Posts tagged with "nutrition"

How to Maintain Healthy Eating Habits

How to Maintain a Healthy Eating Lifestyle

What you eat each day affects your health and how you feel now and in the future. Good nutrition plays a major role in helping you lead a healthy lifestyle. When combined with physical activity, your diet can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, and promote overall health and wellbeing.

Creating and maintaining healthy eating habits doesn’t have to be hard. If you start by incorporating small changes into your daily habits, you can make a big impact on your eating pattern and create lasting, healthy eating habits. Try including at least six of the following eight goals into your diet by adding one new goal each week.

1. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert. The more colorful you make your plate, the more likely you are to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs to be healthy.

2. Make half the grains you eat whole grains

Switch from a refined-grain food to a whole-grain food. For example, choose whole-wheat bread instead of white bread. Read the ingredients list and choose products that list a whole-grain ingredients first. Look for things like: “whole wheat,” “brown rice,” “bulgur,” “buckwheat,” “oatmeal,” “rolled oats,” quinoa,” or “wild rice.”

3. Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk

Both have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.

4. Choose a variety of lean protein foods

Protein foods group includes not only meat, poultry, and seafood, but also dry beans or peas, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Select leaner cuts of ground beef (where the label says 90% lean or higher), turkey breast, or chicken breast.

5. Compare sodium in foods

Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium versions of foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals. Select canned foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”

6. Drink water instead of sugary drinks

Drink water to cut back on unnecessary calories from sugary drinks. Soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in American diets. To add flavor to your water, add a slice of lemon, lime, apple or fresh herbs like mint or basil.

7. Eat some seafood

Seafood has protein, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids (heart-healthy fat). Adults should try to eat at least eight ounces a week of a variety of seafood. Children can eat smaller amounts of seafood. Seafood includes fish such as salmon, tuna, and trout and shellfish such as crab, mussels, and oysters.

8. Cut back on solid fats

Eat fewer foods that contain solid fats. The major sources for Americans are cakes, cookies, and other desserts (often made with butter, margarine, or shortening); pizza; processed and fatty meats (e.g., sausages, hot dogs, bacon, ribs); and ice cream.


Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

To maintain your healthy eating habits, try the following tips.

Add More Fruits & Veggies
  • Mix veggies into your go-to dishes. Swap meat for peppers and mushrooms in your tacos or try veggie pasta instead of grain pasta like one made out of black beans for more plant-based protein.
  • Use fresh fruits and veggies whenever possible. Watch for sodium in canned veggies and look for canned fruit packed in water instead of syrup.
  • Pack your child’s lunch bag with fruits and veggies: sliced apples, a banana or carrot sticks.
Prepare Healthy Snacks
  • Teach children the difference between everyday snacks such as fruits and veggies and occasional snacks such as cookies and sweets.
  • Keep cut-up fruits and veggies like carrots, peppers, or orange slices in the refrigerator.
  • Prepare your meals for the week by making them ahead on weekends or on a day off.
Reduce Fat, Salt, and Sugar
  • When eating out, choose baked or grilled food instead of fried and do the same at home.
  • Make water your go-to drink instead of soda or sweetened beverages.
  • Read labels on packaged ingredients to find foods lower in sodium.
  • Reduce amounts of salt added to food when cooking and use herbs and spices instead to add flavor like paprika, turmeric, black pepper, garlic or onion powder.
Control Portion Sizes
  • When preparing meals at home, use smaller plates.
  • Don’t clean your plate if you’re full, instead save leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.
  • Portion sizes depend on the age, gender, and activity level of the individual.
Practice Healthy Eating in School
  • Bring healthy snacks into your child’s classroom for birthday parties and holiday celebrations, instead of providing sugary treats.
  • Pack healthy lunches for children including whole grains, fruits and veggies, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.1

Reflect, Replace, and Reinforce

Making sudden, radical changes to eating habits such as eating nothing but cabbage soup, can lead to short-term weight loss but it won’t be successful in the long run. To permanently improve your eating habits:

  • Reflect on all your habits, both good and bad, and your common triggers for unhealthy eating.
  • Replace your unhealthy eating habits with healthier ones.
  • Reinforce your new, healthier habits.
  1. Keep a food diary for a few days to evaluate what you eat every day. Note how you were feeling when you ate – hungry, not hungry, tired, or stressed?
  2. Create a list of “cues” by reviewing your food diary to become more aware when you’re “triggered” to eat for reasons other than hunger. Note how you’re feeling at those times.
  3. Circle the cues on your list that you face on a daily or weekly basis.
  4. Ask yourself about the cues you’ve circled; is there anything else you can do to avoid the cue or situation? If you can’t avoid it, can you do something differently that would be healthier?
  5. Replace unhealthy habits with new, healthy ones.
  6. Reinforce your new, healthy habits and be patient with yourself. You can do it! Take it one day at a time!
To make sure your meals are balanced and nutritious, use the MyPlate, MyWins at choosemyplate.gov to create healthy eating solutions that work for you.

