Sunday, August 28, 2016

Eat Breakfast every day for a healthier you

As school gets underway this fall, it is important to remember to feed kids breakfast every day.  Also, important for parents to eat breakfast every day.  Many have said, “Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day”.   More and more research is demonstrating how important breakfast is to our overall health.  Yet, surveys show less than half of us are eating breakfast every day. 
What is so important about breakfast?
  1. Nutrients – breakfast is a great time to get calcium, vitamin C from orange juice, potassium from orange juice, bananas or other fruit, some protein from milk or yogurt.  All to boost your energy and brain power throughout the morning. 
  2. Healthier eaters throughout the day – those who eat breakfast eat healthier foods throughout the day.  Maybe because they aren’t hitting the snack machine for candy bars or other sustenance around 10 AM when hunger strikes and reminds them they haven’t eaten breakfast.
  3. Better blood glucose control – skip breakfast and your blood sugar may spike even higher after lunch or dinner.  Not good for those with Type 2 diabetes.
  4. A  boost your metabolism – after fasting all night, your body needs an energy boost in the morning.  Eating breakfast gives you energy for the morning, helps kids focus on school and helps you focus at work.  WebMD notes in Most Important Meal,  Many studies have linked eating breakfast to good health, including better memory and concentration, lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and lower chances of getting diabetes, heart disease, and being overweight.”   
  5. Kids and Breakfast – so important to send your kids off to school with a good breakfast.  Not only do they need to refuel after a night of fasting, they need the nutrients that breakfast provides.  No breakfast and your kid will have a harder time focusing in class and may be tired because they are running on empty.  As WebMD notes, “One study showed that kids who ate breakfast had higher test scores than those who didn’t.” 

 What to eat for a healthy breakfast?

1.       Protein – I always say protein has “staying power” as it is not digested as rapidly as carbs so stays with you throughout the morning.  Healthy protein choices:
a.       Low fat milk
b.       Low fat yogurt
c.       Peanut Butter
d.       Two eggs
2.       Carbs – many people are “cutting back on carbs” but carbs should be part of every meal, including breakfast.  Healthy carbs are whole grain cereals, whole grain waffles, whole grain English Muffins, whole grain bagels.  Or in a rush, choose a whole grain granola bar. 
3.       Fruit – focus on 100% juice, fresh fruit like bananas, oranges, or berries.  

So this school year, send your kids off to school with breakfast and enjoy breakfast before you start your day.  No time for breakfast, then pack some healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts, peanut butter sandwich.  Or try the simple, overnight oatmeal recipe at: Simple Overnight Oatmeal.

Overnight Oatmeal

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Pack Healthy School Lunches With Super Foods

School has started or will soon be starting across the land.  How can you pack lunches that are not only healthy but contain some super foods?   Kaiser Permanente recently published, 8 Superfoods to Pack in Your Child's Lunch.  Why are these Super Foods?  For one, these foods are loaded with nutrients.  Thus, even a small serving packs a big nutrition boost.   Second, since they are packed with nutrients these foods fuel your child’s body and their brains.  So what are the 8 Super Foods?          
      1.  Berries – all berries are super healthy foods.  They are full of vitamins like vitamin C which can help fight off infections and they have a lot of antioxidants. 
  • Serve berries at breakfast by adding them to oatmeal, dry cereal, a smoothie.
  • Pack in a lunch box with some yogurt or in a container for your child to add to yogurt, a salad or to eat a handful with their lunch.   
      2. Eggs a great source of protein, the egg yolk provides iron and eggs provide lecithin which helps your child’s memory and helps them concentrate in class. 
  • Serve some scrambled eggs mixed with cheese for a protein and calcium boost at breakfast.
  • Pack a hard boiled egg in their lunch.    
3.       Whole grains – so many kids are not only lacking in whole grains, many are getting no whole grains at all.  Packing whole grains in a child’s lunch is a sure way to boost their nutrition.  Whole grains are rich source of B vitamins, many trace minerals and fiber.  Whole grains are a way to give your child lasting energy throughout the afternoon. 
  • Breakfast – serve some whole grain cereal like oatmeal, whole grain waffles, whole grain toast, whole grain English muffin.
  • Lunch – make a sandwich with whole grain bread, whole grain bagel, whole grain pita bread.  Include some whole grain crackers like Triscuits.  If your child likes chips, pack some whole grain chips like Sun Chips.                                  
  4.  Beans – although they are packed with nutrition, they may not be a favorite for your kids.  But many kids who won’t eat beans, will eat hummus.  Beans are loaded with protein, B vitamins, fiber and iron.  Iron is important for children’s brains and to help fight off infections.
  • Send some hummus with cut up vegetables   
5.       Avocados – people may not think of avocados as a super food but they are a great source of vitamins and the mineral, potassium.  They also have healthy fats which are good for hearts.
  • Include as a dip, add a slice to salads or sandwiches.  
6.       Nuts – the health fats in nuts promote brain development.  Check with your school to see what their policy is on nuts as some schools and lunch rooms are nut-free. 
  • Nuts – pack in a snack bag, pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or an almond butter sandwich.  
7.       Nonfat yogurt – yogurt provides protein, probiotics, and calcium for strong bones.  It doesn’t have to be Greek yogurt.  Find a flavor your child likes.
  • Pack a container of yogurt, use yogurt to make a smoothie, pack it for snack time.  
8.       Vegetables – Children should have at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day and many are falling short.  Including vegetables in lunch is a great way to help your child get “5 A Day”.  Dark green and dark orange vegetables are loaded with Vitamin A (carotene) which is great for eyesight.  Vegetables are low in calories and provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Veggies are a great way to add color to your child’s lunch. 
  •  Carrot sticks, celery sticks, even green pepper, red pepper slices.  Add to salads, serve with low fat Ranch dressing.
 When packing your kid’s lunch this school year, add some Super Foods to their lunch bag.

