Sunday, April 24, 2016

Breakfast to Go?

Breakfast, the most important meal of the day but many of us are rushing out the door with little time for a sit down breakfast.  How can you pack a healthier, “breakfast to go”?   There are many ideas and healthy options to choose from.
Lighter Fare – want something nutritious that will help energize you for the day but not loaded with calories?  Cooking Light always has some helpful suggestions such as: 12 Smart Ideas for Breakfast On the Go.
  1. Single serving cereals – a good choice to bring with you to eat at your desk.  Choose whole grain cereals like Cheerios, oatmeal.
  2. Whole grain crackers with a cheese stick or 2 – Triscuits, Wheat Thins plus a cheese stick, choose a  brand that is made from 2% milk
  3. Hard boiled eggs – boil some eggs ahead of time and have them ready to grab in the morning.  Eggs are low calories, loaded with nutrition and a great source of high quality protein. 
  4. Low Fat yogurt plus a whole grain sandwich thin
  5. Smoothie – blend yogurt with any fresh or frozen fruit.  Blueberries a great choice as they are so rich in antioxidants, strawberries also good to add some vitamin C to your breakfast.

Feed the Brain – is the motto from Dr. Will Kimbrough, a primary care physician.  He “walks the talk” by eating a healthy breakfast each day as reported by Paula Wolfson in What's for breakfast?.  So what does the doctor recommend we eat for breakfast? 
  1. Carbs + Lean Protein + a little fat  – your brain needs carbs for fuel, glucose, from healthy carbs.  He also recommends some protein for staying power and then some fat to last you through the morning. 
  2. Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, and some nuts like a sliver of almonds. 
  3. Smoothie – yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit and some chia seeds for extra nutrition.  Chia seeds add protein, fiber, iron, and some healthy fat.
Need more calories for breakfast?  There are many options to choose from.  Look at 23 On-The-Go Breakfasts That Are Actually Good for You   9 Quick and Healthy Breakfasts to Eat on the Go  and for some more healthy breakfast options.  To add calories add some peanut butter, nut butters and or nuts to your breakfast.  
  1.  Apple sandwiches with Almond Butter and Granola
  2. Egg Frittatas in a muffin pan – make ahead for a grab and go breakfast, add a whole grain English muffin and some Naked Juice
  3. Chocolate Almond Mocha Shake made with Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk, Nutella, flax meal.

So don’t forget breakfast, even if you are in a hurry in the morning.  Choose a grab and go breakfast to feed your brain and fuel your body for the day ahead.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Focus on Protein to Boost Your Muscle Mass

Why focus on protein?  Americans eat a lot of protein but usually at dinner.   New research is showing how important eating protein is at breakfast and lunch and not just at dinner time. 
Focus on Protein to Boost Your Muscle Mass 
Eating protein at breakfast and lunch can help boost muscle mass.  This is increasingly important as people get older and they start to loose muscle mass.  A study of healthy older adults found that those who added protein to breakfast and lunch added muscle mass.  Your peak muscle mass is in your 30’s.  Then is it a downward trend unless one focuses on protein and resistance training.
Why spread protein out between breakfast, lunch and dinner?
A study at the University of Texas found your body had 25% more muscle synthesis when protein was spread throughout 3 meals a day and not just emphasizing protein at dinner.  They note that the study participants didn’t increase how much protein they ate, but changed when they ate it with protein more evenly distributed at all 3 meals.  (Spread out protein intake to gain muscle mass.)
And spreading out protein throughout the day can help maintain glucose levels so you are not as hungry. 
How much protein?
Aim for 25-30 grams of protein per meal.   Not only can this help add muscle mass, it helps you fill full longer as protein foods have what I call, “staying power”.  
How can you add protein to breakfast and lunch?
  • Milk – Skim or low fat milk is a great source of high quality protein.  Make your oatmeal with milk instead of water, drink milk at breakfast and lunch.
  • Yogurt – Greek yogurt is a great way to had high quality protein.
  • Fruit smoothie made with Greek yogurt and fresh or frozen fruit
  • Peanut Butter – rather than jelly, spread some peanut butter on whole grain toast or whole grain English Muffins
  • Eggs – eggs provide an excellent quality protein.  The American Heart Association has changed their focus on limiting eggs and now focus more on limiting saturated fats.  So eggs can once again be a part of breakfast.  Healthy individuals can enjoy an egg a day, or 2-3 eggs one day a couple of times a week.
  • Nuts – add some chopped walnuts to your oatmeal or other cereal 
Lunch – tuna fish, veggie burger, turkey or chicken are all good sources of protein
  • Cereal or energy bars – choose one with at least 6 grams of protein per bar and one lower in added sugar and fat.
  • Nuts – a handful of nuts is a great way to add protein to your lunch.
Are there protein foods to avoid or limit?
Yes, processed meats.  These often contain more saturated fat and chemicals that are not good for your health. 

For more ideas on protein sources go to: Good Protein Sources.  For some great ways to add protein to your breakfast, go to 7 High Protein Breakfast Ideas.  


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Are you eating “clean”?