References

  1. U.S. Department of Human Services: https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/eat-healthy/how-to-eat-healthy/index.html
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/eating_habits.html
Boost Your Immune System and Your Heart Health

Boost Your Immune System

In the past few months, the U.S. has witnessed one of the worst flu seasons since the swine-flu pandemic of 2009. A recent study suggests that the flu doesn’t just cause aches, chills, and fatigue but it may also increase the risk of a heart attack. The study shows a six-fold increase in heart attacks shortly after people get the flu. Take preventive measures today to take care of your heart and body to prevent the flu or reduce its effects if you get the flu.1

The flu season usually begins in October or November and peaks between December and February, and can last as late as May, according to the CDC. Each year, the flu is estimated to cause between 12,000 and 56,000 deaths and up to 710,000 hospitalizations in the U.S.1

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu shot. The American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology recommend the shot for people with heart disease.

Another way to protect yourself against disease is to improve your heart health. The American Heart Association has started a ‘Healthy For Good’ revolutionary movement to inspire you to create lasting change in your health and your life, one small step at a time.

Eat Smart 

A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons against cardiovascular disease. Eating healthy doesn’t mean dieting or giving up the foods you love.

  • Eat more plants! When you eat a vegetarian diet, be sure to add foods rich in iron, Vitamin B12, Calcium, and Zinc.
  • Limit sweets, fatty or processed meats, solid fats like butter, and salty or highly processed foods.
  • Avoid bad fats (solid or saturated fats from animal sources like meat, dairy, and tropical oils) and incorporate healthier fats (nontropical liquid oils, nuts and seeds, avocados, and fatty fish) into your diet.
  • Stock your kitchen with fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Ditch the processed and junk foods!
  • Instead of eliminating foods you love, concentrate on eating smaller portions.
  • Eat reasonable portions, even when you’re served more than you need (Split an entrée when dining out).

Move More

A good starting goal is at least 150 minutes a week, but if you don’t want to sweat the numbers, just move more! Find forms of exercise you enjoy and will stick with, and build more opportunities to be active into your routine.

  • Start walking – begin with a few minutes each day, and add more minutes each week.
  • Find ways to make walking fun, whether that’s changing your route, inviting friends or listening to your favorite podcast.
  • Don’t skip out on your warm-up, 5-10 minutes is a good rule of thumb.
  • Get the whole family moving – adding exercise is easier when it’s a shared activity.
  • Make time during a busy day for activity by going for a brisk walk during your lunch break or taking the stairs as often as possible.
  • Cool down after a workout to help your body reset and recover a little bit easier – this is the best time to stretch when your muscles are still warm.
  • Turn TV time into a workout – during every commercial break do a body weight exercise (squats, push ups, jumping jacks).

Add Color

An easy first step to eating healthy is to include fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack. All forms (fresh, frozen, canned and dried) and all colors count, so go ahead and add color to your plate – and your life!

  • To mix up your spaghetti routine, add an imposter pasta such as one made from black bean, edamame, chick pea or a vegetable pasta such as zucchini noodles.
  • Roast vegetables in high heat to caramelize and bring out their natural flavors; don’t overdo it with salt or sauces.
  • Grill fruits to unlock a deeper sweetness and give their color some char.
  • Add color to your plate with the 5 main color groups: red and pink, blue and purple, yellow and orange, white and brown and green. Check out healthyforgood.heart.org for examples from each group. 
  • Look at your plate each time you eat, and if it’s too beige, add a serving of fruits or vegetables.
  • Go meatless – add mushrooms in place of beef, go with veggies and beans in your stir fry or use thick cut eggplant in place of chicken.

Be Well

Along with eating right and being active, better health requires getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness, managing stress, keeping your mind and body fit, and connecting socially.

  • Be more active, limit caffeine before bed, and establish a better sleep routine.
  • Neutralize your racing mind by acknowledging thoughts as they come and letting them pass freely.
  • Focus on healthy outlets for stress, like taking a walk, journaling, volunteering or a hobby that you love.
  • Take time out for you – use your vacation days, whether you go on a big trip or just hang at home for a staycation.
  • Don’t overlook your emotional and mental health – get help if you need it to manage stress, anxiety, depression or grief.
  • Practice deep breathing techniques by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth slowly and deliberately.
  • Take preventive measures to avoid stress, like leaving a few minutes earlier to avoid being late, or avoiding busy roads so you can stay calm while driving.
  • In high-anxiety situations, give yourself some space – take a walk and come back later when tensions subside.