School Lunch Box

Sunday, August 14, 2016

What do Olympic Athletes Eat?

Everyone is watching the Olympics.  What do Olympic athletes eat to stay in shape and have the energy to compete?  WebMD had a recent article, Eat Like an Olympian:  5 Nutrition Essentials.   How can you “eat like an Olympian”?
  1. Hydration – Olympic athletes stay hydrated.  A dehydrated body does not perform well.  One of the ways any athlete can improve performance is to stay hydrated.  A rule that WebMD recommends is to fill up with fluids equal to half your weight.  Thus, if you weigh 160 pounds, you want to take in 80 ounces of fluid.  Since there are 8 ounces in a cup, 80 ounces would be 10 cups of liquids a day.  But all liquids count – a glass of milk, a glass of ice tea and of course, water.
  2. Seafood – many health experts recommend eating seafood at least twice a week.  How does seafood help athletic performance?  Seafood has the omega-3 healthy fats including  EPA and DHA.     Omega-3 fats are important to athletes because they fight inflammation, aid in recovery from exercise.  Omega-3 fatty acids are also good for your health helping to protect against type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  3. Carbs, Carbs, Carbs – it is a myth to avoid carbs.  To have energy, you want carbs in your diet.  A low carb diet is a low energy diet.  Olympic athletes are not avoiding their carbs.  To ensure you have energy throughout the day, you want to be eating 50-60% of your calories as carbs.  This is a surprise to most people, who are always “watching their carbs”.  But the type of carbs is important.  To ensure peak performance, athletes fuel up on good carbs and time eating their carbs for lasting energy.  What are “good” carbs?  Fruit, whole grains, beans and legumes.  You want carbs at every meal for peak performance and lasting energy throughout the day.
  4.  Protein – athletes know protein is important and protein isn’t usually lacking in an athlete’s diet.  But even athletes can be confused as to what foods provide high quality protein.  Protein is important especially to athletes as protein helps build up muscle after exercise.  To add high quality protein to your diet, focus on fish, seafood, eggs, milk, yogurt, poultry and beef.  Many people like Greek yogurt which is higher in protein than regular yogurt.  But women may want regular yogurt which provides them more calcium as women’s diets are often low in calcium.  After exercising you want to refuel with both protein and carbs and do so within 30-60 minutes of working out.  WebMD recommends Greek yogurt smoothie, half a turkey sandwich (whole wheat bread), or half a tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread.
  5. Progress with exercise – many people start an exercise program and feel bad when they can’t keep up.  So many people come to the spinning (bicycle class) I am in each week, only to never return.  Why?  Probably many reasons but some are they try too hard.  Instead of doing 20-30 minutes of spinning, they stay for the hour and wear themselves out, never to return.  Start slow and know it takes time to build up endurance. 
  6.  Progress, not perfection – even Olympic athletes don’t eat healthy all day, every day.  Yes, it is important to eat healthy foods but there is room for indulgences.   If you go to MyPlate, you can find what your recommended intake of the five food groups is.  But you will also get the number of discretionary calories you can eat every day.  Discretionary means – you choose.  And you can choose desserts, cookies, candy, ice cream.  It is OK to treat yourself.  As WebMD notes, Even top athletes allow for occasional indulgences like sweets and fried foods. Most of your diet should be from the 5 food groups focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low fat dairy.  But you can also enjoy some sweets and salty snacks. 

