Monthly Health Topic
Each month, our Healthy Ideas Column covers important topics like food safety, health and nutrition, community events and more. Check past columns to the right.
Stress and the Common Cold
Going outside in the dead of winter without a coat might give you a chill but it won't give you a cold or the flu. The common cold is caused by viruses that pass from one person to another. The body responds to viruses by alerting the immune system to fight off these invaders. Chronic stress weakens the immune system, which makes it harder to fight off the viruses, can make a cold last longer or can make symptoms worse. There is no vaccine against the common cold, so prevention, boosting your immune system and reducing stress are your best defenses. Follow these tips:
Wash your hands often. The common cold is spread from the mouth, nose or eyes to objects and surfaces by hands - yours and another person's. If you don't have ready access to soap and water, use a hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of viruses.
Let food be your medicine. Include fruits and vegetables with your meals to provide you with nutrients that can boost your immune system. If your eating habits fall short, you may need to consider a basic multivitamin. Keep in mind that there is no single food or nutrient that will prevent colds. A balanced diet that provides adequate energy, vitamins and minerals from nutritious foods will help keep you healthy.
Exercise. Being physically fit may help you look and feel better, increase your energy levels and reduce stress. People who exercise regularly report fewer colds. Moderate exercise boosts the immune system; however, heavy exertion may reduce resistance to colds. If cold symptoms are mild, moderate exercise does not appear to be harmful but it's best to rest if you have a fever, extreme tiredness or muscle aches.
Sleep to recharge. Adults need about 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to stay alert but also to allow the immune system time to process the signals it received during the day. When you're stressed out, give yourself 30 minutes to wind down.
Get unplugged. Technology can increase stress in our lives. It's important to turn off digital equipment, especially at meals, and spend time talking to and making eye contact with people. Turn off the cell phone and laptop at least an hour before bedtime.
Relax. Try stress reduction techniques such as meditation, prayer, mindfulness, tai chi or yoga, getting out into nature or listening to music. Laughter relaxes muscles and raises endorphins or "feel good hormones" released by your brain. Keeping a positive attitude may also improve your immune system and help you better cope with stressful situations.
Learn to recognize when you are under stress and make changes to slow down and take better care of yourself to beat off those colds.
The latest figures from the American Diabetes Association show that 79 million adults and children in the United States may have pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
Most people with pre-diabetes have no symptoms but they may already have problems from diabetes. Pre-diabetes may cause long term damage to the body and puts a person at increased risk for heart disease and stroke. You're more likely to develop pre-diabetes as you get older but it can affect children as well. The risk increases if you are overweight, have high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, a family history of diabetes or if you had diabetes during pregnancy. Your doctor can order tests to find out if you have pre-diabetes.
But there's good news! A healthy diet and exercise to lose extra weight - sometimes just 10 to 15 pounds - may bring blood glucose levels down to the normal range. You don't need special foods and everyone in your household can benefit. Start by adding more vegetables to your meals, eat fruits instead of sweets or baked goods, and choose more whole grains. Include moderate portions of lean meats, poultry, seafood or beans. Choose low fat dairy products and go easy on cheese. Drink water instead of sugary beverages and juices. Read the labels on packaged foods and pick the ones that are lower in sodium. Include more physical activity, which helps control blood sugars.
It's much easier to lose weight when you change the way you eat and also increase your activity. Here's what works for people who have lost weight and kept it off. You might want to try these tips:
- Cut back on portion sizes.
- Eat breakfast every day.
- Do some type of physically activity, such as brisk walking, most days of the week.
- Keep a record of your weight, what you eat and drink, and what you do for physical activity.
Early detection can decrease or delay complications from diabetes. Be familiar with the early warning signs of diabetes. If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, talk to your doctor.
- Frequent urination and increased thirst
- Extreme hunger with unusual weight loss
- Fatigue and irritability
- Blurred vision
- Tingling of hands, feet or legs
- Cuts or bruises that are slow to heal
- Repeated skin, gum or bladder infections
For more information, view the brochure on Diabetes Survival Skills.
Eat Right To Smile Bright!
When you were a child, your parents told you candy would ruin your teeth and you probably tell your kids the same. Well, you have the backing of the American Dental Association which warns that foods that contain a high amount of sugar - such as candies, cookies, and cakes - are a great cause for dental concern, not to mention health concerns. The sugar in these foods sticks to teeth, giving the bacteria in our mouths a chance to feed on the sugar, turning it into an acid that can cause tooth decay. According to the Centers for Disease Control, tooth decay affects more than one-fourth of U.S. children aged 2-5 years and half of those aged 12-15 years.
