Sunday, March 18, 2018

Nutrition in the News

So many food fads come and go.  In the nutrition class I teach, it is interesting to hear about the latest food fad trends.  A current trend is alternative milk.  For some reason people are shunning real milk for fake milk.  Another faux milk is coming to a store or coffee shop near you.  Some food fads are really unhealthy fads like coconut oil.  Almost every week I hear someone talking about adding coconut oil to their diet.  Thankfully, this unhealthy fad seems to be coming to an end.  

1.  Oat milk – yes, you read this correctly, the newest alternative to real milk is made from oats.  Time magazine’s article, The dairy aisle’s next new thing, describes this faux milk and why it is being used as yet another replacement for real milk.  Apparently, almond milk was the number one faux milk but has fallen from grace recently.  Why?  According to Time, almond milk was linked to the drought in California.  It takes a whole lot of water to grow almonds.  ONE ALMOND takes ONE GALLON of water to grow. 
a.        Oatly is the new oat milk – developed by a food scientist in Sweden.  He wanted lactose free “milk” so came up with his own formulation made from oats and no real milk at all.  For fat, he adds canola oil. It is been used in the US for about a year.  You may not have seen it in stores but baristas are using it in coffee shops.  Why?  Because they like the stable, creamy foam oat milk produces.  Time states that baristas have tried other alternative milks like almond, coconut, soy but these didn’t work well with coffee.  But because Oatly contains the dipotassium phosphate, the oat mixture and canola oil don’t separate when added to coffee.  But Oatly doesn’t produce the creamy foam that real whole milk does.  Even so more and more coffee shops are using Oatly in the coffee they serve.
b.      What stores will offer Oatly?  You may start seeing it in Wegman’s , Fairway and Shop-Rite.  The Time article didn’t outline any nutritional benefits of Oatly except no lactose.  

c.       Why Buy Oatly?  I am not sure.  As for me, I will stick with REAL MILK that provides the calcium, vitamin D, protein and many other nutrients I need.  

    2.  Coconut Oil – so refreshing to read this week that the coconut oil fad may be reaching its end.  Hard to believe it has lasted this long.  Cooking Light’s article, Coconut Oil Sales Plummet as Everyone Realizes What We’ve Been Saying All Along, is encouraging.  However, not “everyone” has yet received the message.  So what does this article say about coconut oil and why sales are down? 
a.       Saturated fat – this fat is the bad fat – the fat that is not good for your heart. So what oil is high in saturated fat?  Coconut oil.  The American Heart Association recommends we should lower our intake of saturated fats and replace these fats with unsaturated fats like polyunsaturated fats.   WebMD reports, that 84% of the calories in coconut oil are from saturated fats.  One tablespoon of coconut oil has about all the saturated fat you should eat in one day.  So heart healthy it isn’t.  In other words, for heart health, focus on no or less coconut oil and more on olive oil, corn oil, canola oil, and safflower oil.   The American Heart Association’s recommendation to cut down on saturated fats has caused some slide in coconut oil sales, dropping them more than 24% from their 2015 high according to the Washington Post in their article, The sudden collapse of coconut oil, 2015’s favorite superfood.  

b.      Weight loss – some people used coconut oil to boost their immune system.  Others to lose weight.   In 2015, the Mayo Clinic wrote an article; Can coconut oil help me lose weight?  Katherine Zeratsky, a registered dietitian, reported that some people use coconut oil “as a weight-loss aid.”  But it is high in saturated fat and has a lot of calories.  I tell my students coconut oil has more saturated fat than lard.  

If you want to avoid fake foods, processed foods, then you may not want to start drinking alternative  milks.  I drink real milk, every meal, every day.  I like “real” and not the fake milks.  The dairy association used to run commercials about “real” milk.  I like the real thing.  Real milk sports the “real” seal.  And if you fell for the coconut oil fad, you can now be on the band wagon of those dropping coconut oil from their diets.  Instead, buy some olive oil or canola oil and add a heart healthy oil to your day.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Eat your breakfast, it’s National Nutrition Month

Welcome to March and welcome to National Nutrition Month sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Their theme this year is “Go Further with Food”.  The theme reminds us to “eat healthfully for ongoing energy and plan meals and snacks in advance..”   When I told my husband that March was National Nutrition Month, he asked, “and how do I celebrate National Nutrition Month, eat an extra carrot?”  Well, planning healthy snacks is a good nutritional practice – so yes, you can eat the extra carrot.
To have more energy during the day, dietitians recommend you start your day off with a good breakfast.  There are foods that one should skip at breakfast and there are foods we should add for better health.

