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Three Simple Changes to a Healthier FamilyNutrition tips, tools and information for setting healthy nutrition and physical activity goals for the family.Michelle Mirizzi, MS, Registered DietitianNational Nutrition Month was started back in 1973, as a way to help Americans of all ages focus their attention on nutrition. I thinkalmost thirty years ago, the American Dietetics Association realized that with continued modernization and a busier lifestyle, wewould need some reminders and eating healthy tips. With work, school, kids and home responsibilities, parents are really juggling alot.We all know that a healthy lifestyle is so important for all of us and especially children. The real question is how can we help youincorporate some simple changes that are doable, reasonable and can fit into your busy schedules.Our goal this month is to help you focus on just three simple changes you can implement that can really make a difference.Turn Mealtime Into Family Time TipsHaving mealtime as a family is probably one of the easiest and most important activities you can do to promote healthy eating.Surprised? I know it sounds too easy; but honestly, sometimes the simplest things turn out to be the most important. Kids are littlesponges and they are learning and forming their nutrition habits throughout the day. During mealtime kids learn about foods andtheir parent’s food preferences. Children are starting to form lifelong associations with food (positive or negative) and their own foodchoices (what they “like” and what they “don’t like”). Here are some easy tips and guidelines to help you turn mealtime into fun family time. ✰ Pick one meal a day that works for the whole family. ✰ If your schedules don’t allow you to eat as a family every day, then pick one day a week to start. That’s ok. ✰ Gradually add another day until you are having one meal a day as a family. ✰ Set a time for family meals. This makes it easier for everyone to plan their schedules. ✰ Eat together at the table. It’s easier to talk to each other when you are face to face. ✰ During mealtime, focus on each other by turning off the TV, cell phones and even iPods. ✰ Keep mealtime a fun time for the family to catch up and share their day. ✰ Parents and older siblings can be a great role model for good eating habits. ✰ Keep it fun. Kids can make name cards for their seats. ✰ Keep meals from lasting too long. If your child gets fussy, let them be excused and take their plate to the sink. ✰ Introduce one new food item at least 3 times a week. With set meal times and a fun family experience, kids will look forward to eating together as a family while learning about healthy eating. Portion-control-healthy-balanced_meal Top Portion Control Tips Helping kids learn proper serving amounts is a key component to healthy eating. One of our biggest challenges as Americans, is that we like big portions. But one of the nice benefits of eating at home is you can always have seconds if you are still hungry. And that is what we want to teach kids, to start with smaller servings.
How can you teach your child what a healthy portion is without the added fussof measuring? Don’t worry. Here are some simple tricks you can use to help thewhole family control their portions. ✰ Use a salad plate for dinner. It is easier to control the amounts with asmaller plate. ✰ Use small serving spoons or tablespoons to serve dishes ✰ Let kids serve their own scoop. It gives them a little independence andhelps them begin to realize serving sizes. ✰ Include water as part of a healthy meal, its great for the digestion ✰ Provide a nice variety of foods from each of the food groups. ✰ Encourage your child to take one scoop from each of the food groups. ✰ Have a couple vegetables and fruits to choose from. Even fresh and slicedis okay. ✰ Kids like to dip. You can have some vegetables cut up and a low fatdressing. ✰ Encourage kids to have fun coloring their plate with foods that have color.You’ll see that colorful foods tend to be the healthier foods. ✰ Include one healthy carb from the grains food group. For example, servejust whole wheat bread, brown rice or whole wheat pasta instead of pasta andbread. ✰ Cut lean meats into small portions before placing them on the table. ✰ Avoid sodas, sugary drinks and fruit juices during meals. But if they insiston some juice, one six-ounce glass a day of 100% fruit juice is plenty. ✰ Encourage your child to eat their food but if they say they are full, it’s okay. ✰ Kids don’t have to eat all their food to have a healthy meal. Learning tolisten to their internal hunger clock is part of learning proper portion control. ✰ Limit snacks to specific snack time so kids will be hungry during mealtime.If your child eats a balanced food with some foods from all the food groups,portion sizes will naturally be more sensible. Nutritionist Be Active as a Family This is something you may have read many times but it is so valuable that it has to be in the top three for Nutrition Month! Just like you can make some time to eat together as a family, you can create time to be active as a family. The key to success is finding activities that are fun. When kids are having fun, time passes easily and they learn to love being active. Placing a little focus on nutrition and healthy living doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul of your daily habits. Think simple and doable. Working together as a family to implement these three changes can be a wonderful bonding experience and form memories that kids will fondly remember. ✰ Talk as a family about why it is important for creating some time to be active as a family. ✰ Agree as a family so everyone is on board. ✰ Start by making a list of the activities of activities you enjoy. ✰ Encourage everyone, including the children, to give their suggestions and look for activities that everyone can do. ✰ For fun, have the kids create a family “Being Active Is Fun” Calendar to remind everyone. ✰ Plan one activity a week ✰ Activities can be simple like a family walk or bike ride. ✰ If you can’t do once a week, then start once a month and add another activity as your schedules permit. ✰ Start with 15-20 minutes and work your way up to an hour. ✰ Try to plan something special once a month or every other month, like a trip to the zoo. Placing a little focus on nutrition and healthy living doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul of your daily habits. Think simple and doable. Working together as a family to implement these three changes can be a wonderful bonding experience and form memories that kids will fondly remember.