Tooth decay and gum disease are on the rise. Tooth decay, also called cavities or dental caries, is a common and preventable problem. Tooth decay can cause pain, tooth fractures, extreme sensitivity to the trouble area, and problems with chewing. This can affect adults and children of all ages. Gum disease or periodontal disease is an infection that is caused by bacteria that gets under the gum tissue, destroying the gums and breaking down the bone. This causes the teeth to become very loose, swollen or infected and often times they must be extracted. For obvious reasons, this also causes pain and difficulty in chewing. Sadly, many times these dental health issues could be prevented by simple measures which could potentially save a lot of time and money.
Too often we take our dental health for granted. When we think about our health and complications of our well-being, heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and strokes are what often come to mind. Although, research is still limited there have been recent studies that link oral infections to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and premature or low birth weights. Maybe we should be paying more attention to our dental health after all. Take a moment to think…when is the last time you ate? Did you brush afterwards? Did you floss today? Some of the ways to promote good dental health are very simple and only take a few minutes!
Nutrition and dental health go hand-in-hand. The foods we eat can have a direct effect on our dental health. We all know that eating a balanced diet is important and critical for well-being. But our eating patterns and food choices play an important role in preventing tooth decay and gum disease as well. According to the American Dental Association, there are a variety of ways in which we can eat better to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Foods to watch out for
Sweet and sticky
Whenever sugar stays in your mouth, it feeds the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Eating lollipops or cough drops and sipping on sugary drinks give mouth bacteria a steady supply of sugar. Foods like caramels, soft bread and potato chips can stick to teeth and get trapped between teeth. So try to keep candy, cakes, cookies, sodas, chips, and table sugar to a minimum, limit between-meal snacks, and rinse your mouth after eating these foods.
Although fruits such as lemons, limes, grapefruits and pineapples may offer great nutrition, they can have a gradual wearing effect on tooth enamel. Be sure to eat these types of higher acid foods with a meal to buffer the acid from attacking the tooth enamel. Also, be careful with fruit juices and sodas (including diet) which are also high acid.
Tooth Friendly Foods
Dairy for calcium and vitamin D
Cheese, milk, plain yogurt, calcium fortified tofu products and leafy green vegetables are foods that provide calcium and can help in protecting your teeth and the bones in your jaw that support them. Many dairy products are fortified with Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb the calcium.
Get good protein
Foods such as meats, poultry, fish, milk and eggs contain phosphorus which can play a key role in dental health by protecting and rebuilding tooth enamel.
Choose fruits and vegetables
All varieties of fruits and vegetables are also a good choice for dental health as they contain high amounts of water and fiber which helps balance the sugars that are naturally found in these items and can actually help clean your teeth. Many fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamin C, which promotes healthy gums.
Choose your beverages
Compounds in tea may promote healthy teeth and gums. Better to take your tea without sugar and watch out for bottled teas with citric acid as well as added sugar. Tap water with added fluoride can help prevent damage to teeth and strengthen the tooth's enamel. Bottled water may not have fluoride.
Keep your mouth moist
During meals saliva helps to flush the food particles and neutralize acids. When you can't brush, chew on sugar-free gum to increase saliva flow to clean your mouth and teeth.
Good dental health is important for so many reasons; speaking, smiling, chewing, swallowing…the list goes on! So, make sure you brush, floss and watch what you eat. Also, be sure to schedule regular visits to your dentist!
Take Charge! Safe Food Handling During a Power Outage
Thunderstorms can knock out the power to our homes. The length of time the electricity is out can vary greatly, and without it, the food kept in refrigerators and freezers can spoil fairly quickly. So what are you to do with all of that food that needs to be kept cold or frozen? These tips will help guide you to be prepared and decide what to keep and what to toss to keep you and your household safe and healthy.
Severe weather can strike with little notice, so it's helpful to do a few things now to be better prepared!
- Keep thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer so you know the exact
- The freezer should be kept at 0°F (Fahrenheit) or below and the refrigerator at 40°F or below.
- Have coolers on hand to store food from the refrigerator if the power will be out for more than 4 hours.
- In order to have ice for the coolers, keep ice packs or frozen containers of water in your freezer at all times.