Foods to Skip at Breakfast –
  • Skip the high calorie Danish, donut, chocolate croissant - yes, they make look tasty in that glass window but eat them and you’ll get that sugar high and then the sugar low.  These are loaded with added sugar, the simple carbs, and these are the carbs to cut back on. Why?  Our bodies digest simple carbs like sugar and refined carbs like white flour, rapidly.  So, our blood sugar surges and then comes crashing down.
  • Beverages – skip the bottled teas with all the added sugar. The sugary coffee with sugary syrups topped with whipping cream.  One Snapple Lemon Tea is a sugar bomb with 36 grams of added sugar or 144 calories from added sugar.
  • Protein – skip the sausage and bacon – Who doesn’t like bacon and eggs or eggs and sausage?  Enjoy this occasionally or limit to once a week but not an everyday item.  These processed meats are high in saturated fat which can increase the bad, LDL-cholesterol and thus increase your risk of heart disease. Harvard researchers  found that people eating processed meats like deli meats or a hot dog every day increased one’s risk of heart disease by a whopping 42%.  But limiting these processed meats to a serving or less a week had a small risk. But I still like the Egg McMuffin.  A real treat and the Canadian bacon is pretty lean.  
  • Cereals – skip the highly sugared cereals.   Look at the ingredients and see if sugar is the first ingredient. Some cereals are more sugar than cereal.  Cereals are a great choice for breakfast, if they are lower in sugar.  Eat This, Not That! Ranks some of the worst breakfast cereals. See if your cereal is on the list.

Foods to Add to Your Breakfast – to have a good, healthy breakfast, focus on a good carb that provides whole grain and fiber, a protein, and a fruit.  Jen Bruning, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics notes when we eat something in the first hour or two after we get up.  Otherwise our bodies which have been fasting all night, still think it should remain in fasting mode.  She recommends starting our day with a healthy breakfast not only gives you energy, but also improves your mood, your ability to concentrate and better blood sugar control. 
  • Add the Complex Carbs – these are whole grain carbs providing lots of nutrition and fiber.  Whole grain carbs like Cheerios, oatmeal, won’t spike your blood sugar as they are digested more slowly.  Or, enjoy a whole grain English Muffin topped with some jam. 
  •  Beverages -  if you enjoy coffee, great.  Avoid adding the sugary syrups and cream.  If you want “cream” in your coffee, add some milk. You’ll be adding calcium and vitamin D to your day.  Tea – skip the bottled tea with all that added sugar and brew your own.  Tea is loaded with antioxidants and can lower your risk of a heart attack.  I drink 100% juice at breakfast every day.  Skip the fake juice drinks and be sure you are choosing a real juice.  Look at the ingredients to make sure it is only juice and sugar and food coloring haven’t been added.
Enjoy some tea for good health
  •  Protein -  Easy to add some protein to your breakfast.  Add some real milk to your cereal.  Enjoy a yogurt.  My husband always enjoys a yogurt at breakfast.  Not only are milk and yogurt full of protein, the protein quality of real milk and yogurt is very high.
  •  Cereal- what a great way to add a serving of whole grains to your day.  Students in the nutrition classes I teach are keeping a food journal of all the foods they eat.  A few students eat Frosted Flakes, or Kellogg’s Corn Pops.  I noted if they made just one change, switching to a General Mills cereal such as Cheerios or choosing oatmeal for breakfast, would be a huge change in their diet. Why?  By just switching to a healthier cereal, they would add a serving of whole grains, more fiber, and more nutrients to their day.  Find a whole grain cereal you like, add some real milk to it and you’ve added a whole lot of nutrition to your day.  Choose a cereal with fiber – most whole grain cereals will also provide fiber to your day.  Most Americans have diets low in fiber.  Cheerios has 3 grams of fiber per serving.  Fiber helps fill you up and lowers your risk of cancer and diabetes.