Easy USDA Food Pyramid Guide- Eating Healthy with the Food GroupsMaggie LaBarbera, Registered NurseThe USDA Food Pyramid is a guide to help parents and children make healthier choices and eat healthier foods. It was designed tohelp the whole family understand what foods comprise a balanced meal, nutrition facts and learn about the different foods that thebody needs to be healthy.The Food GroupsThe food pyramid divides food into five different food groups. Each food group provides a certain amount of nutrients that both adultsand children need for general health. Each food group is represented by a colored stripe on the pyramid. Some foods we need more ofand others we need less of. The wider stripes tells us that the body needs more of that food group. Conversely, the narrow stripe meansthe body needs less of that food group. But, the body needs food from all the food groups each day. The stairs remind us that everyone,including children needs to be active every day.The Colors of the Food Pyramid orange — grains green — vegetables red — fruits yellow — fats and oils blue — milk and dairy products purple — meat, beans, fish, and nutsDepending on your child’s age, gender and activity level, he or she will need a certain amount of food (calories)from each of the food group. These different food groups provide different nutrients, vitamins and mineral thatour essential to help grow and develop a healthy immune system, brain and overall general health.It would be very challenging for anyone to figure out if their child is getting the right amount of calcium, zinc,protein, vitamin B12 etc! It can be very overwhelming. The USDA has made it easy by already figuring out foryou what combinations and amounts of food your child needs in order to get their necessary vitamin and minerals.By eating foods from all five food groups in proper portion sizes, your child will be eating a healthy and well-balanced meal. Nutritionist
A Little About Portion ControlOne of the challenges that our nation faces is controlling portion sizes. Eating foods from each of the food groups is the first step tobeing healthy. But the amount is also important. In general, kids tend to have too much “empty calorie” foods meaning foods withvery little nutrition but high in calories like soda, candy, potato chips and sugary breakfast cereals.It is important to understand what is a portion size and how much of it does your child really need.Here are some simple tricks you can use to help the whole family control their portions. ✰ Use a salad plate for dinner. It is easier to control the amounts with a smaller plate. ✰ Use small serving spoons or tablespoons to serve dishes ✰ Let kids serve their own scoop. It gives them a little independence and helps them begin to realize serving sizes. ✰ Include water as part of a healthy meal, its great for the digestion ✰ Provide a nice variety of foods from each of the food groups. ✰ Encourage your child to take one scoop from each of the food groups. ✰ Have a couple vegetables and fruits to choose from. Even fresh and sliced is okay. ✰ Kids like to dip. You can have some vegetables cut up and a low fat dressing. ✰ Encourage kids to have fun coloring their plate with foods that have color. You’ll see that colorful foods tend to be thehealthier foods. ✰ Include one healthy carb from the grains food group. For example, serve just whole wheat bread, brown rice or whole wheatpasta instead of pasta and bread. ✰ Cut lean meats into small portions before placing them on the table. ✰ Avoid sodas, sugary drinks and fruit juices during meals. But if they insist on some juice, one six-ounce glass a day of 100%fruit juice is plenty. ✰ Encourage your child to eat their food but if they say they are full, it’s okay. ✰ Kids don’t have to eat all their food to have a healthy meal. Learning to listen to their internal hunger clock is part of learningproper portion control. ✰ Limit snacks to specific snack time so kids will be hungry during mealtime.If your child eats a balanced food with some foods from all the food groups, portion sizes will naturally be more sensible.