During the Power Outage
While the power is out, keep these tips in mind to keep your food at a safe temperature.
- Group food together in the freezer to keep it colder.
- Keep the doors of the refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible so that
the cold air does not escape.
- If kept closed, the food in the refrigerator will be safe for about 4 hours.
- A full freezer that is kept closed can keep food for about 2 days.
- A freezer that is half full and is kept closed can keep food for about 1 day
- If you expect the power to be out for more than 2-4 hours, move perishable items such as meat and dairy into coolers surrounded by ice packs or ice. Keep temperature at 40°F or below.
Dining in the Dark
Preparing meals without electricity may require some creativity!
- Use up foods that are likely to spoil and go to waste first. These foods include
meats, dairy, leftovers, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Meal ideas to use up your
most perishable groceries:
- If it's safe to be outdoors, grill the meats and veggies that may otherwise spoil.
- Make a sandwich with luncheon meat and use up milk, yogurt and fresh salad ingredients.
- Hard cheeses and fruit will last a bit longer and can be used next.
- Have these items on hand at all times in case of a power outage.
- Manual can opener
- Bottled water
- Foods that don't require cooking such as peanut butter and jelly, dry cereals, shelf stable milk, nuts, dried fruit, and canned goods including tuna, beans, fruits, fruit juice and vegetables
When Power Returns
The amount of time the power has been out and the temperature of foods will determine whether or not a food can be kept safely or should be thrown away.
- Most importantly, don't depend on taste, appearance, or odor to determine whether a food is safe!
- Foods in the freezer that still have ice crystals or are 40°F or below can be refrozen.
- If power has been out for more than 4 hours, throw away refrigerated foods that spoil quickly such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items.
- If you are unsure whether an item is safe to eat, it is better to throw it away than to risk getting sick…When in doubt, throw it out!
The chart below can be used to decide if a specific refrigerated food can be kept safely or should be thrown away.Discard
|Food Categories||Specific Foods||Held above 40°F for over 2 hours|
|MEAT, POULTRY, SEAFOOD||Raw or leftover cooked meat, poultry, fish, or seafood; soy meat substitutes||Discard|
|Thawing meat or poultry|
|Salads: Meat, tuna, shrimp, chicken, or egg salad||Discard|
|Gravy, stuffing, broth||Discard|
|Lunchmeats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, dried beef||Discard|
|Pizza - with any topping||Discard|
|Canned hams labeled "Keep Refrigerated"||Discard|
|Canned meats and fish, opened||Discard|
|Casseroles, soups, stews||Discard|
|CHEESE||Soft Cheeses: blue/bleu, Roquefort, Brie, Camembert, cottage, cream, Edam, Monterey Jack, ricotta, mozzarella, Muenster, Neufchatel, queso blanco, queso fresco||Discard|
|Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, Colby, Swiss, Parmesan, provolone, Romano||Safe|
|Grated Parmesan, Romano, or combination (in can or jar)||Safe|
|DAIRY||Milk, cream, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, yogurt, eggnog, soy milk||Discard|
|Baby formula, opened||Discard|
|EGGS||Fresh eggs, hard-cooked in shell, egg dishes, egg products||Discard|
|Custards and puddings, quiche||Discard|
|FRUITS||Fresh fruits, cut||Discard|
|Fruit juices, opened||Safe|
|Canned fruits, opened||Safe|
|Fresh fruits, coconut, raisins, dried fruits, candied fruits, dates||Safe|
|SAUCES, SPREADS, JAMS||Opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce, horseradish||Discard if above 50°F for over 8 hrs.|
|Jelly, relish, taco sauce, mustard, catsup, olives, pickles||Safe|
|Worcestershire, soy, barbecue, hoisin sauces||Safe|
|Fish sauces, oyster sauce||Discard|
|Opened vinegar-based dressings||Safe|
|Opened creamy-based dressings||Discard|
|Spaghetti sauce, opened jar||Discard|
|BREAD, CAKES, COOKIES, PASTA, GRAINS||Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads, tortillas||Safe|
|Refrigerator biscuits, rolls, cookie dough||Discard|
|Cooked pasta, rice, potatoes||Discard|
|Pasta salads with mayonnaise or vinaigrette||Discard|
|Breakfast foods -waffles, pancakes, bagels||Safe|
|PIES, PASTRY||Pastries, cream filled||Discard|
|Pies - custard, cheese filled, or chiffon; quiche||Discard|
|VEGETABLES||Fresh mushrooms, herbs, spices||Safe|
|Greens, pre-cut, pre-washed, packaged||Discard|
|Vegetables, cooked; tofu||Discard|
|Vegetable juice, opened||Discard|
|Commercial garlic in oil||Discard|
|Casseroles, soups, stews||Discard|
Source: US Department of Health and Human Services
For more information and Emergency Preparedness Fact Sheets, visit the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service website.