 Prevent the Flu2

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against the flu viruses.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • If you are sick with a flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone for 24 hours without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
  • If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can be used to treat your illness.
  • Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines and are not available over-the-counter.
  • Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.

References:

  1. American Heart Association: https://news.heart.org/flu-blankets-nation-new-study-links-virus-heart-attacks/
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm
Debunking the Weight Loss & Diet Myths

Debunking the Weight Loss & Diet Myths

Learn the facts and tips about weight loss, nutrition, and physical activity to help you make healthy changes in your daily habits. Speak to your health care provider who can help you answer questions about weight loss. A registered dietitian may also give you advice on a healthy eating plan and safe ways to lose weight and keep it off.1

Myth: Fad diets will help me lose weight and keep it off.

Fact: Fad diets are not the best way to lose weight and keep it off. These diets often promise quick weight loss if you strictly reduce what you eat or avoid some types of foods. These diets may help you lose weight at first, but they are hard to follow. Most people quickly get tired of them and regain any lost weight.

Fad diets may be unhealthy. They may not provide all of the nutrients your body needs. Also, losing more than 3 pounds a week after the first few weeks may increase your chances of developing gallstones (solid matter in the gallbladder that can cause pain). Being on a diet of fewer than 800 calories a day for a long time may lead to serious heart problems.

TIP: Research suggests that safe weight loss involves combining a reduced-calorie diet with physical activity to lose 1/2 to 2 pounds a week (after the first few weeks of weight loss). Make healthy food choices. Eat small portions. Build exercise into your daily life. Combined, these habits may be a healthy way to lose weight and keep it off. These habits may also lower your chances of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

Myth: Grain products such as bread, pasta, and rice are fattening. I should avoid them when trying to lose weight.

Fact: A grain product is any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley, or another cereal grain. Grains are divided into two subgroups, whole grains and refined grains. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel—the bran, germ, and endosperm. Examples include brown rice and whole-wheat bread, cereal, and pasta. Refined grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins.

People who eat whole grains as part of a healthy diet may lower their chances of developing some chronic diseases. Government dietary guidelines advise making half your grains whole grains. For example, choose 100 percent whole-wheat bread instead of white bread, and brown rice instead of white rice.

TIP: To lose weight, reduce the number of calories you take in and increase the amount of physical activity you do each day. Create and follow a healthy eating plan that replaces less healthy options with a mix of fruits, veggies, whole grains, protein foods, and low-fat dairy: 

  • Eat a mix of fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, fruits, veggies, and whole grains. 
  • Limit added sugars, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and saturated fat. 
  • Eat low-fat protein: beans, eggs, fish, lean meats, nuts, and poultry. 

Myth: Some people can eat whatever they want and still lose weight.

Fact: To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat and drink. Some people may seem to get away with eating any kind of food they want and still lose weight. But those people, like everyone, must use more energy than they take in through food and drink to lose weight.

A number of factors such as your age, genes, medicines, and lifestyle habits may affect your weight. If you would like to lose weight, speak with your health care provider about factors that may affect your weight. Together, you may be able to create a plan to help you reach your weight and health goals.

TIP: When trying to lose weight, you can still eat your favorite foods as part of a healthy eating plan. But you must watch the total number of calories that you eat. Reduce your portion sizes. Find ways to limit the calories in your favorite foods. For example, you can bake foods rather than frying them. Use low-fat milk in place of cream. Make half of your plate fruits and veggies. 

Physical Activity Myths2

Myth: Lifting weights is not a good way to lose weight because it will make me “bulk up.”

Fact: Lifting weights or doing activities like push-ups and crunches on a regular basis can help you build strong muscles, which can help you burn more calories. To strengthen muscles, you can lift weights, use large rubber bands (resistance bands), do push-ups or sit-ups, or do household or yard tasks that make you lift or dig.

TIP: Government guidelines for physical activity recommend that adults should do activities at least two times a week to strengthen muscles. The guidelines also suggest that adults should get 150 to 300 minutes of moderately intense or vigorous aerobic activity each week—like brisk walking or biking. Aerobic activity makes you sweat and breathe faster. 

Myth: Physical activity only counts if I can do it for long periods of time.

Fact: You do not need to be active for long periods to achieve your 150 to 300 minutes of activity each week. Experts advise doing aerobic activity for periods of 10 minutes or longer at a time.