Why Fruits and Vegetables Are VitalEating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is important for good health. Find out why experts sayMother Natures bounty packs better nutrients than supplements.By Melanie WinderlichIf we are what we eat, then many of us must be tripping all over the place due to a lack of balance.Thats because the average American eats about three servings of fruits and vegetables per day — astark contrast to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department ofAgricultures (USDA) new guidelines stating that we should be eating 5 to13 servings of natures best, depending on the number of calories you need.So if we want to grow to be strong like Popeye, why cant we justdown some supplements instead of devouring a pile of spinach?Nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables work together.Kristine Wallerius Cuthrell, MPH, RD, a researchnutritionist and senior project coordinator for HawaiiFoods at the Center on the Family at University ofHawaii at Manoa, says that in the past five to 10 years,many large research studies have found that vitamin Nutritsupplements dont provide the benefits that foods do.The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, createdjointly between HHS and USDA and reviewed everyfive years, say that foods are the best sources ofnutrients because they contain naturally occurringingredients, like carotenoids and flavonoids."In addition to the substances we are aware of, there aremany present in fruits and vegetables that have yet to bediscovered. Food and the nutrients they contain arentconsumed singly, but with each other. As such, they mayact in synergistic ways to promote health," Cuthrell says.For instance, eating iron-rich plants, like spinach, with an iron-absorbingenhancer, like the vitamin C in orange juice, is great for people who don’t getenough iron (typically young women).Fruits and vegetables may prevent many illnesses. Eating fruits and vegetables mayreduce your risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and even some formsof cancer. The Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study examinednearly 110,000 people over the course of 14 years. Part of the study revealed that the more fruitsand vegetables people ate daily, the less chance they would develop cardiovascular diseases.The relationship between fruits and vegetables and cancer prevention has been more difficult to prove.However, recent studies show that some types of produce are associated with lower rates of some types ofcancer. For example, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research suggestthat mouth, stomach, and colorectal cancers are less likely with high intakes of non-starchy foods like leafygreens, broccoli, and cabbage. Though studies have been mixed, lycopene, a carotenoid that gives tomatoestheir red color, may help stave off prostate cancer.
Fruits and vegetables are great for watching your weight. They’re low in fat and calories, and loaded with fiber and water, which create a feeling of fullness. This is particularly helpful for dieters who want more filling calories. Plus, that fiber helps keep you “regular.” Fruits and Vegetables: Get Your Fill When adding fruits and vegetables to your diet, remember that variety is the spice of life. Its important to eat produce of various colors because each fruit or vegetable offers a different nutrient — think of it as nutritional cross-training. Trying new foods can be exciting, and be sure to sample every color in the produce rainbow. The right number of servings of fruits and vegetables for you all depends on your daily caloric intake needs. A good way to find out how many servings you should be eating is by using the CDCs online serving calculator. Or make things even simpler by eating a fruit or vegetable at every meal and snack. Dont let season, accessibility, or cost affect yourtionist fruit- and vegetable-friendly diet. If finding fresh produce is difficult, choose frozen, canned (low- sodium), or dried varieties. Also, 100 percent juice counts toward your servings, though it doesnt offer the full fiber of whole fruit. The power of prevention may lie in a salad bowl or a plate of fruit. When we take advantage of produce, our bodies return the favor by reducing our risk of developing various illnesses. Does Chocolate Addiction Exist? By Jane Collingwood, PsychCentral Chocolate craving is very common, but can we actually be addicted to it? Can these powerful urges to eat truly be classed as an addiction? We generally crave foods due to external prompts and our emotional state, rather than actual hunger. We tend to be bored, anxious, or depressed immediately before experiencing cravings, so one way of explaining cravings is self-medication for feeling miserable. Chocolate is the most frequently craved food in women, and many women describe themselves