Back to School Snacking 101
It's that time of year again when kids make a beeline for school with their backpacks in hand. Your children are prepared for the school year ahead. But are they ready for those times in the day where hunger could set in? It can be easy to prepare kids with back-to-school snacks to promote overall healthy and happy lifestyles!
But won't snacks make my child not hunger for meal time? Not exactly. Snacks can be an important part of a healthy and balanced diet. They add energy and nutrients to your child's diet and help curb hunger until meal time. Snacking is different than grazing, which is when a child picks at food all day long without sitting down for meals. Make sure that snack time is not too close meal time and that snacks aren't too large. This could make your child not hunger for dinner later on.
What does a snack look like exactly? Snacks are a small portion of food and can be modeled after MyPlate which recommends to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. The other side can be split between grains and protein, with dairy on the side. Even though snack time isn't meal time, it can incorporate parts of a typical meal.
When is the right time to snack? First, try to think about your child's eating schedules on a typical day. Some kids may be able to have a mid-morning snack, but this depends on their school. For these kids, it's important that they eat a balanced breakfast before they head out the door. Don't forget to think about lunch time. Discuss the details with your child, such as when lunch is served and how much they eat. This will help you determine how hungry your child is after the final bell rings. Also, consider the time your family eats dinner. Then, plan accordingly.
So, what should kids eat for a snack? Remember to think of the main food groups of MyPlate, which include grains, protein, fruits, vegetables and dairy. Try to pair these together. For example, your child could have an apple with yogurt for a snack. Here they are taking the fruit and dairy food groups to make a mini MyPlate filled with nutrients. Another combo could be a grain with protein, such as toast with peanut butter. Another option is to encourage your child to eat part of their dinner for their after school snack. For instance, they could eat their dinner salad or have their dinner roll. This part can be fun and easy. So get creative! Depending on your schedule and your child's age, kids can be involved in making their own mid-morning or after school snacks. Below is a chart filled with ideas!
|Easy Snack Ideas|
|Food Group Combos||Examples|
Helpful Tips to Snacking
- Talk with your kids to find out their favorites
- Plan ahead with your kids
- Mix and match fruit and veggies with low fat dips
- Don't forget leftovers: a small portion of last night's dinner can be a tasty snack
- Promote independence with ready-to-eat foods in the fridge
As you are busy getting your kids out the door for school, don't forget their snacks for a healthy diet.
Beat Summer Heat - Drink Up!
Summertime is finally in full swing and it's time to be outside enjoying the sunshine! You take safety precautions such as wearing insect repellent, strapping on a helmet for biking and layering on the sunscreen. But don't forget to protect yourself from the summer heat by drinking enough fluids to stay properly hydrated. Even under normal temperatures, you lose fluids each day through breathing, sweating and elimination. When the temperature rises you need to pay more attention to your fluid needs. Taking in too little or too much fluids can be dangerous. Keeping that balance of fluids is key to having a safe, fun summer!
Dangers of Dehydration
Did you know that water makes up 1/2 to 2/3 of the human body? Water plays so many vital roles such as regulating temperature, transporting oxygen and nutrients to cells, and providing a cushion to protect tissues and organs. So it's important to make sure you are meeting your fluid needs. If you lose more water than what you take in, you might end up with dehydration. Don't wait until you feel thirsty because you may already be on your way to becoming dehydrated. Pay attention to these signs:
Mild dehydration: thirst, headache, constipation. Normal urine should be clear to lemonade-colored. With dehydration, urine becomes dark like the color of apple juice. Cool down by moving to a shaded or air-conditioned area, remove excess clothing and apply a wet towel. For mild dehydration, push fluids such as ice chips, sips of water or popsicles.
Severe dehydration: dizziness, dry skin (skin doesn't bounce back to normal when pinched), decreased sweat, fever. Do not attempt to push fluids, which can make the condition worse. This is a serious situation that needs prompt medical attention.
