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Posts Tagged ‘Eating’

HEALTHY MEAL 2

Who doesn’t want to extend years of life as long as possible? Researchers confirm that even after middle age, we can lengthen our life span. In a study of nearly 74,000 health professionals 60 years-of-age or older, those who shifted to better eating habits lived longer. What changes did they make? Those who increased the amount of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains plus other healthy foods in their diets lowered their risk of premature death compared to those whose diets remained the same. Likewise, those who let their eating habits slip to less healthy fares in their older years increased their risks for dying.

Researchers used three scoring systems based on the Alternate Healthy Eating Index, the Alternate Mediterranean diet, and the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. While those diets differ somewhat, all promote fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, low-fat dairy, olive oil, and nuts. Some foods may include more of certain vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, or other nutrients, but all of these received higher scores and are good options. In all diets, less healthy choices such as sweets, processed foods, and red meats received low scores. The higher the overall score, the lower the risk of premature death.

Even changing a few items, such as fish or legumes in place of red meat, made a slight difference.  Alice Lichtenstein, spokesperson for the American Heart Association stated, “The key is to make changes that you can stick with for the rest of your life.” She added, “There are no magic-bullet foods or nutrients.” The message isn’t new. However, many believe if they haven’t followed healthy eating rules throughout their lifetimes, change is hopeless. Not so. It’s never too late to improve eating habits.

Choosing healthy foods helps prevent an early death and assures that the years we live will be less hampered by the many diseases resulting from poor diets. Quality of life is a precious commodity for everyone, especially as we age. Making slight diet changes can improve physical well-being and make those extra years’ worth living. It’s a win-win choice.

 

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Projected new cancer cases in 2016 will exceed 1.5 million. What can we do to avoid being oneWord cloud for Healthy Eating of those statistics? Excessive body weight is a definite link for increased risk of certain cancers. Two-thirds of U. S. adults are overweight or obese. According to the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR), one-third of all cancer cases hinge on three weight-related factors.

Eat Smart:    AICR recommends vegetables, fruits, and whole grains make up two-thirds of the meal. More than one-third of people surveyed by AICR claimed cost influenced their failure to eat healthy. The following include AICR suggestions to lower food costs plus my own thoughts.

  • Choose lower-cost fresh produce such as carrots, cabbage, sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, oranges and foods in season. Many of these foods, especially vegetables, keep for longer periods of time so stockpile them when grocery stores run specials.
  • Stock up on canned foods. Canned fruits and vegetables are convenient and economical. Grocery stores also run specials on many canned items. To save on costs, choose store brands that in most cases are as nutritious as name brands.
  • Keep frozen foods on hand if space permits. Frozen foods are quick and easy to prepare and retain nutrients found in fresh fruits and vegetables.

Move More:    Many claim a lack of time as their reason for failing to exercise. Easy ways to move more  include:

  • Take five-minute walking breaks. Sitting all day at work or at a desk is detrimental to health. Short breaks will improve physical well-being while giving your brain a break as well.
  • Include the family. Use TV commercial breaks for activity challenges for the entire family. Children often relate well to simple family games that involve movement.
  • Try new activities or resurrect old ones. Often sedentary past-times have replaced previously active ones. Find a family member or friend to join you in former active interests or join a class involving your favorite activity.

Maintain a Healthy Weight. Next to smoking, excessive weight is the single most important factor in lowering the risks of at least ten different kinds of cancers. In April 2016 the AICR released an updated report relating stomach cancer to extra body weight bringing that number to eleven. The report confirmed other food-related issues that also increased stomach cancer―consuming three or more alcoholic drinks per day and eating bacon, hot dogs and other processed meats.

More than half of the American population are unaware that weight is linked to their risk for cancer. Many find losing weight difficult and don’t know where to begin. The AICR “Cancer-Fighting Fridge” makes other recommendations in addition to those already stated.

  • Swap white processed grains for whole grains.
  • Make fruit and vegetables front and center
  • Replace sweetened drinks with water and unsweetened beverages
  • Keep easy-to-grab healthy snacks and meal options visible

May 8-14, 2016 is National Women’s Health Week. This is a great time to consider―not only for women but men as well― what you will do to lower your risk of cancer. Women can find additional age-related guidelines to help make more informed choices.

