Yes, it’s true. Planning a healthy meal doesn’t have to take a lot of work, exotic ingredients, and consist of foods your family won’t eat.
I was recently reminded of two great websites that include tons of tips and resources to make healthy meal planning a snap. Plus they have cool tools and quizzes you can use while you’re waiting for the pot to boil.
Check out www.mealsmatter.org and www.eatbetteramerica.com and get started plannng - and enjoying - healthy meals for you and your entire family.
The sugar-substitute market keeps getting more crowded. Sweet n’ Low, NutraSweet, Splenda, and the latest addition: stevia.
Stevia, which comes from a plant found in South America, has been available for the past few years as a dietary supplement in health food stores. Because it wasn’t approved by the FDA as a sweetener, it couldn’t be marketed as a sugar substitute or sweetener, and couldn’t be used in foods in this manner.
All that changed recently when the FDA approved the use of stevia as a sweetener. Look for Coke to introduce Sprite Green and some Odwalla juice drinks made with stevia in the next month or so. Pepsi won’t be left behind; they’re bringing out three zero-calorie flavors of SoBe Lifewater plus a lower calorie orange-juice drink called Trop50.
I’m not a huge fan of sugar substitutes, because no matter the hype, they’re all processed from something. I much prefer we learn to enjoy the natural taste of foods and use sweeteners in moderation. That means drinking water instead of sweetened beverages, stirring one-half teaspoon of sugar in your tea (only 8 calories!), and sweetening cereal or yogurt with fruit. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not totally against sweeteners. I simply encourage everyone to think about what we put into our mouths, and choose whole foods as often as possible.
You can already find stevia in the grocery store sweetener aisle under the trade names Truvia and PureVia. www.truvia.com has recipes to try using this sweetener. Let me know your thoughts if you’ve used it by sending me an email at Lynn@LynnGrieger.com or posting a comment on this website.
I’m a sucker for online quizzes and fun tools. Here’s one of my latest favorites from the Oregon Dairy Council: Rate Your Plate. It’s a tool to help you follow the principles of the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
Most people know that eating less sodium, found in table salt and many processed foods, helps lower blood pressure. But did you know that eating more fruit, vegetables, and fat-free dairy products can lower your blood pressure just as much? That’s where the DASH Diet comes in.
Check out the fun Rate Your Plate online quiz here: http://www.dashdietoregon.org/Rate-Your-Plate
Fill out the “One Step at a Time” goal form at the end of the quiz, print it out, and schedule an appointment with me to make these goals become a reality. Bring in the completed goal form to your appointment, and I’ll give you a free phone follow-up session!
Here’s what happened: I planned ahead to fit in exercise on Monday, and my plans blew up in my face. What to do? I figured I had three options:
1. Throw up my hands and retreat to the couch with a book.
2. Come up with an alternative plan for exercise.
3. Call myself a failure and other names I won’t type here and feel horrible for the rest of the day.
In this particular case, I planned on exercising later in the day. My morning appointments went later than expected, so I didn’t eat lunch on time. My the time I did eat lunch, I was so hungry I ate more than planned and was too full to go for a planned hard tempo run. By this time it was 3:30pm and it gets dark by 4:30.
I chose option #2. Instead of a planned tempo run, which would not have settled well with my too-full stomach, I went for a power walk with my Nordic walking poles. If you’re not familiar with Nordic walking poles, check them out here: www.nordicwalkingonline.com I power-walked up Bromley Brook Road, a beautiful dirt road that heads up into the Green Mountains. 45 minutes later I was back at home, just as dusk was starting to settle in.
- I got some fresh air and exericse.
- Instead of feeling like a failure, I felt empowered. Life threw me a curve-ball, and I recovered with a hit.
I’m a big fan of planning ahead, but just as big a fan of being flexible. The next time your plans blow up in your face, how will you react?
BONUS: I have an extra pair of Nordic walking poles. If you want to go out for a “test walk”, I’ll be happy to give you a lesson! Contact me at Lynn@LynnGrieger.com and set up an appointment!
A new report from the American Public Health Association just revealed something we all know, yet hate to admit: Americans’ health isn’t getting any better. Blame it on unprecendented levels of obesity, larger numbers of people without health insurance, and rising tobacco use.
How bad is it?
- 1 out of every 5 deaths in the US is due to smoking
- 1 in 4 Americans are obese, with increased risk of developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer
- 46 million of us don’t have health insurance, and that number is rising
Those of us who live in Vermont, ranked the healthiest state in the nation for the past 2 years, may feel a bit smug. However, we still have people in poverty, the number of children living in poverty is actually increasing, it can be difficult to find a local physician, and with the sinking economy more people are relying on food shelves. We may be healthier than the rest of the country, but we certainly have our work cut out for us.
What’s one step you can take to improve your health in the coming year? If each of us make just one change, the entire nation will be healthier.
You can find a comlete listing of the state health rankings at www.americashealthrankings.org
What motivates you to get up off the couch, out of bed, and out the door to exercise?
A confession: when it’s dark and cold outside, my motivation levels dip. If it’s light when I wake up in the morning, it’s much easier to roll out of bed and head out for a run. On the other hand, when the only light is coming from the moon, it takes extra effort to get moving.
The same thing happens at the end of the day. In the summer when it’s light after work, I love to go for a bike ride after dinner. Now it’s dark when I leave work, and by the time I get home I have to use my high-beams to see the road.
Here’s the choice: we can hibernate for the winter and watch our fitness levels decrease while our clothes fit tighter and tighter, or we can focus on why activity is important to us. When was the last time you actually sat down and made a list of all of the benefits you get from activity? Post that list where you can refer to it often: on your computer, on the fridge, on the mirror in the bathroom.
The second step to increasing the probability of sticking with your exercise routine is to make it easy. That might mean putting together your workout bag in the evening, and even sticking it in your car at night so you have everything ready when you’re driving home from work. Set up an exercise date with a friend, so you have someone else depending on you to show up and exercise. Pack your walking shoes in your briefcase, or better yet leave a pair at work, along with socks, so you can get in a fast 15-20 minute walk at lunchtime.
Please share your favorite tips for continuing activity through the dark winter months. Even if you live somewhere warm and sunny, we want to hear from you!