What does eating “clean” mean?  Is it healthier eating, a fad?   Some people have confused clean eating with very faddish and sometimes bizarre recommendations.  Basically the term, “eating clean” means you are eating whole foods, foods from the farm with less added fat, added sugar and eating less junk food.   There actually is a book, Eating Clean for Dummies  that describe the principles of “eating clean”.   They even have an Eating Clean Cheat Sheet to provide the basic principles of “eating clean”.  So how can you “eat clean”?
  1.   Focus on whole foods, the ones that come straight from the farm.   Choose less processed foods.  Choose whole fruits, whole vegetables, and whole grains.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are good, but frozen is also a good choice, canned beans are a good way to add beans to your diet or buy Hummus.
  •  Whole apple vs apple juice
  •  Fresh fruit cup vs fruit cocktail from the can
  • Baked potato vs French fries
  • Whole grain cereal for breakfast, whole grain bread for sandwiches, whole grain buns.
  • Eat a handful of nuts a day
  • Choose low fat milk, low fat yogurt. 
 2.  Avoid or limit processed food.  Hard to do in America as most of the grocery store is processed foods.  Shop the exterior of the store for the healthier choices.  Look at the ingredient list and avoid foods with chemicals and additives you can’t pronounce. 

3.Avoid or cut back on refined sugar.  Sugar comes in many forms – white table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar.  It is very difficult to buy foods with no added sugar.  Manufacturers seem to add sugar to everything, many cereals, most breads, even catsup.  You want to avoid “added sugar” not the natural sugar found in milk and fruit but the sugar manufacturers add  when processing food.  Read the ingredient list to find out if sugar has been added.  If sugar is the first ingredient, the food is mostly sugar.

4. Cook more meals at home – eating at home can be a much healthier option.  You can add some whole grain spaghetti to spaghetti night, can choose some spaghetti sauce with no added sugar, can make a salad loaded with greens and add in olives, green pepper, carrot strips, mushrooms.  Add whole grain bread and fresh fruit for a very healthy meal.  At home you can sauté vegetables and lessen the fat in a meal.  You can control the salt and the sugar added to foods.   

5.    Eat MyPlate meals.   Make your meals look like MyPlate to ensure you are getting all the food groups and thus the nutrients you need each day.  Focus snacks on 2-3 of the food groups for a healthier snack.  Hummus and carrots, apples and peanut butter, whole grain crackers and low fat cheese.  
 Review the Eating Clean Cheat Sheet for more ways to eat healthier and simpler. 
Sources:  Eating Clean Cheat Sheet, MyPlate, Image source:  Eating Clean 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

5 Ways to Beat Type 2 Diabetes

So many Americans are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes or pre-diabetes.   Already 23 million Americans have Type 2 diabetes and an estimated 7 million Americans aren’t even aware they have Type 2 Diabetes.   Even more alarming is the 86 million Americans that have pre-diabetes, one step away from developing Type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes is a serious disease and complications from having diabetes can lead to major health problems including: vision problems, heart disease, stroke, kidney problems, and even nerve damage. 
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
The American Diabetes Association describe Type 2 diabetes as your body not using insulin properly.  Sugar or glucose builds up in your blood and you have high blood sugar or hyperglycemia.  At first your body produces more insulin to try to get this extra sugar (glucose) into your cells and out of your blood.  But then the pancreas can’t keep up and can’t make enough insulin so your blood sugar levels (glucose) rise above normal. 
How can you prevent Type 2 Diabetes?
You can’t control or age or genetics and genes can influence who gets diabetes.   But you can control 3 important risk factors:  diet, exercise and weight. 
Move more, sit less:   Being active helps you control your weight, and helps the sugar (glucose) get into your cells.  According to WebMD:  Exercising 30 minutes and day, 5 days a week can help prevent Type 2 diabetes.  If you have a desk job, stand up when taking a phone call, take breaks and walk around, instead of sending an email to a co-worker, go see them.  Take the stairs and not the elevator.
Whole Grains – so many Americans aren’t eating any whole grains, yet MyPlate says that at least half the grains you eat each day should be whole grains.  Many Americans are confused as to what foods are whole grains.  Go to Tips to help you eat whole grains for some easy ways to add whole grains to your day.
Ban the sugary drinks – sugary sodas, Hi-C, Capri Sun, Sunny D, lemonade, sweetened ice tea – so many drinks are loaded with sugar and provide few other nutrients.  And sugary drinks increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.  Switch to water, unsweetened ice tea, unsweetened coffee. 
Focus on healthy fats – Eat less of the unhealthy fats in whole milk, cheese, red meat, butter.  Eat more healthy fats in 2%, 1% or nonfat milk, low fat yogurt, low fat cheese, lean meat or fish and olive oil, canola oil, nuts, avocados.  
Weight Control   being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.  The American Diabetes Association notes:  Losing weight can help prevent and manage high blood sugar.  And you don’t have to lose a lot of weight.  Even losing 10-15 pounds can make a big difference.  

Get More Information: There are many resources available to help prevent or control Type 2 diabetes.  The YMCA offers the Y-Change Diabetes Prevention Program, an 8 week course covering diet, exercise and life-style changes.  The American Diabetes Association  offers a wealth of information about Type 2 diabetes and recommends even small steps that can be taken to lower one’s risk.  They also offer a free 12 month program for Living with Type 2 Diabetes.