Knowing that too much weight leaves us more susceptible to unwanted cancer, why do we take losing weight so lightly (no pun intended)? Weight-loss is a challenge, but most of us can do it.

And one last suggestion from AICR worthy of note, support and encourage those making an effort to lose weight. Even small amounts of weight-loss benefit health. Don’t wait another day to begin the road to a healthier you and at the same time help others in their quest.

http://womenshealth.gov/nwhw/by-age/ (paste into browser if link fails to work)

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Why do we eat? The answer may not be as simple as you think. We eat for many reasons. It seems logical that we eat because we are hungry, but that isn’t the only purpose.

How many items do we eat when we aren’t hungry? It may be because others are eating. Some eat because food is there in front of them. Others want to replace boredom. A few can’t bear the thoughts of wasting food. Or to some it is a social function.

Yet many indulge in emotional eating. We eat to cope with emotions that have nothing to do with hunger. Emotional eating may make us temporarily feel better. Foods higher in fat, sugar, and salt especially appeal to us when under stress. We easily get into the habit of believing if we eat a bowl of ice cream, candy bar, or whatever our comfort food, we will feel better. The results are extra calories we don’t need.

If you fall into the habit of emotional eating, what can you do? Medline Plus from the National Institute of Health recommends several helpful guides.

  • Observe yourself. When you feel an urge to eat between meals, ask yourself if you are hungry and why you have a desire to eat. Become conscious of your eating behavior when you become angry, sad, or overcome with other emotions. Observe the time of day or situations that cause you to want to emotionally eat.
  • Develop coping skills. If you decide you are an emotional eater, how can you change? Consider finding information about managing stress. Check for online articles, books, or other means. Share your feelings with a close friend who understands your situation. Take a walk or exercise to get your mind off food and rationally evaluate the cause of stress in your life. Occupy your mind with a hobby, book, or an interesting activity.
  • Value yourself. Identify and make a list of your strengthens and weaknesses. We all have them. Focus on your value as a person. What interests you most and how often do you take part in that interest? Spend more time doing what you enjoy. What are your greatest achievements (family, work, volunteerism, etc)?
  • Eat slowly. Be mindful of what you eat. Some of us eat without thinking. Do we actually know what we have eaten throughout the day? Take time to taste and savor your food before swallowing. Limit portion size of higher calorie foods. Select a specific place for eating away from television or other distractions.
  • Plan ahead. We are more likely to eat healthier when we plan meals in advance. When we wait until too close to mealtime, we are prone to settle for whatever is available. If we become too hungry, we eat whatever we find. Keep fruits, vegetables, and lower calorie foods available to offset hunger pangs. Select lower calorie ingredients for cooking such as low-fat or skim milk instead of whole.

Most of us succumb to emotional eating at times. However, following these guidelines will help us break the dependency of relying on feelings instead of sound judgment. Make your selections healthy choices, and enjoy what you eat.

 

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Sometimes it’s important to get back to basics. My blog relates to nutrition and food events based on current research or newsworthy items. As a dietitian, I tend to believe everyone has heard of the foods we need daily for a healthy diet. Not true. With a plethora of information, people tend to forget the simple. Often advertising or false claims mislead people. How can we eat for optimum health and enjoy food without the hassle? Below is a brief summary of nutrients our bodies need plus those we may eat in access.

  • Calories: Our bodies need energy (fuel). We get that energy only from carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. An ounce of fat provides more than twice as many calories as the same amount of carbohydrate or protein (which have about the same). The calories we need depend on age, activity, gender, and other factors. Healthy adult women of appropriate weight need about 2,000 calories a day. Men and very active women need more. In addition to calories, the body requires the following.
  • Vitamins: These nutrients help convert carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into energy, carry out body functions within the cells, and form bones, teeth, and tissue.
  • Minerals: Mineral elements help regulate enzymes, build body and bone tissue, and keep nerves and muscles healthy.
  • Water and Fiber: Drink ample fluids (six to eight glasses per day), especially water, and eat foods high in fiber to help eliminate waste from the body.