So while watching the Olympics, you can also try to “Eat Like an Olympian” this week.  

Sunday, August 7, 2016

What are the Habits of Slim People?

We all know people who have been slim for life.  Those who never seem to pile on the pounds, never seem to gain the extra weight as they age.  So is it just genetics or do slim people have habits that we can learn from?  Many of you have read the book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  So what are the highly effective habits of slim people?  To find out researchers at Cornell University have asked those who have been slim all their lives to volunteer to register at:  Cornell is compiling a registry of slim people to find out what are their habits that help keep them slim?  You can go to this registry to read more about what they have found out to date.  And if you are one of those people who have been slim for life, then you may be interested in volunteering to join this registry and participate in this research study. 
What do they ask these slim people?  They ask them about food preferences, dining habits, hobbies to see what are their tricks and secrets to staying slim. 
What are 4 healthy habits slim people have?
Habit 1:  Eat Breakfast
I always tell my students that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Now I can add that “eating breakfast keeps the pounds away”.  Apparently so, according to the habits of slim people.  The registry found that a whopping 96% of the registrants of slim people ate breakfast every day.  Not just any old foods but a healthy breakfast.  To get some good ideas on eating a healthy breakfast, visit some of my previous posts such as Eat Breakfast for Better Health from 5-22-16.    In general, avoid the refined carbs like doughnuts and choose whole grain cereals, whole grain rolls and add in some protein like milk, yogurt, or eggs.  Or, have a smoothie made with yogurt and fresh fruit.
Habit 2:  Eat More Whole Foods and less Processed Foods
So many people are eating fast food and highly processed foods all day, every day.  The closer the food is to the farm, orchard, the better.   Eating at home is healthier than eating at fast food restaurants.  Make your lunch and take it to work at least a few days a week for a healthier habit.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.   I always tell my students to aim for at least “5 A Day”, 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day.  Eat some fruit at breakfast every day and fruit and vegetables at lunch and dinner every day.  The registry found that 657% of the skinnies eat vegetables at dinner every day.  And 35% have a salad at lunch.  Rather than some highly processed snack food like Cheetos, the skinnies are feasting on fruits and nuts.   My daughter often has a snack at work of hummus and carrots.  So very healthy. Plan ahead and pack ahead to eat healthier at work. 
Habit 3:  Aim for Physical Activity Every Day
The skinnies aren’t couch potatoes.  They exercise.  Many overweight people are jealous of those who have lost weight but they are not jealous of the effort many people make to lose the weight or keep it off.  Exercise is a very important component of getting slim and staying slim.  It doesn’t mean you are running a marathon but it does mean you need to make exercise a habit.  A walk at lunch, a walk before or after work.  Many gyms now offer short classes at lunch time to fit into your day or classes right after work.  My daughter often goes with a friend to the gym after work to take an aerobics class or a pumping iron class.  Almost 70% of the slim people on the registry reported participating in exercise at least 3 times and week and 50% reported participating in some form of exercise 5-7 days a week.
Habit 4:  No Deprivation
So many people who go on diets, focus on the negative and on depriving themselves.  I can’t have this cookie, this piece of cake will spoil my diet, I can’t eat out, I can’t have fast food.  Wow! Is it any wonder they don’t stick to the diet with all this deprivation?  The website has a great video on hints to eat out at restaurants.  I like Joyce Meyer’s saying, “eat the cookie, buy the shoes”.   You can eat a cookie but not the whole box of cookies.  So what diet are slim people on?  None – they aren’t going on the latest fad diet to lose weight.  Rather, they stop eating when they are full, not when the plate is empty.  They eat when they are hungry, not when they pass a bakery. 
Conclusion:  The website and habits of slim people provide an interesting resource and guide to a slimmer you. 

You can watch a short video about using these research tips when eating out at a restaurant. 

Tips for Eating Out

Eat Breakfast Every Day