May 03 2013
Archive for the 'Food and nutrition' Category
Apr 04 2013
It seems like every conversation I have includes the word ’stress’, and usually not in a good way. Work, family, the economy, even the weather cause stress in our lives. The good news is that more of us are using healthy stress management techniques such as exercise, meditation, and even choosing nutritious foods to reduce stress levels.
Read more about the relationship between food and stress in a blog I wrote for the Summit Medical Group.
What are your favorite - healthy - ways to deal with stress?
Feb 07 2013
February is heart month
It’s a perfect time to make dietary and lifestyle changes
that can help protect your heart.
In addition to daily activity and a low-stress lifestyle,
eating a diet that is high in fiber, low in saturated fat and cholesterol,
and helps you maintain a healthy weight
is one of the best things you can do to protect your heart.
Read more quick, simple and delicous heart-healthy tips here
Jan 04 2013
January is Prevent Glaucoma Month, and a perfect time to choose healthy foods to help protect your eyesight. For example, omega-3 fatty acids in salmon and sardines improve blood flow and reduce pressure in the eye. Read more delicious tips here: http://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/feature/Nutrition/Help-Prevent-Glaucoma-With-Good-Nutrition/
Nov 21 2012
Holidays, and especially Thanksgiving, may seem like a nutritional nightmare with large quantities of foods high in fat and sugar. You don’t have to give up all of your favorites to celebrate a happy – and healthy – holiday. Use a three-step approach for Thanksgiving and any other holiday to enjoy family favorites, establish new traditions, and promote good health.
Step one: what is most important about the holiday? Most likely mashed potatoes and gravy aren’t more important than being with family, celebrating with friends, or taking part in religious activities. What does the holiday truly mean to you and your family?
Step two: look for balance in your food choices. Include vegetables along with stuffing, opt for fresh fruit as one of your dessert options, and provide plenty of calorie-free beverages for everyone to enjoy.
Step three: fit in time for exercise. Some families play flag football in the back yard or go for a walk after the holiday meal. Our boys always looked forward to sledding with their cousins as part of their holiday traditions.
I asked several friends to share the healthy holiday traditions they enjoy with their families. Use their suggestions to establish new family traditions:
Participate in the 17th Annual Running of the Turkeys 5K (3.1 miles) event in Arlington on Thanksgiving morning. This is a fun, no pressure event that welcomes walkers and runners of every age and ability. There’s even a 1K fun run for the kids.
Make foods from scratch and encourage everyone in the family to pitch in and help out in the kitchen. When we cook from scratch we control the fat, sugar and salt content of foods.
Schedule the holiday meal later in the day so you don’t end up eating a big meal twice in one day.
Use the traditional family china. Plates made more than 20 years ago are 1-2” smaller than today’s plates. When we eat from a smaller plate, we automatically eat almost 30% less!
What are your favorite ways to celebrate Thanksgiving with a nod toward health? Please share!
Jul 12 2012
Summer officially started last week, bringing sun, heat, swimming, hiking and family car trips. Along with bathing suits, flip-flops, sunscreen and bug spray be sure to pack sensible, delicious snacks that everyone will love. Instead of mindlessly snacking on candy or chips, enjoy healthy foods that leave you feeling energized when you reach your destination. Some of my family’s favorites:
Homemade trail mix with unsalted nuts, dried fruit, and whole grain cereal such as Cheerios
Easy-to-eat fruit such as grapes, peeled oranges, or sliced apples
Raw celery spread with peanut butter
Baby carrots – they’re sweet, crunchy and delicious all on their own
Homemade muffins with dried fruit and nuts for extra fiber and nutrition
Whole grain crackers spread with peanut butter
Bring along a cooler, and you create more options for healthy snacks:
- Low-fat string cheese
- Individual containers of low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt (don’t forget the spoons!)
- Hummus with snow peas for dipping
Portion snacks ahead of time into individual baggies. That way there are lots of options, and each person can choose their favorite snack. Instead of drinking sugar-packed beverages such as soda or fruit drinks, bring along water to make sure everyone stays hydrated. Enjoy the trip!
Jun 13 2012
We all know that sweetened beverages contain sugar, but we may not realize just how much sugar is in our favorite summertime lemonade, pre-sweetened ice tea, or 12-ounce bottle of soda.
When you read the nutrition label, sugar content is listed in weight by grams. Put that into more easily understood household measurements, and 4 grams of sugar on the label is equal to 1 teaspoon of table sugar. That’s one measuring teaspoon, not the spoon you use to eat your cereal or stir your coffee. For example, a 12-ounce bottle of soda typically contains 39 grams of sugar. 39 grams is equal to almost 10 teaspoons of sugar. Measure out ten teaspoons of sugar and put it in a glass - you’ll be surprised at how much sweetener you drink!