Your Daily Dose of Fluids
You've probably heard that you should drink 8 glasses of fluid per day. Even though this isn't a hard and fast rule, it's an easy reminder to drink enough fluids. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), the amount of fluid you need each day differs according to your age, gender, physical activity level and the climate.
We get fluid from foods as well as beverages. An average diet consists of about 80 percent water from beverages, while the other 20 percent is from food. Aim for lots of foods with high water content such as fruits and vegetables. These are the guidelines for amount of fluids needed by different age groups in addition to foods eaten:
|Age groups||Estimated fluids needed each day as beverages|
|Children 1-8 years||4 to 5 cups|
|Girls 9-18 years
Boys 9-18 years
|7 to 8 cups
8 to 11 cups
|Females over 19 years
Males over 19 years
|9 to 10 cups
Your weight also affects how much fluid you need. For a personalized amount, follow this rule of thumb:
Drink half your body's weight in ounces of fluid each day (in addition to foods).
For example, a 150 pound person should aim to drink 75 ounces or at least 9 cups of fluid daily.
When it comes to beverages such as coffee, tea, soda, juice, sports drinks, beer, and wine, they all do contain water. However these beverages can also contain caffeine, sugar or alcohol. Caffeine and alcohol can increase urine output, while the sugars found in juice add extra, unwanted calories. Instead, enjoy sparkling water or perk up plain water by adding a bit of fresh fruit or splash of fruit juice.
Hydration for Athletes
Unlike other nutrients, extra water isn't stored for physical activity, especially in hot, humid weather. Weigh yourself before and after your workout to get a better idea of how much fluid you need to replace. Follow these steps to get plenty of fluids during physical activity:
|When to drink water?||How much?||When?|
|Before Exercise||16 to 24 ounces
8 to 16 ounces
|2 hours before workout
15 minutes before workout
|During Exercise||4 to 8 ounces||Every 15-20 minutes|
|After Exercise||16-24 ounces per pound lost||As soon as workout ends|
Water is the best way to hydrate before, during, and after low-intensity workouts. Sports drinks are only suggested for endurance activity lasting more than 60 minutes or if you're exercising in an especially hot or humid climate.
Pay Special Attention
Under certain conditions more fluids may be needed:
Construction workers, farmers and others working outside in the heat should carry an adequate supply of fluids for adequate hydration and job safety.
Although decreased intake of fluids will not affect the amount or content of breast milk, pregnant and breastfeeding women should be aware of their fluid needs.
Children have lower body weights, so fluid loss can increase their risk. Provide shade and water breaks when they are playing outdoors.
The elderly have a decreased sense of taste and thirst, affecting the amount of fluids taken in per day. Be sure to check in with elderly neighbors and loved ones on hot and humid days.
If you are traveling to a warmer climate, allow time to get used to the temperature change before beginning activities that are outdoors. Beat the heat by staying indoors when weather conditions are extreme, limiting outdoor activities to the coolest parts of the day (morning and evening), and wearing weather-appropriate clothing.
MyPlate Dairy - Not Just a Glass of Milk
Are you finding that it's a challenge to include dairy in your diet? Luckily, June is Dairy Month when you'll find lots of information and tips on how to fit more dairy into your diet all year round.
The Goodness of Dairy
There are many reasons why dairy foods should be celebrated all month long. Products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are all part of the dairy group. These foods provide essential nutrients, are needed for proper growth and development, taste absolutely delicious, and can be enjoyed in many different ways. Need more convincing? Review some of these quick facts about the benefits of dairy foods:
- Nutrition: Dairy foods provide 9 essential nutrients including protein, calcium, riboflavin, potassium, phosphorus, niacin, and vitamins A, D, and B12.
- Bone health: Eating a diet that includes 3 servings of dairy each day can help you meet your daily calcium and vitamin D needs to keep your teeth and bones strong! Most dairy foods do not naturally contain vitamin D. Read the nutrition facts label to be sure that your choices are enriched with this important nutrient.
- Healthy digestion: Fermented dairy products like yogurt and cheese contain probiotics which can improve your immune function and help maintain a healthy digestive system.
"YourPlate" and Dairy
The USDA's MyPlate is cleverly divided into sections that show how to make a nutritious and well-balanced meal. After building your plate to match MyPlate it may leave you wondering, "Where does dairy fit in?" Good question! The dairy group is shown as a glass of reduced, low-fat, or non-fat milk off to the side of the plate. While milk is an excellent selection, it's not the only way you can meet your dairy needs.
