to maintain focus during a late-night study session or simply to enjoy the taste, coffee (and the caffeine found in it) has long been documented for its stimulating effects. But that’s not the only benefit coffee can provide – that’s good news for the millions around the world who drink it, including the estimated 83% of adults in America1.
Recently, a study examined the effect of caffeine and memory. Specifically, the human brain’s ability to discriminate between similar but non-identical images or items in a process known as pattern separation. During the study, participants studied a series of images and were then either given a placebo or a 200-milligram caffeine tablet (about the equivalent amount found in a cup of coffee) five minutes later.
The researchers ultimately found that caffeine appears to have the cognitive-enhancing ability to improve certain memories at least up to 24 hours after consumption.
In another recent study, researchers debunked the popular wives’ tale that caffeinated beverages, including coffee, can lead to dehydration even at moderate consumption due to the diuretic effect of caffeine. The results of this study, although noted to be limited in its design by the researchers themselves, concluded that caffeine in moderate amounts (up to four cups per day) did not pose a detrimental effect in regards to hydration status and was actually quite similar to that of water.
Among the other health benefits coffee can potentially provide include a reduced risk of stroke2, lowered risk of type II diabetes3, protection from cognitive impairment such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia4, as well as a decreased risk of certain types of cancer5.
- “Home – National Coffee Association.” Home – National Coffee Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2014. <http://www.ncausa.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=731>.
- Kokubo, Yoshihiro . “The Impact of Green Tea and Coffee Consumption on the Reduced Risk of Stroke Incidence in Japanese Population: The Japan Public Health Center-Based Study Cohort.”Stroke 44 (2013): n. pag. Stroke. Web. 13 Jan. 2014.
- van Dam, Rob, and Frank Hu. “Coffee Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes A Systematic Review .” The Journal of the American Medical Association 294.1 (2005): 97. JAMA. Web. 13 Jan. 2014.
- Eskelinen, Marjo, and Miia Kivipeltoa. “Caffeine as a Protective Factor in Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 20 (2010): S167–S174. Print.
- Sinha, Rashmi, and Amanda Cross. “Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee and tea intakes and risk of colorectal cancer in a large prospective study.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 99.1 (2012): n. pag. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Web. 13 Jan. 2014.
The holiday season is a time meant for joy, celebration, and spending time with family and friends. But for many this time of year can also bring stress, frustration and unwanted weight gain.
Between family get-togethers, workplace holiday parties, and with what seems to be an endless array of cakes, cookies, pies and other sweets during the holiday season often times the temptation to overindulge can seem overwhelming. Add in the late dinners at the mall food court after a long day of shopping and it is not hard to understand why weight gain is common during the holiday season.
But with some forethought and a little resolve, it can be possible celebrate the holiday season without seeing the scale move in the wrong direction. Here are a few tips on how to do just that.
Most of us find it hard enough to find time to exercise when little is going on. Add holidays to the mix and exercise is probably not a priority on our to-do list, unless it consists of running through the mall to catch the latest sale.
By maintaining a regular exercise schedule, you can help to eliminate stress and lessen the holiday tension. At the same time, exercise will help to balance out some of the extra calories you may be eating.
Most people take a few days off during the month of December to finish last minute holiday shopping, so take the time to fit in some exercise as well. It will get you into the habit of exercising, and you can continue the regime after the holiday season is over.
PREPARE FOR EVENTS
Most holiday parties are planned ahead of time. This gives you the option for some healthier eating days leading up to the event. If the party is potluck style, be the one to bring the fruit or veggie tray. You’ll be surprised as to how quickly the carrot and celery sticks are eaten.
If the party is going to be at a restaurant, research the menu ahead of time. More and more restaurants are starting to post their menus and daily specials, so do some research and plan ahead to avoid falling into an unexpected, hidden calorie trap. It will save you the indecision while the waiter is staring over your shoulder and give you the opportunity to mentally prepare for self-control.
DON’T SKIP MEALS
It’s easy to skip lunch or an afternoon snack if you know you’re headed to a holiday party, which is sure to have decadent desserts and plenty of alcohol. You may think that by skipping a meal or two you are saving yourself calories that can be eaten later in the day but this plan has the potential to backfire by causing you to overeat at your next meal. Ultimately, your one huge meal could be more calorie dense than the two smaller meals you would have consumed normally.
To avoid this trap, try adding protein to your lunch or afternoon snack routine, such as low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and unsalted nuts. Most people think twice about snacking, but it actually helps to spread food intake out throughout the course of the day and can often lead to lower daily calorie intake.
The holidays are a time to focus on family and friends, rather than beating yourself up over eating an extra cookie or going for seconds on the stuffing. Focus on maintaining your weight rather than losing.
Remember that the common holiday temptations are around us all year round. The strategies to get us through the holidays are those we should be applying to our daily lives, regardless of the time of year.