 Healthy eating isn’t about giving up carbs, giving up gluten, going on endless diets.  Healthy eating is more about adding healthy foods to your day.  Skip the simple carbs, and add the complex carbs like whole grains.  Make some simple switches.  Switch a high sugar cereal for a whole grain cereal.  Have an English muffin instead of the donut.  Add breakfast to your day.  And, celebrate National Nutrition Month with the extra carrot.

Sources:  theme, Skip, Harvard researchers, Eat This, Not That!,  spokesperson              Image source: Nutrition,  tea, breakfast

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Eat for a Better Mood

Can what you eat affect the mood you are in?  Can eating better actually affect whether you get down in the dumps or not?  My sister sent me an interesting article, Eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains slashes depression risk by more than 10%.   Now 10% doesn’t sound much but eating more of certain foods can improve the mood you are in and can help you have more energy throughout the day.  So often we hear that to eat healthy we have to cut things from our diet.  A current fad is cutting gluten from our diet which is not really a healthy thing to do unless you have Celiac disease.   Now many people are on the Whole30 diet that cuts out grains and dairy.  One person on this diet told me how tired they were, too tired to exercise.  No wonder, cut out the grains from your diet and you are cutting out the carbs needed to energize yourself for the day and you are cutting back on the many B vitamins our bodies need to make energy. 

So what does the research show about food and mood?  

Foods to cut back on:  To improve your mood there are some foods to cut back on. No, not gluten.  No, not cutting carbs, at least not all carbs.

Added sugar – the research showed the typical Western diet is loaded with added sugar.  We know sugared sodas are “added sugar” in our diets.  But many people are very confused about “added sugar”.  One student told me there were cutting back on added sugar by cutting back on soda and juice.  Now, cutting back on soda is a good way to cut back on added sugar.  Cutting back on real juice is not a good way to cut back on sugars as 100% juice has no “added sugar”.  If you are drinking Sunny D or  Hi-C, then yes, cut back on these are these fruit drinks are loaded with added sugar.  Reading labels will be easier to detect “added sugar” as the new food labels will clearly indicate sugars and “added sugars”.  

Foods for a Better Mood – so what foods can you eat to improve your mood and cut your chances of being down in the dumps?  
  •  Fresh fruits and vegetables – research has shown that adding fresh fruits and veggies to your day not only improves your mood but gives you more energy and surprise – you will even have clearer thinking.  Fruits and veggies apparently clear the brain fog.  How many fruits and veggies?  Aim for at least 5 A DAY.  Have that glass of 100% juice at breakfast, have a banana for a great pick me up snack.  Enjoy some fresh fruit and baby carrots at lunch.  Have a salad at dinner.  Fast food lunch?  Choose a salad and some apple slices.  Almost every fast food restaurant has some fruit or veggies you can add to your meal.
Enjoy some fresh fruit
  • Whole grains – yes, that oatmeal is a good, mood food.  Find ways to add some whole grains to your day.  If not a General Mills cereals (all are whole grain) then add some whole grain crackers like Triscuits or Wheat Thins.  Eating fast food?  Choose Sun Chips which are whole grain.  We always have chips in our house, but usually whole grain chips.   Rather than “cut the grains” in your day, a healthy 2000 calorie diet would have 6-8 servings of grains every day, with half of these whole grain.  Grains are not only provide carbs for energy but also many of the B vitamins our bodies need to make energy. 
Enjoy some whole grain crackers
  •  Low-fat dairy – the students I teach just completed analyzing their diets.  Almost every student had diets low in calcium, and low in vitamin D.  Why?  They didn’t have cow’s milk or yogurt at meals.  MyPlate shows a dairy serving at every meal and dairy has gone missing from many of our diets.  Have a low-fat yogurt every day for lunch or as a snack at work or at home.  Add milk to your breakfast and dinner.  Choose milk instead of soda at fast food restaurants.  Teach your kids, grandkids to choose milk at fast food restaurants.
  • Nuts – Dr. Oz recommends a handful of nuts a day, a very healthy habit.  So easy to put a handful of nuts in a baggie and take it with you as a healthy snack.  Sprinkle some chopped walnuts on your cereal or salad.  
 If you want to follow a “diet” not for losing weight but to improve your mood, follow the DASH diet.  This diet was designed to help lower blood pressure, but research is now finding it is a “good mood” diet.   As noted in my January blog, the DASH diet is ranked the best diet for overall health.  U.S. News & World Report notes the DASH diet is ranked number one for health because it is a nutritionally complete diet.  Unlike Whole30 or other fad diets, the DASH diet includes fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low—fat dairy.   Here is a quick link to more information on the DASH diet.  It will tell you how many calories to eat and what foods you should be eating for better health. 