There are many foods you can eat that count towards a serving of dairy. For example, 1 ½ ounces of reduced-fat Swiss or Mozzarella, 2 ounces of reduced-fat American cheese, and 8 ounces of low-fat yogurt all contain 200-300 mg of calcium, which is similar to an 8 ounce glass of milk. If you are concerned about the calorie content of different dairy foods, select items that are labeled reduced-fat, low-fat, nonfat or skim. These dairy products have fewer calories but provide a similar amount of calcium and protein as the full fat versions. Take note that when cooking with reduced-fat dairy foods you may need to add extra thickening ingredients like flour to sauces or soups to make the recipe look and taste just as delicious as the full-fat product.
Get your Daily Dose of Delicious Dairy
It's important to aim for 3 servings of dairy everyday. However, if drinking an 8 ounce glass of milk at each meal is not something you can fit into your lifestyle, that's okay. Try some of these simple suggestions to help meet your daily dairy needs.
Wake up with Dairy
Whether you are a pancake-and-eggs or a bowl-of-cereal kind of morning person, dairy can be included in each and every breakfast meal. For rushed weekday mornings, add milk or yogurt to your meal. When you have more time on the weekends to cook a delicious breakfast, include dairy products in your favorite recipes.
- Enjoy cereal with skim milk or cook oatmeal with low-fat milk instead of water.
- Grab an 8 ounce serving of nonfat Greek yogurt for a quick way to power-up on protein-packed dairy before work or school.
- Jazz up your Saturday mornings with buttermilk pancakes! Use buttermilk in your batter in place of milk to boost your dairy intake in a delicious way.
- Use 1 ½ ounces of reduced-fat cheddar or pepper jack cheese along with lots of veggies in each of your morning omelets.
Reduced-fat dairy items are an excellent snack alternative to chips and cookies. Plan ahead for your busy day and try some of these ideas:
- Pack a reduced-fat string cheese and pretzels to bring to work or school.
- Prepare a smoothie with fresh or frozen fruit, low-fat yogurt, skim milk, and ice.
- Enjoy 8 ounces of low-fat cottage cheese with pineapple or grapes.
- Dip fresh fruit in low-fat vanilla yogurt.
What's for Lunch?
Lunch is the perfect time to add a little more dairy into your diet. Use some of these ideas to make your brown bag lunch more nutritious and delicious:
- Add a twist to your grilled cheese sandwich. Combine 1-2 slices of reduced-fat American cheese, turkey bacon, lettuce, and tomato on whole wheat bread.
- Top your side salad with lean protein and shredded, reduced-fat cheddar cheese.
- Pack a pita pizza. Use a whole grain pita and top it with pizza sauce, part skim mozzarella cheese, and all of your favorite veggies.
Do Dairy with Dinner
Dinner is most likely the meal where you have the greatest amount of time to devote to cooking. So why not add some extra dairy into you evening meal? You can continue making your favorite recipes, just be sure to add dairy foods into the cooking process. Small amounts of dairy foods used in cooking can add up to a whole serving. Follow these suggestions to boost your dairy intake:
- For a delicious side dish, top half of a baked potato with plain nonfat yogurt, reduced fat shredded cheese and steamed veggies.
- When making a pasta dish, use a béchamel sauce made with skim milk thickened with flour instead of cream.
- Melt reduced-fat cheese on broccoli and cauliflower.
- Use low-fat or nonfat ricotta cheese in your family's lasagna recipe.
Time to get up and get moving!
The heat is on! And so is the air conditioning. As summer approaches, we begin to regret all those indulgent foods that kept us going through the long winter months. We all want to look good for swimsuit season, but extreme diet plans are not the answer. What is the real secret? Exercise. Regular exercise not only helps you to get in shape, but also may help improve your overall health. Sure it can be challenging at first, but by setting small goals, you will be a pro in no time!
The recommendation is to get at least thirty minutes of exercise five times a week. If you haven't exercised for a long time, start out with light activities in 10 minutes intervals by incorporating movement throughout your daily activities.
- Just like new: All those chores we have around the house can count as exercise. Cleaning, sweeping, vacuuming and even washing dishes are activities that will get your heart rate up.
- Summer fun in the sun: Plan a picnic with your family and friends and bring games to play like Frisbees, volleyballs and water balloons.
- April showers brought May flowers: Time to give your yard a makeover. Start by cutting your grass the old-fashioned way, with a push lawn mower. Pull out all the weeds, shovel the dirt and plant some new flowers.