TIP: Plan to do at least 10 minutes of physical activity three times a day on 5 or more days a week. This will help you meet the 150-minute goal. While at work, take a brief walking break. Use the stairs. Get off the bus one stop early. Go dancing with friends. Whether for a short or long period, bursts of activity may add up to the total amount of physical activity you need each week.

For more helpful information, tips, and tools on healthy eating and physical activity, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov.


References

  1. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/myths/Pages/weight-loss-and-nutrition-myths.aspx
  2. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/myths/Pages/weight-loss-and-nutrition-myths.aspx 
Fruits and Veggies: More Matters

Fruits and Veggies: More Matters

Did you know that adults in the U.S. only consume fruit about 1.1 times per day and vegetables about 1.6 times per day?Eating fruits and vegetables has many health benefits. People who eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help lower their risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. Eating healthy can also prevent obesity and high blood pressure.2

You’ve probably heard it all your life — eating fruits and vegetables is important for good health, however, most of us still aren’t getting enough. Fewer than 1 in 4 adults eat the recommended amount of fruits and fewer than 1 in 7 adults eat the recommended amount of vegetables every day.2

Fruits, vegetables, and legumes (dry beans and peas) may reduce the risk of several chronic diseases. Compared to people who eat few fruits, vegetables, and legumes, people who eat higher amounts as part of a healthy diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and cancers in certain parts of the body (mouth, throat, lung, esophagus, stomach, and colon-rectum).3

The fiber in fruits, vegetables, and legumes is important. Diets rich in fiber-containing foods may reduce the risk of heart disease. Many fruits, vegetables and legumes are also rich in vitamins A, C and K, folate, potassium and magnesium.

Additionally, many fruits, vegetables and legumes are low in calories and high in volume and nutrients so eating more fruits and vegetables can help you feel full without eating too many calories. As a result, this may help you lose a few pounds along the way.

How Much Should You Eat?

myplate_white_halfBy making fruits and vegetables the focal point of every meal, you will be able to meet your recommended amount each day. Easiest way to do this is by filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables at each meal.4

The number of cups of fruits and vegetables your family needs depends on caloric needs, which are determined by age, gender and activity level. Visit fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org for more details.

Become a Label Reader!

One caution about buying packaged (canned, dried, or frozen) fruits and vegetables is they may contain added sugars, saturated fats, or sodium—ingredients you may need to limit. There are three places to look on a package that give you clues about what is in the food: the ingredient list, the Nutrition Facts label, and the front label of the package. 

Added sugars can appear on the ingredient list as brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, maple syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, and syrup.

If fruits and vegetables are canned, dried, or frozen, use the Nutrition Facts label to check the calories, the nutrient content, added salt (sodium), and sugar. Use the percent Daily Value (% DV) to determine how much dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium, are in the food you select; 5% DV or less is low and 20% DV or more is high. If you want to meet recommended intakes for certain nutrients such as dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium, look for food high in those nutrients. For nutrients that you need to limit your intake of, such as sodium and saturated fat, select food that is low in those nutrients.

In addition, the label on the front of the package may contain claims about the product put there by the manufacturer. Use the claims on fruit and vegetable packages to identify foods with little salt (sodium) or added sugars. Examples include “low sodium,” “no added salt,” “no added sugar,” and “unsweetened.”3

Tips for Eating More Fruits & Veggies

At Home
  • Add more fruits and vegetables to a favorite recipe (for example, add vegetables to your favorite pasta, grated carrots or zucchini to meat loaf, or fruit to a homemade dessert).
  • Add vegetables to your sandwich at lunch.
  • Add canned, dried or fresh fruit to your salad (for example, canned mandarin oranges, dried cranberries or fresh apples).
  • Add vegetables to your soup, rice, or pasta at dinner.
  • Cut up vegetables for easy access in your refrigerator.
  • Try a new method for cooking vegetables (for example, grilling, roasting or sautéing).
At Work
  • Bring fruit to have on hand, and eat a piece when you get hungry.
  • Keep a snack bag of dried fruit (like raisins or cranberries) in your purse or desk.
  • Bring your lunch to work, and include at least two servings of fruits or vegetables.
Eating Out
  • Ask your server if you can choose vegetables for a side dish with your order.
  • Enjoy a side salad with your lunch or dinner.

References:

1. http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/downloads/State-Indicator-Report-Fruits-Vegetables-2013.pdf

2. https://healthfinder.gov/nho/SeptemberToolkit2.aspx

3. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/toolkit/healthfacts/fruits.htm

4. http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/dietary-guidelines-for-americans

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