Interesting, that my students who have added whole grains like oatmeal, more dairy like yogurt and more fruits and vegetables to their day say they feel better and have more energy.  Adding more fruit can be as simple as adding a glass of 100% juice.  Sorry, lemonade doesn’t count as juice.  Naked juice would be a great choice, a blend of juices and no added sugar. 
Naked Juice - 100% juice and no added sugar
So, this week, eat for a better mood.  Try it and see if your mood improves and as an added bonus, you may have more energy during the day.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Can you lose weight without the diet? Some more habits to try.

Last week we looked at five ways you can lose weight without going on a “diet”.  Let’s look at five more habits you can adopt to drop a few pounds and start to get in shape for the summer.  Too often we go on a “diet”, lose some weight and then regain it once we go off the “diet”.  But what if we adopted habits that helped us not only lose a few pounds but keep the weight off when we do lose it. 

So instead quick diets, quack diets, fad diets, try some new eating habits and lifestyle habits to take off the extra holiday pounds.  Here are five more habits to try from the article:  10 ways to Start Losing Weight, No Matter How Unmotivated You Are.

1.  Set some health goals that have nothing to do with the number on the scale
  • Rather than just focus on losing pounds, focus on getting some health measure healthier.  Have cholesterol a little high, how can you change eating and exercise habits to bring down your cholesterol?  A relative did have his cholesterol above the normal range but didn’t want to take any drugs.  He told his doc that diet and exercise would be tried first before any meds.  Although he had a a pretty good diet, he wasn’t getting enough fiber.  Fiber, like the fiber in oatmeal or Cheerios, helps you absorb less cholesterol from food.  The “Heart Healthy” claims on the box are true.  And most of us need more fiber, a whole lot more fiber than most of us are eating each day, about 38 grams a day for guys and 25 grams a day for the ladies. 
  • Fitness goals – no, not the, “I will go to the gym everyday” goal but a more realistic goal.  I will do 10 body squats today, or 10 sit-ups, or today I will walk for 20 minutes after dinner.
  • Why does this help?  Because you want some successes – reach a goal like doing 10 sit-ups and pat yourself on the back.  I found 2 simple back exercises in a magazine.  One is the “egg roll”, you do this just 5 times a day.  I’ve tried it and in only a few days my back feels better and it only takes a few seconds to do.  So very rewarding.
   2.  Get a support team – who doesn’t want some cheering them on?  It doesn’t have to be a family member or even a close friend.  Maybe the fitness instructor at your gym can give you a thumbs up when you show up.  Or get some exercise buddies.  I have friends that I pretty much see only at the gym.  Or ask a friend to join you in exercising.  My daughter walks with a friend after work one day a week.  A time to catch up and get a few steps in. 
Walk more
           3.  Move more, sit less – Have you heard about a syndrome many people are suffering from, the “dead butt syndrome”.  Yes, Google it, there really is such a thing.  Sit too much and you can get this syndrome too.  So, focus on moving more and sitting less.  Have a sit-down job?  Then get up every hour and walk around to the water fountain to get a drink, walk around the office.  Watching TV?  Get up every 30 minutes and move.  (No, not to the fridge.)  And this “move more” also has a name. It is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).  There is actually a video you can watch about not exercising, but just moving more.  Little ways you can move more and sit less.  I am a big fan of NEAT.  I park far away.  I take the steps and walk past the elevator.  Little habits every day, that add up to your getting more exercise all day, every day. 