as chocoholics. Chocoholics insist that it is habit- forming, that it produces an instant feeling of well-being, and even that abstinence leads to withdrawal symptoms. When we eat sweet and high-fat foods, including chocolate, serotonin is released, making us feel happier. This partly explains the cravings common in seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and pre-menstrual syndrome. In many women, the craving occurs on a monthly cycle, which suggests a hormonal basis. A recent report in the New Scientist magazine suggests people can become overly dependent on the sugar and fat in fast food. Princeton University researcher Dr. John Hoebel found that rats fed on sugar became anxious when the sugar was removed. Their symptoms included chattering teeth and the shakes - similar to those seen in people withdrawing from nicotine or morphine. Dr. Hoebel believes high-fat foods stimulate opioids or "pleasure chemicals" in the brain. This theory is backed up by many other studies. Chocolate contains several biologically active ingredients, all of which can cause abnormal behaviors and psychological sensations like those of other addictive substances. Researchers at the University of Tampere in Finland found that self-proclaimed chocolate "addicts" salivated more in the presence of chocolate, and showed a more negative mood and higher anxiety. The researchers state that chocolate addicts show traits of regular addiction, because they exhibit craving for chocolate, irregular eating behavior, and abnormal moods. Although there are similarities between eating chocolate and drug use, generally researchers believe that chocolate "addiction" is not a true addiction. While chocolate does contain potentially mood-altering substances, these are all found in higher concentrations in other less appealing foods such as broccoli. A combination of chocolates sensory characteristics — sweetness, texture and aroma — nutrients, and chemicals, together with hormonal and mood swings, largely explains chocolate cravings. Chocolate is seen as "naughty but nice" - tasty, but something which should be resisted. This suggests that the desire is more likely a cultural phenomenon than a physical one. The inability to control eating may be a result of inborn traits and todays environment. "Humans used to have to search for food," according to Baylor College of Medicine researcher Dr. Ken Goodrick. "Now food searches us out." We are overwhelmed with advertising, large-scale grocery displays, plenty of high-calorie foods, and an obsession with thinness. The stress of modern living often makes us turn to food for comfort, then return to a restrictive diet. The attempt to restrain ourselves before we are satisfied increases the desire for chocolate.
Is Organic Produce Really Better? In addition to health and better taste, theres the green aspect of going organic. "A lot of people eat organic for the philosophy of it — toOrganic food is produced under a strict set of rules, without help sustain our earth," notes Wolf. Organic farming practices arepesticides and other chemicals. Find out if food grown this better for the sustainability of land, water, and food.way is really more healthful.By Diana Rodriguez For most healthy adults, though, Wolf admits, organic foods arent necessary for better health — its just a preference. Pregnant womenMore and more grocery stores are making room for organic and children are more susceptible to the health effects of pesticidesproduce to keep up with increasing demand. Why are people (including nervous system damage and behavioral problems), so forgoing organic? Reasons include a growing national concern them, organic foods are a good health investment.about the safety of our produce and a general movementtoward an organic diet. The Organic Diet: How You Can Tell For Sure?The Organic Diet: What Does Organic Really To be certified as 100 percent organic, food products must meet theMean? standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture. At the grocery store, its easy to spot certified organic products because onlyOrganic foods are thought to be better for your health and the they will have the “USDA organic” label. Keep in mind that productsenvironment because theyre grown in a natural, chemical- labeled "natural" or "hormone-free" are not necessarily organic.free way. Organic produce is grown using natural pest controlmethods, instead of pesticides, and organic meats dont rely on At local farmers markets, it can sometimes be difficult to verifychemicals to prevent diseases in animals. Instead of chemicals, whether a product has truly been grown organically, but localorganic farmers: produce does tend to contain fewer chemicals since it doesnt have to be packaged for long-distance travel. Rotate crops frequently to stave off insects Fertilize crops with manure or compost The Organic Diet: Is