Sometimes our diets have too much or not enough of varied nutrients. While excess of some nutrients may be okay, others can harm health. Consider the following as you eat.

  • Sugar (carbohydrate): Many, if not most, Americans have a sweet tooth. A little is okay as long as you don’t over do it. Foods high in sugar, especially sweetened beverages, are responsible for much of the obesity in society. Sugar may also increase the risk for dental decay, especially in children.
  • Fats: The body needs fat for body fuel and other functions. Fat in the diet helps keep us from getting hungry as quickly. Some types of fats are good while others can increase risks of health problems. Saturated fats, found mostly in meats, may increase risks for heart disease. To consume less of these fats, trim fat from meats, remove skin from chicken, and switch to low-fat milk and milk products. Unsaturated fats, found in plant sources, may help decrease heart problems. Olive oil, a mono-unsaturated fatty acid, is considered a healthier source of unsaturated fats. Use more vegetable oils in cooking (see post for 8/20/2013) and limit the use of trans fats.
  • Meats and Protein Foods (protein, fat, vitamins, minerals): About four ounces daily of a protein food is adequate. Legumes and nuts are healthy sources. For a healthier diet, choose skinless chicken and fish instead of red meat. While controversy lingers over the health value of eggs, they are excellent sources of protein and other nutrients.
  • Milk and milk products (carbohydrate, fat, protein, vitamins, minerals): Consume the equivalent of two to three servings a day. Milk, a natural source of calcium and other minerals and vitamins, is fortified with Vitamin D. Choose low-fat options for a healthier diet.
  • Breads, Cereals, Pasta (carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals, fiber): Choose five to six servings a day with at least half from whole grain sources.
  • Fruits and Vegetables (vitamins): While Americans may get too many calories from carbohydrates and fats, most fail to eat enough fruits and vegetables. A healthful diet will include a variety of four to five vegetables and three to four fruits each day. Choose from fresh, frozen, or canned sources. Consider the following selections and others.
    • Fruits: apples, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, dates, figs, grapes, grapefruit, mangos, oranges, papaya, peaches, pears, pineapple, strawberries.
    • Vegetables: asparagus, beets, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, eggplant, green beans, green peas, kale, legumes (field peas/beans), mustard greens, okra, potatoes, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, turnips/turnip greens, pumpkin, zucchini. Choose one serving of a deep green or deep yellow fruit/vegetable at least three to four times per week.
  • Salt (the minerals sodium and chloride): Controversy continues about the amount of salt (actually the sodium) needed by healthy people. While the body needs salt, too much can damage health, especially for those with high blood pressure. With the increased consumption of prepared foods, snacks, and meals eaten away from home, it’s safe to say most American exceed the amount needed. To cut back on the amount in the diet, check sodium content of foods and avoid using extra salt at the table.

Sometimes we make eating the right foods way to difficult. Make your choices based on guidelines for a healthier diet without a lot of hassle.

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Do decisions about when to eat affect health? After a night’s fast, breakfast may be the most important meal of the day. I want to eat each morning as soon as my feet hit the floor. Many make excuses for delaying or skipping breakfast.

Health professionals have purported the benefits of breakfast. Those who skip this significant meal usually fail to meet daily nutrient requirements. Breakfast enhances mental ability while those who skip this meal report more irritability and tiredness. Eating breakfast helps control weight, whereas skipping can increase the possibility for obesity and make weight control more difficult.

New evidence suggests more benefits. At the 2012 American Diabetes Association convention, A. O. Odegaard and his cohorts reported that for men and women ages twenty-five to thirty-seven, their choice to eat or not eat breakfast affected their risk for developing type 2 diabetes (defined as those with a fasting-blood glucose greater than 126 mg/dL).

From a group of 3,500, those who ate breakfast five or more times per week reduced their risk of type 2 diabetes by 31% and gained less weight than those who ate breakfast zero to three times per week. Participants who ate a more nutritious diet had even less risk, but the frequency of eating breakfast was more important than quality of food. In other words, a doughnut was better than nothing.