       4.  Kitchen food makeover – open the fridge and stock it with healthier choices – easy to grab fruit, 100% juice, 2% low fat cheese sticks.  Grab and go but not grab and calories.  Open the pantry – have some easy to eat or make snacks.  I like microwave popcorn.  Popcorn is whole grain and a healthy snack.  Buy some Sun Chips – also whole grain.  Buy some Wheat Thins, Triscuits and add some cheese for a snack.  Have some easy but healthier choices for your kids to eat after school.  Make some pudding. Yes, pudding has some sugar but it is also a way to get healthy cow’s milk and more calcium and vitamin D into your child’s day.  Let them help you make the pudding and teach them some math by measuring the milk and stirring for the timed 2 minutes. Offer your kids some milk and peanut butter cookies, or oatmeal cookies with raisins or chocolate chips.  Or let your kids have a bowl of any General Mills’ cereal as a snack.  Great way to add some whole grains and cow’s milk to their day.  Have some yogurt in the fridge for a healthy snack choice. 
Enjoy whole grain cereals
       5.    Hate that workout? Then switch to something you like.  Just because your friend walks on a treadmill for exercise, doesn’t mean you have to.  What do you like to do for exercise?  I enjoy spinning class and biking outside.  My husband doesn’t like spinning classes and prefers to bike outside.  Some people like aerobics and others like yoga.  Mix it up.  Go for a hike one time and bike another time.  I don’t like to lift free weights but I don’t mind some weight machines.  Others may prefer the free weights.  Try different classes, different exercises and find what works for you.  

Five more “habits” to try this week.  Living a healthier life in 2018, isn’t about “giving up” foods you like.  So many people look at a healthy lifestyle as going on a diet and “giving up” all the food they like.  Actually, adopting a healthier lifestyle is adding foods and exercise to your life.  Just adding a glass of 100% orange juice every day is a healthy habit.  Adding oatmeal or Cheerios or any General Mills’ cereal is a healthy habit.  Taking a walk most nights after dinner is a healthy habit.   Eating a yogurt at lunch every day is a health habit.  What healthy habit will you add to your life this week?
Pudding makes a great snack

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Can you lose weight without the “diet”?

Did you make a resolution to drop a few pounds in 2018?  Or are you thinking about summer, swim suits, shorts and want to just drop the few pounds you gained over the holidays?  Are there some “habits” you can adopt to help you take off some weight without going on a crazy diet?  Just listening at the gym, one hears all kinds of myths and crazy diets people go on to lose weight.  Many of these diets result in you losing more nutrients than pounds.  Many people are trying the Whole30 diet and then surprised to hear that the U.S. News & World Report has ranked it as one of the worse diets to be on in 2018.  In fact, the experts ranking the diets tied the Whole30 diet with the Raw Food Diet “as the worst of the worst for healthy eating.  Probably because the diet bans grains, dairy grains and beans so you are cutting out important nutrients like calcium and vitamin D from your day.  Probably a good thing it is only a 30 day diet and not a diet to be followed for a long period of time. Then there’s “ketosis” diets that restrict the carbs to “burn the fat”.  Surprisingly, some athletes have tried this diet thinking it would improve athletic performance. Kind of surprising since one of the side effects of the keto diet is fatigue – just what an athlete needs or wants.  Some dietitians describe the risks of a keto diet as: loss of muscle, extreme fatigue, and damage to the heart.     

So instead of a quack diet, what are some habits one can try to lose a few pounds?  Not a diet plan, but changing some old habits.   Here are some of the suggestions from the article:  10 ways to Start Losing Weight, No Matter How Unmotivated You Are.

    1.    Eat for Hydration – not just water but there are foods that help hydrate you.  Fill up on food rich in water like fruits, vegetables or broth. 
a.       Broth soup before a meal – a study in “Appetite” found having a bowl of broth 15 minutes before your meal will cut back on the number of calories you eat at the meal.  The broth helps fill up your stomach before you take that first bite.
Enjoy some broth before a meal
b.      Salad – start your meal with salad first.  Get some of the lower calorie food into your stomach first.  Not a salad loaded with a high calorie dressing, but a low-cal dressing of your choice.  Skip the fat-free dressing as you need some fat in the dressing to absorb the nutrients in the salad.