It Worth the Price? Use chemical-free soils Allow animals to spend more time roaming instead of in Organic food is more expensive because it costs more to produceconfined spaces where diseases can spread it. Are the health benefits worth the price? "If it gives you peace of Use organic feed to feed livestock mind," says Wolf. Do not use certain medications (including hormones andantibiotics) on livestock Fortunately, you can still eat a healthy diet without going broke. Organic is organic, whether it has a fancy brand name or is a no-The Organic Diet: What Are the Benefits of Going name. Buy generic store brands of organic foods instead of the pricier brands. Purchasing in bulk and freezing extra food can alsoOrganic? help you save money.The decision to choose organic produce and other foods is a If you do end up paying a little more for organic food, you maypersonal one, based on your own needs and concerns. Some also find yourself paying a little more attention to how much foodpeople just dont want to eat any food that could contain you put in your mouth, which can be a good thing. "When its morepesticides and other chemicals, says Anne Wolf, RD, a expensive, you eat less of it," observes Wolf. She also notes thatregistered dietitian and researcher at the University of VirginiaSchool of Medicine. slowing down to savor and appreciate your food can enhance meal times.Another reason: Organic food tastes better, says Wolf, addingthat studies have shown organic foods contain more disease- Enjoy your food, she says, "not just the quantity, but thefighting antioxidants. quality of it, and how its connected to the health of our environment." Nutritionist
Nutritionist Top 10 Budget-Friendly Foods (Healthy Ones!) Tightening your belt these days? You dont have to cut back on healthy foods as youre trimming your family food budget! Here are 10 top picks for economical and delicious healthy foods. By Joy Bauer With the economy suffering and food prices rising, your family’s grocery bill might be in need of a few budget cuts. Unfortunately, because of the misperception that healthy foods always cost more, nutritious foods like fresh produce are often the first to get bumped from grocery carts. But there are plenty of ways to save money without sacrificing the quality of your diet. Here are 10 of my top picks for healthy foods that won’t break the bank.1. OatsOats are one of the cheapest healthy breakfast options around, and, as a keeps blood sugars under control. Stockpile these pantry staples when they go on sale;member of the whole-grain family, they’re loaded with healthful nutrients. dried beans will keep for up to a year, and canned beans last twice as long. If you chooseOne serving of oatmeal (made from a half-cup dry oats) doles out five canned beans, buy low-sodium whenever possible and be sure to thoroughly rinse beforegrams of protein and four grams of fiber, while setting you back only about using to remove excess salt from the canning liquids. Substitute beans for ground meat30 cents (and 150 calories). Buy plain, dry oats in the big canisters rather in chilies, tacos, soups, or burgers, or add them to cold salads. Pureed beans can even bethan the (often presweetened) individual packets, which are way more used as a healthy, low-fat alternative to butter or oil in baked goods.costly. This way, you’re also in control of the added ingredients, sugars,and total calories in your breakfast. Great mix-ins include fresh or dried 6. Peanut Butterfruit (such as diced apple, sliced banana, berries, or raisins), peanut butter, Peanut butter is a concentrated source of protein, as well as heart-healthychopped nuts, or a few teaspoons of preserves. monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, and B vitamins. Of course, it’s also a concentrated source of calories, so make sure you limit yourself to no more than two tablespoons2. Healthy Frozen Mixed-Vegetable Blends per serving (two level tablespoons are 195 calories). Your money will be better spent ifBagged frozen vegetables are one of the greatest values in the grocery you choose natural peanut butters without added sugars or other additives. For a thrifty,store (generic versions are typically cheaper than the popular name brands, wholesome breakfast, enjoy peanut butter spread on whole-wheat toast. Or squirrel awayunless there’s a sale). And because mixed-vegetable blends (such as stir-fry the cash you’d normally shell out for an expensive deli sandwich and have a “grown-upor California-style varieties) contain up to seven different vegetables in PB&J” for lunch — a real comfort food — by substituting sliced fresh fruit (apples orone bag, they are an incredibly easy and cost-effective way to incorporate bananas work best with the bonus of being among the cheapest fruits) for jelly on youra colorful variety of healthy produce into your diet. You’d spend sandwich.significantly more if you bought all those veggies individually in theirfresh form and would be much more likely to have the extras go to waste. 