Often people claim to miss this important meal because of limited time in the early morning. For a quick nutritious breakfast, pair a make-ahead muffin with a glass of milk and fresh fruit. You can find a great recipe for Banana Ginger Muffins at http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/breakfast-on-the-go.html . Toss in a few nuts for extra protein and you have a great start on the day. Your extra effort will help control weight, provide more energy, improve mental alertness, and help prevent type 2 diabetes. For a healthier you, try breakfast.

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March is National Nutrition Month. Sponsored annually by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association), the theme for 2012 is “Get Your Plate in Shape.” What does that mean?

The Academy adapted guidelines from the USDA brochure “Let’s Eat for the Health of It.” Those standards emphasized five areas:

  • Build a healthy plate. Cover half your plate with brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Choose fruits and unsalted nuts for healthy snacks.
  • Cut back on foods high in solid fats, added sugars, and salt. To help you do that, remove visible fat from meats, and choose those lower in fat content. Select drinks and foods with little or no added sugars. A 12-ounce can of cola has about ten packets of sugar. Check labels for sodium content in items like soups, breads, and frozen meals.
  • Eat the right amount of calories for you. To do that, 1) enjoy what you eat, but eat less, 2) stop eating when you become full, and 3) use smaller plates and bowls to help limit portion sizes. Before eating calorie-laden foods, ask yourself if the taste is worth those extra calories.
  • Be physically active your way. Choose your own type of exercise whether walking, swimming, cycling, or some other activity. If you can’t exercise for thirty minutes or an hour, ten minute cycles of exercise several times daily will pay dividends.
  • Learn to read food labels. Labels have ingredients listed in descending order of quantity in the product. Ingredients such as sugar may be listed in several forms: sucrose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, and others. Watch for sodium content and the types of fats.

Improve your foods choices this month and every day. Get your plate in shape by following the above guidelines. Find more information about healthy eating at the links below.

 http://www.eatright.org/NNM/content.aspx?id=5342

 http://www.choosemyplate.gov/

 http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/MyPlate/DG2010Brochure.pdf

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If you decided to express love to your valentine by making healthy food choices, consider helping the entire family live a healthier lifestyle. With so many meals eaten away from home, choosing the most healthful items becomes a challenge. Many restaurants help patrons make good choices by identifying items with fewer calories. Others offer smaller portions.

Several tips can help cut calories when eating out.

  • Order red instead of white sauces to lower calorie intake.
  • Request all dressings, sauces, butter, and gravies be served on the side so you can control serving size. Then use sparingly.
  • Choose entrees of chicken, seafood, or lean meat instead of fatty meats.
  • Check for menu items marked “healthy.”
  • Choose steamed, broiled, baked, grilled, poached, or roasted foods instead of those fried, smothered, sautéed, creamed, or au gratin.
  • Avoid cocktails, appetizers, and bread and butter before the meal.
  • Avoid all-you-can-eat buffets and specials. Order from the menu.
  • Split orders with someone else, ask for smaller portions, or ask for a to-go box at the beginning of the meal to help control the amount you eat.

With busy schedules, sometimes fast-food seems unavoidable. To make healthier choices and to teach your children to do likewise, consider the following tips.

  • Hold the mayo and other sauces.
  • Choose low-calorie dressings for salads
  • Avoid double meat portions. One portion is usually more than a serving size.
  • Choose chicken over higher fat burgers.
  • Ask for baked, broiled, or grilled fish sandwiches instead of fried fish.
  • Omit bacon on sandwiches. It’s high in sodium, usually high in fat, and adds little nutritive value to the meal.
  • Eat sandwiches open-faced to cut the extra calories from the top part.
  • Order whole-wheat buns or bread when available.
  • Choose low-fat milk, diet drinks, or water instead of regular colas.
  • Choose unsweetened tea instead of sweetened tea.
  • Skip the fries and request a fruit, fruit-cup, or vegetable such as salad.

Eating healthy isn’t nearly as hard as some try to make it. If you can’t bring yourself to make all these changes at one time, pick out a few you think your taste buds will tolerate and start there. You will at least be on your way to healthier eating and will probably lose a little weight along the way—which for most of us would be an added bonus. Bon appétit.

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