      2.   Protein – at breakfast and at every meal.  Cereals like oatmeal or Cheerios are a great breakfast choice but adding protein to breakfast will help you feel  fuller longer.  I make my oatmeal with organic milk and not water.  This boosts the protein in my morning breakfast. Making a smoothie? Add a scoop of protein powder to the smoothie. Make the smoothie with yogurt or real milk.  Or use the fa!rlife milk which provides more protein and calcium but is made from real milk.  (Read more about fa!rlife milk and why the nutrition advisor for Men’s Health magazine recommends it to his clients as a post workout drink at What is fairlife milk?) 
A healthy post workout drink
           3.   Give up the baggy clothes – yes, when you have put on a few pounds, the sweat pants or “comfortable” pants will feel better. But if you are wearing baggy pants every day you may be ignoring that waist band that is getting a little tight. And you may be putting on some weight and not even realizing it until you get back into your “real” clothes, the go out of the house clothes.  Even dressing up for Sunday church may help you realize a few pounds have snuck onto your frame.

  4.    Buy the Pre-portioned snacks/food.  One of my daughters likes to pack the 100-calorie dessert cookies in her lunch.  She can enjoy the “treat” without going overboard on calories.  I like the 100-110 calorie bagels as I know exactly how many calories I am eating.  Buy the smaller chip bag, not a large bag that seems to be calling to you from the cupboard.  One good thing about eating at Subway is that their chips bags are a normal serving size. No need to tempt yourself, buy the pre-portioned snack. Yes, you pay a little more but you won’t be as tempted as you can eat the whole bag and not feel guilty.

Buy the 100 calorie packs
  5.    Add exercise to your day with small goals at first – Yes, it would be nice if you went to the gym every day and worked out for an hour a day. But probably not happening.  So tell yourself, “this week I will take a 10 minute walk after dinner on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.”   Then take the 10 minute walk on those days.  Get someone in the family to join you or take the dog for a walk.  Mark each day you do this on the calendar.  Better yet, buy some gold stars and each day you walk, put a gold star on the calendar as it is a gold star day if you met your exercise goal.

Five “habits” to try this week.  Next week, we’ll look at 5 more healthy habits to try out.  None are “quacky”, none will cost you to lose muscle mass or become fatigued like some quack diets do.  But just building some muscle in your eating habits by changing bad habits like switching from sitting on the couch after you eat to taking a 10 minute walk after dinner.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Food and your mood

Feeling upbeat?  Feeling down in the dumps?  Can the food you eat affect the mood you are in?  Apparently so, according to How Food Affects Your Mood.  Although most “experts” will tell you there is no relationship between eating a lot of candy and a sugar high causing hyperactivity.  But ask any Mom or Dad and they will dispute this.  Want to improve your mood with food?  Here are some suggestions from WebMD and other sources:
1. Don’t Forget the Carbs  - so many times we hear people say, “I am watching my carbs.”  So many times I hear my students say, “that food is high in carbs” as if that is something bad.  We want carbs in our diet – lots of carbs.  Carbs are our primary energy source.  Low carbs=low energy.  But we want “good” carbs in our diet to give us energy. Not refined carbs loaded with added sugar.  Sure that will give you an instant energy boost and then a crash when you feel even more tired.
a.       Is there some science behind carbs and mood?  Yes.  WebMD notes that the amino acid tryptophan enters our brain and promotes synthesis of serotonin.  This promotes a good mood. So one would think protein foods rich in tryptophan would be good mood promoters. Scientists have found that our brains are better are making serotonin from carbs as the amino acids in carbs are better at getting from our bloodstream into our brains. 
b.      What carbs to choose to improve your mood?  Not just any carb will do.  Forget loading up on candy and donuts.  Good mood carbs are also the good-for-you carbs, the whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans.  They not only will improve your mood but also add important nutrients and fiber to your day.
Choose some whole grains 
      2.  Shun the Low-Carb diet.  Want to feel tired, fatigued?  Then shun those carbs.  WebMD notes scientists from Arizona State University studied a very low carb (ketogenic) diet and discovered this diet led to more fatigue and actually reduced the study’s participants desire to exercise.  All this in just two weeks of being on the low carb diet.