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day for women, and no more than 9 teaspoons for men. That means even one 12-ounce bottle of soda puts you over your recommended daily added sugar goals. Why does the Heart Association care about how much sugar we consume?
- Too much sugar can raise our body’s level of triglycerides, which increases risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Sweetened beverages are one of the primary causes of overweight and obesity, which also increases our risk of heart disease.
Add up the sugar you consume in one day, both from sugar you add to your food and beverages yourself (sugar in tea or coffee, homemade iced tea or lemonade, sugar on cereal, etc.) as well as from sweetened beverages. Once you know your usual daily intake of added sugar, you can set goals to gradually decrease that amount until you reach the American Heart Association recommendations. Your body will thank you!
Jun 02 2012
The North Bennington Graded School children in Amy Anselmo’s gardening program not only planted and harvested purple potatoes, they also grow a wide variety of herbs, lettuce, pumpkins, garlic, peas, tomatoes - you name the vegetable, they probably grow it. I teamed up with Amy to teach a lesson on nutrition and potatoes in the outdoor classroom located in the middle of the community gardens at the Park-McCullough House, a quick 5 minute walk from the school.
After a rousing discussion of the different colors of fruits and vegetables, and how the phytochemicals in those colors give us health benefits, the children spread out to snip herbs to mix into a bright and colorful potato salad. We rubbed basil leaves on our fingers to enjoy the fresh aroma, snipped the green stalks and purple flowers from chives, broke off pieces of parsley, and found out that fresh oregano smells just like pizza!
Each child chopped up yellow, red or purple potatoes into bite-size pieces, and mixed the potato, herbs minced wtih scissors, and yellow squash chopped with red bell pepper prepped ahead of time into a large bowl. Everyone took turns making the dressing, a mayonaise-free version that uses orange juice and lime juice to moisten the ingredients.
We talked about using all of our senses to experience the potato salad. We used our eyes to notice the colors, and our noses to sniff the aromas of the herbs, remarking that purple potatoes smell different than white potatoes. They enjoyed the sound of the crunch of the red bell peppers and felt the different textures of the vegetables with their fingers as well as their tongues. Children aren’t always willing to try a new food, but preparing that food and watching others enjoy eating the food, often results in everyone being brave enough for at least one taste.
Our recipe for the day included bright sunny skies, a shady outdoor classroom, enthusiastic children experienced in growing - and tasting - foods in their garden, colorful vegetables and many helping hands. One girl exlaimed that this was the best potato salad ever, while another told us that she’d never seen such a beautiful salad. As they skipped back to class, the garden that was recently filled with shouts of happy children fell quiet enough that I heard a bumblee buzz past me on his path through the flowers.
May 23 2012
Remember the Geritol commercials that talked about feeling tired and exhausted due to iron-poor blood? It’s still true today, primarily among women due to the loss of iron during our menstrual cycle. Foods high in iron such as egg yolks and red meat have a bad rap due to their fat and cholesterol content, yet play an important role in preventing anemia.
In the best of circumstances iron isn’t well absorbed, which means that we need to double our efforts to get enough of this essential mineral that plays an important role in transporting oxygen throughout our body. Heme iron is present in animal products such as meat and chicken, and is better absorbed than the non-heme iron found in plants. Both heme and non-heme iron contribute to our diet and combining both sources in our daily food sources is an excellent strategy.
Gloria Tsang, RD at Healthcastle.com has wonderful information and suggestions for adding iron-rich foods to your diet, plus ways to increase the absorption of the iron in these foods. Enjoy a tossed salad made with a variety of dark-green leafy vegetables, sliced lean sirloin, pumpkin seeds and edamame for an iron-boosting and healthy meal.
May 15 2012
Potatoes have a bad rap, and it’s not their fault. It’s how we cook potatoes that make them a less healthy choice, not the potato itself.
Consider these nutrition bonuses from white potatoes:
- Contain almost half the daily requirement for vitamin C; that’s more vitamin C than one sweet potato
- One of the best sources of potassium and fiber in the produce section
- A good source of iron, calcium, and vitamin B6
- Only 110 calories in one medium potato
Eat the skin along with the insides of the potato, and you’ll get 4 grams of fiber and 620 grams of potassium. Consuming less sodium and more potassium is one of the best ways to lower blood pressure. Potatoes are also a source of resistant starch, a type of fiber that helps protect your colon and decreases insulin resistance.
Potatoes are a healthy choice for what they don’t contain: saturated fat, trans fats, cholesterol or sodium. To preserve the nutrients in potatoes, microwave or bake instead of boiling – and eat the skin. Try these simple tips to enjoy potatoes as part of a healthy diet:
- Top a baked potato with fat-free plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or butter
- Roast pieces of chopped potato with garlic and rosemary; drizzle with olive oil
- Make loaded baked potatoes with salsa, chopped onion and olives, and shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
- Microwave a potato, cut in half, and top with your favorite chili for a complete meal