- Learn how to salsa: Or do any other type of dance. Grab a friend and head to a local gym for dancing lessons!
- Active TV time: Keep a pair of 5 pound dumbbells by your couch for those late night TV sessions. You can also hide the remote, and get up to change the channel.
- Hydrate, exercise and be green: Carry with you two refillable water bottles to use as hand weights. If you drink all the water, just refill!
- Exercise at work: Keep an exercise ball by your desk and use it as a chair in the middle of the day. You can also create a lunchtime walking group with your coworkers.
- Squat while brushing your teeth: While you brush your teeth, do ten squats. Make sure your knees do not pass over your feet.
- For the next friends night out: Rent a workout video and invite your friends over. Ask them to dress up with a fun work-out outfit, and do the entire exercise video together
Step it up
Once you feel more comfortable, it's time to step up your workout!
- Walk, walk, walk: Use a pedometer and set a goal of walking at least 10,000 steps every day.
- Run, run, run: Join a local jogging group. You can head to http://jogging.meetup.com/ to see jogging groups around your area.
- Over the mountains: Grab your bike and go biking through the hills. Just remember to wear a helmet.
- Join your local gym: And that doesn't mean to exercise on your own! Gyms offer group classes such as kickboxing, yoga, aerobics, strength and core training and much more.
And always remember to write your progress and feelings after a good work out to help you stay motivated when the couch looks very cozy. Keep an exercise journal and set weekly goals to keep you going.
Winter is over so don't let it weigh you down. Grab a friend and get out there because this is a good time to get up and get moving!
Replacing Wheat on a Gluten-Free Diet
Are you confused about a gluten-free diet? There is a lot of information out there and it's important to understand the basics so you can build healthy, enjoyable meals!
A gluten-free diet is for celiac disease, a disorder that causes an intolerance to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in grains, such as wheat, rye and barley and gives bread its "stretchiness." When gluten is digested it breaks into two parts, glutenin and gliadin. When you have celiac disease, it is gliadin that's responsible for the toxic response. This leads to inflammation in the small intestine and other uncomfortable symptoms. Because of this, a gluten-free diet is the only way for controlling this disease. Fortunately, it is very successful!
It is incredibly important to eat a well-balanced diet. USDA's MyPlate recommends making half your plate fruits and vegetables, and dividing the other half between grains and protein foods. You can include all of these food groups on a gluten-free diet, but you'll make most of the changes to the section of the plate for grains. If you feel that only mainstream grains, such as whole wheat bread and cereal, can fill up that particular section, don't be discouraged! There are many gluten-free products and snacks that line the shelves of grocery stores; however, this is not the only solution. There are also a number of grain alternatives you can use to achieve a well-balanced diet.
The following table lists the most nutritionally complete and highly recommended wheat substitutes for a gluten-free diet. Most of these are seeds but they provide nutrients similar to grains. All of these alternatives can be used to help you fill that quarter of your plate with healthy and nutritious "grains." Not everyone has the same tastes, so mix and match and pick your favorites to create your perfect grain alternatives. Make sure these products say "gluten-free" on the package.
|Gluten-Free Grains||Description and Uses||Cooking Method|
|Oats are often cross-contaminated with wheat in processing. Gluten-free oats are available. However oats contain a protein called avenin, similar to gliadin, which some people with celiac disease can't tolerate.|
Follow these tips for a successful gluten-free diet:
- Look in your pantry first. You may be surprised at the gluten-free items you already have. Many foods are naturally gluten-free, such as fruits, vegetables and meats without added ingredients.
- Focus on using the grain alternatives. Because many of the problems revolve around grains, this is where the majority of changes will occur. Picking gluten-free grains is key to a successful diet plan.
- When shopping for new items, ALWAYS read the label! "Wheat-free" is not necessarily "gluten-free." Products have to report wheat in the allergen statement, but they do not need to include rye, barley or gluten. Make sure to look for these other grains in the list of ingredients. Your best alternative is to choose products that say "gluten free" on the package, check product websites or call the company at the number listed on the package.
- Try your hand at cooking. Making meals from scratch is the safest way to ensure that you are eating gluten-free.
- Be creative! Each grain alternative has a different taste and texture. Finding your favorite is important for creating a satisfying meal.