3.  Add some Omega-3 fats to your day.  In the nutrition class I teach, I ask students day one what is the healthy fat in fish?  Very few students know the answer.  The answer is Omega-3 fats.  These fats are not only heart healthy but Omega-3 fats also promote a good mood. But you don’t have to eat fish to add these good fats to your day because there are 2 kinds of omega 3 fatty acids – one found in fish and one found in plant foods.
a.     What fish provide Omega-3 fats:  Fatty fish such as salmon , lake trout, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies and tuna are all good sources of omega 3 fats.
b.      What are plant sources of omega-3 fats?  Walnuts, Flaxseed, flaxseed oil, canola oil and soybean oil.  
Add some walnuts to your salad
c.       How can you add some omega-3 fatty acids to your day?  I sprinkle some ground up walnuts on my oatmeal.  One of my students adds some flaxseed to their morning smoothie.  You can cook with canola oil.  And, of course, add some fish to your weekly menu.  I am not a “fish” fan but enjoy a tuna fish salad sandwich.  Many kids will eat fish sticks.  Yes, it has a coating but a way to get some healthy fish into their diet.
      4.  Start Your Day with a Good Breakfast – it is called the most important meal of the day for a reason. And eating breakfast every day not only  leads to improved mood, but also better memory and you will have more energy all day long.  Skip your breakfast and you may feel more anxious and tired during the day.
a.       What to Eat for a “Healthy” breakfast?  Focus on a whole grain cereal or whole grain bread – all General Mills cereals are whole grain.  Or enjoy a whole grain English muffin, whole grain bagel.  Add some protein like yogurt and some fruit like 100% orange juice, grapefruit juice or fresh fruit like a banana or orange. If you want to add some fat to the meal, spread some tub margarine on your English muffin, buy whole milk yogurt.
   5. Exercise – how does exercise help your mood?   No exercise in your day and you are more likely to be depressed or down in the dumps. 
a.       How does exercise improve your mood?  The Mayo Clinic notes regular exercise leads your brain to release the feel-good endorphins.  And getting in shape builds your self-confidence and helps you feel better about yourself.
b.      Do you have to go to the gym to exercise?  Working out is great but you don’t have to go to the gym to add exercise to your day.  Shovel the snow, wash your car, rake some leaves, gardening in summer or even a walk around the block can all add some movement to your day.
   6.   Eat the Mediterranean Way.  See Best Diets for Health 2018 as the Mediterranean Diet, is ranked as one of the healthiest diets we can eat for overall good health.  Focus on whole grains, fruits and vegetables.  So many people are “watching carbs”.  Yes, start watching how many good carbs you eat each day and aim for at least 3 whole grain foods and 5 A Day of fruits and vegetables.  Not only for good health but eating the Mediterranean way can decrease depression and improve your mood. It may be that the Mediterranean diet add more of the folate vitamin to your day or more vitamin B12.

7.     Focus on Vitamin D – so many Americans, including children, are lacking vitamin D in their day. A lack o, f “D” can result in lower levels of serotonin in your brain.  How much do you need?  600 IU per day.
a.       What foods have vitamin D?  Choose cow’s milk as all cow’s milk is fortified with D.  And cow’s milk may be the best dairy choice for growing kids as drinking cow’s milk seems to lead to better growth in children.  As I noted in my blog, Non-Cow’s Milk and Children’s Height, kids who drank cow’s milk were taller than kids who drank non-cow’s milk.   Choose yogurt fortified with vitamin D.  Most yogurt is but some brands are now on the market that are not fortified with vitamin D.  And choose a yogurt that is 8 ounces or at least 6 ounces.  A serving of dairy is 8 ounces so choosing a yogurt with more ounces means you get more calcium, protein and vitamin D.  
Choose yogurt fortified with vitamin D
b.      Go Outside – our bodies can make vitamin D when exposed to the sun.  A little harder to do in winter when we are covered up but going outside can always boost your mood.  

So improve your mood with food this week.  Add some carbs to your day, some whole grain carbs, some fruit and veggies.  Enjoy that whole grain cereal for breakfast.  No time for cereal, then make a smoothie with some cow’s milk or yogurt fortified with vitamin D and add some flaxseeds.  Pack a yogurt fortified with vitamin D in your lunch.  Bring a handful of walnuts in a baggy to eat as a snack or sprinkle some chopped walnuts on your cereal or evening salad.