7. Canned SalmonFrozen vegetables really are just as nutritious as fresh. They’re picked at The healthy benefits of eating omega-3-rich fish like wild salmon are clear, but the pricetheir peak and flash-frozen, locking in all their healthful nutrients. Use of fresh fish can be hard to swallow, especially if you’re feeding an entire family. Cannedfrozen veggies just as you would fresh — in soups, chilies, casseroles, wild (Alaskan) salmon is a much more economical way to get your weekly fish quota.pasta sauces, omelets, stir-fries, and side dishes. Just make sure you don’t If you’re willing to spend just a few extra minutes removing the bones and skin yourselfselect blends that contain sauces, salt, sugar, or other unhealthy additives. (rather than buying the boneless, skinless variety), you can save yourself even more money. Canned salmon is perfect for cold salmon salad and warm salmon melts, and it3. Fresh Fruit: Bananas, Apples, and Oranges makes great salmon cakes when mixed with egg, milk, and whole oats. Kids will loveRefilling your fruit bowl every week can cost an arm and a leg… but its mild flavor, too. Of course, canned salmon provides a hefty dose of sodium, so you’llit doesn’t have to! Make affordable fruits like bananas, apples, and want to take that into consideration if you’re watching your salt intake.oranges your weekly staples, and save more costly options like pineapple,pomegranates, melons, and papayas for special treats. Bananas in particular 8. Fat-Free Yogurtare a bargain hunter’s dream. Select green, relatively unripe bananas at the An easy protein- and calcium-rich snack or breakfast option is fat-free yogurt. If yourstore so they last all week. Don’t worry about them going to waste either; family members are big fans of this dairy favorite, consider buying the large 32-ounceif they start to turn black and squishy, toss them into a plastic storage bag tubs instead of the pricier individual cartons. Purchasing yogurt in portable six-ounceand freeze for later. Use frozen bananas in healthy fruit smoothies, or mash containers is convenient, but your wallet will be rewarded (you’ll save at least 20 percent)them up and mix into oatmeal, low-fat muffins, or pancakes. Don’t forget by taking a few extra seconds to scoop out an individual serving into a plastic containerabout those oranges and apples — they’re kid-friendly, easy to tote, and or bowl. Since the 32-ounce containers come in only a limited number of flavors, keepstay fresh longer than most fruits. plenty of fun add-ins such as fresh fruit, raisins, and flavored extracts on hand to add some variety.4. LentilsLentils really are the king of legumes. They’ve got it all: fiber, protein, 9. Eggsfolate, iron, potassium, and a host of other trace minerals. Plus, they’re Eggs are another low-cost, high-quality protein source. When stored properly in the fridge, raw eggs last about three weeks in the shell, so stock up when they’re on sale. Also consider buying one of the trays of 18 or two dozen that aresuper-affordable and surprisingly easy to prepare. Unlike dried beans, they available in some grocery and club stores to save a few more pennies. Use eggs to whip up cost-effective, meatlessdon’t require presoaking and they cook up quickly. Simmer lentils with dinner entrées like omelets, frittatas, low-fat quiches, and egg sandwiches. Replace some of the whole eggs in thesediced tomatoes and seasonings for a hearty side dish, or add dry lentils to recipes with egg whites to lower the calories, fat, and cholesterol.soups or stews to increase protein without relying on expensive meats. 10. Sweet Potatoes Our list of cheap eats would not be complete without the humble potato. For an added boost of nutrition, try replacing5. Beans (Canned or Dried) your regular old white potatoes with sweet potatoes. Like white potatoes, they are one of the richest sources ofYou can’t go wrong with these little guys. Like lentils, beans are packed potassium, but ounce for ounce, sweet potatoes deliver more fiber, vitamin C, and beta-carotene than their pale cousins. These nutritional powerhouses don’t have to be limited to Thanksgiving dinner, either. Turn sweet potatoes intowith protein, making them an economical alternative to meat, poultry, everyday favorites: Use them to prepare oven fries, mashed potatoes, and stews. Or, for a super-easy side, pierce aand seafood. Plus, they’re healthy — loaded with fiber, which, among whole sweet potato with a fork, wrap in a damp paper towel, and microwave for four to five minutes. Top with nonfatother things, maintains digestive health, reduces cholesterol levels, and Greek yogurt… or salsa for a little kick! One medium-sized sweet potato provides about 200 calories.