- Baking is still possible. You can't always use grain-alternative flours interchangeably with wheat flour. Some recipes will call for addition of products such as xanthan gum, tapioca starch or sorghum so that your baked food has a pleasing texture. These products can be purchased at many stores, although commercial baking mixes are also available that already contain these ingredients.
- Plan meals ahead. This will make shopping and preparing much easier.
- "Gluten-free" does not always equal healthy. Many products lack essential nutrients and are high in fat, sugar, sodium and calories. Make sure you read the label to ensure the product is a healthy choice.
It can be overwhelming in the beginning, but as time goes on, following a gluten-free diet gets easier. Good nutrition is your number one concern, so fill up on fruits and vegetables, eat a variety of lean meats and dairy, and try these naturally gluten-free grain products to maintain a healthy, enjoyable diet.
National Nutrition Month
March is National Nutrition Month and the theme is "Eat Right, Your Way, Every Day." No two people are completely alike in this world and no two people have the same nutritional needs. Each person has their own food preferences, lifestyle, health concerns, cultural and ethnic traditions. It's important to be able to tailor a healthy diet for your lifestyle and make it a success every day.
Over time, your flavor preferences may change because your taste buds can decrease with age. These changes can cause you to enjoy flavors and foods that you once did not. Some flavor preferences are based on culture and the foods that those populations are accustomed to. For example, seaweed is a staple item in the Japanese diet, but for many Americans it is not a flavor or food that they would normally eat and may not even enjoy at first. Be adventurous and try new foods so you can discover new flavors - you may be pleasantly surprised!
- Be creative when cooking, incorporating foods from different cultures or adding a new ingredient to one of your classic recipes for a exciting new flavor.
- Try baking foods you usually fry.
- Roast vegetables instead of boiling or steaming to help add flavor and lock in some of those important nutrients.
Work, family, volunteering, school, sports and so much more are a large part of everyday life. With those busy schedules, nutrition and sleep are two major factors that may be affected. An inadequate amount of sleep can cause your body to process foods inadequately, increasing your appetite and leading to weight gain. It may also affect the quality of your work.
Make sure you are meeting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night and try to establish a routine for bed and keep that consistent even through the weekends. Finish eating about 2-3 hours before going to sleep and avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages close to bedtime. Remember to exercise regularly and be sure to have sleep as a priority in your healthy lifestyle.
A healthy diet can help to make you feel your best every day. Meals can be made quickly and easily at home to fit those busy schedules. Here are some tips to make it "Your Way, Every Day."
- Plan your meals ahead of time for each week.
- Pick one weekend day to prepare some meals for later in the week. Package, label and date; place the extras in the freezer.
- When cooking, make extra portions of a specific food (such as rice) and save it for later in the week. It's already cooked, so you just have to reheat and add to another recipe
Heart disease, diabetes, celiac disease, or just general prevention-whatever your health concern, MyPlate can help anyone eat right when it is customized. The importance of a well-balanced diet is vital when caring for your health and making changes is an important first step. When changing your diet, be sure you take it one step at a time to help you make progress and not be overwhelmed. The five areas of the plate provide options to incorporate whole grains, lean proteins, low fat or fat free dairy, fruits and vegetables. MyPlate can help in carbohydrate counting, managing portions and learning how to properly balance a healthy meal.
Visit http://www.choosemyplate.gov/ for further information on how to tailor MyPlate to your lifestyle.
Cultural and Ethnic Traditions
America is known as a "tossed salad," meaning there are many different cultures and ethnic backgrounds from all over the world that have helped to shape this country. Each individual has their own culture, traditions and way of life. Along with those different cultures and ethnicities comes a variety of foods. No matter what your cultural background, your diet can be healthy and fit your lifestyle. You don't have to give up your traditional foods to follow the Dietary Guidelines. MyPlate is a great guide to make sure you are trying to include all five food groups. If you usually consume a typical American diet, be sure to try some foods from other cultures such as sushi, polenta or rice and beans, and experiment with a variety of spices. Visit http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/DietaryGuidelines/2010/DG2010Brochure.pdf to learn more about the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.
Healthy Ideas Columns
- Stress and the Common Cold
- Preventing Diabetes
- Eat Right To Smile Bright!
- Take Charge! Safe Food Handling During a Power Outage
- Back to School Snacking 101
- Beat Summer Heat - Drink Up!
- MyPlate Dairy - Not Just a Glass of Milk
- Time to get up and get moving!
- Replacing Wheat on a Gluten-Free Diet
- National Nutrition Month